Chill Out

High Performance Coolers Exposed

Capt. Mike Genoun October 15, 2015

High Performance Coolers are rotational molded, a process that involves a hollow mold filled with polyethylene beads. The mold is heated and rotated, causing the softened material to disperse and evenly stick to the walls of the mold, resulting in durable, one-piece construction with no seams. The hardened shell, now practically indestructible, is then injected with polyurethane foam under extreme pressure, filling and insulating all of the voids.

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Canyon Outfitter 35

Before purchasing a cooler, buyers need to beware that not all cooler model numbers represent the actual capacity of the cooler. Additionally, don’t make a purchasing decision based solely on outside dimensions. With insulated walls up to three inches thick, interior volume, or the lack of it, may surprise you.

You’ll notice that a number of high performance coolers are certified as Bear Resistant. The designation is achieved when a hungry bear fails to access a food container that has been locked shut. Not sure how many grizzlies you may encounter in the Gulf Stream or on the flats, but the rating does speak volumes of any container’s durability.

Many leading manufacturers claim up to 10-day ice retention. Is that with the cooler filled to the top or only halfway, with chopped ice or block ice? Is the cooler exposed to the elements or kept in a cool place during the test period? Is the rating measured when the very last bit of water is drained? While we don’t know the exact testing protocols, what we do know for certain is that all of today’s high performance coolers provide far superior ice retention and longevity than anything you’ve experienced in the past, and any of the following is a worthy long-term investment for serious outdoorsmen.

1. Achieving Peak Performance
2. Chill your cooler by filling it with ice several hours before the contents
3. Chill or freeze your contents before inserting
4. Avoid direct sunlight
5. Fill with ice to keep air space to a minimum
6. Open and close lid as quickly as possible
7. Use deeply frozen ice
8. Do not drain water—ice melts faster exposed to air than in chilled water
9. Keep drain plug closed while cooler is in use

 

Canyon Outfitter 35

Website: canyoncoolers.com
MSRP: $210.00 w/4 year warranty*

What To Expect
-Ideal size for SUP or casting platform
-Deeper than other coolers in this class
-Dual recessed cam latches with stainless hardware
-Integrated full length hinge
-Locking lid
-No-lose drain plug

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 35 quarts
-Max. External Dimensions: 23.75″L × 15.5″W × 16.75″H
-Internal Dimensions:
-17.5″L × 9.75″W × 12.5″H
-Weight: 22 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 22, 50, 75, 125
-Available Colors: White, Sandstone, Gray, White Marble
-Accessories: Locks, Baskets, Rod Holders
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Cleaner rope handle design

Why buy this cooler:
-Big performance in versatile, compact size
-Snag-free recessed handles

 

K2 Summit 50

Website: k2-coolers.com
MSRP: $289.00 w/7 year warranty*

What To Expect
-Thick, flexible, well seated rubber gasket in a specially designed channel
-Integrated full length hinge with metal rod
-Dual rubber latches
-Non-marking rubber feet
-Gasketed drain assembly with tethered plug
-Rope handles with integrated plastic handgrips
-Tie down points and padlock ports on both sides

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 48 quarts
-Max. Exterior Dimensions:
-28.9″L × 16.8″W × 16.1″H
-Internal Dimensions:
-22.3″L × 12.3″W × 11.2″H
-Weight: 24 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 20, 30, 60, 70, 120
-Available Colors: Glacier White, Gray, Green, Crimson, Red, Purple/Yellow
-Accessories: Bottle Opener, Cable/Padlocks, Corner Chocks, Tie Downs, Trays, Dividers, Mats, Covers
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Slightly larger drain plug

Why buy this cooler:
-Well built with solid fit and finish, and durable components
-Attractive price and impressive warranty

 

Brute 50

Website: bruteoutdoors.com
MSRP: $319.00 w/5 year warranty*

What To Expect
-Dual heavy duty rubber latches with cantilever hinge system
-Dual drain plugs
-Locking lid with integrated ruler
-Full length, self stopping hinge
-Open grab rails and additional rope handles with textured rubber handgrips

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 50 quarts
-Max. Exterior Dimensions: 32.0″L × 16.5″W × 16.5″H
-Internal Dimensions: 24.0″L × 11.25″W × 11.0″H
-Weight: 27.5 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 25, 75, 100, 150
-Available Colors: White, Sand
-Accessories: Cushions, 4-Wheel Hauler, Trays, Dividers, Straps/Tie Down Kits, Custom Graphics
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: More pronounced lid indentation

Why buy this cooler:
-Made in USA
-Optional hauler is a must for anglers on the go

 

ICON 50

Website: iconcoolers.com
MSRP: $299.00 w/lifetime warranty*

What To Expect
-Flush mounted catch-free components
-Stainless steel threaded hinge rods with stainless steel threaded receivers
-Self stopping hinge with extra wide radius
-Commercial grade silicone gasket
-Molded handles with secondary nylon rope handles
-Padlock and tie down ports

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 52 quarts
-Max. Exterior Dimensions: 29.25″L × 16.64″W × 16.08″H
-Internal Dimensions: 24.0″L × 11.75″W × 10.5″H
-Weight: 28 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 32
-Available Colors: White, Gray, Khaki, Pink, Blue, Green, Yellow
-Accessories: Cork Handles, Dividers, Baskets, Bait Trays, Cushions
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Tighter sealing lid

Why buy this cooler:
-Made in USA
-w/lifetime warranty
-Flush mount components
-Interchangeable lid design

 

Igloo Sportsman 55

Website: igloosportsman.com
MSRP: $299.99 w/5 year warranty*

What To Expect
-Dual T-grip latches
-Raised, textured work surface
-Dual marine-grade aluminum hinges
-Integrated fish ruler
-Tie down slots and lock slot
-No sway hard plastic handles
-Oversize drain plug with bead-chain tether

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 55 quarts
-Max. Exterior Dimensions: 30.37″L × 17.97″W × 16.40″H
-Internal Dimensions: 24.25″L × 12.75″W × 12.0″H
-Weight: 31.95 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 20
-Available Colors: White, Tan
-Accessories: Cushions, Baskets
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Full length lid hinge

Why buy this cooler:
-Accurate, full load capacity
-The Sportsman isn’t your granddad’s Igloo

 

ORCA 58

Website: orcacoolers.com
MSRP: $409.99 w/lifetime warranty*

What To Expect
-Easy flow drainage
-Rope handles with neoprene handgrips
-Full length hinge with steel rod
-Tie down and padlock slots on both sides
-Cargo net
-Textured lid surface

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 58 quarts
-Max. External Dimensions: 27.2″L × 19.57″W × 18.75″H
-Internal Dimensions:
-18.5″L × 12.3″W × 13.37″H
-Weight: 32 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 26, 40, 75, 140
-Available Colors: White, Green, Tan, Pink, Custom Collegiate Colors
-Accessories: Wheel Kits, Cushions
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Deeper lid lift indentation

Why buy this cooler:
-Made in USA
-Lifetime warranty

 

Engel 65 Deep Blue

Website: engel-usa.com
MSRP: $339.99 w/3 year warranty*

What To Expect
-Adjustable, flush latches with stainless hardware and integrated bottle opener
-Air tight silicone freezer gasket
-Non-skid lid with I-beam inserts suitable for standing or sitting
-Pitched cooler floor to allow water to drain completely
-Full length, self stopping hinge
-Recessed drain plug with lanyard hole
-Rope handles with contoured plastic handgrips

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 58 quarts
-Max. External Dimensions: 29.75″L × 16.25″W × 16.75″H
-Internal Dimensions:
-24.0”L × 12.0″W × 12.0″H
-Weight: 28 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 25, 35, 80, 123, 240, 320
-Available Colors: White, Tan, Camo
-Accessories: Cushions, Non-Skid Pads, Trays, Cutting Boards, Dividers, Baskets, Security Cables
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Actual capacity accurate to model number

Why buy this cooler:
-Perfect fit and finish
-Snag-free design

 

Yeti Tundra 65

Website: yeticoolers.com
MSRP: $399.99 w/5 year warranty*

What To Expect
-Full length integrated self stopping hinge system
-Integrated recessed handles with additional rope handles
-Vortex drain system
-Freezer quality gasket with interlocking lid system
-Non-slip feet
-Integrated padlock ports and tie down slots
-Strap guides on all four sides of lid

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 57.2 quarts
-Max. External Dimensions: 30.5″L × 17.37″W × 16.0″H
-Internal Dimensions:
-23.87″L × 11.25″W × 10.87″H
-Weight: 29 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 35, 45, 50, 75, 105, 110, 125, 160, 250, 420
-Available Colors: White, Tan, Light Blue, Collegiate Colors
-Accessories: Beverage Holder, Rod Holder, Bottle Opener, Locks, Tie Down Kits, Dividers, Cushions, Baskets, Bait Trays, Corner Chocks, Garden Hose Connection
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Actual capacity accurate to model number

Why buy this cooler:
-Unbreakable lid hinge system
-Vortex drain system enables users to drain water while preventing the intrusion of warm air

 

Pelican 65QT

Website: pelican.com
MSRP: $359.95 w/lifetime warranty*

What To Expect
-Integrated grab bars and hinged hard plastic handles
-Integrated lock hasp with steel plate
-Sloped drain and tethered plug (garden hose attachable)
-Corrosion resistant stainless hardware
-Freezer grade gasket
-Rugged press-and-pull latches with wide button for gloved hands

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 65 quarts
-Max. External Dimensions: 37.16″L × 20.0″W × 19.75″H
-Internal Dimensions: 26.5″L × 12.0″W × 12.5″H
-Weight: 48 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 20, 35, 45, 95, 150, 250
-Available Colors: White, Tan, Custom Colors
-Accessories: Cushions, Tie Down Kits, Baskets
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Weak drain plug tether

Why buy this cooler:
-Pelican quality

 

Icey-Tek 70

Website: icey-tek-coolers.com
MSRP: $324.99 w/2 year warranty*

What To Expect
-Non-staining, non-odor absorbing, impact resistant food grade internal liner
-Triple self-stopping lid hinges
-Plastic coated rope handles
-Molded-in commercial grade skids
-Dual drain plugs with rubber gaskets

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 70 quarts
-Max. External Dimensions: 34.0″L × 17.0″W × 18.0″H
-Internal Dimensions: 27.0″L × 12.0″W × 13.5″H
-Weight: 26 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 55, 95, 125, 170, 270, 600
-Available Colors: Yellow, Orange, Red, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink, Gray, Brown, Black
-Accessories: Cushions
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Lower drain holes

Why buy this cooler:
-Excellent performance in a wide variety of sizes and colors
-Relatively lightweight

 

Grizzly 75

Website: grizzlycoolers.com
MSRP: $429.99 w/lifetime warranty*

What To Expect
-Full length hinge with stainless pin
-Full length drain channel with dual plugs
-Triple latches
-Non-slip non-marking rubber feet
-Integrated handles and nylon-sleeved rope handles with rubber handgrip
-Embossed fish ruler
-Heavy duty rubber gasket

SPECS
-Actual Capacity: 75 quarts
-Max. External Dimensions: 33.25″L × 18.0″W × 18.0″H
-Internal Dimensions:
-27.5″L × 14.0″W × 14.0″H
-Weight: 36 lb.
-Additional Sizes: 16, 20, 40, 60, 150, 400
-Available Colors: White, Blue, Green, Sandstone, Tan, Camo, Custom
-Accessories: Cushions, Dividers, Cutting Board
-Area For Improvement On Test Model: Catch-free recessed latches

Why buy this cooler:
-Perfect combination of fit and finish with high quality components
-Grizzly’s smallest cooler supports the weight of an 11,000 lb. tractor

Frigid Rigid 63

Website: frigidrigid.com
MSRP: $750.00 w/lifetime warranty

While the focus of this editorial is on rotomolded coolers, fiberglass coolers are also an option, with Florida based Frigid Rigid the undisputed industry leader in this category. Frigid Rigid coolers, available in a wide array of sizes, are found on the deck and in the cockpit of many high end center consoles and charter boats. Manufactured for the long haul with stainless steel hardware and fantastic ice retention capabilities, Frigid Rigid coolers feature a unique set back lid design, allowing users to fully open the lid while the cooler sits flush against a bulkhead or console.

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