6 Months Later … Yeti vs Pelican vs Engel vs Grizzly vs Yukon … Revisited …

Which premium cooler?  Yeti & Pelican seem to be the two that are the most familiar, however those were not our choice. Yeti was great, except even more expensive than most.  Pelican was less expensive, and available in retail locations for inspection, but SO overbuilt, oversized and heavy that we immediately rejected it.

Now that we’ve had the  Grizzly 40 for 3 months on the boat in the Florida Keys and 3 months in our Lance travel trailer in southwest Utah, what do we think?

Grizzly Day 1

Grizzly Day 1

We chose our Grizzly 40 cooler because it maximized space for size and weight, plus it was less expensive than the Yeti 45 which was our 2nd choice. (An interesting note:  we were told that Yeti doesn’t allow their coolers to be discounted, so you’ll never find a new one for a different price than any retailer.  Prices vary, I did considerable shopping and got our Grizzly 40 for $255 on Amazon with free shipping – the price went up the next week and bounced around, so it pays to keep checking)

Our friends Yeti Roadie 20 - in fairness, the smaller coolers are not reported to do as well as the larger versions, so our

Our friends Yeti Roadie 20, which we borrowed as a test to see if we wanted to invest the money in a premium cooler.  It performed well enough to convince us to do more research for a larger version.

If you want to see our original post on pros and cons of each of the premium coolers we considered, click here. 

We’ve met people with Yeti’s galore, as it seems to be the most popular brand, both for cruisers and campers.  Haven’t seen a single other Grizzly, but we have met a few folks with Pelicans and Engels.   We also head to head tested our Grizzly 40 against a friend’s highly touted “your expensive cooler isn’t better than my old Coleman cooler“.

Engel Deep Blue 65, one of our finalists, just a smidge too big.

Engel Deep Blue 65, one of our final choices, just a smidge too big.

By the end of our month camping with our friends, the Grizzly was the cooler that was in use constantly with the “old Coleman” only seeing use when we had excess stuff to fit in the Grizzly.  Hmmm….  Having said that, we’ll also admit that the “old Coleman” worked almost as well, it just needed ice more often.  And for the price of the premium coolers, you can buy lots of ice!

Camped at Zion Natl Park, the Grizzly cooler behind the red and orange camp chairs - our outside cooler as well as a convenient table.

Camped at Zion Natl Park, the Grizzly cooler behind the red and orange camp chairs – our outside cooler as well as a convenient table.

So are we happy with our choice?  Would we buy a “premium” cooler versus a “regular  Coleman/Igloo (insert your favorite brand here)” again?  Definitely.

As any cooler, it works best when pre-cooled and also when the stuff we put in it is already chilled.  But any cooler, inexpensive or premium, is the same in that regard.  It also works better with a block of ice than cubes, no surprise here either, any cooler works better with a block than cubes.

The Grizzly functioned both as a premium cooler and as a table in our Clam Screen Enclosure.

The Grizzly functioned both as a premium cooler and as a table in our Clam Screen Enclosure.

The thing that made us use it more was the longevity between the times we needed to buy ice.  Typically several days (not 7 – 10 as advertised, but several)…. which meant we didn’t need to go hunting for ice as often.

It also keeps the chilled water (when the ice is all melted) cold longer so that even when there’s no ice left, the beer may be chilled enough to enjoy (and David likes his beer CHILLED!).  His comment is when the Grizzly has a new block of ice, it keeps the beer colder than the refrigerator in the Lance travel trailer.

Grizzly Day 5

Grizzly Day 5 – the block is still around and the beer is CHILLED.  🙂

If we had it to do over again, would we buy a Grizzly 40 over a Yeti 45 or an Engel?  Maybe.  Would we buy either of the three above the Igloo Yukon or any of the Pelican coolers?  Definitely, but our choice has more to do with weight and size than quality of the cooler.  Our choice between Grizzly, Yeti or Engel would have more to do with price as they seem very very similar.

Which cooler do you prefer and why?  Please leave comments and share!  Cheers!  Jan

Comments

  1. My top 4 picks after months of testing cheaper foam coolers by varying the thicknesses of the coolers will be based on foam thickness in each cooler brand. Bottom line- more high density foam & a good seal = longest ice retention in 90°-110° temps during hottest part of day. 1)engel-2″ foam thru-out cooler. 2)yeti-1.6-2″ varies thru-out cooler w/ 2″ walls, 1.6 ” floor & almost 3″ in lid. 3)Orca- 2.5″ walls, 3″ lid & floor. Canyon-2.75″ walls, 2″ floor & 2.25″ lid. The ingle will definitely do better in ice retention than the yeti, but only marginally. The real battle goes between orca & canyon coolers when the heat is on. Although the canyon has thicker walls, the orca has the most insulation in the lid & floor where you will need it most be it the hot sun shining on the lid or a hot truck bed radiating heat into the bottom the cooler.The orca has a marginal amount more foam in it as a whole, and is ditributed where its needed most. Based on my tests with cheaper huskee foam coolers varing in thicknesses from 1″ to 3″ foam thickness, the 3″ foam last about 5 days while 1″ last about 2 days. An engel therefore with better 2″ foam will last about 4 days if pre-cooled. Yeti-3-to start of 4th day. So I believe the canyon will last 6-6.5 days & the orca should last a full 7 days, because the higher end coolers have very dense foam injected into them under high preasure. The canyon & the orca coolers are the thickest insulated coolers made to date. I’ve checked them all & have handled the engel, yeti, canyon & orca. Both the orca & canyon are beasts for coolers. The orca is beefier with the ability to lock it also making it bear proof for those deepmountain camping adventures. When our local orca dealer restocks in august, I’m going to purchase a 140qt & 58qt orca. The orca’s have a 100% lifetime warranty including the seal & the latches. And after many months of researching, I’m going with the orca. They are made in tenn. With some dry ice & lining these coolers with reflectix bubble insulation, I should be able to get 2 weeks cooling out of the 140qt orca. Using the 58qt as my go to cooler, replenishing its ice from the 140qt. Also remember orca sizes are based on actual inside dimensions, not the misleading outside dimensions of other cooler manufacturers. Hope this helps. 🙂

    • Lanier Nelson says:

      What about the Ice Hole cooler? It is apparently used by the military.

      • Not familiar with the Ice Hole cooler, thanks for the heads up. There are so many new variants on “premium” coolers coming out – boat shows are full of them – that we can’t possibly keep up. And we’re happy with our Grizzly, so no more shopping for us right now. Cheers! Jan

      • tee white says:

        In the military we use Cambro 90% of the time, they are the approved provider.

  2. Dale Beckmann says:

    I’m quite “cooler minded”… I’ve been using a Yeti Roadie constantly for a couple of years.
    Overall, I;m pretty happy with it. But! I’ve had issues with the drain leaking… the metal handle can be a pain when the cooler is loaded…It’s too small to expect much in ice retention, but 2-3 days isn’t bad..
    Reality check… Is it worth $250 to keep a 12 pack on ice “in style”???
    That kind of money will get you into a reasonable size Engel, Orca, Pelican, K2, Canyon, Grizzly (maybe), IcyTec, or any other premium cooler I didn’t mention…
    Anything smaller than 26 qt is best suited for those with very limited space…
    35-50 qt.would be suitable for a weekend getaway…
    Cube ice weighs approx. 1lb/qt… these coolers tip the scales at 20-40 lbs….double that once you load them… it soon becomes a 2 person affair… and if one of them is your spouse??? You may find yourself explaining the finer points of thermodynamics as well as the rotomolding process to a skeptical audience…
    The larger sizes are where these coolers really show what they can do… because they hold enough ice to support their claims… however, due to their weight, they tend to become stationary objects…
    If you shop around, you can pick up a midsize model for $200-$300… the big ones go on from there…
    I found 2 Orcas (26qts, 58qts) and a Pelican (35 qts.) for $200 or less. BTW, the Pelican feels like it’s loaded when empty…the larger sizes even more so…I really like that cooler but, you’ll want to enlist a “friend” to pack this around (those big handles are great)…
    Fun fact; the 26qt Orca lists the inside depth as 10″, but the lid extends into that space about an inch… The result is, if you like your beverages in a bottle, they will make contact with the lid before it closes… a minor issue? perhaps… maybe mine is on the “short end” of the tolerance, but I think it is a detail the should be addressed…
    At the end of the day… if ice retention is all that matters to you, you will probably be disappointed…but, if you value the quality these coolers provide, you will appreciate them every time you open the lid…
    One last thing… if all you want is a good ice chest, I have 36qt. 52qt. and 70 qt Coleman Extreme coolers that will keep ice just as long as the premium models, their size (internal vs external measurements) far surpass the high end coolers, and I picked them up for less than $50 each… something else to think about…

  3. We have had the Pelican 45 for over a year now. (Thanks mom for the birthday present) We are primarily boaters. This has sat in the full sun for well over 5 days and still had plenty of ice left. When I got home instead of emptying it I left it in the garage. Our garage is not insulated and is miserably hot on a daily basis (Except for the winter where it is very cold). Now this is not a good test but it was the same ice we started with and we removed beers/water/juice boxes from it while on the boat, and opened it 1 time a day in the garage when I came home from work. On day 10 we no longer had ice. On day 12 beers were too warm to drink (some may be ok I just like my beer very cold) The water was stil cold but not beer cave cold. 1 tip is we do use Chillin brews in there and that really helps. Usually have to break beers out of the cooler for the first few days. they are Phase change devices and they change Phase at 28.4 deg due to beer freezing at 28.3. Or so that is the wrap on them anyway. We love the cooler so much I just received the 20qt so we have something a little bit more mobile.

  4. I have 4 Pelican coolers, 20, 35, 45, and 65, and wouldn’t trade them for anything! They do an incredible job keeping everything cold for days and days, and with some Arctic Ice inside, they are better than a fridge or freezer, depending on which one you use. The coolers are a little heavier than others, but the handles make them much more comfortable to carry. Carrying both my Pelican and a friend’s Yeti to the beach, the Pelican, although heavier, was much more comfortable to carry with the big handles vs. Yeti’s rope. On the 20, the fat handle on the Pelican is so much more comfortable to carry than the metal rod on the Yeti. Also, the lifetime warranty is something to consider. I managed to break one of the handles, my fault, and Pelican had a new one to me, no charge, in a couple of days. The latches are also a nice feature. They are convenient for me, but for the girls and the kids, especially when you’re trying to get in one handed, the Pelican latches rule the day. With a little shopping around, I got all of my Pelicans for a steal vs the competition which is also a consideration. Also, make sure you check the actual volume of the coolers. Pelicans are larger than marked, other brands, especially Yeti, can be smaller to considerably smaller (A Pelican 35 holds more than a Yeti 45!). I will admit I like the slick looks of some of the other coolers, but as a person that uses them, and uses them a lot, the Pelican just functions better than the others.

    • Dale Beckmann says:

      There’s nothing wrong brand loyalty or, being a satisfied customer. In fact, it is becoming less common these days…
      There is much to like about the Pelicans. They look and feel like they are made to last a lifetime… As you mentioned, the handles and latches are thoughtful designs that set them apart from their competition. Which seems to be growing more all the time…
      However, depending on your needs and application, their best features can become drawbacks…
      It’s hard to defend their weight and interior vs. exterior volume when there are other products that offer equal performance in a more “efficient package” (they are BIG and HEAVY make no mistake) Perhaps, it’s the handles and latches that tip the scales in their favor when you make your choice…
      Now days, you can choose from several top quality coolers in a wide range of sizes and prices that will suit anyone’s budget and application…
      Even if you don’t think a premium cooler is worth the investment, then get yourself a Coleman Extreme (the “5 day” version) in whatever size you need and shop around for a set of stainless hinges. They’re around $10, as the plastic hinges are actually annoying…
      It makes you wonder why they would bother making an acceptable cooler, and fit it with such crap…
      Make sure you get the right model as Coleman also offers a lot of “junk” that looks just like the “good stuff” … Of course, this makes no sense, but I’m just giving you a heads up.

      As for the Pelican??? if it were 2 inches lower, and 10 lbs. lighter, it would fit in the trunk of my car, and be my constant companion. Thus rendering other coolers irrelevant, and I wouldn’t have felt the need to reply to this post…

      It would be wise to shop around, if you’re thinking about spending a few hundred bucks on a cooler… Why??? because there are many choices, and each one has it’s own features and drawbacks. It can get VERY expensive searching for that “perfect” cooler…
      I have 4 and I still haven’t found “the one” … My wife is a good sport but I think her limit is 5…6 tops.
      Most of the manufacturers offer free shipping, and substantial discounts on “blemished, closeouts, and the like…Some even have sales at times.
      Inexplicably, Wal-Mart online has some very attractive prices on Pelicans, as well as a huge selection premium and economy coolers with free shipping. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting, their descriptions can be vague at times…

      • Pelican cooler rocks. There is a reason that the name Pelican is the leader in all things needing to be contained because they build to last. It’s the one cooler you could park a semi on and wouldn’t care. It’s heavy. … When all these coolers are loaded down they are all heavy. Weak reason to exclude pelican.
        Pelican has dual handle options with no lack of space. Super chunky rubber footing bumpers for protection. The absolute best latches. Bear proof, uv protection, and lifetime warranty. Not to mention the sturdiest lid that can handle a 250 lb man and not even slightly flex. Ice retention is as they advertise. Get one. Oh and made in USA. Even after reading this review I wouldn’t even give it a second thought to ever trade my pelican for any comparably sized coolers here. Love it.

        • Dale Beckmann says:

          Ok, so another 6moths have gone by and you can really appreciate the Pelican’s features when compared to other,.
          The rope handles on the other brands are annoying, They aren’t stable when carrying these things… loaded or empty. Perhaps they save a few ounces, but in this weight class, It doesn’t matter. The handles on my Orca interfere with the drain.
          The Stainless bail on the 20qt.Yeti (and others) is just as awkward. I’ve had it bounce off my hip, come away from the mounting points, and roll over, spilling it’s contents
          Point goes to Pelican …

          Speaking of drains, the goofy oversized threads on the Yeti, and several others tend to leak if not closed carefully. A trip to the hardware store for a half inch garden hose bib and the necessary fittings stopped the leak but the faucet sticks out making it vulnerable.
          You could duplicate the Pelican’s drain arraignment and problem solved.
          Pelican 2… others? zip.
          One way to overcome the size/weight/cost issue is to consider something in the 20qt range… lots of selection, reasonable cost, and practical size/weight . They might not give you the long term retention, but for everyday use you won’t need the capacity.
          If you hunt/fish/camp you’re going to want something bigger, but a “personal” size still comes in handy.
          I keep a 20qt. in the cabin on the boat for sodas, etc. and something larger on deck. It keeps you out of the larger cooler, and helps with cross contamination with fish/game/etc.
          On a different note… I think Canyon Coolers are worth a look. They have a practical design, nothing sticks out, thus, it packs tightly in with your other gear. I don’t own one, but they look like a good product.
          .

  5. Awesome, awesome,awesome comparison! I’ve seen other show the true ice retention of a Yeti, but not yet a Grizzly, so thank you for that! I agree, the Grizzly is a solid choice, not only is it cheaper, they are actually made in the USA! Most Yetis are made in Philippines.

  6. I have 2 pelicans and 1 more on the way I have a white 35qt a tan 20qt and I should have a gray 35qt coming in today or tomorrow. Now people complaining about the weight are just looking for something to complain about. First off when you buy a pelican most people mess up because maybe they where comparing yeti 45 and pelican 45 and decided to go with a pelican 45 because it’s a better deal well if you’re trying to buy a cooler that’s around the same size as yeti’s 45 you screwed up by buying the pelican 45 because the cooler that is more comparable with yeti 45 is thee pelican 35. The pelican 35 holds 30 beers while the yeti 45 only holds 26 and that’s information that comes directly from their sites. When you buy a pelican you buy the model below what you would buy in a yeti. And I’ve carried both I can carry my pelican 35qt with its ABS handles then I can a yeti 45 with rope handles and that’s a fact. I just got done doing a 10 day test with my 35qt and it had enough ice to cover the bottom of the floor. These coolers are great and I wouldn’t trade ABS press pull latches for rubber t latches and I wouldn’t trade ABS handles for rope.

  7. Pelican in two words “Lifetime Warranty”

    And it doubles as a military grade dry box.

    • Loved Pelican UNTIL I tried to pick it up — between the two of us, we had trouble lifting it empty. Great construction, not good for normal strength people. But we’re glad you love Pelican cases! Cheers! Jan

  8. Well. 2yr review. 65qt. Pelican. USA. Limited life time warranty. ??? Should be a no brainer. After 2 yrs. Boating in Florida. Lid is curling up and not sealing like new. Call in and emailed pics in. Was told it was just cosmetic and I would need to purchase a new seal. Well no looks like I’ll be purchasing another cooler not a pelican

    • Our 40 qt Grizzly is still going strong, no problems yet … fingers crossed!

    • Raymond Mills says:

      I had a leak in mine 2 days later they sent me a new plug kit. Boating for about 3 plus years, camping tail gating and not a single issue. I thikn you should try calling them. I called and not even a question was asked.

Trackbacks

  1. […] We made the plunge and bought a “premium” cooler even after our less than ideal test with the Yeti – click here for test results. UPDATE!  For the what we think “After Six Months” post, click here!  […]

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