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10 Cool Ice Chest Reviews – Stay Chill In 2018

Home & Garden

Whether you’re going on a picnic, a camping weekend or to the seaside, one thing that you’ll definitely need is the best ice chest you can find.

Last updateAugust 30, 2018
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Marko Rasic
Today’s expert
Marko Rasic
10 Cool Ice Chest Reviews – Stay Chill In 2018

Our leaders

Pros

Outstanding insulation

Easy to use

Well built

Highly durable

Cons

Lid can slam shut

Mesh pocket hard to reach

Learn more
Pros

Can keep ice for a long time

Highly durable

Extremely simple and easy to use

Cons

No drain plug leash

Rubber latches relatively small

A bit heavy

Learn more
Best for the money
YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
4.5 / 5

Pros

Retains ice long

Easy to handle

Bear-proof

Reliable and durable

Cons

No leash on the drain plug

Learn more
Pros

Offers a lot of space

You can sit on it

Has a simple build

Easy to clean

Cons

Handles can be weak

No lock on the lid

Learn more
Runners up

Also good products

4.5 / 5

Offers a lot of features, but the handles aren’t reliable.

4 / 5

Rust resistant and durable, but has a poorly made lid latch, and may leak.

4 / 5

A good backpack replacement, with three carrying options, but no precise ice retention period (and no drain plug).

4 / 5

Durable and easy to use, but also very heavy, and cannot retain ice for long.

3.5 / 5

Well made and relatively lightweight, but not suitable for longer periods of time (will leak).

3.5 / 5

Easy to use, but not suitable for longer periods of time, and the latches are not reliable

How We Decided

34Products
Tested
64Hours
Spent
06Experts
Interviewed
17Consumers
Consulted
Marko Rasic
Today’s expert
Marko Rasic

Marko is a freelance copywriter with over five years of professional experience, writing everything from blog posts to product descriptions. Marko is a movie buff, music lover, and constant learner, and, you can count on him to go the extra mile.

General shopping guide

When you’re out on a camping trip, or on the beach during your summer vacation, the last thing you want is warm food and drink. Right? And without the best ice chest, good luck.

Let’s face it…

There’s nothing worse than staying under the sun without a quality ice chest by your side. And, hey, a high-quality tent, to kick back and enjoy yourself wouldn’t hurt either.

But without an ice chest to store your foods and drinks, your vacation is a bust.

Research You Can Trust

In order to help you find the right product, we spoke with actual owners of the ice chests and asked all the key questions. Our research even extended to the manufacturers’, as we’re always looking for the most accurate info.

On top of that, our experts put our top grills through the test to find out firsthand how hot--or not--they are.

Considerations

30-Second Review

Most of the users we contacted agree on one thing – the most important aspect of any ice chest is its ice retention period.

Well, of course.

If your ice chest fails to do this, then what’s the point of it, really?

Now, there are a couple more features an ice chest should have.

It should drain well, because the amount of water after ice melts will be significant. There are many ice chests out there with poor drainage.

Also…

The small parts like drain spouts, handles, latches, and hinges should be well-made and sturdy.

No point in getting an ice chest, only to find out the handle broke within minutes.

And finally

The ice chest you get should be durable. You don’t need something you’ll use for just one season. The material should be good, and able to sustain all weather conditions, especially strong sunlight.

What To Look For In A Quality Ice Chest

Before you decide on an ice chest, there are several variables you’ll have to consider. We all have different needs, and the ice chest of your choice should be perfect for your specific needs.

Some people tend to rush things, and decide on the fly.

However, …it’s really important to plan your vacation. This also goes for taking a shorter trip – because you need to know what to expect.

Here’s what you should consider before making your final pick.

Size

You might not want to hear it but…

When we’re talking about ice chests…

Size does matter.

And… There are two sizes we need to address here:

  1. The size of the chest’s cooling area – or, the storage size.
  2. And, the size of the chest itself. You know, the overall size. (It’s not the same thing, remember that.)

Storage Size

The name speaks for itself.

This is the volume of a given ice chest. i.e. how much it can store.

Again, it all depends on your needs. You might need the ice chest for a short day trip to the nearby camping area, or you might need it for a trip lasting several days.

However…

A great number of people don’t think in these terms – they simply want a reliable ice chest.

But size is still an issue.

And here’s the thing…

So many customers fall into the trap of assuming a chest that looks big on the inside has so much storage room.

Not quite.

Actually, quite often, people get disappointed because they don’t get what they bargain for.

This is why it’s important to make sure your ice chest of choice actually has plenty of storage room.

Trust us…

Looks can be deceiving!

You should also calculate the insulated area. Some ice chests are advertised as having X amount of storage room but, in fact, they have a lot less, because of the insulation area.

Additionally…

You’ll need to calculate the ice that will go in the ice chest. In order to keep certain food items cool for a long period of time, you will need plenty of ice to go along.

And more ice means – less storage room.

So, what to do?

The smartest thing would be to plan ahead and look for an ice chest that’ll have enough storage room – even after all the ice is put inside.

Overall Size

The overall size of your ice chest literally means how much space it takes up.

Again, it’s very important to know how you’ll use the ice chest once you buy it. Consider all the points before making your choice.

Especially if you plan on using the cooler for camping…

  • Do you own a car?
  • How do you travel when camping?
  • How long are your camping trips (on average)?

The problem is – the bigger the ice chest, the complicated it is to transport it.

Usually…

Bigger ice chests have thicker walls, and they’re much better at keeping food cool, especially during long, hot days.

That’s why you’d probably be better off with a bigger chest with thick walls and solid insulation.

But then again…

If you plan on traveling by bike or electric scooter, how will you transport an ice chest that big?

And this doesn’t apply only to bikes and motorcycles. Even smaller cars aren’t suitable for transporting a big ice chest.

There’s simply not enough room for everything.

After all…

The ice chest is not the only item you’re taking with you, right?

So, make sure you know how you’ll use the ice chest upon purchasing it. It will make things so much easier for you.

No doubt about it.

Build

It’s also important what material your ice chest is made of.

First of all, there’s plastic–one of the most common ice chest materials.

What makes plastic great is  it’s waterproof, lightweight, and quite affordable.

Now, listen to this:

The manufacturing process is not the same for all kinds of plastic ice chests. Some of the best plastic ice chests have the so-called rotomolded construction.

Basically, this means the whole ice chest was made from a single piece of plastic, instead of several pieces that were joined together.

Why is this great?

Well, it’s actually a great way to avoid any leaking. There are no weak points, and you won’t have to worry about your ice chest failing you when you need it the most.

But, it doesn’t end with plastic–that’s just a part of the equation.

There’s also metal, although it’s not as common. Metal is used for ice chest walls (sometimes), but it’s used more often for hinges and handles.

Furthermore, it’s much better to have a metal handle than a plastic one. It’s simply more reliable and durable.

There is also rubber, and several kinds of fabric, often used in conjunction with other products to improve the overall ice chest design. For example, rubber is great for air-tightening the ice chest, especially in the area between the lid and the box.

Also

Let’s not forget the drain plugs – many of those are also rubber-made.

Overall, a high-quality ice chest will come as a combination of materials.

Practicality

Your ice chest has to be practical. It should be easy to handle and maintain.

There are several factors that determine the practicality of a given ice chest.

First of all, there’s the carrying method.

Side handles are the most common method. Depending on the chest size, one or two people can carry it without a problem.

For smaller ice chests, one person is enough.

However…

If you have a big chest (big usually equals heavy), don’t try to be a hero. For carrying bigger ice chests, at least two people should be employed.

Another type of handle is the lid handle, but this one is only found on smaller ice chests. Bigger ones are simply too heavy for the lid handle.

Also, there is the shoulder strap – another practical carrying method. The shoulder strap is extremely useful when you’re carrying a lot of stuff with you.

But then again, shoulder straps are usually only available on smaller ice chests (although there are exceptions).

This is more important though:

In addition to carrying, there’s the insulation ability.

Now, this is one of the most important, if not the most important feature on an ice chest.

If it doesn’t insulate well, then what’s the point of it?

So…

Once again, it all depends on what you need it for. Ice chests differ greatly when it comes to their “keep-cool” periods.

It can range from a few hours to several days.

Most ice chests on the market are good if you only need them for a few hours. They’ll perform well in that short period of time, without a doubt.

…However…

If we’re talking about a few days, the situation is a bit different.

Actually, a lot different.

There are ice chests that can keep things cool for a day or two, but also for a week, or more!

Of course…

It all has to do with pricing. Usually, those ice chests are great for several days cost a lot more.

And finally…there’s durability.

Your ice chest should serve you for a long period of time, and not be a one-off type of thing.

Key Features to Look For in Your Ice Chest of Choice

  • Bottom drain (helps drain the ice chest, you don’t have to tilt it)
  • Handles (one on each end, makes the carrying easier for you)
  • Latch (especially if you have a hinged-top chest)

Additional Features

  • Section dividers (especially on a larger ice chest – they facilitate food storing)
  • Insert trays (they help you separate smaller food items from the more bulky ones in the bottom)
  • Drink-holders (especially in an ice chest designed for drinks)

Our Best Ice Chest Reviews

01

ORCA TP0580RCORCA Cooler, 58-Quart

ORCA TP0580RCORCA Cooler, 58-Quart

Most users agree this is the ultimate ice chest on the market.

What makes it so good?

First of all, we have to mention the insulation, because it’s really good. In fact, insulation is what separates the ORCA from the rest.

Most users love the fact it can retain ice longer than any other ice chest currently in offer. It easily retains ice for seven days or more.

Ready to be shocked?

Some users pointed out this ice chest kept their food and drinks fresh for ten days, which is way beyond the competition.

With its rotomolded construction and high-quality hardware, the ORCA is a fantastic ice chest for longer trips and outings.

Aside from being well made, the handles are well designed and allow a good grip.

But that isn’t all:

In addition to the body and handles, the lid gasket on this ice chest is the most striking feature. It allows for the perfect seal, keeping the cool air inside and protecting your food and drinks.

And…

Thanks to its shape, the ORCA can easily be carried by one person. It offers significant space inside, but is also very easy to handle.

It’s visually appealing, due to its simple design, and the draining is a breeze, because the drain plug works perfectly.

Any additional features on it?

A wonderful addition to the ORCA is the mesh pocket on the back of the body. This is ideal for storing smaller items, and many users praise this as a great little extra.

This ice chest is great as it is, so any small addition really shows you how much effort was put into designing the product.

Kudos for that.

What about complaints?

One would expect a product of this caliber doesn’t have any issues. However, there are some minor ones.

The biggest user complaint is the ice chest doesn’t have a lid spring. So, if you’re not careful, the lid can suddenly slam shut when left open.

However, this is really a small complaint, because there is really no need to leave the lid open.

And…

There’s the small issue with the mesh pocket. As we said, it’s positioned on the back of the ice chest, therefore – it’s not easy to reach.

You really have to make an extra effort in order to grab hold of something from the mesh pocket, or go around the ice chest.

Other than that, the ORCA is probably the best ice chest you can find. It’s well-designed, nice-looking, but most of all – it “keeps cool” longer than its competitors.

And the product has a lifetime warranty.

No two ways about it.

Features

  • 36 x 21 x 20 inches; 34 pounds
  • roto-molded construction
  • leak-proof
  • perfect seal
  • easy-grip handle
  • easy-flow drainage spout
  • mesh pocket

Pros

Outstanding insulation

Easy to use

Well built

Highly durable

Cons

Lid can slam shut

Mesh pocket hard to reach


02

RTIC Cooler, 65 qt

RTIC Cooler, 65 qt

If you want a reliable and quality-made ice chest, then the RTIC Cooler 65 is the best choice for you.

What makes it so good?

First of all, it’s rotomolded and has extremely good insulation. Some of the users we contacted told us the chill factor holds up even after full seven days. Moreover, there are users who said it kept ice for as long as ten days…

But on the manufacturer’s website, the RTIC Cooler 65 has a minimum ice retention period of five days (that’s what they guarantee, but it always goes beyond five days).

This is a significant advantage over other ice chests, especially if you’re planning to camp in the backcountry where you can’t replenish your supply of ice.

Maximum insulation is achieved via thick, 3-inch walls with a foam layer.

Furthermore…

The RTIC Cooler 65 is very easy to use, because it has sturdy handles that offer you solid gripping (each handle rope is covered with a plastic tube).

A few users have complained about the handles being slightly uncomfortable and slippery, but this is probably due to the weight of the ice chest.

The heavier it is, the harder it is to carry. There are also side handles, for ease of use.

The latches are simple and work perfectly, and the hinges allow you to open and close the ice chest with ease.

The best thing of all…

You don’t have to worry about sealing.

The RTIC Cooler 65 has a freezer-style lid gasket and it seals perfectly. It’s quite stable with  its non-slip base.

The draining is particularly good, due to its V-Drain System. The drain spouts are great, because they can take the water out while the ice chest is in full use.

And the no-sweat exterior is something all users simply adore.

There are some minor issues, though.

The rubber latches on this ice chest are well-made and definitely easy to use, but they are a bit thin. Also, the rubber balls buckling up the lid are relatively small, compared to other ice chest of similar build.

This shouldn’t be a problem, because the latches are definitely reliable, but it could become an issue after several years of extreme wear and tear.

Then…

There is no leash on the drain plug.

It’s not the major of problems, but many users have pointed out a leash on the drain plug is a great addition.

So, if you want your drain plug with a leash, you won’t find it on this ice chest.

And finally…there’s the weight.

With its 36 pounds, this is not the most lightweight ice chest around. It definitely cannot (and shouldn’t!) be carried by one person.

The manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty service period. More information here.

USER GUIDE

Features

  • 31.7 x 20.3 x 17.9 inches; 39.9 pounds
  • 3-inch insulated walls
  • rotomolded
  • reliable rope handles
  • side handles
  • V-drain system
  • freezer-style lid gasket
  • no-fail hinges
  • non-slip base

Pros

Can keep ice for a long time

Highly durable

Extremely simple and easy to use

Cons

No drain plug leash

Rubber latches relatively small

A bit heavy


03

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

When it comes to ice chests, one of the most recognizable names is the YETI Tundra 45. This is one of the most beloved ice chests around, praised for its quality by the majority of users.

Thanks to its rotomolded construction, the YETI Tundra 45 has no weak points, as all pieces bond together perfectly.

What most users love about this ice chest is it’s extremely strong. Some people have tested it by sitting on it, and the test proved successful, as it didn’t break or crack.

So, if you take it camping, or head out to sea, you won’t have to worry about anything happening to it. You can also get a cushion and use it as a seat.

Where it excels…

Most high-quality ice chests on the market have thick walls, but this one is better than most.

It features PermaFrost Insulation with 2-inches of polyurethane foam all around, plus 3-inches in the lid (essential for ice retention).

But what really sets apart the YETI Tundra 45 from other ice chests is the insulation is pressure-injected.

What’s so great about that?

Glad you asked! It makes it denser and much more reliable.

Heat intrusion is reduced even more with the so-called ColdLock Gasket on the lid.

The rubber latches are very good and reliable, and there is an interlock lid system that enables the lid to seal perfectly.

This prevents any extra air from entering the ice chest.

As far as durability is concerned, the YETI Tundra 45 is one of the very best. With its rotomolded build and polyethylene-filled bottom and lid, it’s as close to being indestructible as you can get.

In addition to this, the YETI Tundra 45 is made of UV-resistant material, and it’s also bear-proof.

The manufacturer has certified this ice chest as 100% bear-proof (with two padlocks on each corner).Only steel containers have this ability. That’s a must have feature if you plan on camping in areas where bears live. In fact, it’s the law in many National Parks.

You don’t want to get a ticket do you?

Didn’t think so. Neither did we.

It’s always dry on the outside, due to its No-Sweat Design, and it doesn’t get moist in hot weather.

It’s steady and doesn’t slide, due to its non-slip feet, and it has tie down slots on each side – to make it even more stable.

Carrying is enabled via side handles, or molded LipGrip handles. These are usually used when the ice chest is not packed full, but it all comes down to your personal choice. LipGrip handles are ideal for a single person carrying the ice chest, but if the load is quite heavy – two people will be needed to do the job.

As for the features…

The “vortex” drain plug allows you to drain the ice chest partially, or at once. Some users have complained that a bit of hand drying is still needed after the draining, because not all water leaves the ice chest. But, overall, the draining is quite good.

The only thing lacking is the leash on the drain plug, because it may get lost, or misplaced. Many users have pointed this out as the biggest drawback on the YETI Tundra 45.

Anything else?

Yup. You get a dry goods basket, included in the ice chest (great for sandwiches and smaller food items).

So, what’s the verdict?

The YETI Tundra 45 is a top ice chest on the market. In can fit all types of cars, boats and canoes, which makes it an ideal companion for camping trips.

It retains ice from four days to a week, and even longer (depending on the weather). All things considered, this is a really good ice chest.

And on top of everything, you get a 5-year warranty.

USER MANUAL

Features

  • 26 x 16 x 17 inches; 27 pounds
  • PermaFrost Insulation
  • rotomolded construction
  • heavy-duty rubber latches
  • LipGrip handles
  • ColdLock™ gasket
  • polyethylene-filled bottom and lid
  • tie-down slots
  • non-slip feet
  • dry goods basket
  • Integrated padlock ports

Pros

Retains ice long

Easy to handle

Bear-proof

Reliable and durable

Cons

No leash on the drain plug


04

Coleman Heritage XP H2O Marine Portable Cooler, 150 Quart

Coleman Heritage XP H2O Marine Portable Cooler, 150 Quart

This ice chest uses Xtreme® technology to get the best insulation. With the insulated lid, and extra insulation in its walls, Coleman Heritage 150qt. will retain temperature for five straight days.

One of the best things about this ice chest is how much space it has inside.

Ready to pick your jaw up off our keyboard?

According to the manufacturer, you can fit 223 cans inside it.

There’s also a dry storage tray, perfect for sandwiches and such.

The original idea behind this product was to manufacture an ice chest that would withstand extreme weather conditions, especially under the sun.

Thus…

They made the Coleman Heritage 150qt. from UVGuard™ material, an excellent protection from the damaging sun rays. There are also rust-free, stainless steel screws.

This ice chest is very practical – you can sit on it without any problem. It has the Have-A-Seat™ lid, with molded cup holders, which means you can enjoy your drink with your cup firmly in place.

Between the lid and the body, there are two springs that keep the lid in place.

As far as draining is concerned, the Coleman Heritage 150qt. has a leak-resistant channel drain, which drains the extra water with ease. You won’t have to tilt the ice chest in order to remove extra water.

There’s an interesting feature…

The ice chest material also has an Antimicrobial additive, which protects it from mold, mildew, and any unpleasant odors.

Also, the additive is eco-friendly.

That sure helped make us fans!

And now, some issues…

Several users have complained about the handles. The handles are large and comfortable, and appear to be sturdy, but they can be really weak.

But the biggest disappointment for users is there’s no lock on the lid.

So many people find this completely unacceptable, especially for an ice chest of this size.

Other than that

The Coleman Heritage 150qt. is a pretty good ice chest in its category, offering you a lot of space and a fairly decent ice retention period.

The manufacturer does offer a limited warranty, but it depends on the date of the original purchase. You can learn more here.

Features

  • 43.2 x 19 x 19 inches; 26 pounds
  • Xtreme® technology insulation
  • 5-day ice retention
  • UVGuard™ material (sun protection)
  • Have-A-Seat™ lid
  • molded cup holders
  • lid-protecting springs
  • leak-resistant channel drain
  • Antimicrobial additive

Pros

Offers a lot of space

You can sit on it

Has a simple build

Easy to clean

Cons

Handles can be weak

No lock on the lid


05

Thermik High Performance Roto-molded Cooler, 45 qt, White

Thermik High Performance Roto-molded Cooler, 45 qt, White

You may not know the name Thermik, because the company is not as famous as the previous two on the list, but they definitely make high-quality ice chests.

What makes this one stand out?

Among several features the Thermik High Performance 45 has to offer, we definitely have to start with the vacuum release valve.

Why is this important?

Well, as the ice inside the chest melts, it increases the volume. The vacuum thus created pulls the gasket, and it’s very hard to open the lid afterwards.

But the vacuum release valve allows you to equalize the pressure inside it with the press of a button.

The lid will be free instantly, and you won’t have to struggle with opening it.

But…that’s not all.

Here come the latches.

Instead of the standard T-latches, the Thermik High Performance 45 has ring-lever latches. They are so easy to open--users love them.

Does it retain ice?

Absolutely, yes.

The Thermik High Performance 45 has 3-inch thick walls and a rotomolded build with a polyethylene body. This means there are no weak points whatsoever.

It will retain ice for five days, and longer (the gasket offers a strong squeeze).

So, you get all the standard things as you would in any other ice chest of its type.

But, listen to this.

Where this ice chest excels is the extra features. We’ve already mentioned the vacuum release valve.

Well guess what?

There’s much more.

The Thermik High Performance 45 is ideal for going camping because it includes a dry goods basket (always a good thing to have), a drink holder, and a cutting board separator.

And if we add to this two locking tab bottle openers (on both corners) made of stainless steel, you really have everything you need for a great camping trip.

Anything else?

As a matter of fact, there is.

Many ice chests don’t have a leash on the drain plug – the bane of many a buyer. However, the Thermik High Performance 45 actually has a leash, which is also made of stainless steel.

And not only that, but there’s also a quick release drain, which can easily fit your standard garden hose – a perfect solution for fast draining.

We’ve contacted several users about this, and all of them are thrilled to have a drain plug leash and a quick release drain – they say it’s an absolute must-have when it comes to a quality ice chest.

Anything bad?

Well, there are a couple of things people have complained about.

First, there’s the color. The Thermik High Performance 45 currently comes in only one color – white.

The ice chest also isn’t bear-proof certified, although the manufacturer is apparently working on it.

And last, but not least, there are the handles. They are probably the biggest drawback, because many customers have complained about them.

The handles are made of marine nylon, but don’t seem reliable. In fact, some users have said the handles look like they will snap any time soon.

Nevertheless…

If we disregard the problematic handles, it’s safe to say the Thermik High Performance 45 is a great ice chest, one of the best around. It’s reliable, has a bunch of great extra features and a 5-year limited warranty.

Features

  • 27.5 x 17.5 x 17 inches; 29.9 pounds
  • rotomolded construction
  • 3-inch urethane insulation
  • freezer-grade lid
  • ring-lever latches
  • vacuum release valve
  • quick release drain
  • board separator
  • dry goods basket
  • drink holder
  • stainless steel bottle opener
  • stainless steel drain plug leash

Pros

Reliable and easy to handle

Can be used as a cutting board

Easy to clean and drain

Will retain ice for several days

Has a nice shape

Cons

Not bear-proof certified

The handles don’t seem reliable

Only comes in white


06

Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler

Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler

When talking about the Coleman Steel Belted, it’s safe to say it’s one of those ice chests that falls right in the middle.

It has a very simple, straightforward design, and a large lid that comes with its own latch. The lid is constructed well and it does keep the gasket tight.

We can safely say the insulation is good.

The overall structure is also very good and. As far as durability is concerned, the Coleman is a reliable and durable ice chest.

It’s not heavy, and the handles are quite comfortable, which means it’s also highly portable.

The handles are pretty safe, and they have a rubber grip to ease the carrying for you.

As its name suggests, the Coleman has a steel body, with a leak-resistant channel drain and a Have-A-Seat lid.

Just so you know, the lower part and the bottom are made of plastic.

Its ice retention period is four days, and it’s super simple to clean and maintain.

But there’s one problem with it.

The lid latch is not the easiest to handle. And this is probably putting it too lightly.

It takes a bit of time to get used to the way the latch works, but oftentimes – it simply doesn’t work. This annoys so many of the users we contacted.

Not only that, but many users told us the latch broke after just a couple of moves.

It appears the mechanism for the lid latch wasn’t constructed well. If there is one thing on the Coleman the users aren’t satisfied with, it’s the lid latch.

Also…

Some users have complained the ice chest started leaking soon after its first use, although this is not a very frequent complaint.

All in all, the Coleman Steel Belted is a durable ice chest, which should retain ice for up to four days. It doesn’t have a ton of extra features, but it offers good insulation.

Nevertheless, the flimsy lid latch is off-putting to the majority of the users, because it simply doesn’t do the job…

Apparently, there is a 6-year warranty, but it depends on the date of original retail purchase.

Features

  • 25.4 x 17.8 x 17.4 inches; 19.7 pounds
  • steel body
  • leak-resistant channel drain
  • comfort-grip steel handles
  • rust-resistant, stainless steel hardware
  • Have-A-Seat lid
  • can fit 85 cans
  • 4-day ice retention

Pros

Easy to use and handle

Solid

A lot of space

Cons

Lid latch is not good

May leak


07

YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler

YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler

Portables are becoming increasingly popular and this one is no exception.

And when we say “portable”, we really mean that. This YETI model has three options for carrying, which is really great. You have the standard carry handles, end handles, and the shoulder strap (which is detachable and adjustable).

The YETI Hopper TWO uses the HydroLok Zipper, one of the best waterproof ice chest zippers in the world.

What’s great about this zipper is it opens very wide, allowing you enough room to use (and also clean) the inside of the YETI Hopper TWO.

There is 1.5-inch insulation, and the manufacturer claims the HydroLok Zipper adds to the overall insulation.

It uses the ColdCell rubber foam for insulation, allowing for movement with thermal retention, but there is no actual information on the retention time period.

According to the information we obtained, there are too many variables that go into actual ice retention, so the manufacturer simply claims this portable ice chest can last “for days”.

We conducted a couple of tests.

The results show the YETI Hopper TWO can retain ice for at least three whole days.

Here’s some more info:

This ice chest is very durable, so you won’t have to worry about that. It’s simply built to last, and the manufacturer has done a really good job with the design and the material used.

It’s made of “DryHide”, high-density fabric that is not only waterproof, but also resistant to UV rays, punctures and mildew.

As far as the quality of build is concerned, you’re covered.

The YETI Hopper TWO has a hitchpoint grid, a system allowing you to clip any item you want and carry it with the ice chest. This is great if you’re a fishing enthusiast, needing a place to hang your fishing tools, or other pieces of outdoor equipment.

But there are some problems with it…

First of all, if you want a portable ice chest you can roll when half-full, count this one out - it takes up space because of the stiff materials used.

Another problem is the interior can only be accessed from one side, via the zipper.

So, there is no drain plug…

And finally, some users have complained the zipper is pretty hard to operate.

The YETI Hopper TWO is a fairly decent choice for shorter outings, but we’re not sure whether it can be of great use for extended periods of time.

The manufacturer offers a 3-year warranty.

Features

  • 22 x 10 x 16.5 inches; 4.4 pounds
  • DryHide body
  • HydroLok Zipper
  • ColdCell insulation
  • 3 carrying options
  • hitchpoint grid

Pros

Practical and easy to use

Good backpack replacement

Cons

Cannot be rolled up

Interior accessed only via zipper (no drain plug)

Ice retention period unknown


08

Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler, 45 quart

Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler, 45 quart

This ice chest is really good when it comes to insulation--it can last up to ten days (according to the manufacturer).

It has 2-inch polyurethane insulation, making it really good for prolonged outdoor periods.

In addition to this

The Pelican ProGear 45 is really easy to use. It has press-and-pull latches, which are large and suitable for gloved use.

There are two types of handles, both molded-in and hinged, so you can make your own pick. This dual handle system is something most users praise.

It also doesn’t skid, because it has non-skid feet.

Did we mention it's corrosion-resistant. The build is solid and the ice chest is definitely durable, so no problems there.

What else?

There is a sloped drain, and a tethered drain plug (always great to have).

It’s also bear-proof certified. And, for all of you fishing lovers out there, there is a molded-in fish scale on the lid.

Now, what are the problems?

Well, the biggest one is definitely portability, because the Pelican ProGear 45 is really heavy (35.9 pounds).

Unlike some other types of Pelican ice chests, this one doesn’t have wheels. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a problem, because it takes at least two adults to carry the ice chest around.

When it’s empty, one person definitely can carry it, but when full – don’t even try it.

Most of the users we contacted think this ice chest is really, really heavy, and point it out as the biggest issue.

Also, many of them complained about the ice chest leaking, especially during transport.

And finally…

In extreme heat, it appears it can’t retain ice longer than 3-4 days, which makes the whole 10-day ice retention claim a bit confusing. We’re not sure whether it can really do that…

What’s clear is the Pelican ProGear 45 will retain ice for shorter periods of time, and it has a really good build. There may be minor issues with leaking but, overall, it’s of acceptable quality.

Features

  • 29.7 x 20 x 19.2 inches; 35.9 pounds
  • dual handle system
  • non-skid feet
  • molded-in fish scale on lid
  • sloped drain
  • tethered drain plug

Pros

Durable

Easy to use

Solid build

Cons

Very heavy

Can leak

Cannot retain ice long in extremely hot weather


09

Engel USA Cooler/Dry Box, 19 Quart

Engel USA Cooler/Dry Box, 19 Quart

The company Engel has been around for quite a long time, and they know how to make a quality product that appeals to a wide audience.

First of all, the Engel 19 quart dry box is rotomolded, as Engel was one of the first companies to introduce this construction method.

The walls are thick and the plastic parts are seamless, which ensures high-quality insulation.

What else?

The walls are filled with injected foam, for increased insulation and temperature retention. The temperature inside the Engel 19 quart dry box will remain virtually intact.

Furthermore…

The manufacturer really wanted to make this ice chest airtight, so they included an EVA technology gasket.

This way, they made sure there can be no air leakage from inside.

And, in addition to this…

The EVA technology gasket also makes sure no water gets inside the ice chest.

And this is really true.

You can actually put the whole ice chest below water, and it won’t leak. They’ve really done a good job with this feature.

What about the handling?

The handling part is also done pretty well.

The latches are made of stainless steel, but they have a special addition – a self-stopping hinge.

The self-stopping hinge is really a great feature, because it prevents any lid damage. Plus, there are no accidental openings.

Many of the users we contacted pointed out the self-stopping hinge is one of the best additions to the Engel 19 quart dry box.

Anything else?

As far as the benefits are concerned, we have to mention the Engel 19 quart dry box is odor resistant, which is a great thing to know when going camping.

Also, it has a well-designed carry-handle, and an integrated shoulder strap, to facilitate the carrying for you.

But…there are problems with it.

The hinges are made of plastic and that’s what bugs so many users.

Sure, they get the job done, but they’ve been known to break only after a month or two of use. This is really the biggest downside to the Engel 19 quart dry box.

In addition to this, the shoulder strap can put a lot of stress on the one who carries the ice chest. Several users have pointed out it could have used a padded shoulder protector.

And finally, there’s the problem with temperature retention. Although great for day use and shorter trips, the Engel 19 quart dry box is apparently not the best choice for longer periods of time.

Keep that in mind.

So many users find it hard to accept this ice chest simply won’t last through the night. It turns out it’s more of a lunch box simulating an ice chest than a genuine ice chest.

Therefore

If you want something reliable for a day trip or a shorter outing, the Engel 19 quart dry box is a good match. Just don’t expect it to have you covered for several days – it won’t do the trick.

On the plus side, there is a 5-year limited warranty.

Features

  • 16.6 x 11 x 13 inches; 7 pounds
  • rotomolded construction
  • foam-injected insulation
  • carry handle
  • shoulder strap
  • EVA-technology gasket
  • stainless steel latches
  • self-stopping hinge

Pros

Simple and easy to handle

Doesn’t leak water

Relatively lightweight

Cons

Hinges are plastic (can break easily)

No padded shoulder protector

Isn’t suitable for longer periods of time (more than one day)


10

Igloo Super Tough STX Cooler

Igloo Super Tough STX Cooler

This is one of those ice chests designed for all kinds of weather conditions. Its name says it all, because it’s really “super tough”.

The Igloo Super Tough STX can retain ice for about six days, after which you’d need to refill it. The manufacturer claims the ice chest has an ice retention period of seven days.

But we’re no so sure about that.

We contacted several users who told us six days is the optimal period for this ice chest, although they don’t rule out the possibility of the seven-day period.

One thing, though.

In order to get the best out of the Igloo Super Tough STX, you’ll need to make sure the ice chest is properly closed.

Several people have complained it requires to be checked regularly in order to do the job. If you don’t check them and make sure the lid is in place, you might miss a gap – and some of the cold air will escape.

But here’s what’s great about this ice chest.

The body is very strong, which means it can handle all kinds of pressure really well. This is great if you like camping in extreme weather of rough terrain, because you won’t have to worry about the Igloo Super Tough STX staying intact.

It looks really nice, and has a modern feel to it. You also have built-in cup holders, and sturdy, nice-looking handles.

Also…

Dual or “hybrid” latches are made of stainless steel, adding to the overall build of the Igloo Super Tough STX.

The ice chest is also protected from damaging sun rays by its UV inhibitors and the lid is fully foamed. The lid is also secured by dual straps.

The drain plug is really great because it’s simple and has a stainless-steel tether – so it doesn’t get lost.

The draining is easy and quick and you shouldn’t have any problems with it. Also, if you want to use a hose for draining, you can attach one.

Any additional features?

Yup. There are four molded-in cup holders on the lid, as well as a fish measurement ruler (if you’re into fishing, this is just the thing for you).

But there are some issues...

First of all, the latches on the Igloo Super Tough STX can break too easily, especially if you’re not paying attention, or if you’re new to this technology.

Several users have complained that, although well-made, the latches can be a bit of a problem – which usually comes as a big surprise.

This also goes for the hinges. They should work properly, but don’t seem to be made for an ice chest of this caliber.

Also, the latches need to be well placed in order to work.

Some users think the latches aren’t the real problem. According to their experience, the ice chest doesn’t have the best type of insulation.

It holds ice, but this really depends on the weather on a particular day.

So, does it make the cut?

The Igloo Super Tough STX is a well-made ice chest, with a solid body and nice design, but it underperforms a bit when it comes to ice retention.

You do have a 3-year warranty of this model, and you can learn more about it here.

Features

  • dual stainless steel latches
  • 38.2 x 17.9 x 18.2 inches; 18.98 pounds
  • UV inhibitors
  • fully foamed lid
  • hose-compatible drain plug
  • side handles
  • cup holders on lid
  • fish ruler on lid

Pros

Solid build

Easy to use

Cons

Doesn’t retain ice for long

Latches are unreliable


Expert Tips: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Ice Chest

  1. Pre-cool it. If you put food and drinks into a chest before actually cooling it, it won’t have the desired effect. It’s not enough to just use ice, so be sure to cool the chest itself. It will last longer and keep your food and drinks fresh. Simply fill up your chest with ice several hours before packing and let the interior cool off.
  2. Load it with pre-cooled items. Again, don’t rely solely on your ice chest’s ability to cool food and drinks. The smart move is to use pre-cooled items, so you extend their life inside the ice chest.
  3. Use plenty of ice. The amount of ice should be two times bigger than the amount of food and drinks.
  4. Use the right kind of ice. Regular ice (from the freezer) is good, but there are other types you can use as well. For example, you can mix dry ice with regular, to achieved additional cooling power.
  5. Don’t allow any air gaps. Air gaps are the enemy of cooling. There shouldn’t be any air gaps inside the ice chest. Make sure every nook and cranny is filled with ice and food items. The less free space you have inside, the better your ice chest will perform.
  6. Pack the ice chest last. Don’t pack the chest and then move on to packing other things. If you want to extend its life, make it the last thing on your list. You should be ready to move soon after packing the ice chest.
  7. Leave the water in. Don’t drain the water from the chest the minute ice melts. Icy-cold water is also great at keeping things cool, so leave it for a couple of hours more.
  8. Add rock salt. Rock salt works great with ice, because it enhances its qualities. Your ice chest will cool much better if you add a little bit of rock salt to it. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will definitely help your ice chest perform much better.
  9. Open it rarely. The less you open your ice chest, the better it will perform. Set a couple of times during the day when you will open it and take all you need (especially in very hot weather, because the hot air will get inside the chest).
  10. Mind the lid. Don’t just put the lid on casually. Make sure it’s pressed on the ice chest properly, so no additional air gets in. It’s not enough to cover the chest with the lid – it actually has to fit properly.
  11. Keep the chest in the shade. Find a shady spot and keep the ice chest shaded throughout the day. Even the best of ice chest won’t handle direct sun very well.

Put Your Ice Chest To Good Use

Now you know everything about picking the right ice chest. Make sure you take into account all the features, as it will help you make the right pick.

Don’t forget, the right type of ice chest will save you in hot weather, and enable you to enjoy your trip to the fullest. And you need that trip!

Wait, actually, you need THIS TRIP!

Afterall, there are a lot of benefits to travel…😎

So, there’s no more time to wait – go on and get the best ice chest for your next outing. We know you’ll make a COOL choice!

Leaders comparison
The winners

Best products from range

Best of the best

ORCA TP0580RCORCA Cooler, 58-Quart

An outstanding ice chest with perfect insulation. It’s coming from a reputable manufacturer, and there is a lifetime warranty. Everything you’d want in a high-quality product.

Best for the money

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

This product is both reliable and durable, offering PermaFrost Insulation and several additional features. An excellent choice for those who want an ice chest that never disappoints.

Have you had a bad experience with a cooler in the past? Tell us your woes in the comments below!

Runner-up

FAQ
Faq

Frequently asked questions

Q:

Can I bury the ice chest in the ground to make it last longer?

If you have a high-quality ice chest, there is really no need to bury it in the ground, because it should be able to do the job without it. Plus, you might damage it. What you definitely can do is keep the ice chest away from direct sunlight.

Q:

What to do if the drain plug is leaking?

This can be really problematic, especially if you’re on the road. The smartest thing would be to always have a set of spare parts for your ice chest with you. Also, make sure to test the ice chest before leaving house. And never use makeshift solutions, because you might end up damaging the ice chest along the way.

Q:

How do I wash and clean my ice chest after use?

The best way to clean the interior of your ice chest is with a solution of mild soap and warm water. This should also be done before the first use. The outside can be cleaned with water. Be sure to air-dry your ice chest before storing it, to avoid mildew and mold from developing.


The team
The team

We made this review

Marko Rasic
Writer Marko Rasic
Tiffany Mueller
Editorial Director Tiffany Mueller
Kate Kalanchuk
Content Manager Kate Kalanchuk
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