Are coolers status symbols? You might laugh, but it kind of seems like it these days; and there are more of them now than Carter's has pills. For you youngsters out there, Carter's Liver Pills cured everything from hairy tongue, to athlete's foot, to headaches and during the 50s there were tons of them sold.
But I digress.
There has become a large market for high-dollar coolers and even a few years ago I would have never guessed that something you throw water, pop and sandwiches in could cost as much as a thousand dollars depending on size. The price is scary but people buy them and the ability to keep things cold for days on end is the reason. Names like Igloo and Coleman are still around and were some of the first inexpensive coolers that worked. They were great for day trips and fitting in boats. They still get the job done, but the game has definitely changed.
Are they worth it?
Yeti was the first high-dollar cooler that anglers and hunters clamored for and yet today they still get a nod as the king of the "wow factor". They even put "Yeti" on a five-gallon bucket a few years ago and won Best of Show at ICAST. That name says quality.
Coolers are a lot like fishing lures. I can remember people seeing a $15 jerkbait from Lucky Craft and getting the shakes wondering why anyone would pay that much. They did and it started a revolution where quality meant something and now $400 to $500 glide baits and swimbaits get the same reaction. However, anglers buy them and it is indeed a badge of honor to have a few to some.
Roto-molded versus soft-sided
By thumbing through roto-molded coolers on Google, it baffles me on just how many there are. Some are brand names like those mentioned above but others like Orion, Orca, Pelican, K2, Engel, Grizzly, Mammoth, Ozark, Bison, RTIC and FatBoy. There are several more too and they each work as designed. They keep your stuff cold and they all look great too. Some have some neat features and each have expanded into soft-sided versions as well. Shopping for one can be confusing but at the end of the day price is the bottom line to most buyers.
Comparing one to the other does come down to marketing bullets and features. Look for one that says it will keep ice for three to four days. Although some will say they can keep it longer, that is a good rule of thumb and also may keep the price down.
Soft-sided coolers have come into vogue as the quality got better. The old, plastic soft bags were great for a sandwich and a snack to carry to work if they were put into a refrigerator when arriving. Even with ice packs they lose their coolness quickly. But not anymore. The new soft-sides boxes are very well built and come with some killer features that make them a great choice. A case in point is the Otter Box Trooper 20 I use in the Wired2fish military tribute boat.
I found a soft-sided cooler I really like
I recently got an OtterBox Trooper 20 soft-sided cooler. The main reason was features and it fit perfectly into the military tribute boat under the console. With limited floor space, I had to get creative and browsing the web, this one caught my eye. The colors matched the military look I needed too but once I got it, I discovered just how good this cooler is.
I like tight-fitting lids, good hinges and solid latches and the OtterBox Trooper 20 has all three. The ratchet-style main latch is strong and pulls the lid down smooth and tight. It can easily be opened with one hand and it will hold 28 12-ounce cans of your choosing. This is the first one I have used that didn't leak all over the place when the ice began to melt. It has a rubberized exterior and is perfect for a full day on the water. I have found it wipes off easily too with a little dishwashing liquid and a soft rag.
They come with a bottle opener, a slick side pouch for extra storage, two ways to carry with shoulder strap and side grab handles and a neat tool strap on the back for pliers and other things you might need for a day on the water.
Hot sun definitely isn't good on ice, cold drinks and most importantly sandwiches so it is imperative to have confidence that your cooler will keep items cold even in the harshest of temperatures. Keeping things cold even in sweltering conditions makes these style coolers a must-have and separates them from styrofoam and less expensive models. The Trooper 20 is a hammer when it comes to keeping items cool.
The OtterBox Trooper 20 is great for canoes, kayaks, pontoons and bass boats and I recommend them without hesitation. If you want to check 'em out for yourself, you can get more information at OtterBox.com.