The Case for the $500 Beer Cooler
High-end coolers designed for sustained hard outdoor use, such as the rotomolded, bearproof ones from Yeti Coolers, are often marketed like SUVs. They lure you in with visions of crossing rugged mountainsides and rushing rivers, catching trophy steelheads, then returning to civilization, triumphant, keeping your beer frigid the whole time.
The reality of weekday—or at least weekend—life is, in some ways, more challenging, and it’s more mundane. For every remote mountainside and wall-mounted fish, your cooler will see dozens of muddy soccer field parking lots and sweaty trips to the beach.
What you want is a cooler that can do both, a proposition taken up by Colorado startup Rovr Products.
Rovr’s promise is mobility, which is big news when you consider that an 80-quart cooler loaded with beer and ice can weigh more than 100 pounds. Its secret weapon is its wheels—8-inch all-terrain tires mounted on five spoke nylon hubs. Rovr’s owner Tom DeFrancia discovered them via Colorado Springs company MBS, which designed them for mountainboarders to descend rocky terrain at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. DeFrancia says he was “looking for something that was both all terrain and would have good glide, as well as being very durable.”
The company’s Bikr model comes with the hardware to hitch it to the back of your bicycle, making it ideal for big trips to the farmers market, to picnics in the park, or even, like DeFrancia does, for getting from the satellite parking areas to tailgate central at Denver Broncos games. There’s also a flip-down aluminum handle to let two people pull the cooler at once in sandy situations.
While Rovr’s coolers are designed to stay cold as long as any of its high-end competitors, the dimensions and design are driven by food and beverage capacity. The largest section is sized to the footprint of a case of beer and can hold 60 cans of your favorite brew along with 20 pounds of ice, though you can add an additional case and a half if you take out the three-compartment dry storage bin.
The side compartments are sized to each hold a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne. The center compartment can hold ten pounds of ice, enough ground beef for 50 quarter pound burgers, or four standard bottles of liquor in case you want to make a few corpse revivers for the gang.
And while most coolers have their dry-storage areas toward the top of the interior, where it’s usually the warmest, Rovr’s three-compartment dry bin goes to the lowest point for better cold retention. “I didn’t bring the dividers all the way up, so that items such as ribs, steaks, burgers, and large items could be laid across the top, rather than trying to squeeze everything into compartments,” DeFrancia says.
For maximum comfort, the cooler also comes with cupholders and a cutting board that latch onto external steel pins, as well as a rigid popup bin that fixes to the top of the cooler for toting along chairs, blankets, and umbrellas.