We are looking to purchase an upscale cooler/ice chest. As you can see from the picture, we keep a large one just outside the door of our popup. I just want to know what brand you like and why. I’ll make a second post to let you know what I am looking for, but I don’t want that to sway you on what is important to you,
What is your favorite camp cooler and why?
Yeti’s are everywhere and pricey. Lately they have more of them built in third world countries, yet the price still goes up. I have discovered that there are a great number of American Made coolers that perform better than Yeti at a fraction of the price. So to me Yeti’s have become overpriced, common, inferior, and manufactured abroad.
We are looking at brands like Pelican, Cordova, Cabela’s, Rovr, Grizzly, Bison. Kong and the like.
Since our cooler may be outside, we want it to be Bear Certified, and we would like to have around 70-90 quart capacity and long ice retention for long stays at boondocking sites. Because I’m old and we want a big chest I’d like one with wheels (though Wheel kits seem to be out there and using one of them as an option may get us a better chest for the money.)
So let me know what you like, and why. This is a big investment for us, but I think it will be worth it.
We have always camped in bear country, and the cooler stayed in the car/van.
That being said, we have had a Coleman Extreme 7 day cooler for 15 years. It kept spaghetti sauce and ice cream frozen solid in 116 degree heat in Zion with using only ice (as opposed to dry ice). With dry ice, we had stuff so frozen we had to leave it out in the heat to defrost for hours.
Almost any cooler works really well with dry ice, but if you can’t get it, and it’s not a good cooler, it’s never going to meet your needs.
As far as bear resistant goes, I’ve never seen one that a determined bear couldn’t manage to get into. We’ve been to a number of campgrounds where they had “bear proof” coolers on display after a bear had their way with them…impressive destruction!
We have a 5th wheel now, but our trusted Coleman Extreme still goes with us, just in case the fridge goes out. We know we can just put everything in the cooler with ice and get on with our trip.
We have a 40L Yeti that we use for food goods and a cheap igloo that we use for drinks. This set up has worked well for us for years, but we just upgraded to a 12v cooler. We purchased a 40L Blizzard Box from Costco when it was on sale for $200 off. I like that I can plug it up inside the day before to pack the cooler. Then we can transfer it to our AUX battery on the truck for the drive. It’s not bear-proof, but it will stay inside our truck topper. The Yeti will be our new drinks cooler.
Thanks for the advice Kathi, I have heard the same about the bear resistant coolers. Coolersonsale.com said you need to lock them if you want them to be bear resistant. But I feel the same way about coolers that claim to be bear ‘PROOF’. Not holding my breath.
I had considered getting a cooler that we could plug in. For most of our camping (parks and USACE campgrounds) that would be fine. We have an outdoor plug and that would really work. thanks,
I would be hesitant to use it for prolonged battery use. How much does it use?
The one I purchased can use a standard house (110v) plug or 12v. Based of a video I saw on the internet, it uses ~1 amp an hour keeping the cooler at 0-5 degrees (freezer temps). It will pull several amps when it cycles on but it doesn’t stay on for long, so it averages out to ~1 amp an hour. Say you have a 100 amp hour battery, that would give you about 50 hours of run time (you never want to deplete a deep cycle or AGM below 50%). Once I get my set up going, I will try to post a full review based on my own experience and usage.
Edit: I wouldn’t recommend running a cooler off your vehicle’s start battery. It not worth getting stranded over.
Hope that helps!
This is the review video I watched: 6 Week Test of Blizzard Box
We have both a Rovr and an otter box cooler and are really happy with both. They are both definitely heavy and bulky but do an really efficient job of keeping everything cold. We stick to the otter box mostly for drinks and if we aren’t moving far from the car since it’s inner compartment is a single space and it’s not so easy to move around. On the other hand the Rovr is incredible for camping since the wheels make it a breeze to get over any surface. I have even gone up and down pretty steep grades and put it in my kayak to move across water when necessary. The Rovr is also great for camping since it’s internal compartments keep everything organized and their dry bun design is sunk into the melted water area to create an almost refrigerator like temperature.
We bought a 35 qt liddup orca cooler. I love it. We primarily use it for beer/drinks. It has a light when you open it. They are made in the USA. I bought off the orca website. Pricey but well made. I believe they are bear proof but you would have to research that. I was concerned with the amount of space inside since these types of coolers are small inside but the 35 qt is spacious and holds a lot of drinks. Orca also makes smaller and larger coolers.
I have a Coleman Xtreme 5-day and also a Lifetime 55qt. I find that either one, if pre-cooled, used with block ice (I’ve taken to freezing my own in containers), and minimize the random in and out, they both stay cold and retain ice. The Lifetime is bearproof if locked, but doesn’t have wheels. The Coleman Xtreme has wheels, but isn’t bearproof… Both are FAR less expensive than Yeti.
We take our ROVR and an Ozark Trail every trip. (I did a Dyrt review on the ROVR here and a video review here if you want to check them out). With that being said I do notice better ice time on the ROVR (and it has wheels which is REALLY nice) BUT it is about 3 times the cost of the Ozark Trail. It is also much heavier. I can NOT lift the loaded ROVR on my own. If money is no object and the weight doesn’t bug you go for the ROVR. If it were me and my money I think I’d get another Ozark Trail
Wow - It never occurred to me to use dry ice! I use it for work at times and yet it never crossed my mind. Very interesting!
We also have a smaller Ozark Trail, for the money we’ve been happy with the performance. It supplements our refer in the teardrop when we are camping with a group.
I have a LIfetime 55qt, which is bearproof, and when used properly has excellent ice retention. It has rubber feet on the bottom that keep it from sliding around which is at the same time a great thing, and a real pain. And no wheels.
I used to have an Igloo 60qt Marine roller 5 day cooler, kind of a predecessor of the the Yeti type coolers. And like the Lifteime, excellent ice retention, it had wheels, insulated lid, etc… But not bear / raccoon resistant. They don’t make one like it any more.
I have a Coleman 50qt roller that is marked a 5 day cooler that won’t hold ice for a day, and I despise it. But it rolls.
I also have a Coleman I think 120 qt Extreme that I bought on the way back from a hunting trip as I needed to pack my harvest on ice till I got to the butcher… It has been every bit as good as the old Igloo, just bigger.
Out of all of them, I wish I could find that old silvery blue Igloo 5 day Marine. I don’t generally need bear proof in Texas, and the wheels are a God send…
If I could add wheels to the Lifetime, it would leapfrog the Igloo. It is just a well made cooler that is feature rich, and a fair price for its size / features… Plus USA made.
We have a Yeti 65 for our food. We love it! It’s Certified Bear Resistant and the ice retention is worth the price.
We have a RTIC 20 Quart Compact Hard Cooler that we use for beverages. This allows us to only have to open the Food Cooler as needed and keep the ice in good shape.
I use either a Pelican 30 (I assume quart) cooler or an older edgestar 12 volt DC/120 volt AC refrigerator freezer.
I actually only use the fridge for long trips its too big/heavy awkward for weekend trips.
The pelican keeps ice well a week (if I am careful keeping the lid shut) is pretty easy.
I like the actual latches (as opposed to rubber band pulls.
I also like that it is bear resistant; some critter rolled it around a couple of times Friday night (no damage not even tooth/claw marks. (I’m blaming Big Foot…) We also heard wolves, howling, not that far away so Big Foot might be innocent.
The cooler was chained to a tree to keep it from walking off (as a cooler did in Moab Ut. once upon a time).
What I don’t care for is the heavy edges that make the cooler take up more space, in the vehicle, than a simple box.
I have a 35 Quart HEB brand called Zodi (a Yeti knockoff) and it is reasonable priced as compared to many other brands. Quality seems to be equivalent to the other pricey brands. If you don’t live in Texas where you can go to HEB stores, try online and check out the product line and prices. With that said, my newest favorite cooler is an Rtic 8 can soft cooler. Keeps ice for a day minimum (very well insulated) very well constructed and suits me very well when traveling/biking with soda or beer on hand!
IGLOO has always made excellent coolers. We used this marine cooler on our 4-day trip to Big Bend and were pleased to find that there were still a few small icebergs when we got home. 30 lbs of ice, moderate use (5-10 openings/day).
Since I tend to bring more than one ice chest on every trip, I’ve also found that the marine cooler does a perfect job of keeping my baits cool. I can’t say much about the durability yet, but I like the overall thickness and the purported “UV inhibitors”.
I purchased this soft cooler from NORCHILL in anticipation of a 2-week road trip. Kept the food cold. I used three modest-sized bags of ice which stayed (mostly) frozen for at least 24 hours. I am very happy with this cooler!