We put the IceMule Traveler 35L Cooler to the test!
I have always had a fascination with coolers. As I have gotten older, I’ve learned to look at coolers as more than just a weekend accessory and more of an emergency necessity. So, like most guys out there I was around when the roto-molded cooler revolution took place, and everyone seemed to abandon their old red Igloo and move to a big bulky roto-mold design that made ice preservation top priority.
I also made that transition, but quickly learned that a large 35 plus roto-molded cooler full of ice and enough drinks for the weekend boat adventure was not a one man move. Even with wheels on the cooler you risked pulling your back out getting the thing up and down steps or over into the boat. It wasn’t long before the large roto-molded cooler found its way permanently inside the boat, and I was buying a separate smaller cheap soft-backed cooler for short outings, beach settings, or general usage.
When IceMule reached out to us asking for a testing article on their Traveler 35L cooler, we jumped at the challenge. They submitted to our editors two coolers, one for testing and one for photography.
This cooler was so light weight I honestly couldn’t believe it. The construction material and the various pockets and storage/carry options made the cooler almost perfect. This cooler is top of the line. I’m going to re-iterate here the light weight feel of this cooler for its size. Comparing it to a 35L roto-mold cooler is like comparing a tractor to a small moped. This would be a cooler, even filled with ice and drinks, that one person could easily manage. One other thing that caught my attention was that this cooler could also double as a carry-on bag for airport travel. I can totally see myself using this for extra clothing, and then unpacking and using it as a cold drink storage system while on vacation.
How Did It Perform
The real test was the ice challenge. Stopping along on my way to the office, I purchased 2 bags of ice from the local gas station, busted up the ice, opened the cooler and poured both bags in immediately. Two large bags of ice only filled this cooler about ½ way to the top, and I would say when the cooler is full of beverages, three bags of ice would probably be the idle amount. I decided to sit the cooler in my front seat of my expedition and let it sit there with ice in it. I would check in on the cooler ever 8 hours to see how the melting process was going.
After 24 hours, the ice had started melting slightly, but I was certainly surprised at how well the soft-backed Traveler had preserved the ice. I rate coolers, not so much on melting, but if the contents in the cooler would remain in good condition for consumption, and after 24 hours, that answer is a resounding yes. So, I zipped the cooler back closed and let it sit a longer.
That evening, I checked the ice again. It had melted a little more but was certainly still in solid state and would get any beverage ice cold in matter of minutes.
After 48 hours, the ice was about 75% melted, but even still would be cold enough for contents to be eatable and drinks would still be ice cold. Impressive. As a matter of fact, I do not think my small roto-molded cooler would compete this well.
Why is this Important
Let’s look at coolers in a broader range. Yes, we use them for gatherings, boating and family fun, but what about in emergency situations. Let’s say the power goes out and doesn’t come back on for several days. A snowstorm, a hurricane, a fire, or any other natural disaster causes you and your family to not have adequate electricity to keep your food supply cold. What do you do? You turn to coolers. In this situation, you want a cooler that will hold up for several days and maximize your supply of ice. The Traveler by IceMule will certainly meet this challenge, and because of its light weight you can make it more mobile and easily move it from location to location.
Let’s Go Over the Features
Keep Your Hands Free
The Traveler is ergonomically designed to be carried on your back like a premium backpack. From the single backpack sling strap on the Classics, to the double padded backpack straps with a dual zone suspension on the BOSS, no cooler is easier to carry.
The Traveler is 100% Waterproof. That’s right. Leave it out in the rain, sleet of snow…won’t hurt it one bit. The zippers (which can be a bit tough to operate, but come with a zipper lubricant) have a rubber covering that keeps water out and ice in.
It Floats and Rolls up for Storage
I honestly couldn’t believe it…but it does. Fill it full of drinks and ice, and sure enough the cooler will not sink. This is perfect for canoe trips, boating adventures or anything where water is involved. The cooler contains and air valve. This distinct feature allows extra air to be added to the insulation layer, which increases the insulating capability and it also adds buoyancy – which means the ICEMULE will float (even when full!). The IM AirValve also allows you to release air, which allows you to compress and roll it up for travel and storage.
Even though the Traveler is a soft backed cooler, it is built as solid as any roto-mold version. I can promise you; this is cooler that will last for many years. The company only offers a 90-day blanket warranty on their products, but I do feel a cooler like this could be offered a lifetime warranty and the company would still be ok in doing so.
Ok, so nothing is perfect…is it? If I had to pick one thing, and it is the only thing I can nit-pick about the Traveler cooler, would be the zipper. Some customers may complain about it being hard to open and close. However, you must look at the principle behind this zipper. This is NOT a clothing zipper. This is a closure mechanism that is ensuring the cooler is air and watertight. The company does include in each cooler a tube of zipper lubrication. It doesn’t take much, and I would recommend using it.
I’m totally ready to toss out the old bulky roto-mold cooler. IceMule has put together a solid performer with the Traveler series coolers. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is series about their cool storage and outdoor adventures. The MSRP on the website is $299. May seem a like a lot at first, but when you compare this cooler to a roto-molded version, the price is very comparable and a bit lower. Keep in mind, this is not a cheap off the shelf cooler. This is a serious cooler for series outdoor activities. It just looks like a warrior in a suit! Happy Outdoors!
To Purchase or to See other Products from IceMule visit www.icemulecoolers.com