Frigid Rigid and other brands fly off shelves, de­spite cost

Frigid Rigid and other brands fly off shelves, de­spite cost

RSWLiving - - Features - BY CRAIG GAR­RETT

The ur­ban leg­end con­firmed as au­then­tic be­gins with a boat fire. “Ev­ery­one present at the dock,” the char­ter cap­tain later wrote, “was amazed what was found af­ter the Is­lam­orada Vil­lage Fire De­part­ment put out the fire on our ves­sel.” Amid the boat’s ru­ins sits a charred ice chest, its lid open and a clear look at ice float­ing inside. “I am en­clos­ing some pho­tos, please see for your­self,” the cap­tain wrote of a Frigid Rigid ice chest sur­viv­ing the dock fire. His pic­tures were posted to the Frigid Rigid web­site (frigid­rigid.com).

Art Link is tick­led by such un­so­licited tes­ti­mo­ni­als sent to the Frigid Rigid of­fices in Fort My­ers. “I’m still amazed at the sto­ries we get,” says Link, pres­i­dent of the firm that man­u­fac­tures ice chests, freez­ers, re­frig­er­a­tors, ac­ces­sories and wa­ter­craft. “It’s our best sales ad­ver­tise­ment.”

Wel­come to the new world of su­per-pricey ice chests, $5,000 so­lar re­frig­er­a­tors and small boats that can cost more than a used Mercedes. Com­pa­nies such as Frigid Rigid, Yeti, Tervis, Pel­i­can and oth­ers own the mar­ket on ex­trav­a­gant ice and tackle cool­ers, drink­ing cups, truck boxes and some small wa­ter­craft.

Even com­pa­nies known for less ex­pen­sive outdoor items―Coleman and Igloo, for ex­am­ple―sell $400 ice chests. Bait and recre­ational shops can’t keep enough of these items in stock. A $40 Yeti drink­ing tum­bler is gone as quickly as it is stocked, says Frank Bap­tis­teller, camp­ing man­ager at Bass Pro Shops in Fort My­ers. “When [cus­tomers] re­al­ize the prod­ucts hold ice longer in this heat, they’re sold,” he says.

Own­ers ar­gue that shelling out ex­tra bucks is great, but only if prod­ucts en­dure, hold ice for days―or sur­vive a fire. “I’ve got a 95 Quart Frigid Rigid,” a writer named Sciz­zle wrote on a blog called The Hull Truth. “One of the new ones with their up­graded foam; Ice­landic or some­thing. I love it. Just took it out yes­ter­day; it was 85

“Worth ev­ery penny in my opin­ion. It is a lit­tle heavy, but I’m a big boy, I think I can han­dle it.” —Blog­ger Sciz­zle on Frigid Rigid ice chests

de­grees and in the di­rect sun­light all day on the boat and the ice didn’t melt. Worth ev­ery penny in my opin­ion. It is a lit­tle heavy, but I’m a big boy, I think I can han­dle it.”

Frigid Rigid started as a garage project in Key West. The founder, a char­ter skip­per, was up­set that ice chests in 1980 couldn’t keep ice for a day trip, Link says. Frigid Rigid had a cult­like fol­low­ing, ex­panded its line and ul­ti­mately was pur­chased by Link. He has grown the busi­ness to in­clude dozens of cool­ers and ac­ces­sories, even a spe­cial con­tainer to ship trans­planted or­gans. He ex­hibits Frigid Rigid prod­ucts at boat shows, al­ways sell­ing out his dis­play and tak­ing or­ders for more, he says.

Rigid boats (rigid­boats.com) are the same sturdy con­struc­tion, but they’re pricey. Link sold a cus­tom 17-foot run­about for $50,000 be­cause of its ex­cep­tional crafts­man­ship and su­pe­rior de­sign, he says. An 8.5-foot Rigid dinghy, with ac­ces­sories and en­gine, runs al­most $13,000. Yet, Link says, he can’t keep up with de­mand. “Peo­ple want qual­ity, and they’re will­ing to pay for it.”

The key to a good ice chest, Link says, is a thick lid seal­ing firmly to the body, a de­sign that Frigid Rigid pi­o­neered. A wet foam blown into the fram­ing keeps ice fur­ther cur­tained from heat. With a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive rub­ber hinge, the de­vice seals tightly―and it lasts for years, Link says. He has older cool­ers in his of­fice that still seal like a bank vault. His firm, he says, has tested Frigid Rigid and com­pet­ing prod­ucts in di­rect sun, re­port­ing its 65-quart cooler re­tained some ice through one week. “I’ve had my Frigid Rigid cool­ers for 15 years over 3,400 boat­ing hours and they are still like new,” a blog­ger us­ing the name Fish Mag­net writes. “It’s a no-brainer in my book. The only neg­a­tive is that they are a lit­tle heav­ier so if that mat­ters for some rea­son, get some­thing else.”

Ma­son Wider at Whit­ney’s Bait & Tackle on Sani­bel says a 45-quart ice chest for about $400 is a deal. “You buy one and never need another,” he says. “They’re heavy duty and keep your stuff cold.”

A Frigid Rigid ice chest, con­structed of fiber­glass with a weather-re­sis­tant ma­rine-grade gel coat, keeps con­tents cold for days.

Rigid Boats are 100 per­cent fiber­glass and fea­ture a solid one-hull de­sign. This 10-foot Sport model starts at more than $17,000.

Rigid Boats, like this 17 Sport model, of­ten have Frigid Rigid cool­ers built in. Below is a com­bi­na­tion 100-quart cooler and six-drawer tackle cen­ter.

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