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Field Tested: Engel HD30 Soft-Sided Cooler

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Overland Journal, Summer 2018.

Just when we thought 12-volt refrigerators were all the rage, the cooler revolution began. First, high-quality rotomolded cooler boxes came to market boasting the ability to keep ice for a week. Next came soft-sided models with durable construction and everyday usability (think überlunchbox) and portability. While not the first to market, the Engel HD30 has several notable features, including fully-welded construction and a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film that serves as an additional abrasion- and puncture-resistant layer. A waterproof and airtight zipper keeps spills to a minimum and ensures longer ice retention in the 30-liter compartment.

In use, I found the HD30 to be surprisingly convenient, taking the place of a cooler box or fridge on most day trips. I also brought it along on longer adventures to keep cold drinks near the driver and passenger and allow for storage of ice cubes. There is something about adding ice to a drink after a long, dusty day.

I was impressed by the overall quality of construction and appreciated the inclusion of a bottle opener, small outside pocket, and shoulder strap. My only minor gripe is the finish of the interior walls, which are made of a high-grip rubber. Items do not slide easily from the narrow opening since most bottles grip the material as they are inserted or removed, making what should be a one-handed action, the job of many. 

Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. He lives in Prescott, Arizona