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The Coolest Cooler review: Is the Coolest cooler than being cool? If you have $500, then yes

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MSRP: $485.00
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The Good The Coolest Cooler is the Swiss Army knife of outdoor equipment. The spacious wheeled 55-quart cooler comes with a deceptively powerful Bluetooth speaker, convenient USB charger and built-in blender, all of which are powered by its integrated rechargeable battery.

The Bad It's a $485, AU$657 cooler with a blender that's just so-so.

The Bottom Line Despite its high price (and so-so blender), the Coolest Cooler ultimately succeeds in creating a one-stop shop for portable power, cold drinks and hot tunes that's ideal for party-minded tailgaters, beachgoers and picnickers.

8.0 Overall
  • Features 9
  • Usability 9
  • Design 8
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

Editors' note, March 1, 2016: The manufacturers of the Coolest Cooler are looking for investors to help complete orders for backers who supported the project on Kickstarter. Only one-third of people who bought a Coolest during the company's 2014 Kickstarter campaign have received their cooler, said Susan Towers, Coolest's marketing director.

In a letter to backers, founder Ryan Grepper said the company underestimated how much it would cost to make and deliver the Coolest to backers. "The process is well underway to find the best partner, and then ramp up production and get every backer his or her Coolest as soon as possible. However, at this point, we can't estimate exactly when this will happen," Grepper wrote. This latest delay comes after reports in December that early Coolest supporters were upset when the the product became available on Amazon before they received their coolers.

The Coolest Cooler began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 that touted the project as "a portable party disguised as a cooler, bringing blended drinks, music and fun to any outdoor occasion." In just 52 days, 62,642 backers pledged $13,285,226 to bring to the market a cooler packed with a blender, a Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger and other add-ons. The amount of money the project raised made the Coolest the most successful Kickstarter campaign at the time. The Coolest started coming off the line in July 2015, and now anyone in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can order one online -- for a whopping $485. (At the current exchange rate, AU$657 in Australia.)

The Coolest Cooler is made for the SkyMall catalog. Like the items that tempt airline passengers to impulse-buy from flying altitude, the Coolest is a fun, frivolous and expensive product that will be useful for some and a waste of money for many others. Having spent some time with it, I can say this cooler has a lot to love, especially if you enjoy outdoor entertaining.

The design is thoughtful and consumer-friendly, food and drinks stay cold over an extended amount of time, and the Bluetooth speaker and USB charger work well. That said, the Coolest has some flaws, specifically with the limitations of the blender. And it's hard to hand over nearly $500 for a cooler, especially when a consumer can buy the independent components of the Coolest for far less money. (Specifically, a big ol' cooler, a portable hand blender and a Bluetooth speaker with USB charging capabilities -- such as the JBL Charge 2+ -- will run you about $285 total.)

But let's be honest: products like the Coolest Cooler aren't about practicality or thrift. Ultimately, this is an entertaining product that works well overall and fulfills many needs of the (slightly tipsy) outdoor enthusiast. It's a cooler for someone who spends most of their year outside, likes blended drinks and doesn't want to make separate purchases for their party needs. If that's your idea of a good time, warm up the credit card and enjoy.

Kitchen sink not included

The Coolest is just a big cooler when you strip down the extras. It's 25 inches long, 19 inches wide and 18 inches tall (63.5x48.3x45.8cm) with a 55-quart capacity (almost 48 imperial quarts). A pull-up handle and two sturdy back wheels make rolling the Coolest similar to transporting a heavy piece of luggage. There's also a bungee cord that lets you carry extras on the top of the Coolest.

Inside the Coolest, there's a removable insert that doubles as a cutting board. The insert divides the Coolest into two compartments -- a large space for drinks and/or food and a smaller section for blender ice (because no one wants a frozen margarita with ice that's been keeping a pack of bologna cold). With the insert in place, I still had enough room to pack nine food and drink packages with a variety of sizes into the large section and cover it with 10 cups of ice. I popped in some thermocouples to measure the Coolest's internal temperatures over a 4-hour period. The Coolest stayed well below the recommended 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius), an important performance measure to keep food at safe temperatures.

I fit all these products into the largest section of the Coolest, plus 10 cups of ice. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Coolest uses smart design to fit in a host of extras. The split lid opens from the sides so you can independently access each section of the Coolest. The blender and its control lever are built into the smaller left lid, and there are four cup holders built into the right lid.

The hefty 20-volt, rechargeable lithium-ion battery that powers the blender and USB charger is located beneath the left lid. The underside of the left lid also has dedicated spots on which to sit the blender pitcher and lid when you fill it with ice, a minor detail that adds a lot of convenience. Unfortunately, the battery's bulk limits how high you can pile ice or other items into the small side of the cooler. An LED light and the USB charger are also located on the left lid. Beneath the right lid, the Coolest has a ceramic paring knife in a safety holder and four plates.

Four plates and a ceramic knife are just a few of the helpful extras included in the Coolest. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

There's a storage compartment on the front of the Coolest that holds the rechargeable Bluetooth speaker. The back of this compartment is magnetic, so you can stick the included wine opener in the compartment without having to worry about it getting away. There's also a bottle opener with a magnetic cap catcher next to the storage compartment. Details like these solve problems you didn't even know you had.

Blender is a one trick-pony

The standout feature of the Coolest is the blender that lets you make fresh, blended drinks in the throes of an outdoor party away from the comforts of a kitchen. But the blender disappoints in its performance and versatility.

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