Lifetime Cooler Review
Lifetime has made some of the most versatile coolers that are engineered to maximize ice retention. Their coolers are on par with some of the popular brands in the market like YETI.
If you want value for your money, Lifetime coolers are definitely worth considering.
Lifetime coolers come with many great features such as roto-molded construction, thick insulation and a bear-proof design. These are features you’ll normally find in more expensive coolers such as YETI.
As an extremely affordable cooler brand that doesn’t skimp on quality, you may consider getting a Lifetime cooler for your overlanding and other outdoor adventures.
In this Lifetime cooler review, we will tell you more about Lifetime coolers and give you important details of their features as well as some pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
Lifetime cooler review: The Company Behind these Cool Coolers
Lifetime is one of those companies with humble beginnings. The founder just wanted to build a better basketball hoop for his family. From there, the company Lifetime Products was born in 1986.
From basketball systems, they now build chairs, tables, sheds, playgrounds, watersports gears such as kayaks and paddleboards, and coolers.
This company is known for its innovations especially when it comes to plastic and metal products. With their patented technology, they help revolutionized the industry.
Nowadays, Lifetime products, particularly their coolers are known for their durability, strength, and affordability.
Available Sizes and Dimensions
Lifetime offers different cooler sizes, dimensions, and capacities, ranging from 28-quart to 115-quart capacities.
- Exterior dimensions – 21.5 x 13 x 16 inches
- Interior dimensions – 17.6 x 7.25-9.25 x 11.5 inches
- Exterior dimensions – 27 x 17.6 x 17.3 inches
- Interior dimensions – 19.5-22 x 10.7-13.2 x 12.5 inches
- Exterior dimensions – 28.4 x 18.1 x 17.5 inches
- Interior dimensions – 21-23 x 12-13.7 x 13 inches
- Exterior dimensions – 30 x 18.5 x 18.5 inches
- Interior dimensions – 23-25 x 12-14 x 14.3 inches
We love the aesthetics of the coolers from Lifetime as they look robust and sturdy. The stainless steel hinges and the nylon rope in the handle of the Lifetime 55-quart Lifetime cooler as well as in the 65-quart and 77-quart models greatly complement that look.
The only disappointment is that there’s a very limited color option for each model. The 28QT cooler, 55QT cooler and 77QT cooler are only available in grey, while the 65QT Lifetime cooler is available in white and khaki.
Checking the features of Lifetime coolers, we’ve seen some really great features and we’ve also seen some features that need improvement.
The different Lifetime cooler models share many similar features and one of them is their thick and Certified Bear Resistant shell. This is on par with other more expensive coolers.
The thick shell plus the thick insulation allows for longer ice retention which is surprisingly comparable to rotomolded coolers such as those made by YETI.
Well-designed hinges and latches
These coolers have a stainless steel hinge rod and two rubber latches. Those two features are well-designed and are among the best we’ve seen at any price point.
They are reliable in keeping the lid tightly closed yet easy to open or close with one hand.
Built-in bottle opener
Another ergonomic feature of the Lifetime coolers is the built-in stainless steel bottle opener that doubles as a lock. This is a cool feature especially for people who often misplace their opener.
We also like how they incorporated an anti-slip pad at the bottom of the Lifetime cooler. It prevents the cooler from sliding at the back of your truck during the trip.
Garden hose-compatible drain plug
After your trip when all the ice has melted, anyone would want to have an easy-to-drain cooler.
Except for the 28QT cooler which does not have a drain plug, all the Lifetime cooler models have a drain plug that’s compatible with a garden hose. This feature makes the cooler relatively easy to drain and clean.
For the 28QT cooler, we like how rigid its rotating handle is, making it easy to carry even if the cooler is full. The handle also comes with a foam pad for added comfort when carrying it.
However, the foam pad is the first thing that easily gets destroyed with frequent use.
For the rest of the Lifetime coolers, they have side handles with a rope, which makes it easier to transport the cooler.
Strong rubber gasket
The Lifetime coolers have an extremely strong rubber gasket to ensure optimum ice retention. It is much thicker than the seal of most brands we’ve seen.
Rubber pads on the feet of the cooler
We also like how Lifetime added rubber pads on the feet of their coolers that prevent slipping and sliding especially when transporting the cooler at the back of your truck.
However, in case you want to slide your cooler across the floor, you can also do so by lifting one side and letting the cooler slide on the skids.
These coolers come with a 5-year limited warranty plus a lifetime of customer service. The company offers comprehensive coverage on all the parts used in the coolers, and it covers manufacturing defects.
While many high-end coolers such as YETI have rotomolded walls, Lifetime’s coolers are blow molded. The company has mastered blow molding since it started in 1986 and they’ve been using this in producing premium products.
In terms of quality and durability, both roto-molded and blow-molded plastics are very durable and consistent in thickness. These coolers are really strong that even if you sit or step on them, they will not easily give up.
Moreover, most of the added components of these coolers are also of good quality. These components include the rubber latch, the rubber gasket, and even the handles.
But as we pointed earlier, the foam pad on the 28-quart cooler may not last as long as the cooler itself. We also read some feedback about a few customers who got a leaking drain plug, although if it’s a manufacturing issue, it is covered by the warranty.
Insulation is vital for ice retention. It’s not enough that a cooler has durable and thick walls.
The quality of the gasket and the latch also matters because they ensure that the warm air will not get in while the cool air stays inside.
For Lifetime coolers, they used an oversized thick gasket that completely seals the lid. For each cooler, they also use two sturdy thick latches to keep the lid secure.
Initially, one may think that Lifetime can’t keep up with the performance of YETI and other popular models in terms of ice retention because those coolers are blow molded and not roto molded.
But we tested their coolers and we also got the reviews of other customers, and they attest that those coolers live up to what Lifetime claims that their coolers have long ice retention days.
We tested the 65 Quart High-Performance Hard Cooler to know how many days it will hold ice under 22.5 – 23 °C weather. We packed the cooler with ice and waited until the ice melted and was no longer cold.
At the end of 7 days, the water inside the cooler was still very cool although the ice already melted! We bet it could have held ice for 8 days as the manufacturer claims if the weather outside were also colder.
So the manufacturer’s claim that their 65-quart cooler can retain ice for up to 8 days is true.
As for the rest of Lifetime coolers, the manufacturer claims that their 77-quart cooler has ice retention of up to 9 days while their 55-quart and 28-quart cooler can do it in 7 days and 5 days, respectively.
Mobility and Portability
If you are looking for a more portable cooler for day trips, the 28QT cooler is a good choice. It is lightweight and easy to carry with its rotating handle.
For the bigger coolers, the side handles with a rope allow two people to share the load. However, these coolers don’t have wheels for easier mobility.
Security & Access
Lifetime coolers are certified to withstand a bear for up to an hour. This tells you that these coolers are really tough and secure. Access to the content of the cooler is by opening the two rubber latches. For added security, these coolers also come with a lock that you can also use for opening the bottles.
Prices (Best Value For Your Money)
The big advantage of Lifetime over YETI and other popular brands has to do with their price point.
While Lifetime is not a budget cooler, they are cheaper in cost compared to other brands with similar features and durable construction.
For instance, the 28QT Lifetime model will cost you less than $100, while most rotomolded coolers with the same capacity and similar features cost between $100 and $150.
The most popular model among adventurers is the Lifetime 55QT cooler which costs just a little over the Lifetime 28QT. Its price tag is in stark contrast with those of other competing brands which cost more than $200.
Overall, it’s obvious the Lifetime offers the best value for your money.
Lifetime Cooler vs. YETI
One of the major differences between Lifetime and YETI coolers is how the shells were constructed. Lifetime uses blow molding technology while many of the high-end coolers that we know of including YETI use the roto-molding technique.
The blow molding process is the same used by glassblowers. It is a cost-effective way of producing hollow plastic in one piece.
The final product is consistent in thickness and texture. However, the main drawback of this process is that the products produced are less detailed with some weak points.
Roto molding, on the other hand, which YETI uses produces sturdy and robust products with fewer weak points. They are also noticeably consistent in thickness and smoothness just like blow-molded products.
But the main con of this process is that it is more expensive to do. That’s why Lifetime is considerably more affordable than YETI.
Another noticeable difference between the two is with their available sizes and colors. YETI has more sizes and more color options for your specific needs or preferences.
However, when it comes to the warranty, both Lifetime and YETI offer 5 years on their hard shell coolers.
Problems with Lifetime Coolers
Lifetime coolers are far from being perfect. Although if you relate the overall build with their price, you can say that these coolers are cheaper and can give you the best bang for your buck.
One issue of the coolers made by Lifetime is that they are not water-tight. From various Lifetime cooler review platforms, we’ve seen some reviews about users who got wet when tilting the cooler to the side even when the latches were closed.
This is probably due to some manufacturing defects affecting the installation of the gasket. The Lifetime customer support team should be able to address that issue.
There are also some reviews that mention a leaking drain plug. But this issue can be fixed by tightening the plug or by ensuring that the rubber seal is in the right position.
Benefits: Lifetime Coolers vs YETI Coolers
Lifetime has several advantages or benefits over YETI coolers.
- The Lifetime brand offers a more affordable price, considering its quality and overall build. When it comes to ice retention, it can hold ice as well as YETI.
- The built-in bottle opener with Lifetime is really cool and it is not available in YETI.
- The dual grip-and-slide feet on the Lifetime is also another bonus feature. You get non-slip rubber feet but if you want to slide and move the cooler, you can also do it easily. We haven’t seen this feature yet in YETI and other brands.
- These coolers are very spacious inside so packing food and drinks for the entire family should not be a problem.
Are Lifetime coolers as good as YETI?
Both Lifetime and YETI coolers have advantages over the other brand. If you look at the overall construction, YETI being more watertight than Lifetime has the advantage.
But if you also consider the quality of latches, the dual grip-and-slide feet, and the built-in bottle opener among others, Lifetime leads the race. And if you consider the price, Lifetime definitely wins.
So on the question of whether or not Lifetime is better than YETI coolers, that depends on the perspective you are looking at.
Are Lifetime coolers versatile?
Yes, those coolers are tough enough to handle rough situations. You could use them for fishing, summer camping, and other outdoor activities. They can retain ice for many days.
Conclusion and Buyers Advice
If you are looking for an affordable premium overlanding, fishing, camping, or beach cooler with similar features as YETI, the Lifetime brand is a good choice.
Considering their price point, these coolers are really very affordable. Even with some limitations in the features, performance-wise these coolers are still able to retain ice for as long as other more expensive coolers do.
They are great at keeping food cold.
When it comes to durability, Lifetime coolers are also robust and tough, and as proof, they have been Certified to Withstand a Bear For Up To an Hour.
It’s also worth mentioning that Lifetime made their coolers locally in the US. Most coolers in the market are outsourced or manufactured overseas.
Overall, the Lifetime brand is almost as good as YETI when it comes to performance, and you get them for a tiny fraction of the price. Unless you are really loyal to a YETI cooler or Ozark cooler, then Lifetime is a worthy contender.
Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.
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