Ultimate Ice Challenge Results

[Updated April/May 2019] After running well over 50 in depth cooler ice retention tests across almost all name brand coolers, we’ve come up with some very interesting results. It turns out there is a lot more to cooler performance than simply concluding one cooler is better than the next. It’s not that easy. Many variables come into play. In this post we will break down the results and reveal the true ice retention ability of these high end roto molded coolers. (Videos Embedded In Post Below)

Jump To⇒ 2019 Ice Challenge Video
Jump To⇒ Results Of Test
Jump To⇒ Does Cooler Color Matter?

2019 Best Cooler Test Results

Every year new coolers are released or new coolers come to our attention thanks to our awesome viewers. In an effort to discover an even better cooler, we put them to the test. This year it was the year of Otterbox and Kong Coolers. These two cooler manufacturers kept popping up over and over again in the comments of our various video tests. It turns out, there is very good reason for this, these two coolers put on one heck of a performance in our updated cooler challenge.

More Videos⇒
These coolers were tested in the exact same fashion as all of our ice tests (minus weighing out the ice). We’ve done this to maintain consistency so that you can make a comparison across years/tests.

  • All coolers were pre-chilled for 24 hours. Many cooler manufacturers asked we do this to achieve optimal ice retentions times
  • Coolers were then topped off with ice (filled back to capacity after 24 hours) with the same ice type which was stored in standby coolers
  • All ice came from the same marina on the same day (even the “top off ice”)
  • Coolers were spaced out so that one cooler was not to cast a shadow on the next
  • Two beverages (bottled water) which were NOT pre-chilled were added to the top of coolers at beginning of test
  • Beverages were rotated three times a day (from top to bottom and vice versa) to simulate actual cooler use
  • Coolers remained outdoors throughout the test

2019 Cooler Performance Results

CoolerIce Retention PriceDry WeightFull Review
Kong 50Qt WHITE
White Kong Cooler

9.5 Days

$$$33 lbsFull Review
Otterbox 45Qt
Otterbox 45Qt Cooler

9.5 Days

$$$26 lbsFull Review
Orca 58Q
Orca 58Q Cooler

9 Days

$$$32 lbsFull Review
Techni Ice 47Qt

9 Days

$$$24 lbsFull Review
Kong 50Qt GREY

9 Days

$$$33 lbsFull Review
Lifetime 77Qt
Lifetime 77Qt

9 Days

$$32 lbsFull Review
Siberian 45Qt WHITE
White Alpha Series Siberian Cooler

8.25 Days

$$$33 lbsFull Review
Patriot 45Qt
Patriot 45 Qt Cooler

7.5 Days

$$$33 lbsFull Review
Siberian 45Qt GRANITE
Siberian Granite

7.75 Days

$$$33 lbsFull Review
Kenai 45Qt
Kenai 45 White

7.5 Days

$$$30 lbsFull Review
Icer 45Qt
Icer Camo 45

7 Days

$$$23 lbsComingSoon

Interpreting The Results

As the table shows, when the coolers above are filled to capacity, all of these roto molded coolers can maintain ice under moderate usage for five or more days. Every day of the test was 80+ degrees ambient, with cooler lids reaching temperatures over 124°. In the test we made sure to account for cooler size and cooler color as these were two variables questioned in the past.

Does Cooler Color Matter?

Yes, cooler color does impact ice retention times, but not as much as many may be inclined to think. We have now tested color variations of four different cooler manufacturers (Kong, Siberian, Grizzly & Engel). In the most extreme case, a white cooler held ice for half a day longer than a grey or darker counterpart. The same can be said when we tested tumblers of different colors. We also have discussed this topic with several cooler manufacturers which have yielded similar responses of up to a half day difference. In the grand scheme comparing a white cooler vs dark cooler is far less impactful than manufacturer or cooler size. See the video test below.

More Videos⇒
The Siberian Alpha 45qt and the Kong 50qt held ice half a day longer in white compared to granite/grey. In the case of Grizzly coolers the 40Q in white lasted just as long as the Grizzly 40Q in tan. The tan Grizzly lid was consistently 30+ degrees warmer during the afternoon hours. In fact (when using an infrared thermometer) all darker coolers experienced this. However, in our more recent videos the thermometer on the white coolers consistently reads hotter. This is due to the thermometer being slightly elevated on the lid and the white cooler reflecting the heat upwards towards the sensor.

Does Cooler Size Matter?

Pelican Tailgating Lid

TWO Lids On Pelican Tailgating Cooler

Yes, assuming all else equal.

In other words, this statement cannot be made when comparing different manufacturers or colors of coolers. We have shown this time and time again and this even occurred in the most recent ice test. A 45 qt cooler held ice longer than 58qt cooler. Coolers must be of the same manufacturer and color in order to definitively say a larger cooler will hold ice longer. Needless to say, cooler manufacturer is the most important factor in ice retention times, followed by size and then color.

We can also back these data points up with data from a previous ice challenge:

From 2016 Challenge:

The Pelican Tailgating 55Q cooler was the second biggest cooler in the 2016 ice challenge and was the second cooler to run out of ice. If cooler size was as important as many think, then the Pelican 55Q should have been one of the longest lasting coolers. Having said that, the Pelican Tailgating cooler has two lids. Lids are a warm air entry point, which causes ice to melt.

The Yeti Tundra 45 (actually 37Q) was the smallest cooler in the 2016 test and it finished 5th out of 12 coolers. Beating out larger coolers like Black Rock 52Q & Pelican 55Q. From this we can conclude that size does matter, but again does not carry as much weight as does the manufacturer in ice retention times.

Small Cooler Ice Challenge

Small Cooler Ice Challenge

However, it is worth noting when comparing cooler sizes that are drastically different, cooler size is much more important. By drastically different we mean nearly double in size from one cooler to another. This factor is further influenced by the amount of ice (on a percentage bases) placed inside the cooler. For example a 20lb bag of ice will fill a Grizzly 20Q or Engel Deep Blue 25Q cooler to capacity, yet hardly puts a dent in an Orca 58.

20 lbs of Ice Challnege

20lb Ice Challnege

In a more recent 20lb Ice Challenge we tested this theory. Out of 17 coolers, including the Orca 58 which proved to be the superior cooler in previous ice test, the Grizzly outlasted the Orca by more than two days! Again this is only 20lbs of ice is used. On the other hand, if both coolers are filled to capacity, which equates to 20lbs in the Grizzly and 50lbs in the Orca,  the Orca will surely outlast the 20-25Q coolers. Therefore, the ratio of ice to cooler is just as important as the size of the cooler.

Watch: Small Cooler Ice Challenge⇒

Final Thoughts

Cooler needs are not universal. Each and every person will prefer one cooler over another, and maybe not only for performance reasons. This is not to say picking one cooler based on name alone is a bad thing as coolers have become quite a novelty item in addition to their functionality. If you’re one who insists on maximum ice retention refer to the list of top performers above. Orca and Engel have performed among the best in multiple ice retention test. Therefore, it is safe to say that they are both solid coolers. However, that is not to say that picking any one of the coolers above is going to leave you disappointed. All of these coolers tested perform better than the run of the mill big box retail cooler, and our Five Day Ice Challenge has proven this true.

See Our Full Comparison Chart (All Coolers)⇒

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