The Coleman 70 Quart Xtreme 5 cooler is just that: extreme. This one’s for the large scale cookouts when the family and half the people from work are meeting you at the campground for some serious summertime fun. Among the great things about the Xtreme 5 is that, in spite of its size, it’s still able to retain cold for prolonged periods of time. That’s a testament to the quality of the build and the quality of the insulation.
The 2 inch thick insulated lid features a formidable gasket seal that keeps the outdoors out and the cold inside where it belongs. That same lid can also be outfitted with mini bungee cords that allow you to strap additional items to the top for transport to the party location. When you fill this bad boy with ice and many dozens of cans you’re going to want someone to take the other handle because it’s going to get heavy. But you knew that when you bought it.
Bungee your lawn chair and towels down to the top of the Xtreme 5 and get ready to party with the crew. The Coleman 70 Quart cooler is a behemoth that acts like one of those high end coolers. It gets everything but the kitchen sink from the car to the campsite and if you pack things just right you might get the kitchen sink in there too. Can for can maybe the best cooler for the money and another worthy entry on our “Best Bang for your Buck” list.
In this section we’re going to take a look at a couple of common questions that come up when people are thinking about buying a portable cooler.
Yeti Vs Pelican?
Both Yeti and Pelican coolers will offer you an array of attractive options and both companies are well deserving of their outstanding reputations. Just stating categorically that this one is better than that one or vice versa doesn’t really give you an idea of why this one might be better, so we’re going to break things down a bit in the hope of providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision on your next cooler.
Ice Retention Ability – Both of these companies produce coolers that do an admirable job of keeping the cold inside, but is one clearly better than the other? Well the Yeti Tundra can retain ice for a week or possibly a bit longer which is pretty impressive when you think about it. Not to be outdone the Pelican states it can keep ice intact for up to 10 days which means you can load up the cooler with ice before you leave New York City and then drive across the country and when you reach Los Angeles the same ice will still be there inside the cooler keeping things fresh and cold. As user claims pretty consistently back up what the manufacturers have to say on this issue, we feel we have to give the edge in this category to Pelican, although when one is talking about the difference between 7-8 days and 9-10 days does it really matter? So, ice retentions ability: Advantage – Pelican
Design – Both Yeti and Pelican have put a lot of thought into the design of their portable coolers but each has chosen a different design path to focus on.
Yeti are looking for new and engaging ways to remake the classic cooler. Their Tundra model plays things pretty close to the design vest by incorporating subtle tweaks on the classic cooler that make it look a bit, well, cooler than the older model. Where they really excel though is in their Hopper models. These take portable design in an entirely new direction that’s hard to find a comparison for. Maybe the closest would be a high-end book bag but even that comparison falls a bit short. The bottom line is that they’re coolers are the closest thing you’ll find in outdoor gear to a fashion statement, and we mean that in the best possible way.
Pelican on the other hand have looked at the standard cooler and said “How can we get more out of this design without reinventing the wheel?” What they decided to do was take the standard cooler in a more robust direction. They’ve retained the basic boxy rectangle and simple amped up the insulation as well as the quality of the hardware. The result is a design that could easily win “best ice chest.” Still, it serves the overall purpose of providing a higher degree of cold retention so that your perishables can keep longer and you don’t wind up throwing things away.
In the design department we have to give the edge to Yeti, and it’s really not even close.
Durability – When it comes to durability the two companies really run neck and neck. As beautiful as the Yeti Hopper coolers are they’re also tough as nails, while the Pelican coolers are every bit as tough as they look. Both claim to be bear proof, so much so that they claim a full sized bear could sit on them and it wouldn’t do any harm. While we respectfully declined to test them on this claim we have no reason to doubt them. Both companies have solid reputations for designing and building quality products so we’re going to call this one a draw.
Warranty – The two companies also take different paths when it comes to warranties. Yeti with their beautiful state-of-the-art designs offer a 5 year warranty on their products. While Pelican with their more prosaic designs offer a full limited lifetime warranty. If you plan to hold onto your cooler for 10 or 20 years you’ll want to opt for the Pelican. If on the other hand you’re a bit of a fashionista and like to change up your gear to stay up on current design trends then maybe the 5 year warranty of the Yeti will serve you just fine. As we’re partial to comprehensive coverage the majority of our reviewers prefer the Pelican.
The Bottom Line – If you’re looking for a rock solid cooler that looks as good as it works and will keep your perishables fresh for a week consider the Yeti Hopper series of coolers. If on the other hand looks are not so terribly important to you and you’d prefer a cooler you that will keep your food fresh for 10 days and hold up your car while you change a tire the Pelican may be more to your liking. Either way you win.
What’s The Best Cooler for Keeping Ice?
As we say above you’d be hard pressed to find a cooler that will do a better job of ice retention than the Pelican ProGear Elite. With its freezer grade gasket and copious amounts of high-quality insulation you can put your drinks on ice in the ProGear Elite on the first of the month and open the cooler on the 10th of the month and find your drinks still encased in ice; frosty and fresh and ready to be enjoyed.
Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Cooler
While it’s not in the same league as buying a car there are nonetheless a number of things to consider before you decide to plunk down your hard-earned on a cooler. Especially when you consider many of them can run you $400 or more. Below we’ll go over a number of the most common considerations.
Ice retention – Typically the smaller the cooler, the thinner and softer the walls, and the lower the price the shorter the ice retention time. Those wonderful over the shoulder coolers with the rigid walls that pop out are really convenient and affordable but don’t expect to get more than a day or two of ice retention out of them. Maybe that’s all you need. For many people it is. But maybe you hanker for something a little more substantial so be sure to determine exactly what kind of ice retention you need before you decide on a cooler.
Durability – The average portable cooler is made for outdoor activity so they’re not going to be gilded lilies that fall apart if you leave them in the rain for a little while. That said there will be a difference in the amount of abuse the different coolers can take. For instance the Pelican we review above is built like an M1A1 tank and comes with a lifetime warranty on top of it. While the Yeti Hopper series of coolers and the Coleman line of portable coolers are all extremely well built outdoor products. Where you start to see a loss of long term durability is typically in the less expensive coolers simply because quality materials – which are the backbone of long term durability – cost money. That said places like the handles and hardware are where a less well-built cooler will betray itself so keep a sharp eye on them.
Capacity – What do you plan to use your cooler for? If you’re getting it to supply a small horde with cold brews during a tailgate party you’ll want something big like the Coleman 70 quart. If on the other hand you’ll likely just be toting a few cold drinks and hot dogs to the picnic table in the woods for a low key get together with some friends the Coleman 16 can soft sided cooler may be more your speed. This is one case when you’ll really need to think about how you’re likely to use it before deciding on a cooler. Make a mistake here and you could wind up with a virtually empty monster or an overstuffed and overstressed over the shoulder job.
Portability – If you’re young and able this category won’t mean much to you. Even if there’s 48 drinks and several pounds of meat in the cooler you’ll likely be able to handle it. If on the other hand you are not built like a linebacker or you have back problems, you’ll want to think very carefully about how you’re going to get it from the car to the ultimate destination. There are a number of manufacturers today who offer coolers on wheels so you can save your back for other things, like living and working and enjoying yourself.
Draining – Even the best insulated cooler won’t be able to keep the ice intact if the lid is being opened constantly. To get rid of melt water you remove the drain plug and let the water run out. Better designed coolers will have their drain holes located at a low point so that the water drains out quickly and completely. Also, since the drain hole is the weak link in the cooler’s insulation armor you’ll want to make sure it closes tightly and that it’s attached to the cooler so that you don’t lose it.
Price – In the end everything comes back to price in one way or another. You need to balance what you want against what you can afford and then choose the cooler that provides the best combination of those things. Of course if money is no object then money is no object. For most of us though spending $400 on a portable cooler is a bit of a stretch so try to find that happy place where your budget meets your needs.
The best portable coolers today are miles ahead of the best cooler brands from your parent’s day. Today they employ high performance materials and are designed using computer programs to exacting tolerances. Some company’s also employ highly skilled industrial designers to put a unique twist on an otherwise mundane product. Use the information in these best cooler reviews to help determine which is the right portable cooler for you and we’ll see you at the tailgate party!