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Orca Classic Cooler, 58 quarts review: Whale, whaddaya know, Orca's king-size cooler is terrific

At $300, it won't come cheap -- but Orca's combination of size, durability and performance makes it one of the best coolers you can buy.

Ry Crist
Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Appliances
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
4 min read

You've got a growing number of options if you're ready to spend big on a heavy-duty, high-performance cooler. Yeti is probably the best-known brand out of all of them, but Orca -- short for the Outdoor Recreation Company of America -- is perhaps the closest alternative. Just take Orca's 58-quart Classic Cooler: It looks like a Yeti, it's built like a Yeti, and at $300, it's just as expensive as the popular Yeti Tundra 45.


Orca Classic Cooler, 58 quarts

The Good

At 58 quarts, the Orca Classic Cooler is just as big as advertised, and it was one of the top performers in our insulation tests, too. The rotomolded design also makes it sturdier and more durable than the average cooler, and Orca backs that up with a lifetime warranty.

The Bad

Despite costing $300, the Orca doesn't come with any unique features of note. It also weighs a hefty 36 pounds when empty.

The Bottom Line

This is an excellent heavy-duty cooler for anyone willing to spend hundreds, especially if they want something notably bigger than the equally expensive Yeti Tundra 45.

The Orca performs like a Yeti, too -- at least to a point. In my tests, I found that Orca's Classic Cooler was able to cool things down to 25 degrees below room temperature using just 3 pounds of ice, an excellent result that ties the top-performing Tundra 45. The Orca only held that temperature about half as long as the Yeti did, however, forcing the brand to settle for the runner-up spot.

That second-place finish might lead you to pick Yeti over Orca, but make sure you consider capacity first. After measuring each cooler I tested to double-check the manufacturer capacity claims, the Orca came in right on the money at 58.1 quarts. The Yeti, on the other hand, only held about 38 quarts. That's much smaller than the name suggests, and it also means that the Yeti had an easier job on its hands in our insulation tests.

In the end, if you're choosing between the two, you're really choosing between an extra 3/4 inch of insulation (Yeti) or a 35 percent increase in capacity (Orca). Both make for justifiable splurges at $300, but only if you're certain you need something more rugged than the slew of decent options that cost a lot less -- and if you aren't, I've got a couple of recommendations that'll save you some cold, hard cash.

Which cooler should you buy this summer? We tested 18 of them

See all photos

Like most of today's high-end coolers, the Orca Classic is made from rotomolded plastic, which means that the mold is spun when the plastic is poured in. That rotational force helps the plastic to set more evenly, which is good for insulation, and it makes the plastic a lot more durable, too. Give Orca credit for backing that build up with a lifetime warranty.

The rotomolded design also makes for a pretty hefty piece of hardware that weighs in at 36 pounds -- and that's before you start packing ice and drinks into it. With both roped and rigid handles on the sides, you'll be able to carry it however you find most comfortable, but it's still something worth thinking about if you plan on taking your cooler with you for long distances on foot.

Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to say about the fairly basic design, though I did appreciate the recessed drain inside of the cooler. It's a little thing, but cheaper coolers often have drains that stick up into the body of the cooler by a few centimeters or so, meaning you'll have to pick them up and turn them upside down after draining them to get the last of the water out. That's not a problem with the Orca.

Oh, and the rubber latches that you'll use to seal the lid shut? They're shaped like whale tails.

The Orca's best feature, however, might just be the sheer volume of empty space inside. At a claimed capacity of 58 quarts, it's one the most spacious coolers I've tested, easily capable of holding a whole case of beer and then some. Even better -- that 58-quart figure checked out when I filled the thing with water to measure it for myself.

Enlarge Image

With just 3 pounds of ice inside, the Orca (light blue) was able to cool things down just as much as the Yeti, but it didn't hold the cold for nearly as long.

Ry Crist/CNET

As for insulation, the Orca flexed its muscle in my performance tests, especially a stress test where I placed a paltry 3 pounds of ice into each cooler, then recorded the minute-by-minute ambient temperature inside each one over 48 hours in a 70-degree, climate-controlled room. The Orca was able to pull its internal temperature down to around 45 degrees F, which tied it with the Yeti Tundra 45 at the top of the leaderboard. The Yeti, however, was able to hold that temperature significantly longer than the Orca did.

Still, it's the sort of top-notch result that you'd expect from a $300 cooler, and notably better than coolers like the Bison Gen 2 and the Rovr Rollr 60 that cost even more. And, again, the Orca was one of the highest-capacity coolers that I tested, which makes what it was able to do with just 3 pounds of ice all the more impressive.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

All of that -- the capacity, the durability, the performance -- adds up to a solid, well-rounded cooler, and one that justifies the above-average price. At $300, I wish that Orca had included a unique extra or two -- a built-in battery for charging your devices while camping, or heck, at least a built-in bottle opener like the one on the Lifetime High Performance Cooler. You'll also find better value from the Igloo MaxCold Cooler, a great performer that costs just $45. But aside from that, the Orca doesn't have any real weak spots, and that makes it a worthy splurge if you're looking for an upgrade.

  • Looking for more on coolers? Our full roundup post is chock full of recommendations and buying advice.

Orca Classic Cooler, 58 quarts

Score Breakdown

Features 6Design 8Performance 9Usability 8
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