When put to the test, do high-end coolers like the Yeti, Coleman, Buckwaters, Orca, and Pelican, among others, prove to have a longer-lasting ice retention rate

The market for coolers and ice chests has exploded in recent years, with businesses selling expensive coolers that promise to keep ice for more than a week. In the cooler market, brands like Yeti, Orca, Pelican, and others are joining more well-known brands like Igloo and Coleman.

The cost of the new, high-end coolers that can keep ice longer is high. Depending on the size, prices can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000.

I was interested in how various coolers would fare in the sweltering heat of August in Alabama. Six coolers were tested, ranging in price from a $10 Yeti Tundra 50 cooler to an $380 Styrofoam cooler.

The six contestants

1. I discovered a 40-quart Styrofoam cooler in the basement.

This cooler has been mine for roughly 15 years. This dependable cooler has held everything from seafood to soft drinks. It's around $10.

2. However Tundra 50

The first premium roto-molded cooler was called Yeti. About 40–45 quarts can be stored in the Yeti Tundra 50. The names of Yeti coolers don't match the number of quarts each model can hold. The Yeti 50 is similar in size to a 40- or 45-quart cooler. The cost I discovered that it costs around $350-$380. This cooler is covered by a 5-year warranty from Yeti.

3. 54-quart Coleman Steel Belted cooler

A vintage cooler has been revived with the Coleman Steel Belted 54. One of the forebears of this cooler was my grandfather. It is primarily made of steel and has a dependable vintage lid latch. It has a classic design and holds 54 quarts. The $149 MSRP 00, but I managed to find it elsewhere for less than $100.

4. A 48-quart Buckwaters Soft Side cooler

The Buckwaters Camo Soft Sided Cooler 48 is Made in the USA and was designed in Trussville, Alabama. A good soft side cooler was something I wanted to add to the mix. It comes with a lifetime warranty, a leakproof liner, and is available in black and camouflage. The cooler maintains a tight, compact shape thanks to the heavy-duty zipper and clip fasteners on each end. The price of the camo version is . 95

5. A 40-quart Orca cooler

The tan model we used is just one of many colors available for the Orca 40 quart cooler. It has a lid seal that is extremely strong and a true 40 quart capacity. Additionally, it has strong, skid-resistant feet and a helpful cargo net on the back. The United States produces Orca coolers. S A and include a lifetime warranty. Retail price is $349. 00, but I was able to find it online for a little less.

6. A 45-quart Pelican ProGear Elite cooler on wheels

Rugged and substantial, the Pelican ProGear Elite 45 quart cooler is available with or without wheels. The only cooler we tested that had wheels was this one. All of the coolers are produced in the U S A and provide a lifetime guarantee. Additionally, it has a built-in bottle opener, a drain plug that is attached to the cooler, and a ruler that is integrated into the lid. I discovered this cooler with wheels for $322–379

The method of testing

I aimed to conduct the test as closely as possible to how people actually use a cooler. Due to the fact that most people don't do this, the coolers weren't completely filled. Most of the time, people use coolers to keep foods like cheese, meats, drinks, and condiments cold. I made an effort to choose coolers that were roughly the same size, even though it is nearly impossible to find coolers with the exact same interior dimensions. The coolers have capacities between 40 and 54 quarts.

Before the test day, all of the coolers were chilled with ice bags. Fresh ice was then added to the coolers, replacing the old ice. I filled each cooler with 20 pounds of ice. In order to put the exact amount of ice in each cooler, the ice was weighed. This quantity of ice roughly half-filled the coolers. Six cold, canned soft drinks were added to the coolers once they had been filled with ice, and the lids were then closed and latches.

Then, all of the coolers were set up on concrete and exposed to the weather. Until the ice had melted to a dangerous level, the coolers were opened once every 24 hours. The water temperature in a cooler was measured as the ice melted completely, and the other coolers were examined.

The outside temperature during the challenge fluctuated from 93 degrees one day to mid-70s overnight. Four times it rained on the coolers.

The Outcomes

Noon Day 1

The coolers were filled with ice and soft drinks, and the lids were then closed and latches. It was cloudy and 88 degrees outside.

One day is 24 hours.

There was plenty of ice in each cooler, but some had significantly more than others. The Coleman, Styrofoam, and Buckwaters coolers had more water than the Yeti, Orca, and Pelican coolers, which were mostly filled with ice. The Coleman and Buckwaters soft side had more individual pieces of ice floating in the water than the styrofoam cooler, which had larger chunks of ice floating in the water. I made the decision to wait 48 hours before opening the coolers once more.

2 days and 48 hours

There was ice in every cooler, but some of them had very little. The ice in the more expensive Yeti, Orca, and Pelican coolers had formed large chunks and there was still more ice and water in all three. The cans in the Pelican cooler were still perched on top of the ice despite the fact that all of these coolers contained sizable ice chunks. the Orca and Yeti's cans had holes in them, and some of them were floating.

The soft sides of the Styrofoam, Coleman, and Buckwater containers had significantly lost ice. Small pieces that were floating on top were all that was left in these coolers.

50 days, 25 hours

All of the coolers have now spent more than two days in the heat and sun. The Buckwaters Soft Side 48 quart cooler was devoid of ice when I checked the coolers that were on the verge of losing all of their ice. Two days, two hours, and 25 minutes of ice were present. I found it quite amazing that a soft-sided cooler could maintain ice for that long. The water was 49 degrees. 5deg I'm glad I included this one to see what would happen.

51 days, 57 hours

For this test, I primarily used hours and minutes, but I also want to include how many days the ice remained in these coolers. The sun is shining and the temperature is the hottest it has been in more than two days. There was only water left in the 54-quart black Coleman Steel Belter cooler. The ice was completely gone. It maintained ice for 51 hours and 57 minutes (two days and three hours). The cooler's water was 39 degrees. 2deg

When the other coolers were examined, it became clear that only one of them would survive to day three.

52 hours and 35 min.

The remaining coolers continue to be battered by the sun. Finally, the ice in the $10 styrofoam cooler melts. I've had this cooler for years, and in this test it proved to be worthwhile. Two days, four hours, and 35 minutes later, it still had ice. The water was a chilly 37 degrees. 8 deg

3 days (3 hours)

The challenge still has three coolers. Ice was present on the Yeti, Orca, and Pelican, but for the first time, there was more water than ice. Some tiny pieces of the Yeti and Orca were floating alongside many other tiny pieces. Most of the ice on the Pelican was still in large chunks, but there were a few small pieces floating around.

75 Hours

I quickly glanced inside all three coolers and noticed that the afternoon heat had done damage. In the previous three hours, all three had lost a significant amount of ice.

80 hours and 55 min.

Just after dusk on day 3, the Yeti Tundra 50 lost all of its ice. For three days and eight hours and 55 minutes, it maintained ice. The cooler's internal water temperature was 37 degrees.

Some of the ice from the Orca and Pelican coolers was still floating on top.

81 days, 31 hours

Day three's ice on the Orca finally started to melt shortly after dusk. For 81 hours and 31 minutes (3 days, 9 hours, 31 minutes), the Orca 40 was able to hold ice. At 36, the interior water temperature was the coldest ever recorded in a cooler. 7deg

Winners are

The 45-quart Pelican ProGear Elite cooler By keeping 20 pounds of ice in place for 82 hours and 56 minutes (3 days and 10 hours and 56 minutes), this cooler won our ice challenge. The water was 37 degrees inside.

Observations and conclusions

Any cooler will do the trick if you only need to keep ice for a day or two. However, the premium coolers can handle the job if you require ice for a longer period of time than a few days. The catch Premium coolers cost significantly more, sometimes even three times as much. In comparison to a typical cooler, the Pelican, Yeti, and Orca each held 20 pounds of ice for at least one extra day. Some of the coolers would have kept ice for 5 days if 10 pounds more ice had been added.

My observations regarding the tested coolers The seals on the pelican and orca are by far the tightest. After the ice melted, both required considerable effort. It was more difficult to open the lids due to the vacuum created by the seals. All three of the premium coolers' lids had to be opened in order for me to drain them due to how effectively their seals kept air out.

In a number of categories, the Buckwaters 48 Soft Side cooler proved to be valuable. It could be flattened when not in use and was significantly lighter than all coolers but the styrofoam. Another benefit is the lifetime warranty on the liner.

The Orca offers an additional storage net (included) on the cooler's back. It is a very helpful attribute. The rubber latch is also incredibly sturdy.

The steel Coleman Steel Belted 54 quart cooler has a very secure latch and is made of steel. The appealing clean lines and vintage appearance

Although it is the heaviest of the coolers examined, the Pelican ProGear Elite 45 quart cooler is the only one with wheels and a sturdy handle that allows it to be moved around. It has a ruler and bottle opener on the lid, which is very helpful for anglers. I favor this cooler's patented latches. The use of them is very simple.

A simple styrofoam cooler is sometimes all you need. They hold ice reasonably well and are very light. Most can be purchased for under $15.

View the tests for the tumbler ice challenge.

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