Introducing the Ultimate Cooler with a Dual-Purpose Lid: Unveiling the Top Picks of 2023
Are you tired of lugging around a traditional cooler that's heavy and difficult to handle? Well, get ready to be blown away by the best coolers of 2023, where innovation meets practicality. Picture a cooler with a dual-purpose lid that not only keeps your drinks and snacks icy cold but also doubles as a handy table or cutting board. Say goodbye to the days of searching for a flat surface to set up camp, because these coolers have got you covered. Join us as we unveil the top contenders in the world of coolers, tested and guaranteed to revolutionize your outdoor adventures. Get ready to discover the ultimate cooling companions – you won't want to miss this!
Top Coolers of 2023
During my evaluation of coolers for this list, I previously regarded Cabela's 60-quart cooler as the best large cooler. However, the title now belongs to the Magellan Outdoors model. Nevertheless, in terms of keeping things cold, Cabela's Polar Cap option remains unbeatable. Not only did it record the lowest internal temperature during testing, but it also sustained that low temperature for approximately 20% longer than its closest competitor.
The prices for the 60-, 80-, and 100-quart models range from $300 to $400. The price reflects the exceptional performance of these coolers. Although they may lack extravagant features, they do include built-in bottle openers, rubber latches with a pressure relief valve, and rubber padded feet to minimize direct heat transfer. Additionally, they are certified bear-resistant.
Magellan's largest cooler performs almost as well as Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer. The temperature difference between the two was less than a degree. If your primary goal is to keep things cold, then you must weigh whether that slight temperature difference is worth an additional hundred dollars.
In my opinion, it is more prudent to save that cash and use it to stock your cooler. After all, Magellan Outdoors coolers feature a convenient double-sided hinge latch design, eliminating the need to reach over the lid or ask someone to retrieve your drink from the other side. These coolers also come with wheels for easy transportation and metal bottle openers on each side.
Yeti has earned its reputation for high performance (though sometimes higher prices) in the cooler market, and their Tundra Haul cooler does not disappoint. While it may not have the lowest overall temperature, it does maintain that temperature longer than its competitors. Equipped with "Neverflat" wheels, this cooler can handle treks in rugged terrains that other coolers cannot. Its exceptional durability ensures maximum cooling capability.
Yes, I understand that yet another Magellan cooler made it to this list. I assure you, it was not intentional. I follow a systematic testing process, and the results spoke for themselves. Just take a look at the graphs. The performance difference was significant, making it impossible for me to name another winner, even if I wanted to.
It was evident even before the testing that this cooler would outperform the others. Its competitors have very thin walls, which severely limits insulation capabilities. However, if you prefer a cheaper option or a backpack-style cooler, there are a few alternatives available. Nevertheless, I personally believe that all soft-sided coolers are subpar choices. They do not reach sufficiently low temperatures and fail to maintain a consistent median temperature for extended periods. Of course, there may be some who disagree and find satisfaction in keeping their charcuterie and red wine only slightly cooler than room temperature during a leisurely hike to a scenic spot.
The previous holder of this category's title was the Coleman Stacker, one of the most affordable coolers we have tested to date. However, the best value does not necessarily equate to the lowest price. The RTIC cooler demonstrated impressively low temperatures, competing with larger coolers. At $220, it currently holds the distinction of being the most economical option in both the midsize and large cooler categories, with the exception of the underperforming Igloo BMX 52qt Cooler. If you desire exceptional performance without breaking the bank, the RTIC cooler is a reliable choice.
The newcomer in the ice chest realm performs nearly identically to the previous titleholder, Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler. While the Yeti slightly outperformed it in achieving cooler temperatures, the Magellan cooler held its temperature for a longer duration. Ultimately, the deciding factor is the price. At $120, the Magellan Outdoors unit costs less than half of the Yeti cooler.
In addition to its performance, the Magellan cooler offers various additional features, including a dual-side latch design that functions as hinges, allowing for easy opening from either side. Furthermore, it includes bottle openers, a lock area reinforced with metal, and a drain plug.
Please click here to read our review of the Magellan Outdoors Dual Open 20qt Cooler.
Other coolers we've tested
These coolers are currently available for purchase and have been tested by our team over the past few years. Here is a list of the coolers with some brief insights:
- Lifewit Collapsible Cooler Bag 24L (25 quarts): This soft-sided cooler has a handle for easy carrying. However, it didn't perform well in terms of keeping things cool during our testing.
- Tourit Cooler Backpack (20 quarts): Although trendy and equipped with a metal bottle opener, this backpack cooler didn't perform well in terms of cooling.
- OlarHike Cooler Backpack (23 quarts): Similar to the Tourit cooler, it may not be as attractive but offers slightly more space.
- Amazon Commercial Rotomolded Cooler, 20qt (20 quarts): This Amazon cooler performs better than most and has a great cooler latching design (temporarily out of stock).
- Camp Zero 20L Premium Cooler (21 quarts): Offers average performance with additional cup holders on the lid.
- Frosted Frog 20qt Rotomolded Ice Chest (20 quarts): Requested by CNET readers, this cooler performs well but not the best (temporarily out of stock).
- Klein Tools Work Cooler (17 quarts): Sturdy, but not the best performance as a traditional cooler. Suitable for keeping lunch cool.
- Igloo Playmate Cooler 4qt (4 quarts): A small cooler with limited capacity and average performance, at an affordable price.
- Orca Light Blue 40 Quart Cooler (40 quarts): Offers average performance at a higher price point.
- Igloo BMX 52 Quart Cooler (52 quarts): Affordable, but poor performance compared to others.
- KENAI 65 Quart Cooler (65 quarts): Classic design, average performance.
- Frosted Frog 75QT Cooler (75 quarts): Reasonably priced with excellent performance.
- Bison Gen 2 Cooler (50 quarts): Cold temperature performance, but unable to maintain it.
- Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler (60 quarts): Expensive, but previously awarded as the best large cooler.
- Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler (33 quarts): Good cooling performance, but high price.
- Rubbermaid Ice Chest Cooler (48 quarts): Poor temperature performance for a medium-sized cooler (temporarily out of stock).
- Coleman Xtreme Marine Cooler (70 quarts): Large capacity and affordable.
- Coleman Xtreme Wheeled Cooler (50 quarts): Poor performance for a medium-sized cooler, but affordable (temporarily out of stock).
- Rovr Rollr 60 Wheeled Cooler (60 quarts): Holds temperature well, but slightly higher price.
- Lifetime High Performance Cooler (55 quarts): One of the better performing medium-sized coolers at a good price.
- Orca Classic Cooler (58 quarts): Previously awarded as the best medium-sized cooler, but with a high price.
- Pelican Elite Cooler (50 quarts): Colder than most, but doesn't maintain temperature as long.
- Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler (20 quarts): Average performance, maintains temperature well.
- Yeti Hopper Backflip 24 Insulated Backpack Cooler (22 quarts): While it is a backpack, other coolers outperform it.
- Coleman Portable Cooler (16 quarts): Affordable option, but doesn't maintain temperature for long (temporarily out of stock).
- Pelican 20 Quart Elite Cooler (20 quarts): Not as competitive compared to others.
- Coleman 24-Can Party Stacker Portable Cooler (23 quarts): Gets very cold but doesn't maintain temperature for long, at a low price.
- Rubbermaid 45qt Blue Wheeled Cooler (45 quarts): Average performance for a medium-sized cooler, at a low price (temporarily out of stock).
- Xspec 60 Quart Roto Molded High Performance Cooler (60 quarts): One of the best coolers we've tested, with top-notch features and performance. Formerly awarded as the best overall cooler.
- Igloo Trailmate Journey 70qt All-Terrain Cooler (70 quarts): Feature-rich with excellent performance, at a slightly higher price.
Before discussing performance, it's important to consider the capacity of the coolers. While certain sizes, such as 50 quarts, may be more popular, there is no standard size or shape for coolers. Size and shape not only determine how many cans a cooler can hold, but also impact its performance. For example, a 75-quart cooler like the Frosted Frog has a larger task to handle compared to a 45-quart RTIC when both have the same amount of ice.
To ensure accurate measurements, I tested each cooler's capacity. Rather than relying on the manufacturer's claims or counting cans, I filled each cooler with water until it reached the point of overflowing when the lid was closed. I then measured the exact number of quarts each cooler could hold. This information is crucial when dealing with melted ice. The smaller and cheaper models tended to be conservative in their capacity estimates. The Coleman Xtreme and Igloo Latitude wheeled coolers, for example, could hold several quarts more than advertised.
On the other hand, the more expensive models fell short. The Rovr wheeled cooler, priced at $400, had a capacity of 52.8 quarts instead of the claimed 60 quarts. The RTIC held 39.6 quarts instead of the specified 45 quarts. In contrast, the 55-quart Lifetime High Performance Cooler exceeded expectations at 62.4 quarts. Yeti's Hopper Backflip 24 soft-sided backpack cooler had a volume of 26.42 quarts, surpassing its stated capacity of 22.5 quarts. The worst offender was the Tourit Backpack Cooler, which only provided 65 percent of its claimed 30-quart capacity.
I filled the Lifetime High Performance Cooler with 62.4 quarts of water without causing it to overflow when I closed the lid. This is 13.5% bigger than its advertised capacity.
In conclusion, the best coolers of 2023 are those that not only keep your beverages and food chilled but also offer a dual-purpose lid. These innovative coolers not only bring convenience but also enhance your outdoor experience. Whether you're a camper, hiker, or simply enjoying a day at the beach, a cooler with a dual-purpose lid is a game-changer. So, why settle for ordinary when you can invest in a cooler that goes above and beyond? Make the most of your outdoor adventures and choose a cooler that not only keeps things cool but also doubles up as a handy table or cutting board. Say goodbye to ordinary coolers and embrace the future of outdoor leisure!
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