Hands-on Gear Review

Igloo Iceless 28 Review

Igloo Iceless 28 Qt.
Top Pick Award
Price:  $110 List | $91.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Electronically cooled, compact and portable
Cons:  Condensation. Cannot be used as a seat.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Ice remaining in test:  3.2
Capacity:  28 qts
Insulation Syle:  thermoelectric
Manufacturer:   Igloo

Our Verdict

The Igloo Iceless 28 is the most unique in our test. As such, it handily won our Top Pick award for its service to a special niche, and for taking out at a moment's notice (ni ice required!). If you travel by car and hotel room, where power (whether 12v in your car, or a standard wall outlet) is readily available, and carry food and drink with you, you almost can't afford to not have this cooler. It has some quirks, and requires the user to keep track of two more cords while on the go. In our testing, it keeps things colder longer than any others. The cooling potential is virtually indefinite, as long as you have electricity. If you are looking for a cooler to use away from power, consider our Best Buy Coleman 62 Xtreme Wheeled or, better yet, the Yeti Tundra 65.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter

Last Updated:
Monday
November 11, 2013

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Igloo makes coolers. And nothing else. They make designs across the whole available spectrum, as well as creating entire categories. The thermoelectrically cooled Iceless 28 model is just such a category. This unique offering may be just the ticket for certain consumers.

Performance Comparison


The innovative and award winning Igloo Iceless 28 cooler.
The innovative and award winning Igloo Iceless 28 cooler.

Insulation Value


For every rule there is an exception. In our Best Cooler review, we detail the nature of these products. Basically all work to simply slow the temperature change of the contents. Insulated walls attempt to mitigate the effects of the second law of thermodynamics. However, from the perspective of your food and drink, the Igloo Iceless 28 transcends physics. Just like your home refrigerator, this box can cool the air and contents. Unlike your refrigerator, you can take this Igloo wherever you go. The electric mechanism in the lid cools the contents to approximately 35 degrees fahrenheit below the ambient conditions. This is what Igloo claims, and our testing confirms.

The Igloo Iceless plugged in  loaded up  and ready for travel.  Cold sodas all the way.
The Igloo Iceless plugged in, loaded up, and ready for travel. Cold sodas all the way.

In our head-to-head testing the Iceless 28 scored right in the middle. Whether you are cooling the contents with ice or electricity, effective insulation is crucial. In order to perform an effective comparative test we needed to use the same seven pound bag of ice in the Iceless 28 as we used in the other coolers. Please note that Igloo explicitly states that no water can get into the vent/cooling mechanism in the lid. Melted ice in a jostling cooler presents a hazard of frying the electrical mechanisms. There are certainly situations in which it may make sense to use ice in this so called Iceless version. You may be driving long distances to a camp site. You can power and cool the cooler with auto electricity while driving, but may not be able to keep it plugged in through your camping weekend. In this case, use ice carefully.

Ease of Use


The iceless cooler with its attendant cords.  In a world where we carry 8 different electronics and their chargers  this takes some more management.  The cord system could be cleaned up in design  but it does the job.
The iceless cooler with its attendant cords. In a world where we carry 8 different electronics and their chargers, this takes some more management. The cord system could be cleaned up in design, but it does the job.

This cooler is small and handy. In an unexpected advantage of the thermoelectric cooling mechanism, much more of the internal space can be used for food and drink. In a traditional insulator, space must be left for ice. Eliminate the ice, as the Iceless 28 can, and all of the space is available for consumables. We estimate that leaving the ice out of this model makes it as functional as a version half again as big. If you read our How to Choose a Cooler article and decide you need a 40 quart model with regular ice usage, you'll find you can get away with this 28 quart offering. Provided, of course, that you can keep things cool with electricity. Also notable with this cooler is the liberating lack of melt water. In regular coolers, melted ice penetrates food packaging and obscures the contents at the bottom. In the Igloo Iceless 28 no such problems exist. It is worth noting, however, that even in the fairly dry climates we tested in, the cooling mechanism results in some condensation on the contents. Simply, and again referencing high school physics, the cooler takes warm outside air and lowers its temperature. Inevitably this cooled air can hold less water vapor. Condensation results. Pack accordingly. Our testers found a little annoyance in the interaction of the handle and power cord. When plugged into power, the handle cannot swing freely back and forth. This is easily managed, but needs attention of the user.

Close up of the lid of the Igloo Iceless Cooler.  As noted  don't block the vents.  It hinders the cooling and  if the blockage is heavy enough (like a person's bottom)  the plastic flexes and hits the fans inside.
Close up of the lid of the Igloo Iceless Cooler. As noted, don't block the vents. It hinders the cooling and, if the blockage is heavy enough (like a person's bottom), the plastic flexes and hits the fans inside.

Finally, in the ease of use category, note that this model absolutely cannot be used as a seat. The overall structure is plenty strong, but the lid is not suited for sitting. The cooling mechanism is inside the lid. Perforated vents bound the cooling mechanism above and below. The plastic of the vent flexes even under light load and hits the fan. When the cooler is running, the user gets immediate feedback upon the application of excessive load.

The Iceless Cooler can be plugged into a regular wall outlet or into a car cigarette lighter.
The Iceless Cooler can be plugged into a regular wall outlet or into a car cigarette lighter.

Durability


We had no issues with the durability of the Iceless 28 in our testing. The overall construction as well as the hardware held up just fine. As compared to the Editors' Choice Yeti Tundra 45, this model feels flimsy and light. And our experience with long-term testing of similar models suggests that hinges and handles may loosen and break down with time. Additionally, note that this is the only mechanized or powered cooler in our testing. While our testers had no issues with the reliability of the thermoelectric cooling mechanism, this is a potential failure point.

When plugged in  the cord interferes with the pivot of the handle.  Not a huge deal  but it does affect usage at least a little.
When plugged in, the cord interferes with the pivot of the handle. Not a huge deal, but it does affect usage at least a little.

Portability


Even when completely full of dense food and drink, an ice box this size is easily transported by an adult. The large folding handle and offset, contoured shape makes for easy one-handed "suitcase" style carry. Develop a system for managing the cords, and you'll have no issues moving this cooler around.

One handed carry is easy.  Igloo contoured the shape so that the handle sits a little off center and the side towards the carrier's leg is curved.  It's subtle  but it helps.
One handed carry is easy. Igloo contoured the shape so that the handle sits a little off center and the side towards the carrier's leg is curved. It's subtle, but it helps.

Value


For its size, this is not a cheap cooler. However, as noted above, this model holds more than its size would indicate, given the space available that would normally be filled with ice. The best value-added function of this cooler is the fact that you'll spend far less on ice. If you travel by car a great deal, and can keep this baby plugged in, you'll virtually never need to buy ice again. At $2-3 a bag, with most coolers requiring a bag of ice every 2-3 days, this model can pay for itself in a few months of travel.

Without ice taking up valuable space  this Igloo cooler can hold a surprising amount of stuff.
Without ice taking up valuable space, this Igloo cooler can hold a surprising amount of stuff.

Conclusion


We are proud to offer our Top Pick award to this unique cooler. It stands out for its technology and efficiency. Provided the user can keep it near a power source, this design will streamline remote food and drink cooling.

Jediah Porter

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Most recent review: March 24, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)

0% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Climber

Mar 24, 2015 - 06:38pm
 
Chudak · Climber
I was about to pull the trigger on one of these for a road trip until I
read all the bad reviews of it elsewhere. It seems it fails regularly
within a month or so after buying it and the cord seems to reach meltdown

with disturbing frequency! NOT GOING TO BUY ONE NOW!



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.


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