Critiques of the Finest Ozark Trail Coolers

ozark trail cooler review

Brandon F. Updated it starting 11 January 2022

The Ozark Trail line of hard coolers, soft coolers, and drinkware is growing in popularity. Although Walmart appears to be their primary retailer, you can also find them on Amazon and other online marketplaces.

The concept behind Ozark Trail Coolers is to provide a high-quality product at a price that the average consumer can afford, by including features like premium components and long-lasting ice but keeping the price lower. But if you're just looking for something to pack a lunch or picnic in and don't mind a more conventional design, Ozark Trail has you covered there, too.

Check out the table of some of the best Ozark Trail Coolers below before we dive into our in-depth review of these popular products.

Greatest Capacity for Holding and Storing Ice
Effectiveness in the Role of Soft-Chiller


Grey 73 quart high performance cooler by Ozark Trail.

High-Performance 26-Quart Cooler by Ozark Trail,

Inexpensive Premium 36-Can Ozark Trail Jumbo Cooler

To be specific, a gray Ozark Trail Premium Backpack Cooler

Capacity of Storage

The Proven Ice Age (in Hours)

Cost (on Amazon)

Largest Capacity for Maintaining and Storing Ice


Grey Ozark Trail High-Performance 73-Quart Cooler

Validated Ice Age in Hours

Cost (on Amazon)


The Ozark Trail High-Performance 26-Quart Cooler,

The Proven Ice Age (in Hours)

Retail (on Amazon)

Effectiveness in the Role of Soft-Cooler


Ozark Trail High-Quality 36-Bottle Mega Cooler

Lifespan of Ice as Measured in Hours

The cost (on Amazon)


It's a gray Ozark Trail Premium Backpack Cooler.

Estimated Ice Retention Time (Hours)

Amount (on Amazon)

Collection of Ozark Trail Ice Chests

As was previously mentioned, Ozark Trail offers both hard and soft coolers. The capacity of a hard-sided cooler is expressed in quarts, while soft-sided coolers are typically rated by the number of cans they can hold. In the following part, we will describe the various sizing options that are at your disposal.

The Ozark Trail Is Known For Their Durable Hard-Sided Coolers

ozark trail hard sided cooler selection

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Ozark Trail's hard-sided coolers are available in three different sizes. There are three sizes to pick from: 26 quarts, 52 quarts, and 73 quarts.

Atop the smaller coolers will be a convenient carrying handle, while the larger coolers will continue to use the standard side rope carrying handles found on most other brands. Later in this review, we'll get into more depth about the features themselves.

Having only three sizes to choose from is somewhat uninspiring. Ozark Trail, on the other hand, has managed to include the most requested sizes. There are three sizes of coolers available to you: mini, standard, and jumbo. Those looking for a massive ice chest (100 quarts) suitable for storing items for an entire family event or someone planning a week-long camping excursion will notice a significant difference.

Coolers with a soft side by Ozark Trail

Ozark Trail's soft-sided coolers have undergone considerable change over the past year or so. There have been a lot of redesigns, and they have also released some new, larger soft-sided coolers.

ozark trail soft sided cooler selection

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Six-can, twelve-can, twenty-four-can, thirty-six-can, forty-two-can, premium backpack, and premium tote coolers are all currently available. There have been other sizes offered over the years, but for this discussion, we will stick to these models.

Compared to Ozark Trail's hard-sided coolers, this is a vastly superior selection. A wider selection of designs and hipper variations are also available. One can find inexpensive, basic coolers meant to transport people's lunches for the day, as well as expensive, premium coolers for those who value a longer ice retention time.

Features of the Ozark Trail Cooler

There are some key differences between the Ozark Trail hard-sided cooler and the Ozark Trail soft-sided cooler. In the sections that follow, we'll describe the nitty-gritty details of each icebox category.

Benefits of the Ozark Trail Hard-Sided Cooler

In an effort to take on the best in the premium cooler market, these hard cases are built to perform admirably. Instead of making a basic or mid-range model, Ozark Trail aimed to mimic the design of more expensive brands like Yeti, RTIC, and Engel while keeping the price tag significantly lower.

Rotomolded construction is crucial for competing at a high level. A cooler that hopes to be durable and keep ice for an extended period of time must have this type of seamless, one-piece construction. All Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers are rotomolded, too.

ozark trail cooler thick walls

It varies in wall thickness depending on the size. It's safe to assume, however, that the walls will be somewhere between 2 Measures 5'' in diameter and 3'' in thickness If we compare this to the premium coolers we have tested in the past, it fares about as well. This cooler has thick walls and a UV-resistant coating to prevent fading over time.

ozark trail cooler rubber gasket

A thick rubber gasket is the next most important part of a cooler that can keep ice for extended periods of time. The freezer-grade gasket used by Ozark Trail is eerily similar to that used by much more expensive cooler brands.

Ozark Trail

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To get the most out of the gasket's squeezing action, sturdy latches with plenty of clamping force are essential. Ozark Trail coolers feature the ubiquitous "T-latch" design. Ozark Trail, unlike some other brands, has a hole in the center of the latch that grabs the pin, rather than at the base of the "T." According to our observations, there is no difference between the two methods.

All the metal parts you come across are made of high-grade stainless steel, which is another plus. In the long run, this reduces the likelihood of corrosion and breakage.

ozark trail cooler grizzly bear resistant

Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that Ozark Trail Coolers have been awarded the prestigious IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) seal of approval. That is to say, they can withstand the attacks of a grizzly bear.

Of course Ozark Trail has thought of things when it comes to ice durability and longevity, but what about convenience features?

ozark trail cooler oversized drain

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To begin, there is a large drain for all the melted ice. The chain it is attached to makes it easy to remove the threaded drain while keeping it in place.

ozark trail cooler non skid feet

Find nonslip feet in a range of sizes, too. Keep your table, truck bed, or floor in pristine condition with these protective feet. Due to the fact that a fully loaded cooler with beverages and ice can weigh quite a bit, making it a recipe for surface scratches if dragged along the ground.

ozark trail cooler locking plate

Third, the base is secured in the middle by a stainless steel locking plate, which was added by Ozark Trail. This security device serves double duty as a bottle opener. There aren't many situations in which a bottle opener wouldn't come in handy, so it's great when cooler manufacturers include one.

ozark trail cooler fish ruler

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The fish ruler is conveniently molded into the cooler's lid for all you anglers. In addition, there are built-in cup holders (2 in the 26-quart model, 4 in the 52- and 73-quart models)

ozark trail cooler wire basket

The 52- and 73-quart models also feature an integrated wire basket. This basket is typically sold separately from the cooler and comes at an additional cost. Thank goodness Ozark Trail is including that at no extra cost.

ozark trail cooler carry methods

Finally, a convenient way to carry the cooler while keeping hands free is crucial. To begin with, a high-quality cooler is not light. In addition, once it's loaded down with food, beverages, and ice, its weight can rise to 100 pounds or more. The 26-quart size has an overhead stainless steel handle with a comfort grip, while the 52- and 73-quart sizes have heavy-duty side handles with the same feature.

What You Get With an Ozark Trail Soft-Sided Cooler

Ozark Trail's soft-sided coolers strike a better middle ground than their hard-sided counterparts, which are primarily intended to compete with the industry's top-tier offerings.

There is a wide range of prices, from the cheapest to the "premium" series. The low-cost version doesn't try to outdo the high-end versions in terms of features, build quality, or ice life, but it is still very affordable. The premium series will have a higher price tag, but it will compete with other high-end soft-sided coolers thanks to its innovative features.

ozark trail soft cooler storage options

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Regardless of the design you choose, you'll have plenty of space for all your stuff. This is because of the large, insulated space, in addition to the front and/or side pockets for additional storage. There will be zippered front pockets and open mesh ones on the sides. Put your phone, keys, wallet, or anything else you don't want to risk getting wet or cold in the insulated compartment.

ozark trail soft cooler extandable top

Extra storage space is also available. The storage height of a few different models can be increased by up to 3" thanks to an expandable top. Consequently, a 16-liter bottle or several 12-ounce cans can be stacked in there without difficulty. They have you covered regardless of the bottle you typically carry.

ozark trail soft cooler carrying methods

Most designs feature a comfortable, adjustable shoulder strap for portability. Nonetheless, there will be some neat ways in which particular models expand upon this. The 42-can version, for instance, can be moved around thanks to its wheels and telescoping handle. And, as you'd expect, the backpack cooler has padded shoulder straps so you can carry it like a backpack. The high-quality cooler bag has both top handles and a detachable, padded strap that can be slung over the shoulder.

Protecting the contents of a soft-sided cooler necessitates the presence of some sort of framework. Items stored in a cooler without a hardliner are more likely to be damaged during transport. The majority of Ozark Trail's soft-sided coolers come with a hard liner that can be removed, which is a huge plus. The EVA compression molded base of the premium cooler backpack and cooler tote is an additional step up.

ozark trail premium soft cooler features

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Moreover, while we're discussing high-end soft-sided coolers, there are a few extra options worth noting. They have compression straps, bottle openers, daisy chain attachment points, thicker insulation, a washable 600D coating, and can be attached to one another.

The Cooler Ice of Ozark Trail

In any assessment of a refrigerator, the ice-life metric is crucial. Also, because Ozark Trail offers such a wide variety of coolers, we can expect results that are all over the map.

The cheap, soft-sided coolers they can buy don't offer much in the way of insulation or storage space. As a result, their ice age will be significantly shortened.

Premium soft coolers, especially their hard-sided coolers, have more of the conventional features we associate with long ice life. In that case, you can count on them to sustain ice for significantly longer.

In all of their coolers except their hard-sided ones, Ozark Trail stays relatively silent on the topic of ice life. Some claim that under ideal conditions, you can get to about 4 The 26-quart will last for 5 days, the 52-quart for 7 days, and the 73-quart for 9 days. Amazing figures, but how reliable are they?

We put about a third of ice into the products to see how they would fare in this test. We then put them in the sun and opened them occasionally. Because of this, it's a more accurate depiction of how it's used in practice. You can see the outcomes in the chart below:

ozark trail coolers ice life Shopping

The larger hard-sided coolers performed noticeably better than the smaller soft-sided ones. They are not only bigger, but also more ice-friendly because of improved insulation, rubber gaskets, and structural changes.

However, neither of the two high-end soft-sided coolers was a slouch. The tote has a realistic ice retention time of 1.5 days, while the backpack lasts for 1 full day.

Some of the less expensive soft-sided coolers had trouble keeping ice. We don't think you should count on them for more than an afternoon's use at most. Actually, this is a good thing, as they are just the right size for a light meal or a picnic. But if you want something that will keep for the whole weekend without needing any additional ice, you might be disappointed.

But let's get back to the ice chests with hard sides. Even though the ice life was not terrible, it did not live up to the standards Ozark Trail had set. We suspect this is because their tests were conducted in better settings. Certainly, if we were to fill the cooler to capacity with nothing but ice, never open it, and store it somewhere cool and dark, the ice life would significantly increase. Nonetheless, that is not how the vast majority of cooler owners put their appliances to use.

Your ice should last anywhere from 2 days to 5 days, depending on the model you choose. That's still quite remarkable and ought to fulfill the requirements of the vast majority. However, it is not quite as effective as the best premium coolers on the market.

Visual Appeal of the Ozark Trail

Different models of these coolers have different looks. The non-premium soft-sided coolers, which are the cheapest option, come in a single, neutral color. The primary color will likely predominate, although there may be some white or gray accents.

The picture below is an example of the available colorways for the widely used 24-can soft cooler.

ozark trail 24 can cooler options

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It is important to remember that the number of available hues varies from model to model. The premium cooler backpack and tote, for example, is only available in gray. It's a lovely shade, but we'd like to see more color choices overall.

Ozark Trail

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The design of the hard-sided coolers is much more up-to-date. It's a conversation starter because of its striking design and pointed edges. Particularly, the orange highlights on the latches and handles are a nice touch. There are only two color choices: white and silver.

The aesthetics are satisfactory on the whole. The best coolers are the hard ones and the premium soft ones. However, a wider range of colors is desirable for all models. Furthermore, no options for personalized paint jobs, stickers, etc., are available.

Price of an Ozark Trail Cooler

Prices for Ozark Trail Coolers vary widely between the various available models. However, given that Ozark Trail's specialty is producing inexpensive goods, all of their models ought to be competitively priced.

However, there is a price to pay (other than monetary) for this. Some manufacturing and quality shortcuts were required to achieve these asking prices. In the reviews that follow, we'll go into greater depth on these topics.

Contrast: Ozark Trail Cooler Yeti

Coolers by Yeti are known to be among the most durable available. And they have remarkable ice retention abilities. To be honest, though, they are prohibitively expensive.

Many consumers seek out substitute brands as a result. Many customers have asked us if we think Ozark Trail could be a suitable "Yeti replacement." The substantial savings, as well as the supposedly comparable ice retention and features, are enticing.

Which is preferable, then

Unfortunately, Ozark Trail can't compete with a Yeti's ability to keep ice and withstand harsh conditions. Despite sharing many of the same features, Ozark Trail models suffer from more glaring defects. Some examples of such wear and tear are early leaking, lid warping, and loose stitching.

However, Yeti Coolers is widely known for its reliability. Its products are built to last a lifetime, and their ice life is among the best in the business.

When money is tight, you can get by with Ozark Trail. They're like paying only 20% of the price for 80% of the value of a Yeti. The ice life isn't great, but it's not terrible either, and there are a lot of the same features as in Yetis. Yet, even so, it is not a Yeti.

When only the best will do, and only if you're willing to spend a lot to get it, Yeti is still the brand to choose.

An Analysis of the Ozark Trail Cooler

Ozark Trail 73-Quart High-Performance Cooler, Grey

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Pros: Outstanding Value, Comprehensive Feature Set, and Strong Ice Retention

Cons: Problems with the product's quality and a limited palette

Wire basket, built-in drink holders, fish ruler, and a locking plate/bottle opener made of stainless steel are just some of the features.

It is Ozark Trail's hope that their line of coolers will make a name for themselves by appealing to those who want the benefits of high-end coolers without having to pay their price. They've incorporated it into a compact but formidable line of hard-sided coolers. These coolers come in three different sizes (26 quart, 52 quart, and 73 quart) and cost between the intermediate and low premium ranges.

Capacity for Insulation - Ozark Trail

Rotomolded construction, a freezer-grade gasket, and strong T-latches are all present, as are other features that contribute to the cooler's ability to keep ice for an extended period of time. The findings are reliable, with ice survival times ranging from 2 to 5 days (for the larger models).

Compared to other high-end coolers, this is a bit lower, but the significantly reduced price tag makes up for it. Having an ice retention time of three days or more is usually sufficient for most people. Because of this, Ozark Trail Coolers are ideal for any weekend adventure.

Flexibility and Stability - Ozark Trail

The collection of amenities that you get to use here is impressive. They have features like a fish ruler, internal wire basket, non-slip feed, and comfort-grip handles. And reliable rotomolding technology and stainless steel hardware are used in the building's construction.

This premium cooler seems ideal on paper. Nonetheless, there are glaring problems with the product's quality. Ozark Trail likely had to cut some corners on quality to offer such an attractive price. As a result, the cooler doesn't feel as well-made as something from Yeti or Engel.

This has led to some seriously worrying trends. Some examples of such defects are a leaking, warped lid, prematurely loosening hardware, or a loose handle.

However, if you find a cooler that has these issues fixed, you will have a worthy competitor. The International Green Construction Council has given their stamp of approval, so you know these are durable.

In terms of appearance, Ozark Trail

The Ozark Trail Coolers have a modern, streamlined design that we really dig. Latch and handle accents of orange and stainless steel are a nice touch. You could use a wider range of colors though. White and gray are the only options available right now. We're crossing our fingers that Ozark Trail adds more color options and maybe even allows for customization in the future.

Cost –  Ozark Trail

While not technically "budget," Ozark Trail ice chests are competitively priced. Similar alternatives can be three, four, or even five times as expensive. A large fraction of them share similar blueprints, amenities, and icy inhabitants.

Ozark Trail Coolers are one of the best deals in the industry at the moment, provided that you get a model with the quality issues discussed above resolved.

General Opinion - Ozark Trail

The Ozark Trail Coolers brand proved to us that high-quality ice retention and rugged construction can be had at a fraction of the cost of other leading ice chest brands. There are, however, a few corners cut during building. It seems like a game of chance whether or not you'll be bothered by these shoddy constructions.

Even if there is a slight problem with quality, the savings over alternative coolers will be substantial. The possible minor discomfort may be well worth it. Who knows, anyway Perhaps by some stroke of luck, you'll get one that doesn't have these issues. In that case, best of luck to you! At this time, you have the chance to take advantage of one of the best cooler deals available anywhere.

A Look at the Ozark Trail Soft Cooler

Ozark Trail Premium and Spacious 24-Can Camping and Outdoor Cooler, Dark Grey with Orange Accent, with Front Pocket and Bottle Opener Attachment Point!

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Pros: Fantastic List Price, Abundant Options, Reasonable Ice Retention in Top-Rated Models

Cons: Ineffectiveness and minor defects are common in cheaper models.

Multiple compartments, an expandable top, a selection of carry options, a bottle opener sewn in, a removable hardliner, a daisy chain attachment point, and a compression strap are just some of the features.

In their line of soft coolers, Ozark Trail prioritizes cost-effectiveness. There is some additional variety, however. This ranges from inexpensive plastic containers to high-end leather bags and insulated backpacks. You can get cooler backpacks and totes in a variety of sizes, including 6, 12, 24, 36, and 42 cans. Low-end models fall neatly within the affordable category, while high-end ones edge up to the intermediate price point.

Capacity for Insulation - Ozark Trail

These coolers aren't built to keep ice for extended periods of time, with the exception of the high-end models (which have a thicker insulated shell). Instead, they'd make a nice addition to a lunch date or a modest picnic. Particularly, the ice life of the smaller models will begin at a couple of hours and gradually increase to around half a day. Premium models, if they're any good, can keep ice for up to two days and one night.

Easy Transportation and Longevity - Ozark Trail

One of our favorite things about Ozark Trail Soft Coolers is the extra space they provide for storing food and drinks. Zippered pockets are standard on all models, and many have two or more in addition to the mesh side pockets. The ability to move around is another plus. Each design comes with a variety of convenient carrying options, such as wheels, shoulder straps, and more, making it simple to move from place to place.

The high-end versions improve both in terms of features and construction. Compression straps, daisy chains, bottle openers, and more are all included. In addition, the outer coating is made of 600D polyester, which is both durable and machine-washable.

Lately, we've gotten a lot of calls from folks who say the zippers on their soft-sided coolers break after only six to twelve months of use. We are conducting additional research into this issue and will likely update this review once we learn more.

Allure to the Eyes - Ozark Trail

When it comes to the aesthetics of their cans, the cheaper models stick to tried-and-true conventions. There are also not many color options available (we counted only three for one model). More modern in appearance, the tote and cooler backpack only come in black. We hope that in the future there will be more color options and that the more basic models will get a refresh.

Cost –  Ozark Trail

Ozark Trail Coolers' low price is one of their biggest draws. You'll notice that the price tag on nearly every version is shockingly low. Because of this, we can look past any problems we may have with the company and understand why it has become so successful in recent years.

General Opinion - Ozark Trail

Ozark Trail Soft Coolers are a great addition to this developing business. All reasonable preferences for size and arrangement can be accommodated. The 12-can and 24-can models are fantastic options for those on a tight budget who need something basic and functional. The premium backpack and tote are well worth it for those who value durability and longevity in extreme conditions. Although no model can match the premium brands' long ice life and rugged construction, the affordable price makes the trade-off more tolerable.

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