They are kicked around, driven over by cars, thrown into the sea or from the 20 floor and … even thrown into a fire and then examined for the extent of destruction (often to the amusement of onlookers).
We’re talking here about the famous military-look travel humidors. At the “destruction parties” that I have attended so far, the cigars inside have remained intact – with one exception. At a meeting of motorcyclists around a campfire, a small humidor with five extremely expensive cigars landed in the sea of flames at a point where no one could reach it and all we could do was watch it melt. I should like to add that this action was less a stress test for the casing than a malicious deed “amongst friends”.
The travel humidors are thus not truly fireproof, although those made of ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) plastic hold out for quite a long time. ABS begins to melt at a temperature range of 220 to 250°C, but doesn’t turn a hair at lasting temperatures of 85 to 100°C. However, how the cigars inside react to such a heat is of course a different question …
And that’s about it for the weaknesses of the military-look travel humidors. So now to the advantages. To anticipate the result: If the aim is to transport cigars from A to B without damage, these cases are the perfect thing.
I have carted thousands of cigars to countless tasting sessions in many countries and know what I’m speaking about. Before these magic cases were invented, we cushioned the cigars in scraps of newspaper, rolled them in bubble wrap or laid them in one arrangement after another in the empty boxes to make best use of the space and to prevent the cigars rolling backwards and forwards.
Our photographer also has a tale or two to tell. While in the past we had to send many a sample to the photo studio several times because cigars with a burst foot don’t look so good, today, we send the cigars for photographs around the world without a second thought – in our Xikar Travel Humidors. How times have changed.
A brief word about the materials: ABS plastic is absolutely odour-neutral. Hence the cigars are not impaired in any way. But you should be warned that there are also travel humidors made of lower quality plastics that have a relatively strong smell (as we know, cigars take on any outside smell). ABS plastic can also be melted down and reused again without any problem, making it an entirely environment-friendly substance. The foam inlay inside the humidors with its perfectly shaped beds is what actually holds the cigars, and is also free of extraneous odours. It is made of polyurethane – a permanently elastic soft foam that is also used for household sponges. When buying such a product, you should check that the closure is airtight. A groove around the container and a gasket in the lid ensure maximum airtightness.
A well-known problem that results from this is the difficulty of opening the container after a flight. Xikar’s Scott Almsberger has the solution: “Our larger models for 18 cigars and more have a pressure relief valve. After the flight, you turn it and the con- tainer can be opened without difficulty. My tip for the small models: simply place the end of a cellophane wrapper from the cigar over the edge of the lid so that it protrudes from the closed container. You’ll then have no difficulty opening it after the flight.”
Cigar lovers who like to spend their leisure by the water are delighted by this type of travel humidor. The case protects the cigars against excessive humidity by the sea, is watertight and if the worst comes to the worst will float on the surface of the water. These are advantages that, combined with the material’s low weight and resistance to wear, are a clear argument for this product category. However, there is one aspect that should not be concealed, and this concerns the mini-humidifier systems in the containers.
Personally, I find them superfluous and unsuitable. Firstly, there is a large risk that the sponge will be too wet, so that water will drip onto the cigars underneath. And secondly, I simply cannot believe that the humidity of the sponge can spread uniformly over the volume of the container. Instead, my fear is that the humidity is far too high in the immediate proximity of the sponge. A more reliable solution seems to me to be to place a Bóveda humidity pack in each layer of cigars.
This article was published in the Cigar Journal Summer Edition 2014. Read more