Kong Cooler Review
This is going to be a KONG cooler review. It’s imperative that we mention that because we need you to understand that this is a cooler like no other. We strongly believe that, if there’s anyone capable of giving Yeti some serious competition in the market, it’s these guys. Allow us to explain.
KONG coolers are an unassuming product from an unassuming company. The KONG manifesto proudly summarizes itself in 4 succinct sentences:
- Own the factories.
- Build the best products.
- Cut out the middlemen.
- Pass value to the customer.
Everything KONG Coolers do is based off of this manifesto and that is perhaps what is so unique about them.
The company itself has quite some history when it comes to building heavy duty equipment that’s built to withstand the harshest conditions. They started out building storage containers for Alaskan crabbing vessels. They’ve also built farm implements, engineering equipment, and many others. All of their products are thoroughly tested and certified to be able to withstand the vagaries of their work environment without breaking a sweat.
With such a pedigree, it probably comes as no surprise that KONG decided to venture into the cooler market. Coolers are subject to some of the harshest conditions on the planet. It’s only befitting that a company known for making the longest lasting products would try to make the longest lasting cooler.
That’s precisely what KONG Coolers set out to do. They got a 6-man engineering team with half a century of experience between them to do the research needed to find out what goes into making the world’s best cooler. What they came up with is not only a functional ass kicking cooler; it’s a work of art, kind of.
KONG Coolers Line Up
Can Capacity: 36 12oz cans
Ice Capacity: 24.7 lbs
Inside: 12.2 x 10.1 x 9.9
Outside: 21.5 x 17.2 x 14.5
Can Capacity: 64 12oz cans
Ice Capacity: 47.7 lbs
Inside: 20.9 x 9.9 x 12.4
Outside: 30.5 x 17.2 x 17
Enter KONG Coolers
Some Notes about the Design
It would be unfair to do a review of KONG coolers without first making a mention of their design process. Remember, these coolers were designed after a long period of research by KONG’s chief engineering team. The question here is: What inspired them to come up with the design that they did?
The 6 Factor KONG Philosophy
The 6 man team at KONG spent their time identifying the main factors that go into making the world’s best cooler. They came up with 6 key factors that needed to be considered when building professional grade coolers. Here they are:
This is the most important factor because it is the main functionality of a cooler. They called it the base function of a cooler; to get it at a particular temperature and maintain that temperature for as long as possible.
Coolers are subjected to harsh conditions every day. From your backyard to the great outback; coolers need to be able to withstand these conditions or they simply won’t hit the mark.
A cooler needs to be able to extend its purpose beyond its core functionality. This is called flexibility and is what makes it an important piece of gear to have on your journey.
This is something many manufacturers overlook. They build a great cooler that can withstand anything and is so strong as to be impenetrable. The only problem is that its strength then becomes its weakness. Now the cooler is a safety hazard and can easily cause injury, especially to children. If you’re going to make a cooler as strong as a KONG cooler, you might as well do it responsibly.
KONG were very particular about this one. It all starts with the materials involved. The inner surface of the cooler should be able to come into contact with your food and drinks without causing any harm. As a rule, all KONG coolers are BPA free. They also cut out the carbon footprint that comes from having middlemen doing the distribution.
This may be the last factor, but it’s certainly not the least important. Value is another factor that the KONG team found to be very important. For starters, they wanted to provide the best cooler on the planet to USA residents at an affordable price.
Second, they wanted to bring value to the local American economy and help it grow. They figured that the only way they could do this is by manufacturing locally and providing jobs to local Americans.
KONG Ice Chests: Construction, Design, and Ice Chest Features
This is one truly unique cooler. It is roto-molded to perfection with some of the greatest durability you will find anywhere on the planet. To start with, the latch system is different than most others on the market, including the Yeti. The latches are top-down pressure latches that are bound to keep everything sealed tight.
The cooler itself is also IBC-certified bear-proof. You can check out video from KONG Coolers to see some grizzlies try to pry a bunch of KONG coolers open and fail. The durability is also fantastic. The coolers have been proven to survive 30-foot drop tests without as much as a scratch. Pretty strong build then, huh?
One of the complaints customers tend to have is that the lids on their coolers can’t open when the cooler is backed up against a wall, such as the sides of the vehicle they’re on. If they wanted to open the cooler, they’d have to pull it away from the wall.
Wouldn’t it be great if they could open the thing without having to go through all that hassle? Well, KONG took this into consideration and made a first-of-its-kind cooler that can open a full 45 degrees without you having to pull the cooler away from the wall. It’s pretty good engineering if you ask us!
The seal on a KONG cooler is as sturdy as it gets. These seals include 2-inch wide gaskets that are guaranteed to keep the cold in and everything else out. That’s part of why their ice retention is so good at advertised 11 days!
One of the other things that most customers complain about is how they can’t carry their coolers without everything sloshing around inside. The main cause of this is that most coolers have one loop handle that goes from one end of the cooler to the other. KONG decided to eschew this altogether and went for dual handles on the side. These are large, rigid and padded. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing oversized mittens; a bear’s paws could easily fit through these handles. They’re also strong enough to easily carry the cooler at full capacity.
KONG Coolers have an excellent capacity. The smallest cooler has a capacity of 25 quarts and the largest a capacity of 70 quarts. That means a KONG cooler can carry between 36 cans and 90 cans, or between 20 bottles and 48 bottles, depending on the size. That makes it a good proposition for a tailgating cooler (we covered some of those earlier on here).
Excellent Modular Storage
When KONG did a survey of potential customers’ opinions on what they would like their cooler to be like, they got a lot of interesting suggestions. One of them was that many customers wanted their coolers to be just like their fridges. They wanted them to have sections for drinks, their catches from their fishing trips, meats, sandwiches, etc. KONG took this to heart and designed accordingly.
They made their coolers with divided storage. There are multiple watertight compartments and dividers in every KONG cooler. The dividers themselves double up as cutting boards. Now you can have a cooler just like a fridge, with compartments ranging from light chilled to deep freeze.
Great Ice Retention Capabilities
The KONG ice chest has a very deep well that helps keep your ice cubes solid for up to 11 days, as they claim. We went online and looked at some tests done by customers following which we tested out a KONG cooler ourselves.
The results are nothing short of phenomenal, although we weren’t able to get as much as 11 days. However, close to week-long ice retention times surely are possible. In the end, we admit that this cooler maintains its internal temperature like a boss.
KONG coolers come in 3 available sizes: the 25 qt, the 50 qt, and the 70 qt. They carry 36, 64, and 90 cans or 20, 40, and 48 bottles respectively.
There are 5 color options, with the option to combine two of them at a time. You can get your KONG (here 50qt) cooler in tactical tan, winter white, gorilla gray, bomber blue or rugged red. You can also get a color combination or winter white and bomber blue or gorilla gray and rugged red.
Each KONG cooler comes with a limited lifetime warranty. That’s how much faith they have in their products. These coolers really are built to last a lifetime!
KONG vs Yeti
We thought we should point out here that KONG is a pretty unique cooler. Many other coolers like Yeti on the market make a point of copying Yeti almost one to one. KONG, however, went for a unique look and they’ve pulled it off really well.
In this sector, both coolers are built to last a lifetime. Both the Yeti and the KONG are IGBC-certified bear-proof, perfectly roto-molded, and durable. However, KONG seems specifically built for the most extreme conditions. We’re not that sure about Yeti, although they’re incredibly durable as well. It’s just the perception we have.
Don’t forget that the company that designed KONG has been building tools and implements for the harshest conditions for nearly half a century now. For us, KONG coolers look and feel sturdier overall than Yetis although again – it may be our perception only.
Available Sizes and Colors
Yeti seems to have the upper hand in this case, with 13 available sizes compared to KONG’s 3 sizes but at least KONG’s available in a healthy range of colors.
Both brands are known for having great features. KONG slightly wins out with some original features, however. Their padded handles are a great example. They feel more solid than the rope handles available in Tundras, and they look awesome.
Even the smallest Kong 25 features the same handles on either side of the cooler compared to the Yeti Roadie single loop handle (which can be really helpful at times but also causes some sloshing when carrying the cooler around).
KONG also has some great pressure latches that beat the Yeti’s latches straight out of the water. As far as ice retention is concerned, the two are similar at 11 days. However, KONG’s divided storage is a major convenience you won’t be able to get with a Yeti.
Country of Manufacture
This is a great winner for KONG. Yetis are designed in the US but a part of their production takes place overseas. KONG coolers, however, are designed AND 100% made in the US. They are BPA-free, meaning they are safe for your food, and they cut out distribution middlemen, which reduces the carbon footprint associated with delivering a KONG cooler to its purchaser. That’s not something Yeti can easily boast about.
Both the KONG and the Yeti are not cheap. However, the KONG seems to offer slightly more punch for every dollar. The smallest KONG at 25 qt costs roughly the same as the Yeti Roadie at 20 qt. That’s a whole 5 qt of more value. Anyway, both brands are positioned as high-end products so you must be prepared to pay more for the quality delivered.
Brand vs Brand
YETI certainly has more currency in the coolers market. They’ve been around longer, they’ve actually disrupted the industry, and they enjoy a sterling reputation (just check consumer reviews). KONG is relatively new to the market. However, they’ve come in with quite a band, and we firmly believe that they’ve built a fantastic product that is able to compete with Yeti and the other popular brands.
KONG vs. Yeti Verdict
Yeti certainly has a strong reputation built off of designing and building coolers that do the job and look fantastic. They do, however, charge a premium for their products. KONG, on the other hand, is a rare example of a cooler that does just as well and is actually capable of outperforming the Yeti. It’s not easy to pick up a clear winner here. However, we have tons of respect for KONG and we believe it deserves more attention. Therefore, unless you want the Yeti, and nothing but the Yeti, our choice is the KONG in this battle.
Where to buy KONG Coolers
You can buy KONG Coolers on their website, EBay, and Amazon. However, we highly recommend Amazon for a variety of reasons. For starters, Amazon is a trusted online marketplace, offers a variety of benefits, including free shipping for tons of items. It also lets you return the product easily if you’re not satisfied with your purchase. KONG Coolers actually sell their own coolers at Amazon and have a 30-day money back guarantee with no questions asked.
Get KONG coolers at Amazon
KONG Coolers – Bottom Line
KONG has pounded into the coolers market, just like its movie namesake. We believe that, if the guys behind this great product keep doing what they do, KONG may soon be king of the coolers market… Just like its movie namesake. This KONG cooler review can attest to that.
KONG Coolers 30′ Drop Test, Bear Proof Test, Shotgun Test and Teenage Destroyer Test – all passed!
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Last update on 2019-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API