Igloo Trailmate Marine Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Up against some pretty intense competition, the Igloo Trailmate didn't turn any heads in our torturous insulation testing. The USDA recommends maintaining raw food temperatures below 40º F to avoid the growth of pathogenic bacteria. While the coolers we tested averaged 4.5 days maintaining these cooler temperatures, the Trailmate managed just 3.2 days of wavering right at or just below 40º.
Don't need the steak and eggs, but bringing all the beer? The Igloo managed to hold refreshing brew temperatures at or below 50º for an additional several hours, for a total of 3.4 days of cold beers. Though we aren't totally shocked at this lackluster performance when considering the Trailmate is a relatively thin cooler, standing up to some rather thick, rotomolded competition. And realistically, a wheeled cooler like this is less likely to be your choice to strap into your canoe for that 10-day whitewater trip, and more likely to be your choice for a picnic in the park. In which case this level of insulation will surely get you through a single warm summer's day.
Lacking the impressive durability of the many Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee certified coolers it competed with in this review, the Trailmate is nothing to write home about. When subjecting this cooler to our standard battery of tests and overextending the hinge on the lid, the whole piece just came right off in our hands. Upon further inspection, we could see why - it's held on by some short, thin plastic pegs in small plastic holes and a single screw attaching a short lid leash to try to prevent this exact thing from happening. While we were able to pop the lid back on nearly as easily as it popped off in the first place, we're rather disappointed with the lack of durability in this cooler's construction. Even some of the other simple coolers with thin hinges and a similar style of dry screws in plastic didn't break as easily as this cooler did - despite costing a couple of hundred dollars less!
Ease of Use
With no latches to mess with, the Trailmate is fairly easy to open when you want some of its contents. It does require a good push down to close it all the way, but that requires less effort than many other coolers, rather a conscious thought to remember to do so before all the ice melts. The telescoping trolley handle is easy to slide in and out when you need it. It also doubles as a front handle for those few occasions you may actually need to pick your cooler up.
On numerous occasions, we found our hand searching for a front handle that doesn't exist, only to latch onto the bottom of the little white box nestled on the front. Unfortunately, that little white box slides up and off the cooler as soon as you apply pressure - not a great handle, so the retracted trolley arm will have to do. Our least favorite aspect in terms of usability is the drain found in this cooler. Though it has a wide channel to help empty it of meltwater, the inside of the drain also is turned into a protruding tunnel into the interior by a white plastic tube. Why this is a thing, we're not sure, as it made the Trailmate the least conducive to emptying via drain plug of any model we tested.
Ahh, wheels. These two round discs are the most redeeming feature of the whole cooler. Though they don't provide nearly as luxurious of a ride as the air-filled tires of some other coolers, they're large and wide and the cooler has a tall clearance, helping you to roll with relative ease over lawns and loose sands alike. At just over 35 pounds, the Trailmate is also one of the lightest wheeled models we tested.
Additionally, its telescoping trolley handle provides an ample amount of space between the front of the cooler and the backs of your heels. This added space makes the Igloo the only wheeled cooler we tested that we never hit our heels on - a pretty big deal. And while we greatly appreciate this fact, we feel that the Trailmate still can't quite live up to the smooth ride we got from coolers with air-filled tires. We should also add that the telescoping handle doesn't have a smooth action — it definitely doesn't feel high quality or built to last a decade.
One of the major selling points of the Igloo Trailmate, in our eyes, is the myriad of features that come standard with this cooler. We were initially pumped about this array of features, though our excitement lessened throughout testing. The plug leash - a great feature for any cooler - is attached in a way that we had a pretty hard time unscrewing the actual plug, and typically had to use two hands to accomplish. The extra boxes and fishing rod holders on the outside kept popping off when we lifted the cooler or pushed it up against something in a certain way. The butler tray isn't quite the right size to fit snugly in the trolley handle, and so slides a lot when in place. We did find the internal dry basket and two bottle openers on the outside to be fairly useful though.
Igloo makes a lot of products, many of which we think are excellent values for what they bring to the table. Unfortunately, we don't feel the same way about the Trailmate Marine. We found its performance and overall quality to be less than what we had hoped, though its price is not much less than many of the seriously impressive coolers we tested.
Though at first glance the Trailmate looks like a great deal, we're not so sure. Its wide wheels and high clearance help it navigate a variety of challenging terrain, but the performance of this cooler in insulation and particularly its lackluster durability leaves us wanting more. But if wheels and features are what you're after and a budget is what you're on, the Igloo might be the right fit for your life.