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Photo by Glenn Hayes
Photo by Glenn Hayes

Today’s Cool Coolers

If you are in the market for a new cooler you may be surprised at the scope and variety now available. Sure there are still the traditional coolers you have used on all those camping and fishing trips, models that have been around for what seems an eternity, but now there is also a whole new breed of super coolers out there built to keep ice longer than ever thought possible and do so with durability for years to come. They are constructed to survive not only a bear attack but also your drunken crewmates.

Many of these new coolers have very little resemblance to anything you may have owned before, other than possibly their white exterior. They are solid, made of rotomolded plastics, with hinges and latches designed to last, rather than break after a single season. They have reinforced lids that seal better than your refrigerator and don’t buckle and collapse under your weight when you stand on them. They keep ice for what seems like an eternity, keeping your brew chilled days into your adventure.

Take a walk through any boat or outdoor show and you will see booth after booth of new and improved coolers, each professing to be better than the next. The fact is it can be hard to determine which is best for you.

When looking for a new cooler, consider how it will be used. Will it be on deck all day in the sun? Will it act as a raised platform for fishing? Is it critical that it keeps ice for days on end, or are you just cooling a few beverages for a short day-trip? Is it a cooler you intend to keep for a long period of time, or is a season or two good enough? There are many economically priced coolers available if extreme durability is not a deal breaker and day trips are your adventures of choice. If, however, a high-end cooler is on your must have list, be prepared to shell out some hard earned cash. These rotomolded babies aren’t cheap.

There are some drawbacks to these high-end coolers. Most are considerably heavier than their lower priced cousins due to durable construction with heavier materials. Another consideration when selecting a super cooler involves interior dimensions. The interior dimensions are smaller than comparably sized traditional coolers so you will probably need a larger cooler than you think. Insulation in high-end coolers is 2 to 3 times that of lesser coolers (they can be 2 to 3 inches thick on the sides, bottom and lid but it varies by manufacturer so do your homework), which eats up interior space. If you want a cooler that will keep its contents colder longer and can handle anything you throw at it, these disadvantages prove to be minor.

There are far too many brands available today to cover in one short article, but some stand out as popular choices. Yeti is probably one of the best-known names in rugged coolers today. Having worked hard at gaining its reputation as a premier cooler brand, Yeti is becoming the standard to which others are compared. The line is extensive, starting with their Roadie 20 (20 = capacity measured in quarts). Next is their Tundra series with coolers ranging from the Tundra 35 all the way up through nine other sizes to the massive 420 (sometimes referred to as a coffin cooler). They haven’t stopped there either. Recently introduced is a Yeti super-duty soft-sided cooler called the Hopper. It holds ice for very long periods and doesn’t leak – the super cooler of the soft-sided varieties.

Another name long known for quality high-end coolers is Engel. With approximately two decades of cooler-building experience, Engel offers an extensive line of durable high performance coolers and combination cooler/dry boxes. They even manufacture industry leading AC/DC portable fridge-freezer coolers. Their Deep Blue rotomolded coolers range from 25-quart through six other models up to a 320-quart chest. Features including a built-in bottle opener, an extensive accessory line and self-draining pitched floors make these coolers serious contenders.

Pelican, the famous maker of indestructible gear cases that are virtually bomb proof, has also entered the cooler market. Their line of coolers is proving to be just as indestructible. Pelican makes seven models ranging from a 20-quart personal cooler to a 250-quart monster that would look as much at home strapped to a tank as it would sitting on your deck.

While still manufacturing their full line of conventional and marine coolers, Igloo has its own offering of super coolers with its top-of-the-line Yukon rotomolded coolers. These rugged coolers are available in sizes from 20-quart models up to 250-quart monsters. Built to take a beating and keep contents cooler and longer than anything else Igloo produces, these ice chests deserve serious consideration. Igloo’s name is synonymous with coolers. Their new line along with those of their competitors mentioned above will ensure that your beer – or whatever else you need cooled – will stay colder longer than you ever thought possible.

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