Kula Cooler Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on June 21, 2019
We are always looking for clever new coolers to try out. So we were quite excited when we had a chance to give the Kula Cooler a go. The Kula Cooler is probably unlike any cooler that you have ever seen. Rather than being square or rectangular, the Kula Cooler is round! Beyond this, it incorporates many of the traditional features that you like to see in higher-end coolers in addition to a few that you probably aren’t used to seeing.
In this review, we will go over the pros and cons of the Kula Cooler. We will discuss its features, build quality, put it through an ice test, and more. By the end of it, you should have a pretty good idea if the Kula Cooler is the right buy for you or if you should keep shopping around.
The table below will give you the main points of the various Kula Coolers. For those of you would want to read into more details about our testing, just hop on below!
- 1 Kula Cooler Review
- 1.1 Kula Cooler Lineup
- 1.2 Kula Cooler Features/Build Quality
- 1.3 Kula Cooler Ice Retention
- 1.4 Kula Cooler Aesthetics
- 1.5 Kula Cooler Price
- 1.6 Kula Cooler vs. Yeti
- 1.7 Kula Cooler Review
Kula Cooler Lineup
Kula has a small selection of both hard-sided and soft-sided coolers. In this review, we will be focusing primarily on their hard-sided coolers but we still wanted to briefly discuss their selection of soft-sided coolers as well.
Kula Hard-Sided Coolers
Kula currently offers two models of hard-sided cooler. This includes their Kula 2.5 and their Kula 5. Both models follow a very similar design approach (but do have some slightly different features which we will discuss in the next section). The number designation in the cooler’s name represents how many gallons of storage volume they have. That is a bit different than most hard-sided coolers that we have tested which stick to quarts or liters of volume. So the Kula 5 holds approximately 5 gallons of volume (or around 19 liters).
As you can clearly see, the model choices are a bit lacking. And if you aren’t after a personal or small-sized hard cooler then Kula really won’t have much to offer you. However, we have seen a pretty big demand for these smaller coolers as of late so we are confident that there are still plenty of people in Kula’s target market.
Kula Soft-Sided Coolers
Kula also has a limited selection of soft-sided coolers. These are appropriately called the Softy 2.5 and Softy 5 and, similar to their hard-sided cousins, offer up 2.5 and 5 gallons of storage volume, respectively. They are also similar to the Kula Hard-Sided Coolers in that they come in a round shape and are very similarly sized.
As we mentioned above, we will be focusing on the hard-sided coolers in this review. But we hope to try out Kula’s Softy Coolers in the future.
Kula Cooler Features/Build Quality
Kula Coolers have quite a few clever features on them. Some of these features are very similar to ones that you have seen on other coolers that we have reviewed. But there are some features that are pretty unique to Kula.
Let’s start with the build quality. Kula Coolers are extremely well-constructed. They have the same similar roto molded plastic that you are used to seeing in premium hard-sided cooler. But they have cleverly called it their “Gatorshell”. We can’t really see much of a difference between Kula’s rotomolded plastic and other companies’ rotomolded plastic but we have to give them kudos for the clever name.
The wall thicknesses are below average for other roto-molded hard-sided coolers that we have tested. But it is still plenty strong to make this cooler able to be used as a seat or step stool. Specifically, we measured the wall thickness to be around 1” thick.
But with going with a round shape, you really don’t need as thick of walls to make the cooler incredibly strong. This goes into the fact that there are no sharp corners or edges (which can cause stress concentration areas that are more prone to failure). This results in a very resilient cooler body that doesn’t have any major weak points.
The only major concern area that we came across lies with the hinge. Kula has a really clever hinge design that they call their “270 Hinge”. As the name suggests, this hinge allows you to rotate the lid nearly 270 degrees around. This does give you easy access to items stored inside but having only one hinge to hold the load does mean that you need to be extra careful with the lid so as to not bend the hinge.
But outside of this, we are very content with the build quality. In fact, Kula has had their hard-sided cooler certified gator proof by the Gator Proof Alliance. We are more familiar with Grizzly Bear Proof (which many other coolers brands have certified their coolers under) but Gator Proof is a new one for us. We will let you decide which is tougher between a gator and a grizzly but all we know is that we don’t want to cross paths with either one!
Also, Kula stands behind their coolers. They offer an impressive 5-year warranty on their hard-sided coolers and a 2-year warranty on their soft-sided coolers. This is among the longest warranties in the industry and it really shows us that Kula is confident that their ice chests will last.
Now let’s go over some of the most notable features that you will find on a Kula Cooler.
We assume that Kula knew pretty early on that their coolers, due to their size and shape, would make for excellent seats and step stools. They have embraced that and included a helpful textured material on the lid. They call this feature their “Lid Trax”. It has a good grip in both dry and wet conditions (which is a good thing as stepping on slick plastic can be dangerous!).
The image below shows two more popular features on the Kula Coolers. First, you will find their integrated bottle opener. They call this their “Bottle Jaws”. It is made of stainless steel which will help it from rusting when exposed to moisture.
Right above the bottle opener is Kula’s version of the T-latch. Dubbed the “Onehand Latch”, it is the main opening and closing mechanism that you will use to seal in your ice.
As the name suggests, it is called the “onehand” because of being able to open and close it with one hand. This is true of just about any t-latch that we have seen on other hard-sided coolers and is more Kula’s clever marketing team at work.
While we are on the subject of latches: this is one of the only hard-sided coolers that we have tested that only comes with a single latch. This makes opening and closing the lid a breeze but it does sacrifice some of the closing force that you will enjoy. This does impact how much squeeze the gasket produces (which an impact ice life).
And speaking of the gasket, it is the same thick rubber gasket that we are used to seeing on other rotomolded coolers. With the exception of this gasket being round as opposed to square or rectangular. The gasket is quite large and can produce squeeze but this will be affected by only having the single latch to produce the squeezing force.
On the base of the Kula Cooler are non-skid rubber feet. These have been named “Sticky Feet” by Kula. We really like these grips and we are glad that they were included since this cooler will oftentimes be used as a seat or step-up point.
Other common (be appreciated) features include side latch points and an elevated base. For carrying, there is a gripped overhead carrying handle similar to what you have likely seen in other small and personal-sized coolers that are sold by other brands.
For draining, the port is actually located on the center of the base of the cooler. You can see what we are talking about in the image above. We have mixed feelings about this. One on hand, you don’t have to worry about water pouring out to the side when you open up the drain port as you would on a traditional side-mounted drain plug cooler. But on the other hand, it does mean that you will have to lift the cooler up or tilt it on its side to be able to loosen the drain port. Even though these aren’t large coolers, they can still be quite heavy when full of ice and drinks so this may be tough for some people to do.
The features on the Kula 5 and Kula 2.5 are nearly identical except for one exception. The Kula 2.5 actually comes with a tap. This can make this cooler double as both an ice chest as well as a way to hold potable water or other beverage. This is a really cool idea and we are glad that Kula decided to implement it.
Overall, we are quite content with the overall build quality and features that you will find in Kula’s hard-sided coolers. Many of the features that we expect to see in any premium-priced cooler are present and there are some additional features that help to make Kula stand out from the crowd.
Before we go on to the next section, we did want to bring up one thing: transportation. Kula Coolers are certainly on the small side and surprisingly lightweight: but how are they when it comes to carrying them?
We found that we prefer carrying traditional flat-sided hard coolers as opposed to round coolers. Sure, if you plan on just carrying the cooler in your hands via the handle then it may not make of a difference. But if you are someone who likes to carry it on your shoulders or near your side, you may find that the round body rubs up on your side in a very uncomfortable manner. This is as opposed to a flat cooler that rests more flush on your side. This may not be the case for everyone but we felt that it was worth mentioning.
Kula Cooler Ice Retention
Now that we have discussed Kula Cooler’s features and build quality, it is time to put it through an ice retention test.
Kula Coolers are a bit unique in their design, so we were quite curious how they would fare when it comes to ice life. They utilize a large rubber gasket, built-in insulation, and a strong t-latch as we have seen on countless other successful hard-sided coolers. But conversely, their walls are on the thin side and there is only one latch being used (which will affect how much gasket squeeze you see).
We were even more curious when we saw that, according to Kula, you can expect ice to last 5 to 7 days. This is far beyond what most hard-sided coolers this size can achieve and that is with them having thicker insulated walls and a stronger latch system.
To figure this out for ourselves, we filled the Kula Cooler up about halfway with ice. We also left it in the Texas outdoor sun and occasionally opened it (as you would typically do in most real-world applications).
You can see our results in the chart below.
As you can see, we didn’t experience anywhere near the 5 to 7 days that Kula had stated. We aren’t saying that higher ice values aren’t possible, but that we feel that they likely are realistic if you plan to use these coolers are most people use coolers (AKA in outdoor settings, partially filled with other items, and occasionally opening them to access these items).
That being said, these numbers aren’t terrible compared to other similarly-sized coolers on the market that we have tested. They are on the lower side (which can likely be attributed to having thinner walls and only one latch) but the ice numbers are still large enough to make these versatile personal coolers for a day or weekend trip.
We do want to mention that if you plan on using the Kula 2.5 as a potable water storage source that its usability will extend far beyond what the chart above shows. These coolers will keep stored liquids cold for far longer than 1 to 2 days. We specifically tested for how long ice would stay inside before melting, not how long fluids would stay cold.
Kula Cooler Aesthetics
The styling of a cooler might not be a huge priority to some people but it is still something that can come into discussion when trying to figure out the best cooler for you.
The fact that Kula Coolers are round as opposed to a square automatically will make them stand out from most of the competition out there. Outside of a handful of other models made by other brands (Yeti makes one, for instance: the Silo), most of your hard-sided coolers are going to be square or rectangular in shape.
As for colors, there are currently 4 colors to pick from: Seafoam, Grey, White, and Tan. This is a decent selection of color choices for such a small cooler. We always think that “more is better” when it comes to color options. And we wouldn’t have minded a few more included some multi-color patterns.
Also, there are currently no custom decal or team logo options. Some of the more established cooler companies will actually make you a specialty cooler in just about any color or pattern that you can think of. We hope that this is something that Kula considers including in the future.
The overall styling of the Kula Cooler is simple yet attractive. The black gripped material on the lid works well with the black handles, bottle opener, and latch to provide some contract between the solid color. The Kula logo is also printed on the front of the cooler (although it is hard to see).
Kula Cooler Price
Price is almost always a consideration that people make when determining if a cooler is right for them. And while high-end coolers with roto molding technology will always fetch a higher premium than other types of coolers, there can still be a pretty large range in asking price.
Seeing how Kula Coolers (both the 2.5 gallon and 5-gallon models) are on the smaller side, we were anticipating that the prices would be on the lower end of the premium cooler market as a whole. While that is true, compared to other ice chests of a similar size, they are near the top. This puts them up in the range of some of the most expensive cooler brands such as Yeti, Orca, Engel, etc.
From a performance standpoint, we don’t really see the value here. There are coolers that hold a similar amount of volume that has longer ice life. From a features standpoint, there are also plenty of other hard-sided coolers of this size that have similar features.
The one area that Kula stands out from other brands is in its shape. If you are dead-set on buying a round hard-sided cooler then you shouldn’t have as much of a problem paying the premium that it cost.
Kula Cooler vs. Yeti
Yeti actually has a very similar model to compare to Kula’s 5 gallon cooler: the Yeti Silo 6G. So how does the Yeti Silo 6G compare to the Kula Cooler?
The Silo is a bit larger, coming in with 6 gallons of storage volume. It also has nearly all of the features of the Kula (outside of the gripped top) and also includes a spigot (which currently only the 2.5 gallon Kula Cooler offers). In addition, the Silo 6G has two latches instead of one. This does making opening and closing the lid a bit more laborious but it also means that the gasket will have better squeeze.
As for ice retention, both models are very similar. These aren’t going to be the ultra-long ice holders like some of the more traditional models. This is due to having thinner walls.
The Kula Cooler does have some clear positives over the Yeti, however. It comes in multiple color options (the Yeti is just available in white) and it is cheaper.
So which is better?
If you are after maximum features and storage volume and are willing to pay extra for it, the Yeti makes a strong case. If you are simply after this style of cooler and are willing to forego some features in exchange for a cheaper price, then the Kula might be the better choice.
But no matter which model you go with, you will enjoy a high-quality cooler.
Kula Cooler Review
Kula puts a twist on traditional hard-sided coolers with their 2.5 and 5 gallon round coolers. These coolers come in at a size that makes them easy to carry while still providing enough storage volume for an individual or small group. The 2.5 gallon model can also be used as a potable liquid transporter with easy access thanks to the spigot. However, asking price can be a bit higher and the performance does take a hit because of the thinner insulated walls.
Pros: Great build quality, Impressive warranty, Several unique features, Design that makes it stand out
Cons: Only so-so ice retention, May be uncomfortable for some to carry, Limited size choices, Expensive
Features: Gatorshell construction, Bottle Jaws bottle opener, Lid Trax gripped lid, 270 hinge, Sticky Feet rubber feet, Latch Points, Carrying handle, High-flow base drain, Spigot (on 2.5 gallon model)
Features/Build Quality –
The overall build quality is pretty good. The walls aren’t the thickest but the fit and finish are right up there with the very best. Plus, we really like that Kula stands behind their coolers thanks to their Gator Certification and 5-year warranty.
As for features, many of the usual suspects are here. This includes a built-in bottle opener, non-skid feet, latch points, and a high-flow drain port. But where the Kula Cooler does stand out some is with some of its other features. This includes having the drain port at the bottom of the cooler, having a single one-handed latch for opening and closing, and a spigot for dispensing water on the 2.5 gallon model.
The carrying handle is plenty robust for carrying this cooler but some may not be a fan of the shape and how it can rub against your side while carrying.
Ice Retention –
Ice performance is only decent. You will find around 1” thick walls (which is below average). And couple this with limited gasket squeeze thanks to having a single latch, and you will recipe for less than optimal ice life. But despite this, you will still enjoy ice retention of 1 to 2 days depending on which model you go with, how much ice you use, and how often you are opening the lid. This can make the Kula Cooler an acceptable choice for any sort of day or weekend activities. But if you are after longer ice life than that, expect to bring extra ice.
The fact that Kula Coolers are round will instantly make them stand out from 99% of other coolers on the market. We also appreciate that there are 4 different colors to choose from. And no matter which color you go with, the “feel” of the cooler is that of a high-quality product. Our only minor complaints is a lack of multi-color options and some sort of custom shop. We also wouldn’t mind if the made the logo more prevalent by coloring it in with a darker color.
Kula Coolers are definitely on the higher end of the price spectrum. Other than Yetis, they are about the most expensive coolers that we have seen for this size. You are definitely paying extra for the unique design, nice feature lineup, and impressive warranty. But the “dollar per performance” ratio isn’t the best. And some people may simply be unwilling or unable to spend this kind of money on what is a relatively small ice chest.
Overall Rating –
We had a good time testing out the Kula Cooler. Both models are very well made and come with fantastic warranties. We also liked the feature lineup and saw a few features that we rarely see in other coolers. But the ice life is lacking considering the price point. And carrying a round cooler isn’t the most comfortable experience in the world. If you are wanting to try out a round cooler then certainly add this to your list. But if you are wanting to save money on a personal or small-sized cooler with similar (or better) performance, there are other options out there.