At a certain point—probably around 300 cigars—people will begin to realize that storing cigars in desktop humidors is not very efficient. Desktop humidors aren’t great for storing boxes, the ratio of deep walls to interior storage capacity isn’t ideal, and they can be quite expensive. That often leads people to turn to friends or the internet—I’m sure some of you are here for that exact reason—to figure out if there is a better solution for bulk cigar storage.
As it turns out there is. There are cabinet humidors, converted wine coolers, or even people who have converted closets into walk-in humidors. But for many, the most bang for the buck has long been to take large coolers, around 120-, 150- or even 200-quart capacity, and use them to store cigars inside.
But there’s an even better mousetrap: smaller 60-quart sealed plastic containers.
WHAT IS IT?
First of all, these were previously branded under the Ziploc name but now seem to be sold under the Iris name. The containers seem to be identical, except for some Ziploc markings on the handles and lid. In fact, the Ziploc versions were oftentimes shipped in cardboard boxes that said Iris on them.
Quite simply, it’s a big, sealed, plastic container. The exterior is listed at 23.6 inches x 17.75 x 11.22. Most of the interior is 21 inches x 16 x 10.5, though at the outer edges it’s actually a tad bit longer, around 21.75 inches because of how the middle handle is attached.
There are six simple clamps that hold the lid in place, and most importantly, allow the ring of foam that runs inside the lid to provide a better seal.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
$14-20 depending on whether or not they are on sale and whether you buy them in single quantity or four-packs. Of note, it would appear this specific size is only sold at Target.com, not at Target stores or other retailers.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
It’s a big, sealed plastic container.
Before you put cigars inside, you are first going to want to wash it out to get rid of the plastic smell. A bit of dish soap and a garden hose will do the trick. Once it’s been dried out, you are ready to begin filling it up. Because it’s plastic and not wood, no seasoning is required.
You are also going to need some humidification. I use Bovedas, but humidity beads would also work. You could definitely use a smaller electronic humidifier in here, but I prefer either Bovedas, a Boveda competitor or beads because those will allow you to move the bins around without the risk of spilling water.
Beyond that, it’s just a matter of checking in to make sure your humidification doesn’t need to be refilled or replaced. Because the containers are plastic, you are likely to experience far fewer humidity swings than you would in a wooden container.
To give you an idea of the potential savings, I decided to create some points of comparison with other storage options.
|Product||Number of Cigars Stored||Cost||Humidification Cost||Cost Per Cigar|
|Coleman 150 Quart Cooler||820||$77||$180||$0.31|
|Tower of Power II||1,767||$1,048||$200||$0.71|
|Cheap Desktop Humidor||100||$125||$48||$1.73|
- Iris / Ziploc 60 Quart — It’s worth noting here that the Bovedas are four times the price of the actual bin. I decided that you would need four of Boveda’s large 320-gram packs throughout the course of the year. This is probably overkill as I’m generally using about 12 60-gram Bovedas per year, but either way it is still less than what Boveda would recommend. Of note, that $72 is a revolving cost, though not an issue if you were to use something like humidity beads.
- Coleman 150-Quart Cooler — Sam’s Club has a pretty aggressive price on the Coleman. I determined that it could hold around 820 cigars based off comparing the interior dimensions to the Iris. This would not be a comfortable 820 cigars but I’m guessing if you really tried you could fit over 1,000 cigars of normal size in here, but good luck getting to the bottom. Once again, the humidity is via Boveda packs and ends up being more expensive than the cooler.
- Tower of Power II — This is a popular cabinet humidor sold by Quality Importers, though the Tower of Power name is an exclusive for Cigars International. We own this humidor and it’s not great, but it’s about the cheapest full-size cabinet humidor you can buy new. For this, I paired it with a $200 Cigar Oasis electronic humidifier. One note: Cigars International advertises this humidor as being able to store 2,000+ cigars, and while that’s possible, it’s neither probable nor practical. Once again, I used the same ratio for the interior dimensions to come up with the 1,767 number. Even that’s a bit much as it would mean you would have 5-foot stacks of cigar boxes as the 1,767 number doesn’t include any room for trays.
- Avallo TD — While I’ve never used an Avallo—I suspect we will review it sometime next year—I know people that have and love them. Avallo says this unit can hold approximately 60 boxes, so I decided that this was a 1,200-cigar capacity.
- Vigilant Display 2000 — We own an older version of this humidor and it works quite well. I’m guessing it can store more than the advertised 2,000 cigars. For the price, the only option I added was an upgraded digital humidification system.
- Colibri Heritage Humidor — My go-to desktop humidor recommendation at the moment. Given that I recommended not using the included humidification, I decided that $48 worth of Bovedas would be needed to get through the year. I ended up using the street price of around $330 compared to the $495 MSRP.
- Cheap Desktop Humidor — You can find plenty of different 150-count humidors for around $100. Given that those humidors likely are only going to store 100 cigars, I knocked down the capacity. I also added $48 for a year’s worth of Boveda.
- Plastic is a Better Seal — Ever been told to do the whoosh test? Or, the dollar bill test? Well, none of that’s really relevant here, plastic seals better than wood. And plastic with a piece of foam and some clamps seals a lot better.
- The Value — If you were to remove the estimated humidification cost from the Iris and Coleman options, it ends up costing about 5.1 cents per cigar for the Iris versus 9.4 cents for the Coleman. That’s also assuming you are paying $18 for the Iris and that you are able to get the Sam’s Club deal of $77 for the Coleman. In most scenarios, the Iris is probably half the price per cigar compared to the Coleman.
- The Size — My biggest issue with the big 150-quart coolers is that they just are too big. The size makes them a pain to move, a pain to find a place to store them and even a pain to sift through while trying to find a cigar. Unless you have some sort of system of shelves, trying to sort through 40 boxes of cigars is not that enjoyable. That said, the Iris bins seem to find a happy medium between bulk storage and overwhelming storage.
- You Can Stack Them — While I don’t know how many of them you should stack, we have stacks of four filled bins in the office. So far, I haven’t noticed any damage.
- They Are Clear — This could be a con for some, though I suspect for many this is going to be a really appreciated feature. The clear nature means that you can see what’s being stored which is really helpful if you have multiple bins.
- If You Ever Stop Smoking Cigars These Are Probably Still Useful — I think that’s self-explanatory.
- Damaged in Transit — While we haven’t had any issues with the Iris bins once we start using them, we’ve probably had 15 percent of the ones we’ve ordered show up with some form of damage. In most cases, it’s pretty minor: a broken handle, a tiny crack that is basically a big scratch or something similar. A few of the units we’ve ordered aren’t really usable due to damage to the lid or more substantial cracks.
- They Are Out of Stock, A Lot — Target seems to be the only place to buy this specific version of the bin and it routinely is not in stock. They also aren’t available in stores, or at least none of my local stores. Fortunately, the Container Store sells a nearly identical version, though at a bit of a mark-up.
- They Are Ugly — While I don’t think they are any uglier than the big white coolers, these things are not pretty to look at.
- They Are Clear — I suppose there’s a scenario where these bins being exposed to direct sunlight could damage your cigars. While I haven’t done any testing, I’m guessing that if the clear nature ended up being an issue, the real issue is probably the temperature in the room and not the lights itself. But I suppose if you were to store loose cigars in this bin and put it in a bright room that was temperature-controlled the Iris bins would protect the cigars less than the coolers would, but that’s a pretty specific issue.
- They Won’t Slide — I used to store a big white cooler in an under stairs closet and would just slide the cooler in and out when needed. The Iris bins don’t have a smooth bottom due to the molded plastic that is at the bottom to help with the stacking. I am guessing some furniture sliding felt would help this a lot, but it’s worth pointing out.
The most obvious competition is any number of very similar products or different-sized Iris bins. I don’t really have any experience with those products but I’m guessing that something like this will perform identically to the 60 Quart version.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Perhaps more than any other product I’ve ever reviewed, I think you should buy these Iris bins. If you’ve invested in a walk-in humidor or a quality cabinet humidor, or you have a healthy ratio of cigars purchased to cigars smoked, sure, this isn’t something you need. But if you are using a large cooler, a collection of desktop humidors or something else—or at a juncture where these are under serious consideration—the Iris is probably the way to go. Not only are they cheaper, but I think they are better and less fuss than many of the large cabinet humidors. If this product didn’t exist I’m not sure what we would have been done for our growing cigar collection, but I’m guessing it would have involved more headaches and a lot more money.