The story of ICON Coolers is the story of the American Dream in all its glory. I loved reading it so much I decided I had to retell it here at the beginning of our ICON coolers review. No, seriously, these guys had me tearing up so much I had to put onions in my eyes to make it stop (because even onions were better for my eyes than their story? No? Okay, I’ll stop with the lame jokes). So here goes the story in a nutshell…
The two founders behind ICON coolers are Mike and Zane. Unfortunately, they weren’t generous with their surnames so we’ll leave it at that. They pretty much grew up together right on the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Now, in a place like that, you’ll tend to develop a very particular set of hobbies, and that’s exactly what this duo did. They would go crabbing, water skiing, fishing, sailing, or just taking excursions around the lakes, rivers, harbors and bay. What mattered, however, is that they did it together. Stuff like that builds a strong bond between people.
They ended up going to different colleges and starting out lots of businesses on their own. In 2012, however, the bond between them proved too strong and they decided to go start a joint business. They pooled their resources and made the decision to get into the market for outdoor sporting goods. And that’s ICON came into the world.
At the time, their greatest selling point was adding value at the right price points for their consumers and also offering more in terms of possible colors. But they weren’t satisfied.
At the time, they were outsourcing their manufacturing activities offshore and they felt that to offer true American value they would have to manufacture their coolers right in the States. They hunkered down and worked hard on product development until they were ready to do everything in the USA.
Their first fully USA made cooler was launched in 2014 at the Miami International Boat Show. It was a success.
Today, ICON continue to make well-designed roto-molded coolers in the US and, according to what I’ve seen so far, it’s safe to say these guys pretty much nailed it.
Now we’ll look at some of the features of these great coolers and see just why “ICON” is a fitting brand name.
ICON Coolers – Available Sizes
The table below lists the three ICON coolers. These are the ICON 32 cooler, the ICON 50 cooler, and the ICON 75 cooler. It’s a nice way to quickly compare, based on the most important metrics. If you want more details, however, you’ll have to read the rest of the review.
ICON Ice Chest Review
Design & Construction
As we all know, the gold standard in the industry for hard coolers is the rotomolded design. This is the same kind of process used to make hardcore kayaks so you can be sure that a cooler made this way is going to last. You don’t have to look very far; nearly all the major, high-end coolers are made from a roto-molded design.
ICON will not be left behind. Having been made in the USA, it features high-quality rotomolded design and the coolers are pretty hardy. We haven’t conducted bear tests on them, but we did do a few drop tests from as high as the roof of my house and the cooler did just fine.
The body is well polished and has a beautiful look to it. We love the large ICON logo on the interior of the lid and we just can’t get enough of the color options on this cooler! But we wouldn’t like to get ahead of ourselves. We’ll have a look at that a little later.
ICON Ice Chest Features
Polished Finish Rotomolded Body
Flush Mounted Anti-catch Components
Textured Nonskid Lid Surface
Wide Open Self-stopping Integrated Hinge
316 S.s. Threaded Hinge Rods & Receivers
Commercial Grade Freezer Gasket In Lid
Molded Lid Lock Ports
Tie Down Ports / Cable Lock Ports
All-rubber Flush Mounted Pull Latches
Molded Handles / Secondary Rope & Eva Handles
Self Draining Bottom & Gasketed Drain Plug
Nonskid Non-marking Feet
ICON coolers are jam packed with features. It’s not even the big bells and whistles that endeared us to this little brand, though there are quite a few notable ones. It’s the little thoughtful add-ons that show that the good people at ICON Coolers were thinking about the average person and wanted to make their ICON experience as enjoyable as possible.
Let’s start with the lid surface. Many coolers lack this feature and it’s a personal pet peeve. Imagine a scenario where you have your cooler in an upside down position. It’s not ideal, but it does happen from time to time, even with coolers that have lockdowns, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
In such a scenario your cooler will likely move around in your van, greatly upsetting the situation on the inside. The good guys at ICON saw this problem before it became a problem and made the surface of their lid anti-skid. Now you can be sure the cooler will stay put even in the unlikely situation it finds itself upside down.
There is also the commercial grade freezer gasket in the lid. This gasket means your lid will retain the internal temperature for days on end. You don’t need pressurized hinges with this baby. To make things even better, the gasket is removable, meaning you’re not stuck with it in all circumstances.
While we’re still on the lid, I’d like to compliment the hinge. It’s pretty wide, making it possible to put in and remove very large objects, like entire six packs.
It’s also self-stopping, meaning you don’t have to worry about holding it open with your hands when you’re rummaging in the cooler for something that miraculously found its way to the bottom of the cooler. The lock ports are molded to the lid, and we have flush mounted anti-catch components. I told you; it’s the little things!
It doesn’t even end there. Moving to the lower side of the cooler, we have ti-down ports. Now, remember what I said about finding our cooler in an upside down position? Well, you don’t have to worry about that most of the time because it’s pretty easy to anchor your cooler down to the surface of whatever vehicle you load it onto. Simply get a couple of strong cables (don’t have ones? get those), pass them through the tie down ports, also known as cable lock ports, and tie that bad boy down real good!
We also really loved the mounted pull latches, which were entirely made of rubber, of course, and the handles. Oh my, the handles! Only God knows how tired I am of coolers with single span handles. The ones that loop over the cooler and force you to carry it like a bucket!
For starters, there just isn’t any comfortable way to carry such coolers. There isn’t, I’ve tried pretty much every considerable method and I haven’t found one comfortable one. If I carry the cooler with one hand and let it hand by my side it will keep bumping up against my leg. Not a great experience! Let’s not even begin to talk about how difficult it would be to carry it with one hand because of how heavy it is when full; even the ICON 32 one. If I carry I at the front with both hands instead then my hands end up in an awkward position and I’m not comfortable at all.
The good designers at ICON probably saw this and decided to be considerate enough to put 2 handles instead of one. They are molded and also include secondary EVA rope handles for the really heavy coolers. That’s what a proper cooler should be like!
Looking inside, we fell in love with the way you could just drop in trays into the ice chest, and the vertical dividers made compartmentalization much easier. And, finally, great non-skid feet to top, er, bottom it off!
For a mid-range cooler, the ICON does pretty well when it comes to ice retention. For our tests we used the smallest ICON 32 cooler and I have to say we were impressed. It wasn’t the much-touted 8-10 days Yetis are known for, but it certainly wasn’t meager either.
We put in our stuff on Friday evening, properly latched he cooler, and waited. I kept checking and looking inside intermittently all through Saturday and Sunday and, needless to say, the ice was still there doing just fine.
By Wednesday of the next week, I was having a difficult time looking for melted ice. The first signs of melting were visible on the next Friday, yet by the next Sunday our stuff was still pretty cold. Now, there aren’t any official numbers on the ice retention of this beast, but based on our tests I’m placing it at at least 7 days. And it proved capable of doing far more.
TIP: To maximize ice retention it’s always worth to invest in some extra ice packs. Here are top 5 cooler ice packs we recommend.
There are 3 size options for the ICON: The 32 (about 27 quart cooler), the 50 (55 quart cooler), and the 75 (77 quart cooler). These were strategically chosen to coincide with most of the needs of different cross-sections of the average consumer so they could get value at different price points. So, while they’re only offering 3 size options, we were quite happy with how they were spread out. There’s probably something for everyone here.
True to their mission when they were starting out, ICON Coolers have outdone themselves with their color selections. There are so many colors to choose from that you’re bound to find something you’re looking for. The colors include Agua Mist Blue, Sea Foam Green, Bonefish White, Storm Gray, Caribbean Pink, Carolina Blue, Waterfowl Green and HD Orange. If that’s not a wide range then I don’t know what is!
ICON have a pretty comprehensive warranty statement on their website which gives all the requirements for the warranty to be valid. They’re fairly straightforward and apply to most of their products. In fact, as long as you bought your ICON cooler after July 15, 2014, you’re likely to be covered by their warranty. It’s a limited lifetime warranty.
These coolers are pretty much good for anything, from tailgating to camping and yachting. The ICON 32 cooler will come in handy for simpler purposes while the larger ICON 50 cooler and ICON 75 cooler options will come in handy for boats and larger loads.
ICON Cooler vs. Yeti
As usual, we get to that part of the review where we compare the cooler of the day to the gold standard of the industry. In this case we’re comparing ICON coolers with Yeti. IN this case we’re looking at the Yeti Tundra since it’s the easiest comparison.
When it comes to features, Yeti has many more than ICON and even lends itself to customization more easily. You can have a Yeti with a custom sticker or decal if you want (we covered them here). Many third parties offer lots of accessories that are made especially for Yeti products. ICON, being relatively new on the market, doesn’t offer as many customization options. They still do, however, offer plenty of useful features that are likely to prevent you from missing your Yeti.
We’d say both coolers are at the same level as far as build quality is concerned. Yet, however, has been extensively tested and even been certified bear-proof while ICON has not. While we have a strong feeling that the ICON is just as strong, we’d like to see some proper tests to ascertain this.
As far as ice retention goes, the Yeti wins, but not by far. The ICON can still hold ice for many days. To be honest, we think that at the levels at which these two coolers retain ice, a difference of a day or two may not be worth much in most circumstances.
Yeti also wins when it comes to wide range of sizes, from the smallest Roadie to the largest 350-quart beast, Yeti’s dozen-plus sizes ensures that everyone is going to choose something from one’s needs. In case of ICON, we have only 3 popular sizes to choose from, but at least there are plenty of color options available.
When it comes to the price, both ICON and YETI are more or less on the same level. ICON makes their coolers right here in the United States so don’t expect sub-$200 price points for a 50-QT cooler (like it’s often the case of many YETI-like ice chests which are sourced from China).
That said, we expect that for many customers it may not be easy to choose relatively unknown ICON over the well-known YETI if they’re both cost roughly the same price.
We, however, are not afraid of trying out new brands and often encourage our readers to do the same. As many our reviews proved, there’s a lot of quality, creativity and care going into products designed by small cooler makers these days so why not to give them a chance?
ICON vs. Yeti: The Verdict
Yeti will always be Yeti, of course. If you’re a die-hard fan, there’s no need to change allegiances. However, if you want to try something different, and wouldn’t mind supporting 100% American-made products, then ICON is something worth checking out.
ICON Coolers for Sale – Where To Buy Them?
You can buy ICON coolers on their website or a bunch of other places online. We’ve got ours from Amazon though here’s a link so we can definitely recommend that you buy it there too.
There are a lot of advantages to doing your shopping at Amazon. For starters, you get to see real reviews from other customers who’ve tried out the product before you. These reviews can help you make better decisions when it comes to your purchases.
Second, you can get great deals, such as free shipping when you’re a Prime member. Finally, you get to enjoy buyer protection, which means you can return the product, if you don’t like it, and get a full or partial refund.
Check ICON Coolers at Amazon
ICON Coolers – The Bottom Line
I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing this cooler brand and I think it has a strong solid story to it. I have always believed that a good backstory forms part of the appeal of a great product and the ICON cooler does not disappoint in that sector. That said, I hope you try it out for yourself and see just what I mean. Any opinions of your own about this cooler? Don’t hesitate to share them in the comments!
ICON Cooler Rating
- Ice Retention
I have always believed that a good backstory forms part of the appeal of a great product and the ICON cooler does not disappoint in that sector.
User Review( vote)
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Last update on 2019-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API