We had been hiking for over six hours. We were hot, thirsty and tired. We were grateful for that first glimpse of the car back at the trailhead. Finishing 12 miles hiking one of the Six-Pack of Peaks, there’s nothing better than getting back to the trailhead and having an ice cold six-pack ready to quench your thirst.
Bringing a cooler in your car with cold drinks is simple, but I’m surprised more people don’t do it. It’s one of my pro-tips for long day hikes.
We usually have a cooler on our road trips and car camping as well, but on our recent five-day thru-hike of the Trans-Catalina Trail, we were able to test out the roto-molded Patriot 20-quart cooler.
The Patriot cooler is a beast. It’s super-rugged. It’s built to take a beating. The heavy duty rubber latches keep the lid closed tight and fox-proof — an important consideration on Catalina Island. It’s also no lightweight. Fully-loaded with ice and food for our trek, it was heavy. But I didn’t have to worry about it handling the load.
It keeps things cold. They claim it can hold ice for up to five days, though your results will vary depending on external temperature. In our experience on Catalina Island, we had a small 7-lb bag of ice and the majority of the space was filled with food and beverage for our trek.
We did top off the ice on our third day, but I fully expected that given the fact that it was sitting in the sun most of the day.
The downsides are few, but not insignificant. The Patriot cooler is burly, but also heavier than your typical drug-store cooler. And the beefier insulation means less interior than something like an Igloo of similar outside dimensions. Fully loaded with food, beverage and ice, it gets heavy. There are no wheels, so carrying the cooler from the car to the ferry in San Pedro meant switching arms a couple of times.
The bottom line? The Patriot cooler is now our go-to cooler for car camping, road trips and long day hikes (keeping it in the car, of course). It is nearly indistinguishable from the much more expensive brand in feature and function. And 20% of the net profits are donated to the Homes For Our Troops non-profit organization.
Patriot also makes a larger 45 quart version with the same sturdy design.
Disclosure: Patriot reimbursed the cost of our purchase of the cooler for this review. They did not influence the editorial content. The opinions on the cooler are mine, and I’m not going to pull any punches.