The cooler game has changed quite a bit over the last 13 years, almost as much as the music festival business. Coolers used to be things you got at crappy big box stores and didn't mind losing all that much, you might have even slummed it with one of those ozone killing styrofoam turds just because you were lazy, cheap or just desperate to keep your Natty Light lukewarm to slightly chilled.
Those days, just like $50 festival tickets, are long behind us, and now it's all about your "cooler status" game. The first to the luxury chill block was the juggernaut we all know as YETI, making coolers a status symbol amongst the weekend warrior SUV set.
The YETI's heavy-duty construction made from one piece of roto-molded plastic completely changed the category allowing for abuse, longer ice storage, and, well yeah, status. Eventually, the urban legends came out of YETIs holding ice for a full month and other tales of cooler BS, but it all helped the brand hit a staggering $460 MM in sales in '16.
Then every brand got on the copycat wagon and proceeded to flood the market with knock offs and derivative works, but still, the YETI remained the crown jewel of cooler hype for just a little while longer.
Now we have endemic brands like IGLOO and Otterbox stepping up their game and bringing enough quality to the market that there is actually some competition - like Audi to BMW and Mercedes if you need a reference.
We recently got the Otterbox Venture 45 for a test run and being a YETI owner, I was definitely up for the challenge.
This is not a side by side comparison, both coolers are great and useful for different reasons, but the Otterbox definitely brings some fantastic features to the party, so I've found myself using the Venture 45 a lot more these days.
The Otterbox claims ice to stick around for roughly 14 days, which seems extreme as my ice only lasted for about a week, but it was also 85+ degrees out during my little test run, and the cooler was in direct sunlight, so it is feasible if you kept it in the shade and it was slightly cooler out.
Anyway, this cooler is not cheap, it comes in at $349.99 which is the same price as the YETI, but if you are serious about hauling brews, meat, vodka, Red Bulls, and anything else you need cold for a while - the Venture is an excellent investment.
Why do we like it so much?
To start with I love the built-in handles, some might argue that you lose packability, but if you are that tight on space you are bringing too much crap, or you need a bigger vehicle. The latches are also easier to open than the YETI which is nice, maybe it makes it easier for the bears too but I'm not going to run that kind of test because I don't get paid enough for that type of research, and I like my arms and head attached to my body.
Multiple compartments can be created with different dividers so you can separate your friends Keystone Light from your Melvin IPAs - because those two things should never touch, ever!
Accessorizing is easy with Otterbox because they actually have some that are useful - unlike the Yeti. We got the side-mounted table with removable cutting board, cup holders, and even a big thing of ice to up your cooling time. There are also external clips that can mount cases like dry boxes, and the included bottle opener is clutch for your Michelob Ultra's... just kidding, nobody drinks Michelob Ultra.
Overall: I'm going to have to say I like the Audi of coolers a little better than my sweaty YETI. It has a bit more space, much better handles, and the accessories are super convenient if you are using the cooler as a center point of your outdoor setup or campsite. It just brings a lot more functionality to the party and that's key when your are being social outside.
External: 31.39” x 18.76” x 18.83”
Internal (top): 19.30” L x 11.67” W x 13.30” H
Internal (bottom): 18.10” L x 10.60” W x 13.30” H
Dry Weight: 26.37lbs
Price: $349.99, otterbox.com