Kenai 65 Review
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|Pros||Solid body, good drain, easy-to-use latches||Excellent insulation performance, very durable, useful features||Excellent insulation, super durable, easy to use, great size||Lightweight, easy to use, great features||Super lightweight, decent insulation for the price, surprisingly large capacity, inexpensive|
|Cons||Latches are less secure, unimpressive insulation, rubber gasket failed during testing||Heavy, difficult to transport solo||Expensive, no leash for plug, smaller than claimed||Flimsy latches and hinges, leaky lid||Not airtight, not particularly durable, uncomfortable handles|
|Bottom Line||Despite the rotomolded construction, this hefty model underperformed most other contenders of similar size, leaving us underwhelmed||The Cabela Polar Cap 80 is a rugged, high-capacity cooler that will keep your perishables fresh for days||If you want the best insulation and the longest lasting cooler, look no further than this simple yet effective model||A lightweight and colorful update to the RTIC line that includes nice accessories at a more accessible price||A functional cooler for a mere fraction of the price of the competition|
|Rating Categories||Kenai 65||Cabela Polar Cap 80||Yeti Tundra 65||RTIC Ultralight 52||Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Kenai 65||Cabela Polar Cap 80||Yeti Tundra 65||RTIC Ultralight 52||Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...|
|Shelf Life of Food (Measured Days Below 40ºF)||3.5 days||8.0 days||6.5 days||6.0 days||3.7 days|
|Measured Weight||27.1 lb||34.9 Ib||29.6 lb||21.4 Ib||11.4 Ib|
|Measured Capacity||58 qt||68 qt||56 qt||50 qt||68 qt|
|Advertised Capacity||65 qt||80 qt||65 qt||52 qt||70 qt|
|Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Days Below 50º F)||3.8 days||8.8 days||7.2 days||6.8 days||4.9 days|
|Internal Maximum Body Height||12.25"||12"||10.5"||12"||12.25"|
|Does it Fit a Wine or 2L Bottle Standing Upright?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes - indented lid|
|Exterior Dimensions (L x W x H)||30.5" x 17.5" x 17.5"||40" x 20.5" x 20.5"||30.75" x 17.5" x 16"||27" x 13" x 14"||28.5" x 15.5" x 17.5"|
|Construction||Rotomolded||Rotomolded||Rotomolded polyethylene||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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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