Igloo Playmate Cooler Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on June 19, 2019
The Igloo Playmate is one of the most popular Igloo coolers. It has been around for many years and takes a “less is more” approach in its design, features, and applications. While you won’t break any ice retention records or be able to store hundreds of sodas in one, the Igloo Playmate has an iconic look and proven build quality. And it comes in at a very attractive price point that should be within everybody’s budget.
Igloo Playmate Cooler Lineup
The Igloo Playmate series is comprised of all smaller coolers. Specifically, you will find sizes that range from 4 quarts up to 16 quarts. These small sizes make them extremely portable but it does come at the cost of limited storage space.
These coolers are really designed for individuals or a small group who is simply looking to store a few items for a half day or so. Anything more than that will likely require a larger, more robust cooler. But we have found that short-term applications are a very common requirement for ice chests so there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy your Igloo Playmate Cooler.
Igloo Playmate Cooler: Keep it Simple
These days, we are used to seeing coolers with all sorts of features: wheels, bottle openers, internal lights, and more. Igloo Playmate has taken the opposite approach with their coolers. They minimize features and keep things simple, just how they always have been.
The most notable features you will find in these ice chests are the top push down lid. This intuitive design allows you to easily open the cooler with just one hand. This helps to make what is already an extremely mobile cooler even more so. You can open the lid and access items inside while having one of your hands occupied holding something else. That is really cool!
Another neat aspect about the lid is that it can actually swing open in either direction. This means you can access the stored items no matter which side of the cooler you are on.
As for the handle itself, you will find that it is molded into the lid. And in some models, the handle is actually layered with soft rubber for added comfort and grip.
Igloo Playmate Cooler Ice Life
Being a small cooler with thin walls, the ice life isn’t going to wow you. This ice chest is designed for short trips: a lunch outing, a few drinks for a ballgame, or chilling the waters for a picnic.
In testing these coolers, we followed our standard approach of filling them with ice up about 1/3 way, leaving the cooler outside in the heat, and occasionally opening it. The results were as follows:
As we suspected, ice life is quite limited. The maximum ice life you should expect is about a day (and that is with the largest model). With smaller models, expect ice to last anywhere from a few hours up to most of the day.
Igloo Playmate Cooler Styling
This is an iconic look at Igloo has made sure not to change the original design too heavily. You will be hard-pressed to be able to tell the difference between a brand new Igloo Playmate and one from 20 years ago.
To some people, this may be a bad thing. They may prefer the updated styling and a host of new features. To others, the original design is a classic and changing it up would only ruin it: similar to putting a huge spoiler on the back of a classic sports car!
Design aside, you will find a few various colors to choose from. A unique aspect of the Playmate cooler is that Igloo seems to like to use it as the platform for some really unique designs over the years. A good example of this is the Andy Davis Edition, which celebrates the Playmate’s 45th year.
Beyond this, most of the colors will be pretty generic. Red and blue are the most common color to choose from. The Playmate Elite Ultra does open things up a bit, coming in yellow, multi-color gray, and a really cool aquatic teal/jet carbon look.
Igloo Playmate Cooler: The Frugal Man’s Friend
One of the big reasons why the Playmate has become as popular as it is can be attributed to its asking price. It is an extremely affordable cooler and should be within everybody’s budget. And typically budget coolers come with a whole host of quality problems. But Igloo has ironed out most of the kinks in the Playmate thanks to nearly half a century of producing it. So you will enjoy a quality and reliable cooler for a very reasonable price.
Igloo Playmate Cooler
6, 9, 26, and 30 can (approx. 4 to 16 quarts) sizes
Pros: Body is strong enough, classic design, affordable
Cons: Short ice life, flimsy lid, not very many features
Unique tent shape locking lid, top push-button for opening, bidirectional swinging lid, molded handle
Igloo Playmate Cooler Review
This is our Igloo Playmate Cooler Review. The Igloo Playmate cooler is one of the most-recognized and storied coolers around. It has the unique “tent top” design, with the lid being on a pivot that can rotate open and close, and can be opened via a push-button. There is an overhead carrying handle that is molded directly onto the lid. It is available in various colors and sizes including 6, 9, 26, and 30 can (around 4 to 16 quarts). It is made of plastic.
Insulation ability –
The cooling ability of these coolers struggles a bit. The insulation is rather thin, especially on the lid, and the seal that is formed when the lid is closed is non-existent since there is a noticeable gap between the lid and the body. The result is a product that will only keep your items cool for around a day max before you will need to replace with additional ice. And for the smaller sizes, this ice life can go down to a half day or less
Mobility and durability –
Being a smaller cooler, there is really no need for the side handles that we are used to seeing on larger coolers. The overhead handle that is molded into the lid is plenty large and comfortable, even when the cooler is full.
We absolutely love the famous Igloo Playmate rotating lid that allows you to open it from either direction. This means that no matter which side you are on, you can easily rotate the lid to the opposite direction to get to your chilled items. Also, the lid design means that you can actually open it with one hand.
Once open, the lid essentially moves out of the way and gives you unobstructed access to the contents inside. While most coolers can only be accessed from the front (due to the lid blocking the rear), this isn’t the case with this special little ice chest.
From a quality standpoint, the thin walls do mean that this isn’t as resilient of a cooler as you might hope. The lower portion of the body seems strong enough but the thin lid can feel flimsy and weak to the touch. Try to avoid stacking any heavy objects on top of the lid for risk of it caving the lid in. In addition, the rotating portion can sometimes get jammed or simply be a bit more stubborn to open/close over time. These aren’t major issues but still worth mentioning.
Visual Appeal –
If you appreciate the classic Igloo Playmate design then this will hit right at home. There isn’t a lot to look at or unique features but it is simple and effective. There are also various colors to choose from (thanks to specialty editions) so this helps. But if you are hoping to wow your friends and family with a cooler that stands out from the crowd then keep looking elsewhere. This is an “old school” cooler and Igloo intends to keep it that way.
You can typically find this ice chest well into the budget price category. While it may be limited in capabilities and features, it is an extremely affordable product that should be within everybody’s budget.
Overall Rating –
The Igloo Playmate Cooler Review earns 3.5 out of 5 coolers. It is a simple and very cost-effective product that has been a favorite of lunch-goers for many decades. You won’t find a ton of features and the ice life isn’t anything spectacular, but we love the mobility and overall build quality. For someone who needs something easy to use to keep a small number of items cool for a few hours, this is a quality choice.