A friend of mine turned me on to a new company selling a version of the soft sided cooler I hadn’t seem before. I think we’ve all been exposed to some sort of soft-sided cooler that we may have bought at a local big box retail store, so I had my suspicions about these things. I took a chance on them and after using these on various family adventures, Polar Bear coolers are a mainstay when we recreate as a family.
The first thing you notice when you handle a polar bear cooler is how rugged the exterior feels. These things are built to last with a 1000 Denier Cordura nylon outer shell, where other soft sided coolers I’ve been exposed to cut corners on the durability and some even feature a soft plastic shell, which doesn’t last long in the bottom of a jet boat, strapped to a four-wheeler, or bouncing along on a snowmachine.
The polar bear coolers come flattened for shipping, but to regain the original shape of the cooler, they recommend filling the cooler with hot water, letting it stand for about 5 minutes, then pour it out. You will also notice that the coolers have genuine YKK zippers and have a double-stitched seam where the zipper meets the cooler body. A matching shoulder strap accompanies the two handles that use velcro to join them together.
Inside the cooler, you will find Polar Bear Coolers Dura-Temp ‘Bi-Polar’ lining, which combined with thick air-trap insulation, is touted to keep ice for up to 24 hours in 100 degree weather and will withstand boiling water. Its hard to describe how the liner feels, but its easy to recognize that this liner is above par as far as what I’ve had previously. It just FEELS quality, if you know what I mean. With other soft sided coolers I’ve been exposed to, the liner would often be the first failure point. Before you knew it, the liner was leaking (likely through a seam) and you probably had a mess on your hands. This Dura-Temp liner is leak proof, sweat proof, and puncture resistant. For cleaning, the liner actually pulls inside-out allowing you to wash your cooler with soap and water. Use both regular ice or dry ice, it doesn’t matter…these things don’t care.
I know many people, including my family when growing up, live far away from ‘town’, (as its lovingly referred to for those outside of the ‘major Alaskan metropolitan areas’) and hauling big hard-sided coolers to town and back is the norm. Obviously non-compressible, these often got in the way and can be hard to pack in a smaller vehicle. There is definitely a place for hard-sided coolers, but for general everyday hauling groceries back and forth from the store to the house (sometimes several hundred miles), a soft-sided cooler like one from Polar Bear coolers could prove to be a much better option.
I have given many of these away as gifts, along with one to my brother-in-law who took salmon fillets and Alaskan blueberries to Oregon. The cooler performed as advertised for their trip and, if it means anything to you, they didn’t look like the typical Alaskan, hauling fish and game back for friends and family. Everything left frozen and arrived that way, several hours later before finding a freezer to put it in.
Polar Bear coolers also offers custom orders, custom embroidery, and many sizes and colors (including camouflage) to choose from. The smaller six pack cooler would be a perfect everyday use cooler for your lunch, where the larger 12 pack and 24 pack coolers could accommodate a multi-day road trip or even a few days on the river. Carry your drinks, your bait, meals, or whatever you want in your cooler…it’ll likely handle job, and handle it for many years.
If you choose to order a Polar Bear cooler, it will come with a one year warranty. As always, shipping to our great state can be worrisome due to outrageous shipping costs, so when I ordered mine, I called them up and they shipped USPS with no problem. Additionally, these coolers can be found in all sizes, colors, and varieties on Amazon (links above in blue) and most often can be shipped Prime, which is great for Alaskans as well. Polar Bear coolers is a great company run by nice folks making a great American product.
Visit them at www.polarbearcoolers.com