OtterBox Trooper LT 30
By Eric McKeegan
The premium-priced cooler market is not one I saw coming. But here is it. The big plastic Yetis and their competitors are now familiar sights at trailheads and campgrounds everywhere.
Those expensive coolers are the only reason why I can review this backpack cooler with a straight face. Seriously, it is a $300 backpack for beer and bubbly water.
But what a backpack it is. Built like a something for the military, all of the straps and hardware are more Mission Workshop than JanSport. The top opens wide to load up with ice or dig around for that last mint-cucumber spritzer. For short trips the pack has a shoulder strap; longer trips use the well-padded backpack straps.
OtterBox claims ice will keep for three-plus days, but in my experience, it was more like two under regular use. Obviously, the ice-to-food ratio will affect this, but filled with a dozen cans and a 7-pound bag of ice, the ice was almost entirely gone after 48 hours. The 30-liter capacity could keep two people set for a weekend of food and a few drinks. The clasp closure is a little tricky a first, but closes securely and seems very sturdy. The wide-mouth opening and bright-orange interior make it easy to find that last stout.
A few miles of mellow trails on bike or foot are about the limit I would go with this on my back. It isn’t uncomfortable, but there is neither sternum nor waist strap to keep it stable.
There are a couple of outside pockets, big enough for keys, cell phones, sunscreen or some picnic supplies. Two hard points allow for accessory mounting; an included metal bottle opener mounts to one, and OtterBox has a half dozen other options for the second point, none of which is really that useful.
This is a top quality cooler, and I ended up using it more often than I expected. It fits better in tight trunks and attracts less attention at areas where post-ride beverages are frowned upon. The carrying straps beat the hell out of lugging a standard cooler more than a few feet, doubly so for rough terrain.
If you have the cash, spend away. This thing is cool, but it certainly ain’t cheap.