The Barebones Porter: Cooler Than Cool

When I opened the trunk to pull out my Barebones Porter Cooler, my jaw nearly dropped. It took all my reserve to keep from screaming across the glampground, “BOBBY! You put the @$*&# cooler in upside down!” The lobby tent was milling with about thirty guests working up an appetite for the campfire feast that Simon Majumdar and I had planned for the evening. I dreaded discovering what had happened to the meticulously packed ingredients, and steered clear of the crowd while I assessed the damage.  

Serving up a campfire feast with celebrity chef, Simon Majumdar, on his #GiveUsABedIllCookYouDinner tour. Photo by Kristen Kellogg (

Serving up a campfire feast with celebrity chef, Simon Majumdar, on his #GiveUsABedIllCookYouDinner tour. Photo by Kristen Kellogg (

Having been through the gauntlet that is Food Network Star, by now I’d learned that any “surprise” can be turned into an asset. Isn't that Alton Brown's guiding philosophy in life (and on Cutthroat Kitchen?) In this case, I was able to recognize that Bobby had saved me a step around the campfire. I wouldn’t have to drizzle olive oil over the kale while I grilled it - the Dinosaur leaves had already been coated with an entire, upended bottle of olive oil. The Za’atar season had been mixed extra thoroughly in its jar and the butter lightly warmed and softened by heavier loads now sitting on top of it.

But even more aptly, this was the perfect opportunity to test the Porter Cooler before giving it away to one lucky winner in our Barebones Escape Giveaway (yes, this is happening NOW, and don’t worry, Barebones sent us a spankin’ new one for you!). 

To begin with, the Porter Cooler is downright sexy. I mean, look at it! It could be, or rather has been, mistaken for a stylish, urban-meets-rustic suitcase, and it's designed to carry heavy loads like one. Most coolers have wheels on one end and a handle on the other, making the weight distribution uneven and wobbly. The Porter Cooler's handle is smack in the middle for smooth cruising. It's also designed with unique functionality. After our campfire dinner, I wrote to my friends Breanne and Diane over at Barebones:

"The cooler keeps getting better. It stays cold and is INSANELY easy to clean. After spilling the olive oil, we hosed down the inside, dumped out the water (which slipped right off the lip instead of splashing all over the front of the cooler) and let it air dry - which was surprisingly quick." Diane also noted that the entire inside lining can be removed, or just unzipped along the top to slip in ice packs for extra insulation, which also keeps the ice from melting (I hate picking up soggy ingredients). 

The interior is roomy enough to fit everything but the kitchen sink, and there are two handy front pockets. The middle pocket folds out so you can access your kitchen tools, held securely with elastic bands. There are several other pockets with easy magnetic closures, where I stuffed my welding gloves (gotta protect your hands from the fire!), kitchen towels and other last minute thoughts on my way out the door. Another bonus? With it's soft nylon and fabric construction (oh, and real leather handles and straps!), this cooler is lighter than most options out there. Starting to get the picture?

I test a lot of camping and cooking gear, and I'm not joking when I say this is one of my favorite new accessories. The Barebones Porter Cooler already feels like an essential for my camp kitchen, and I'm hoping it will also become indispensable for yours! Without further ado, click the button below to win one for FREE (along with a treasure trove of other amazing gear PLUS two nights glamping with us).