Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler 70L

For the money, this really can’t be beat. I did a bunch of research and this cooler held food cold for 3.5 days in 80 degree days, whereas the Yeti, at 10x the price, lasted only 4 days. Scientific? No, but close enough. At under $40, you just can’t beat it. Is it large? Yes. It’s useful only for car camping, picnics, having beer cold when everyone is over for a bbq, etc. I sometimes wish I had gotten a 50L because this holds far more food than I care to carry and takes up valuable bed space in the truck. Ah well, I don’t feel like buying another.

Make sure you get the Marine version – the hinges are metal instead of plastic. It should last longer. It’s also white so it doesn’t get bleached by the sun.

Big Agnes 2019 Copper Spur HV UL

This is my first ultra-light tent. Before this, I’ve always gotten something from Alps Mountaineering or similar. About 3x the price, 1/3 the weight, packs small, and totally worth it if you can comfortably swing the price. The tent weighs nothing. Lifting it felt like how lifting a carbon fiber bike felt the first time. I was shocked they could make something this light. So far I’ve only used it on dry nights, so I have no idea how it handles in the rain, but California is in the worst drought in 1200 years, so that’s not so important.

Karrimor SF Predator 80-130 PLCE

Need something huge to carry my gear, my daughter’s gear, maybe my other daughter’s gear as well.  Will write more when I’ve used it.  130 liters is pretty big, but this bag is wide, not tall, so I don’t know how balanced it is.


Update April 10, 2020

I think I jumped the gun on this bag.  So far it hasn’t been used at all for actual hiking.  I’ve basically been using it as a truck bag which it’s terrible for.  In fact, on my last few trips I didn’t even bring it.  I loaded it up, realized I’m just going car camping, and just put my gear in a couple big duffle bags.

I’ve learned a few things though.

First, a large bag doesn’t make up for having large gear.  It just doesn’t work.  I have a large synthetic sleeping bag which takes up maybe a third of the bag.  The sleeping bag straps on the bottom don’t expand enough to accommodate sleeping bag.  I ended up getting a down bag, but it’s for -30F, so it’s also large.  Maybe it will fit with a long and narrow stuff sack.

I also have a large BearVault.  The bag doesn’t have a floating crown, so the BearVault doesn’t really fit well.

With the two largest items needed to be carried outside the bag, I don’t see much of a use for the 130L capacity.  Maybe I will on a longer trip, but the bag is heavy, like 8 lbs, so I wonder.


Considering this is supposed to be a bag for when nothing else will do, it lacks a few key features.  I think with a few small improvements, it could be twice as useful.

Floating Crown

With a floating crown, I would be able to fit my large BearVault easily on the top of the bag.  Almost all pack have this, why doesn’t this?

Longer / Replaceable Sleeping Bag Straps on the Bottom

My synthetic bag barely fit in the straps.  It took me over five minutes to wiggle it in.  Had the straps been longer or replaceable, it would’ve been a snap.  Why does the bag limit me to such short straps?  Large backpacks are used in the winter and so are large sleeping bags.  I don’t understand the limitation.


I wish the bag were taller and narrower.  I don’t understand why it has the dimensions it does.  Maybe someone with more experience could tell me.  If the bag were taller, it could even go to 160L which would be fantastic.

For my purposes, more volume doesn’t always equal more weight.  Synthetic products sometimes cost 20% of their down counterparts.  We’re not all made of money.