With the days getting longer and warmer, here’s a sneak peak into our Summer 2015 issue.
1. Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20 provided the most readily available deck-mounting options of any of the coolers tested. Clip it right on with no extra straps necessary. The 21.3-liter reflective cooler’s sleek tapering shape nests well on kayaks, and even features bungee rigging to stow your paddle. We also liked the versatility of switching it from a 20-inch-deep catch bag to a foam-insulated cooler simply by sliding out an internal fish drybag that’s easy to clean and keeps your cans and snacks from tasting fishy. ($79, seattlesportsco.com)
2. The simplicity of the IceMule makes you wonder why no one went after the portable performance corner of the outdoor cooler market sooner. This simple little burro was a dream realized from a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign aimed at getting ice to last 24 hours in a soft cooler that can be rolled up for storage. The result (we tested the 15-liter Classic model) is basically a fold-top drybag with an insulating foam PolarLayer. Once rigged down between two D-rings, you can puff in more air to boost insulation. With a leak-proof, reinforced inner layer, seamless welded construction, and space for a 12-pack, there’s little not to like. Pair the Classic with IceMule’s 32- or 42-inch Pro Catch bags (starting at $119, and decked out with fishy features such as a shoulder strap, bungeed top and extra rigging points), and you and your haul have got cool covered. ($59, icemulecooler.com)
3. “It’s a Yeti, bro!” Yes indeed. The premium cooler kings have moved from their storied indestructible bear-proof boxes into smaller, soft-sided portability. And if there was ever a cooler to incite the envy of all your fishing buddies, the Hopper 30 is it: six rugged D-rings for rigging, 6.5 gallons of space (read: 18 cans with ice), a hook-shedding nylon-backed and welded DryHide shell, and a leak-proof Hydrolock zip closure that any drysuit-wearing ‘yak angler will recognize. It won’t keep ice as long as the hardshell Yetis (day three is as long as ours lasted), but you’ll be hard-pressed to find as durable a carry-on cooler, or one with a three-year warranty. ($349, yeticoolers.com)
4. Not up to purchasing a cooler that costs as much as your kayak is worth? Engel offers a heat-deflecting, lightweight option if you’re willing to rig a traditional cooler box. But thanks to a rubber-gasketed seal and steel latches, this insulated plastic cube breaks the mold by doubling as watertight dry storage for your electronic necessities. Using a frozen ice sleeve for your cans and cooled goodies, an upper tray separates any dry valuables. Welcome extras on the 19-quart, 7-pound UC19 Cooler/Dry Box include a shoulder strap, tie-down guides and four removable rod holders. ($75, engel-usa.com)