It’s not the most indestructible cooler. Nor does it retain ice the longest. The Nutshell Cooler, however, makes a case for itself by offering a more sustainable alternative to traditional ice boxes.
Unlike traditional coolers that use foam to maintain temperature, it relies on a layer built out of coconut husks to provide the necessary insulation. That’s right, biodegradable coconut husks that will otherwise end up unused or discarded. According to the outfit, coconut husk fiber is naturally filled with plenty of air pockets, which it uses to trap air and control heat transfer, allowing it to be a viable replacement for traditional foam insulation.
The Nutshell Cooler is a semi-rigid cooler that measures 18 x 13 x 10 inches (width x height x depth), with a 20-quart capacity that, the outfit claims, should accommodate around 27 standard-sized beverage cans, making it ideal for picnics, day trips, and weekend camping. It has a collapsible design that allows it to pack down into a flatter size similar to an empty bag, too, making it easy to stash at home, in the car, or anywhere else once it’s empty. Granted, it only flattens to around half the thickness, but it still saves you a decent amount of room.
Instead of foam between two layers of plastic (or metal) as standard coolers, it uses the processed coconut husk fibers as the main body, which is covered in a 600D water-repellent fabric that’s made from recycled plastic bottles, with an RF-welded leakproof liner that’s made from recycled polyester. Topping it all off is a water-repellent wrap with integrated webbing that serves as side handles for carrying with two hands, while hidden D-rings inside each of the side pockets allow you to attach a long strap for carrying over the shoulder.
The Nutshell Cooler claims an ice retention of 48 hours, so while it won’t be ideal for those week-long camping trips to the deep backcountry, it should keep ice long enough to make it useful for backyard parties, day trips, and various short adventures. Each cooler, by the way, uses an average of 24 coconut husks each, which, the outfit estimates, translates to 36 grams of carbon capture, considering they would otherwise end up burned during disposal. Suffice to say, it’s arguably one of the best alternatives out there if you’re in the hunt for more sustainable cooler options.
A lid that spans the entire top section allows you easy access to the entire cooler interior, making it easy to load up when packing and access what you need when it’s full, while sturdy metal hardware keeps the lid closed, ensuring it won’t accidentally flip open during transport. From what we can tell, there’s no valve for letting water out, so you’ll have to dump everything when you’re done, although you can easily remove the liner for cleaning as needed. Aside from the cooler, the outfit also offers an ice pack that you can fill with water and freeze to keep ice from flooding the main chamber.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for the Nutshell Cooler. You can reserve a unit for pledges starting at $169.