Sportube Toaster Elite Heated Gear and Boot Bag Review
With any sport, managing and storing your gear is something that can be a less then enjoyable experience. Thankfully, companies like Sportube exist to improve this. One of their specialties is ski and snowboard gear carriers and this will be a review of the Toaster Elite Heated Boot Bag. I used to carry my boots over my shoulder with the straps together and would then carry my helmet and gloves separately and put my goggles in a jacket pocket to minimize scratching. Then I received a boot and gear bag from the US Ski Team as a thank you for some photography work I had done for them. After that, I never went back to the unorganized madness! Because of this, I was thrilled when Sportube sent me their top of the line bag to review. It features built in heating elements and space for two pairs of boots or one pair and other gear. Read on to see how this all works out in practice.
Plenty of Space for your Gear
The Toaster Elite Boot Bag manages to swallow up a good amount of gear with its large main compartment and multiple accessory pockets. I wear a size 28.5 ski boot and I had no problem storing my boots, my helmet (with goggles attached and gloves inside), a base layer, and a shell inside. I used the outside pockets to store things like extra goggle lenses, my big screwdriver, hats, and random boot stuff. I also tried putting my wife’s boots in with mine and they fit with plenty of room.
Sportube Toaster Elite Review: How Hot is Heated?
The signature feature of the Sportube Toaster Elite Boot Bag is the built in heating elements. These are designed to keep your boots nice and warm until you put them on and can be powered by a wall outlet or car’s 12v outlet. The system functions by lining the bag with the heating elements, which provide a radiant heat to the inside of the bag. To increase heat retention, Sportube uses a thick foam padding and backs it with a heat-retaining foil.
When plugged into a wall outlet, you have three temperature settings available. Low (80-85 degrees F), Medium (88-92 degrees F), and High (96-104 degrees F). The car outlet only gives you one option at 95 degrees F. So, how do these settings affect the heating of your boots? I started out cautious to avoid screwing with my finely tuned boots and put them in at the Low setting for about 5 hours. When I took them out, they were essentially what they would have been like if I had them in my non-heated bag. Perhaps with a smaller boot, that setting would have more of an affect. Next up, I tried the Medium setting and it plugged in overnight in my basement, where our boots normally live. It’s pretty darn cold down there and when I pulled my boots out in the morning, the heating had kept them from getting to a cold point that they normally would in that location. Ok, what about the High setting? Did that meet the promise of toasty boots to start the day off? After a night on the highest temp setting, I stuck my feet in my boots and was pleasantly surprised to find a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling in my 130 flex, stiff plastic race boots! Now, it wasn’t the same feeling as having an actual boot heater inside the boot but it made putting on the boots way better and easier to do. It also gave me a nice hour of time for my feet to adjust to the outdoor cold while also heating up from skiing. While it took using the highest setting, I’m glad that I was able to hit the slopes with boots that didn’t feel like they were going to snap in the cold and my feet were thankful.
The car outlet heating of the Sportube Toaster Elite is a bit of a mixed experience and has specific use cases in my opinion. First off, it only allows one temp and it can’t be increased or decreased for your needs. Fortunately, the temp they chose is on the higher side of the scale. Due to the way the bag heats the interior, a significant amount of time is required to provide effective heating. You aren’t going to heat up your boots with a 20 minute drive to the mountain or even a two hour drive. However, if you left your boots in a cold place overnight and you had a two drive, plugging it into the car outlet should get them back to a good temperature without problem. The other scenario is if you DID remember to heat them overnight and you had a commute to the mountain. Heating them in the car will do a great job of maintaining that temperature for you until you put them on.
Build Quality and Features
The Sportube Toaster Elite Heated Gear and Boot Bag is made with very high quality materials. 600D/840D fabrics combined with 1680D polyester ballistic material provide plenty of strength that should lead to long term durability. Sportube didn’t skimp on the closures and went for true YKK zippers throughout and metal hardware. I have no worries about throwing this bag into my car or putting it on the ground anywhere.
To carry the bag, you can grab it by the padded top handle or pull out the backpack straps. The backpack straps are well made and reasonably comfortable for the short distances you’ll generally be carrying the Toaster Elite. Load control and sternum straps help out with getting a decent fit. When you’re not using the straps and you want to prevent them from getting damaged, you can detach them and hide them away. Speaking of hideaway features, the Toaster Elite has a fun little zip out floor mat that gives you a place to put your feet when you’re changing, without having to do a balancing act to avoid stepping in dirty snow. Rounding out the features, I appreciated the bungie cord top of the bag that lets you easily attach a jacket or other piece of clothing to the outside for easy access.
Sportube Toaster Elite Heated Gear and Boot Bag Review: Conclusion
The Sportube Toaster Elite is a top notch option for storing and transporting your boots and ski gear. With a heating feature that makes your boots easier to put on in the morning and warmer for your early runs, you get much more than a standard bag gives you. There is enough room for everything you need and convenient backpack straps make it simple to transport. Nice features like zippered pockets and a zip out floor mat round out this great bag. The Toaster Elite is definitely an investment at $249, but the build quality is outstanding and will likely last you a very long time.
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