Onboard Amenities


Most of us have low expectations of Velcro type products, especially for onboard uses, so PS testers set out in the April 2016 issue to find out whether any of them actually work.

Scotch Extreme

We tested seven self-adhesive, Velcro tape products-including products with textile hooks and loops, molded hooks with textile loops, and plastic molded hooks on both sides-from three makers, 3M, Velcro, and Perfect.

The test samples were evaluated for shear and separation strength. Several products were also tested on board a test boat.

The products quickly sorted themselves into two groups: those with fabric loops and Scotch Extreme/3M Dual Lock. Instead of using fabric loops on one side, both sides of the Scotch Extreme have molded plastic hooks that resemble mushrooms and give an audible click when engaged.

The fabric-loop products are fine for jacket cuffs, canvas flaps, and clew straps, all of which rely on shear strength and easy removal by peeling. The Scotch Extreme, in contrast, has mediocre peel and shear strength, but massive resistance to pulling straight apart. It does not creep, it snaps securely into place, and if the bonding is at least 2 square inches, you need a screwdriver to pop it open. Its adhesive performed exceptionally well (for years), and it left behind no residue.

Scotch Extreme, which is not a replacement for Velcro, but rather a different product with different strengths, is PS Editors Choice for heavy-duty mounting of rigid objects and panels.

Tiger Thermal Magic Cooker

Retained heat cooker

Crock-Pots and rice cookers are time-savers, but theres another way to slow-cook foods, one thats easily portable and doesn’t require a constant electrical source. Retained-heat (thermal) cooking is the practice of heating a pot to boiling, simmering for just a few minutes, and then placing the pot in a well-insulated container to finish cooking with the heat that the pot and contents already have. In the May 2016 issue, we took a look at thermal cookers to see which one was the best option for weekend cruisers and liveaboards. We tested several commercial products, including the fabric Heylo Bag and Wonderbag and the Tiger Corp. and Thermos vacuum cookers, as well as a few do-it-yourself devices.

The best in its category, the 6-liter Tiger Thermal Magic Cooker (NFI-A600) garnered a spot on the Editors Choice list. The stainless pot fits inside a stainless vacuum bottle that is sealed with an insulated, locking lid. Testers found the compact Tiger system to be the easiest to use and safest against spills. Priced at $275, it would be a good choice for passagemakers and liveaboards who would use it often.

A retained-heat cooker is a useful addition to both the galley and the home kitchen. In addition to the fuel/power savings and reduced time tending to the stove, you don’t have to worry about burning food with a thermal cooker since there is no flame. Thermal cooking also makes for less heat in the galley in the summer and less moisture and carbon dioxide in the winter. Thermal cooking is great for cooking stews, casseroles, soups, desserts, and other dishes.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at darrellnicholson.com.