After testing 12 coolers we’ve concluded that the Yeti Tundra 45 here is the best option for most people who want durability, portability, and reliability. Tundra 45 has the best overall construction and while all coolers claim to keep ice for around the same time, our testing showed that Yeti Tundra 45 kept our ice 20% longer than any of the competitors. They are the most expensive of the group, but the performance and build quality support along with the support justify the premium price tag.
- 1 Our Favourite Cooler
- 2 Runner up
- 3 Third, Fourth and Beyond.
- 4 Cooler Buying Guide
- 5 Here are some key factors to consider before purchasing a new cooler:
- 6 Cooler Size, Features, Design & Build
- 7 Our Pick for Best Cooler
Our Favourite Cooler
- The YETI Tundra 45 combines versatility with durability with a capacity of up to 26 cans with a recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio
- Will keep your ice... well ice thanks to up to 3 inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an extra thick FatWall design is certified Bear-Resistant
- The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra armored to the core and virtually indestructible so wherever you decide to take it, this portable cooler's sturdy construction will stand up to the rigors of the journey
We tested our coolers over several weeks across a 6-month time span to allow us to simulate a variety of conditions in order to fully assess the conditions you might experience. TheYeti is the best option for just about every scenario. They’re sturdy, well-built, and backed by an industry second-best 5-year warranty. We’ve test a variety of models and the Tundra 45 also kept ice and drinks cold for nearly 20% longer across a variety of conditions than the competition.
If theTundra 45 is out of your price range you might want to consider the RTIC 45 Cooler. While it is priced like a budget roto-molded cooler, its performance out-paced more expensive models and premium priced brands. Our concern with the RTIC 45 is their recently updated warranty which was previously an industry second-best, 7 years was mysteriously changed to 30-days. From our inquiries sent to the company, nothing has change from the production standpoint and this move was made for internal reasons. I’m not sure what that means or if it’s an issue but it’s definitely worth nothing. At a third of the cost of our #1 Pick the, Tundra 45, theRTIC 45 still provides a great value even with the warranty change.
- Keeps Ice up to 10 Days, Like a portable freezer
- Integrated Locking System, Bear Resistant
- Easy-Flow Drain Spouts, Lets the water out, keeps ice in
Third, Fourth and Beyond.
After the Yeti XYZ and the RTIC XYZ the waters begin to muddy a bit. While the performance begins to drop off from our first 2 picks, any cooler that keeps ice longer than a day or two we’ve found is more than most people need and anything else is just showing off. All over these coolers were well over a week of keeping ice but not all hit their 10-day claims in all conditions. We also experienced some miscellaneous issues with some parts such as gaskets, handles and nozzles. Most companies addressed the concerns quickly and w/o question. One company, Pelican, required one of our testers to ship his unit back to them at his expense. Given the weight of a rotomolded cooler, that was fairly significant.
- 7 Day ice time.
- 4 drink holders on lid
- Fish ruler on lid
- 5-year warranty
Orca Cooler – ORCA TP0580RCORCA Cooler
- Only 24lbs
- Lifetime Warranty
- Cargo Net attachment included
- 100% Made in USA
- 10 day ice time
- Roto molded construction
- Integrated insulation
- Lid gasket for perfect seal
A cooler is an important piece of equipment for many types of people. Coolers are an essential contributor to any sort of prolonged outdoor activity, from camping, to hiking, to long days playing sports or doing other activities outside. Although there are many great coolers of many shapes and sizes, there is a great range in ideal function, size, and cost. We believe that it is best to have a clear idea of what you want, and to invest in a high quality product with the potential to serve the purpose that you require.
Here are some key factors to consider before purchasing a new cooler:
-Cooler Size & Design
In this guide, we will examine a select few of the premier options and possibilities within the world of coolers. We believe that, at this point, enough high quality coolers are available to suit the needs and requirements of almost any consumer.
So, at this point, the major question is:
“What do you need from your new cooler?”
In answering this question, there are several variables that you should consider.
This is the first context to ask yourself what, specifically, you require from your cooler. What type of range do you need to keep food and drinks cold? Will 1-2 days suffice, or do you plan on going on long treks for a week at a time? If you are just planning on keeping beer cold for a day or two at a baseball game, you won’t need to invest in a 6 day cooler, and can put that money toward more appropriate features that suit your activities better. Have a firm idea of what features you are looking for, through independent research or through consulting with a professional; there is no reason that you should not be able to find the cooler for you.
Obviously, the core functionality of a cooler is to retain ice and keep the contents which are stored within, but the duration and ways in which different coolers achieve this is actually quite vastly different.
So, what do you need from your cooler. For yourself and your purposes, how would you rank:
… in order of importance?
The perfect cooler for a fisherman who makes group day trips on his boat could very well be the worst cooler for the person who spend their entire weekend hiking. Basically, context is everything, and quality is relative.
What does this all mean? It means that, if you are going to find the right cooler for you, you should definitely be investing time in understanding your own requirements. From there, you can take the next steps in moving toward making a significant purchase.
Cooler Size, Features, Design & Build
More than almost anything, the size and capacity will end up being the major factor for people choosing one cooler over another. Storage space is a huge aspect of this, but spatial efficiency is also often considered: if two coolers can carry the same amount of ice and products, one is more efficient if it takes less space or weighs less.
How much would you generally need to pack in your cooler? Often, various sizes of very similar models are available. There is no point investing in something that is either too big or too small for you. Have an awareness of how much space you need, and it is very likely a solution that is close to your specific preference will be available.
The Capacity Options
Typically, a cooler is measured in quarts: 20, 35, 45, 65, 75, 105, 125, 160, 210, 250, and 350 are often available, but the numbers will also depend on the brand. Not only does a bigger cooler carry more, but it also widens the range of products that will fit in the cooler.
20 quarts is ideal for smaller commitments; perfect for the job site, small storage on short trips, or a sports game. Perfectly portable, the option is also great for storage on a kayak, canoe, ATV, golf cart, or even in your own back seat. Generally a 20 qt is enough for a 12 pack of 12 oz cans, with a 2:1 ratio of ice to cans.
45-65 quarts is a great size for tailgating, fishing, camping, hunting small game, and hauling around in the back of a pickup truck. With the same ice ratio as before, a 65 quart cooler will hold about 40 cans of your beverage of choice.
With this in mind, anything over 150 quarts is obviously meant for relatively massive amounts of storage. A 350 quart cooler will hold over 200 cans, 300 pounds of ice, and will be thoroughly inconvenient in portability but ideal for certain amounts of storage. These coolers are used for offshore fishing, hunting big game, extended camping, backup refrigerators, white water rafting, and it is the ultimate party cooler.
A smaller cooler is more portable, obviously, and generally a cooler model grows larger, it becomes decreasingly portable in potential weight and design. 350 quart cooler, filled with 200 cans and an ideal ratio, will weigh well over 400 pounds, for example. A larger cooler can work well if it is constantly planted in a fixed location, like a truck bed, for example. Otherwise, if you depend on manual portability, it is not worth purchasing a cooler of this size; if you’re a parent who is taking the kids to a game, for example, you might want something much smaller and lighter.
The choice between a hard sided cooler and a soft sided cooler is one that depends on your priorities. Generally, a soft sided cooler will be very portable; lighter in weight and often with a shoulder strap for carrying. Soft sided coolers are great for day trips, but don’t provide the same duration as far as keeping their contents cooler. Food and drink within hard sided coolers will stay cool longer, and portability is often improved with the addition of wheels on the bottom.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Most coolers will require fairly typical cleaning and maintenance. Use water and soap and clean your before the first time you use it, and then also clean it after each use. Consult with each option, as different coolers have different features; some can handle bleach, others pressure washers, others can handle both, and some can’t either.
Add-ons & Accessories
For some brands and models it will be much easier to add shelves or compartments, and also to find replacement parts such as rubber feet, handles, and plugs. Try to have a general awareness about these aspects of the cooler you are considering purchasing before finalizing the decision.
The offered warranty has the potential to be a real clincher in your purpose. If you are deciding between several options, check the warranty options. Some brands, like RTIC will offer a 7-year warranty, others will offer a warranty between 3-5 years, and some will depend on the warranty offered by the store that is selling it to you. Now, other companies are matching RTIC’s 7-year warranty more often. Even if it is not a determining factor in your purchase, you should not buy a cooler without understanding the conditions in which you can be refunded or have the product replaced.
Don’t forget to compare warranties!
Again, this cannot be stressed enough: make sure you get the capacity you need! That can be achieved by buying the right size, or by buying more than one cooler. A potential solution is buying a larger, hard sided cooler for parties and group gatherings, and also a smaller, more portable, soft sided cooler for increased practicality. Will the size, and design, fit into your vehicle properly? Do you like the way it looks and feels?
A few replacement parts does not hurt, just in case of a break at an inconvenient time.
Why You Need A New Cooler
If you buy a modern, industry-standard, hard-sided cooler, you will be doing yourself a major favor. Due to recent innovations in cooling and retention technologies, most high-grade coolers now keep ice for up to 5-10 days. This makes them an amazing and ideal piece of equipment for camping, road trips, and all sorts of outdoor fun.
Regardless of how fond you are about your current cooler, the level of technological perfection that has been achieved by the modern cooler is not something that should be missed out on by anybody who enjoys the outdoors.
Although the initial investment isn’t cheap, that does not mean that it isn’t very valuable. The vastly improved level of ice retention, general durability, and great warranties that accompany these coolers add extreme value to owning one of these coolers. If you plan on camping, most of these coolers are totally bear-proof, which means that they cannot access your food or detract from the potential health from you and your friends and family in this way.
Rotomolded Coolers- What Are They?
The movement toward rotomolded coolers has been one that has added amazing features and extreme value to the new common cooler. Rotomolded construction, an intense method of manufacturing, has been employed by all of the major industry leaders in the world of coolers. Included in this new wave of coolers are brands such as Ozark, RTIC, and the immaculate Yeti, who was the first to transpose and perfect the technology within the industry. The walls are very thick with several inches of pressure injected insulation, and the solidity of the build makes them virtually indestructible.
“Rotomold” is a term for rotationally molded plastic; a way of manufacturing plastic products that are sturdy, consistent, and amazing at retaining temperatures. The implementation of this technology has been a total game-changer for the cooler industry, as the new expectation of a fine cooler is that ice can be retained for nearly a week!
They are made to last a lifetime functionally, and often stylistically, too. Although they are heavy in weight and impact on the wallet, these coolers are generally regarded as a wise investment by hobbyists and industry professionals alike.