There are so many coolers out on the market that I thought I’d kick of this year of reviews with one from the makers of Jackson Kayak, the Orion Cooler. They claim to be the cooler that comes with more than average standard features and rightly tout that they are Made in the USA. So let’s get down to it and see if they are worth their salt…or ice in this case.
As mentioned they boast that they come with a lot of standard features, and they aren’t kidding. On the cooler itself they have a standing pad, six different tie down points, four aluminum bottle openers on the corners, certified bear resistant/lockable/lowprofile camming latches, motorcycle grip carrying handles, drain plug, YakAttack Tracks/RAM integration, a inside tray, along with having what they say is “Best-in-class” 2”+ of insulation, and comes in a variety of camo colors. Don’t forget, they are made in the USA. This is definitely a long list of features that come on any size cooler. After researching the many other high end coolers that are out there the Orion cooler has the most features that are thoughtfully placed and designed.
The coolers come in a variety of sizes; starting at 25qt, and go all the way to 85qt. They are built quite tough and ready to take any beating you can throw at them. One downfall of this is that they are heavy. The 25qt weighs in at 21lbs and the 85qt is better comparatively but still comes in at 43lbs.
I’ve taken this cooler on multiple journeys throughout last Fall, Winter, and now Spring, everything from a couple hour excursion to 5 day road and camping trips. This cooler does its job amazingly well. The one time I was not impressed with it was at the beginning of a 5 day Boondoggle adventure. I put my items inside, dropped the ice in, and then within the first day all my ice was melted. After talking with some friends at the boondoggle and doing some more researched it was my own fault. The cooler was stored in my garage right before I filled it up and sat shotgun in my car getting baked by the sun during my 18 hour drive. Obviously it will keep ice longer if it was pre-chilled which Orion suggest you do before you go on any long adventure. I did not do that and in return, the ice melted pretty quickly. After I filled it back up with ice it kept the ice and everything cold for the next 4 days no problem!
I also used the cooler to store some dry ice for a play production my school was putting on. I purchased a couple pounds of raw meat (for the play) and 8lbs of dry ice. I anticipated that the dry ice would keep for the night and maybe part of the next day, but not for the full 24+ hours I needed it to last. Before I went and purchased some more, I thought I’d take a look. Low and behold, there was still quite a bit of ice left! I’d say a pound plus! Even after all that we used. On top of that the 5-6 pounds of meat we had were frozen solid!
The features on the cooler are plentiful. They are well thought out and useful. One of my original concerns was the YakAttack Tracks on the side without a grooved entrance. Thankfully, the gap is wide enough between the tracks that you can angle what you need into the tracks. Plus they have areas where you can tie down around the tracks and handles. Each latch is strong and holds the top down very securely. Also, I like the fact that the handles on each side are easily grabable. Plus they include a rope with a rubber grip so you can carry it even easier if you rather not use the handles. And as I mentioned earlier, they are built tough. I have dropped this cooler on cement, grass, sand, dirt, and the lid never popped open.
Orion Coolers are a fantastic high end cooler that comes with multiple accessories that are useful to everyone and anyone. The price point is above with other high end coolers. The 25qt I reviewed retails for $369 while the 85qt goes for $549. Even with the higher price point I believe that these coolers offer you many great accessories that already designed into the cooler that one may want to add to others. These accessories are fantastic if you are a kayak angler or plan to utilize the cooler as a base as well so you can mount different items to it. The price makes me very weary of calling the Orion Coolers a catch. So here is my personal verdict on them. If you generally go for just a couple hours or for an overnight trip, look elsewhere. You would not need one of these coolers. But if, and only if you are doing many multi-day camping/fishing/road trips definitely take a look at the Orion Cooler!