By GolfSpy Dave
Dave's Take: Yeti's Hopper Two 40
The Abominable Cooler
My goal for usual goal for the 19th Hole product reviews is to find the ultimate products for us to take to the golf course. I'm looking for things that help our beers stay cold, and our cigars stay rich while we stroll through nature whacking the white ball.
With today's review, let's get the obvious out of the way first. Unless you are sponsoring a beer hole at a scramble, the Yeti Hopper Two 40 is likely not the cooler that you'll be taking to the golf course. This thing is a beast, it's volume rivaling, maybe even surpassing the volume of your golf bag.
If you want a golf course cooler, go with the Yeti Hopper Flip 8 that I wrote about a little while ago. It's perfect for golf.
So why am I writing about a non-golf friendly cooler in a golf forum? Well there are two reasons actually. First of all, there are some real design improvements in the â€˜Twoâ€� version of the Hopper compared to the original. I've been using the original Yeti Hopper 20 for over a year now, and without a doubt, the improvements are significant, and worth sharing.
The second reason that I wanted to check out the Hopper Two 40 was purely beer centric, fitting nicely into the libation loving content of the 19th Hole. I was looking for a cooler that would hold road trip beers. Not beers that I take on the road, but rather those that I acquire while visiting breweries (yes, plural). I didn't want a small cooler that could only hold cans, I wanted a frigid beast capable of holding growlers. Thus chilling gallons, not ounces, was my objective.
Yeti's Hopper Two 40 Specs
The original Hopperâ„¢ proved that a soft-sided cooler could be anything but soft, and we wanted our new Hopper Two to push the limits even further.
With the Hopper Two, we've extended the cold-holding power with a tapered body that's more comfortable on longer hauls. We also wanted to make loading (and unloading) easier and increase visibility â€” new zipper placement gives you both. And lastly, we wanted to make sure the Hopper Two is still 100% leakproof, tough-as-nails, and keeps ice-for-days. Check, check, and check.
The Hopper Two 40 is the soft portable cooler that's built for larger hauls and longer days, now with a wider opening and easier access.
Â· New design means your contents go in (and out) more easily
Â· Tapered body makes extended hauling more comfortable
Â· HydroLokâ„¢ Zipper and wide-mouth opening means great accessibility and visibility to contents
Â· DRYHIDEâ„¢ SHELL - The Hopper's high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. The liner is made from an FDA-approved food-grade material.
Â· COLDCELLâ„¢ INSULATION - Closed-cell rubber foam offers far superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers.
Â· Hitchpoint grid to attach accessories
Â· MSRP: $399.99
What's New With TWO
My relationship with my Yeti Hopper 20 began back with the The Recreational Golfer article that I wrote for the blog last summer. It was my first real exposure to any Yeti product, and because of Yeti's reputation, I went into the relationship with some expectations.
Yes, I did just use the word relationship twice in the above paragraph, and that was on purpose. Relationships have their highs, and lows, and we work with both of those if we want the relationship to continue. Yes, I'm currently in a relationship with my Hopper 20.
In the ways that counted, the Hopper 20 performed like a champ, living up to the Yeti coldness pedigree. No matter the activity, golf, rugby tournament road trips to Oregon, camping, or a New Years Eve party, the Hopper 20 kept things perpetually cold, and resisted all of my accidental attempts to damage it. After more than a year of use, it's bloodied, but unbowed.
As you know though, it's rarely the big things that sour relationships. Rather it's the little annoyances that start to erode the happy place. For me, the real irritation of the Hopper 20 was the carnivorous zipper opening.
Teeth That Bite
Yeti coolers are water/air tight, and that feature plays a big role in their ability to stay cold so long. For the Hoppers, this feat is accomplished by the HydroLokâ„¢ Zipper. The teeth of the zipper lock so tightly together that not even air passes though them. Impressive engineering, for sure.
My issue with the Hopper 20 is that the opening at the top is so tight that the zipper teeth always bite into my arm when I load and unload the cooler. The flat-topped design makes the unzipped opening tight and narrow. Arm-hairs beware!
You can see right away that the new version of the Hopper has shifted from the flat top to one that is more peaked. While this may remove your ability to rest a beverage on the top of the cooler, it allows a couple of very significant features to be added.
First, there is a top handle. I appreciate the top handle on the new Hopper Flip 8, and I definitely feel the same way about the handle on the Hopper Two 40. If you want to pick up the old Hopper, you needed to grab both side handles, or the shoulder strap. When you combine this with the more rounded profile of the older Hopper, you get an initial lift that often had an unbalanced list to it.
With the Hopper Two 40, the narrower top shape, and the central top handle allow for much easier transport. Ergonomically, it's much more balanced and fits nicely into your hip or low back when you throw the strap over the shoulder.
The most significant improvement that the new shape facilitates though is the ability to mount of the zipper on the side of the cooler rather than the top. When I first unzipped the Hopper Two 40, I was excited to see that there was actually space between the sides of the zipper.
When I load this one, my arm still touches the edges, but no longer are the edges pinching in on my arm. This cooler is so much easier to load and unload than the original Hopper. I can't overstate just how much of an improvement the new zipper placement design is over the original.
What to Do With the Yeti Hopper Two 40
As I said above, the Yeti Hopper Two 40 is not a great cooler for golfing. It won't even come close to fitting in the back of your power cart, and even considering somehow suspending it below your push cart is pure madness!
So what activity niche does this cooler fit into? Actually, there are quite a few adventures that I think are ideally suited for the Hopper Two 40.
Those of us with kids know that it is time once again for youth soccer. If your town is like mine, this means thousands of parents carting their little kickers around on Saturday mornings.
Snack parents should take a long, hard look at the Hopper Two 40. This thing will devour all of the Gatorade bottles and orange slices that you can throw at it, and still have room for hopefully not needed things like injury ice packs. I can totally see teams investing in one of these coolers as part of their equipment package, rotating the possession of the Hopper to whoever has snacks that week.
The Yeti Hopper Two 40 is not for backpacking. I don't see how anyone would want to lash this monster to any part of one's body for any off-road walking. It's just too large for that, though your small kids could likely use it as a canoe at the lake.
However, if you are driving in somewhere to camp for the weekend, this cooler is great. It won't leak in your car, it keeps the ice icy, and it will hold all of the food and other stuff (aka beer) you need.
For the love of God, don't put the Hopper Two 40 in your kayak, but if you go out on the water in something larger, you'll likely appreciate the Hopper tech. It'll keep stuff cold, and you want that, and should you somehow lose it over the side of the craft, its air-tight design means that the Hopper Two 40 will float.
Though I have not tried it, maybe a kayaker could actually seal up the Hopper Two 40, and tow it behind the boat. Seems like that would work. Maybe I'll give that a go next time I'm out paddling and in need of forty cans or refreshment (aka every time paddling).
This was my initial intended purpose for the Hopper Two 40. I wanted a cooler with the storage capacity, and the wait in the car ice longevity that would allow the beer acquired through multiple brewery visits to remain cold. My previous experiences have led me to trust the Yeti name for cold keeping, so the question really came down to one of capacity.
Contents: Yeti Hopper Two 40
I predicted that the Hopper Two 40 would hold a lot. Really going out there on a limb, huh? The â€œ40â€� in the name is referring to its ability to hold 40 cans, plus ice. Think about that for a second. You can go and buy that huge 30-pack of cans, drop it in the Hopper Two 40, and after you add ice, there is still room for more beer!
Here are a couple of shots I took to show you the massive capacity of the Hopper Two 40.
Hopper Two 40 vs. Can
Hopper Two 40 vs. Wine Bottle
Hopper Two 40 vs. Yeti Rambler Â½ Gallon Jug
Hopper Two 40 vs. Three Beer Growlers
Here is where the rubber hits the road for the brewery adventures. Sure, lots of small breweries are now offering their beers in cans, or even crowlers (can growlers), but the 64oz. growler remains the staple tool to take beer home with you. I think that the magic growler number is three. Any more than that and you may not be able to drink it fast enough to enjoy the beer's freshness. Any fewer than three limits the stops you can make as you tour breweries.
You can see in the above photo that the Hopper Two 40 laughs at three growlers. Even though they look small in the photo, remember that those are 64oz. bottles. Holding three growlers represents no challenge for this cooler. Take a look at all of the open space inside!
The Yeti Hopper Two 40 will take your three growlers, lots of ice, and still leave you with room for additional content. Feel free to add a six-pack of cans, a fist full of 22oz. bombers, and/or perhaps even another growler. Leave your house with the Hopper Two 40 holding a bag of ice (maybe some Yeti Ice), and return with enough fresh beer for yourself, and maybe even a not so small gathering of friends.
This Beast Takes Burdens
The Yeti Hopper Two 40 is a monolithic cooler. Look at how it dwarfs my poor little roadster!
It's tough to overstate the immense volume that this Hopper can hold. If you need to tote forty cans, a dozen bottles of wine, or three growlers, and still have room for ice, this is the cooler for you. It may not become part of your golf gear arsenal, but it's the killer app for snack parents, and traveling alcohol procurements. Remember too that it will also keep warm things warm, perhaps making this Yeti a welcome addition to chilly autumn tailgates as well.
By GolfSpy Dave
Dave's Take: Xikar's XO Double Guillotine Cutter Review
As i've said before, part of the cigar smoking experience for me is the ritual. Not just during the smoke, but before as well. It really starts at the cigar shop, where selecting the perfect cigar adds to my anticipation for the smoking to come.
The ritual then continues through the unwrapping of the cigar, the cutting of the end, the smelling of the fresh cut end (you should try this), the lighting of the cigar, and then finally the smoking. I suppose I see cigar smoking as a luxury activity with a luxury item, and I want to enjoy as much of the process as possible.
A Thousand Ways to Cut a Cohiba
That's not really a saying, but it is definitely a point of discussion when it comes to the â€œcorrectâ€� way to cut a cigar. About the only consensus that I have found among cigar smokers is that the cigar wrapper from the mouth end must be removed before smoking. Beyond that, the methods abound.
If you are not sure of the possible options, then feel free to watch this video that I came across from Neptune Cigars showing the various cutting methods.
How to Cut Cigars : Neptune Cigars
Golfers would likely also add the poke with a tee and slice with divot tool methods to the list. Like everything else that we humans do, we likely going to discover that we have a favorite cigar opening method. For me, that's cutting.
The Xikar XO Cutter
Today, I bring you my take on the Xikar XO Double Guillotine cigar cutter. As soon as I saw the XO cutter, I knew that I had to try one out. As I said, I'm a cutter guy, and the Xikar Xi1 cutter is the welcomed workhorse in my cigar toolbox. At first glance, the Xikar XO seemed to push the already awesome double-bladed cutting of the Xi1 to a whole new level of fun.
Yep, I just said fun. That's why I smoke cigars, for fun. Anything that can add to the enjoyment of the process will get a look from me. What could not be fun about a spring-loaded double guillotine cutter? Just typing that sentence was fun. How could using the cutter not be fun too?
Specifications: Xikar XO Double Guillotine Cutter
Double Guillotine style cutter Aluminum body Stainless steel blades Planetary geared cutting system with five internal gears Spring-loaded blade release button 2.38" diameter 64 RG (cuts the cap of 70RG cigars) Colors: 8 (Gunmetal Honeycomb tested) MSRP: $99.99-$119.99
The XO is a cutting machine, inspired by timeless design principles. The dual stainless steel blades operate on a patent pending planetary gear system, ensuring the blades open and close in perfect harmony, providing a guided and clean cut every time. The distinct, round aluminum body of the XO is built for relentless durability and exceptional performance. Engineered to simplify the standard double guillotine style cut.
Using the XO is definitely not like using your teeth.
According to the Neptune video, you are never without a cutter because you can always go Eastwood and bite the end off of your gran panetela. Cutting with the Xikar XO cutter lives at the opposite end of the cigar-cutting spectrum. The only thing that you'll be doing with your teeth when you cut with the XO is showing them between your retracted lips when you smile.
Those Gears are Planetary
Raise your hands if you know what a planetary gear system is? My hand is not up, but thanks to Google, I was able to find out a bit about them. Basically, think about the solar system. You have the sun, and then the planets moving around it. That's a huge oversimplification about how these gear systems work, but you get the idea. There are multiple gears all connected together in system, and the turning of one gear is influenced by, and dependent upon the movement of the other gears. You can get really smart if you follow this link to a YouTube explanation of the planetary gear system.
While I can't really hope to understand how the gears in the Xikar XO cutter all work together, I do understand the overall result. The blades always move together, even if you only press from one side. What this means for you is that you should be able to get an even cut with minimal effort. As a brilliant bonus, Xikar included openings in the body of the XO, allowing you to see the gears turn while you use it. Dinner and a show.
Sometimes getting an even cut can be a challenge with the cheap, single blade cutters. Think cutting a tomato with a knife. Unless that knife is really sharp, and your pressure just right, the initial tomato penetration could involve squishing rather than cutting. Nobody enjoys squishing the tomato, or the cigar.
The gear-driven double blades in the XO will not squish your tomato cigar.
Cutting to the Chase
Cutting cigars with the Xikar XO cutter is as fun as I expected. Glee generates immediately when you press the button on the top that releases the spring-loaded blades. It reminds me of the first time I popped open a switchblade knife. You hit the button, and the blades extend, ready for business. Probably did this twenty times in a row when I opened up the XO box that first time. After that, maybe only five times each time I used the cutter.
Full disclosure: I also had delusions of Batman when using the XO. At some point I may have equated popping open the blades with extending the wings on a spring-loaded Batarang. I'm not in charge of where the brain takes me, and for a second, I WAS BATMAN!
As for the cutting, the XO is exactly what I expected from the company that brought me my beloved Xi1. The blades are sharp, and with the gearing, they deliver the honed steel with precision. Time and time again, you can deliver the cigar-opening cut exactly where you want it, with wrapper-shearing precision. Even on a probably too dry to smoke cigar, the cut was clean.
I actually cut up that dry cigar from stem to stern with the XO, just to be able to make more cuts with the cutter. Again, it's fun to use.
From a practical side, if you smoke big ring cigars, the XO is definitely worth checking out. 64 ring gauges can fit inside, and you can take the cap off of a 70 RG stick. I don't know if I've ever had a 70 RG cigar before. That seems huge, and yet the XO can handle it. For reference, the cigar in the photo above is 54 RG.
I feel like the XO could take just about anything you throw at it. This cutter could even help you dice carrots for dinner! Not that I cut a carrot with it. Who would do that?
Smaller gauges are also a breeze to cut with the XO because of the synced blades. You can easily bring the blades to the edges of the smaller cigar with just a bit of a press, then once in contact, press more firmly to sever. Since the blades move together, it really takes effort to cut incorrectly.
As a size reference, you can see how the overall size profile, and the cutting diameter of the XO compares to the Xi1 above. I was pleasantly surprised at how similar the two were as far as space usage in the travel humidor. Both snug into the corner quite nicely. I'd give both the full portability nod, and the fact that they both have spring-loaded blades made the gamer selection very challenging.
The XO is XtraOrdinary!
I don't think that it's a stretch to say that the Xikar XO double guillotine cutter is the coolest cigar cutter on the market. It is just so interesting to look at, and fun to use. Right now, I'm not currently smoking a cigar at all, yet I keep taking breaks from typing to click the XO open and closed.
As for the Xi1 vs XO battle, the XO is in the travel humidor. The XO definitely adds to my cigar while golfing enjoyment, and it always draws interested attention when I pop it open, allowing me to share it's coolness with others.
I think that there may also be some golf crosstraining potential in the XO. It's definitely an awesome ball marker, and I think that there may be a way to use it to draw a line on my ball. Regardless, I'm totally geared up to use the XO to cut my next stick.
By GolfSpy Dave
Dave's Take: Jaybird Tarah Bluetooth Headphones
The Jaybird Tarah headphones may have entry-level pricing, but they deliver great sound, especially when paired with the Jaybird app.
Jaybird is the Word
The Jaybird Tarah is the third pair of Jaybird Bluetooth headphones that I have taken through the review process, having previously reviewed the Jaybird X3 and Jaybird Run models. In both of the previous reviews, I was definitely impressed with the Jaybird products, especially since I had never even heard of the brand prior to the first review.
Well it’s been about a year since I published the Jaybird RUN review, and I am happy to say that those headphones, and the X3 headphones, continue to perform flawlessly. The Run headphones are a staple of my golf bag, and my son uses the X3s at the gym on a daily basis. Nothing better than your kid pilfering your cool stuff, huh?
Unfortunately for the Tarah headphones that I am writing about today, the previous experiences have elevated my expectations for this new model. It’s sort of like being the third kid to go to a high school when both of your elder siblings were valedictorians.
Although I understand that the Tarah's role is as Jaybird’s entry-level model, it still has some big shoes to fill.
Jaybird Tarah: IN THE BOX
TARAH Wireless Buds Silicone Ear Gels: S/M/L Cord Management Clips Cord Shirt Clip USB 2.0 Charging Cable + Charge Clip Color: Nimbus-Gray/Jade Price: $99.99 Comfort and Fit
Since they are of similar construction, most of my comparisons ended up being between the Tarah and the X3 headphones. The Run headphones are kind of their own thing, and not really an appropriate direct comparison.
Anyway, like the X3 model, the Tarah headphones fit into your ears using a combination of silicone fins and ear inserts. The difference here is that while the X3s had separate fins and ear buds, the Tarah headphones come with the buds and fins fused into single units.
Obviously this is going to cut into the versatility of fitting a bit. No longer can you pair small buds with large fins, or something like that. You really now only have three fit options. Hopefully one will work. For me, medium ear gels worked just fine.
One thing that I really like about the new single-piece system is that the buds and fins are always in proper alignment with each other. Occasionally, the fins can twist out of place on the X3, and the Run, headphones. On the Tarah, this can’t happen since they are single piece units.
Like the other Jaybird headphones, the Tarah headphones had no trouble staying in place through practice sessions on the range, or during workouts at the gym. Once I had the proper ear sock size, I just adjusted the cord a bit to secure them. After that, it was all about the music.
Ease of Use
Pairing is immediate. Not only for the first time that I paired them with my phone, but also when I paired them to my iPad later for movie watching. Just press and hold the power button and they are discoverable. So easy.
The controls are very intuitive. Press +/- for volume control; hold them to skip songs. Nothing crazy here, which I like. They work like they should.
Like the other Jaybird headphones, the Tarah headphones have a microphone and can be used to make calls. That’s not really a primary use for me, but they did perform just fine during some test calls.
One of the things that I like about the Tarah and other in-ear headphones is that they block out a great deal of ambient noise when you insert them in your ear. They are not noise canceling, but they definitely block the noise.
The nice thing about this is that when outside noise is reduced, you can now hear your music at lower volume, saving your battery and maybe your ears as well. The Tarah headphones can still get plenty loud, but it’s not necessary.
The sound out of the box was good, but had a bit of that small speaker feeling. Bass was pretty absent, and overall I was not that impressed. However, after pairing the headphones with the free MySound app, and tweaking the EQ sound profile to add more bass, my mind changed completely.
Once you adjust the setting on the app, the sound from the Tarah really blossoms. It was a huge difference. If you buy a pair of these, or any Jaybird headphones, the MySound app is a must use. You’ll be very pleased with the sound changing option and likely find an EQ mix that suits your style.
The Jaybird Tarah only features a six-hour battery as opposed to the eight-hour battery found in the X3. This is likely going to cover any single-setting headphone need that I have, though it will probably require more frequent recharging than other models.
The cool thing is that the battery charges quickly. You can get an hour of play with only 10 minutes of charge.
Like the Jaybird X3, charging the Tarah requires a special USB cord. If you are not prone to losing stuff, this is not likely a big deal. If you are one that spends hours searching for missing cables, then maybe you should order an extra cable.
Jaybird Tarah Headphones Review: Summary
The Jaybird Tarah headphones are solid entry-level Bluetooth headphones. For $99, you get a lightweight, easy to use, and great sounding headphones. If you need more fit versatility, then you can go to the X4 model. If you want a longer battery life, you can go to the newly released Tarah Pro with a 14 hour battery!
I think that the Jaybird Run headphones will still be my go to headphones for the driving range, because of the charging case, but for most other applications, I’m going Tarah.
Find out more at the Jaybird website, and at Amazon.
Detailed Specifications: Jaybird Tarah
Type: In-ear style Noise-isolation: Passive Impedance: 16 Ohm Speaker sensitivity: 99 +/- 3dB at 1KHz Output max. 10mW RMS (with level limit) Total harmonic distortion <5% (1KHz, 1mW) Audio format: 16-bit stereo Codec: Bluetooth SBC implementation Response bandwidth: 20Hz - 20kHz Driver size: 6 mm BLUETOOTH
Bluetooth version: 5.0 Frequency band: 2.4 GHz Profiles: Handsfree , Headset , A2DP , AVCRP , SPP Wireless range: Class 2 standard range 10m/33ft INTEGRATED MICROPHONE
Type: MEMS, omni directional Sensitivity: -38dB +/- 1dB (Test conditions: 1KHz, 0db = 1V/Pa) COMPATIBLE PRODUCTS Any Bluetooth device with HFP, HSP and A2DP WEIGHT & DIMENSIONS
Headset: 528mm x 13.25mm x 23.6mm Controller: 45.7mm x 11.7mm x 5.6mm Charger: 112mm x 33.6mm x 7.2mm Weight of headphones (without ear gel): 13.85g Weight of charger: 6.5g BATTERY
Play time: 6 Hrs* Charging time: 2+ Hrs Quick charge: 10 min = 1+ hour playtime Charging: Via USB charging cable with Pogo pin connector Input power: DC 5V 1A Type: Lithium Ion Battery voltage: 3.8V Energy voltage in watt hrs per battery: 0.2wh *May vary dependent on usage, device & aging
By GolfSpy Dave
With the Warming Comes The Coolers!
Truth be told, it wasn't that cold in NorCal in the winter. I've played some cold rounds of golf, but I'd definitely qualify them as California cold. That's the cold where I'm wearing three layers of pants, and those that live where that snow stuff falls would likely view the weather as tropical, and be playing in shorts. I'll concede the point that some of you are more winter resistant than I am.
But the winter is finally going away. Even if it's still snowing like a beast on your driveway, the fact that it's The Masters week means that spring is here! There may not be much evidence of spring in Minnesota right now, but the azaleas and green jackets of Augusta sing the song of spring's arrival.
That means that summer is coming soon too. Oh, how I long for the searing embrace of July...
While my body may appreciate the eminent increases in temperature, my play beverages typically do not. Right now, I welcome all warmth on the course, but is a couple of months, warm beer will not be the accepted recipe for quenching thirsts.
As such, I thought that there would be no better way to kick off the 2018 19th Hole season than to review the latest cooler from YETI. Last year, I decided that the YETI Hopper Flip 8 was the greatest golf cooler ever created. This YETI Backflip 24 will be the first 2018 contender to that throne.
It holds 24 Cans, Flips Open, and Goes on Your Back
So the name is not crazy innovative, but it's catchy, and it tells you exactly what to expect from the YETI Backflip 24. This cooler expands Yeti's soft sided cooler Hopper offerings into uncharted territories. Sure, they have other coolers that can hold about 20 cans, but the Backflip 24 is the first cooler that can be worn like a backpack.
How is a backpack cooler appropriate for golf? We will get to that shortly, but first let's take a look at the cooler itself.
Specs and Features: YETI Backflip 24
Like YETI's other soft sided coolers, the Backflip 24 comes equipped with the standard specs that make these coolers cold-securing beasts. To review:
The Hopper's high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. The liner is made from an FDA-approved food-grade material.
Closed-cell rubber foam offers far superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers.
The toughest, highest-performing waterproof and leak proof cooler zipper in the world.
I've been using YETI Hopper coolers for a couple of years now and they have definitely lived up to the expectations. I've taken them to the golf course, camping, on road trips, to all-day youth rugby tournaments, swim meets, and so on, and never once has the Yeti failed to keep its contents cool, or suffered any kind of mechanical failure.
The Backflip 24 features the same insulation and zipper system as the other soft-sided Hopper coolers, and the combination of the two, really keep the cold insides cold. The combination of YETI Ice and normal ice kept the inside of my Hopper 40 cold for days last summer while camping.
Remember though, no dry ice, or the YETI will become pressurized as the dry ice sublimates. A high pressure cooler is not a safe cooler.
It's a Cavernous Cooler
The YETI Backflip 24 devours cans and bottles. Twenty-four cans fit inside without issue, fitting in as three rows of eight cans, or as two sideways rows of twelve each. In either configuration, there was room left over for ice.
I think that the picture above does the best job of showing the capacity of this beast. I have placed a six-pack and a 22 oz. bomber inside of the Backflip 24. Yep, that tiny little bottle in there is a 22 ounce bottle.
This cooler should be able to store any of your tall beverages, easily swallowing a champagne bottle, or a fifth of one's favorite spirit. Only the tallest magnum will poke its nose above the lip of the Backflip.
Back That Cooler Up
The real design tweak with the Backflip 24 is that it is designed to be worn as a backpack, allowing you to take the weight of the cooler, and canned content, off of a single strapped shoulder, and distribute it over both shoulders. Spreading the weight around reduces the overall strain of carrying the cooler, much like adding the second shoulder strap did with the golf bag.
The shoulder straps and back pad are sufficiently padded for comfort, though I wish they were a little more ventilated. Most of the modern backpack systems utilize some kind of geometric foam system in the straps and pads to maintain comfort while facilitating cooling by improving air flow. These pads are a bit old school.
Once you load it all up, you are looking at quite a bit of weight on the back. Here is a shot showing the weight of a cooler loaded up with 24 cans. Add some ice, and the weight would be even higher.
Thankfully, YETI has added two optional strap systems to help with the load. There is a chest strap that you can attach to remove some of the shoulder pull, and a waist belt that really helps to move quite a bit of weight from the shoulders to the hips. Those of you who have done any backpacking know of the power of the waist strap.
YETI vs. RTIC SIDE NOTE
Since this is always a point of discussion, I thought that I'd share my experiences comparing the two brands. I actually have also purchased a few RTIC coolers in the past year, buying three of the 8 can lunch box sized coolers for Christmas presents last December.
Side by side, the quality and design differences between the two brands was pretty obvious, with the YETI being better built. Sure, you'll save some money with the RTIC, but that savings is reflected in what you get in the product. RTICs are nice, but the YETI coolers are of higher quality, at least in my opinion.
OK, It's A Cool Cooler, But GOLF?
So you may never require twenty-four beers on a golf course, but if you need them, the YETI Backflip 24 will snuggle nicely into the cart rack between the seats and the clubs. The base diameter is just perfect to slide in, and even with the tall profile, the cooler doesn't immediately call attention to itself. You are one jacket cover up away from full marshal avoidance.
You can keep a foursome worth of snacks and beverages cold in the Backflip 24 without issue in your cart.
Out of the riding cart, the Backflip 24 loses some of its golfability. It's probably not going to work too well on your back, if you are also planning on carrying a golf bag on your back. I suppose you could put your golf bag on your back, and the cooler on your front, but Ms. Manners would definitely frown on that look.
Push carters will probably also balk at the wearing of the cooler, though it's much more of a possibility when your clubs are on a cart. You could wear the Backflip 24 while you push your clubs, but odds are that you are pushing your clubs to get their weight off your back in the first place.
If you are a walker, I'd go with the Hopper Flip 8.
Off of the course, I've really found value with the backpack configuration of the Backflip 24. Using a more traditional cooler, I can't count the number of times that I've run out of hand and shoulder space when trucking gear to a youth sporting event, or even when heading to a neighborhood BBQ (walking there, naturally.)
Putting the cooler on the back frees up all kinds of carry-ability for other stuff, and the weight of the beverages and such really dissipates when placed on your back as opposed to your hands or single shoulder. Though I'll likely never use this cooler when walking the course, it has become the goto cooler for other beverage requiring events. It cross trains very well.
BONUS COVERAGE: YETI Sidekick DRY
One of the complaints that I've had with the stock YETI coolers is that there aren't exterior, or interior pockets to store your non-cooler junk like phones, wallets, and keys. It would be nice to have a spot for them so that they need not be stuffed into pockets or socks.
For my Hopper 12, I purchased the previous incarnation of the Sidekick, and it did a nice job of holding the extra junk, easily attaching to the HitchPoint grid on the outside of the cooler. The issue was that the zipper on top was not totally water proof. Resistant, sure, but the contents were not dry-bag secure.
Such is not the case with the new YETI Sidekick Dry. This pouch opens like a dry bag, with a double layered system that prevents any water penetration. The top folds over, and then a series of plastic and magnets securely seal that inner opening.
This new Sidekick attaches to the cooler using the same HitchPoint system, aka perfectly measured loops that attach via Velcro. If you are looking at this cooler, I'd take a look at the Sidekick Dry too as it makes the overall product much more of a one stop carrying item when the Backflip and the Sidekick Dry are combined.
By GolfSpy Dave
UE BLAST: A BOOM with a Bonus
Ultimate Ears for Ultimate Bluetooth Audio
Time and time again, I have been impressed with Ultimate Ears speakers. Those of you who have followed along with the speaker reviews, or checked out my audio addendum thread, know that my love and respect for the tune delivery of UE speakers is based upon not one or two models, but SIX MODELS. From the ROLL to the WONDERBOOM, these speakers are the gold standard portable audio units for me, by quite a large margin.
Today, we add a seventh model to the review set, the UE BLAST.
With the BLAST, Ultimate Ears brings their superior audio delivery to the world of smart speakers. Not only are we looking at a speaker that will pair with your phone through Bluetooth, but also one that has the potential to do so much more through the power of Amazon's Alexa wireless connectivity.
For me, the most important thing to address first is sound quality. I really don't care what else a speaker can do if lousy sound quality makes me not want to listen to it.
I am happy to say, and not a bit surprised, that the UE BLAST has UE BOOM audio prowess. This speaker delivers the same rich, 360Â° sound that the UE BOOM and MEGABOOM speakers are known for producing. Bass is deep, perhaps not trunk-rattling, but like the other UE speakers, the BLAST delivers more bass than one would expect from a small speaker.
You can see from the family photo that the BLAST is not quite the same size as the BOOM. My guess is that UE needed just a little more room to house the Alexa-enabling hardware. Regardless, we are still looking at cup-holder portability. The BLAST will have an easy ride along in your golf cart, or in the drink holder on your pushcart.
The on-unit controls are just like those found on the other UE speakers. You control volume with the larger + and â€“ buttons, with power and pairing controlled by the buttons on the top. The BLAST charges with the included USB cable and outlet adapter.
Additionally, keeping with the BOOM design, the BLAST is equipped with a carabiner-friendly D-Ring on its base. That D-Ring allows you to attach the BLAST to just about anything, but it also can be removed to enable a new way to charge the speaker.
The UE Power-Up system is new to the UE BLAST (and MEGABLAST) line. Once you swap out the original D-Ring for the one included in the Power-Up package, you can now charge the BLAST by setting it on the Power-Up base.
This will allow the UE BLAST to become a more permanent digital appliance, though it can be moved off of the base easily enough. This does ensure that the BLAST will always be charged and available, and charging no longer requires flipping open the charging port and attaching the cable. Plus, it's pretty hard to forget to charge the speaker if you have a charging base to put it away on.
All in all, the BLAST audio is just like BOOM audio, and for me, that's a really good thing.
The only real negative sound-wise with the UE BLAST is that it cannot pair with the other UE speakers in the PartyUp section of the UE BOOM app. Sadly, the BLAST must party solo. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed with a software/firmware update down the road, allowing the BLAST to join the party too.
Getting to the Point: The BLAST is SMART
If all we had to look at was the audio of the BLAST, I can see where one would wonder about why UE would release the BLAST when we already have the BOOM. To put it simply, the UE BLAST is smarter than the BOOM.
Smart speakers are really starting to take hold in the marketplace. I think that Apple's iPhone Siri function is likely responsible for introducing consumers to the concept of voice control. Now, two of the tech biggies, Google and Amazon, are pushing the voice-control envelope, ideally pushing it right into your living room.
The UE BLAST gets its â€œsmartsâ€ through Amazon, thus making your new digital assistant Alexa just a spoken â€œAlexaâ€ away.
When it comes to voice command, I'm kind of old school. I don't use Siri much, and I definitely did not have a smart speaker in the house before the BLAST arrived. As such, I went into the whole smart speaker thing bright-eyed and blank-slated.
As a long-time Amazon Prime user, I was most excited about using the BLAST to access Prime Music without the necessity of a cell phone intermediate. â€œAlexa play...â€ was the first command issued to the BLAST, and then the music began to play.
If you use Amazon Music, the Alexa interaction is very seamless. IHeartRadio and Tunein are also supported over wifi, but the real killer app is Amazon Music. They even hook you up with three months of Amazon Unlimited when you sign-in with the BLAST app. Yes, you will need to download an app on your phone to get everything connected and the BLAST running, but after that, BLAST can fly solo.
You can use the voice control to play specific songs, artists, and Amazon Music Stations (my favorite). Communication is easy, and Alexa does a pretty good job of understanding you, though when I ask for The Smiths, she always sends me to Sam Smith. What's wrong with The Smiths, Alexa?
You can also adjust volume, skip songs, repeat songs, play, and pause all just by asking Alexa to do so. It's actually more convenient than I expected, especially when doing something that is occupying your hands, like typing.
As for what else Alexa can do for me, that I'm still exploring, and I think that it's expanding as well. Here is a LINK to the Alexa part of Amazon. If you scroll to the bottom, you can see more of the things that you can do with Alexa, from ordering an Uber, to controlling the lights and thermostat in your house (add on products required).
As I mentioned before, I'm new to smart speaker land, and I don't know exactly what Alexa's job description will ultimately look like. I think that it will take some time to move from a phone-based wireless interface to the voice-based one from Alexa. It is cool though to see the technology, and capabilities develop. Check that link above. You really can do a lot of stuff with Alexa!
BLAST vs. BOOM vs. Amazon â€œOtherâ€
The MSRP on the UE BLAST is $229.99, coming in at $30 over the BOOM 2's MSRP and more than that when you check the BOOM 2 prices on Amazon and Best Buy. Alexa hardware can be had for as low as $30 for an Echo Dot.
So is the BLAST worth it? That's really up to you and what you want to use it for. If you have neither speaker, nor Alexa hardware, the BLAST is right there price-wise. Remember too that the speaker will work just like the other UE speakers too. That's a huge plus if you don't have one yet.
If you are on the fence about the whole smart speaker thing, maybe saving the money to just get a BOOM 2 is the way to go. If you just want to chat with Alexa and hear music through her tiny speaker, go with the cheap Amazon device.
Anyway, the UE BLAST is a solid marriage of the UE high-quality audio and Amazon Alexa's smart-speaker platform. I'm curious to see if the whole smart-speaker thing really becomes an integral part of our daily lives or not. If not, you'll still be left with a great speaker.
Specifications: UE BLAST Smart Speaker
Â· Maximum Sound Level: 90 dBC
Â· Frequency Range: 90Hz - 20kHz
Â· Drivers: Two 35mm active drivers and two 81mm x 39mm passive radiators.
HANDS-FREE VOICE CONTROL
Â· Amazon Alexa built-in for hands-free voice on Wi-Fi, both at home or on-the-go. BLAST / MEGABLAST is a standalone Alexa enabled device and does not require an Echo or Dot.
FAR-FIELD VOICE RECOGNITION
Â· Multiple microphones with beam forming technology and noise cancellation enable a smooth far field voice recognition and control experience.
Â· Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery for up to 12 hours of battery life.*
Â· Requires a Wi-Fi router with 802.11 a,b,g, or n for first time setup. Audio Playback supported for BluetoothÂ® devices with advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP).
Â· Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) networks
Â· Bluetooth - Pair up to 8 BluetoothÂ® enabled source devices.
Â· Wi-Fi range: 100m / 330ft
Â· Bluetooth range: 45m / 150ft
Â· Wi-Fi network and a compatible Android or iOS mobile device required. Minimum OS requirements are iOS 10.2 or Android 5.0. Certain skills and services may require subscription or other fees. When tethering to a mobile device hotspot, standard data rates may apply.
Â· IP67 waterproof and dustproof. BLAST can be immersed in liquid up to 1m for up to 30 minutes.
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