When it comes time to upgrade your cooler to something that will actually keep your ice, well, ice, for more than a few hours, you’ll find that a good cooler is actually a pretty big investment. While Yeti is often known to be the best when it comes to coolers, our research has found that there are some comparable and even better brands at all different price points.
I recently got my hands on a cooler I was pretty excited about giving a thorough testing: the KONG 50. KONG has a small lineup of high end, rotomolded coolers, and they are high on features. I got the 50 quart cooler, as well as all of their various accessories, to test out.
The first and most important thing to talk about of course is just how cold this thing stays. After all, that is the primary reason anyone buys a cooler. As a big time hunter and outdoorsman, I rely on my coolers to keep me supplied during multiday outings without going anywhere near a place to resupply. Being able to keep ice frozen is absolutely critical to me.
Kong makes some big claims, as you can see here. The size that I got should be able to hold ice for as long as 8 days! Though I haven’t had the opportunity yet to give this a thorough test (since I’ve been using the cooler too often to leave it just full of ice for 8 days. However, I will test this claim soon and update the article.
My usual use cases are a bit more extreme than a sterile testing environment anyway, and I have a feeling yours are as well. I typically use a cooler for 2-3 days at a time, and use the least amount of ice I possibly can. So far the KONG has surpassed my expectations and had no problem staying frigid cold, despite sitting in a hot car with only a couple small frozen water bottles.
The reality is that most rotomolded coolers are capable of keeping your provisions cold far longer than most people these days ever spend away from civilization. So what unique things can KONG bring to the table? Quite a lot actually, primarily in the form of accessories.
For starters, the cooler comes with a handy divider. This is very useful for organizing and separating things. It’s also super useful if you don’t need the full cooler on a given trip (which is often for me) and only use one side of it, helping to keep items close together to stay cold. I also got the full suite of KONG accessories, and it turns the cooler into a legitimate meal prep station. With the Cut N’ trays, you can set up small tables/cutting boards on both sides of the cooler, which gives you an impressive amount of space to get meal prep work done. A bottle opener attachment and finger crush guards are critical accessories for parties, and KONG has some great ones.
If I have to nitpick, the only negative I’ve found with this cooler so far is that the handles tend to be kind of loud in a car as they swing and hit the sides of the cooler. This is a very easy fix for KONG, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they made a change in materials to make it quieter. I will also say that it might be because the handles are built from such a sturdy material, which is exactly what you want.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the KONG 50 cooler. It’s a great rotomolded cooler, and the available accessories turn it into a legitimate mobile meal prep station that sets it apart in a crowded field. I’m excited to test out their other products and see what other cool products they come up with!
As spring sets in and summer approaches, you’re probably thinking of a storage system for your food and drinks. While Yeti is certainly a popular brand for coolers, there are definitely people who dislike the brand or find them far too expensive.
Fear not! There are many coolers on the market that have risen to the challenge posed by Yeti. Remember: coolers don’t always come in the stereotypical ammo box-shaped container. You might find that shoulder carriers or smaller coolers work for you.
Let’s take a look at these coolers that are some of Yeti’s fiercest rivals.
Orca stands for (Outdoor Recreational Company of America), which is a pretty ingenious title if you ask us. That pretty much establishes USA-made quality and performance on behalf of Orca. They are going to be on the pricier side of coolers but they do have a very wide selection of different designs and sizes you can choose from.
For the most part, Orca’s popularity comes from a secure and efficient design that keeps contents cooled for up to 10 days. Gone are the days that stuff you but in at the beginning of the day is melting at the end. One neat feature is that the clamps are actually shaped liked whale fins.
- 20 Quart (holds up to 18 cans)
- 26 Quart (holds up to 24 cans)
- 40 Quart (holds up to 48 cans
- 58 Quart (holds up to 72 cans)
- 75 Quart (holds up to 90 cans)
- 140 Quart (holds up to 192 cans)
You can also find a couple of specialized Orca coolers that have the designs and colors of your favorite college team. These particular items are routinely sold out, as you can imagine, for all the tailgate parties held during football season. Make sure to pick yours up as soon as possible!
- University of Memphis
- Mississippi State University
- University of Florida
- Florida State University
- Oklahoma State University
Coleman is heavily invested in all things outdoor-from grills to coolers to water bottles (you name it!). The Xtreme cooler has a unique design where you can place four cans on the top while its carrying handles fold down on the sides. Coleman has a knack for being temperature controlled devices and the Xtreme is one of their poster products.
Their highest capacity cooler, the Coastal Xtreme(120 qt), is still priced below $100. You should consider Coleman and its coolers if you’re looking to save some money while making extra use out of the cup holders and comfortable exterior surface.
RTIC’s coolers design-wise are pretty similar to Orca’s but without the whale tails for clamps. They are far cheaper than Yeti products, which has proven to be a huge plus in the minds of RTIC customers. RTIC, like Yeti, also has a shoulder carrying version of a cooler, what they call a soft pack cooler. If you’re not looking to take too many foods or beverages on a short trip, you can pack one of these for said trip.
Here a couple of other popular RTIC coolers:
Why should you consider RTIC? If you were a long time Yeti customer and want the best alternative, RTIC is going to be it. The durable construction of the heavy coolers means you can use them as benches without compromising the temperature of the interior.
Igloo’s iconic all-white color is symbolic of their commitment to providing some large and efficient coolers. One of the most iconic coolers on the market is Igloo’s Quick and Cool container, which comes in two sizes.
As you can see, Igloo has some of the higher capacity coolers on the market. What makes Igloo so great compared to Yeti? Apart from having large capacity coolers, they’re pretty cheap too. Capacity and price are related, but there are lower capacity coolers out there that are more expensive than Igloo’s 150-quart container.
Grizzly’s coolers take the shape of most mainstream coolers but also comes in a variety of colors. One of the best aspects to Grizzly is the lifetime warranty, especially to their 40qt cooler. It may not hold as much compared to the larger coolers but it is substantially cheaper than Yeti. The interior insulation is designed to keep contents chilled for days.
It also comes with a 2in drainage system when you need to clean it, and a dry foods tray if you want to keep things from getting squashed. They also have a 15qt and 20qt version of this cooler. The 15qt comes with a shoulder strap.
Pelican really takes the strength and durability of their products seriously. As you can see, the Elite 30 cooler isn’t as smooth and flat as Grizzly or RTIC, but this has four spots for cups on the corners of the top. The exterior is constructed of 2in thick polyurethane giving Pelican products remarkable insulation capabilities for up to 10 days.
While not exactly cheaper across the board compared to Yeti, Pelican does have similar cooling features. When you lock down those latches, you’ll know that your food or beverages will be safe from the heat and any unwanted guests.
Bison may not be as well known as Yeti, RTIC, or Orca, but their products speak for themselves. Bison is a proud American brand and their Gen 2, 25qt cooler is roto-molded like Yeti products and has thick walls like Pelican. This cooler is also the perfect device for fishing because it has an integrated ruler.
Compared to Yeti, Bison’s coolers are every bit as strong and committed to temperature control. Customers have also complimented Bison on having a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.