Top 12 Ice-Chests Are Tested

Bill of Rights

Ice-Chest Throw-down by Field & Stream

We tossed 12 top-end chests off a speeding truck. Check out which ones kept their cool

By Michael R. Shea

YETI Back Peddles After Cutting Ties with NRA

Cooler ComparisonThree buddies and I first measured each cooler’s true capacity by weighing them, filling them with water, weighing them again, and doing some math. We then filled each with 1 pound of ice per quart of true capacity, put them a temperature-controlled room, and monitored them remotely for 10 days. We charted when each hit 32 degrees (the point that ice starts to melt), 40 degrees (when meat starts to turn), and 42 degrees (when beverages taste warm). That done, we timed how long it took 5 gallons of water to drain, and then measured the residual H2O. Each cooler was then tossed from a pickup truck going 45 mph to gauge durability. We compared features and handling, and, finally, we combined the length of the warranty and whether or not the cooler was made in the U.S.A. to arrive at a service score. Ice retention was given up to 50 points, features 30, durability 10, and service and handling 5 points each, for a total possible score of 100.

The Cabela’s Polar Cap $250

38 qt.
28.8 lb.
1-year warranty, made in the U.S.A.

The Polar Cap kept ice longer than any other cooler and didn’t hit our warm-beer threshold of 42 degrees until eight days, 20 hours. Its molded-in handles were a tester favorite, and the single-pin hinge was near bulletproof. The drain, too, was excellent and attached with a metal wire lanyard.

HITS: Testers liked the pressure release valve, which makes the lid easier to open when tightly sealed, as well as the glow-in-the dark rope handles that snap to the cooler’s side, out of the way. Latches double as bottle openers.
MISSES: One tester felt that the rubber latches were too stiff to manage in the cold, especially for older or arthritic hands. The warranty is less than stellar.
THE SKINNY: A rugged chest that keeps cool longer than the competition, all at a fair price.


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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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