The Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo is a backpack-style cooler made of nylon with an antimicrobial, leak-resistant liner.
The backpack coolers we tested, from left to right: Hydro Flask Unbound, Igloo Gizmo, IceMule Pro.
We were pleasantly surprised with the insulation performance of the Gizmo. In our intensive insulation testing, it lasted 43 hours below 40º F, the FDA-recommended food-safe temperature. Though this doesn't sound like much compared to the four days of the Engel and Hommit, the Gizmo did the best out of the three backpack coolers we tested. The larger IceMule Pro lasted a few hours less, at nearly 40 hours, and the Hydro Flask Unbound made it a little over 36 hours. The Gizmo also has three insulated pockets on the outside, which is unique among coolers in this review. However, none of the zippers or pockets are leakproof.
The Gizmo performed the best of the backpack options we tested.
Ease of Use
As a flip-top cooler, the Igloo is quite easy to load and unload. It stands up easily on its own, due to its slightly squatty shape. Unlike some of the other coolers in this review, the Gizmo has easy-sliding zippers. This ease is because they're regular zippers, and not watertight, but they are easy to open and close. Though the Gizmo claims it fits 32 cans, we found it to be a bit smaller than that - it's the smallest of the three backpack models we tested, and the other two are 22L and 23L.
One of the things we enjoy about using the Gizmo is the number of useful pockets it has. Several are a decent size, and there are plenty of little ones we used to keep trash, hold a dog leash, and even hold a beer. This cooler also comes with a handy multitool clipped onto the shoulder strap for emergency fixes and opening bottles.
Easy to use, but definitely not leakproof zippers.
Every backpack option we tested, we like for longer distance carries than any of the messenger bag coolers. That said, not all the backpack coolers are equal in terms of their comfort to carry. The Gizmo has decent padding in the back panel and shoulders, with a space left over your spine, much like the IceMule Pro. It's a reasonably flexible cooler, compared to the overly stiff Hydro Flask Unbound. However, it's also the shortest of the three, and combined with its overall rectangular shape; this makes it a bit less comfortable to carry than the IceMule. We still prefer it over the messenger bag style for longer distances, though.
Pretty good padding, a sternum strap, and a handy multitool are all things we love about the Gizmo.
This aspect is not the most impressive part of the Gizmo. Made of ripstop nylon on the outside and with an antimicrobial, leak-resistant liner, it's not terrible. But compared to the tank-like construction of many of its competitors, this doesn't amaze us. Taken on a kayak adventure, the bottom of the Gizmo soaked up a decent amount of water from the bottom of the boat. With the ice melting inside, we couldn't quite tell if any of the lake water made it through. However, when we filled the inside with water and let it sit, the outside stayed dry. Our inspection leads us to have doubts about the longevity of some of the components of this cooler, like the unimpressive zippers, the seams that are everywhere, and the toughness of the straps and their plastic pieces. Online user feedback also reported many of our doubts coming to fruition for others: zippers failing, straps ripping off, and a leaky cooler. Those reports and doubts aside, we had no actual failures during our testing.
The durability of this cooler doesn't blow our hair back, but its utility is pretty great.
The compact, portable design of this cooler makes it a great choice for 1-2 people on a meandering adventure. The amount of pockets and sheer usability of the Gizmo is sure to please organization enthusiasts. If pockets aren't high on your list, but getting way out there is, we'd recommend looking into the IceMule Pro.
With backpack straps and eight additional pockets, the Gizmo is here to take you cool places.
Retailing for just $59, the Gizmo is one of the least expensive options in this review. It proves itself to be exceptionally handy to use while still providing a decent insulation value. We think this combination is well worth the price. If you want some seriously effective insulation and still a pretty low price, but don't need the backpack feature, the Hommit 30 is an excellent option and our Best Buy Award winner.
The Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo is a handy little cooler that surprised us with its usability. Though it may not be as beefy or as durable as some of the competition, it's a good-sized single or double person cooler with all the convenience of being a backpack. And with one of the lowest prices in this review, we think it could be just the cooler for you.
The Gizmo works well for casual meanderings on hot summer days.