Cooler brands like Yeti, Orca, RTIC, and others are popping up everywhere these days. And, for good reason. These extreme coolers are durable, bear-resistant, attractive, and most importantly they hold ice for a really long time. Cooler technology and innovation has come a long way in recent years and brands are highly competitive in this marketplace.
If you are thinking about purchasing one, something to keep in mind is that coolers are somewhat misnamed. They don’t cool anything, they are just a place to keep things cool. So really, they are just insulators. But, in all fairness that just doesn’t have the same ring to it! Having cleared that up, in order to insulate something REALLY well, a cooler has to be made out of great insulating materials which in turn makes them REALLY heavy. The fact that an extreme cooler can now hold ice for around 10 days is nothing short of amazing but for the average camper, is that really needed? No. Although any of the aforementioned brands (and many others) can be a great investment for plenty of people, here are three reasons why we don’t personally use or rent out these brands.
REASON 1 | WEIGHT & SIZE
I’m a strong girl but one thing I don’t like to do is lug heavy things around if I don’t have to. The average EMPTY weight for a 45-ish extreme cooler is around 25 pounds. Add ice, beer, food, and a bottle of wine (or two) and you’re looking at 60 plus pounds. That may not sound too heavy if you have a buddy, lift with your legs, and only move it a few times, right? Wrong! You are moving it into your kitchen to pack it full, then moving it to your car full of food and ice, then you are moving it out of your car at the campsite (again, full!), then you are moving it around your campsite based on ease and accessibility (again, full!), then you are putting it back in your car (likely more empty), and back to your kitchen. That’s a lot of work!
Weight is one issue, now we have to deal with size. Because of their amazing insulating capabilities extreme coolers have very thick walls. Which means that when you compare an extreme cooler side by side with a regular cooler they may be the same size on the outside but they don’t have the same capacity inside. This means you typically will need to go up a size to fit in everything you need. This makes the cooler harder to fit in your car and again, heavier.
REASON 2 | INVESTMENT
Let’s just say it, extreme coolers come with a hefty price tag. I will also say that they are absolutely worth the investment if you camp a lot. Especially if you camp a lot in remote places. And, even more especially, if you camp a lot in remote places for long periods of time. If a majority of your camping trips are to campgrounds close to a town, if you are road-tripping where you will be driving past stores once in a while, or if your idea of a fun camping trip ends at three days, then a cooler that can hold ice for ten is likely overkill for you. If you are a beginner camper and want to invest in great gear we recommend you start with high quality tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. If you find yourself loving the outdoors and spending more time away from stores with ice – then maybe it’s time to look into investing in an extreme cooler.
REASON 3 | PRACTICALITY
This reason sort of duplicates reasons one and two but I still think what I’m about to say is worth mentioning. A cooler like a Yeti just isn’t practical for everyone. Case in point – we do a lot of river trips. And when I say river trip, I really mean booze cruise. While it would be amazing to have a cooler that holds ice for ten days in my canoe as we’re floating down a desert river in 90 degrees of pure sun, it just won’t work. They are too heavy, too big for the capacity we need, and there’s no way we are lugging that thing from canoe to camp every time we stop.
For these reasons (and more), here at Utah Camping Company we’ve chosen to use personally and rent out the 54 quart Igloo Ultra Marine Cooler which weighs in at a modest 8 pounds and is a good car-packing size for how much it holds. Does it hold ice for ten days? Absolutely not. Is it as durable? Nope. Is it as cool looking? Meh. Can a person that doesn’t go to Cross-Fit four days a week lift it when it’s full? YEP!
Do not get me wrong here! I think extreme coolers are incredible. I highly recommend any of the brands I mentioned at the beginning to the right person. Do I think they are worth it for someone who camps a few times a year? No. Do I think you would be very happy with it if you bought one and took it camping? Sure!
We could offer these extreme coolers for rent (and I’m sure people would rent them just based on the brand recognition alone) but we tend to think that if you’re renting outdoor gear:
a. You don’t want to spend a fortune on gear that you don’t get to keep
b. You may be from out of town and you are visiting multiple places so you will come across a store that sells ice eventually
c. You are an occasional camper that just needs to keep their food cold for an extended weekend trip
Have an extreme need for an extreme cooler? Reach out to us! Maybe you’ll convince us to start offering some seriously rugged cooler brands.
Not sure if you’re a good fit for an extreme cooler? We are happy to help with any camping gear advice.