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Kenai 65 Review

Despite the rotomolded construction, this hefty model underperformed most other contenders of similar size, leaving us underwhelmed
Kenai 65
Photo: Kenai Coolers
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Price:  $350 List | $274.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Solid body, good drain, easy-to-use latches
Cons:  Latches are less secure, unimpressive insulation, rubber gasket failed during testing
Manufacturer:   Kenai Coolers
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 4, 2021
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 20
  • Insulation - 50% 5
  • Durability - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 6
  • Features - 5% 5

Our Verdict

At first inspection, the Kenai 65 is another good-looking rotomolded cooler that just might be a solid contender. Yet the longer we used this beefy box, the less impressed we became with its overall performance and construction. It lags behind similar-sized competitors when it comes to insulation performance. The latches are easy to use but can pop open just as easily if the unit is mishandled. We also noticed a warping rubber seal and bowing lid when left in the sun. While a less expensive option might be worth overlooking a certain number of flaws, we're just not convinced this pricey piece is worth the dough when there are other strong contenders at this price point.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Kenai 65
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Kenai 65
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $350 List
$274.99 at Amazon
$349.98 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$250 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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66
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Star Rating
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Pros Solid body, good drain, easy-to-use latchesExcellent insulation, super durable, easy to use, great sizeVery durable, good insulation, comfortable handle gripsExcellent seal, convenient size, durable design, IGBC certified, exterior pocket, rubber feetSuper lightweight, decent insulation for the price, surprisingly large capacity, inexpensive
Cons Latches are less secure, unimpressive insulation, rubber gasket failed during testingExpensive, no leash for plug, smaller than claimedA bit large for one person, no leash for plug, latches are scarily stretchyStiff latches, no dry basket includedNot airtight, not particularly durable, uncomfortable handles
Bottom Line Despite the rotomolded construction, this hefty model underperformed most other contenders of similar size, leaving us underwhelmedIf you want the best insulation and the longest lasting cooler, look no further than this simple yet effective modelA high-performing and durable cooler with solid usability features at a lower price than expectedAn impressive mid-sized model that offers high-quality insulation and simple but convenient featuresA functional cooler for a mere fraction of the price of the competition
Rating Categories Kenai 65 Yeti Tundra 65 RTIC 65 Orca 40 Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...
Insulation (50%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
3.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Portability (10%)
6.0
5.0
4.0
7.0
9.0
Features (5%)
5.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
4.0
Specs Kenai 65 Yeti Tundra 65 RTIC 65 Orca 40 Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...
Shelf Life of Food (Measured Days Below 40ºF) 3.5 days 6.5 days 6 days 3.5 days 4.1 days
Weight (lbs) 27.1 lb 31.9 lb 34.9 lb 20.3 lb 11.9 lb
Measured Capacity (quarts) 58 qt 56 qt 67 qt 40 qt 68 qt
Advertised Capacity (quarts) 65 qt 65 qt 65 qt 40 qt 70 qt
Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Days Below 50º F) 3.8 days 7.4 days 6.8 days 3.8 days 4.8 days
Internal Maximum Body Height (inches) 12.25" 10.5" 12" 11.25" 12.25"
Does it Fit a Wine or 2L Bottle Standing Upright? Yes No Yes No Yes - indented lid
Exterior Dimensions (L x W x H) 30.5" x 17.5" x 17.5" 30.75" x 17.5" x 16" 32" x 18.5" x 17" 25.75" x 18.25" x 17" 28.5" x 15.5" x 17.5"
Construction Rotomolded Rotomolded polyethylene Rotomolded Rotomolded not specified (not rotomolded)

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kenai 65 is a rotomolded cooler with dual sets of handles and an internal height of 12.25 inches that accommodates standard 2L and wine bottles. It features tie-down points, rubber feet, and a dual-sized drain plug.

Performance Comparison


Though it looks the rotomolded, high-end cooler part, we found this...
Though it looks the rotomolded, high-end cooler part, we found this cooler to be a touch behind our favorite large coolers.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Insulation


In our insulation test, we saw other large coolers outperform the Kenai. It managed 3.5 days of sub 40°F temperatures — well under the average across all coolers we tested, including much smaller models. It managed another few hours of internal temperatures below 50°F, for a total of 3.8 days of refreshing beverages. This below-average performance is likely influenced by a comparatively thin, less substantial gasket around the lid, which unfortunately became disfigured and warped during our testing from sun exposure. It also leaves a large gap between the ends of the rubber strip, covered by a piece of tape that can't quite maintain a proper seal.

A comparison of results from our insulation testing of coolers 55...
A comparison of results from our insulation testing of coolers 55 quarts and larger.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Durability


The body of the Kenai 65 feels solid and sturdy. We sat, stood, and jumped on this box and felt no caving or flexing that made us worried about its strength. Compared to thinner and flimsier models, this one feels quality. When left to sit in the hot sun, though, the lid began bowing slightly, but perceptively, outward. The latches are attached by a single screw that burrows into the body of the cooler, rather than a replaceable pivoting post, like so many of its competitors. And, as previously mentioned, the rubber gasket meant to seal the top became warped quickly during our testing. However, we found no issues with the rubber feet or thick handles.

Though easy to use, the latches of the Kenai fit into grooves in the...
Though easy to use, the latches of the Kenai fit into grooves in the body that aren't as secure as most other models.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


The Kenai 65 has a few features that stand out from the crowd when it comes to ease of use. The latches feature a unique design, combining fairly flexible rubber sections with metal posts sticking out from either side to hook around the top lip of the box. This makes them very easy to put in place and remove when you want to open your cooler. If you dislike the stiff latches on many other high-end coolers, this is a point of attraction with this cooler. We did find that when we intentionally dropped this cooler (for testing purposes), the latches popped open, where other models remained closed.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Kenai has a drainage channel that runs the full length of the cooler, effectively directing meltwater toward the opening. While the drain is dual-sized, unlike most similarly designed drain plugs, this one has a drainage hole on just one side of the plug, rather than all the way through the piece.

The Kenai's drainage channel runs the full width of the interior for...
The Kenai's drainage channel runs the full width of the interior for efficient drainage.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


The 65 quart Kenai weighs just over 27 pounds, which is on the light end of average among similarly sized models. It has the standard double set of handles — indented into the hard plastic side and webbing-covered rope with rubber grips — that do a fine job providing handholds while moving this fairly large cooler. It's about as pleasant to carry as you can expect for a model this size, slightly hitting your knees as you walk and being a touch too large to comfortably walk through a doorway at speed.

The Kenai is about average weight among models its size. Fill it up...
The Kenai is about average weight among models its size. Fill it up, and you'll want help bringing it from place to place.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Features


This cooler comes relatively free of features, though Kenai offers many accessories for additional purchase that we didn't test. It has tie-down slots on either side, paired with grooves on the edges of the lid in numerous locations that help keep a wide webbing strap from sliding too far when secured in your vehicle. The drain plug lacks a leash (as do most we tested), though the rubber feet on the bottom of the box come in handy holding it in place on slippery surfaces. This burly box is not certified as "bear resistant" by the IGBC. While this is notable to some, we don't place much importance on it.

Unlike so many others that have a pass-through small port drainage...
Unlike so many others that have a pass-through small port drainage hole through their plugs, the Kenai has a whole on just one side -- though it doesn't seem to significantly affect the functionality of this large drain.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


The price tag that comes along with this rotomolded ice chest is about on par with similar-looking models. However, after testing it out and seeing its underwhelming insulation performance and sun exposure issues, we're not sure it's worth the cost. We've tested several models that cost less but perform better, making this a relatively low-value option for us.

Conclusion


Despite initially high expectations, the rotomolded Kenai 65 failed to impress us with its insulation prowess or durability. Though it comes with a price tag akin to many high-end coolers, this model falls short of the competition in our testing.

The Kenai 65 underperformed nearly every other similar-sized...
The Kenai 65 underperformed nearly every other similar-sized rotomolded cooler we tested.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg

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