Walking through the Valley of Death with our AOCOOLER
Article written by Moab Man
Date Added: 10/18/2009
And it was HOT! Damn HOT!
In our first article we tested the durability of the AOCooler
. This consisted of rolling a loaded cooler down the side of a rock dome in Moab, Utah for 300 feet, followed by a 30 foot free fall. If you?re not familiar, slickrock is like 50 grit sandpaper ? really abrasive. The cooler was unblemished minus the piercings of the outer shell from a few cactus spines. This resulted in a Top Choice rating.
Besides the proven durability, the coolers ability to do its intended job (keep things cool) has been remarkable, but we wanted to push the cooler harder. Sure it insulates well against the Utah desert heat, but what if we rampted it up a bit...
Death Valley is on record as the second hottest place on earth at a recorded 134° F (July 10, 1913). Now that sounds like a good place to continue our testing of AOCoolers Ultimate Soft Side Cooler.
Keys in hand to the rental car, vehicle loaded with lots of water (people die out here every year from lack of water), and nine hours later I arrived in Death Valley proper. No, I didn't go to the south end of Death Valley that most people claim as having visited Death Valley. I went to the actual scorched-earth Death Valley located between Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west.
Before dropping into the basin I made sure the cooler had plenty of drinks, 12 lb bag of ice, and lunch stuff. I reluctantly put the windows down, and like the vacuum of space, the 100 plus degree air came rushing into the car. At this point the sanity of what I was doing came into question. The day was still early, and it was already hotter than what most will ever experience. And I had just shut off the air conditioning.
Dropping into the basin? all cell phone signals disappear. No people, no cell phone, no local 7-11 corner store. I was truly on my own until my planned exit out the other end of Death Valley some eight hours later.
10:00 am ? I stop for a quick picture and video shoot of the cooler; temperature is at 107°. Sure hope the cooler's ice lasts the day. Of course I could always drink the warm water, but would rather not. Something about guzzling a 107° liquid doesn't sound refreshing.
11:00 am ? The temperature is now at 112° F. Sure wish I had brought some Chapstick. Driving through Death Valley under this heat, no humidity, and the circulating air of the open windows had turned the car into a convection oven. I will never again look at the food cooking in my convection oven ever the same. Cooler is doing great.
12 noon ? It?s now 116° and I would give anything for some Chapstick, maybe even some axle grease as my lips are so dry and starting to crack. Cooler is doing great, but I'm definitely going through the drinking water in the cooler much faster than anticipated.
1:00 pm ? Sunscreen is your friend. Sightseeing and running around on foot and it doesn?t take long for the sun to burn you to a crisp. Have not seen any other Americans, but apparently some Europeans thought it a great idea to visit Death Valley in the middle of summer. Dumb, dumb idea! Went through all the water in the cooler and have started refilling it. Hmmm? this could present a problem for maintaining ice in the cooler.
2:00 pm ? Badwater, Death Valley 118° F. I have arrived at the lowest point in the western hemisphere. There is parking for the vehicle, a walkway, and a flight of stairs going down about 7-10 feet to stand at the official lowest point marker. In total it was an exhausting 50-60 feet round trip with the cooler. Really noticing the fatigue and some difficulty in staying focused. Time for a break, less movement, and need to get more water in me because I am dehydrating. Cooler is doing good but the adding of warm water has really accelerated the melting of the ice. It's a worth while trade, though, for a cold drink.
3:00 pm ? Devils Golf Course 122° F. The crazy salt formations of the Devils Golf Course are both amazing and dangerous. Signs warn that the salt is sharp enough to cut, and hard enough to break bones if you carelessly enter the course. Between the salts ability to pull moisture, and the heat radiating back, shouldn?t take long to turn a careless person into jerky. Really feeling the heat exhaustion and the cooler has become a revolving door as I keep adding water bottles and drinking what?s in there. Keeping the cooler compressed and the dead air out has helped to maximize the efficiency of the cooler.
4:00 pm ? Artists Palette 120° F. Shoot the video clip and we watch the video playback. Can really see the signs of exhaustion, heat, and dehydration as I ramble through it.
5:00 pm ? Not sure where I am, but it looks like the moon... or at least as I imagine it would. 122° F as the black rock radiates the heat.
5 something pm 117° ? Civilization! Air conditioning, cold drinks, and food! It?s been so hot that I haven?t had an appetite for any of the food I brought. What a brutal way to test the cooler as it sits in the closed up car baking under the sun.
6 or so pm. ? Can?t tell you how glad I am to be done with this test. There is not a lot of ice in the cooler, but it survived to the end of the day and so did I.
NEVER AGAIN! Death Valley demands respect and will take you out before you realize you?re physically in trouble.
As for the cooler, not only did it survive the day, but it was able to maintain some ice as I added hot bottles of water throughout the day.
Next time we revisit this cooler we will test its ability to fly? literally.