Pelican is renowned for their waterproof hard cases which protect your electronics and valuable on river and backcountry trips, so it’s not a far stretch for the company to now get into the Cooler game. Coolers are essentially waterproof hard (and soft) cases with insulative properties to keep their contents cool. Pelican has taken their know-how of waterproof cases and applied it to cooler design to offer up some pretty innovative products. Their line-up is extensive right out of the gates with seven hard coolers, three soft coolers and three-wheeled options. In this review we’re going to take a closer look at three different Pelican Coolers, specifically, the Pelican 24 Can Soft Cooler, the Pelican 20QT Elite cooler and the Pelican 50QT Elite cooler. Let's jump in shall we?
In this review we'll look at three Pelican Coolers, the 24 Can Soft Cooler, the 20QT Elite Cooler and the 50QT Elite Cooler.
Price: $360.69CAN / $279.99US
Weight: 2.3kg / 5lb
Capacity: 23.66L / 25.00QT
Internal Dimensions: 38.1 x 20.3 x 22.2cm / 12.00 x 6.00 x 7.00"
External Dimensions: 43.2 x 25.4 x 34.3 cm / 14.00 x 7.50 x 12.00"
Warranty: 3 years
Pelican offers three soft cooler options, each named according to how many cans they can accommodate. There is the 12, 24 and 48 Can Soft Coolers, each using an 840 double coated rugged construction fabric rather than a moulded hard plastic. While soft coolers are not as durable as rigid coolers, they’re 55% lighter, more convenient for travelling and easier to carry. Ice will last up to 48 hours inside the 24 Can Soft Cooler and the Tzip Zipper is100% leak-proof so you can take it on the river/lake with out a worry. The dual-lock buckle system provides added security and the stainless steel tie-downs on the gear ladders double as a built-in bottle openers.
Price: $193.22CAN / $149.99US
Weight: 5.7kg / 12.52lb
Capacity: 17.98L / 19.00QT
Internal Dimensions: 30.5 x 17 x 35.8 cm / 12 x 6.70 x 14.10"
External Dimensions: 47.8 x 32 x 45 cm / 18.80 x 12.60 x 17.70"
Colours: OD Green/Tan, Tan/Orange, White/Grey, Sea foam/Grey, Dark Grey/Green, Pink/White, Realtree Xtra/OD Green, Realtree Edge/Tan
Price: $386.46CAN / $299.99US
Weight: 12kg / 26.39lb
Capacity: 50.03L / 52.87QT
Internal Dimensions: 44.5 x 27.9 x 34.8 cm / 17.50 x 11.00 x 13.70"
External Dimensions: 76.2 x 51.6 x 51.8 cm / 30.00 x 20.30 x 20.40"
Colours: OD Green/Tan, Brown/Tan, White/Grey, Tan/Orange, Sea foam/Grey, Dark Grey/Green, Dark Grey/White, Light Blue/ White, Realtree Xtra/OD Green, Realtree Edge/Tan
Like the Pelican 20QT Elite Cooler, the 50QT Elite uses the same rugged materials and hardware to provide maximum cold over the long haul. Where the 20QT Elite has a single carry handle the 50QT Elite has two large side handles to manage the additional size and weight. This is a cooler for multi-day car camping when a little extra space is required. If the 50QT is still to small there is also a 70, 95, and 150QT version. There is also a smaller 30QT Cooler if you need something between the 50 and 20 versions.
Pelican has set its sights on capitalizing on the fast growing luxury cooler market that competitor Yeti, created. To do this effecctivley, Pelican has taken what’s already on the market, improve upon it and offered consumers an alternative design approach and feature set. While both Pelican’s hard and soft coolers use similar materials as those of their competitors, they’ve added unique features not only add value but do so without increasing the overall retail price.
The biggest innovation has to be the Press & Pull Secure Latches on the Pelican 20QT Elite and 50QT Elite coolers. While Yeti uses rubberized latches (that they say are bear proof), they’re not very refined or in keeping with the cooler’s design aesthetic. Pelican’s Press & Pull Secure Latches offer up additional security while ensuring ease of use in a stream lines design. They’re effective and simple to use. The built in steel bottle opener between the latches is also a locking point and another nice feature that came in very handy in my testing.
The Pelican 24 Can Soft Cooler is ideal for paddlers who want a lighter weight option while ensuring that their food and drinks stay safe and dry. While not as durable as the 20 and 50QT Elite Coolers, the 24 Can Soft Cooler is less than half the weight which makes it ideal for solo get aways or short trips for two. I’ve been using this cooler for paddle board camping and the hard coolers for car camping adventures, who said you need just one? While the 24 Can Soft Cooler is a versatile option, it is more expensive given the storage volume it provides. It also won’t keep your food cold as long as the hard coolers will. For another take on soft cooler design, give our review of the Yeti Hopper Two 30 a read.
The taller than wider Pelican 20QT Elite Cooler has a smaller foot print than other coolers of the same volume which makes for easy packing in the back of a crowded car or truck box. This also means, however, that there is less interior space at the bottom reaches of the cooler so food and ice will be stacked upon itself more than in a cooler with a wider base such as the 50QT Elite and 24 Can Soft Coolers. While this is not a huge deal, it’s something to consider. Do you value interior space over exterior size or visa-versa? Also, another thing that makes the 20QT Elite unique is that it’s the only cooler in Pelican’s line-up with a built-in swivel handle which makes single hand carries a reality.
The Pelican 50QT Elite Cooler is a great family sized cooler, ideal for multi-day car camping trips. It can hold enough food/refreshments for a small family and keep them cold for an entire weekend. While you’ll need to be strong to muscle this 26 pound behemoth, it’s not the largest cooler in the Pelican line up so if you need even more room you can go up to 150 QT but you’ll need additional people to carry that one. The 50QT Elite Cooler has the same Press & Pull Secure Latches and built in bottle opener as on the Pelican 20QT Elite, but has a larger footprint and can obviously hold more cans of beer, 34 compared to 15 for the 20QT Elite Cooler. The 50QT Elite Cooler has two massive built in handles rather than one single carry handle, given it’s size and weight, these are very much appreciated and ensures you have a solid grip on things.
Overall, Pelican has done an admirable job with their new cooler lines and they offer up competent alternatives to those from rivals.
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