If you haven’t heard of Camco Caribou coolers, you aren’t alone. To help acquaint you with both Camco and the Caribou coolers, I put together this review. The Caribou cooler reviews will cover the product, where to buy, and how it stands up to notable names like Yeti.
The North Carolina based Camco has been manufacturing quality products for the outdoor enthusiast since 1966. They have recently started making hard and soft coolers to bring their vision of quality, innovation, and superior customer service to the growing cooler market. The Caribou and Kuuma coolers offer outstanding quality and performance. Check out the full review for more detail.
Camco Caribou Cooler Review – Let’s Talk Features
Built Like a Bull
To be a competitor in the modern cooler market, the Caribou ice chest needs to have some seriously hardcore build features. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, Camco uses the same rotomolding process the companies like Yeti use.
Rotomolding, rotational molding, of the plastic resin makes this Camco cooler body a single piece of high-density plastic. The cooler you receive won’t have any cracks or seams to let air flow in and out through the cooler’s body.
Rotomolded Caribou coolers also have the strength to put up with almost any punishment that you try to throw at it. I’m not recommending that you throw it out the back of your truck at 70 MPH as one user suggests, but the cooler will stand-up to dropping, rolling around the bed, and even the occasional cooler-napping by a hungry bear.
The lid of the Caribou ice chest family has molded hinges to keep it securely closed. The molding makes the hinges stronger to prevent the lid from breaking off. The Caribou is even stronger thanks to 304 stainless-steel reinforcement in the hinges that make them highly resistant to corrosion and damage.
The strength of the Herd
Like a strong herd of Caribou in the wild, the Camco Caribou cooler uses a group of other features to give this ice chest family the power to stand up with the other coolers on the market.
3 Sizes to Fit Your Needs
The Caribou coolers come in three sizes to meet your various travel and adventure needs; 20-liters, 35-liters, and 55-liters. Each cooler uses a resin that meets FDA requirements that measure if the material is safe for food contact. The 35 and 55L models come with Powder-coated stainless steel basket to keep your food up and out of the ice where it can stay cozy and dry.
90-degree Locking Handles
On both sides of the of the cooler are locking handles that make the cooler quick and easy to lift without collapsing to crush your fingers.
A 1.6-inch screw-in drain plug is big enough to fit a regular sized ice cube through when emptying and cleaning the cooler after a weekend of fun. The drain plug is attached to the cooler with a chain to prevent losing it.
For extra security when traveling and storing, the Caribou coolers have 8 grooves for tie downs. Camco also recommends using the locking handles as tie-down points so you can still access the cooler while keeping it tied down.
The bottom of the Caribou ice chests features two-sided feet, one side for sliding and one side for sticking. The slight elevation allows air flow under the cooler to help minimize heat build-up.
Camco is so confident in their Caribou coolers that they back it with a 5-year warranty. If these coolers break down for any reason related to build quality, you’re covered. The warranty excludes wild animal attacks, explosives, and other causes related to extreme use or misuse.
Cool as a Reindeer
In case you didn’t know, Caribou is the species that are commonly referred to as reindeer. To be a reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, so Camco is setting itself up against a high standard with its name alone.
While the Caribou won’t put your goods into a deep freeze, the combination of rotomolded plastic and foam insulation can keep everything nice and crispy cool for 3 to 5 days.
The cold rating relates to regular use and in average temperatures. If you are out in the hot reservoirs in that dot the Western US or the sweltering summer heat of the South, count on needing a little more ice.
Even in the brutal summer temperatures, I found many users still have ice retention of up to and beyond 3 days. Even when the ice starts to melt, the Caribou cooler keeps the newly formed water cold enough to keep everything nice and cold. 40-degree water is still cold enough to keep your afternoon drinks plenty chilled for a refreshing drink.
The Caribou cooler has a sealing gasket in the lid that makes the ice chest airtight to help make sure that your goods stay as cold as possible in almost any conditions. The lid seals shut thanks to two heavy-duty rubber latches.
The latches are t-shaped that mold to your fingers. This shape makes it easier to grip the latches for sealing and unsealing the lid. The handles create such a tight seal that keeps the top from opening by accident and thereby preserving the cold temperatures you need on the inside.
The only other possible weak link for cold is in the drain plug. Camco has this covered with a threaded design that slows air transfer on its own, and a gasket to seal any possibility of air moving through the drain.
Caribou Cooler vs. Yeti
Two of the world’s favorite cold weather animals go head to head in the cooler arena. Caribou coolers are great on their own, but I wanted to put them up against the Yeti measuring stick.
Shape and Design
One of the problems with being the best is that many other companies try to make copies of the product you have built. Camco coolers, as many other coolers out there, have a lot of similarities to the Yeti coolers in look but the Caribou coolers have some significant differences that make them stand out from the other Yeti lookalikes that are flooding the market.
The latches and the side handles both differ in their shape and function. Yeti uses rope handles, while Caribou uses locking handles that keep the cooler steadier while transporting. Caribou coolers also have a larger drain to help prevent clogging.
Camco manufacture their coolers in China, just like the Yeti with some of their cooler series. If you are looking to support the 100% US made products, you can check out Orca, Grizzly or Icehole coolers, to name a few.
Quality and Durability
Because both cooler brands use rotomolding to form the body, Yeti and Camco both have solid coolers. Both use heavy duty rubbers and stainless steel that keep the moving parts reliable for years.
Another difference between the two is that Yeti has a bear-proof certification. The Caribou coolers don’t have the certification, but the ultra-tough rotomolded body ensures that the cooler won’t fold like a house of cards when a bear comes prowling.
A Matter of Variety
The one real downside of the Caribou coolers is the limited availability of colors and sizes. Yeti has an impressive 15 size options, and each size comes in multiple colors. You can get the perfect size and color for your need and fashion sense.
Caribou coolers, on the other hand, only have 3 sizes available that just come in a white color.
Despite the lack of color and size options, Caribou coolers are an excellent alternative to the premium-priced Yeti. Because Camco isn’t the most well-known brand on the market, they can’t carry the premium price of a Yeti cooler. The result is a robust and comparable option in the 20, 35, and 55-liter sizes at a much lower price.
Caribou Coolers Vs. Yeti: and the Winner is…
We really can’t have a clear winner in this battle. Both coolers are awesome, dependable, and keep ice cold for days upon days. In the end, it will come down to your preference. Yeti has a lot more options for size and color, but the Caribou coolers offer exceptional performance at a lower price. If you’re on the fence, we recommend giving the Caribou coolers a serious try.
Kuuma Cooler, Camco’s Softer Touch
Your typical soft cooler uses a limited amount of insulation and requires a lot of ice to keep things cold, but the Kuuma uses closed cell foam to insulate the bag from the encroaching outside heat. The Kuuma cooler has a sealing zipper designed to keep the cold and keeps everything inside where it belongs. A 33.3-liter capacity makes sure that you have ample space to pack out all the ice, drinks, and food for a day of exciting adventure.
The outside shell is 840 denier nylon that makes the Kuuma waterproof. Plus, the thick nylon shell is puncture resistant, so you don’t have to worry about treating this cooler with kid gloves. Three ways to carry the cooler make it comfortable and easy to carry and store.
How to Catch a Caribou
Picking up a Caribou or Kuuma cooler is simple when shopping online. One reliable source for finding the Camco coolers is on Amazon. We have seen both the hard and soft coolers listed on Camco’s Amazon store.
We recommend Amazon first because of the buyer protection offered by the mega-retailer. Fast shipping, combined with hassle-free returns makes Amazon an excellent go-to source for the Caribou and Kuuma coolers.
If you can’t get it on Amazon, check out Camco’s website to find a local dealer that will let you get the size and model you are looking to buy.
Camco Caribou / Kuuma Coolers – Wrapping Up
- Ice Retention
We were surprised and quite impressed by the quality and features of the Camco Caribou coolers. After putting together the Caribou cooler review, we’re convinced that you can’t go wrong giving these coolers a space in your adventure equipment.
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