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Rubbermaid Ice Chest Cooler, 48 quarts review: Not cool, Rubbermaid: This cheap cooler is just about useless

The Good At 50.7 quarts, the Rubbermaid Ice Chest Cooler offers slightly more space than advertised.

The Bad Rubbermaid's design doesn't include a drainage spout, and it was the weakest overall performer in our insulation tests. It even got beat by a $4 Styrofoam cooler.

The Bottom Line You'll have a hard time finding a cooler that performs as badly as this one does. Buy literally anything else.

4.8 Overall
  • Features 4
  • Design 5
  • Performance 4
  • Usability 6

When I was a kid, our family had a Rubbermaid cooler. Back then, the brand sold a lot of the things, but these days, they've been largely displaced by coolers from Coleman and Igloo. You'll still find one or two Rubbermaids in the cooler aisle at Walmart, though. They look just like the one I grew up with, and a 48-quart "Ice Chest" model like the one I'm writing about now won't cost you any more than $20.

You shouldn't buy it. Like other cheap coolers, the Rubbermaid Ice Chest doesn't have a lid latch or even a drain, which is just a baffling omission. Worse, it wasn't able to outperform a disposable Styrofoam cooler that I grabbed at my local grocery store for $4. 

The weak performance stood in stark contrast to what you'll get if you spend a little more on the $45 Igloo MaxCold. That cooler held the cold about as well as I could have hoped for in my tests, even outperforming coolers like the Rovr Rollr 60 and the Bison Gen 2 that cost hundreds more. Nix your nostalgia for Rubbermaid and buy the Igloo MaxCold instead -- or stick with the Styrofoam and use the money you save on an extra six-pack.

Now, in fairness, the Ice Chest's poor performance seems to be less of a Rubbermaid thing and more of an overall cheap-cooler thing. Just look at the Igloo Island Breeze Cooler, which I picked up at Dick's Sporting Goods for $15. 

In my tests, where I filled each cooler with 3 pounds of ice and tracked the ambient temperature inside for 48 hours, the cheap Igloo was just as underwhelming as the cheap Rubbermaid. 

With 3 pounds of ice inside, Rubbermaid's cooler yielded a warmer average temperature than any other cooler I tested -- even warmer than the $4 Lifoam cooler.

Ry Crist/CNET

The Igloo did manage to pull the temperature down by a few extra degrees, though, which makes recommending the Rubbermaid even less conceivable.

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