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3 Great Coolers for Sportsmen

3 Great Coolers for Sportsmen

In the past few years, several companies realized that if they built super-coolers -- even if the price reached several hundred dollars -- sportsmen would buy them.

But in hindsight, it's amazing it took so long for these coolers-on-steroids to emerge. What's more important than keeping bait fresh, your fish and game iced down and keeping the chill on food and drinks for your adventures? These things are essential. That's why we're seeing even more options on the market, like the new Pelican ProGear series and Canyon's Outfitter series, which are looking to gain market share from the original extreme ice box, Yeti.

We decided to check these three out. The good news is, all of these options are, well, very cool.

Yeti Tundra 45

Yeti started this craze of beefed-up coolers in 2006 when it came out with the first in the Tundra line. This Tundra is a durable, practical high-end cooler. At nearly $350, it's the most expensive of the ones we've tested. The Tundra seems to bring together practical gear considerations but remains sleek and utilitarian. For example, the drain plug is practical in that it starts to drain well before you finish unscrewing it. Non-skid plates on the bottom really grip a truck bed. You get a number of features that seem to take the edge off the hefty price tag for the cooler. This cooler kept ice for more than six days. The Yeti seemed to have a little ice left when the others had none. Exterior: 25 1/2 inches L x 16 W x 15 1/2 H
Interior: 19 inches L x 10 W x 10 3/8 H
Weight: 23 pounds
Price: $ 349.99

Pelican Progear Elite

Pelican is known in the outdoor industry for rock-solid camera cases and gun cases. We've had experience with them, and we were interested to see how that might translate to the cooler market. First off, we love the molded-in ruler on the lid for measuring fish. Next thing we noticed was the wide latch with a red button in the middle. Like the cam bags, the latch ensures the lid does not open inadvertently. It takes a little getting used to in a cooler, but it's a good solution for a latch that needs to be secure when bouncing around a truck or boat. The Pelican kept ice for six days, similar to the Yeti. And even after eight days, the water was still cold enough to keep drinks frigid. Exterior: 29 2/3 inches L x 20 W x 19 1/4 H
Interior: 19 inches L x 12 W x 12 H
Weight: 35.8 pounds
Price: $ 269.96

Canyon Outfitter Series

Canyon had an idea. Not only did they want to cash in on the super-cooler buzz, but they figured they could build a better cooler, especially for sportsmen who own a truck. The Outfitter Series is made for truck beds. It's square, so it stacks well with other coolers and fits in between wheel wells. They also made all accoutrements recessed so there are no hangups. Canyon doesn't offer a 45-quart cooler, so we opted for the 50-quart size. Despite the Outfitter being 10 percent larger in volume than the other coolers, we were impressed that the Canyon kept ice as long as it did. We put three bags of ice in it as well, and, of course, there was more air and wall space to dissipate coldness. All told, there was ice in there after five days. Exterior: 28 inches L x 15 W x 16 H
Interior: 22 inches L x 11 W x 13 H
Weight: 25 pounds
Price: $ 259

Quick Tips to Make the Most of Your Ice

  1. Keep your cooler in a cool place. If it's warm, you'll use much of the ice to cool the walls and air inside the cooler. Put in a few bags of ice hours before you plan on loading it. Then take out the old ice and put in new ice with your drinks, food or bait.

  2. Ice temperature could be 32 degrees or sub-zero. If you buy ice from an outdoor ice vendor whose machine sits in the sun, you get what you pay for. Ice should be hard and crisp, not wet.

  3. Use as much ice as possible to keep the air space to a minimum. Large areas of air will cause ice to melt faster.

  4. Block ice melts slower than cubes. But, as ice melts, it absorbs the heat; so smaller pieces of ice chill things faster. Use a mixture: Put food on top of block ice, cover it and fill empty spaces with cube ice.

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