2010 Ice Chest Survey

The ice chest is one of the core pieces of camping gear, at least if you are car camping, and they are really useful for other family functions, too, which makes them a good buy even if you don’t camp a lot. Ice chest are also really durable. Ours has weathered over ten years of camping, birthday parties, family cookouts and picnics, along with three moves.

ice chest packed and ready for camping

Ice chests come in all shapes and sizes and while it might seem beneficial to go with the largest one you can find, there are advantages to sticking with smaller ones, or even two smaller ones. Ice is heavy – our 70-quart ice chest takes over 25 lbs. of block ice to keep it cold over the weekend. A good rule-of-thumb is that 20 to 30 percent of an ice chest’s capacity should be devoted to ice, and at roughly seven pounds per gallon, that adds up quick.

Another advantage of the smaller ice chests is that they are just easier to fit into your car or SUV. Our 70-quart model is challenging enough, at 30-inches long and 16-inches wide. A 120-quart model from the same manufacturer is a trunk-busting 38-inches long and 18-inches wide (and a few inches taller). Add 40-pounds of ice (20% of 120 quarts is 6 gallons, at 7lbs. each) and it quickly becomes a multi-person operation to get it into and out of the car.

For these reasons, I will focus on high-end (those rated for 5 or 6 day use) ice chests in the 50 to 70 quart capacity range.

Coleman Xtreme 70qt ice chest

Coleman Xtreme® 5

Price: $79.99
Size: 31.5”L x 18.25”W x 16”H
Interior: 24″L x 9.75″W x 12.75”H
Weight: 13.5 lbs.
Capacity: 70 Qts.

Engel 65qt ice chest

Engel DeepBlueâ„¢ Ice Chest

Price: $279
Size: 29.8”L x 16.75”W x 16.5”H
Interior: 23.5”L x 11”W x 11.5”H
Weight: 28 lbs.
Capacity: 65 Qt.

Igloo MaxCold 70qt ice chest

Igloo MaxCold® 70

Price: $83.99
Size: 29.5″L x 16.31″W x 15.69″H
Interior: 23.25”L x 11.50”W x 12.75”H
Weight: 11.4 lbs.
Capacity: 70 Qt.

Yeti Tundra cooler

Yeti® Coolers Tundra

Price: $329.99
Size: 30.5”L x 17.13”W x 16.25”H
Interior: 24.38”L x 12”W x 12”H
Weight: 27 lbs.
Capacity: 65 Qt.

Coleman Xtreme 50qt ice chest

Coleman Xtreme® 5

Price: $54.99
Size: 27.75″L x 14.95″W x 17.25″H
Interior: 20.5″L x 8.75″W x 12.25″H
Weight: 12.9 lbs.
Capacity: 52 Qt.

Igloo MaxCold 50qt ice chest

Igloo MaxCold® 50

Price: $65.99
Size: 25.5”L x 15.25”W x 17.38”H
Interior: 18.81”L x 10”W x 11.5”H
Weight: 11.3 lbs.
Capacity: 50 Qt.

Coleman Xtreme 6 wheeled ice chest

Coleman Xtreme® 6 Wheeled

Price: $94.99
Size: 31.50″L x 16.13″W x 18.25″H
Interior: 16″L x 8.5″W x 12″H
Weight: 15.3 lbs.
Capacity: 50 Qt.

Igloo MaxCold 60 wheeled ice chest

Igloo MaxCold® 60 Roller

Price: $79.99
Size: 28”L x 16.13”W x 17.56”H
Interior: 22”L x 10.25”W x 13.25”H
Weight: 14.8 lbs.
Capacity: 60 Qt.

Rubbermaid 50qt wheeled ice chest

Rubbermaid® Wheeled Cooler

Price: $48
Size: 23.38″L x 15.25″W x 19.00″H
Interior: not specified
Weight: 14.25 lbs.
Capacity: 50 Qt.

See also…

19 thoughts on “2010 Ice Chest Survey

  1. For a short day trip or an outing of a few hours; the Ice Mule cooler would be suitable since it’s small and very portable, can be worn as a backpack etc. If you’re going for long trips or need to pack a ton of stuff then an ice chest would be more suitable.

  2. Do you know if anyone makes a smaller steel cooler? The big one is too big for me, but the capability of keeping things colder, longer is sure tempting.

  3. Colemans and Igloo’s are good for when you need a cooler to take to the beach or the park. But when you need a cooler that’s get a beating for the 5 or 6 day use you might as well spend a little bit more money and get one that comes with a warranty and is able to stand up to everyday abusing. The Yeti tundra and the Engel deep blue over all resemble each other, but there are definitely differences with them. The Engel has 2″ foam insulation around the base as well as the lid. The tundra has the majority of its foam insulation in the lid n lacks it around the base. Engel coolers hold ice longer and are certified bear resistant. Practical Sailor did a test on the top coolers and Engel was decided to be the best buy. It’s more money than a Coleman or igloo, but worth it in the end.

    • The Engel is definitely bad-to-the-bone, Dave! They also make the only 12-Volt cooler I’ve ever seen, that actually works well and lasts.

  4. I use the Coleman 70 5 day. I have had it 6 years and it’s still going strong. Amazing the diffenence between these and standard ones.

    • The difference is huge, Frank – I have 2 other “regular” coolers that haven’t been used in years, just because the 5 day cooler is so much better.

  5. We have the Coleman Extreme 5 (50 qt) and LOVE it. We bought ours last year and it has held up terrificly. Definitely money well spent!

  6. I’ve always liked Coleman and Igloo coolers. They last forever. I also like the soft-sided coolers for canoeing, but the soft sided ones seem to wear out and leak after about 2 to 3 years.

    • I have never tried a soft cooler, Scott, but there is one on the market (the brand name escapes me at the moment) that looks really rugged.

  7. Great article on the coolers. I am still amazed at the cost of these coolers. We had a marine grade cooler that lost its ability to close tight when one of the plastic snaps accidentally broke. While most are excellent at insulating one should pay particular attention on how the closures are made and if they can be easily broken during shipment.

    • Closures, hinges and drain valves are the major points-of-failure on these, Michelle. I sometimes curse our ice chest because it does not have a positive latch on the lid and the kids usually don’t get it closed all the way. But, it’s one less part to wear out or break, so it’s a two-edged sword. I encourage everyone to investigate the manufacturer’s website, prior to a purchase, and see if they sell spare parts for their ice chests, like hinges, latches and drain plugs.

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