Gear pick of the year 2019 – A beat-up Coleman cooler

When I tried to think of what piece of gear I used consistently over the past year, I thought of many choices.

Should it be the shelves we use to organize our gear?

Or maybe the shed we put up that gave Joan her sewing room and lets her repair gear and modify it for our needs?

Our car camping tent received a rip due to a convoluted garage door opening incident. Good as new, however!

The mesh water bottle holsters ended up getting torn to shreds over the years on this Gossamer Gear Pack. With an old ULA water bladder holder, Joan “Utah-ized” the pack.

But then I think of something I used all year round. And about fifteen years now. Something I’ve taken on quick camping trips, or stashed in the car for after an overnight trip, occaisionally took to BBQs at my friends’ homes, and made more than a few people happy after some arduous gallivants.

So my “Gear Pick of The Year” for 2019?  My crappy, beat-up, cheap, but all together useful, 28 qt Coleman Cooler.

Yes, it does not keep the beer and food ice cold for days at a time during your expeditions to find the Northwest Passage. But it does not cost a few hundred collars, either.

But it keeps the beer cold enough for a day or two. And it fits just right in a vehicle for taking it to many different places and quick get-a-ways.

The simple camp kit at our site during a weekend of volunteer training. PCO Joan.

And I don’t always want to take my better, and larger,  but still affordable, cooler I use for longer trips.

And I've owned this Igloo cooler since 2010 and lived out of it for several months. It works.

And I’ve owned this Igloo cooler since 2010 and lived out of it for several months. It works.

I forget where I bought this cooler or exactly when.

I mean, it’s just a cooler. It holds beer, fruit, other cold drinks, maybe some burgers and potato salad for after your hike when you want to grill up by the trailhead.

Look! There it is after a weekend trip back in 2014  with some people you might recognize if you listen to The Trail Show.

Sure, maybe you need a similar-sized cooler that costs a couple of hundred dollars for your day trips.

But you probably don’t.

Why get this cooler? Much like my wind pants, there is nothing special about this $17 cooler that I bought so long ago. It is just the right size, price, and effectiveness for what I need it for on my trips. Get a similar one. Beat it up, decorate it with all the stickers you get over the years, and it will keep your beer cold enough for any post celebratory hiking activity after a day or two. I promise.

Don’t want water sloshing around in your cooler because the ice melts a bit? Well, you can buy the $200 cooler. Or use all those water bottles and bladders that people give away as schwag, freeze them, and repurpose them as ice blocks. Cold water still keeps things cold, and you have a cold drink!

Need your very own Shiti sticker? Check it out. 

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4 years ago

I have one of those coolers. (no stickers, though) At a July 4 weekend campout some years ago, with temps in the upper 90s and the car parked in the sun, a block of ice lasted three days! The food stayed a lot cooler than I did!

4 years ago


Don’t you NEED the latest $300 cooler

Of course you need to secure your $300 cooler so it doesn’t become someone else’s cooler. That’ll be $35 for a cable that’s easily cut

And you CAN’T use just any OLD bottle to as ice blocks. You HAVE to use the latest $30 ice packs

Paul, must get in touch with your inner consumer.

4 years ago
Reply to  Aubrey

Plus the hitch-mounted rack to carry the YETI, so everyone can see how cool your beer must be as you cruise the highway.

4 years ago

Mags – How do you live without a Yeti? Seems like it is necessary gear for the quintessential outdoors person. This post made me laugh. As much as the Yeti aisle does in gear stores..I like to go down that aisle just for entertainment sake.

Happy Holidays to you and Joan!


4 years ago

Amen, brother! The first time I hefted an empty Yeti it was so heavy I thought it was already full of beer and ice!

My cooler is an Igloo that’s over 30 years old now. Still going strong. Cheap coolers FTW!