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Barebones Pathfinder Cooler

MATERIAL: Poly Nylon and Leather
MSRP: $60

On our way out to our inaugural Outdoor Retailer show, we took the long way. We stopped at the Sundance resort for some casual camping and gentle lift serviced biking. While perusing a little shop there I stumbled across a beer cooler, not a hard case worksite cooler or an industrial-looking over-engineered cooler, but a cooler that I initially mistook for luggage. I mean that in a good way. This is a cooler that fits in at the fancy pants Sundance. I also mean that in a good way. It looks nice, real nice. Being that we were not in the mood to shop but more in the mood to eat, we moved on.

Fast forward a couple days and to my surprise we stumble across the Barebones booth at the OR show (the same company I saw at Sundance). I jumped in, excited to tell them how nice their coolers looked and to get my hands on some of their products in a way that would’ve been inappropriate at Sundance. First off, they were maybe the friendliest booth there. They shoved nitro cold brew in our face and some weird cookie thing and we chatted coolers. One of the first things that struck me was the prettiness of their products (think more glamping than dirtbag). I thought this was a nice thing as it allows you to take beers (or whatever you’re chilling) to things that a normal cooler might be a little more out of place.

We ended up with a Pathfinder cooler. This is a “soft-sided” lunch tote sized cooler that holds sixteen 12 oz cans. I use the term soft-sided with hesitation. It isn’t plastic, but cloth that is rigid and durable. The outside has a protective cover, removable liner, has handles and a shoulder strap, and a bottle opener zipper. Nothing in that description sounds particularly prettier than any other cooler but somehow it is. It is trimmed out in leather, that combines nicely with the canvas cloth. It looks more like a high end fly fishing bag than beer tote.

So I’m obviously impressed with the looks and design of the cooler but I wanted to see how it performed at its most important function, keeping beer cold. We loaded it up with Montucky cans and Barebones’ included gel ice packets and threw it in the car for after a mountain bike ride. We pedaled, overheated, and headed back to the car the whole time fantasizing about a cold après beverage. Well to no surprise the beers were cold and refreshing, and the gel packets were still frozen solid even after baking in the car in the sun. I say “to no surprise” because once you get your hands on this cooler you can just tell its going to do well. It’s substantially far more robust than any “soft sided” cooler I’ve ever had and looks far better than any hard sided cooler I’ve had.

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The inside of the cooler no where near capacity showing the removable liner and the frozen gel packs it came with.

This will be my go to cooler for day excursions for sure. Even if the cooler doesn’t make the trip, the liner with gel pack/ice cubes definitely will be thrown in another backpack (perhaps for some trail beers!). I think this cooler is a step above in the looks department than any other cooler I know and it doesn’t sacrifice function to look so good. I am impressed with the Pathfinder from Barebones and it makes me want to get my hands on their Maverick cooler which holds fifty 12oz cans!

Scott Simmons
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