The Brümate Backtap is a 2-in-1 cooler/tap you can wear on your back. It’s a big bucket with straps, a handle, stainless steel insulation, and a nozzle on the front. For $200, you can keep your hands and carry a big mixed drink on your back. For $25 more, you’ll get to do the same, but with a bit more splash of color. I got the opportunity to test one of them out and I can tell you it’s pretty rad, but it’s not without its shortcomings.
The weekend the Backtap arrived for me to test could not have come at a better time. A friend of mine was having a Shrek-themed Halloween party complete with costumes, Smash Mouth playlists, and an assortment of delicious snacks that looked like dirt, but intentionally so.
I offered to make a green mix drink for the party which I could bring over in the Backtap. The host loved that idea, even though she was already planning to prepare her own pitcher of green junk for the event, but felt, “Hey! The more the merrier!” Another friend and I found a recipe for a Midori Sour which was about the greenest cocktail Google results would return, so we got to shopping and mixing at his apartment before heading over to the party.
Walking into my friend’s house, eyes were on me as I came through the door with this giant cylindrical backpack swinging around my back like a wrecking ball. Folks there were amazed at the ingenuity of it and all wanted to try it on.
I felt a bit justified in everyone’s reaction to putting it on as they all noticed the same thing I did: The straps on the Backpack felt a bit uneven. By that, I mean, the inside of the straps feels shorter than the outside, so when you wear it on your back, the straps don’t sit evenly on your shoulders.
Instead, the weight all falls on a couple centimeters of space as opposed to being spread across the full 3" width of each strap. I had only needed to carry this short distances to and from our Ubers, but I can see this causing strain if you plan to carry this to, let’s say, a spot on the beach all the way from your car in the parking lot.
Walking around with the Backtap on your back is heavy and cumbersome when it’s filled to the brim with Midori, seltzer, lemons, and limes. Yet, it’s still easier to carry that way than any other feasible method for one person to transport 3 gallons of liquid. I don’t have any better ideas and the novelty of an all-in-one backpack is enough that I’ll likely pick it up anytime I have a need to bring a cooler full of stuff somewhere. Brümate also offers and shoulder sling accessory for $20 as an alternative to the backpack straps, but I did not get to test it.
Something I quickly noticed when trying it out was that, when placing the Backtap on a table or countertop, the carabiner connecting the base to the backpack straps would get caught underneath the base of the cooler. This caused it to rock like a chair with uneven legs.
This happened again as we arrived at my friend’s house for The Shrekoning: A Shrektacular Halloween Party when I placed the Backtap next to the host’s own jug of green mix. I tipped the Backtap to the side a bit so I could remove the carabiner from underneath, at which point I became the most hated person at the party as my massive Backtap pushed the other cocktail to the floor. The lid shattered and green food dye, Everclear, and who knows what else splattered across the kitchen floor. I hadn’t come in costume—just the one Shrek 2 t-shirt that was able to ship in time—but at that point, I knew I was cosplaying as Donkey for having made a complete ass of myself.
Luckily, all it did was generate some good laughs for the rest of the night. I profusely apologized and helped mop up the kitchen while continuing to apologize even though the host kept saying it was perfectly alright. To my surprise, she hadn’t yelled at me to “get out of her swamp.”
So be warned: take careful precautions of where the carabiner is when you set the Backtap down. A better design would be if the carabiner connected an inch or so above the base so the flat bottom would always remain unobstructed. However, one could and should rightfully argue that this isn’t a con against the product itself, but against inviting me to your house. Do so with caution.
Much like ogres and onions, the Brümate Backtap has layers. A great design choice of the Backtap allows for the inner stainless steel to be removable. Simply, unscrew the actual tap nozzle and it lifts out of the cooler with ease.
The next morning following the party, I checked the Backtap, which looked to have nearly as much ice in it as when we started the night before. I was amazed by how well this cooler sealed in the temperature. This is especially impressive because it looks like we only lost ice to cooling the cocktail itself as it was room temperature when we made it (the instructions indicate to remove the interior and cool that in the freezer first if you can, but we didn’t have the time). Though, upon removing the inner shell, there was a small puddle of the bright green Midori mix waiting underneath. Prior to this night, when I first received the Backtap, I took out the removable insert and put it back as I got a closer look at all aspects of the product. It is certainly possible that when putting it back originally, I had not tightened the nozzle fully.
To test this further in the following few days, I filled the Backtap past the nozzle with water after having consciously tightened it as much as I could—tipping the Backtap toward the nozzle, letting it sit like that while occasionally shaking it around a bit. It didn’t let any of the water pass through to the in-between layer. So I’ll chalk up the issue I had to user error, but this is something to be mindful of as I could easily see this happening to someone else.
After the shame of knocking over my friend’s mix drink within two minutes of entering her home had passed (as much as it can), I shifted gears to l00king at the Backtap’s utility as a cooler for canned beverages.
The interior of the cooler looks much smaller than it is. The website lists that it can fit 14 slim cans (think hard seltzers) or 12 standard-sized cans. Bullshit, I thought. Sure, maybe they want me to open each White Claw and pour it in to get 14 in there. Or maybe it’s the absolute capacity without any room for ice. Well, sure enough, I was wrong in my assumption. The Backtap could easily fit the spec amounts with ample room for ice. It’s worth noting the website also lists it’ll fit 5 bottles of wine (15 if poured in) or simply 3 gallons of a margarita. I hadn’t gotten a chance to test either of those, but I believe it after fitting the cans with ease.
Ultimately, the shortcomings are pretty easy to overlook. Most were due to my own negligence, but are certainly experiences other buyers could fall into like the carabiner placement or the drink seeping through. I learned from experience and won’t let it happen again. That said, I’d still understand if I’m not welcome in any of your homes. There’s also the issue with the straps’ ergonomics, but it still functions fine as a backpack. The $200 price puts the Backtap in the ballpark of a Yeti or other high-end big brand name coolers. However, adding in the versatility of being a tap while also convenient to carry on your back takes the Backtap up to a level I have not seen with other products. But I guess that depends on what $200 means to you. If you’re someone who frequently lugs a cooler around, you’ll get a lot of good use out of the Brümate Backtap and you’ll have an easy time taking it with you.
And Leah, if you’re reading this—I’m sorry again for ruining your party and your lovely kitchen floor.