Cover photo big cooler

Cover photo big cooler

Review: The Really BIG Cooler Showdown
By Travis Bertrand, Rokslide Moderator

It’s that time of the year again where you are dusting off your hunting equipment and preparing for your first hunt or scouting trip. Maybe you already have been out a few time and realize you need to upgrade your cooler. Let’s face it, the rotocast cooler market has so many offerings it can be overwhelming and most local shops only carry a limited selection. For this review, I tested head-to-head four coolers in a size I feel most hunters should own.  Keep in mind, you might not be able to get your hands on every one locally, but each should just be a few clicks away.


I chose to keep this shootout in the 75-85 quart range because it is the perfect size for boned-out meat for most animals we hunt in the West. Two of these will hold meat from your trophy elk (minus the cape) while one can gobble up a mule deer or antelope. They are the biggest cooler most men can handle without help in most cases and big enough to keep ice cold for days on end. The coolers I tested are as follows:

Canyon pic 1bertrand

Canyon Coolers Outfitter 75 (MSRP-$350.00)

The Outfitter series appears to be built with one thing in mind, ice retention. This is a no-frills cooler with a blocky appearance utilizing no wasted space for insulation. I find the indents to open the lid to be a little small if you your cooler hasn’t been opened in a while and has a good vacuum on it. Overall I believe Canyon Coolers to be your best bang for your buck for a high-end cooler and turned out to be my favorite cooler in the test.

Canyon pic 2latches

Latches-The 75 has three recessed cam-style latches which are the easiest to open out of all the coolers. I’m not an engineer but it seems three latches is overkill for this size of cooler and they might have gotten away with two.

Handles-Standard, low stretch rope with finger formed handle. They come long but can be adjusted by tying new knots in the rope.

Finish-Semi porous texture on the white model makes it hard to keep and stay clean. I would suggest going with the sandstone color if you are a neat freak.

Drain-The drain plug is easy to use and stays attached so you don’t lose it. It is also easily replaceable if it breaks.

Feet-White color comes with rubber feet while the sandstone sports truck friendly skid plates.

Features-You can lock the lid on the sides with a long shackle lock or optional cable lock.

Colors-White and Sandstone.

Warranty- Lifetime

IGBC bear certified?-Yes #3769

Weight empty-30.8 pounds

Actual capacity- 71.54 quarts

Canyon pic 5bertrand


Grizzly pic 1bertrand

Grizzly Coolers 75 (MSRP-$440)

Grizzly has been in the cooler industry for a while and knows a thing or two about ice retention. Over the years, they have made changes to their design to improve their quality. The 75-quart Grizzly is no exception with a wide range of customization and useful features. Grizzly Coolers 75 is made in the USA out the small town Decorah, Iowa.

Latches-Grizzly realized this was an area for improvement on previous models so they came up with building them into the cooler, it’s a really slick setup that keeps the lid secure and still easy enough to open that a five-year old can get in (tested by my son). Also, I think three is excessive, but there might be a reason.

Handles-Sharp looking rope and the grip is contoured to your hand, however can bend easily making a heavy cooler uncomfortable. Not painful but uncomfortable when lifting a 150-pound cooler.

Finish-This is a really good looking cooler with sleek lines and with a smooth texture, fish guts should wipe off easily.

Drain-Dual 2″ plugs makes draining contents done in record time! Having a drain on each side also makes it easy to direct the draining water in the direction you like. I don’t know how many times I have set down a cooler with the plug on the uphill side!

Feet-Non-skid rubber feet that has a lot of surface area.

Features-The lid is lockable on the corners with a long shank lock. You can add a full color graphic to your lid for $40. The lid also features a 30″ tape measure just big enough to measure the width of your next buck.

Grizzly 30 inch

Colors-Plenty of options including OD Green/Tan, Red, Sandstone/Tan, Sea-foam Green, Tan, and White.

Warranty- Lifetime

IGBC bear certified?-Yes #3370

Weight empty-35.4 pounds

Actual capacity- 75.09 quarts

Grizzly ready to roll



Siberian pic 1bertrand

Siberian Pro-85 (MSRP-$400)

Siberian Coolers was born in Bozeman, Montana by outdoorsman so they understand what we are looking for in a cooler. I really like the design of the Pro-85 as they know we use coolers for more than keeping ice cold. Such as a seat, drink holders, and a table. They took all of this into account when building this cooler and it shows.

Latches-Two standard, replaceable latches that are recessed to keep the smooth lines flowing.

Handles-Standard, low stretch rope with a very comfortable handle.

Siberian pic 2bert

Finish-Very smooth finish with beveled edges. The top of the lid is slightly recessed so you can put something on top of the cooler and not have it roll off.

Drain-Simple, screw out design that you can drain under control by not screwing all the way out or fully removable for maximum flow.

Feet-Non-skid rubber feet.

Features-Lockable lid in the corners with a shank style lock. You will also find 4 built in cup holders on the lid.

Colors-White and Granite

Warranty- Lifetime

IGBC bear certified?-No

Weight empty-34.2 pounds

Actual Capacity-74.03 quarts

Siberian bertrand 3



Orion lead bertrand

Orion 85 (MSRP-$550)

This is the mac daddy of coolers. When someone wants the BEST cooler made, They are looking for an Orion. They hold no expense back when building coolers and are truly the best-made cooler in the industry. They come with a hefty price tag but you get what you pay for and they are made in the USA. From the integrated standing/sitting pad to the built-in bottle openers, you get a cooler that is chock full of features that people wnat . Orion also says the insulation is over 2″ thick.

Orion wins

Latches-Two brushed aluminum, cam style latches that are recessed.

Handles-Low stretch rope ran through textured, rubber coated handles. They are very comfortable with a loaded down cooler.

Finish-Very smooth texture makes cleaning the cooler easy and all of the edges a beveled. I worry about the foam getting beat up but I have an Orion 45 and it has held up well through a lot of abuse for over a year. I will say the foam is hard to clean but well worth the added comfort. If left out in the sun, it can get VERY HOT being a dark color, but doesn’t seem to hinder ice retention

Drain-Simple, screw out design that you can drain under control by not screwing all the way out or fully removable for maximum flow.

Feet-Non-skid rubber feet

Features-This cooler is loaded with features such as a lockable long shank lock in the corners. A foam padded lid with an embossed Orion logo makes a nice seat. Under the lid you will find a dry goods slide-able tray. In the corners, you will find bottle openers and sides features YakAttack Tracks for RAM mounts. With this, you can mount endless items to your cooler from cell phone holders to rod holders.

Colors-Being under the umbrella of Jackson Kayak, they carry the tradition of wild color schemes really setting these coolers apart in terms of style.


IGBC bear certified?-Yes #5033

Weight empty-42 pounds

Actual capacity-86.25 quarts

Orion on tap


The Showdown

Much like last years shootout “The Big Cooler Showdown,” I exposed these coolers to the same conditions from beginning to end. The test is simple: pre-cool the coolers and place them in the blistering Nevada sun and see how long they last. This year, instead of letting the coolers chill in a walk-in freezer, I pre-cooled them by filling every cooler to the top with ice and then filling them with water to fill the voids. Not everyone has access to a walk in freezer and this is a simple, real-life method anyone can do.

After they were chilled, I emptied each cooler and started with fresh ice. I filled all of the coolers to their maximum capacity despite the size. They sat outside where they received the brunt of the sun until 5:00 or so before being relieved by shade given by my grapevine. I checked on them once daily to monitor ice retention until the day I believed the cooler’s ice would succumb to the heat. I then checked on the cooler twice a day being careful to limit the time the lid is open. Once all said and done, I weighed the coolers empty and full of water to get a true capacity.

After nine long days soaking up direct sunlight, in temperatures up to 98 degrees, the Grizzly 75 and the Siberian Pro-85 were the first to succumb around noon. It must be noted that every Grizzly cooler shipped after June of 2016 will have a new drain plug they claim will add 12 hours to ice retention. Unfortunately, I had the older model of drain plug.

While first place was honestly a VERY close race, The Orion 85 edged out the Canyon Coolers Outfitter 75 by literally 1.5 hours! The Orion 85 officially lasted the longest at 12:35 PM on day 11. I never thought watching ice melt could be so intense!

In short, all of these coolers meet the needs of our goals and should be proudly placed in the back of your truck before taking off for hunting camp. If value is a concern, the Canyon Coolers Outfitter 75 is a very impressive cooler and is a top-of-the-line cooler at a great value.

However, if you want the best of the best, Orion 85 is the cooler for you. They are in a class of their own and being dark colors and a grey lid, they still came out on top. In fact, during mid-day sun, I took a surface temperature of over 166 degrees! To withstand those temps and hold ice for longer than 11 days says everything.

You can ask Travis questions or discuss this article here

Orion winning photo