This tough little cooler surprised us with its long-lasting, thick-walled insulation, shockingly low weight and cost that's a fraction of the competition, all of which combine to earn this little guy our Top Pick for a Personal Cooler. The Igloo BMX 25 isn't the most rugged option out there, but it's a solid personal cooler that's bigger than we expected on the inside and is easy to carry, even when loaded with beverages or the day's catch. It lacks an air/watertight seal, which loses it some points on insulation, and the rubber latches can catch against your leg if you carry it the wrong way around, but it's miles ahead of your old ice bucket or gas station styrofoam. If you want to upgrade your individual-sized cooler without spending hundreds on the competition, this one is worth a gander.
Igloo BMX 25 Review
Cons: Doesn’t seal against water/air, hinges not sturdy, rubber latches catch against your leg
Manufacturer: Igloo Coolers
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Right off the bat, Igloo promises more from the BMX 25. They boast it has "20% thicker foam" and can maintain four days of ice retention, though admit that such results are achieved under their controlled tests. We found that under torturous conditions the BMX 25 can keep food below the FDA-approved temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2.6 days. Impressively, this score beats that of all the other personal-sized competition we tested by several hours. We think that's pretty impressive, especially for a cooler with such a low relative price tag. The shape of the cooler base holds most of the bottom slightly elevated from a flat surface, which also aids in its insulatory value.
However, we feel that the dark grey coloring likely works against this cooler if you do happen to leave it in the sun, which may change the longevity of those cooler temperatures from our test results (which were performed indoors with a controlled, hot temperature). Additionally, though the lid feels like a tight fit, it isn't watertight, and therefore is letting cold air escape and warm air enter, unlike some beefier models that have freezer-quality gaskets keeping their contents separate from the outside air. Overall, we found the Igloo insulation to be pretty good for its size and are quite impressed with its performance in our insulation tests.
Another metric where Igloo makes big claims. They tout that the BMX 25 (which stands for Blow-Molded eXtreme; the construction plastic they use on the plastic) is engineered for sturdiness and performance, with diamond plate metal "kick plates" and "tough, oversized hinges." We spent a significant amount of time standing and jumping on these coolers and have no complaints about the BMX 25. It feels pretty solid with a thick handle that never gave us any reasons to doubt its integrity. That being said, Igloo makes even more durable coolers that are even officially rated as approved for use on public lands occupied by grizzly bears. The BMX 25 is not one of those coolers, though that standard may potentially be more than you're looking for in a cooler.
Two areas we have concerns about are the latches and the hinge. The rubber latches are soft and could be damaged eventually by temperature, sunlight, or pulling too hard. However, we didn't experience any actual damage to the latches during testing. We wish we could say the same about the hinges. Despite being proclaimed as delivering "extended performance," it was possible to start pulling the mounting screws right out of the lid by overextending the opening angle - aka pushing the lid more open than it's meant to be. Additionally, water easily spills out from under the lid - a negative for something that could tip over in the back seat around a tight bend. So while we love the thick, sturdy walls and durable feel of the BMX 25, we think there are some flaws with this cooler's durability.
Ease of Use
The BMX 25 is a fairly easy cooler to use. The rubber latches can be easily unhooked with one hand, and the lid stays open once pushed to a certain angle. The handle stays pretty much where you leave it, making a quick set-down-to-close-the-back-hatch maneuver a cinch. The inside of this cooler is also decently spacious for its size and can fit 34 cans if you only add a little bit of ice around the sides. The Igloo also has tie-down holes in all four corners that will keep this little box securely fastened and closed until you untie it again.
Though we feel that Igloo may have missed an opportunity by not making this tie-down holes also lockable, which can add a measure of animal protection or peace of mind. We also found that the topography of the lid prevents it from being an excellent surface for your cold can or even a comfortable seat. Additionally, the handle runs so close to the side of the cooler that it runs into the rubber latches if they're not properly sealed. And unlike many other coolers, the BMX has no rubber feet to stop it from sliding across the bed of your pickup if you neglected to tie it down. Those minor concerns aside, we think the BMX is decently easy to use.
Compared to the rest of the gigantic coolers in this review, the BMX 25 is featherweight! Up against similarly-sized personal coolers we tested, the BMX 25 is still pretty lightweight and portable. Fully loaded with twenty 12 oz. cans and as much ice as we could fit, the large handle of the Igloo helps make this cooler still pretty easy to transport. Its angled shape also facilitates different styles of grabbing from the single hand in the middle to double hands on either side or even hooking one end over the elbow.
We think the handle could be improved a bit by a more forgiving, squishy section, but honestly, the overall larger size and ergonomic shape of the handle and cooler edges make this ice chest a breeze to carry, compared to the other coolers in this review. Our only real complaint is that the rubber latches catch against your leg if you forget and carry it the wrong way around, which of course is easily solved by flipping the cooler 180 degrees.
The most obvious feature of the BMX 25 is the inches and centimeter approximate measurements right across the top of the lid, to help measure the (surely impressive) size of the fish you may be catching while using this little chest.
Beyond that, it doesn't boast much. No bottle opener or can holder hiding amongst the weeds, though it does come with a three-year manufacturer's warranty, which is a nice safety net just in case.
The world of coolers is a vast and variable market and the BMX 25 threads the needle in the middle. It offers above-average performance with a below-average price tag. If you're looking for a darn good cooler but don't need it to withstand being filled with fireworks, tossed off a cliff, or chewed on by a bear, we think the Igloo BMX is a quality performer and a great value.
As our Top Pick for a Personal Cooler, the Igloo BMX 25 is a solid choice that combines performance and price. It performed impressively well in our insulation tests and is fairly durable and quite easy to use while being one of the most portable coolers we tested. Though its lack of an airtight seal and less-than-bomb-proof hinges aren't as impressive as the competition, its low cost and high versatility make this icebox a great value. For an everyday cooler whose price won't bring tears to your eyes or cause your jaw to hit the floor, check out this worthwhile model from Igloo.
— Maggie Brandenburg