Best Coolers: Heavy-Duty, High-End, Outdoor

Whats all the buzz on these heavy-duty outdoor coolers?  Are they really any different or better than any other conventional cooler?  In this article my goal is to cover a list of some of the top high-end cooler brands and why you might want one over other traditional type coolers?



 What Does Roto-Molded Mean?

  • Roto-molded is short for rotational molded (or rotational molding).  Its a process where a powdered (dust like) poly plastic material is put in a mold.  Then the mold is rotated slowly on a two axis setup as it is being heated.  They spin it until the plastic is all melted. Further keeping the mold spinning until the plastic cools.  By rotating the the mold as the plastic is melting allows the the plastic to coat the whole inside of the mold evenly. Ultimately creating a one piece seamless construction that can be very durable.  This method is commonly used to make all kinds of plastic objects from small to large.


Why Should I Buy A Heavy Duty High-End Cooler ?

Heavy duty outdoor type coolers can also be known as a high-end cooler because of their price point.  Once you realize the added durability, and the increased ice retention they offer over other conventional coolers.  It will be obvious like apples and oranges.

  •  They are made more for the avid outdoor enthusiasts in mind.  For such purposes as on and off road adventures, camping, hunting, hiking, fishing, boating, sporting event or even tailgating etc.
  • Someone needing a heavier duty type cooler that will help keep ice longer for when your in a remote location  away from any form of electrical power source (vehicle or home)and don’t have a fridge.  A cooler being your only option to keep items cool. The increased ice retention is in part due to the thicker insulation and more positive sealing lid with sturdy latches a typical high-end cooler offers.
  • Generally made of UV (Ultra Violet) resistant plastic, helping keep the plastic stay more durable over time.
  • Some of them are bear resistant certified by the IGBC (International Grizzly Bear Committee) which might be a good idea (or may be required in some places), if your going to be camping in the backcountry.  To help keep them critters out of the cooler.

What is IGBC

  • Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) A group helping the recovery of grizzly bear populations and there habitat. While helping encourage and informing campers, hunters and hikers about using bear resistant containers and being bear savvy when they are out in the backwoods. They also have a focus on testing products helping to ensure a higher level of animal resistance.
  • Most of the high end cooler brands that are IGBC certified, in order for them to be bear resistant certified require them to have an additional lock or locks on them. Not just relying on the lid latches alone. They just aren’t going to cut the mustard in most cases when a hungry bear is pounding at the door.


  • Keep the lid closed and latched. Only opening when needed. The more you open and close the lid on any cooler it will introduce the ambient air in and the ice will melt quicker.
  • Try to keep the cooler in a shaded area out of the direct hot heat of the sun if possible or lay a blanket or something over it to prevent as much heat on the cooler.
  • Pre chill or freeze food and or drinks before you put them in the cooler
  • Pre chill the cooler, before putting contents in. If the cooler is warm to start off with you want to fill the cooler full of ice to cool down the inside walls and thick insulation. This helps give you a better start to achieving max ice retention.
  •  Fill around your contents as much as you can with ice. Leaving the least amount of air space in the cooler as possible in order to have the best ice conservation. Twice as much ice to contents (2:1 ratio) usually recommended.
  • Cubed ice (ice cubes) will cool contents quicker (easiest to come by) but melts faster.  Block ice melts slower while on the other hand it is slower to cool contents down initially.  Better for longer term cold temps.  Some suggest using combination of both, having the best benefits of both.
  • Don’t drain water if you just have sealed contents and drinks this could help keep the temperature down in the cooler a little longer (every time you pull the plug you introduce warm air in).


You could even have a smaller cooler just to put drinks in (for the quick in and outs).  Then a larger cooler to put food in.  So you don’t have to open the large cooler up as much helping keep the ice longer and food cold

What Size Should You Get?

Getting the right size cooler could be determined on many factors such as

Space available to store it (need to make sure it will fit where you need to put it).

How much content are you going need to store in it?  This will be determined how many people eating out of it, how long the trip going is to be etc.

Probably best to get as large of a cooler you are able to accommodate.  For your particular situation and needs.  Generally a similar brand and packed larger size cooler will have better ice retention than a smaller cooler.

A smaller cooler will be more portable and easier to carry around than a larger cooler.  When filled with ice and contents (if weight is a factor).  You also might need extra help moving a large cooler around.  When fully loaded with content.

Just remember, most of the space will be taken up with ice.  The most common ratio used is about a 2:1 twice as much ice to contents.


Some of the most popular and versatile sizes are 58 to 75 quart models  because of the convenient size to content capacity.

  • Around a 20-25 quart size roughly could be good for something like an overnight trip for a single person
  • A 40 quart cooler size, may accommodate a few nights for one person
  • Something around a 70 quart seems to be a popular size for camping with friends and family over the weekend.  Anything much larger could become more difficult to move around.  Though a large cooler will hold more content.  They’re probably best suited for a long specialized event or trip (hunting, fishing).




Even though high-end coolers are insulated well, and designed to handle the heat. Having better ice retention than most traditional coolers.  Ice conservation will still vary from the outside temperatures and design differences from brand to brand.  Ice just is not going to last as long if the cooler is in the extreme 95 degree heat in direct sunlight.  Compared to a 60 degree cool shaded environment.  Where you would have better ice retention.

High-End Heavy-Duty Outdoor Coolers

Pelican Pro Gear Elite Coolers 

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Bear Resistant IGBC Certified 
  •  A dual handle system having molded in handles and hinged handles that fold up and down
  • Lock hasp molded in
  • Rubber feet
  • Molded in fish measurement scale (ruler) on the lid
  • Available in several different colors
  • Some regard them as having one of the best lid latches with a press and pull latch system
  • Made in the USA
  • Comes in 20, 30, 50, 70, 95, 150 and 250 quart models

OtterBox Venture Coolers

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Bear Resistant  IGBC Certified (with the addition of the locking kit)
  • Injection molded
  • Mounting system to mount additional accessories to the outside of cooler
  • Made in the USA
  • They come in 25, 45, 65 quart models which are true to size

The All-Terrain Wheels cart can give you a helping hand.  Moving your Venture Cooler around through the gravel, grass, mud, dirt or sand.

Orca Coolers

  • IGBC certified bear resistant
  • Roto-molded
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • They come in a variety of colors some models have more choices than others,  maybe even matching your favorite sports team
  • Made in the USA
  • Comes in 20, 26, 40, 58, 75, 140 quart sizes


Orion Coolers

  • Roto-molded molded
  • IGBC certified bear resistant
  • Aluminum bottle openers on all for corners
  • 6 tie down points all one on each corner plus one in the center on each end at the handles
  • Cam style lid latches making it more stream lined to pack it in tighter spaces and not grab on things.
  • Has rope handles with motorcycle grips and also molded in grips to pick it up by the cooler body.
  • The hinges have a lifetime warranty and other components have a 5 year
  • YakAttrack Tracks mounting system with RAM integration to mount extra accessories to your cooler
  • various different mixed multi color options
  • Made in the USA
  • come in 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 85 quart sizes that are true to size.

Yeti Tundra Coolers

  • Roto-molded Molded
  • Five Year Warranty
  • IGBC Certified Bear resistant used with extra long shank Master-Locks
  • Made in the USA and Philippines


  • Comes in various models 35, 45, 65, Haul, 75, 105, 110, 125, 160, 210, 250, 350 .  (these are model numbers not actual quart size of the cooler capacity)


  • Yeti offers a more compact cooler called the Roadie 20 can hold up to 20 pounds of ice 16 cans

Engel Deep Blue Coolers

  • 10 Year Warranty
  • Roto-molded Molded
  • Bear Resistant Certified IGBC
  • Certain models come in different colors with some having more options than others


  • They come in 25, 35, 45, 50, 65, 80, 85, 123, 165, 240, 320 quart sizes


Siberian Alpha Pro Series Coolers 

  • Lifetime warranty
  • The outer shell of the cooler is Rotational molded from LLDPE (low linear density polyurethane) with PE Foam insulation up to 2.75 inches thick,
  • Heavy duty anodized aluminum lid latches
  • Stainless hinge
  • Tie down strap slots
  • Hidden padlock lock plate
  • Dry ice rated wire basket
  • Food grade cutting board divider,
  • Cup holder,
  • Security lock bracket,
  • Colors come in granite or white
  • They have feet you can flip (reverse) if you want the cooler to slide or grip with there EZ Slide or non slip rubber feet
  • A nice flush design with no latches or handles protruding the main body line of the cooler  could make it nice for packing it in tighter spaces
  • Comes in 45, 65, 85 quart size models


  • If your looking for a more compact model in the siberian line of coolers check out the Siberian Alpha Side Kick Pro 22 

Grizzly  Coolers

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Roto-molded with LLDPE plastic
  • Bear resistant IGBC Certified
  • Non slip rubber feet
  • 2inch drain plug for quick draining
  • Bearclaw latches keep a good grip on the lid
  •  pressure injected with up to two inches of insulation
  • Full length drain channels for complete drain
  • Molded in hinge stainless pin 
  • Has heavy duty handles that are molded in and a set of rope nylon sleeved handles as well.
  • 2inch tie down slots
  • Embossed ruler on the lid
  • Rubber gasket on the lid
  • Dry goods tray
  • Made in the USA
  • Come in 15, 20, 40, 60, 75, 100, 165, 400 quart sizes

Kong Coolers

  • Made in the USA
  • IGBC bear resistance certified
  • Limited Lifetime warranty
  • five different color options
  • Roto-molded
  • Comes with one divider to use in the cooler or as a shelf
  • Sturdy padded  hinged handles (to help keep the cooler from sloshing when carrying it)


  • They come in 25, 50, 70, 110 quart sizes

 Heavy-Duty High-End Coolers With Wheels

Are you looking for a cooler that has wheels built in?  Then this list of coolers might be what your looking for.  Most of the other coolers you can buy a wheeled cart for them, but having the wheels made right onto the cooler can make it pretty convenient to trolley it around.  When you have it fully loaded with ice and contents.  It sure can get heavy.

Pelican Pro Wheeled Elite Coolers

  • Bear Resistant certified (IGBC)
  • Having molded handles built in and a trolly handle  making it easy to move around
  • Has a slope floor toward a tethered drain plug threaded to accept garden hose
  • Bottle opener
  • Comes in 45,  80 quart sizes
  • The 80 Quart has molded in can holders
  • Made in the USA

Pelican 55qt Wheeled tailgater Cooler

  • Bear Resistant certified (IGBC)
  • Has wheels and trolley handle built in making it easy to move around
  • Comes with 2 trays
  • Rubber feet
  • The tailgater has a lid hatch so you don’t have to open the main lid
  • Built in can holder to hold your drink
  • Molded in handle
  • Molded in tie downs
  • Bottle opener
  • Heavy duty wheels
  • Made in the USA

Yeti Haul

  • Will hold up to 45 cans and 55 pounds of ice
  • Comes with an aluminum handle
  • Solid single piece tires  impact and puncture resistant

Kysek Coolers

  • They come in different colors some models have more options than others
  • PosiLatch T handles for lid
  • Cutting board lid
  • DuroCold construction (combination of roto-molded construction with extra thick cooler walls)
  • Code Blue bluetooth temperature sensor (sold separately) allows you to sync with an iPhone to check the cooler temperature
  • Has inset wheels built right in to help trolley it around
  • Has a hose adaptor with a 3/4 drain plug
  • Non skid feet
  • Heavy duty easy grip handles
  • 2 inch drain plug has tethered chain to help keep the drain plug from getting lost
  • Lock plate bottle opener
  •  Comes in 25, 35, 50, 75, 100, 150 quart sizes
  • The 25 quart model.  You don’t have the inset wheels.  Or the tethered 2 inch drain plug with chain.  Still has the 3/4 drain plug with hose adaptor option though.