Road Trip Essentials: OtterBox Venture and Trooper Coolers
Keep It Cold
If there’s one thing that road trips of all kinds have in common, it’s the desire to keep a collection of cold beverages and hearty snacks on hand at all times. And if you take a quick peek into the bed of any traveling pickup, you’re bound to find some sort of ice-carrying contraption, from simple foam to rugged extreme. Because of this, we set out to find the best road trip–worthy icebox, and where we found it might surprise you.
Coolers have been around for hundreds of years, and most people have a style or brand that they swear by. A little more than a decade ago, this whole industry was flipped on its head with the introduction of the high-end cooler. Previously, anyone with a couple 20s in their pocket could get a suitable cooler from the local hardware or sporting-goods store. However, when the luxury cooler market exploded, so did the prices—upward of tenfold.
Fortunately for most, the standard cooler didn’t go anywhere, while over the course of a decade, the high-end market matured as more players entered the game. Innovation was light, however, with most just copying the 100-pound Nepalese snow monkey in the room (Google it, we’ll wait). Rotomolded plastic was in and soon every player had a model with rubber latches and rope handles.
Knowing they could do it better, the folks at OtterBox (the company behind that rugged case your iPhone is wearing right now) set out to create the ultimate cooler. Choosing to go after the high end, in 2017 the company introduced the Venture line of premium rugged coolers. Venture coolers are certified bear-resistant, can hold ice for up to 14 days, and have been drop-tested for durability on every side and edge, empty and full.
Wanting to test its claims, we got our hands on a trio of coolers: a Venture 45, Venture 65, and Trooper LT30. There are a couple things we noticed right off the bat: the Venture coolers are extremely rugged, and their molded handles are fantastic for both carrying and securing the cooler. Ventures have a modular accessory-mounting system and come with a bottle opener and dry storage tray. The bottle opener is cool, but needs to fit a bit more snugly to not pop off when used.
Latches are easy to manipulate and have provisions for locks (which is great for keeping mooching buddies out of your brews). We had a bit of trouble opening the lid after coming down from elevation, which is a problem most of these coolers have. If you can, leave the lid cracked or drain valve open to prevent sticking.
While the company claims the Venture coolers can hold ice for up to 14 days, that’s obviously in a perfect world. We loaded ours like normal people do, stuck them in the hot sun, and used them like normal. We logged more than seven days with ice, which is damn impressive. So we have no doubts that if you load them with a few cans (Otter suggests 25 for the Venture 45 and 36 in the 65) and keep them in the shade that they can make it the full two weeks. We also appreciated the slanted bottom and large drain valve, which made clearing the dead ice out a breeze.
It’s worth noting that the Venture coolers are true to size, meaning the 45 holds 45 quarts and the 65—well, you get it. It’s also worth noting that not all of the competition can say the same thing, with some 65-series coolers holding less than 45. We measured our two and Otter isn’t lying; if anything, they are a touch conservative. We also appreciate that they are designed in Colorado, built in Michigan, and can proudly claim made in the USA, while others in the top tier cannot.
In addition to the pair of Venture coolers, we also picked up a Trooper LT30 soft-sided cooler. It boasts a host of features, like a 30-quart volume, wide opening, and sturdy base. We loaded this one up with some drinks and 20 pounds of ice, slung it on our back, and went for a quick hike. After a short while, we decided that it’s best served in the back seat of the truck or for quick jaunts to and from the campsite or fishing hole, but any more than that and it’s a bit cumbersome. We had ours keep ice for one or two days, depending on conditions, and Otter claims three days in a perfect world. The LT30 also comes with a bottle opener, which is a bonus.
Overall, we’re quite impressed with the build quality, fit, finish, and function of the Venture and Trooper coolers from OtterBox. While the price tag isn’t for the faint of heart, these are quite possibly the last coolers you’ll ever have to buy (which is backed up with a lifetime warranty.) We’re going to continue putting the trio through their paces, but are confident in saying that these coolers might be your second best road trip companion, right behind the Labrador riding shotgun.
Color: Alpine Ascent
Color: Alpine Ascent