From floating the river to picnicking in in the park, a good cooler is a summertime staple. Classic hard-sided coolers may be the standard for longer outings, but for shorter jaunts and when space is at a premium, a quality soft cooler is the way to go. I tried out the Grizzly Drifter 20 and found it to be an impressively well-designed and extremely versatile cooler. It's lightweight, with easy-to-grab handles, and the capacity—20 quarts—is just right for packing up to a dozen drinks, plus food for several people. Multiple tiedown loops allowed me to secure it to both my canoe and paddleboard, and it fits in my load-hauler hunting pack (see below)—which meant I could pack it up to Lava Lake for a luxurious lakefront hors d'oeuvre & cocktail hour. Needless to say, our fellow hikers were green with envy.
The Drifter is sturdily built, with a heavy-duty shell, compression-molded lid and base, and a slew of exterior pockets for drinkware, keys, phone, and other items. There's even a stash pocket on top and a little drop-down shelf for keeping food out of the dirt. The only shortcoming on this otherwise-outstanding item is the main zipper, which is not waterproof and thus leaks when the cooler is tipped sideways. However, the Drifter comes with a rolltop liner, which can be used to render the cooler's contents leakproof.
All in all, for overnight car-camping, single-day river-running, and apres-outdoor tailgating, the Drifter ibeats a bulky hard cooler any day—and the price beats those of most other top-tier brands.