Speaker 1: The last thing you want this summer is to open your cooler and find melted ice and warm beer. We've done a bunch of testing to help you avoid such a tragedy. Here are the very best coolers you can buy.
Speaker 1: We've been testing coolers for years, and this batch includes some old favorites and some much requested new contenders, all put through our rigorous process to find the very [00:00:30] best one to fit your needs. Do you need to pay more for a fancy rotomolded model? What cooler is the best overall, which one offers the most bang for your buck? We're gonna hop straight to the punchline and reveal our top picks. Then we'll give you a peak inside the labs to see how we test the temperature performance of the coolers over time, as well as their usable capacity. Finally, we'll dive deep into the features to look for when you are shopping for coolers without further ado, [00:01:00] let's crack this open.
Speaker 1: Our top pick overall is the Cabella's polar cap equalizer. This is a tank of a cooler. It says it can hold 80 quarts. We measure the volume at 76, but that's still a lot of space, roughly 67 cans. If you're going with the industry standard of two thirds ice, and one third drinks, the product page for this thing says it can keep ice cold for days. Guess what it can. [00:01:30] It actually held its temperature longer than any of the other 19 coolers. We tested it's expensive at 350 bucks, but it's got these nice latches that also feature a bottle opener. It has rope handles for carrying with tabs that keep them out of the way when you're not using them. Molded padlock tabs, and lots of insulation. If money is no object and you just want performance with a capital P look no further now as a rule, the bigger the cooler, [00:02:00] the more you can expect to pay.
Speaker 1: But we also found that with greater real estate came better. Performance with coolers. Bigger really is better. Here are a few other options that are big enough to keep a wooy mammoth from overheating, the Magellan outdoors Prolo 75 and the frosted frog 75 quar. We're gonna talk more about both of these brands as we get into the smaller categories. Both of these models are quite good, just not quite the [00:02:30] performer of the Capella that said the frosted frog is 2 85 and the Magellan is two 50. If you wanna save money and still get a great large cooler, both are awesome options.
Speaker 1: The top performing mid-size cooler is the Yeti Tundra hall with a whopping $400 price tag at 56 quarts, both in the listed specs. And according to our measurements, it fits [00:03:00] into our medium sized category. You're paying more for the name. Yeti is a really popular brand right now. Thankfully it did hold up to our testing. It kept its cool for much longer than the similarly sized competition. It doesn't even have much in the way of features other than these rugged wheels, but if you want pure rotomolded performance in a more compact frame, it's really good audible mentions in this category of middle children, go to the Orca 40 [00:03:30] it's rotomolded measures at close to its spec volume of 39.5 quarts still pricey at $320, but rugged design and great performance. And the 45 quart Arctic also did well in our tests. It only had a measured volume of 39.6 but solid performance and a much more reasonable $220. In fact, the $220 price tag for a medium size cooler with great [00:04:00] performance makes this Arctic cooler, our top bang for your buck pick of the bunch.
Speaker 1: Our favorite small cooler is the Magellan 20 quart ice box. I told you we were coming back to this brand. This Magellan has easy to use latches on either side of the cooler. It has a built in bottle opener, a metallic locking system, and you can get rotomolded goodness from it without breaking the bank. It's only 120 bucks and it's 20 quart [00:04:30] capacity is still enough to hold 18 cans. And yes, I know Magellan is the store brand for academy sports that makes its regularly awesome performance. That much more impressive. The frosted frog 20 court also tested really well. It's a little more at $150. And according to our measurements, it can only hold 17 cans, but frosted frog just offers such a cool range of designs. This brand was actually the one you all requested the most. When we reviewed coolers previously, [00:05:00] y'all like frosted frog, I guess.
Speaker 1: And I can see why it's good. It performed well across the board. It just didn't win any of our categories, but it's rugged. It has a cutting board top with a ruler on there. It's a good cooler to bring along with you. If you want to go fishing, we tested soft sided coolers too, and they generally didn't fare very well, but if you only need to keep something cool for a couple of hours, they can do the trick. Again. Magellan [00:05:30] shined as its $80 model was far and away. The best the life wit backpack did. Okay too, if you want one shaped like a pack and it's only 28 bucks and yeah, we mentioned Magellan a lot. This store brand really impressed us because stack all three of the models we tested together $450 versus one Yeti 400. Yes, Yeti is good, but it's nice when the underdogs hold their own.
Speaker 1: [00:06:00] Okay? Now that you know which coolers we picked, we're gonna show you how we picked them. This is our test lab. We've got temperature and humidity controls. We've got these containers with a mix of antifreeze and water. We've got loads of Thermo couples, some ice and machines to collect all the data. We start by testing the volume of the cooler by filling it to the brim with water and then measuring how much water we used. We do this [00:06:30] because most coolers have a slight difference, positive or negative between the specified volume and how much you can actually fit due to insulation or shape. We want to know how much you can fit. Exactly. Then we fill the cooler with 10% of this observed volume in crushed ice. We take our anti-freeze mix, which is prope, glycol, and water. If you're feeling fancy and we put it into the cooler at the exact midpoint, both from left to right and top to bottom, we don't [00:07:00] want the temp of the ice.
Speaker 1: We want to see how well the air in the cooler holds over time and how cold it can keep this liquid. We ran the big coolers for a full 72 hours, but we only needed 48 to capture the full curve from the rest of the field. These tests were developed by this man, Steve Conway, who designs all of our testing and is a bonafide expert on coolers. So let's get piss take on the best cooler features. All right, let's dive in. [00:07:30] We each have a vital piece of testing equipment in hand. We're surrounded by test subjects that are each working hard to keep the rest of our testing equipment in tip top shape. Let's talk coolers, Steve. Thanks for joining me. Tell me what are some of the features that stood out to you the most, uh, about these coolers?
Speaker 2: Well, uh, number one on a lot of people's lists would probably be bottle openers. I'm not really sure why bottle openers are not a standard feature on [00:08:00] all coolers at this point, but many of them do have them. You'll see them built into the sides or the front of the coolers. Those are pretty easy to find. Sometimes they can be a little harder to find even
Speaker 1: Right here in the locking mechanism. That's
Speaker 2: Pretty neat, right? Yeah. Usually that'll be tucked underneath the, the lid there. Uh, sometimes the soft sided backpack coolers will have them attached to the straps or then you can see like on the Cabellas there, the latching handle there, the rubber handle will have a bottle opener actually built into it, uh, right in [00:08:30] the
Speaker 1: Middle with the bottle opener built in this is, has to be your favorite handle of the bunch. Right?
Speaker 2: Well actually it's not my favorite handle or latching mechanism.
Speaker 1: Oh, I use the wrong term. My <laugh> that's right. The handles are here and it's its own thing. Sure. But the latching mechanisms are where you really start to see 'em differentiate. Right?
Speaker 2: Yeah. And I have pretty strong opinions about this. Cabella's this type of cooler, like a lot of the, the bigger coolers actually has my least favorite type of handle and latching mechanism [00:09:00] there. It's the rubber kind of like the bungee strap option there on the front. Uh, the reason I'm not a huge fan of this is there's a lot of people who actually cannot operate this very easily, younger people, older people, uh, even if you have like an injury to your arm, it could be difficult to open.
Speaker 1: So the fact that it's relatively easy for me, a, a modern Adonis is, is irrelevant to the point, but
Speaker 2: Completely irrelevant. Uh, trust me. Yeah. So my favorite, uh, latching me here exists [00:09:30] on the Magellan outdoors coolers. They have the double hinge latches. Now what this means basically is that you have these very easy to open latches on one side of the cooler that allows you to open it. And then also doubles as a hinge on the other side, the exact same thing exists. So you can open it there. You can even do both of 'em at the same time to take the lid completely off. This is my favorite one by far. Originally we thought maybe there would be some issues with ceiling and keeping the cold temperatures, but our tests have shown [00:10:00] that it keeps it just as cold as anything else.
Speaker 1: Nice. Okay. So talk to me about some of these other things I noticed that frosted frog has like a ruler here and you can use the lids of some of these as a cutting
Speaker 2: Board. Sure. Yeah. A lot of these are geared towards outdoor people. So you're going to see the rulers on top are gonna be a lot for fishermen. Say, uh, they can measure fish and same thing. You can use the tops of these as cutting boards that you can, you know, descale or prep your, your fish and things like that. [00:10:30] A lot of them do have, I'm not super crazy about this. A lot of 'em do have these cup holders in the top, which is, you know, great until you need to actually get inside the cooler. And then, uh,
Speaker 1: It's kind of inconvenient
Speaker 2: A little bit. Yeah.
Speaker 1: Yeah. But I do like the metal here that doubles as the bottle opener. Hope you keep it that much more secure, right?
Speaker 2: Yeah. You have a lot of these locks. Uh, some of them are gonna be plastic. Only a lot of them like the frosted fog, some of the higher end, uh, names are gonna have the metal reinforcement, which will help you keep your, your stuff secure.
Speaker 1: [00:11:00] Okay. So those are sort of the high end stuff. What should people be looking for on a, like really basic level to make sure they're getting it cooler that they actually like,
Speaker 2: Well, I mean, it depends on what you're looking for. Number one, what we've seen over the years is the roto molded style coolers are just going to keep everything colder.
Speaker 1: Okay. Like across the board, they perform better.
Speaker 2: They do, uh, in almost every single case that we've seen, that's it. So, okay. At that point in time, it really is about what you're using it for. Like I said, so if you're gonna be treking into the woods, you might be looking at something like the, [00:11:30] the Yeti Tundra hall here that has the wheels. Um, if you're just going for a day at the beach, you might want something lighter
Speaker 1: And they all have these right to release the water
Speaker 2: Out. A lot of, lot of standard features where you're gonna have the drain plugs and things like that. A couple of them, especially the larger coolers, you can sometimes get these kind of airlocks, uh, from internal pressure build up. So they'll have these pressure release valves on the front of a couple of these coolers. That's super nice. Cuz sometimes even once you manage to get the latches [00:12:00] undone, if they have the rubber latches, it can still be difficult to open because of that internal
Speaker 1: Pressure. Even for an Adonis like myself.
Speaker 2: Yes. Even for you, Andrew.
Speaker 1: Okay. Well, thank you very much, Steve. I feel so enlightened about coolers. One last question, and this is an important one. What's cooler than being cool. Do you know this is a tough riddle folks, so it's no judgment on Steve that he doesn't Steve and oh, he apparently didn't know, but that's fine. The [00:12:30] answer is actually ice cold. So that's something to keep in mind. Hey, well, thank you very much for watching. Please hit that thumbs up button. If you enjoyed the video, please also subscribe to CNET YouTube channel for more, for some reason, I'm helping Steve [00:13:00] out and I'm putting a link to his written buying guide in the description below as well as links to where you can find the coolers. If you're ready to make a purchase. Thanks again.