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Pelican Elite Cooler Review

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Pelican Elite Cooler

Pelican Elite Cooler – 65 QT.

There are coolers, and then there are ‘COOLERS’. In comparing a Ford Fiesta versus a Mercedes-Benz S-Class automobile; the fact that they will both get you from point A to point B is really only a very small part of the equation. Obviously quality, comfort, enjoyment, performance, and price factor in as an important part of that decision. It is quite apparent that plenty of people have made the decision that Mercedes-Benz is a viable option as they are well represented out on the roads.

In the same sense, a cheap Styrofoam cooler can be had for a few bucks, and it will keep your food and beverages cold just like the Pelican Elite Cooler. That’s about where the similarities end though, and a closer look will show the quality, durability, functionality, versatility, and cooling ability of a Pelican Cooler.

Initial Thoughts On The Pelican Elite Cooler

This Pelican Elite Cooler is great for any outdoorsman, fisherman, hunter, camper, or tailgater. I have had some serious cooler envy the past few years, and am thrilled to put this Pelican Elite Cooler to the test. Aside from the obvious rugged toughness, I noticed the seal of approval from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Apparently this cooler is Certified Bear Resistant, and this got me all excited and intrigued. Not that I want an up close and personal test of that, but it points to the confidence and commitment from Pelican with regard to the durability of their products.

Pelican Elite Cooler

Bear activity and sightings have been very active this year.

Pelican has been around for nearly 40 years and creates a diverse line of products which include their top grade coolers. Numerous trips to the Colorado Rockies were on tap for some fantastic testing opportunities.

Technical specifications

  • Exterior Dimensions: 37.16” x 20” x 19.75”
  • Interior Dimensions: 26.50” x 12” x 12.50
  • 65 Quarts of capacity
  • Empty weight – 41.8 pounds.
  • Freezer-Grade 360 degree Seal
  • 2” thick Solid Polyurethane Insulation
  • Dual handle system
  • Press and pull latches
  • Molded-in Tie Downs
  • Non-skid and non-marking raised feet
  • Molded-in lock hasp
  • Sloped drain and thread plug (garden hose attachable)
  • Corrosion resistant stainless steel hardware.
Pelican Elite Cooler

A measuring board is engraved into the top. cm on one side, inches on the other.

Features of the Pelican Elite Cooler

Pelican has put a ‘Guaranteed for life’ label on this cooler. They feel confident enough to back up their ruggedly engineered coolers for LIFE against wear and breakage. Do take a closer look at the fine print, but you should feel pretty good about this piece of gear lasting you for years to come.

Non-skid, non-marking raised feet are nice to keep this puppy in place on your boat or truck bed. And it keeps your floors from getting scuffed up. The feet at first glance appear to look like the same polyurethane material as the cooler, but upon further inspection they are constructed of a rather hard rubber. Strong enough to stand up to the rigors of use, but with the slightly softer rubber it will protect your home, tent, RV, boat, car roof, etc.

Pelican Elite Cooler

The cooler can be grabbed by the red handles or the white bars that the black bars attach to.

The Pelican Elite has easy-lift unbreakable dual handles. Easy to lift is right! This 65 QT. version carries some heft, and with added food and beverages gets to be a 60-80 pound back breaker. The handles better be up to the task. If you are carrying it with one person or two, the weight and possible torqueing has surely put these handles to the task. I’m not going to challenge the break-ability with extreme measures like taking a hammer to it, but the molded-in grab bars are solid!

Pelican Elite Cooler

Built-in latch for a lock to keep a bear or you buddies out.

It even comes with the ability to lock to guarantee no bear (or any of your drinking buddies) get to your fish, popsicles, or beer. Smooth press and pull latches seem quite durable, and with extensive use for 3 consecutive weekends have worked just fine. They are nice and big, so you can easily open the cooler even if you are wearing gloves.

The “Made in the USA” label is quite prominent which shows that they are proud of that fact, and points to the quality control that can be exercised.

Pelican Elite Cooler

Made in the USA.


Now to be quite honest, this is a rather large cooler. The thickness and subsequent ability to keep your food and drinks cold does come at a small cost in the form of exterior versus interior dimensions. If you look at the inner versus outer dimensions you can see that you lose about 4-5 inches on each side. Not a huge deal, but keep that in mind as you look at the different size options.

Pelican Elite Cooler

On top of my car. Not something you want to do to many times, but with help does work just fine.

The empty weight is 41.8 pounds. Now that starts to get up there in weight. Add food and beverages, and this cooler will tip the scales to the point where 2 people are definitely required to lift and move her. With that said, I did manage to raise the Pelican Elite Cooler up onto my cargo rack on my SUV. I would not recommend doing that, but for testing purposes I wanted to see how that would work out. The next trip saw a lot of my lighter camping gear go up on top, and this bad boy went into the back next to our dog. I also had to carry the cooler several hundred feet to our more rugged mountain camp spot, and provided an adequate workout. Obviously, as they get larger moving them around becomes more challenging. This 65 QT. size cooler is at the upper limit of move-ability (at least for me).

Pelican Elite Cooler

The Pelican Elite Cooler on a high elevation (12,000′) Camping expedition. It served as our fridge as well as table and chair.

In their full line of Elite coolers (9 total) which ranges from 20 to 250 quarts this one is right in the middle of the size range. Only 2 of those, the 45 QT and 80 QT come with wheels. Keep that in mind for whatever your desired activities may be. You may need to recruit some help, but I know that I won’t be hauling this bad boy a whole lot further than the campsite, or for tailgating at either the Denver Broncos or Colorado Rapids Soccer game.

65 Quarts of capacity; what does that really mean? That does translate into 62 liters. Even for my US compatriots, that’s a lot of coke from 1 liter bottles to put it into perspective. Let’s just say, it is plenty of space for 3 days of camping for a family of four. I managed to fit 1 half gallon of milk, 6 pack of sausages, 8 pack of hot dogs, 4 pieces of prime steak, numerous Tupperware containers full of odds and ends, 8 apples, 2 grapefruits, half gallon of OJ, package of eggs, loaf of bread, butter, jar of pasta sauce, and of course a 12 pack of beer with plenty of room for ice.

Pelican Elite Cooler

One of four corners that have a notch to slide and connect a strap through.

There are 4 molded-in tie downs that will keep this cooler in place. Pelican does offer up a universal tie-down kit, but with the absence of time, I went to my with some ratchet straps to tie her down to my Thule roof rack system. These tie downs would be fantastic for a truck, ATV, or boat as it would be a fool proof way to secure the cooler.

They invite or encourage you to stand, climb, sit, or climb over it, and I plan to do that. Once, I got the Pelican Elite Cooler down from the top of my vehicle, I certainly used it as a stepping stool to get the rest of my gear down. It also made for a nice step-up to create a make-shift tarp shelter.

Pelican provided a nice pamphlet with some helpful tips. Some seem quite obvious, but even as I read them, there were things that I definitely need to do before my next outdoor adventure. Bringing your cooler inside the night before is a good idea. Mine is stored in my super-hot garage, and because this cooler is designed to hold a steady temperature it would benefit from being in the AC or in my cool basement. The Pelican Elite Cooler does have to work extra hard to bring down the temperature to an ideal setting for your food and beverages.

Pelican Elite Cooler

Easy drain at the bottom, and fits a standard hose.

Freezing some food items will also help. In essence, if you know you’ll have burgers or brats some night, freezing those will create that extra little punch of cooling power to keep the entire spread nice and cold.

Block ice versus cubed ice. Block will last longer, cubes will cool quicker. Take your pick, but I bought a 10lb cubed ice bag which remained unopened the entire time. Hence, it was sort of a block of ice, and worked great as I still had ice left over after 3 days of camping (see photo below).

Pelican Elite Cooler

Leftover ice after 3 days of camping.

If you are in it for the long haul, more ice will obviously do a better job. They recommend a 2:1 ice ratio. That does take up a lot more space, but if you can fill in all the voids, you’d be surprised how much ice you can actually fit in the cooler. Pelican also suggest keeping the ice cold melted water in the cooler to aid in the prolonged temperature control.

Pelican Elite Cooler

Tailgating in style with plenty of Colorado Micro Brew and hamburgers to share with friends.

I have used this cooler on 3 camping trips, a tailgate party with a bunch of English Hooligans at the MLS All Star game, and for our local symphony performance at the park. On each and every occasion, the Pelican Elite Cooler has been a topic of conversation. It’s simply an impressive piece of gear that also acts as a portable fridge for prolonged outdoor adventures.

Thule Canyon Cargo Rack

Final Thoughts on The Pelican Elite Cooler

If you are looking for a piece of gear that will provide long lasting enjoyment for a wide variety of adventures, the Pelican Elite Cooler will be a great addition. The rugged toughness and ability to keep your food and drinks cold for days on end are two of the key features that make this an invaluable companion on any trip. The fact that you probably won’t need to buy a new cooler for years is also nice, unless you start shopping for different sizes? I have been eyeing the rolling version as a supplement. And if you do ever happen to encounter a bear on your camping adventures, you know that the food and beverages in your cooler are safe and sound. Carrying a bear canister might also be a good idea!

MSRP: $336

For more information and purchase of any of their Elite line of coolers please visit: www.pelican.com

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About Niels Oomkes

I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.

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