Monday, August 12, 2013

Thermo-nators and Kool-water bags

Life has a way of surprising me. I had no thought, when we moved to the high desert last year, that we’d end with a small manufacturing process going on in the shop.

Derrill and I are busily turning out Thermo-nators and Kool-water bags.

Thermo-nators are heat shields that strap to the inside of your leg as you ride an ATV to protect from the heat radiated from the engine and transmission. The first ones I made were from ironing board covers, but they’re not washable. We had canvas on hand, and I figured that the light color would reflect the heat and be washable, too. I also knew that before the advent of modern fabrics, firefighters’ coats were made of canvas. So, I made a pair of these heat shields out of canvas with a low-loft polyester batting as insulator. They worked, and Derrill dubbed them Thermo-nators. We’re now in production, and you can find them at

We’re also turning out Kool-water bags. It’s a way of ensuring that on the hottest day, with no refrigeration, you’ll still get a cool drink. You can find them at

They work on the principle of evaporative cooling. The canvas allows moisture to seep through, and as that water evaporates, it brings down the temperature of the water inside. I don’t understand how it works, I just know that it does.

Not only that, it’s made out of renewable materials and helps keep plastic water bottles out of landfills.

When Derrill and I were young, canvas water bags were ubiquitous in the southwest. You’d seldom see a car traversing a long stretch of desert highway without a waterbag hung on the antenna or hood ornament. But with the advent of plastic thermoses and in-house icemakers, they pretty much disappeared.

Here’s how we came to be making them: Derrill wanted to find a water bag to take when we went out on our ATVs. I searched online to find one for his birthday and ended up buying one on Ebay that was probably as old as I am. It was in pretty tough shape (kind of like me), but after he replaced the grommets, we took it out with us. Sure enough, even when the temperature was nudging a hundred, the water in the bag stayed cool.

As I had searched on line for a bag for Derrill, I found other people who were asking where to get one. It seemed that no one was manufacturing them. Until now.

So, if you drop by to see us, check in the shop. (I call it the sweatshop.) We’ll be there, churning out Thermo-nators and Kool-water bags.


Tanya Parker Mills said...

And to think Christine and I were there when the idea first bloomed! Congratulations to both of you for putting your heads down, forging ahead, and making it a reality. :D

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, Tanya. I never doubted, even with all the failures, where the water poured out like coming through a sieve. One of the funnest thing about going to festivals with our water bags is all the people who have a water bag story. Of course they all have gray hair, but we're hoping to introduce them to a new generation.

Shana Adair said...

Thank you for the kool water bag :)
Being one of the younger generation who has never heard of these I'm excited for Ken and I to use it next time we go camping.