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Hot tip for hot-weather shopping trips

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Hot tip for hot-weather shopping trips

Will Owen | May 26, 2006 01:38 AM

Living as we do in the LA area, and liking as we do to wander far afield in search of interesting groceries, we've often faced this dilemma: wow, that fish is REALLY cheap, but if we buy it we'll have to go home right away. Or the butcher shop at the Farmer's Market has their thick pork steaks on special, but it's 90º and we're an hour from home, unless we get caught in traffic...

If you have a station wagon, minivan, SUV, or maybe just a hatchback with a 12v outlet in the back compartment, Coleman makes a splendid 40-qt.-size cooler that runs on car-type electricity. About the size of a dorm fridge, it can sit either upright or on its back. It's light and easy to handle, and since it runs on a Peltier-effect system it not only uses very little juice, you can also reverse polarity and use it as a warmer. This isn't an ad for Coleman - there are other brands and lots of sizes, too - but this thing has been riding around bungeed into place in the back of our Forester for about six months now, and it's more than earned back its approximately $80 price. It won't chill things enough for long storage, especially in hot weather, as its best effort is around 40º below ambient, but that's enough to keep the skate wings from getting stinky for a few hours. And the great thing about its being electric is that you don't have to plan for its use: it's right there all the time if you need it.

We got ours from a camping supplies store, and I've also seen this and others online. Just search for portable electric coolers.

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