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

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.

The kicker is that white line on the graph below, which tracks the cooling power of a disposable Lifoam cooler made from Styrofoam that only set me back a few bucks. 

It was only able to pull the internal temperature from 70 degrees down to 58.4 degrees, which was a few degrees hotter than the Rubbermaid or the Igloo and hotter than any other cooler I tested -- but it also held steady at that minimum for longer than either one of them, and, tellingly, finished the test with a lower average overall temperature for the duration of the test. 

The Rubbermaid Ice Chest Cooler was the worst-performing cooler we tested. The disposable Lifoam cooler that cost $4 (white) would arguably be a better pick.

Ry Crist/CNET

In other words, the data suggests that your beers will get warmer faster in the Rubbermaid Ice Chest than they would in the Lifoam. I know which one I'd rather have.

Of course, your best bet is to set your sights a little higher and spend $45 on the excellent Igloo MaxCold, my top-rated cooler to date. It's a few quarts smaller than the Rubbermaid, but the design has a drain and a lid latch, and it's much, much better at keeping things cold.