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Pop-Up Cooler in a Pinch: Airskirts ‘Inflatable Cooler’ Review

A 57-quart cooler that's small enough to store on a bookshelf — sounds amazing. So, we tested it every way we know how to see if it's worth the impressive price tag.

airskirts inflatable cooler(Photo/Will Brendza)
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I was about 2 hours into a 6-hour drive to Silverton, Colo., when I realized I’d forgotten my YETI 35 cooler in the kitchen. I’d planned on buying my camping groceries, ice, and beer somewhere along the route to fill the cooler up. But in my haste to depart from Boulder, I’d overlooked that crucial piece of gear. And that left me in a bit of a predicament.

Or at least, that would have been the case if I didn’t have a spare cooler — deflated, compressed, and stored in a drawer in the back of my truck. That’s right. I had a full-size spare cooler stored away. And I’d been keeping it there for a situation exactly like this.

My regret quickly turned to curiosity. This was the first opportunity to call the Airskirts Inflatable Cooler into action for anything besides a casual backyard party. How well would it keep my camping food and beer cold? Would it leak all over the back of my truck? Would it deflate over a few days?

I had a lot of questions as I rolled into the Safeway parking, got out the the Airskirts cooler, and started pumping.

In short: When you need a cooler in a pinch, the Airskirts Inflatable Cooler is an invaluable backup to have on hand. It’s also perfect to keep stored in your truck or RV for impromptu festivals, picnics, or beer runs. Don’t expect this cooler to keep your food and beverages cold for days on end — it won’t. But for a travel cooler or just-in-case option, there’s not much else like this inflatable ice box on the market. Just be aware of the price.

Airskirts Inflatable Cooler


  • Volume 58 qts.
  • Exterior 28" x 16.5" x 16.5"
  • Interior 24" x 11.5" x 12.5"
  • Weight (cooler only) 9.8 lbs.
  • Exterior material Drop-stitch PVC
  • Interior material Polyether TPU


  • Inflates and deflates quickly
  • Stows away easily
  • Keeps food and beverages cold long enough
  • Much lighter/easier to transport than conventional hard-sided coolers


  • Loses cold air quickly
  • Deflates over time
  • No drain

Airskirts Inflatable Cooler Review

Airskirts makes inflatable RV skirts (hence the name). Those prevent cold air from circulating under an RV and freezing components of its plumbing systems. They also help save on heating and cooling costs.

Other companies offer drape-style skirts that hang from the bottom of the RV to the ground, but Airskirts are unique in that they inflate like a bolster pillow. They’re made from military-grade drop-stitch PVC-coated canvas and use trapped air as a natural insulator.

A light bulb must have gone off somewhere within the brand, as the inflatable cooler operates much the same way.

Testing the Airskirts Cooler

Airskirts Inflatable Cooler
(Photo/Will Brendza)

I inflated the cooler in the parking lot within a couple of minutes. The inflation/deflation valves are the same Halkey Roberts valves used on most inflatable SUP boards. And it comes with a standard SUP pump with which to inflate it.

If you dread how much pumping a SUP requires, don’t worry — this cooler inflates to a lower PSI with just a handful of pumps. The lid, base, and walls are three separate chambers and inflate via their own valves. I only got a couple of strange looks from passersby as I pumped the cooler up.

Once inflated, I inserted the plastic liner and stepped back to inspect my work. Before me was a big, 58-quart, 28″ x 16.5″ x 16.5″ blue box, ready and waiting to be filled with camping food, beverages, and ice.

(Photo/Will Brendza)

I’d used this cooler once before for a backyard BBQ party at my house. And I knew from experience that I was going to have to stay on top of refreshing my ice supply over the next 4 days. This cooler, while totally functional and useful for situations like this, doesn’t keep things cold for as long as, say, a rotomolded plastic cooler made with polyurethane (PU) foam insulation.

That was all right. I needed a cooler, and this was a slick backup to have on hand. So I went inside, bought what I needed, came out, and filled the cooler with a 12-pack of beer, two 7-pound bags of ice, and all my meats, cheeses, and veggies.

I closed the lid and latched it shut with the cooler’s small strip of Velcro. The lid doesn’t seal — it just rests on top of the walls, held in place by that latch. Would it stay cold enough to keep my food fresh?

It would. But not without some caveats.

Keeping Its Cool

Stocking it full of drinks in one of my initial tests; (photo/Will Brendza)

Airskirts claims that this cooler can keep ice cold for 2 days. Maybe that’s true if you’re using it outdoors in mid-December. But for most situations when you actually need a cooler (beach or river days, road trips, camping trips, in summer’s high heat, etc.), this cooler will need fresh ice about every 24 hours.

When I finally arrived in Silverton, 4 hours after I first filled the cooler, a lot of the ice had already melted. But my food and drinks were still icy cold. There isn’t a drain plug on this thing. So instead, I tilted the ice box on its side and spilled the water out of the lid without opening it all the way. Then I bought another 14 pounds of ice and refilled it — a process I’d repeat three more times over 4 days.

This cooler works well, but requires restocking with ice the longer you need it to keep things cold; (photo/Will Brendza)

I later tested this in a temperature-controlled environment (my kitchen). I put 7 pounds of ice inside the Airskirts cooler, and 7 more inside a styrofoam gas station cooler. Because realistically, if I hadn’t had the Airskirts’ Inflatable Cooler on me in that parking lot, that’s likely what I would have bought to get me by.

I closed the lids at the same time and let them sit, checking on them at the 2-hour, 5-hour, and 10-hour marks.

By hour 2, the ice bags looked pretty similar still. But by hour 5, the ice in the Airskirts cooler had started melting notably faster. By hour 10, it was clear that the ice in the Airskirts cooler was melting about twice as fast.

That’s to be expected, though, based on the difference in size. Ice will always melt faster inside a larger container, and the 58-quart Airskirts’ cooler is just over double the size of the styrofoam. That fact aside, you could buy roughly 57 styrofoam coolers for the price of one Airskirts cooler.

A Very Specific Use Case

Airskirts Inflatable Cooler
Putting in some work to earn the cooler; (photo/Will Brendza)

Since that first trip, I’ve used the Airskirts Inflatable Cooler over the summer quite a bit — more than I thought I would, actually.

I used it when my mom wanted to send leftovers home with me and I didn’t have my YETI in the truck. I used it to keep beverages and food in separate coolers on camping trips. And I used it at BBQ parties to expand my cooler volume and accommodate the necessary quantity of beer.

This cooler really has come in handy. But I never considered making it my primary ice box. This thing shines as a backup or a travel cooler. It’s easy to store away; when deflated, it’s only 24″ x 14″ x 5″, taking up very little space in a closet or vehicle. It pumps up quickly and voilà! You’ve got an ice box, where before there wasn’t one.

But, don’t expect to throw out your premium hard-sided coolers in favor of this inflatable one. This cooler is fantastic for specific purposes and situations — for limited storage, tight spaces, spur-of-the-moment trips, and car or RV travel.

And there isn’t anything else quite like it out there. Search “inflatable coolers” on Amazon and you’ll see what I mean. Almost all of them are glorified pool toys.

Room for Improvement

Airskirts Inflatable Cooler
The 58-quart Airskirts cooler at a nearby lake; (photo/Will Brendza)

Obviously, the insulation on the Airskirts cooler leaves something to be desired. And I already mentioned that this cooler doesn’t have a drain plug. I get it — it’s inflatable — where are they supposed to put a hole? Besides, by design, the way the cooler’s plastic liner sits inside the tub would make that a complicated feature to add.

And anyway, I didn’t have much trouble draining it out of the top thanks to the nonsealing lid. That could be seen as a bonus, but I see it as a serious weak spot in the product’s design. If Airskirts could find a way to create an airtight (or even semi-tight) seal between the lid and the walls, that would go a long way in increasing the cooler’s thermal-retention properties. A better latching system wouldn’t hurt, either.

The feature that will stop more people from pressing “Buy Now” than anything else, though, is the price. The brand says that it hand-makes these coolers (stitching, welding, gluing), which probably explains why it costs $400.

Some people won’t shrug at that price. Others, won’t be able to get over it. That’s a lot of money to spend on a product that essentially doesn’t perform as well as competitors and that works best as a backup.

Airskirts Inflatable Cooler: The Final Word

Airskirts Inflatable Cooler
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Coolers are always handy to have around. The problem is, they take up a lot of space in your car, camper, or RV. They are not space-efficient pieces of gear. This one is.

Having a cooler that you can inflate when you need it and deflate when you don’t changes that. You can keep the Airskirts Inflatable Cooler stored under a bed, packed between car seats, in a duffel bag with other gear, on a shelf, or in the closet. You could even fly with this cooler as a carry-on if you really wanted to.

As a travel and road trip cooler, or a backup cooler, the one-of-a-kind Airskirts Inflatable Cooler is a real contender. Airskirts might not be upending the cooler industry just yet — but this novel inflatable cooler is not a bad first swing.

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