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With so many rotomolded, premium-quality coolers out there to choose from, people often end up deciding on one or the other based on popularity or some functionally-negligible aesthetic feature, rather than performance superiority. That being said, if you’re in the market for something like a Yeti or Grizzly but aren’t really a fan of supporting the ‘big names’, you’ll really want to check out Black Rock Coolers – a relatively unheard of, family owned and operated company based out of Washington state.
Naturally, the only difficult thing about trying to support small-time companies like these is the fact that it’s often hard to find out anything about the brand, or the products behind the brand for that matter.
Fortunately, we’ve got some first-hand experience with the Wild West river-running madmen behind the company, and in this in-depth Black Rock Coolers review we’ll go over each different size/model they’ve currently got available, some construction details, how they hold up performance-wise to the ‘big dogs’, and lastly, where to go about finding and buying them online if you’re looking to purchase.
Black Rock Cooler Review: General Overview
Like we said, there’s so many top-notch, premium quality rotomolded coolers out there nowadays it can be frustrating trying to distinguish one from the other, aside from insignificant things like color or logo.
As far as style, Black Rock Coolers actually do pretty well to distinguish themselves from the crowd, even if they manage to do so by adopting the old adage that ‘less is more’.
The ice chests themselves are super simplistic: bare-bones, no-frills, and they only come in one color (speckled granite). They’re definitely not flashy and they won’t grab much attention by themselves, but you’d be surprised by the number of hunters, fisherman, and general outdoors people we come across that are looking for that exact kind of ‘understatement’ in a cooler.
Construction, Durability and Performance
Make no mistake – BlackRock Coolers really will hold up with the best of the bunch out there in terms of durability, performance, and overall quality. Yeti, Pelican, Orion, K2 – none of them will really offer much more performance-wise than you’ll get out of a Black Rock.
In fact, a buddy of ours out west has a 150L Expedition model that he’s taken several times on our trips out to Fishlake National Park, and that thing never ceases to match tit-for-tat whatever it is that we’ve got with us (it’s usually always something different).
Construction-wise, Black Rock Coolers cut no corners and spare no expense. They’re designed taking into consideration the most brutal and extreme outdoor situations that any good cooler should be able to survive, and the resulting performance shows.
They use a thick polyethylene interior and exterior (the same ultra-durable material that pro-quality whitewater kayaks use), and sandwich 2” of high-density structural foam in-between for maximum performance ( this is including the lid).
As far as ice retention, the coolers are rated to last up to three weeks in direct sun before ice melt – take it from us, you’ll be super hard-pressed to find anything that out-performs those stats.
In addition to the tough exterior and rotomolded insulation, Black Rock Coolers are IGBC-certified bear proof, and are more than capable of deep-freezing and handling dry ice. Each of the three different models come standard with a removable wire basket, and the refrigerator/freezer style seal rivals any gasket design in the business. These features alone make Black Rock ice chest a perfect cooler for camping and a pretty solid dry ice cooler, too.
That’s not all, though. Additionally, it’s well-known that hinge systems are a distinguishing factor in cooler construction, and is something that truly separates the men from the proverbial boys. Like with everything else regarding their construction, Black Rock passes this test with flying colors – their built-in hinge and 8mm stainless steel pins make the mechanism literally all but bombproof.
All in all, after extensive searching and in spite of a pretty heavy amount of skepticism, we were legitimately unable to find anything sub-par on any of the Black Rock Cooler models.
Models and Sizes
Like we mentioned earlier, Black Rock only has three different sizes available:
- 45C Expedition (42-quart)
- 70L Expedition (60-quart)
- and the full-size 150L Expedition (146-quart)
The 150L is actually a fairly popular cooler among river guides out west, and easily withstands the rigors of multi-day whitewater excursions. The 70L also will fit super snugly in a standard 14’ raft, and is the perfect option for shorter weekend trips and campings.
The smallest size 45C weighs about 22 lbs and measures in at 20” x 17” 16” (external), and is rated to hold around 40 cans plus one 10 lb bag of ice.
The 70L measures about 33” x 15” x 16”, weighs 28 lbs, and can easily hold 64 cans with two bags of ice. The big old 150L measures 40” x 19” x 21” (external), weighs a hefty 45 lbs (without ice), and can stash up to 166 cans with five standard size bags of ice.
(Here’s an exact spec sheet of all three models if you need them for frame-fitting).
Lastly, each of the three models comes with a manufacturer’s 3-year warranty, and has built-in padlock receivers on both corners for securely locking up all your goodies (from bears, racoons, or other would-be thieves).
Black Rock Ice Chest Reviews
Being such a small company with a limited number of coolers manufactured each year, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many customer reviews out there online. (We’re not kidding about this being a small company).
However, whatever value word-of-mouth has among potential buyers, make no mistake that we’ve never heard a single negative thing said about any Black Rock ice chest. On quite the contrary, in fact, like we mentioned we’ve gone on trips with a few people out west and have several different friends that use them on river excursions, and for years and years they’ve had nothing but good things to say.
In case you’re skeptical, here’s a great video from the company themselves of the 150L getting beat to death on a whitewater excursion, and coming out after more than two weeks still full of ice and smelling like roses.
(Keep in mind that if these things routinely survive the brutally intense summer heat of the wild west deserts, they’ll be able to survive just about anything).
Black Rock Coolers for Sale: Prices and Where to Buy Online
These things can be a little mystical and difficult to find online, but if you’ve heard good things about the brand and have been wondering where to buy Black Rock coolers, you’ll want to check out Amazon first for availability, as they’ve routinely got them in stock (direct Amazon links: 45C, 70L, 150L) at good prices.
If you don’t have any luck there, you can always try going directly through the Black Rock Coolers website, but as far as we know they’ve been sold out for awhile now on all three different models.
Black Rock Coolers – Summary
Bottom line is, Black Rock Coolers is legitimately one of the coolest companies you could buy from if you’re an outdoorsman looking for a premium rotomold cooler, but have been trying to avoid going with some of the bigger, more popular names.
Like we said in the review, these things will perform tit-for-tat with any make, model, or design out there, and you can rest assured that you’ll very likely be the only one of your friends to own one. Plus, it always feels good to support a local, small-time family-run operation over the big dogs.
>> Check out all Black Rock Coolers at Amazon