The Igloo Max Cold Ultra is the kind of cooler we all remember from family camping trips and summer barbeques. It is built with simplicity and economy in mind, and will satisfy casual users, but does note provide the best value at its price point.
Igloo Max Cold Ultra Review
Cons: Difficult to drain, lid can pop open
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Max Cold Ultra placed one up from the bottom on our insulation test with a score of 3. Two models, the Grizzly 75 and the Best Buy Award winner Coleman Xtreme, slightly outpaced the Max Cold both scoring 4. The Max Cold was able to match these models in maintaining safe food temperatures, all 3 models maintaining temperatures below 40˚F for 3 full days. However, the Max Cold's temperature was significantly higher than the other 2 models' leading up to that point. Additionally, it only retained ice for 4 days, while the other 2 models were able to last 5 days. This resulted in the Max Cold's slightly lower score. It did, however, separate itself from the lowest scoring model. The Rubbermaid scored a 2 and only held safe food temperatures for 2 full days. The Max Cold's performance in our testing indicates that it could keep food safe for a long weekend camping trip, but would struggle to go any longer without the addition of fresh ice.
The Max Cold's durability is somewhat reflective of its low price point. Its hinges and handles lack the rugged construction of more expensive models, and there are a number of user reviews that complain of them cracking or breaking. The seal on the lid is also somewhat loose and easily leaks water. It received the lowest score of 3 in our durability testing, a distinction it shares with the Rubbermaid. The other traditional model we tested, the Best Buy Award winning Coleman Xtreme, scored a 4 in this metric. This was mostly due to the Xtreme having slightly less flimsy hinges. The Max Cold's score of 3 is also far from the 7's and 8's we awarded to the high-end models.
Ease of use
The Max Cold was one of the lowest scorers in our ease of use testing. It received a 5 in a field that had scores ranging between 5 and 8. We like that its lid was extremely easy to open. However, it was easy to open due to the lack of any solid latching mechanism, meaning the lid would have issues staying shut when driving on a bouncy road. The Max Cold really lost points in its draining performance. It drains very slowly and must be tipped up quite high to drain completely. This became quite an annoyance for our testers when they were draining water during our insulation test. This is not an issue that is particular to traditional models, as we found the traditional Coleman Xtreme to be the easiest model to drain.
The Max Cold is the lightest model we tested, making it a breeze to move around when empty. Its handles are all hard plastic, but are much shorter and feel less sturdy that the all hard handles on the Pelican ProGear. We felt that the handles offer a reasonable amount of comfort when carrying it around fully loaded, but could certainly be improved. Its small external dimensions make it one of the most packable models we tested. These attributes earned the Max Cold a score of 6 in our portability testing. This works out to be an average score in a field with scores ranging from 4 to 7.
The only attribute of the Max Cold that we would identify as a feature is its short, plastic drain plug leash. Accordingly the Max Cold received the lowest score, a 3, in our features testing.
The Max Cold offers the sort of performance one would expect from a traditional cooler at a $90 list price. This is $10 more than the list price of our Best Buy Award winning Coleman Xtreme 5-day, which matches or outperforms the Max Cold in all categories. So while you certainly get what you pay for with the Max Cold, you can pay a bit less and get a bit more elsewhere.
The Max Cold fared reasonably well in our battery of tests considering it is an inexpensive traditional design. However, those looking for a low priced option would be better served by our Best Buy pick, the Coleman Xtreme 5-Day, as it offers better performance at a slightly lower list price.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata