It’s hard to talk up a cooler. Portable ice chests have been around since Coleman first popularized them in the ’50s, providing us with a means of keeping our beverages cold when we’re hitting the swell or participating in some post-picnic badminton. We’ve seen various iterations over the years — remember the Coolest Cooler? — but sometimes a radical redesign isn’t what we want. Meet the Ice Mule ($120).
The minimalist Ice Mule isn’t going to blow you away with features or over-the-top frills. Its appeal lies within its ultra-portable design–one that’s intended to be strapped to your back instead of trailing slowly behind you on a rugged set of wheels in the dirt. The developers took a cue from the traditional dry bag concept, outfitting the floating bag with welded seems and a ventilated pack system that provides comfort when you need it most. The 5.5-pound bag is constructed of 1000 denier tarpaulin fabric, which ensures its durability and strength in the long run, with seams rated at 65 pounds and foolproof seal intended to keep ice in and air out.
The Ice Mule is still a cooler, though. It’s designed to keep its contents cold for up to 24 hours thanks to its double-layered shell and set of insulating foam; and furthermore, you can roll the entire pack up for quick storage in the bundled stuff sack in a matter of seconds. It’s also available in a bevy of welcome storage offerings, ranging from 20 to 40 liters in size, even if it is only available in a single color. Nonetheless, there’s something to be said about a leak-proof design that’s just as simple as it is convenient — so long as you have something to fill it with. That’s what our “Swill” column is for.
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