The Engel 65 is a solid performer for less than the cost of most the competition, winning our award for Best Buy for a High End Cooler. Though not a knock-out in any single category, this model offers good insulation, excellent durability, and some built-in bottle openers, making it a worthy contender amid a tough crowd. Its latches are slightly different than most of its peers and don't require the tug-and-pull dance they require. While a bit smaller than advertised, we think its a convenient size while still being portable by a single person. Despite this coolers' lack of knocking our socks off, we're pretty impressed by the all-around good performance of this cooler in the face of some intense — and much more expensive — competition.
Engel 65 Review
Cons: Handles uncomfortable, not our favorite latches
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|Pros||Pretty good insulation, convenient size, comparatively lightweight, good price||Excellent insulation, super durable, easy to use, great size||Excellent insulation, great drainage, durable, compact design||Very durable, good insulation, comfortable handle grips||The best wheels, very durable, comfortable to pull, useful accessories|
|Cons||Handles uncomfortable, not our favorite latches||Expensive, no leash for plug, smaller than claimed||Tall narrow shape is hard to dig through, expensive, not our favorite handles||A bit large for one person, no leash for plug, latches are scarily stretchy||Not amazing insulation, awkward latches, expensive, on the heavy side|
|Bottom Line||An above-average performer that comes in funky colors offers a good value.||If you want the best insulation and the longest lasting cooler, look no further than this simple yet effective model.||Excellent insulation in a compact, durable cooler.||A high-performing and durable cooler with solid usability features.||A wheeled cooler that is even more handy than you’d imagine.|
|Rating Categories||Engel 65||Yeti Tundra 65||ORCA 58 Quart||RTIC 65||RovR RollR 60|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Engel 65||Yeti Tundra 65||ORCA 58 Quart||RTIC 65||RovR RollR 60|
|Shelf Life of Food (Measured Days Below 40ºF)||5.6 days||6.5 days||6.5 days||6 days||4.7 days|
|Weight (lbs)||25.5 lb||31.9 lb||30.6 lb||34.9 lb||40.5 lb|
|Measured Capacity (quarts)||54 qt||56 qt||56 qt||67 qt||60 qt|
|Advertised Capacity (quarts)||65 qt||65 qt||58 qt||65 qt||60 qt|
|Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Days Below 50º F)||6 days||7.4 days||7.3 days||6.8 days||5.3 days|
|Exterior Dimensions (L x W x H)||29.5" x 17" x 16.6"||30.75" x 17.5" x 16"||26.75" x 20" x 19.4"||32" x 18.5" x 17"||25.9"/40.25" x 20.75" x 20"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Engel is one of several rotomolded coolers we tested with an airtight rubber gasket sealing it shut. This impressive construction likely contributes to its above-average performance in our torturous insulation tests. Compared to the average of just 4.5 days at or below 40º, the Engel lasted 5.6 days and continued to keep that interior below 50º (think refreshing beer) for a full six days - also above average. The top-performing models in this test last just under a day longer at food-safe temperatures.
This ice chest has no problem keeping things cold for a long weekend of camping with your friends, with two inches of high-performance insulation and an interlocking hinge to hold that rubber gasket sealed tight. However, it doesn't live up to Engel's claims of 10-day ice retention under real-world conditions - but neither did any of the other coolers we tested, so we didn't hold it against the Engel too much.
One of several coolers we tested that received an official grizzly-resistant stamp of approval from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the Engel is a pretty durable cooler. We also filled it with water and flipped it on every side and saw no leaks from its silicone gasket that Engel claims "will never lose its shape". The interlocking hinge is impressively sturdy against all of the abuse we threw at it and is also one of the least noisy hinges we tested.
However, it displayed some details during our testing that knocked its score down a few pegs compared to other similar models. These details include a noticeable lid movement when jumped on by a 225 lb tester (though we recognize this is outside of the scope of 'normal' usage) and numerous online complaints of the rubber latches stretching out over time. Though we haven't yet had the opportunity to use this cooler repeatedly for years and years, our experiences with said latches also showed their propensity to stretch.
Ease of Use
The Engel shares a lot of similarities in design to several of its competitors, like its beefy rotomolded construction, interlocking hinge, and double-carry handles. However, Engel didn't follow suit with the rubberized T-grip pull latches used by many of its competitors. While we feel that this could be an asset to the cooler, as its design requires much less muscling around than the T-grip latches, we aren't impressed by the performance of the latches. We found them to be a rather long, skinny shape with too small of a maneuvering space to quickly and easily clasp closed. They tended to wobble a bit side to side as well, meaning more precise movements were needed to close the cooler. We feel that using this latch over the T-grips essentially traded muscle power for concentration.
The Engel has an easy to use drain with two sizing options for water removal. We also measured its capacity at 56 quarts, which is just 2 quarts shy of the 58-quart claimed capacity. While this is a bit smaller than some of the other models we tested, we think it's a really good size that compromises the ability to take a ton of food and drinks with the ability to still have a single person lug it around. It also has one of the most textured lids of any option we tested, making it easier than most to set items on top without losing them off the edge when the cooler gets bumped.
At just 25.5 pounds, the Engel is the lightest rotomolded cooler of its size class that we tested, and it shows when you try to carry it around by yourself. The slightly more narrow size of this cooler also facilitates the lone adventurer being able to move this ice chest around solo. Of course, it will become increasingly more difficult for one-person mobility the more you pack into it, but se love its light starting weight and capacity that won't let you overstuff it. It also has the classic double handle set that so many coolers of this general build have, letting you partner-carry it instead if you've got a buddy willing to help.
That said, we think the dual carry rope handles of this chest leave something to be desired. These handles feature stiff, clunky plastic grips with molded finger grooves on one side. While at first glance, we didn't think this would be a problem, we quickly discovered that these grips are a bit narrow and too rigid to be as comfortable. On a hot day, the slick plastic also easily becomes uncomfortably slippery with hand sweat. At the end of the day though, as long as you're not carrying this box a mile to the beach, those handles will be more of an asset than a liability - after all, two people carrying one cooler is always easier than you carrying it by yourself!
A fairly simple design, the Engel is hiding one pretty nifty little feature - the metal hooks that the latches attach to double as bottle openers. The Engel can also be tied down into place and still opened, has non-skid feet, is dry ice compatible (yay!), and at the time of writing is backed by a whopping 10-year guarantee, which is seriously impressive among its peers.
Our only real complaints with the Engel's features is what so many other models also share - the lack of an included dry basket or other organizational features. It also (again, like most others we tested) as no drain plug leash, making it important to remember where you put said plug if you take it all the way out.
For significantly less than most other models, the Engel brings a solidly above-average performance to the table, making it a pretty good value in our books, and an easy choice for our Best Buy for a High-End Cooler Award. It's not a jaws-on-the-floor performer in any single category but is a good all-around cooler for significantly less than most the competition. Useful size and some unique color offerings add to the appeal of this high-value icebox.
As our Best Buy for a High End Cooler award winner, we think the Engel 65 is a pretty impressive, above-average cooler for a below-average price. With decent insulation, pretty good longevity, and some incognito bottle openers, this cooler might be the right accessory for your life and your wallet.
— Maggie Brandenburg