UPDATE: Campaign successfully completed! If you missed this opportunity to get a River Cooter, please visit our website for updates and regular product sales. www.trailturtle.com
-The Trail Turtle Team
Beverage cooler tubes are not a new concept. However, it has proven impossible to find one that actually works. The beverage "tube coolers" in the market today are little more than "can holders". Although the concept of a shoulder strap can holder is, by itself, a wonderful idea, the experience is ultimately ruined when your drinks are warm.
To fix this dilemma, we present the River Cooter can koozie!
There are several key elements deployed to solve this problem.
- Engineering a special "cooling puck" that maximizes surface contact with BOTH the can top and the can bottom. The EVA ice puck must also easily nest together so you can place them into the freezer for storage.
- Specify extra heavy neoprene for insulation. Standard neoprene koozie devices use foam or 3mm neoprene. We are specifying specialty 4mm for actual insulation.
- Add a metal foil inside liner for thermal reflection.
We tried multiple versions and designs of cooling pucks before finalizing on our current design. Although simple in concept, the EVA ice element had to be easily stackable, fit a variety of can types and fall down as cans are removed from the stack.
The cooler tube length was also heavily debated. Ultimately the design is targeting 6 cans (and no ice pucks) or 5 cans (and five ice pucks). We felt this was a good compromise and the addition of a separate can koozie enables you to load an entire 6-pack for your adventures. In winter you can leave the ice pucks at home and carry seven cans (one in the koozie and six in the Cooter.
The materials for the koozie were also heavily debated and researched. We are happy with the foil and heavy 4.0mm thick neoprene combination. It is a solid compromise on cost, performance and appearance.
We have been testing prototype mock-ups and are close to finalizing the designs.
The main project costs are the EVA ice pack prototyping and mold tooling. There are also multiple rounds of sample prototypes with the cooler tube to optimize size and materials. We will minimize shipping costs by packaging the product in Ohio (bulk ship from China).
The Trail Turtle team has already successfully launched an outdoor, wireless speaker. The Lil' Snapper is a great example of design and sourcing. This can cooler is a walk-in-the-woods compared to electronics. To help promote the Lil' Snapper, we are offering it as one of our backing awards.
Our product vision is to bring cool, outdoor products to market from our base in NE Ohio. We are just regular people working to bring economical, quality outdoor products to the market. Our engineering and product background extends from over 15 years of component sales of industrial circuit boards as Advantage Circuits, Ltd.
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS UPDATE:
Before tooling we wanted to verify our design. We could have stacked-the-deck and chosen one of the cheap, crappy products on the internet. However, we wanted to go head-to-head with a top brand. For our test we chose a top name in cooler and outdoor products - the Coleman cooler tube.
The test simulated real-life performance with Diet Pepsi. The Cooter ice pucks were left in a house freezer for 24 hours before loading into the Cooter. The Cooter and Coleman were loaded at the same time and thermocouples attached to a single can in each cooler to measure temperature. The coolers were then zipped closed and the temperatures of each thermocouple were recorded each minute for 9 hours with twin digital Fluke multi-meters.
The Trail Turtle team was anxious to put the specially engineered River Cooter layers and EVA ice pucks to the test. The Coleman cooler was not able to hold all six cans. Perhaps this product was designed for an unusual can size (or the Coleman quality control team had the day off). Regardless, both coolers were simultaneously loaded with 5 cans of Diet Pepsi straight from the refrigerator and the EVA ice pucks added to the River Cooter.
The temperature in the Cooter can quickly dropped (as expected since the the EVA ice pucks were completely frozen and the equilibrium temperature would thus be somewhere in between the freezer and refrigerator temperature). This instant can cooling can be seen at the start of the data logging where the River Cooter can has a negative slope. Once settled, the Cooter can maintained a 10 degree advantage over the Coleman cooler can as shown.
If we consider 50 degrees Fahrenheit to be our upper limit for "cold", the River Cooter held below this threshold for almost 240 minutes verses the Coleman 40 minutes.
We consider the results from this prototype as a success and validation of the design.
Side Note 2: The Trail Turtle team is excited to join http://kickingitforward.org Members of this organization (now us!) will put 5% of their finished product profits back into other Kickstarter projects. What a great idea to promote the community. We're in.
Risks and challenges
-Fit. Cans are different shapes and sizes. Fortunately most of the US beverage industry utilizes a standard top and body (and our prototype ice puck fits Miller Lite and Diet Pepsi perfectly!). We mitigate this risk with modeled prototypes (as pictured in blue above) of our ice pack. For extra comfort in your investment, we will continue to test various production lots of Miller Lite for any variations.
-Cost. To be successful, this product needs to land in a discretionary spending range. As cool as we think it is, there is still a limit on the value. We help to add value to this product by including a separate can koozie and carabiner. For a small extra cost, we feel this gives the project an extra element of value. We will also minimize cost by using standard kraft box packaging with a simple sticker (think of Amazon "no hassle" style).
-Function. Of course, the end game is to create a cooler option that actually works to keep cans cold. We mitigate this risk by building actual prototypes and testing "real world" against the competition before tooling.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)