Finding a well-built yet well-designed backpack cooler can be tricky, given the many criteria the bag has to meet. Yet, no self-respecting nature lover should compromise with their outdoor adventure companion.
So, if you are like me and only have eyes for the best, the stylish ICEMULE Urbano could be your cup of iced tea, chilled and refreshing regardless of where the adventure takes you.
This hands-on ICEMULE Urbano 30L review covers everything to know about this model, so sit back and enjoy reading about one of the best backpack coolers money can buy in 2023.
The ICEMULE Urbano: Key Features & Specs
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s quickly revisit the basics and check the brand info and the essential product specifications. After all, some of you might be unfamiliar with ICEMULE, even though the company has been around for a decade.
Namely, an engineer named James Collie founded the brand in 2014, dreaming of creating the ultimate portable cooler for outdoor enthusiasts. The dream is still alive and kicking, with ICEMULE raising $1.8 million in funding while focusing on sustainability and charity.
Of course, the Florida-based cooler manufacturer offers a diverse portfolio, which includes flexible soft-shell coolers and high-end options like the ICEMULE Boss. On top of that, ICEMULE’s backpacks keep getting cooler, pun intended! The eye-catching Urbano is the perfect example.
The specs sheet reveals that ICEMULE Urbano sports a 16-inch wide-mouth opening with a 9.5-inch front-facing pocket. The bag’s dimensions, when closed, are 14.5”x8.5”x18”, and ICEMULE says you can fit 20 standard 12-ounce cans into the Urbano.
Sounds impressive? That’s because it is, but there’s more where that came from. After spending some time with ICEMULE Urbano and comparing it with top-rated backpack coolers, I can confidently say it offers an excellent price-to-value ratio. Let’s see why.
- Stylish and elegant design
- Excellent ice retention
- Top-notch comfort and support
- No dedicated laptop sleeve
- No extra attachment points or bungee cords
- Higher asking price
How I Tested It: The methodology
You’ll probably agree that the best way to test an outdoor product is to take it away from the comforts of the urban jungle and start exploring the unknown. Backcountry adventures that expose the product to rugged terrain and changing weather are the ideal testing ground.
Then again, given Urbano’s day-to-day usability, I also tested it within city limits. After all, nomen est omen, and this versatile backpack cooler can effortlessly handle commutes and visits to the local park.
Nevertheless, I felt best loading up the ICEMULE Urbano and setting off toward Turkey Mountain’s old-growth forests or Redbud Valley’s meadows. What can I say—I’m a sucker for scenic views and towering trees!
At the same time, I hate warm drinks, soggy food, and water leaking down my back because of poorly-designed coolers. That’s why I didn’t cut the ICEMULE Urbano any slack, forcing it to jump through hoops and tackle various cooling tasks.
Design & Aesthetics
Design-wise, the ICEMULE Urbano cooler backpack more than delivers. Unlike the Arctic Zone Titan or the REI Co-op Cool Trail Pack Cooler, the Urbano follows a minimalist approach. For instance, the streamlined Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack features a similar aesthetic.
Moreover, you could confuse the ICEMULE Urbano for your kid’s school bag if it weren’t for the bulkiness. But, of course, this backpack is “too cool for school,” and I’m not only saying it because of the elegant gray-black color combo.
The ICEMULE Urbano features a wide-mouth top opening and two vertical buckles for safe closure. In addition, the front includes a black-colored pocket with a gray flap. Similarly, the side pockets are black, contrasting the backpack’s gracious body.
Comfort & Support
Arguably, the aesthetic aspects are not crucial for assessing outdoor-oriented gear and equipment. Therefore, let’s move on and see what else you can expect from the ICEMULE Urbano cooler backpack.
First, this 30-liter insulated bag might surprise you with support and cushioning. For example, during some previous expeditions, my notoriously grumpy back didn’t quite get along with the IGLOO Outdoor Pro Snapdown or the Ozark Trail Welded Cooler Backpack. Yet, the Urbano was a joy to carry for extended periods.
The secret lies in the thick shoulder padding, which combines nicely with a sternum strap for increased stability. Besides the padded shoulder straps, ICEMULE added two cushioned areas in the upper and lower back.
So, although the Urbano backpack doesn’t have a hip belt like the ICEMULE Boss, you’ll have no problems carrying food and beverages. After all, the Urbano sits higher on the back, and the thick, well-padded shoulder straps handle everything.
Weight & Build
We already mentioned ICEMULE’s longevity in the business, and the company’s dedication to excellence might be the secret sauce. For instance, the ICEMULE Urbano 30L backpack cooler features high-end materials, perfect for handling years of wear and tear in nature or urban areas.
The rugged MuleSkin exterior fabric makes the backpack durable and capable of withstanding the elements, while the sturdy zippers and buckles promise long-term use. The Urbano backpack weighs around 4 pounds, keeping it within the industry standard.
I also noticed they used the same material for the ICEMULE Traveler, an easy-to-carry soft-sided cooler with a 35-liter capacity and a duffel-like design. So, it’s clear the recipe works, so why change it?
According to the ICEMULE’s website, Urbano’s 30-liter capacity translates to 20x 12-ounce cans. Honestly, I didn’t need that many for my weekend getaway, but the interior looks spacious, so it should hold nearly two dozen cans without problems.
Thanks to the flip-top cover and the roll-top opening, users can load the backpack hassle-free. The same goes for finding stuff, while the excellent usability reduces the exposure to hot air. Thus, your drinks and snacks will stay cold for longer.
Of course, the ICEMULE Urbano would never rank among the best backpack coolers on the market if it didn’t feature convenient accessory pockets. Namely, the front-facing zippered compartment is a handy quick-access element, while the side pockets can hold phones, keys, and similar items.
Finally, we arrived at the topic most of you will focus on while searching for backpack coolers to buy in 2023. Admittedly, ice retention plays a crucial role, and I paid extra attention to this aspect while testing the ICEMULE Urbano 30L backpack.
ICEMULE opted for the acclaimed PolarLayer insulation, combining it perfectly with the MuleSkin exterior. Likewise, the company included welded seams, an air valve, and a zipper-less closure to make this versatile bag buoyant and waterproof.
These elements help the ICEMULE Urbano stay cool for 48 hours or more, depending on the outside temperature and frequency of opening. From my experience, a pre-chilled Urbano backpack with ice blocks kept away from direct sunlight will handle weekend outings effortlessly.
How it Compares with Other Cooler Backpacks
The ICEMULE Urbano’s asking price ($224.95) puts it among the high-end cooler backpacks, although it looks like a bargain compared to the ICEMULE Boss ($374.95). Nevertheless, the 30-liter Urbano offers excellent value because of its versatility and urban-friendly design.
For instance, the IGLOO Outdoor Pro costs almost the same as the ICEMULE Urbano, but many elements tip the scales in favor of the latter model. Of course, you can find many budget-friendly cooler backpacks, but ICEMULE sells thoroughbreds that will stay with you for years.
And there you have it—a complete, hands-on ICEMULE Urbano review covering every aspect of this attention-worthy backpack. From what I noticed, the Urbano cooler has it all: a classy design, top-notch ice retention, decent storage capacity, and reliable support. What more could you need?
Since it holds around twenty beer cans and keeps things cold for 48 hours or more, the ICEMULE Urbano portable cooler could be a wise choice for outdoor enthusiasts and picnic lovers. It has the DNA of a genuine hiking bag but adapts like a chameleon to urban settings like parks or beaches. Thus, it’s well worth the money.