If you’re headed somewhere sunny and warm this spring break, or perhaps embarking on a front or backcountry adventure via kayak or river raft, now is the time to look into how you’ll be keeping your provisions cold. We recently tested out the IceMule Pro backpack cooler, which is absolutely ideal for those of us who need to be hands-free while carting everything from a simple lunch and a few beers to a full overnight food pantry into the outdoors.


The IceMule Pro Large has a capacity of 23 liters, which translates to 18 cans of your favorite beverage on ice, or, as we’ve learned while testing it out, a full meal for a family of five (or overnight provisions for 1-2 people). The dimensions are 17″ x 11″ x 14″ for a weight of just over three pounds empty.

What we love: this soft-sided cooler is rugged and sturdy (it is rigid enough to stand upright on its own, for instance) but it’s not as thick-walled as some that you’ll see (for more money) on the market today. This fact has its pros and cons of course: the IceMule is lighter and easier to fill, and actually holds more than our thicker, even more rugged coolers. But while it does keep food cool and ice from melting for a 24 hour period, it’s not up to the task of keeping things on ice for days on end. Nor does it promise to.

The IceMule has a roll-top design (like a dry bag), which I think makes it easier to access your stash of food or drinks than with a zippered design. I also know for a fact that I have a waterproof seal, and the entire cooler floats, too. Seriously! You also get a seriously decent shoulder strap system, which is great and often overlooked, as these coolers tend to get really heavy once you add a bunch of ice and cans. I also really like the netting on the outside, perfect for stashing a light picnic blanket, a jacket, or a tarp.

We’ve used our IceMule on day trips to the lake with our paddle boards, on boating adventures, and on kayak trips. Grab your own before your next adventure, and pick from a range of colors or camo options. The Large (size 23L) is $99 on the IceMule site, on Amazon, and in brick and mortar stores, or you can opt for a 33L or 40L cooler if you need to pack even more.

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