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Orca 40 Review

An impressive mid-sized model that offers high-quality insulation and simple but convenient features
Orca 40
Photo: Amazon
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $320 List | $289.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent seal, convenient size, durable design, IGBC certified, exterior pocket, rubber feet
Cons:  Stiff latches, no dry basket included
Manufacturer:   Orca Cooler
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 4, 2021
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 20
  • Insulation - 50% 5
  • Durability - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Portability - 10% 7
  • Features - 5% 8

Our Verdict

Another impressive offering from a top brand, the Orca 40 is an excellent medium-capacity cooler. Its 40-quart volume is exceptionally useful, while sturdy construction in all the places that count, like the hinge, seal, and latches, lends confidence to its longevity. Though it doesn't come with an internal dry basket, we love the external mesh pocket that handily stores plates, spices, and utensils to accompany picnics and camping trips. It's one of the very few models we tested that's actually airtight, with a welded seam joining the two ends of its rubber seal, adding to an impressive insulation performance. For its size class, we think it's the best.

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Orca 40
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Orca 40
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $289.99 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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$249.99 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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Pros Excellent seal, convenient size, durable design, IGBC certified, exterior pocket, rubber feetExcellent insulation, super durable, easy to use, great sizeVery durable, good insulation, comfortable handle gripsSturdy construction, easy-to-use latches, good insulation for its size, multiple ways to carrySuper lightweight, decent insulation for the price, surprisingly large capacity, inexpensive
Cons Stiff latches, no dry basket includedExpensive, no leash for plug, smaller than claimedA bit large for one person, no leash for plug, latches are scarily stretchyHandle gets in the way of opening, no drain, not totally airtightNot airtight, not particularly durable, uncomfortable handles
Bottom Line An impressive mid-sized model that offers high-quality insulation and simple but convenient featuresIf 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 expectedThis durable and useful 1-2 person option won our testers over among the competition of its sizeA functional cooler for a mere fraction of the price of the competition
Rating Categories Orca 40 Yeti Tundra 65 RTIC 65 Yeti Roadie 24 Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...
Insulation (50%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
3.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Portability (10%)
7.0
5.0
4.0
8.0
9.0
Features (5%)
8.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
4.0
Specs Orca 40 Yeti Tundra 65 RTIC 65 Yeti Roadie 24 Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...
Shelf Life of Food (Measured Days Below 40ºF) 3.5 days 6.5 days 6 days 2.8 days 4.1 days
Weight (lbs) 20.3 lb 31.9 lb 34.9 lb 12.9 lb 11.9 lb
Measured Capacity (quarts) 40 qt 56 qt 67 qt 24 qt 68 qt
Advertised Capacity (quarts) 40 qt 65 qt 65 qt 20 qt 70 qt
Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Days Below 50º F) 3.8 days 7.4 days 6.8 days 3 days 4.8 days
Internal Maximum Body Height (inches) 11.25" 10.5" 12" 13.25" 12.25"
Does it Fit a Wine or 2L Bottle Standing Upright? No No Yes Yes Yes - indented lid
Exterior Dimensions (L x W x H) 25.75" x 18.25" x 17" 30.75" x 17.5" x 16" 32" x 18.5" x 17" 16.5" x 14" x 17.5" 28.5" x 15.5" x 17.5"
Construction Rotomolded Rotomolded polyethylene Rotomolded Rotomolded not specified (not rotomolded)

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Orca 40 is a rotomolded cooler with indented hard plastic as well as foam-covered webbing handles and an internal height of 11.25 inches — not quite tall enough to accommodate most upright bottles of wine or 2L bottles. It features a dual-size drain, tie-down loops, a mesh pocket on the back, and certification from the IGBC.

Performance Comparison


The Orca 40 is a fantastic mid-sized cooler, well-suited to becoming...
The Orca 40 is a fantastic mid-sized cooler, well-suited to becoming a fixture in your adventures.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Insulation


Though Orca's vague claim that the Orca 40 maintains the "freshness of your stowed items for up to 10 days" leaves room for interpretation, this mid-sized model performed impressively well for its size during our insulation testing. In our insulation test, it lasted 3.5 days maintaining sub 40°F temperatures, the recommended threshold to maintain the freshness of the most sensitive food items, including raw meat and dairy. This 40-quart model continued to keep internal temps below 50°F for several more hours, lasting 3.8 days in our hot room below that threshold.


The Orca 40 accomplishes its compellingly impressive insulation prowess with thick, rotomolded walls and robust build. Sturdy rubber latches hold the lid firmly shut, while a rubber tube seal makes the unit airtight and leak-resistant. While many coolers advertise a waterproof seal, this is one of the few we tested that actually delivers on that promise by welding the two ends of the rubber gasket together to avoid the small gap so many others have in that spot.

Mid-sized model insulation performance, comparing results of our...
Mid-sized model insulation performance, comparing results of our rigorous insulation testing in units with capacities from 35 to 54 quarts.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Durability


As we've come to expect from rotomolded coolers, the Orca 40 feels solid and well-built. Its rubber latches (shaped like orca tails) are some of the thickest and least flexible we've laid our hands on, adding to our confidence in their ability to withstand the test of time better than many others. Both sets of handles proved to be more than adequate to haul around this cooler filled with drinks and road trip snacks. Even the mesh pocket on the back is attached well and never caused any issues or gave us any worry during our testing period.


We had no issues with the drain plug, nor did we see anything that makes us worry about it eventually leaking. The integrated hinge for the lid is robust and gave only the smallest noise of complaint when we attempted to overextend it. As an IGBC certified product, this cooler proves itself very well-suited to withstand an impressive amount of use and abuse — we sat, stood, and jumped on it, and dropped it from chest height onto cement with no damage to report beyond a few minor scuffs. Barring extraordinary abuse or circumstances, we expect this cooler to last a very long time.

The Orca 40 is IGBC certified and durable, with attention given to...
The Orca 40 is IGBC certified and durable, with attention given to every detail that not all of its competitors can boast.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


As a mid-sized model, the Orca 40 is fairly simple and straightforward, making it easy to use. The lid stays open at 90 degrees for easy loading, while the top is textured, helping it better hold whatever you set on top of it. The drain plug has two size options for easy use; unthread it slightly, and a channel running through the plug lets water out, or remove the plug entirely for faster drainage. Like most models we tested, it lacks a leash connecting the plug to the body of the cooler, so be certain not to misplace your cap. The exterior mesh pocket is sealed by a wide strip of velcro to make sure whatever you put in it stays.


Though it's effective, the tall, narrow shape of the Orca is one of our least favorite for locating small items in a pool of melty ice. Despite this slim design, it's not quite tall enough to accommodate an upright standard-sized bottle of wine or a 2L bottle of soda. On the other hand, this shape proved itself worthy by doing a better job keeping rows of cans and bottles upright even after extended car rides. Its particularly thick latches are also some of the more challenging rubber T-grips to operate, requiring a fair bit of force to stretch them in and out of place. We do appreciate that its actual capacity is what Orca advertises at 40 quarts, verified by our measurements.

The drain plug can be fully removed for quicker drainage, or...
The drain plug can be fully removed for quicker drainage, or partially unthreaded for a slower rate of drainage.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


The Orca 40 weighs just over 20 pounds. Filled to the brim with delicious refreshments, it's not a lightweight item to cart around. Curved, rubber-covered webbing handles make for fairly easy two-person carry, while indented handles under the sides of the lid provide useful single-person grips.


Its narrow profile adds a bit to the comfort of carrying this medium ice chest, despite its slightly taller shape that can bump against knees at times. Rubber feet help it to stay in place in the trunk of your car or deck of your boat while in use. Overall, it's doesn't really have any standout features that make it comparably easier or harder to carry.

The narrow profile and mid-sized, 40 quart volume of the Orca 40...
The narrow profile and mid-sized, 40 quart volume of the Orca 40 help it be a reasonably easy chest to carry to a beach rendezvous.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Features


While a relatively simple cooler, the Orca 40 has several understated features that we love. To accompany tie-down slots on either side of the unit are indented channels on the edges of the lid that help to hold your strap in place, even as you bounce over uneven terrain. Thick rubber feet underneath further add to this stability.


To go along with this cooler's IGBC certification, the front corners of the lid have lockable sections if you really do need to keep your food safe from roaming bears. As mentioned, we love the large mesh pocket on the backside of the cooler. We continuously found it more useful than expected throughout testing for a slew of dry items, as it became a feature we missed on other coolers without it. And if you feel you want more accessories and add-ons, Orca makes plenty of other options we didn't test with our standard model.

We love this unique mesh pocket and find it incredibly useful for...
We love this unique mesh pocket and find it incredibly useful for holding extra necessities -- like bottle openers, napkins, and utensils.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


Though the Orca 40 isn't cheap, it's one of our favorite models of this size for its insulation performance, durable design, and useful features. If you only need a cooler a couple of times a year, it might be overkill, but if you're searching for a mid-sized, 40-quart cooler that needs to withstand frequent or intense use (and maybe abuse?), we think the investment here is worth it.

Conclusion


The Orca 40 is a fantastic medium-sized cooler, with impressive insulation, robust construction, and a simple design with just the right number of useful features. For short camping trips and spending hot days on the beach, we love the usefulness of this rugged model more than any other of its size.

We are very impressed with the construction, durability, and...
We are very impressed with the construction, durability, and performance of the Orca 40.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg