Orion Cooler Review
Orion Coolers is a Tennessee-based company that has a solid national presence in the premium cooler sector. They focus primarily on hard-sided coolers but also have some accessories, a handful of drinkware items, and some clothing/memorabilia that they sell as well. Orion feels that they deserve your business due to their impressive array of features. In fact, they go so far as to exclaim that they have the most standard features in its class. This is a lofty statement that we are going to put to the test in the huge Orion Coolers review!
But before we start, here is a table listing out some of the best Orion Coolers. To read our full review, simply hop below it and enjoy!
- 1 Orion Cooler Review
Orion Cooler Lineup
Orion Coolers deals almost exclusively in hard-sided coolers. They do have a small selection of drinkware items but they will not be tested or reviewed in this article.
Their selection of hard-sided coolers includes the Orion 25, Orion 35, Orion 45, Orion 55, Orion 65, and Orion 85. Many other cooler brands decide to give their products clever Series names but Orion decided to keep it simple.
These numbers, as you might have guessed, coincide with the storage volume in quarts. In other words, an Orion 35 will have approximately 35 quarts of storage volume. This is large enough to handle around 50 pounds of ice or 48 cans of beer/soda.
You have a nice selection of sizes available that will hit most target audiences. The only sizes noticeably missing are giant coolers with 100+ quarts. But most people simply don’t need such a large ice chest and those that do are still oftentimes hesitant to spend the serious cash that they typically fetch!
Orion seems to have followed a pretty similar design approach among their entire lineup of coolers. This is compared to other brands have been known to tweak their coolers’ specific features and layouts depending on the size. For instance, it is common for smaller coolers such as the Orion 25 to offer an overhead carrying handle. We will discuss this more in the next section.
Orion Cooler Features
As we mentioned above, no matter which size of Orion Cooler you go with, you will enjoy pretty similar features. And the features are plentiful! Orion believes that their clever features are one of the ways that they are able to stand out from the competition. Below we will discuss the common features that Orion has utilizes and then jump into the ones that make them stand out.
For maximum ice performance and toughness, rotomolded construction with thick walls is a must. Orion has you covered there. All of their coolers come with quality rotomolded polyethylene that is made from the same people that produce Jackson Kayaks. And the polyethylene is thick: all walls of all sizes are at least 2” thick.
The next piece of the puzzle for long ice life is having a quality seal. Orion has implemented the popular rubber gasket design that many other brands use. These thick freezer-grade rubber gaskets provide excellent squeeze, locking in cold air and keeping warm air out. Plus, the extra size means that they are less prone to cracks and/or tears ruining the seal.
The final aspect needed for good ice life is having latches that provide good closing force. This helps to really squeeze the rubber gasket, forming a great seal. While rubber latches are a popular approach that most premium cooler brands use, Orion has taken it up a notch. They still use rubber as the material that creates the clamping force but they have depressed their latches into the cooler in addition to replacing the rubber points with smooth metal curves. The result is a latch that that is much less likely to snag or catch on things while transporting. Plus, it looks great!
Other common features that are still worth noting are the high-flow drain plug and the gripped rubber handles. Orion tries to be clever calling them “motorcycle grip handles” but they are, more or less, a similar size and feel to most handles that other premium cooler brands use. As we alluded to above, all sizes (even the smallest Orion 25) use the same type of carrying handle design. You won’t find overhead carrying handles here.
Now that we have gone over some of the more common features found on Orion Coolers, let’s dig into the ones that help to make them stand out from much of the competition.
When we first put our hands on an Orion Cooler, the first feature that jumped out was the padded lid. We have all seen padded cooler tops before but never before have we seen where padded tops come standard on the cooler. This pad is made of dual-layered EVA foam that provides much-needed traction and a more comfortable sitting position. Plus, it is pretty tough: it can handle water and the occasional bump or scrape with no problem.
The next two really innovative features are the YakAttack Track and the built-in bottle openers. Starting with the bottle openers, you will find matching bottle openers on all sides of the cooler. They are made of quality steel and the fact that there are four of them means that you will have easy access to one no matter where you are situated relative to your Orion Ice Chest.
The YakAttack Track is an industry first as far as we know of. These are specialized accessory tracks that are mounted on the sides of the coolers. They are designed to mount and hold a variety of specialty Orion accessories. The image above shows the Orion Utilitop cooler accessory. In addition to this, you will find accessories for holding fishing rods, cell phones, cups, Go Pros, Fish Finders, and more.
In regards to toughness, Orion has you covered there as well. The thick rotomolded walls and stainless steel components combine with the Made in USA quality to deliver one durable ice chest. Orion Coolers are IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) Certified and come with one of the longest warranties in the industry at 10 years.
Overall, we are very impressed with the helpful features that Orion has included. The only notable features that are missing is a built-in cutting board/divider (which can be bought separately), a pressure release valve, and a fish scale (which would likely get in the way of the lid pad). But despite this things, you will find plenty of positives that help Orion to stand out from much of the competition.
Orion Cooler Ice Life
Features are cool and all, but what most people are concerned about when it comes to a quality ice chest is how well it retains ice. On paper, Orion Coolers have all of the features that we look for in a cooler that is designed for some serious ice retention: thick rotomolded walls, oversized freezer-grade gasket, powerful latches, and quality construction.
Orion doesn’t come out and state specifics for their coolers in regards to ice life. Rather, they simply say that it can vary and that your best performance will come from precooling your cooler, filling gaps with ice, etc. These are certainly helpful tips but to get to the bottom of it, we decided to do a little testing ourselves.
We filled our test models with around 1/3 to 2/5 of ice, left them out in the Texas summer heat, and opened them from time to time. This emulates more real-life conditions vs. filling them to the brim with ice, leaving them in a cool dark room, and rarely opening them. We also understand that Orion recommends precooling but let’s face it: most people don’t bother with that sort of thing so we didn’t either.
You can check out our results in the chart below:
These ice numbers are quite impressive and towards the higher end of the premium cooler category. In particular, the larger models such as the Orion 85 and Orion 65 really push the envelope in ice retention. In optimal real-life settings, you could get more than a week of ice life with the largest model.
The smaller ice chests typically won’t offer you a week of ice life but they still prove to be quite versatile. 3 to 4 days is to be expected which is long enough for most typical weekend activities.
As we mentioned above, Orion encourages precooling your ice chest and some other helpful tips to maximize the ice life. We no doubt believe that these steps would help and perhaps we will revisit this review sometime in the future and see how implementing these additional steps boosts ice life.
Orion Cooler Aesthetics
Another area that Orion really shines is in their cooler aesthetics. They have 8 different colors to choose from in all of their cooler sizes. The image below shows the specific colors displayed on their popular Orion 35 model.
The colors you have to choose from are Blaze, Dorado, Forest, Stone, Red-Black, Red-Black-White, White-Blue, and Red-White-Blue.
Not only is this an above average number of colors, but these colors are done in a truly unique way. Orion’s multi-color designs have a very attractive paint blending technique that will make them easily stand out from the crowd. And for those who prefer to play it safe, they also offer a standard stone color.
Furthermore, Orion has a full customization shop. This allows you to imprint your company logo, sports team logo, add initials, and even request your own paint schemes for a truly one-of-a-kind finish. You can put them not only on the body of the cooler but even embed it on the lid pad!
This really pushes Orion to the top of the industry when it comes to color options and flexibility in designing the perfect cooler for you.
As for the cooler design itself, we think they look great. The attractive steel corner bottle openers and metal latches give it a look that sets it apart from the plethora of coolers that go with the same played-out design. We commend Orion for thinking outside of the box on this one.
Orion Cooler Cost
There is no denying that Orion knocks it out of the park when it comes ice performance, features, and styling. They have set themselves up to be one of the industry-leaders for many years to come.
However, that does come with a huge caveat. Orion Coolers are extremely expensive.
In fact, they are among the most expensive coolers in the industry. Oftentimes they are even more expensive than Yeti Coolers which few other brands can say.
So why the high asking price? There are a few reasons.
First, they are made in America. While this is typically a sign of quality, American-made parts almost always cost more than importing from Asia. Second, they are loaded with features. You will find some features that few other cooler brands can say they have. Next, they come with specialized multi-tone paint. Finally, they have one of the longest warranties in the business at 10 years.
For these reasons, Orion Coolers fetch a premium that few other brands can rival. And it works for them! They are very popular and people have no problem paying this kind of money to enjoy a reputable Orion product.
Whether or not that is something you are able and willing to do is up to you!
Orion Coolers vs. Yeti
A common question that we are asked is how Orion Coolers compared to Yeti. Both are juggernauts in the premium cooler industry and their head-to-head comparison is truly a great one.
Orion has really pushed the envelope when it comes to features. They have some awesome add-ons to their coolers that we have not seen before plus many of the traditional features that we expect to see. This results in an ice chest the performs well and is also very user-friendly
Furthermore, the coolers look great and the company proudly stands behind their product.
Yeti shares many common similarities. They offer a ton of colors, are proudly made in the USA, and have very similar ice chest sizes (albeit a larger selection). Where they differ is in the number of features. Yeti plays it safe in this regard and doesn’t have nearly as many factory-installed features. When you get into aftermarket accessories it is a whole different story, however.
In almost all of our other cooler comparisons, Yeti usually is the more expensive option. This is a rare case where Orion Coolers tend to fetch a higher asking price. However, the price differences aren’t THAT far apart and we feel that the many additional features and unique colors that you get with an Orion Cooler justify the higher asking price.
It is a close call but due to the slightly better performance and feature list, we are picking Orion Coolers by a hair. But no matter which brand you go with, you will enjoy a great ice chest that will perform for years to come.
Orion Coolers Review
Pros: Very clever features, Impressive ice performance, Awesome Styling, Long warranty
Cons: Extremely expensive, Not a lot of “safe” color choices
Features: Rotomolded construction, Flush non-catching latches, Freezer-grade gasket, Seat cushion, Built-in bottle openers, Yakattack track, High-flow drain plug, Rubber rope handles
Orion has a solid lineup of hard-sided coolers that aim to compete in the competitive premium cooler world thanks to their array of innovative features, impressive performance, and great styling. You can choose sizes that range from 25 quarts up to 85 quarts in addition to a host of helpful accessories. But all of this great news does come at a high cost. Orion Coolers are among the most expensive ice chests in the industry.
Insulation Ability –
We were very impressed with the ice life of Orion Coolers. No matter which model you go with, ice retention rates are very competitive and towards the top performers in the industry. This can be attributed to the thick 2”+ thick rotomolded walls, the freezer-grade rubber gasket, and the powerful latch system. In the largest cooler sizes in optimal conditions, you can anticipate over a week of ice retention. And in the smaller sizes, you will still enjoy 3 to 4 days.
Mobility and Durability –
Where Orion really shines is in their huge array of clever features. The most notable ones include their built-in bottle opener and the Yakattack Track. Orion has included not one, not two, not three, but FOUR bottle openers on the corners of their products. This allows for quick and easy access no matter where you are situated relative to the cooler.
The Yakattach Track allows you to attach a host of separately-sold accessories to the side of your cooler. This converts it to anything from a place to rest food to a place to hold your fishing rod and even a clever way to secure your Go Pro.
We also really like the comfortable padded seat cushion on the lid and the rubber grip handles.
As for build quality, you will be very impressed. These coolers are proudly made in the USA and the people roto-molding them are the same people who work on Jackson Kayaks. If you would trust them with your boat, then you should trust them with your cooler! And the fact that they are Grizzly Bear Proof and also come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty is further evidence of the caliber of quality you are dealing with.
Visual Appeal –
We absolutely love the styling that has been put into these ice chests. Not only do you have a good selection of colors (8 different color choices in every size) but the colors are truly unique. The paint job that is built into the plastic itself is sure to make your cooler stand out from all of your friends and neighbors at the next BBQ or tailgate. And for those who want to go to the next level, Orion has a full custom shop where you can add your own team logo and specialized colors to your liking.
Besides this, the actual shape and styling of the coolers are great. The robust bottle openers combine with the attractive metal latches to give a great overall look.
The main issue with Orion Coolers is their extremely high asking price. We are used to seeing some sticker shock when dealing with premium coolers but Orion takes this to the extreme. They are among the most expensive coolers we have ever tested and will really push your pocketbook to the limits. So while we can’t call these coolers a great “value”, they do offer a ton for the asking price which makes it a little easier to swallow.
Overall Rating –
We came away very pleased with our experience with Orion’s hard-sided ice chest lineup. No matter if you go with the portable 25-quart model or spring for the powerful 85-quart example, you will enjoy great ice retention, loads of features, and proven Tennessee-made construction. And from a styling standpoint, you will be the envy of those around you at the next social gathering. But all of this does come with an extremely high asking price that many people may simply be unwilling or unable to manage. If your budget allows, treat yourself to something special and buy an Orion Cooler. But for those that don’t hat that kind of disposable income, there are plenty of coolers out there that are 80% as good for half the price.