PRODUCT REVIEW: Stanley Adventure Cooler

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If you read the recent post about Essential Gear, you already know how much I love this cooler. It’s really sturdy, contains some handy features that many cooler users might not have thought of, and still comes in at a price point that won’t keep you from actually using it (looking at you, $900 cooler that is all the rage right now… I know how much abuse and neglect I dish out to my gear while outside, and I can’t imagine owning a cooler that costs as much as my first car).

Before expounding on the greatness of the Stanley Adventure Cooler, this is a good time to go into more detail on how much you should spend on your gear. Now, I’m a firm believer in NOT spending money. Even if it’s something great that will last me for a long time, I just can’t justify spending the big bucks for a “quality” item because there’s a good chance I’m going to lose it or give it away. When I ran marathons I did splurge on the $150 shoes, but that’s because everything else I was wearing was either a free gift or had come from Walmart.

When it comes to something like your cooler, though, you’re taking an actual risk by buying junk. Why? Because unless you’re a vegetarian, your meat and eggs could very well be in that cooler. It’s all well and good to buy a lesser expensive model, but I wouldn’t take the risk on anything less than a nationally-known brand. If you ever reach into your cooler for a meat product while camping or hiking and find that all your ice has melted, you just can’t risk eating that meat.

If your cheapo flashlight craps out on you, the worst that can happen is you have to wait ’til sun up to see again. You might even have to sit in that same spot ’til morning, but that’s a problem you can overcome. If your cooler fails you, though, you just might get your own chauffeured ride to the emergency room.

Buy a good cooler. There, I said it.

But back to this cooler of greatness. The first word that came to mind when I saw it was “rugged.” I’m sure the great folks at Stanley don’t want you standing or sitting on it for legal reasons, but I’ve had to do both, and I’m not what we call a small person. The bungee straps on the top are meant to hold one of their vacuum bottles, but can hold anything that can be tied down. One of the more interesting features of this cooler was really annoying at first, only because I didn’t factor it in as one of the “adventure” features: you can’t open the lid more than an inch if the handle is up. I found it annoying to have to lay the handle back to open the cooler, but the first time the cooler turned upside down and DIDN’T dump the contents on the ground, I realized what it was for! Finally, this cooler is innocuous-looking enough that you can take it to the beach and the waterpark and people aren’t likely to grab it. It looks like a nice, standard cooler but doesn’t look flashy or boldly display a high-dollar name brand.

But how well does it work? Good question.

This summer’s activities have all taken place in the southeastern US, and guess what one thing every spot in that region has in common? It’s HOT. As in, 105+ hot. And this cooler has gone everywhere. It’s kept its cool in every place we’ve gone, and I’ve yet to open the cooler and find melted ice waiting for me. It works as well as the $900 coolers are rumored to work, but without the price tag and without the fear of something happening to it.

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