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Best Coolers Made in the USA

Need a reliable cooler for your next camping trip or tailgate? We did the research to find the best coolers made by American manufacturers. Check out our top picks below, along with what liked and didn't like about each one, and factors we considered in our research.

Our Findings

There are several different American made cooler brands that are manufacturing high quality products. Brands like Bison, Esky, Grizzly, Igloo, Cabela's, Orca, Orion, Pelican, and others are all making ice chests right here in the USA. We found a variety of options that have best in class qualities: whether it's ice retention, durability, or other features. Orion, Cabela's, Igloo, and Pelican are some of the top brands that rose to the top of our analysis.

Top Recommendations

Best Coolers Made in the USA Best for:
Orion 45 Durability
Igloo Sportsman 55-Qt Cooler Affordability
Pelican Elite 45-Qt Cooler Latches
Cabela's Polar Cap 40-Qt Equalizer Ice Retention
Grizzly 15 Cooler Small Cooler
Cordova Excursion Cooler Large Cooler
Orca Cooler Easy to Carry
Igloo Marine Breeze Roller Cooler With Wheels

Recommendations: Going Deeper

Check out some more in-depth product details below. We go into what we liked, what we didn't like, and the best qualities about all our top picks.

Best Cooler for Durability: Orion 45


The Orion 45 is a total beast. This cooler tested best among the competition for durability - it barely had any scratches after all stress tests, and the latches also were the most secure. We love the non-stick pad on top of the cooler for holding gear or acting as a cutting board. The Orion 45 also has several bottle openers on each side, tie downs, and a rail system that allows you to mount a phone, camera, or other gear. This cooler does moderately well in ice retention - not league leading, but good enough to hold ice for about a week. The handles are comfortable and durable, made with reinforced climbing rope, so they can handle just about anything. Dimensions: 27 x 17.5 x 18.5 inches. Also be sure to check out our exclusive interview with the folks at Orion Coolers.

What We Like

  • Extremely tough for any conditions
  • Lots of great features
  • Comes with a solid plastic tray
  • YakAttack tracks to mount gear
  • Easy open drain plugs

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive, but worth it for the quality
  • Ice retention

Best Value Cooler: Igloo Sportsman 55-Qt Cooler


Coming in at less than $170, this huge Igloo Sportsman Cooler is one of the best values we found on the market. This cooler's ice retention is middle of the road at about a week, but that is plenty long for a weekend camping or fishing trip - handling surprisingly well given the size of the cooler. The latches are sturdy and air tight, and kept out dirt and other elements during tests. The drain on the Igloo Sportsman works well and drains water quickly. It also has some nice anti-skid feet that prevent the cooler from sliding around in the back of your car. Overall, a great value cooler for under $170. Dimensions: 31 x 17.5 x 18.2 inches. Check out our full breakdown on Igloo.

What We Like

  • Price
  • Latches
  • Sturdiness

What We Don't Like

  • These handles are plastic and more susceptible to snap vs. rope handles

Cooler with the Best Latches: Pelican Elite 45-Qt Cooler


If you value having a safety valve for products you buy, Pelican (specifically the Pelican Elite) has the best product warranty and the best latches among high-quality coolers. The warranty lasts for a lifetime, and they'll send you a brand new cooler in case anything ever happens to yours. The Pelican Elite is second to the Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer in terms of ice retention, lasting over 8 days in several field tests. The drain plug and handles were the only two downsides to this cooler - these two elements didn't fare as well as the rest of the cooler during durability tests. Pelican is also one of our top picks for tumblers made in the USA. Dimensions: 29.7 x 20 x 19.2 inches.

What We Like

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Durable and secure latches
  • Ice retention
  • Comes with a dry good tray

What We Don't Like

  • Plastic handles are susceptible to breaking
  • Drain plug is poorly constructed

Best Cooler for Ice Retention: Cabela’s Polar Cap 40-Qt Equalizer


The Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer cooler tested best against the competition in terms of ice retention - lasting nearly 9 days in several tests (although they advertise 12 days). The thick insulation coupled with air-tight latches (which also serve as bottle openers) keep the cold in and the elements out. Construction of the Polar Cap Equalizer is solid, easily surviving several durability tests and advertised as "bear-resistant" by Cabela's (that claim seems to hold up from field tests). The molded-in handles were some of our favorites among the competition. This cooler also has a pressure release valve, something you don't see on many other coolers, which helps with lid opening. Overall, you can't go wrong with this cooler that leads the industry in ice retention. Dimensions: 32 x 18 x 18.5 inches. Check out our full breakdown of Cabela's products made in the USA.

What We Like

  • Ice retention for over a week
  • Comfortable handles
  • Great price
  • Rugged

What We Don't Like

  • Not a great product warranty, but doesn’t deter us from buying this quality cooler

Best Small Cooler: Grizzly 15 Cooler

Grizzly Coolers is making some great high quality coolers for folks who are looking for something small, but effective. They do have larger options, but we found their smaller rotomolded coolers to test better on ice retention and other stress tests. If you need something small to bring on your next hunting trip or fishing trip, Grizzly is a great option. They come in a bunch of different colors as well. Just make sure to stick to their hard-side coolers - their soft-side coolers are not made in the USA.

What We Like

  • Ice retention for about a week
  • Secure latches
  • Good price
  • Easy to carry

What We Don't Like

  • Shoulder strap is imported

Best Large Cooler: Cordova Excursion Cooler


The Excursion cooler from Cordova Coolers is a monster - this thing is 128 quarts and will hold up to 32 one gallon jugs, 120 cans, or 120 pounds of ice. We we a little worried that it would perform poorly in the ice retention test because of how light the cooler is, but we were pleasantly surprised and it performed pretty well. If you need something huge to bring with you to your next tailgate or camping trip, definitely check out Cordova Coolers. Update: it looks like their Excursion cooler is no longer available, so we linked to their next biggest size below, the 88-quart Journey cooler.

What We Like

  • Large size
  • Lightweight
  • Decent ice retention
  • Durable

What We Don't Like

  • Not the best on ice retention, but can't expect too much from a cooler this size

Easiest Cooler To Carry: Orca Cooler


Orca Coolers is making some great hard-sided rotomolded coolers right here in the USA. Their 20 quart cooler that we tested (shown here) did decent on ice retention, lasting about a week. What we really like is the thick metal handle over top of the cooler that makes it really easy to carry. It was your typical rubber latches that you find on a lot of other higher-end coolers which we found to perform just fine and keep the cooler secure. If you need something easy to carry down to the beach or wherever you are going, definitely check out Orca Coolers.

What We Like

  • Easy to carry
  • Secure
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Cargo net on the back for additional storage

What We Don't Like

  • Not as many size options to choose from with the handle

Best Cooler with Wheels: Igloo Marine Breeze Roller Cooler


If you need a cooler with wheels, the Igloo Marine Breeze cooler was the best we found on the market, especially for taller people. The wheels roll smoothly and are very durable. The Igloo Marine Breeze is well insulated to keep your contents cold and has UV inhibitors to prevent against sun damage. It also sports a stain and odor resistant liner. Overall, a quality cooler on wheels at a very affordable price under $100. Dimensions: 27.5 x 19.1 x 16.8 inches.

What We Like

  • Easy rolling wheels
  • Affordable price
  • Comfortable and reliable handle

What We Don't Like

  • Sub-par ice retention, but perfect for a long weekend on one batch of ice.

Recap: Best Coolers Made in the USA


YouTube Video: How to Find Coolers Made in the USA

 


What About YETI?

Contrary to popular belief, YETI coolers are not 100% made in the USA. Their popular Tundra series is made at facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Philippines. They also outsource manufacturing to China for some of their other popular products. Check out our recent article on YETI for more information. We also have similar research on where Coleman coolers are made.


How to Find Coolers Made in the USA

The best way to transport food while traveling is to load it all up in a cooler. The cooler market has rapidly expanded in recent years making the process of finding the perfect cooler more difficult than it may seem.

There is a lot of research involved in finding a good quality cooler that is also “made in the USA”. This guide breaks down how to buy a cooler that is “made in the USA” by material and gives a general overview on how to understand the labeling requirements for these products.

What Does “Made in the USA” Mean?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines in place to ensure that companies are not using false claims that their products are “made in the USA”. The claim that a product is “all or virtually all” produced in the USA means that the majority of manufacturing costs as well as the assembly must come from the United States. However, these guidelines can be quite confusing to understand, and too easy for companies to finagle.

For more information on this topic, you can click here to view our full Made in the USA labeling guide.

Materials

There are several different materials that go into the making of a cooler. By looking at each of these materials separately, we can develop an understanding of where most of the production is done, giving us an idea of how hard it is to find products with these materials “made in the USA”.

Plastic

Most coolers use roto-molded plastics for the structure and base of the cooler. For the best durability, the plastic should be thick and well made.

Around 20% of the world’s plastic is produced in the United States. This ranks the USA behind Europe and China. China produces the most plastic in the world, at 32%. When searching for a cooler, makes sure to double-check where the plastic in the cooler was sourced to ensure it is truly an American-made product.

Pressure Injected Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam is an insulator used to keep coolers cold. A thick, complete layer of polyurethane foam is the best way to retain ice and keep the cooler cold. Some brands will cut corners when it comes to this foam and not use it all the way around the inside of the cooler. Doing so will cause the cooler to not retain ice or stay as cold for as long.

The United States is behind China and many other countries in terms of production of polyurethane foam. However, the USA produces better quality foam due to quality standards that are not in place in China. There are harmful chemicals and carcinogens in the Chinese-made foams. It is very important to check to make sure companies source their polyurethane foam from the USA.

Rubber

In many coolers, rubber is used in the lock mechanism as well as a tight seal around the opening of the cooler. When used as a seal around the cooler, the rubber acts as another layer of protection to keep the cooler cold. When put to the durability test, latches made of rubber last the longest.

Thailand is the number one producer of rubber in the world. Not a lot of rubber is produced in the United States, so this material is definitely one that will take research to ensure it is made in the USA.

Labeling

Title 19 Chapter 4 Section 1304 of the United States Code states that the FTC’s job is to protect consumers from false “made in the USA” claims that are made by companies about their products.

The FTC does not keep a close watch on companies but will take action when a false claim is brought to their attention. This means that it falls on the customers to watch out for false “made in the USA” claims and to call companies out.

In terms of labeling, words matter. Make sure to watch out for verbiage that may be used in product labels. An example of this is “made” versus “assembled” in the USA. When the verb “assembled” is used, it signifies that the product was not made in the USA but rather shipped over and merely assembled here. The label “made in America” is also something to watch out for, as it could mean that the product was made in either the USA, Canada, or Mexico.

An American flag sticker is often seen as a simple way to identify when a product was made in the United States. However, this flag can often mislead consumers. The sticker is not government regulated, which leads companies to use it as a way to deceive customers.

There are a lot of tactics that companies use to initially mislead customers into believing that their products are made in the United States. It is important to thoroughly check the manufacturer's website and look for things like pictures of the production site or other clues that suggest where the materials were produced.

When companies are not upfront about where their product was produced, it is likely that it is not made in the USA. If it is actually made in the USA, the company would likely use this fact as a selling point rather than hide it. It is important to keep in mind that the FTC does not require companies to state the country of origin on their websites or promotional images.

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