After my round up review, the best ice chest goes to Canyon Coolers. Selecting a good ice chest, let alone the best ice chest, proved to be harder than I thought, as there are many aspects and features to consider within the ice chest market, and even more so when you look at the new roto-molded ice chest and how they use different terminology to separate their brands from others. If you came here looking for the best ice chest, or wondering how I chose the Canyon Cooler as my top pick for best ice chest, check out my roundup review.
Keep in mind that selecting the best ice chest was done simply by comparing the details of what each brand advertised on their sites. Being that these new style ice chests aren't found in a lot of retailers, basing your purchase on the information they provide, as well as what you read from others is the only way to make an informed purchase.
Each brand will have a loyal following, and not many people will own several brands in the roto-mold class of ice chests simply because of the expense, so I took this into consideration while reviewing 8 brands in the rotomolded ice chest group. What I found from the average ice chest owner is that the brand they have is the best, hands down, out performs all other ice chest, and all other ice chest brands were not worth competing.
Wow, how would one ever go about selecting the right ice chest with this hyperbole going on in this market? I thought so as well, which, again, takes me back to the roundup review, as I thought that would be the best way to zero in a on brand or two, and then do the research. To me, the best ice chest overall was the Canyon Outfitter. I did some research online to see what people were saying about Canyon coolers, but there isn't much out on them, but what I did find was all positive. They appear to be more popular out west, and working on expanding.
I purchased four of the Outfitter ice chests, two tan 125's, one white 125, and a white 22. The two tan 125 ice chest will be used at our hunting cabin, one white 125 for my boat, and the white 22 ice chest will be to keep our frozen bait, well, frozen! So let's take a peek at what arrived at my house today, which was just the boat use product that you see my nosey GSD inspecting above, as the others went to our hunting cabin.
My first thought on the Canyon 125 Outfitter ice chest was that it is a beast and very well made. Below are the specs I posted on the roundup review.
Canyon Ice Chest- 125 Qt Outfitter.
Now that I bought what I feel was the best ice chest from my research, let's see how it matched up to the above specs.
The thickness of the ice chest certainly was spot on for every measurement around the unit. The neoprene gasket around the lid was firmly attached and looked to be of good quality. I played around with opening and closing the lid a few times, and I will tell you that this ice chest closes like a casket. I was expecting a softer sound, but the gasket bottoms out and allows the plastic to slam. I wanted to ensure it was getting a seal, so I slid some 2" strips of paper in various areas and closed the lid without latching. Each piece created some resistance coming out, so I know it was making contact. Once I latched it down, the paper was very hard to pull out, with some pieces ripping, so the gasket is indeed sealing.
I put a call into Canyon and spoke to one of the owners, a guy named Jason. He explained that it does indeed seal very well, as I found out from the paper test beforehand, but Canyon plans to use a thinker gasket to eliminate the slamming sound, which offers a better perception of a tighter seal. I agree, but it's just a sound, and being a neoprene gasket, I know it doesn't have the cushion of rubber but does make for a better gasket. I'd like to see a softer sound as well.
The lid hinge is a 3/8 stainless steel pin that locks in the integrated plastic offsets, thus creating a solid hinge joint joining both pieces, and creates a stopping point for the lid that opens about 15 degrees past straight up (90 degrees) so it won't close on you.
The Handles are form fitted ergo handles that feel nice when lifting, and are attached with a nice soft nylon rope.
These should last the life of the ice chest with no problem. The drain plug is tethered and is made of plastic. I screwed it in and out a few times, and it appears to tighten nicely. I filled it with water about half way and turned the drain plug to see when it started to leak, which took a full turn to dribble, and 3.5 more to fully remove. It drains pretty well, but the water does hit the plug and creates some splatter, not a deal breaker or issue of any sorts.
The skid plates on the bottom seem pretty durable and rugged. They are about 1/4 inch thick and beveled on all sides so I don't see them getting snagged or creating any resistance.
The marine grade latches disappointed me a bit, as I thought they were going to be stainless steel. The only stainless is the latch hook on the lid, and a pin in the rubber handle. If you read my roundup review, you will see that I do not like rubber handles in a marine environment, as I always have issues with rotting. On the bright side, Jason told me that Canyon is offering free lifetime replacement on the rubber latches against deterioration such as rotting, so that's a good thing. He also said they were designing new latches that should be available in 2014, and you get your choice. As for what's on the ice chest now, they are pretty nice as rubber goes and lock very well, and with ease. Again, this is for marine use, so other uses may be fine for the rubber. The recessed aspect of the latches are a sure winner, and certainly will not snag.
The 2 lock down/tie downs are a bit odd, and if you wanted to use a pad lock, you will need a long neck type lock with at least a 3 1/4 shaft. The same hole is also for the tie down, so locking and tie down at the same time may be a bit difficult. There is a gap between the lid and base where the lock goes that could be used with a hook at the same time as a lock, but you'll have to size the shaft accordingly.
At $399 each for the 125 Qt ice chest, I think it's a great buy to this point of my review. Stay tuned for field testing.