Alaskan-Invented Cooler Finds Distribution Through Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s

Feb 15, 2023 | Manufacturing, News, Retail

Brian with product

Brian McKinnon packs his catch using products he designed.


Anglers in need of an all-in-one cooler can find an Alaskan solution at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. The national chains reached a distribution deal with PacBak, maker of the P88-MK Cooler/ROAM 18-V Vacuum Sealer Combo invented by Brian McKinnon of Wasilla.

Cooler Heads Prevail

McKinnon and his brother Phil, PacBak’s Alaska representative, met with the retailers’ parent company this month at Bass Pro Base Camp headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.

After they presented their line of PacBak products—the cooler plus its accessory vacuum sealers and batteries and their Byway Waterproof Backpack—the purchasing team and leadership agreed to a distribution partnership.

“I used to look up pictures of this building and imagine my coolers on the shelves when I was working on the North Slope and didn’t have a home to go home to during PakBak’s infancy,” says Brian McKinnon. “This goes to prove that if you power through the disbelief of others, you will surely end up where you imagine yourself being proving the believers right. This is not only a win for PacBak but for all entrepreneurs and inventors from Alaska.”

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McKinnon previously designed the AlumaSki personal watercraft and an industrial fueling system for trucks on the North Slope, but the P88-MK and ROAM 18-V are his big hit. The design won Best of Show at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades in Florida in July 2022, beating products from major brands like YETI and Garmin.

The invention already has national distribution through Army Air Force Exchange Stores. The deal with Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s puts PacBak in 177 locations plus their respective online stores.

Shelves in Alaska stores will be the first to see the PacBak coolers beginning in May. The McKinnons say other PacBak items will make their way gradually into other US-based retail outlets.

Alaska Business magazine October 2023 cover
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