Product Deep Dive: The ICEMULE BOSS Hands-Free Backpack Cooler

Lugging a heavy hard-sided cooler into the backcountry, or even across the campground, can be quite a pain. At times, the thought of straining yourself for the sake of hauling cold drinks to camp can be a major deterrent. What a bummer.

Icemule Boss

Meet the ICEMULE BOSS.

The ICEMULE BOSS is a hands-free insulated backpack cooler that makes carrying chilled beverages, snacks, and loads of ice as easy as can be. Backpack coolers are much more comfortable and portable than traditional box coolers, and the ICEMULE BOSS is the ultimate iteration of what a backpack cooler can be.

Icemule Boss Hike

Hands-free so that you can do more.

There are no compromises—only advantages. The ICEMULE BOSS is made from high-quality materials. It’s completely waterproof, can retain ice for days, has multiple dry-storage pockets, and is exquisitely comfortable to carry. It’s a great option for backpacking trips, fishing excursions, picnics, beach days, and so much more.

See the ICEMULE BOSS

Icemule Coolers hike

ICEMULE Coolers are much more portable and comfortable to carry than traditional box coolers.

ICEMULE BOSS Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 7.5 lbs Heavier than a typical backpacking backpack, but that’s due to all of the insulation. Compared to carrying ice, water, and other drinks—it’s not noticeable.
Dimensions (closed) 12.5 x 9 x 25 inches More compact than it looks, especially when you’re carrying it.
Dimensions (open) 12.5 x 9 x 32 inches When the top is unrolled.
Top Opening 20 inches Easy to get stuff in and out, including big bags of ice and large storage containers.
Pockets 3 exterior dry pockets One front and two side pockets. Each is waterproof.
Front Pocket Size 10 x 2 x 12 inches Large enough for an iPad or small laptop.
Side Pocket Size 7.5 x 2 x 9.5 inches each Great for snacks, bait and tackle, personal items, electronics, etc.
Capacity (with ice) 30 liters, enough for:

  • 24 12-ounce cans, or
  • 5 750-milliliter bottles
Enough to carry several days’ worth of drinks and food for one or haul party supplies for a small group.
Waterproof Yes Rolltop main chute and waterproof zippers.
Composition
  • MuleSkinET exterior
  • MuleSkinEV interior
Proprietary fabrics that are exceptionally durable and completely waterproof.
Insulation
  • PolarLayer Insulation foam
  • IM AirValve air insulation
PolarLayer Insulation foam will keep content cold for at least 24 hours. You can supplement that with manually controlled air insulation.
Ice Retention 5+ Days That means your drinks will be cold, baby—ice-cold…for days!
Manufacturer Warranty 90-Day Warranty All ICEMULE Coolers have a 90-Day Warranty. If you are dissatisfied for any reason, you may return any items within 90 days of delivery for a replacement item.
Retail Price $349.95 May seem pricey, but there’s nothing else like the BOSS.

See the ICEMULE BOSS

Unique Features of the ICEMULE BOSS

What makes ICEMULE Coolers, in general, stand out is that they are hands-free. It doesn’t matter if you need to carry your cooler 50 feet or five miles—having free use of your hands is enough of a selling point on its own to invest in a backpack cooler.

Hands Free Icemule

Look, Ma—no hands!

When you don’t have to haul a heavy box cooler by its handles, you can:

All that, along with countless other options. Hands-free is the way to be.

ICEMULE BOSS Chest

Padded shoulder straps and a cross-body chest strap keep everything in place.

Padding and Ventilation

What’s more, the ICEMULE BOSS was designed to carry like a premium backpacking backpack. The two adjustable shoulder straps have thick mesh padding so that no matter how many beverages you’re carrying, you won’t feel them dig into your shoulders.

Likewise, the adjustable hipbelt is broad and well-padded. It sits right where you want it on top of your hips—this puts the bulk of the weight where it is most convenient and comfortable to carry.

Icemule Boss Padding

Look at all of that mesh padding.

Plus, the shoulder blades and lumbar areas have their own supportive and breathable mesh padding.

One Cool Carrier

As noted in the table above, the ICEMULE BOSS can carry quite a lot, up to 30 liters of ice, snacks, and other supplies. The durable and waterproof MuleSKin fabrics keep all of that ice melt inside, meaning you’ll never feel it dripping down your back.

The PolarLayer Insulation foam gives this backpack its recognizable silhouette. The main compartment has a boxy shape that makes it easy to load and unload, but since it is foam, it’s flexible, unlike traditional hard-sided coolers.

Unload ICEMULE BOSS

Easy access to your snacks and supplies.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the IM AirValve, which enables you to pump up the insulation power as much as you’d like. ICEMULE Coolers are the only insulated backpacks with adjustable air insulation. When fully aired-up, the BOSS can retain ice for several days. When deflated, it has a slim profile and can carry more.

IM AirValve

The IM AirValve.

Additionally, the exterior molle straps, corded webbing, and robust gear loops make latching on extra pieces of gear a cinch. These extra storage options allow you to strap on everything from trekking poles to sleeping bags or even a tent.

How the ICEMULE BOSS Compares to other Backpack Cooler Products

There is an endless array of coolers out there to choose from, but surprisingly few backpack coolers. That said, the TRAIL BOSS was designed much like a premium, technical backpack, and that attention to detail shines compared to the other backpack coolers on the market.

Huckleberry Icemule

Picnic time with Huckleberry.

ICEMULE BOSS vs. YETI Hopper Backflip

While the YETI Hopper Backflip is a well-designed cooler backpack, it lacks many of the key features that make the ICEMULE BOSS the boss.

For instance, there are no external pockets on the YETI Hopper Backflip, while the ICEMULE BOSS has three large pockets. The YETI also has six liters less carrying capacity, less padding on its shoulder straps, and no hipbelt.

As such, the ICEMULE BOSS is much better for hauling heavier insulated loads and for attaching and carrying extra gear. The YETI can carry your drinks and ice, but that’s about it.

ICEMULE BOSS vs. OtterBox Trooper Cooler

The OtterBox Trooper Cooler is an interesting cooler backpack. It has the same 30-liter carrying capacity as the BOSS, and it has an assortment of pockets and clip-on points that equal the BOSS in storage practicality. The module design of the Trooper enables you to purchase addon tools and storage options, though similar features come standard with the BOSS.

However, the OtterBox Trooper Cooler advertises three-day ice retention. In contrast, the ICEMULE BOSS has been shown to achieve over five days of ice retention, thanks in part to its innovative IM AirValve air insulation.

The OtterBox Trooper is shaped more like a traditional cooler rather than a backpack. It has a hard plastic top seal and an exceptionally durable base, but its stout frame does not have a hipbelt, so all of that weight is going to rest upon your shoulders.

ICEMULE BOSS vs. REI Co-op Cool Trail Pack Cooler

The REI Co-op Cool Trail Pack Cooler was built for lightweight adaptability. It weighs a tad over three pounds, which is less than half the weight of the BOSS, and features just as many pockets, as much padding, and more overall storage capacity than the ICEMULE BOSS at 38 liters.

That said, the REI Co-op Trail Pack is definitely a backpack first and a cooler second. This backpack will keep beverages cold for about 40 hours or less than two days. Also, it is not waterproof. While the insulated compartment won’t leak, the pockets are not waterproof at all.

What makes the Trail Pack unique is that the insulated compartment can be removed, turning this into an ordinary backpack. That versatility is great for short trips, but if you want a high-quality insulated backpack cooler, you’ll want one that is dedicated to that mission, like the ICEMULE BOSS.

See the ICEMULE BOSS

BOSS

No doubt about it: this is the BOSS.

Who is ICEMULE?

ICEMULE was created with a singular vision—to create a cooler that was easy and comfortable to carry and could hold real ice. Ever since ICEMULE has evolved and pioneered the hands-free cooler industry. The brand partners with All Hands and Hearts to aid in immediate and long-term disaster relief around the world.

Icemule Coolers

ICEMULE Coolers.

See the ICEMULE BOSS, and learn more about ICEMULE.


ICEMULE sponsors this post.

Backpackers.com Affiliate Policy: This article may contain affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear, we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.

Arthur McMahon — Lead Editor

Arthur is Lead Editor of Backpackers.com. He loves to walk. It's as simple as that. He believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. Follow his personal adventures and stories at betterhiker.com and on Instagram.

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