Lifetime Cooler Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on August 24, 2019
Many of you are likely already familiar with the Lifetime brand. These sell many products ranging from tables to picnic tables and even basketball equipment.
What many people may not realize is that Lifetime also recently came out with a series of coolers. These hard-sided coolers are designed to compete in the crowded premium cooler range. They utilize many of the traditional features and manufacturing processes that we are used to seeing in this cooler bracket and they also promise similar ice retention numbers. And no surprise, these features also come with the typical premium cooler price tag.
So how do Lifetime Coolers compare to other high-end ice chests on the market?
In this massive Lifetime Cooler Review, we will discuss the various features on these products. We will break down the pros, cons, and also put them through our standard ice retention test. Finally, we will give Lifetime Coolers a “TheCoolerZone.com” ranking from 1 to 5.
If you are in a hurry, the table below will give you a brief overview of the most important bullet points of Lifetime Coolers. If you wish to read our through our full review, scroll down below.
- 1 Lifetime Cooler Review
- 1.1 Lifetime Cooler Lineup
- 1.2 Lifetime Cooler Features/Build Quality
- 1.3 Lifetime Cooler Ice Retention
- 1.4 Lifetime Cooler Aesthetics
- 1.5 Lifetime Cooler Price
- 1.6 Lifetime Cooler vs. Yeti
- 1.7 Lifetime Cooler Review
Lifetime Cooler Lineup
These three sizes are very popular choices among consumers. So it is no surprise to us that Lifetime decided to go with them. You have a smaller, portable model for shorter excursions. And then you have a medium and large-sized model for more demanding trips.
While Lifetime did manage to hit the largest target markets, the overall size choices are still a bit lacking. Missing is a large range of mid-sized coolers and there are no choices for those of you who are after huge coolers (100+ quarts of storage volume).
Design aspects and features are pretty similar among the two larger models. The 28-quart model, due to space limitations, will utilize a traditional carrying handle and also sacrifices the drain plug (we will go into more detail about the feature on this ice chests in the next section).
Lifetime Cooler Features/Build Quality
If you are going to have the world “lifetime” in your name, then it is expected that your products be extremely durable so as to last for a lifetime!
On paper, Lifetime Coolers are doing all of the right things to ensure a lifetime (or pretty dang close to it) of operation.
This all begins with the wall construction. As is typical of premium coolers, Lifetime takes advantage of injection-molded rotomolding technology. This process allows for a strong one-piece body that takes away potential weak points that exist with glues or other types of bonding.
For holding the lid and body together, Lifetime has a strong stainless steel rod. These are also designed to resist opening too far and potentially damaging the hinge.
And we like that Lifetime stands behind their coolers. They offer a 5-year limited warranty.
Lifetime Coolers have also had their ice chests certified Grizzly Bear proof by the IGBC. This is a common seal achieved these days on various ice chests but that doesn’t mean that we don’t like to see it. It essentially means that these coolers can handle being mauled by a grizzly bear (hopefully you never have to test this theory!).
It is worth mentioning that there have been some complaints about the lid on these ice chests warping after a few months. While we have personally not experienced anything like this, it would require a more long-term test to be sure of.
Also, there have been some reported gasket issues. Specifically, the gasket on older models is prone to warping and peeling off. Lifetime has recently updated their gasket to a superior design. If you happen to have one of the “old” models, simply reach out to Lifetime support and they will help get you one of their updated gaskets.
Now let’s go over some of the features present on Lifetime Ice Chests.
One of our favorite features is cool and easy-to-use latches. These latches are designed to be easily opened by one hand. And, more importantly, they provide a strong bite.
And why would a strong bit be necessary, you may ask? It is because this helps to provide some good squeeze on the gasket. The gasket is the rubber seal that helps to lock in the air between the lid and the body when closed.
The gasket on Lifetime Coolers is pretty similar to the gasket that we have seen on other high-end coolers. And this isn’t a bad thing as this type of design has proven for decades to be a great performer.
On the smaller 28-quart model, you will have small embedded cavities that can be used as side handles and the (easier to use) overhead carrying handle. There is a small foam insert in the middle of the handle for added comfort and grip.
When you move up to the larger sizes, the overhead carrying handle is replaced by a more traditional side rope handle. There is a rubber grip on the rope to, again, provide added comfort and grip. In a pinch, you can also put your hands directly under the molded cavity. However, we prefer to use the grip handles.
Other features worth noting include side drain ports on the 55 and 77-quart models, a built-in bottle opener on the front of all sizes, and a tie-down hold on the front of the cooler for locking and securing the cooler. These are pretty “normal” features to have on most hard-sided coolers models (but we still like to make note of and see them).
Beyond this, there aren’t a lot of additional features that make Lifetime Coolers stand out from the masses. Other cooler brands are introducing clever features such as cup holders, LED lights, dry good trays, and more. While these features may not be that big of a deal to many people, to others, not having them may push Lifetime Coolers farther down the list of potential buys.
Lifetime Cooler Ice Retention
Now that we have gone over some of the top features on Lifetime Coolers, let’s discuss what many people consider a more important metric: ice retention.
If a cooler hopes to compete in today’s competitive market, it needs to provide excellent ice retention. This is particularly true for “high-end coolers”. Lifetime, at first glance, seems to have everything that you need for long ice life: thick rotomolded walls, a thick rubber gasket, and a great latching system to provide a nice closing force. But how does this translate to ice retention numbers?
We took a peek at Lifetime’s website and their supposed ice retention numbers are pretty bold. Specifically, they state that you will enjoy up to 5 days of ice retention with their 28-quart model, 7 days of ice retention with their 55-quart model, and 9 days of ice retention with their 77-quart model.
In the past, we have seen where cooler companies would inflate their ice numbers or base them off of “best-case” scenarios. As in, filling the cooler up to the very top with ice, leaving in a cool indoor setting, and never opening them.
For most people, these types of scenarios aren’t realistic. Most people are filling their coolers up partially with items other than ice, exposing them to warmer outdoor settings, and occasionally opening the coolers to access items.
Therefore, we decided to put the coolers through our in-house testing. This consists of filling the cooler up around halfway with ice, leaving it outdoors, and opening it from time to time.
Seeing how summer here in Texas right now is among the hottest it has been all year, these coolers underwent some pretty demanding settings. So how did they fare?
As you can see, the ice numbers we saw were quite a bit less than what Lifetime stated on their website. That isn’t to say that they were bad. They were pretty competitive with other similarly-sized premium coolers on the market (maybe slightly lower). We also put these coolers through some of the hottest days of the year in the South which played a big role in their numbers.
If you were able to store these ice chests in a cooler environment, load them up with a higher percentage of ice, and try to rarely open them, then we have no doubts that the ice retention numbers would increase by a good bit. But to the supposed numbers from the website? We aren’t so sure about that.
Lifetime Cooler Aesthetics
While looks may not play a huge role in determining which cooler someone wants to buy, it is still worth discussing. When out at the pool or lake, sometimes having a cooler that can stand out from the crowd can be something that people will spend a bit extra on.
We like the overall look of Lifetime Coolers. They have a modern feel and their curves are a bit different than other models that we have tested. In particular, we like how the channels where the latches snap into place cascade downward with a slight widening taper.
Having the latches come in with a bright blue is a nice contrast to the gray backdrop. Underneath the built-in bottle opener, you will also find a number designation for which sized Lifetime Cooler you are looking at (“28”, “55”, or “77”).
Now the big negative. As far as we can tell, there is only one color choice for Lifetime Coolers. It is the gray color shown above. While we like the color and all, where are the other options? Other cooler brands on the market sell potentially a dozen or more color options. So we are a bit disappointed that Lifetime could only muster one choice.
Lifetime Cooler Price
Price is always an important consideration, especially with high-end coolers. When you are planning on spending hundreds of dollars on something, it is important to get the “best bang for your buck”.
In this regards, Lifetime is near the top. These are very reasonably-priced coolers. They are some of the most affordable coolers that you can find that most people would consider being in the premium bracket.
That being said, they are a slight step below some of the (significantly) more expensive models out there. In terms of ice retention, features, and overall build quality, these coolers capture 90% of the capabilities of some of the highest-end coolers that we have tested but at a 50% (and sometimes higher) reduction in price.
And being such a great bargain, it makes it much easier to overlook some of the minor flaws.
Lifetime Cooler vs. Yeti
One of the most common questions that we receive is how “X” brand compares to Yeti. Yeti has been the household name in high-end coolers for many years now. And people are always looking for the next cooler brand that will dethrone Yeti.
So how does Lifetime Cooler compare?
In terms of build quality and features, we have to give a slight nod to Yeti. The Lifetime Cooler is built quite well but the reports of the lids warping and gaskets failing (to Lifetime’s credit, they are fixing this issue) cannot go unnoticed.
The features present consist of your essential ones but not much more. There are also not much in the way of additional accessories that can be purchased. Lifetime Coolers are, overall, pretty straightforward in their design.
Ice retention has to lean slightly in Yeti’s favor as well. While Lifetime was no slouch, Yeti does seem to perform a bit better. We do need to note that this could be due in part to the time of the year that we tested the Lifetime Coolers. These were tested in August during some of the hottest days of the year here in the Southern USA.
In a bigger margin, Yeti wins when talking about aesthetics as well. We prefer the design of Lifetime Coolers, but their severe lack of additional colors or customization options knocks off a few points.
But where Lifetime Coolers does have a huge advantage is in price. Let’s face it: Yeti Coolers are extremely expensive! Lifetime Coolers, on the other hand, are among the most affordable “premium” coolers that we have tested. Sure, there are some minor sacrifices when it comes to building quality and ice retention, but the step down from there is more than acceptable when you look at the huge step down in price.
So while, on paper, Yeti is a superior cooler, the huge costs savings you will see with a Lifetime Cooler makes it a better buy in our opinion.
If you have a deep pocketbook and are willing to spend extra for the very best, then Yeti is the way to go. Otherwise, you can save quite a bit by going with a Lifetime Cooler.
Lifetime Cooler Review
Pros: Great “bang for your buck”, Good warranty, Quick customer service, Attractive cooler design
Cons: Concerns of warping lid, Very limited color options, Slightly lower ice retention
Features: Rotomolded construction, Side rope handles or overhead carrying handle, High-flow drain port, Stainless steel hardware, Built-in bottle opener, Easy-open latching system, Oversized rubber gasket, Tie-down/Lock hole
Lifetime has been in the business for a long time. But only recently did we learn of their new cooler lineup. This small selection of rotomolded hard-sided coolers aims to compete in the premium cooler world by offering similar performance but for a fraction of the price. You can choose between 28-quart, 55-quart, and 77-quart models.
Insulation Ability –
We are content with the ice life you will see with Lifetime Coolers. These models utilize all of the normal features that we look for in ice chests with extended ice retention. This includes thick walls, an oversized rubber gasket, and a strong latch system. Depending on which model you go with, you should enjoy anywhere from 2ish days up to around 7 days of ice retention. This is markedly lower than the ice life that the manufacturer states but we have a feeling that the demanding outdoor summer conditions that we put these coolers though played a part in that.
Mobility and Durability –
Lifetime Coolers have relatively thick rotomolded walls and quality stainless steel hardware. This allows for a pretty tough protective shell that the company will stand behind. You will find a 5-year limited warranty and Grizzly Bear Certification on all 3 sizes. We do have some concerns about the reports of warped lids and there is a pretty well-documented issue of gaskets warping prematurely. However, Lifetime appears to be addressing these issues with updates to their coolers.
As for features, most of the usual suspects are present. This includes an overhead carrying handle on the smallest size and side rope handles on the larger sizes. Our favorite feature is probably the latch system. These latches are very simple to open and close and provide plenty of bite. Other notable features include a built-in bottle opener, tie-down holes, and a high-flow drain port.
Visual Appeal –
We do like the shape and design of the walls on Lifetime Coolers. And the gray color is contrasted nicely with the bright blue latching system. However, our main complaint is in the severe lack of color options. We only found a single color choice available across all model sizes. We hope that this is an area that Lifetime will address and improve on in the future.
The big shining point in the Lifetime Cooler lineup is in the asking price. While these certainly couldn’t be considered budget coolers, they are quite a bit cheaper than nearly all of the other high-end brands that we have tested. And with that, you will get close to the same ice life, toughness, and most of the essential features. We like to think of these coolers as 90% of the performance for 50% of the price.
Overall Rating –
If you are after a good balance between performance and price, then Lifetime makes a strong selling point. These coolers take some minor shortcuts in design and construction to realize large gains in cost savings with only minimal impact on performance. For people who aren’t after the cutting-edge or the absolute class-leading and rather just want a cooler that can hold ice for a few days, these are a great choice.
The build quality, features, and ice life are likely fine for the vast majority of the population. There are some issues with the lid warping and the gasket breaking, but they are being addressed by the manufacturer. And we do have to knock a few points off for the severe lack of color choices. But overall, we left impressed with the Lifetime has to offer in their first go at the cooler industry.