This photo shows the ICEMULE Traveler soft-sided cooler on a beach near water.
The new ICEMULE Traveler cooler is both refined and rugged.

ICEMULE Traveler Review: ‘Rugged and Refined’

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The new-for-2019 ICEMULE Traveler brings a stylish urban-ready design to the ICEMULE cooler lineup, but that doesn’t mean ICEMULE has left its rugged reputation behind.

To get us a closer look, ICEMULE sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. This is what we learned:

ICEMULE Traveler Review

We were already fans of the simple dry-bag style ICEMULE Pro — read our Pro review here — so when we saw the new “GO Series” from ICEMULE, we were intrigued. Was the new Traveler just a new cooler aimed at the city park crowd or was it ready for beaches and rocky riverbank trails, too?

This photo shows the ICEMULE Traveler cooler near the water and near a kayak.
The ICEMULE Traveler is a high-capacity soft-sided cooler that can hold up to 36 cans plus ice.

It turns out the ICEMULE Traveler is ready for most anything. The overall build quality is excellent — tough, durable and put together with spot-on manufacturing. In terms of overall shape, what we really like is that you get a high-capacity cooler design with a flat bottom that will sit anywhere. Better yet, ICEMULE stays true to its backpack cooler roots and includes backpack straps. With the backpack straps, you can easily haul a heavy load of cold drinks down off the road and to your spot on the beach. The straps clip in and are easily removable, so if all you need is to make it from the street to a friend’s backyard BBQ, you can leave the straps at home.

Fantastic Widemouth Opening

This photo shows the ICEMULE Traveler cooler with the opening open.
The ingenious Bowhead Top zips straight but holds the top open for easy access.

The best feature of the ICEMULE Traveler is its ingenious widemouth “Bowhead Top” opening. ICEMULE starts with a burly waterproof PakShield zipper with a straight pull then added an interior frame around the edge of the mouth that holds the cooler in a wide-open mode for easy loading. Where this system really shines is when you have larger items in plastic tubs that you want to get in and out. Either way, the Bowhead Top makes loading — and finding the drink you’re looking for — a much-improved experience.

Aside from the opening itself, the Bowhead Top design is also great simply because it’s easy to open.

Most waterproof zippers on soft coolers are designed to zip and unzip around rectangular shapes with 90-degree corners. This means that the human doing the pulling has to adjust angles at least three times to open such coolers. Other coolers with straight zippers are easy to open but they usually have narrow openings, which can be annoying when you’re getting in and out of the cooler. The ICEMULE Traveler has a straight zipper pull but creates a wide rectangular opening. We’re fans.

Shop the ICEMULE Traveler at CampSaver and get free shipping (and free returns)!

Insulation and Ice Retention

The 35-liter capacity will fit a whopping 36 cans plus a ten pound bag of ice with ease. The PolarPlus insulation is about an inch thick and works well — you can get about 48+ hours of ice retention without much trouble. (Of course, as with all coolers, don’t skimp on the ice if you expect cold beverages when you’re out in the hot sun for more than a day.)

In our preliminary usage, we had ice easily last two days in 70-80-degree weather — and that includes getting in and out of the cooler to nab sandwiches and drinks. The nice thing about the high-capacity of the Traveler is that you can load it up with extra ice for hotter days or longer outings. Bigger is not always better, but the bigger size of the ICEMULE Traveler makes it versatile.

ICEMULE Traveler Pockets

We need to give a shout out to ICEMULE for the three pockets on the Traveler. You get two weatherproof front pockets, which are great for holding keys, smartphones, utensils and napkins. You also get a relatively flat pocket on the backside. Pockets on a cooler are handy, no doubt about it.

Meanwhile, you also get lash-down points, so if you want to take this cooler on a raft, boat, or UTV, you can strap it down.

How to Carry the ICEMULE Traveler

At first glance, the ICEMULE Traveler is not a backpack cooler — but it is. And the “backpack” straps aren’t exactly typical backpack straps, either — they’re more of a carrying system.

Four straps with clips on the ends meet in an X-shaped pattern that’s padded and features the ICEMULE logo. All four straps are adjustable in length, which lets you dial in the fit. To use it, you connect the front bottom part of the straps to the bottom rings of the cooler. Then you clip the back straps to the far side top rings. The result looks a bit odd but it’s surprisingly comfortable.

For me, the most comfortable way to carry the Traveler was low enough that part of the cooler hit the top of my butt — rather than higher on my back like most other ICEMULE backpack coolers. Again, it seems weird, but what can I say? I was surprised about how well the ICEMULE Traveler backpack carry system came together in actual use.

ICEMULE Traveler Review Verdict: Awesome Versatility

The new ICEMULE Go Series brings a more stylish design to the outdoor-focused backpack cooler lineup ICEMULE has been most known for. As part of the Go Series, the new ICEMULE Jaunt adds some urban style to the dry-bag cooler design while the ICEMULE Urbano amps it up even more.

The ICEMULE Traveler adds a high-capacity rectangular cooler option — but keeps the backpack option intact. So how far can you pack the Traveler as a backpack cooler? Several hundred yards from the parking lot to a boat or beach is easy. Would we want to haul a fully-loaded Traveler a few miles? Probably not. But still, the large size with the easy-loading Bowhead Top with the innovative backpack carrying system gives the ICEMULE Traveler awesome versatility overall. It’s a can’t-go-wrong soft cooler. Very highly recommended.

Get the Gear:

ICEMULE Traveler

Check Shipping/Pricing: Amazon | CampSaver

Pros
Bowhead Top opens wide and stays open
Excellent fit and finish
Versatile high-capacity design
Cons
No real cons
4.8
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In addition to Man Makes Fire buying gear for reviews and guides, gear manufacturers occasionally ship review units to Man Makes Fire. If we like it, we spend some quality time with the gear and review it, noting if it was provided to Man Makes Fire. After the review, we return it, give it away, or work on longer-term review follow-ups when applicable to reader interest.

We do not accept any gear in exchange for coverage. If we do not truly appreciate the gear, we don't write about it at all -- bad gear will fade into obscurity on its own if everyone ignores it. In addition, we focus on gear from reputable companies, reputable brands, and reputable retailers that we trust.

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