Humans have been harvesting ice for more than 200 years, but it wasn’t until 1951, when the portable ice chest was patented, that we could hit the road with reliably chilled grub and frosty beverages. These days, no campsite, barbecue, or beach day is complete without a cooler, but the sheer ungainliness of most large models can lead to packing headaches and transport difficulties. Fear not, disenchanted cooler owners: the luxury SUV of mobile refrigeration is here.
Will the Igloo Trailmate ($300) keep your food and beer cold? Most certainly, thanks to Ultratherm insulation and an elevated base that holds the cooling cavity well clear of hot surfaces like sand and pavement. Your burgers and brews will stay chilled for up to five days—but that’s only part of the story.
It also has 10-inch soft-ride wheels and Hummer-like ground clearance. Combine these rugged features with the broad telescoping handle, and you’re looking at 50 percent less hauling effort. It’s called leverage, and you’ll quickly realize how much better this works than those narrow, knuckle-crushing handles on most coolers. When you’re ready to set up shop at the beach or campsite, a butler tray snaps into the middle of the telescoped handle for extra surface area.
For important items like phones and car keys, the Trailmate has a water-resistant storage box that attaches to the front, and an exterior kangaroo pocket stores miscellaneous must-haves like sunscreen, first-aid gear, and horseshoes. Beer lovers will appreciate the four self-draining cup holders on top and the two bottle openers sturdily affixed to each side. This cooler also comes with a suspended interior basket to keep your food high and dry above the ice below, plus a vertical umbrella holder to keep you nicely shaded.
We should note that the Trailmate is not advertised as a bear-proof cooler, like some of its competitors, so if you’re planning a multiday raft trip deep into Yogi and Boo-Boo territory, you may want to consider a different option. But for anywhere else you might be headed with good food and drink that needs to stay chilled, this thing will make for an extremely suitable (albeit somewhat ostentatious) cooling companion.
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