It’s been years since we’ve had a hunting season with as many folks in the field as we’ve seen in 2020. Hunting and fishing license sales are both up by more than 10%, and the trend is expected to continue into 2021 as well. If you’re planning on supplementing your grocery bill with some fresh fish and game, it’s important to have a good cooler that’s large enough to fit your catch while keeping it on ice until you’re able to fully break it down. Here are our picks for some of the best coolers on the market today.
Orca 58 Quart Hard Sided Classic Cooler – This cooler is big enough to handle a couple hundred pounds of fresh meat and can keep food fresh and cool for up to 10 days, according to the manufacturer. I’ve never had to go that long with my Orca, but I have had mine sit for three days in the autumn sunshine with minimal melting from the ice inside. The Orca Classic Cooler, which comes in a variety of sizes, is made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty, though I haven’t had any issues with mine in the three years or so that I’ve owned it.
ENGEL HD30 Waterproof Soft-Sided Cooler Tote Bag – If you’re actually going to be hauling your harvest through the back country, a soft-side cooler like the HD30 from Engel is a great option, as is the company’s 23-quart backpack cooler. The HD30 is a 32-quart cooler with an ice life of close to 100 hours under optimal conditions. The cooler also has a patented vacuum valve that removes air from the compartment, maximizing ice retention. The soft-sided body is still rugged enough to handle the great outdoors, and the welded waterproof zipper will ensure that no other woodland creatures sneak along for the ride.
Coleman 54-Quart Steel Belted Cooler – This Coleman cooler has a cool retro look about it, but its function is as solid as its form. The steel body is strong enough to support 250 lbs of weight on it, while the 54-quart interior will retain ice for up to four days under optimal conditions. The cooler also features rust-resistant stainless steel hardware and comfort-grip handles for easier lifting and carrying. This isn’t the cooler to take with you on a long off-road hike, but it’s a great fit for the campsite.
Igloo Leeward 124 Quart Marine Grade Lockable Insulated Fishing Ice Chest Cooler – While this cooler may be designed for fishing, with an attached cutting board, fish ruler, and tie downs to keep it secured on the water, there’s no reason why the 124-quart Igloo Leeward can’t join you on a trip to the mountains, the woods, or the open plains. This cooler features a lockable top, a food-grade liner, and anti-skid feet along with the company’s Cool Riser feature, which actually elevates the body of the cooler off the ground in order to better retain cold temperatures. The ultratherm insulation offers four days of ice retention, and when it’s time to empty out your cooler a dual fast/slow drain will have it dry in no time.
Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler – Like many folks in radio, television, and online broadcasting, I’ve used Pelican cases for years to protect my gear on the road, and the quality of their products is undeniable. With a lifetime “you break it, we replace it” guarantee, this may be the last cooler you ever need to buy. The 70-quart cooler is made in the USA and features 2 inches of polyurethane insulation along with a 360 degree freezer-grade gasket for maximum ice retention. It also comes with 3 inch locking latches, a reinforced lockable hasp, stainless steel bottle opener, and tie down slots for your boat, truck, SUV, or ATV. The cooler’s top has four self-draining cup holders built in, and the non-skid rubber feet will help keep it in place when it’s not possible to keep it tied down.
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