Nearly any outdoor social event will require a cooler.
Whether it is tailgating, going to the beach, camping, or just hosting a barbecue in your backyard or pool, you will need some kind of cooler to store all your beverages, among other things.
The concept of the cooler is deceptively simple: It is a contraption that holds beverages and other things that need to remain cool in order to be preserved properly.
However, there is a lot more to it than that. Just like there are different kinds of outdoor social activities, there are different coolers.
Top Picks : 5 Best American made coolers
Ten Featured American Made Coolers
1. “BMX Family” 52 quart cooler with tie down points, fish ruler, and cool riser technology by Igloo
As useful as large coolers are, it is often very difficult for the contents inside of them to stay cold for long unless you fill it with ice. This often defeats the purpose of the large capacity, leaving you with less room for beverages and other items than you might want. Unfortunately, this is a very common issue that surrounds the majority of large coolers.
This issue is solved as much as it can be solved with the BMX Family, by Igloo. Its inner walls are insulated, which means that you will not need to stuff it full of ice in order to keep the beverages inside of it cold. It is also much lighter than other coolers of its kind, which makes it much easier to carry.
The T-Grip latch system of the BMX Family also makes it very sturdy. You will not need to worry about the lid coming off if you happen to drop it while carrying it. This provides a lot of peace of mind, especially if you find yourself carrying it around a lot.
Something that would make the BMX Family a little better is if it had rollers. Most coolers that are comparable to the BMX Family in size tend to either contain rollers or something like it. This is not the case with the BMX Family and it can be frustrating to carry it around on your own because of its size.
2. 55 quart high performance cooler by LifetimeNo products found.
Large coolers tend to suffer from a couple issues. First, emptying the melted ice in them tends to be a massive chore. If they do not have a drain at the bottom, you’ll need to pour out the water yourself. Carrying them can also be a lot more frustrating then it should be, especially if you need to carry it from the sides.
Lifetime’s cooler solves both of these issues. It contains a drainage spout at the bottom, making it very easy to empty. This spout can also connect a garden hose, making it possible to use it as a reservoir of sorts for a garden hose. This makes Lifetime’s cooler really versatile. You can also drag it with its bungee cord connected handle on the side as a way of transporting it. No longer will you need a partner to carry it.
The inner walls of Lifetime’s cooler are also well insulated, keeping ice water inside of it cool for an entire week. This makes Lifetime’s cooler perfect for long term camping trips or any other situation where you know you need to keep things cool for long periods of time.
Something that can be improved with Lifetime’s cooler is that it is not nearly as durable as other coolers of its kind. The rubber latches tend to develop wear and tear very early, and they are not as tight as the latches of most other coolers. You’ll need to be more careful than usual when handling Lifetime’s cooler compared to others.
3. 30 quart elite cooler by Pelican
Most medium sized coolers have very little to offer when it comes to insulation. This is very frustrating to deal with if you need to keep anything inside of it cold for long periods of time. You would think that this wouldn’t be an issue given the size of these coolers, but it is.
Pelican’s cooler is designed to retain ice for extended periods of time. The polyurethane insulation as well as its 360 degree gasket will ensure that any amount of ice inside of it will stay at freezing temperatures for hours on end, if not days on end. If you are looking for a cooler that you can take on fishing trips, you have found it in the Pelican.
Another thing that makes the Pelican ideal for fishing trips is how it stays closed. It contains 3 inch latches that do a very good job of staying closed, and you can lock the lid down even more by using its tie-down slots which are molded inside of the cooler. The lid also contains four cup holders which are a nice touch.
The only thing that the Pelican can improve on is the capacity itself. It sacrifices much of its capacity to keep its contents cold, which can present a problem. Even though it claims to have a 30 quart capacity, you should expect it to only have a capacity of 25 or so quarts if you put a lot of ice in it.
4. “Tundra 65” cooler by Yeti
The purpose of most coolers is to store beverages, but they are also designed to store dry goods and other such items. Unfortunately, the majority of coolers typically leave you to your own devices to do this. Dealing with this is very frustrating, especially if you need a cooler specifically for storing dry goods.
The Tundra 65, by Yeti, solves this by containing a dry goods rack that you can remove when you do not need it. This allows you to store any dry goods inside of it with confidence. You will not need to worry about insulation issues with the Tundra 65, either. Its polyurethane walls and sealing gasket will ensure that anything you put in it will stay cold for a long time.
You’ll be impressed by the capacity of the Tundra 65, as well. Being able to hold up to 39 cans, you get plenty of space to put whatever you need in it with confidence. You’ll also be able to tie it down if you need to, since the Tundra 65 contains built-in slots that allow you to do just that.
The feet of the cooler are the only thing that needs improvement with the Tundra 65. They are made of rubber and do not slip, which is all well and good, but this prevents you from being able to carry it by dragging. You will need to physically pick up the Tundra 65 in order to carry it, and this is frustrating to some.
5. “G15” cooler by Grizzly
The philosophy of “the bigger the better” seems to have become a major narrative among many cooler manufacturers. This is unfortunate because sometimes you just need a small cooler that doesn’t require two people to carry and that is more compact. This is especially if you just need a cooler for a picnic, a short afternoon at the beach, or any other outdoor scenario that only lasts a couple of hours.
Anybody who needs a cooler for these kinds of scenarios will be pleased with what the G15, by Grizzly, has to offer. It is by far the easiest cooler that you can carry; the shoulder strap that it comes with is proof of this. Most coolers of this size do not have anything like this.
Even though it has a much smaller capacity than other coolers, the G15 still contains the same kind of optimal thermal properties that its larger counterparts contain. Just like most of its larger counterparts, polyurethane walls and a gasket on the inside will keep everything you put in the G15 cold for hours on end, if not days on end.
However, these properties do take away from the total capacity of the G15. you should only expect to be able to keep maybe 8 or 10 cans in it at a time before it becomes too crowded, and this is without a generous amount of ice. While this is fine for very short term outdoor activities, it will not hold up to any other outdoor activity.
6. 50 quart rotomolded cooler box by Bison Coolers
Durability is at a premium when it comes to coolers that are designed for camping or any other outdoor activity where you will be carrying your cooler from place to place constantly. Unfortunately, the majority of large coolers are not as durable as they need to be. They may be durable enough for something like tailgating, but they do not hold up when it comes to an activity like deep water fishing, hiking, or fishing.
You will not need to worry about durability at all with Bison’s cooler. Its roto-molded construction speaks to this and so do its rubber latches with its cantilever hinge system. Everything inside of Bison’s cooler will be decisively secure no matter what happens to it. The latches actually go beyond Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee standards, making it perfect for any camping trip.
Most coolers that are as big as Bison’s cooler are a massive chore to carry. If they have grab rails, they usually stick out like a sore thumb and require two people to carry it. This is not the case with Bison’s cooler. Its grab rails are ergonomic, making it much easier to carry if you elect to carry it with a partner. It is also possible to carry Bison’s cooler without a partner, since it comes with a bungee cord attached handle right above the grab rails.
A cooler as big as Bison’s cooler needs to go above and beyond when it comes to insulation, and unfortunately, Bison’s cooler does not do this. It uses the same industry standard of double-wall silicone gaskets and insulated walls to keep everything in it cool. While this works well for medium capacity coolers, it doesn’t work well for Bison’s cooler.
7. “Weekender” by Icehole
The latches on most coolers leave a lot to be desired. Even latches that meet Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee standards can still be opened pretty easily and in most cases, require the cooler’s lid to be tied down. Dealing with this is frustrating, especially during weeks long camping trips where you need to make sure nothing happens to your cooler.
Icehole’s Weekender has this issue solved, and decisively so. It uses the same kind of latches that are used on M2 Bradley fighting vehicles. This goes far and above IGBC standards and you’ll be able to leave your cooler unattended with absolute confidence.
The near indestructible design of the Weekender does not stop there, either. It is crafted with a one-piece, roto-molded technique that makes it more durable than almost any cooler of its kind. You will need to put forth a lot of effort to find a cooler that is more durable. The drain plug at the bottom of the cooler also makes it much easier to empty when you are finished using it. Surprising as it may sound, a lot of coolers like the Weekender do not have this feature.
Coolers as big as the Weekender call for insulation devices that also go above and beyond, considering how much space they have. Unfortunately, the Weekender does not perform well in this realm. It uses the same industry standard insulation measures as medium capacity coolers do and this leaves a little bit to be desired when it comes to insulation.
8. 45 quart cooler by Kenai
Coolers that have a capacity of at least 35 quarts demand insulation devices that go above and beyond. Most coolers of this size sacrifice their insulation by following the same industry standard insulation construction as medium sized coolers follow, which are 2 inch polyurethane inner walls. This works well for coolers with a capacity under 35 quarts, but it does not do a good job in keeping things cold with those that are over 35 quarts.
Kenai’s cooler goes way above and beyond the industry standard when it comes to insulation. Not only is the entire cooler roto-molded, making it nearly indestructible, but the inner walls use ecomate urethane. This not only keeps things inside of it cool for much longer, but is also much more eco-friendly than polyurethane is.
It is also very easy to carry and empty Kenai’s cooler. With a bungee cord connected handle right above its drain seal, you’ll be able to empty it very quickly as well as carry it around quickly and easily.
The only thing that Kenai’s cooler can improve on are its latches. The latches on Kenai’s cooler just barely meet Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee standards, and are much easier to open than the latches of other coolers. This presents a significant problem if you leave it unattended during camping trips.
9. “Sportsman” 5 quart cooler by Igloo
There are two major issues that all coolers share, regardless of their capacity or size. The first of these is insulation. Most coolers just do not keep what you put in them cold. They may stay cold for a while, but they certainly do not stay cold for as long as you probably want. Another issue that they share has to do with the drain plugs they come with, if they come with one at all. It can be really easy to lose the drain plugs of most coolers and this is really frustrating.
Igloo’s Sportsman cooler addresses this by doing two things. First, its lid and its inner walls are surrounded by foam, ensuring that everything inside of the cooler stays as cold as it can for as long as it can. This makes the Sportsman perfect for fishing, where you absolutely need everything in your cooler to stay as cold as possible.
The drain plug that the Sportsman comes with is chained to the cooler itself. This means you will not run the risk of losing it every time you want to use it. Losing the drain plug of a cooler is one of the most frustrating things about any cooler and Igloo solved this problem very easily with this simple modification.
The Sportsman leaves far too much to be desired in terms of capacity, however. It only has a capacity of 5 quarts, which is easily one of the smallest capacities of any given cooler. This limits you to using it for small scale outdoor events or scenarios.
10. 75 quart cooler by Orca
There are very few coolers that are designed for large scale outdoor activities. Some of the biggest coolers typically have a capacity of 35 to 45 quarts and although many consider this sufficient, there are certainly moments where you could stand to own a cooler with a lot more capacity.
Your wishes for a cooler with a significant capacity have been granted with Orca’s cooler. At an impressive and staggering capacity of 75 quarts, there is practically no limit to what you can put in it. Orca’s cooler is perfect for any scenario that calls for a cooler that you can leave things in for the entire day.
The near unlimited storage does not stop there, either. One thing that sets Orca’s cooler above others is that it also contains a cargo net along the side. You can use this cargo net to store accessories and other items that you might need. No other cooler contains something like this.
Orca’s cooler is massive, and this comes at a major sacrifice. This sacrifice is insulation. It dedicates so much to its capacity that it almost completely overlooks any insulation properties. Be prepared to load up Orca’s cooler with plenty of ice if you hope to keep the contents in it relatively cold.
American Made Coolers – A Buying Guide
No cooler is the same, and in order to choose one that is best for you, you’ll want to consider a few things.
How big do you need the cooler to be?
This is the first consideration and other considerations will revolve around it.
Something that you need to know in general is that the larger a cooler is, the less it insulates.
If you need a big cooler with a lot of capacity, you’ll need to find a way to keep everything in the cooler as cold as you can.
How important is insulation?
Some scenarios call for a cooler to have perfect insulation.
This is especially true when it comes to social events such as parties or barbecues and is even more true when it comes to an activity like fishing, where you need to keep what you catch cold no matter what.
However, there are some situations where you may not need the contents in your cooler to remain cold and you will need to know if this is a priority or not.
Will you be using your cooler for social events?
Outdoor social events such as barbecues and other such events usually require a cooler that combines a decent capacity as well as the ability to insulate well.
The coolers that you use for social events might not be as effective for something like camping. This is something else you should be aware of.
Will you be using your cooler for camping?
Coolers that are used for camping should be extremely durable.
If you do need a cooler for camping, make sure it meets Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee standards. This will ensure that bears cannot open it when you are out camping.
Benefits of Purchasing a US Made Cooler
US made coolers provide a decent amount of value for a few reasons.
The first is that the majority of them contain latches that meet Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) standards.
The IGBC is an organization that is dedicated to protecting grizzly bears all over the United States.
One of the ways that they do this is by making sure that they do not attack people who are camping.
Knowing that grizzly bears tend to go after food that campers keep with them, they create guidelines that camping equipment must meet in order to protect grizzly bears from themselves or from people who are out camping.
Nearly all cooler manufacturers in the United States work with this organization to make sure that grizzly bears do not take anything from a cooler that might be dangerous to them.
Another good thing about coolers that are made in the US is that they tend to follow very strict guidelines that ensure that nothing that is kept in them interacts with any outside air, possibly contaminating them.
These guidelines revolve around sealing the coolers as tightly as possible and making sure that they are also easy to carry and are safe for everybody to use.
Downsides of Purchasing a US Made Cooler
As useful as coolers made in the United States are, there are a few things that you need to watch out for.
If you happen to take your cooler overseas, you need to be aware that they may not be as protected from the wildlife that you encounter overseas as they are in the United States.
Some wildlife in the other countries that you travel to might be able to open your cooler.
Just because grizzly bears in the United States might not be able to open your cooler if your cooler meets IGBC guidelines does not mean that a different breed of bear in a different country cannot.
This is one thing that you need to be aware of.
Another thing that you should be aware of is that food and drink is packaged differently in different countries.
This is something that most coolers made in the United States do not account for, and you might find that the cooler that you bring overseas may not be able to hold as much food or drink as you thought.
Although these issues that surround coolers that are made in the United States seem negligible, they are still worth mentioning and they are still something that you should be aware of.
American Made Cooler Brands Worth Mentioning
How many coolers do you know have wheels? Not many. One of the most notable things about Kong is their cruiser line. This line of coolers contain wheels and are much easier to carry than most other coolers. They also have an impressive selection of other coolers, all of which are just as durable as any other cooler.
Coleman has been an established cooler brand for a very long time. They have coolers for nearly anything that you need a cooler for and you can never go wrong choosing a cooler from them. A new addition to their line are a variety of soft coolers, which are much easier to carry than their solid counterparts. This new line is a welcome addition to Coleman’s already impressive catalog.
Most coolers are not designed to fit perfectly together when placed next to each other. This is very problematic when you are tasked with taking more than one of them with you as they will not fit properly and they are difficult to organize. All of the coolers in Canyon’s catalog take a square design, making it very easy for you to take more than one with you and fit them in your boat or car. Both their soft and solid coolers contain top-notch insulation as well. You will never need to worry about anything in Canyon’s coolers not staying cold.
Also known as Jackson Adventures, Orion’s coolers focus on aesthetics. With most coolers looking incredibly boring, Orion’s coolers look much more impressive than most of their counterparts while still retaining the essential qualities of a quality cooler. You’ll be able to get a lot of value out of everything in Orion’s catalog no matter which of their coolers you choose from.
Soft coolers are a new and exciting venture for most cooler brands, and the best cooler brands embrace this as best they can. Cordova’s coolers tend to resemble backpacks and they are incredibly easy to carry. They only have two models of soft coolers, but both models are worth checking out. Cordova also contains a very impressive line of solid coolers, being featured in an array of different sizes and colors.
Otterbox Venture Coolers
Otterbox is mostly known for their phone cases, but they also have a decent selection of coolers. Something Otterbox specializes in decisively is insulation. While most other coolers use insulation methods that keep things cold for a few days, Otterbox’s coolers contain insulation methods that keep items in them cold for at least a week. They are incredibly useful if you need a cooler for an outdoor excursion, such as camping.
RovR Wheeled Coolers
Look no further than RovR if you are looking for a cooler that you can take on long camping trips. Their coolers resemble wagons, complete with wheels, a dual handle that allows you to move the cooler around really easily, and even cup holders that allow you to get the absolute most out of it if you have them at a campsite. None of this takes away from their insulation methods either, since RovR coolers can retain ice for a little over a week.
Orca has what you need if you are looking for capacity. Their biggest cooler has a capacity of a stunning 75 quarts. This will allow you to fit nearly 50 cans inside of it. This has other brands soundly beat in terms of capacity. However, you might need to look elsewhere if you are interested in a soft cooler. While Orca does offer soft coolers, these coolers resemble a tote and they are designed more for picnics and other casual outings rather than camping and other excursions.
One of the most established brands of not only coolers but nearly all kinds of containers, Rubbermaid contains nearly any cooler you can think of. From wheeled coolers, to water coolers, to even marine coolers, Rubbermaid has no shortage of containers to choose from. For what seems like decades, Rubbermaid has been the choice for anybody who needs a cooler for any outdoor event. Rubbermaid is a solid choice for sporting events and outdoor social gatherings, but you can find much better coolers from a different brand when it comes to camping and travel.
Coolers are absolutely necessary for anything that involves the outdoors.
There is a cooler for everything, whether it is something simple like an outdoor social gathering or a sporting event or an outdoor excursion like camping or long fishing trips.
Most modern coolers can be used for more than one outdoor activity and it would behoove you to take some time and explore which coolers can do the most for you.