Igloo Sportsman Cooler Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on June 19, 2019
The Igloo Sportsman Cooler has been around for several years. However, it has recently gone through a huge update that has transformed it into basically a totally new product lineup. Igloo has taken the premium cooler approach here and combined rotomolded construction, heavy-duty latches, Made in the USA quality, and more. The result is a product that Igloo hopes will be able to compete with the top ice chests in the industry but for a much more attractive price point.
We go into greater detail about this exciting new series below. But first, here are a few of our top choices for the best Igloo Sportsman Coolers.
- 1 Igloo Sportsman Cooler Review
- 2 Igloo Sportsman Cooler Lineup
- 2.1 Igloo Sportsman Cooler Features
- 2.2 Igloo Sportsman Cooler Ice Life
- 2.3 Igloo Sportsman Cooler Aesthetics
- 2.4 Igloo Sportsman Cooler Price
- 2.5 Igloo Sportsman Cooler vs. Yeti
- 2.6 Igloo Sportsman Cooler Review
Igloo Sportsman Cooler Lineup
The Igloo Sportsman Cooler selection is currently comprised of 4 models. They include 20-quart, 40-quart, 55-quart, and 70-quart options. These are popular sizes that just about every other premium cooler brand will have so we aren’t surprised the Igloo decided to start with these.
The only sizes really missing are giant (100+ quart) sizes. These size coolers are good for huge tailgates, week-long camping trips, or packing lunches/drinks for an entire classroom. So if you want a cooler for something like this, you may have to go with a different brand that offers larger selections.
Also, there are currently no Igloo Sportsman soft-sided coolers.
Igloo Sportsman Cooler Features
If you are going to be in the premium cooler market, then you need to have all of the features people expect to find in a premium cooler. Igloo has met this call and included many of the things we have become accustomed to seeing in the top-tier coolers in the industry.
The foundation of the cooler lies in the rotomolded construction. This one-piece design offers thick walls (minimum of 2” thick foam on lid and 1.5” to 2” of body foam) that should hold up to the demands of an outdoor environment. In addition, these thick walls play a huge role in prolonging ice life (more on that later).
The handles have also enjoyed a nice upgrade. While many other coolers utilize rope handles with rubber grips, the Igloo Sportsman Coolers have impressive heavy-duty swing-up handles. These handles provide a great grip and nice stability. And when not in use, the handles fold comfortably in so as to reduce storage space. The smallest cooler, the 20-quart, uses a 3-point grab handle instead.
The latches are the popular “T” design that many other premium coolers are currently using. This thick rubber is stretchy and, when fastened, provides a very good downward force to keep the lid shut tight. We wouldn’t mind if Igloo included built-in bottle openers on these latches in the future.
And to take advantage of these strong T-latches is a freezer-grade gasket. This thick gasket will provide plenty of squeeze and help to ensure an airtight fit while in use.
Another staple of the high-end cooler community is having an oversized threaded drain plug. This makes emptying out ice a fast and efficient process. And the threads help to minimize the likelihood of the plug coming undone during use.
Igloo Marine Coolers have always had a big spot in the Igloo lineup and some of their features have also carried over to the Igloo Sportsman line. You will find that these products come with UV-inhibitors built into the paint and also utilize rust-resistant aluminum hardware for the hinge rods and latch pins.
These features make this is a very water-friendly cooler that you can also leave out in the sun. That being said, we still do prefer the use of tougher steel over aluminum (but this is a minor complaint).
And the toughness of these ice chests shows. They are certified Bear Resistant by the IGBC (international Grizzly Bear Committee). If they can handle being mauled by a grizzly bear then they can handle what you can put them through on the lake or a camping trip!
Other notable features include a fish-measuring ruler molded into the lid, dual lid locks, anti-skid feet, and a self-stopping integrated lid hinge. There will also be some accessories that you can purchase such as internal wire baskets, seat cushions, and ice packs.
Overall, we are content with the level of features that the Igloo Sportsman Coolers offer. You won’t find any of the extreme options such as pressure-release valves, built-in bottle openers, internal dividers, etc. But for the purist, there is still plenty to work with.
Igloo Sportsman Cooler Ice Life
The two essential requirements for a premium ice chest are durability and ice life. We have shown that the Sportsman Series is plenty tough, but how well does it hold ice?
Igloo checks all of the boxes we like to see for coolers that can hold ice for long periods of time. They have thick rotomolded walls, strong T-latches, freezer-grade gaskets, and come in at adequate storage volumes. We have seen time and time again that coolers that possess these qualities tend to do quite well at keeping ice.
For our testing, we did our typical procedure of filling the ice chest approximately 1/3 of the way up, leaving it outside in the heat, and occasionally opening it. This gives a more accurate representation of real-life use. You can view our results in the graph below.
These numbers closely align with what we have seen from other premium cooler brands. While people may not automatically associate Igloo as being on the same tier is Yeti, RTIC, Orca, etc., in this particular case, they go toe to toe with all these brands in ice retention.
Igloo Sportsman Cooler Aesthetics
From a looks standpoint, Igloo plays it pretty safe here. These coolers give off of tough and high-quality appearance, but they won’t turn heads from having tons of external features. The walls are pretty slick and clean outsides of the embedded ridge on the face as well as some more subtle grooves on the sides.
As for color options, they are also a bit limited right now. The size with the most choices is the 20-quart. It currently comes in white, tan, pink, and purple granite. The larger sizes narrow down the color choices to just two or three. The 55-quart model does come in optional camo but it is the only model that offers this.
Also, there doesn’t appear to be an Igloo-supported customization tier right now that allows for decals, emblems, etc. Although Igloo is a large enough company that we wouldn’t be surprised if a large enough order could get them to go the custom route for you.
But either way, we definitely hope that Igloo expands on their color choices and also embraces the customization options more in the future.
Igloo Sportsman Cooler Price
Igloo has always been known for its competitive prices. However, in order to be in the top-tier of ice chests, they had to go with higher-quality materials, better construction, and more features on their Igloo Sportsman Cooler series. Because of that, the asking prices for these products will be a bit higher than typical Igloo coolers.
However, compared to other coolers at this level, the asking prices are still plenty competitive. This is particularly true of the larger sizes. These models are noticeably cheaper than Yeti, Orca, Pelican, and other high-end ice chests.
We did notice that on the lower end, the “bang for the buck” goes down some. There honestly isn’t a huge difference in price between the Sportsman 20 and the Sportsman 40 and Sportsman 55. Because of this, we recommend that you spend a little bit more to get a much larger cooler.
Igloo Sportsman Cooler vs. Yeti
Most of the time, comparing an Igloo Cooler to Yeti Cooler isn’t necessary. Yeti will almost always have the higher-quality product that has longer ice life and is much tougher. In addition, it will almost always be significantly more expensive.
However, the Igloo Sportsman is designed to compete with Yeti. And lining them up, they are eerily similar in many regards.
In terms of ice life, both models are nearly identical for a given size. No matter which model you go with, you can expect multiple days of ice life.
In addition, the build quality is top notch on both. Both are IGBC-certified and are made of premium materials and are made in the USA.
Feature-wise, Yeti does have a slight advantage thanks to its many additional accessories that you can purchase. However, many people will not need these additional items and are simply looking for a quality ice chest.
Also, Yeti currently has more color options, size options, and more freedom for customization.
However, in terms of price, Igloo has a clear edge. This is even more noticeable in the larger sizes. You will find that you save quite a bit of money going with a large Igloo Sportsman Cooler over a large Yeti Cooler
So which is better?
Both models are great. But in terms of “bang for your buck”, Igloo has a clear edge.
Igloo Sportsman Cooler Review
20, 40, 55, and 70-quarts
Pros: Great ice retention, Extremely durable, Cheaper than many other premium coolers
Cons: Somewhat limited features, Lack of color choices
Features: Rotomolded construction, Ultratherm insulation, Fish ruler, Cool Riser technology, Oversized drain plug, UV inhibitors, Anti-skid base, Comfort grip handles
Insulation Ability –
We are very impressed with how long the Igloo Sportsman Coolers retain ice. This is accomplished thanks to several factors included thick rotomolded walls, Ultatherm insulation, Cool Riser technology, strong latches, and a thick gasket. Depending on which model you go with and your specific environmental conditions, you can anticipate ice to last between 28 and 128 hours.
Mobility and Durability –
The build quality across the board is superb. These ice chests are proudly made in the USA and come with high-quality components. The rotomolded construction results in a solid one-piece design that can handle the wears and tears of Mother Nature. And all of the metal components are made of rust-proof aluminum. In addition, these ice chests are right at home in marine settings thanks to UV inhibitors in the walls. And Igloo will stand behind their products by offering a 5-year warranty.
In terms of features, most of the ones we like to see are here but not much more than that. The most notable features include the molded fish ruler on the lid, the anti-skid base, and the comfort grip handles. There are also a couple of accessories that can be purchased at an additional cost.
These are large and heavy coolers so moving them will take a bit of work. But that is to be expected with any high-end cooler.
Visual Appeal –
The Igloo Sportsman Coolers take a very conservative approach in their design. You will find some subtle curves but outside of that, it is nothing eye-catching. This may not be a big deal to some people but to others who like to stand out from the crowd, they may be a bit underwhelmed. Also, you are quite limited on color choices. The small 20-quart Sportsman is the only model that offers more than 3 color choices. And as of right now, we don’t see a lot of support for custom decals and colors. Hopefully, Igloo builds upon this in the future.
We are quite satisfied with the asking prices of these models. While they are still considered premium-priced coolers, they are much more affordable than many other high-end coolers. This is particularly true on the larger models. And while Igloo doesn’t necessarily carry the same premium cooler reputation as Yeti or RTIC, they are still a very well-known brand (which can’t be said for a lot of the other new cooler brands coming to the market).
Overall Rating –
We are very satisfied with the Igloo Sportsman Cooler line. Igloo has really stepped up their game and offered a premium cooler that can compete with the best in the industry. The build quality is great and all of the features we are used to seeing in the top brands are present here as well. In addition, the price point is very attractive and, while still expensive, will save you some money over many other companies’ products. We do hope that Igloo expands their color choices and adds a few additional features in the future but for someone looking for a simple and effective cooler at a reasonable price, this is a fine choice.