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Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo Review

A handy little cooler for 1-2 people.
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Price:  $59 List | $58.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Decent insulation, easy to use, useful pockets, inexpensive
Cons:  Short torso length, not leakproof, not particularly durable
Manufacturer:   Igloo
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2019
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 11
  • Insulation Value - 30% 4
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Portability - 25% 7
  • Durability - 20% 4

Our Verdict

The Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo is a great size for one or two people out on a mission for the day. It has handy pockets to hold extra items for your adventure, and its backpack design is pretty comfortable to get your picnic wherever you want to go. Though the Gizmo is not waterproof and isn't our top choice for the most durable cooler, it's an inexpensive option that works.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $58.99 at Amazon$180.82 at Amazon$93.99 at Amazon$114.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$55.93 at REI
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Pros Decent insulation, easy to use, useful pockets, inexpensiveVery durable construction, excellent insulation, useful handles and features, comfortable shoulder strapGood insulation, easy to use, simple design, convenient size, affordableDurable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensiveComfortable to carry, convenient design, good features, tons of dry storage
Cons Short torso length, not leakproof, not particularly durableZippered exterior pocket not waterproof, very largeFrustrating zipperLearning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pocketsZipper not leakproof, thin insulation, less durable, loose sternum strap
Bottom Line A handy little cooler for 1-2 people.If you’re looking for the best soft cooler on the market today, look no further than this outstanding model from Engel.Great durability and insulation power at a relatively low price.A very different design than most, but by far our favorite to carry over long distances.Though not as hardy as some others, this design combines cooler space and dry storage for an all-in-one pack.
Rating Categories Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo Engel HD30 RTIC SoftPak 20 IceMule Pro Cool Trail Split Pack
Insulation Value (30%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
5
Ease Of Use (25%)
10
0
7
10
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8
10
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8
10
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8
10
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9
Portability (25%)
10
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7
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9
10
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9
Durability (20%)
10
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Specs Igloo Outdoorsman... Engel HD30 RTIC SoftPak 20 IceMule Pro Cool Trail Split...
Carry Style Backpack Messenger Bag Lunchbox Backpack Backpack
Measured Weight (lb) 1.8 lb 5.9 lb 3.0 lb 3.0 lb 2.4 lb
Exterior Fabric Ripstop nylon, mesh, antimicrobial leak-resistant liner Abrasion-resistant fabric Thick nylon shell Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon Recycled ripstop nylon outer/polyester inner
Closure Method Zippered flip top Zippered top, watertight zip Zippered flip top, watertight zip Roll-top Zippered flip top, dry storage cinch and clip
Handles and Straps Backpack straps, carry handle, sternum strap Shoulder strap, carry handles Shoulder strap, carry handle Backpack straps, sternum strap Backpack straps, carry handle, sternum strap
Additional Storage Yes; 3 cooler pockets, 2 mesh pockets, 3 velcro top pockets Yes; 1 larger exterior zippered (meant to be waterproof but isn't) Yes; small exterior No; exterior shock cord panel Yes; top half of pack, brain pocket, 2 mesh side pockets
Removable Liner? No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo is a backpack-style cooler made of nylon with an antimicrobial, leak-resistant liner.

Performance Comparison


The backpack coolers we tested  from left to right: Hydro Flask Unbound  Igloo Gizmo  IceMule Pro.
The backpack coolers we tested, from left to right: Hydro Flask Unbound, Igloo Gizmo, IceMule Pro.

Insulation Value


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.

Our insulation testing results from the backpack-style models in our review.
Our insulation testing results from the backpack-style models in our review.

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.

Easy to use  but definitely not leakproof zippers.
Easy to use, but definitely not leakproof zippers.

Portability


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.

Pretty good padding  a sternum strap  and a handy multitool are all things we love about the Gizmo.
Pretty good padding, a sternum strap, and a handy multitool are all things we love about the Gizmo.

Durability


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 durability of this cooler doesn't blow our hair back  but its utility is pretty great.
The durability of this cooler doesn't blow our hair back, but its utility is pretty great.

Value


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.

With backpack straps and eight additional pockets  the Gizmo is here to take you cool places.
With backpack straps and eight additional pockets, the Gizmo is here to take you cool places.

Conclusion


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.
The Gizmo works well for casual meanderings on hot summer days.


Maggie Brandenburg