Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo Review
Cons: Short torso length, not leakproof, not particularly durable
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo is a backpack-style cooler made of nylon with an antimicrobial, leak-resistant liner.
We are 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 top-performing models, the Gizmo did the among the best of the other backpack coolers we tested. 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.
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 the fact remains that 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 backpack models we tested but has about enough space for a few people's light snacks or a couple's picnic.
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.
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, which helps with insulation. It's a reasonably flexible cooler, compared to several of the overly stiff, boxy options we tested. However, it's also one of the shortest backpack coolers, and combined with its overall rectangular shape; this makes it a bit less comfortable to carry. With that being said, we still prefer it over the messenger bag style for longer distances.
This aspect is the least 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, it just doesn't amaze us. Taken on a kayak adventure, the bottom of the Gizmo soaked up a fair 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 Gizmo is one of the least expensive coolers 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 pretty low price. If you're after a beefier model that's more likely to withstand years of abuse, this one probably won't. But if "backpack" and "pockets" are your magic words, then we think you'll enjoy this one.
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.
— Maggie Brandenburg