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Cold as ice: high-end coolers are extremely capable, heavy expensive ... and worth every single penny.

Had you told me 20 years ago I would pay $3,000 for binoculars or that hunters would shell out a couple hundred bucks for an ice chest--yes, a cooler--I would have laughed at you. But these days coolers that cost more than a good rifle abound, and, for the most part, they are worth the money.

We tested--OK, tortured--four different high-end coolers to see how they performed. All four were filled with ice and left on my patio in the blazing south Alabama sun. With temperatures a balmy 85 degrees, I opened them several times a day and even used a standard, cheap ice chest as a control. Next, I placed a 25-pound bag of lead shot inside and rolled the coolers off my tailgate onto a gravel drive several times to see if the latches held and to check for impact resistance. Finally, I took each cooler on a deer hunt or two where they stayed in the back of my Toyota and, considering the way I drive, generally caught hell.

In the stay-cool department, the high-end coolers excelled, keeping ice for at least six days. The cheap cooler melted out in two and a half days. These coolers would just about pay for themselves in ice savings after a few hunting trips and one really long, beer-filled trip to the beach. All of the coolers had no-skid feet that kept them off the concrete and locked in place. They all performed reasonably well in the drop and let's-go-hunting tests as well. It really comes down to size, features, function, and how deep you are willing to dig into your pocket.

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Title Annotation:The Out Fitter
Author:Guthrie, J.
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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