6 High Quality Coolers for Fishing, Hunting, Camping and Everything Else Outdoors
Fishing, like many other outdoor recreational activities, requires a fair amount of equipment to help ensure you get the most from the experience. An often-overlooked piece of hardware is a portable ice cooler.
Whether it’s for keeping your catch cool, taking food and drink on a hunting or camping trip, you’ll need a high-quality cooler to ensure everything remains as fresh as possible for the duration of your time outside.
Rotomolded coolers are a new generation of high-end portable coolers that are a cut above your standard ice box. By utilizing rotationally molded construction, these coolers feature exceptional ice retention which can last as much as 10 days, making them the best product on the market for preserving your food, drink, or freshly caught fish, whether you are at the beach or on the water.
Add to that the fact they are extremely durable, IGBC-Certified and offer a lot of cool extras (e.g. non-slip base, measurement scales on the lid etc.), it becomes quite clear just how much better these “super coolers” are than your run of the mill, all-purpose plastic ice chests!
Key Features to Look for in a Super Cooler
Regardless of the number of features offered in premium coolers, we believe there are 4 key areas to rating the effectiveness of any modern super cooler.
For this review, we tried to stay with 60 – 65 quart models due to the immense popularity of these sizes with outdoor recreationalists. However, in a few instances we had to go up to the next available size within a particular brand when there were no offerings in the intended range.
So, we have three coolers from 60 to 65 quarts and three ranging from 70 to 75 quarts. Regardless of size, each cooler reviewed here is representative of the overall quality of the model/series produced by the brands featured.
Roto-molded – rotationally-molded coolers are manufactured through a process whereby one continuous piece of heavy-duty polyethylene plastic is created by pouring powdered resin into a mold, then placing it in a special, high temperature oven and heating it while it rotates bi-axially. The end result is a very durable, one-piece cooler with uniform walls and almost no stress points.
IGBC Certification – means is that the cooler has been certified as a bear-resistant container by Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), a partnership between state(currently Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming) and federal agencies to protect and promote the recovery of the Grizzly bear population throughout their habitats.
All food and beverage coolers in this review have been put through testing involving live Grizzly bears for an hour or until the cooler has been breached by the bear.
But, regardless of where you plan on fishing, hunting or camping, having a cooler that is IGBC-certified is a good indicator of quality construction and durability.
This goes directly to ice retention. How well your cooler is insulated is a critical factor in how long ice and its contents will keep. Several factors (latches, seals, gaskets, etc.) go into making a cooler that has great ice retention/food preservation, but one of the most important is insulation…or lack thereof.
The coolers in this review come with at least 2 inches or so of integrated, polyurethane insulation, with three models adding 3 inches of insulation to the lid. All things being equal, more insulation usually translates to better ice retention and performance outdoors.
Country of Manufacture
While where a product is made is not the ultimate seal of quality, it would stand to reason that American-made or “Made in USA“ coolers may possibly enjoy an edge in quality controls, from the sourcing of raw materials to production.
Keep mind, however, that many excellent products are made overseas; country of origin alone should not be the deciding factor – it’s just one more piece of information to be weighed in with the other factors possibly affecting quality.
Obviously a longer warranty is a good thing. While it doesn’t always mean that one cooler is better than another, it is usually an indication that the manufacturer is confident about their product …and maybe so should we.
The guarantees of the models reviewed here vary from 5 years limited to life-time warranties.Though a warranty alone is no reason to buy anything, but pair a well-made product with a good warranty and you have a winner.
Ranking the Best High Quality Coolers for the Money
We feel that the 6 ice coolers reviewed here represent the best premium, portable ice coolers on the market today! Let’s take a look at our Super Six portable coolers in descending order of rating, based on the four factors listed above.
6. Grizzly Coolers 60 Quart Cooler
Grizzly is a leading cooler manufacturer and have been for over 30 years, so it’s safe to say they’ve produced some great high-end outdoor coolers, such as the G60 cooler.
The G60 certainly performs to a high standard, with a double wall of rotationally molded plastic, closed-cell polyurethane insulation and rubber gaskets that offer good ice retention of around 4-5 days.
Insulation, though good, is not as good as some of the other ice chests in this review. The lid in particular seems thinner than the competition here, likely contributing to the less than spectacular ice retention when compared to other brands here.
At 60-quart capacity, it’s not the largest Grizzly Cooler (check out the mammoth Grizzly 400 for that) but can still hold more than enough for your typical outdoor adventure, be it camping, fishing, hunting or anything else. For example, at full capacity that G60 can hold 72 (12oz) cans with 20lbs of ice.
Being a roto-molded cooler, we can assume the G60 is tough enough to handle the rough and tumble of outdoor recreation. Look no further than the IGBC certification for an example of the durability of the G60, and the company also offers a full lifetime guarantee with every purchase.
Other cool features such as the mould-in handles, hinges, and a BearClaw latching system make using and manoeuvring the G60 that bit easier, while also ensuring it is secure as possible.
Additionally, a 15” ruler is perfect for measuring your catch, and a 2” drainage hole will make your life that bit easier once the ice eventually melts!
A little pricey considering the competition. This cooler would be a better bargain under $350!
- Made in USA
- IGBC certification
- Incredibly durable
- Compatible with dry ice
- BearClaw latching is very secure
- Ideal for fishing/hunting
- Lifetime guarantee
- High price-to-performance ratio
- 5-day ice retention may not be enough for some
5. Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler 70 Quart
Yukon Cold Locker coolers from Igloo continue to be some of the best high-end coolers on the market today, with the 70-quart cooler being the perfect size for any outdoor recreation.
With true 70-quart capacity, there will be ample storage for whatever you catch or hunt, and anyone using it to store food and drink for boating, camping, tailgating etc. can expect plenty of storage for all their food and drinks.
Two-inch thick insulating foam throughout the coolers body and 3 inches in the lid provide some good insulation, as does the 360-degree freezer gasket. The 70-quart Yukon claims approximately 7 days of ice retention, although real-world activity may affect actual results. An oversized drain and tethered plug provide for easy emptying of water and cleaning.
As you would hope, it comes with a durable design to ensure it outlasts many outdoor adventures, including resistance to sun damage, a strong rotomolded body, and incredibly strong stainless-steel hinge rods that will prevent the lid from ever going missing. The Cold Locker also comes with reversible, non-skid and non-marking feet for anyone who wants to protect boat deck surfaces.
Speaking of the lid, it comes with a textured work surface and integrated fish ruler to make life easier out in the wilderness, and you won’t need to worry about theft thanks to the dual stainless-steel lid locking plates.
Of course, certain predators may not be stopped by mere locks, but thankfully the cooler is fully certified as bear resistant by the IGBC! The Yukon 70 is the perfect cooler for outdoor fun, being notably larger than the Yukon 50 while still offering a great amount of space even when compared to the much larger Yukon 120.
In conclusion, Insulation and ice retention while good, could be a little better given it’s price tag. While many cite getting up to 7 days of ice life, it appears that 4-5 days may be more realistic. Also, it’s warranty doesn’t match up well with the other contenders here, providing only 5 years of protection against component and workmanship defects, as opposed to life-time coverage.
- Made in USA
- Great capacity
- Good insulation (up to seven days)
- Dry ice compatible
- Dual locks
- Raised and textured lid with ruler doubles as work surface
- Price is on the high side relative to performance/competition
- Only five-year warranty (many competitors offer lifetime)
4. Engel ENG65 DeepBlue Roto-Molded Cooler
Engel Coolers are some of the best on the market, with the company haven been in business over 50 years and the first to introduce the rotomolded cooler to the U.S. market. Safe to say, they know how to produce high-end coolers, and the Engel DeepBlue Performance ENG65 is no exception.
With a 65-quart capacity, the ENG65 is perhaps one of the better suited Engel Coolers for outdoor recreational activities (the ENG50 feels just a little too small for fishing or hunting excursions), being able to carry 70 cans and 85 lbs of ice.
However, like the Yeti Tundra, expect true storage capacity to be less than 65 quarts for this model also. True interior capacity is more like 58 qts (54.9 liters).
Expect the ice to last for as long ten days, thanks to the full two inches of insulation present in the lid, sides and bottom of the cooler. Combined with an all-silicone gasket and marine grade compression latches, the cooler has a perfectly tight air seal that guarantees freshness and top-quality ice retention for an impressive 6 – 10 days.
Though not a negative in itself, Engel makes its coolers in Thailand and not in the U.S. like of the other brands here. On the plus side, however, the Engel DeepBlue 65 is the only cooler on our list to come with a built-in bottle opener, while also being the cheapest rotomolded cooler (color: white) in this review, making it a very good bargain in the high-end ice cooler space.
The ENG65 is also very durable as you would hope, with the rotomolded design producing a hardwearing cooler that can handle the rough and tumble of outdoor life without falling apart. It’s even UV-resistant, making it perfectly suitable for even the warmest climates.
- IGBC certification
- Affordable price
- As much as 10-day ice retention
- Can be used with dry ice
- Able to withstand lots of wear and tear
- High quality construction
- Great for warm climates
- Hard plastic handles can be a bit uncomfortable
- True storage capacity is less than listed
- No life-time guarantee (10 yrs only)
3. Pelican Elite 70 Quart Cooler
This thing is built like a tank! Strong, durable, and boasting an impressive capacity, the Pelican Elite 70 Quart is another quality high-end cooler well worth checking out.
Ice retention with this cooler is on the higher side, with 6-10 days of retention in most cases, ensuring anything you catch remains fresh for the duration of your excursion.
This will vary depending on factors such as ice type, sun exposure, and how often it’s open, but it should remain impressively high regardless of these variables. However, with 2-inches of polyurethane insulation integrated into the cools walls and a freezer grade gasket, it is more than likely that your ice retention will be closer to ten days in most situations!
Dual molded-in and hinged handles make it easy enough for one person to carry the cooler, although you may need two people to carry when at full capacity. The press and pull latches will keep everything well secured – they’re even designed to be wide for anyone wearing gloves!
The Pelican Pro Gear Elite 70 Quart comes with IGBC certification and features corrosion resistant stainless steel hardware this is a very durable cooler, perhaps best exemplified by the fact it comes with a lifetime guarantee!
One of the issues some have had with the Pelican coolers is a drain plug that is somewhat flimsy and doesn’t match up with the rest of cooler’s otherwise rock-solid construction.
Interestingly enough, this is one the few components not covered by their life-time warranty along with the rubber feet and a couple other minor items (90 days of coverage for these). Lastly, the Elite 70 is also the heaviest cooler on our list at 39 lbs empty.
- Made in USA
- IGBC certification
- Extremely rugged
- Life-time warranty
- Top-quality construction & insulation (up to 10 days of ice retention)
- Dry ice compatible
- Less than high quality drain plug
- Bulkier and heavier than other comparable coolers
2. YETI Tundra 65 Cooler
Recognized by many as the industry leader of high-end coolers, it’s little surprise that the Yeti Tundra 65 model is on our list. Based on the original and iconic Tundra cooler design, this modern upgrade has all the bells and whistles you can hope to find from a high-end ice cooler.
The Tundra is made in both the U.S. and the Philippines, unlike the company’s other coolers which are made in China. While not the first to put out a rotomolded cooler (see Engel), the Yeti brand has become the leader in the premium ice cooler industry, setting the benchmark that all others have been trying to beat for years. In fact, the proliferation of Yeti-type coolers shows no signs of slowing down.
The Tundra 65 quart is a worthy representative of the series. As a rotomolded cooler with bear-resistant certification, the Tundra 65 will survive just about anything that nature can throw out it and come out unscathed. Rugged and durable, there’s little chance of damaging the cooler when out on an excursion, especially with the T-Rex lid latches and NeverFail hinge systems – it’s virtually indestructible!
You can be sure all the contents remain as fresh as possible for the duration of your adventure too, as the Tundra 65 offers 2 inches of polyurethane insulation within its walls and up to 3 inches in its lid, with a freezer-style sealing gasket, guaranteeing that your ice stays frozen for some time.
Given the number of variables in calculating how long coolers retain ice for, it’s hard to predict an exact time frame, although as a high-end cooler you can expect anywhere between 7 and 10 days, although the ice retention capabilities of YETI coolers are well documented, so it will most likely be closer to 10 days!
The vortex drain system will help make draining simple once the ice does melt, also being leak-proof to prevent unwanted leakages.
It can hold a fair amount too, with a capacity equivalent to the bag limit of keeper redfish, a quartered white-tailed deer, or up to 39 cans of beverage on a 2:1 ice to contents ratio. So, it’s safe to say the Tundra 65 is suitable for any hunting, fishing, and camping trip.
Of note, however, is that with all Yeti models true storage capacity (unlike all other brands here, with the exception of Engel) is always slightly less than stated. For example the Tundra 65’s real capacity is actually 57.2 quarters/54.1liters (Need more storage space? Try the behemoth Tundra 350, the largest Yeti cooler to date).
Another great feature of the Tundra is the ability to add-on many useful accessories such as a seat cushion, bottle opener and tie-downs.
The Tundra 65 is also perfect for tailgating, BBQs or just celebrating the weekend when you’re not out in the wilderness, so it’s certainly a versatile cooler!
Although the Yeti Tundra 65 comes up short of first place in our ranking, there are thousands of satisfied outdoor enthusiasts who will argue that the Tundra series is still the best rotomolded cooler for the money on the market.
- Made in USA & Philippines
- IGBC certification
- Very durable
- Exceptional ice retention
- Can be used with dry ice
- Quick and easy draining
- More costly than similar coolers
- 5-year limited warranty instead of life-time
- Real-world storage capacity is less than stated
Our Winner! – ORCA 75 Quart Cooler
The Orca 75 takes first place based on stellar design, quality and price. Orca, or the Outdoor Recreation Company of America, makes all of its coolers in the USA using American-made components. All of their hard-sided coolers come with a lifetime warranty.
Made from rotomolded, bear-resistant hard plastic and boasting a whopping, true 75-quart storage capacity, the Orca 75 has a lot to like in a high-end outdoor cooler! And how about those whale tail latches – talk about cool!
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this cooler is its ice retention. While the number can change given the variables that can impact the effectiveness of a coolers insulation, the ORCA 75’s more than 2.5 inches of insulation in its walls and 3 inches in the lid will keep ice and your food fresh for as much as 7-10 days! It is certainly one of the best coolers for retaining ice on the market today.
This is made even more impressive when you consider that the closest size down from this is the popular ORCA 58 Quart, which is a good bit smaller yet not much cheaper, which is why we always recommend splashing a little extra for a much more spacious cooler.
Given the larger size, it’s great to see extendable flex-grip handles on this model, as it offers much easier manoeuvrability whether using it solo or with someone else (most likely with someone if it’s loaded). It is on the heavy side, though not unexpected as it is the biggest cooler in our review. However, it is still a full 2 lbs lighter than the Pelican, even though it can store 5 more quarts!
Better still, despite already having a great capacity, the cooler comes with additional storage in the form of an external cargo net – a great little useful addition that makes the ORCA 75 stand out from similar coolers.
It came down to Orca vs Yeti, but our pick for the number one spot in this review is the Orca 75 quart cooler. In boxing terms you could call this one a split decision, as both come with rock-solid construction and keep your stuff cold longer than possibly anything out there, in addition to a few other great features.
However, with all else being pretty much equal, the Orca 75 provides more than 10 more quarts of ice-cool storage capacity (see previous comments on the Tundra 65’s true capacity) while on par with the Tundra in terms of quality and coming in at a cost that’s less than the Tundra 65.
For our money, the Orca 75 quart is a winner and represents one of the very best deals in the high end cooler market today!
- Made in USA
- Solid Construction
- IGBC Certification
- Fantastic insulation (up to ten days)
- Impressive capacity for price
- Dry ice compatible
- Life-time warranty
- On the heavy side