We did an ice meltdown test on four popular brands of coolers to see which one would keep the ice the longest and you might be surprised at what we found, I know we were!  We tested the following four brands: Tundra 65qt by Yeti (MSRP $359.99), Deep Blue 65qt by Engel (MSRP $339.99), Xtreme 6 58qt by Coleman (MSRP $99), and the Ice Cube 60qt by Igloo (MSRP $69.99).


The Engel Deep Blue cooler has rubber buckle latches that hooked and snapped down closed, a interesting design that worked well.  It also was rated as a bear proof container with locking holes in both front corners of the lid, a screw out drain plug, rope handles and tie down points to secure it the back of your truck.

Both the Yeti and Engel coolers have a heavy sealing gasket on the lid to help lock the cold in.

The Yeti Tundra Cooler has rubber "T-Rex" lid latches, we liked these latches the best out of all the coolers.  The cooler was rated as a bear proof container with locking holes in both front corners of the lid.   It has hanging rope handles on both ends, tie down points to secure it in the back of your truck and a screw out drain plug.
The Igloo Ice Cube cooler was a very square cooler with built in wheels and a telescoping handle so you can easily roll it wherever it needs to go.  It also has can holders in the lid and a pop off plug for draining the cooler.
The Coleman Xtreme 6 cooler was more of a normal cooler like we have had in the past.  It has can holders in the lid, plastic handles and pop off plug for draining the cooler.   This cooler turned out to be the sleeper in the group.


All four of the coolers performed well as far as fit and trim go with one exception.  The drain plug on the Yeti Tundra could not be made to stop dripping.  It leaked the whole time and threw our numbers off as we tried to measure the amount of water that melted each day.  It appeared that the plastic surface where the drain plug tightened down was not smooth, but porous and not very well formed when the cooler was molded. We tried tighter and looser and everywhere in between and it just kept dripping.


We started by filling all of the coolers up to the top with ice, as much as we could physically get in there.  We placed them all out in the direct sun, where they would receive sun all day with no shade.


It was a nice hot week, the daily temperatures were as follows:

Day 1: 92
Day 2: 96
Day 3: 91
Day 4: 85
Day 5: 87
Day 6: 86
Day 7: 80

Right from the start we noticed a few things that were interesting.   The Engel and Yeti coolers were extremely hot to the touch, with the Igloo being almost cool to the touch and the Coleman in between.  Our theory was that the better the insulation, the more it kept the cool inside the cooler from leaking out, and that also means the heat from leaking in.  The test seems to have confirmed this, as the Igloo was the first to lose all its ice by the end of day 5.  The Coleman and Yeti coolers had no ice left on day 7, while the Engel had just over a half cup of ice remaining.
We had heard that if you keep the water in the cooler, then it keeps the ice (and your food) cooler longer, so we ran a second melt down test with just the Yeti and Engel coolers.  We filled them both up with ice a second time and this time left the water alone in the Engel cooler and since we could not get the Yeti to stop dripping anyway, we let the Yeti do its thing and drip the water out.  When all of the ice had melted and only water was left in the Engel, there was only about a half cup of ice remaining in the Yeti, just the opposite of the first melt down test.

For the sake of our test, the Yeti and Engel were too close to call a winner either way.  They both were within a few hours of each other as far as total ice melt went, but with both of the coolers in the mid $300 price range we all felt that there was no excuse for the leaking drain plug on the Yeti.

With the much lower price and also being just behind the Yeti and Engel coolers in the ice melt down, the Coleman was the staff pick for the winner. With us finding these coolers in the $65-$75 range at Wal-Mart, you could by 4+ coolers for the price of one of theirs.  While it did not have some of the nice features of the Yeti and Engel, their price was just a bit prohibitive in our books.  While we thought that the much higher price would lead to a much longer hold time for the ice, this was just not the case in the end.  We did like the added features on the more expensive models, like the lid latches and tie down points on the coolers to lock them down in the back of our trucks.


Tips for keeping your cooler cool:

-Pre-chill the items that are going into your cooler. This will prevent initial ice melt off while the ice tries to cool your items down. You can also pre-chill the cooler itself by adding some ice the day before so the cooler is pre-chilled also.

-Try using frozen water bottles in place of some or all of your ice. They are re-usable, and you can actually drink them as the defrost so you have much less wasted space in the cooler.

-Keep your cooler in a well ventilated place in the shade. Keeping it out of the sun is a no brainer, but remember that that car can get much hotter inside on a sunny day than the outside temperature. The same goes for the back of your truck under a tonneau cover or camper shell, ventilate your rig to keep the temps down!

-Open the cooler as little as possible and for as short a time as possible. If you plan your meals out ahead of time, you can load the cooler in reverse order so the items for the first meal are on the top and the last meal is on the bottom of the cooler so you can access them quicker without having to dig and search for things.


We have since done another meltdown test, some old coolers and some new along with a water vs. no water conparison to see which is better, you can view it HERE.

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