AmazingRibs.com is supported by our Pitmaster Club. Also, when you buy with links on our site we may earn a finder’s fee. Click to see how we test and review products.

The Ultimate Guide To The Best Coolers On The Market

coolers

If you’re in the market for the perfect cooler then this is the guide for you.

No one likes soggy food. Fortunately, some of today’s high-tech coolers can keep your food on ice (and not in water) for well over a week!

Click Here To Search Our Reviews And Ratings Of Tools, Toys, And Accessories

To judge the relative strengths and weaknesses of various brands of so-called “super coolers,” I invited the most popular cooler companies to participate in some extensive tests of their products. Six took me up on the challenge: Cabela’s, Grizzly, Kong, Orion and Yeti. I tested a less expensive model from Coleman for a total of six coolers overall.

Testing internal temperature

The first thing I did was load each cooler with 32 pounds of cubed ice. Then I closed the lids, and checked them once a day at 9 a.m. for the first five days, then twice (9 a.m. and 9 p.m.) for the following days. They were all sitting outside my garage in the shade. Temperatures averaged from 41˚F (overnight) to 84˚F over the two weeks tested.

I then timed how long it took to drain the melted ice water, by opening the lids, and opening or completely removing the spigots (when I could), and finally measuring the amount of water that didn’t drain.

Following that, I dried out the coolers, poured a 5-gallon bucket of hot water into each one, and sealed them for 20 minutes. Meanwhile I took seven 10-pound hams, which had all been heated to an internal temperature of 185˚F (+ or – 4˚F), and double wrapped them in heavy duty foil. I then placed one wrapped ham in each cooler, noted the time, and sealed the coolers.

Every thirty minutes, I opened the coolers long enough to use my trusty Thermapen to check the internal temperature of each roast in two marked places. This continued every half-hour, using the same holes, until the internal temperature dropped to 145˚F (the accepted safe temp for eating pork). Then I recorded that time.

Testing leakage

For the next test, I filled each cooler with water and tipped them on their sides gently, to measure leakage, then turned them over with the lids down. As the Coleman didn’t have sealing latches it completely failed this test, as the lids popped open instantly, sending out a torrent of water.

Testing durability

To test durability, I filled each cooler halfway with water, added 6 filled water bottles and hired two neighborhood boys to push the coolers off the back of a pickup truck onto a concrete driveway. (They couldn’t believe they would be paid for such a fun chore!) Field & Stream magazine did a similar test, only they drove their pickup at 45 mph while dumping the coolers. I merely duplicated the problem of the cooler slipping out of a pickup truck, albeit it a slower speed.

Finally I tried to bend the lids, handles and any other moving parts as much as I could. I can report that all of the coolers handled this abuse very well.

Below, I list some of the included gadgets, thingamajigs and extras for each cooler, not because they particularly influenced my review but merely to let you know what each manufacturer thinks is important to add on. I feel that most of these thingamajigs are unnecessary.

How they are made

All of the coolers I tested, except the two Colemans, are made by a process called rotational molding, or rotomolding, which means they are all one-piece construction, so every part of the cooler has equally thick walls with no imperfections. Generally, these rotomolded coolers can withstand any type of abuse, including being handled and mauled by grizzly bears (no kidding). Lastly, all the coolers that I tested claim to be BPA-free.

TEST CHARTS

ICE RETENTION IN DAYS
COOLER 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Cabela’s X X X X X X X X X 1/2
Pelican X X X X X X X
Kong X X X X X X 1/2
Orion X X X X X 1/2
Yeti X X X X
Grizzly X 1/2
Coleman X 1/2
HEAT RETENTION, HOT HAM DROP IN INTERNAL TEMPERATURE

COOLER 8:30 a.m. 9:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. 1:30 p.m.
Cabela’s 187°F 171°F 162°F 155°F 147°F
Kong 185°F 173°F 162°F 154°F 144°F
Orion 185°F 162°F 154°F 147°F 142°F
Yeti 186°F 170°F 160°F 148°F 141°F
Pelican 185°F 162°F 153°F 145°F
Grizzly 185°F 160°F 151°F 144°F
Coleman 184°F 163°F 151°F 143°F
DRAINING TIME IN MINUTES


COOLER

Time
Yeti :40
Pelican :49
Kong :50
Cabela’s :52
Orion :52
Grizzly :57
Coleman 1:38

The Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler Rated And Reviewed

By:

Rick Browne, Ph.B.

If you're in the market for a heavy duty cooler, this might be the one for you. The Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler features 360 degree freezer-grade gaskets, 2 inch thick polyurethane insulators in the lid, and more. The Pelican is also the only cooler capable of preventing a 450-pound Grizzly bear from getting in.

Grizzly 40 Quart Cooler Review

By:

Rick Browne, Ph.B.

The rated and reviewed Grizzly 40 quart cooler is a great option for anyone seeking a well made heavy duty cooler. It features heavy duty handles, has molded lock eyelets, non-slip and non-marking rubber feet so the unit won’t slide, multiple tie-down points, a large leak-proof drain spigot, and a molded-in hinge.

Coleman Xtreme Wheeled 50-Quart Cooler Review

By:

Rick Browne, Ph.B.

The extensively tested Xtreme Wheeled 50-Quart Cooler is perfect for most weekend or 1-2 day cooling needs. At one-quarter the price of our other reviewed coolers, the cost-to-performance ratio is more than adequate for many needs. With no latches and only marginal hinges, this is not a sturdy cooler.

Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler Review

By:

Rick Browne, Ph.B.

Built to last, the Yeti cooler is a favorite among our cooler review team and countless consumers. Yeti's Tundra model features T-Rex lid latches which fit into a ball and joint type of closure, tie-down slots molded into the body of the coolers for securing the cooler, and a patented Coldlock freezer-quality gasket.

Orion 45 Cooler Review

With the most striking appearance of any cooler we know, Orion 45 has seven different cooler designs, each of which is literally a work of art. Thoroughly tested, looks from the outside,the beauty of Orion coolers is matched by outstanding performance and attention to detail on every part of the cooler.

Cabela’s Polar Ice Cap 40 Equalizer Cooler Review

By:

Rick Browne, Ph.B.

Available only at Cabela’s stores or online, Cabela’s Polar Ice Cap 40 Equalizer Cooler excelled in almost every testing category. The well crafted cooler features freezer-grade gasket, barrel-shaped rubberized T-shaped handles, non-skid feet, molded lock eyelets, multiple tie-down points, leak-proof spigot and more.

Kong 50 Quart Cooler Review

By:

Rick Browne, Ph.B.

This in-depth review showcases the high quality Kong 50-quart cooler. A relatively new player in the cooler field, Elkhart Products only began making and distributing Kong rotomolded coolers in early summer 2017. Elkhart, one of America’s largest custom rotational molding companies has over 30 years’ experience.

Related articles

Published On: 6/26/2019 Last Modified: 4/28/2021


If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and much more!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Click for comments...
Meatup in Memphis

Meatup in Memphis

Spotlight

These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs


Blackstone Rangetop Combo: Griddle And Deep Fryer In One


The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, grilled cheese, and so much more. And why deep fry indoors when you can avoid the smell and mess by doing it outside!

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted


Napoleon’s 22″ Pro Cart Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the 22″ Pro Cart a viable alternative.

Click here for more about what makes this grill special


Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?


The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it’s easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado.

Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

Click here to order directly and get an exclusive AmazingRibs.com deal


Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker


Green Mountain’s portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it’s also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet’s Dual Tube Burners

3 burner gas grill

The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King’s proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Click here to read our complete review


Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

Fireboard Labs Product Photo Shoot. Kansas City Commercial Portrait and Wedding Photographers ©Kevin Ashley Photography

With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.
Click here to read our detailed review


Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker


This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp’s dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin’.

Click here to read our detailed review