Thursday, May 7, 2009

Selecting the Right Cooler for Boating

While we all know it's never safe to mix alcohol and operating a boat, there will doubtless be times when you do want to provide cold beverages for your onboard guests--whether it's underway, tied up at the dock or beached on a sunny sandbar. While larger or more expensive boats may have an onboard refrigerator, most of us will opt for a cooler of one sort or another...and there are plenty of choices.

Molded, hard-sided coolers are perhaps the most familiar and most common, and in some cases are actually integrated into the design of a boat. But they can be big and bulky, and many people with more expensive boats don't like them because they might mar their boat finish--bumping into the hull and upholstery.

Soft-sided coolers are becoming more popular for this very reason; they're lighter (not counting the contents) and take up less space when empty. While there are a lot of budget brands available, many boaters swear by the coolers made by American Outdoors. Some of their designs are specially made with boating in mind, and they are guaranteed to never leak or sweat because of their high quality vinyl liner, which is the same material used to make water beds and above ground pools. The inner insulation is three-quarters of an inch thick, high-density, closed cell foam, resulting in a cooler that will hold ice for 24 hours in up to 120-degree heat. That's pretty impressive.

PHOTO CREDITS: American Outdoors

AO also guarantees their coolers for life; and will replace the liner if it ever leaks. Available in 12, 24, 3 and 48-can sizes, they have a removable shoulder strap, clip-down ends and a side pocket for dry items, too. Plus they are available in a number of colors to match your boat, and you can even get them custom-embroidered with your boat logo.

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