ORCA 58 Quart Review
Cons: Tall narrow shape is hard to dig through, expensive, not our favorite handles
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Our Analysis and Test Results
As one of the top performers in our torturous insulation testing, the Orca kept pace with the best of them. It maintained USDA-recommended safe food temperatures of 40º or less for the longest time, reaching a full 6.5 days of cool, and beating the next contender by about 30 minutes. It also maintained refreshing beer temperatures of 50º or less for an impressive 7.3 days. The Orca is one of many rotomolded coolers we tested with a rubber gasket to seal its contents and an integrated hinge to help prevent bear entry. When it comes to keeping things cold, the Orca is one of the top contenders.
Another metric in which the Orca excels. This beefy icebox joins the ranks of several other Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee certified products we tested. The official testing that goes into this certification gives some sense of durability to any product bearing the official sticker.
Never ones to just trust a label, we still put the Orca through the wringer. We found it to be super sturdy to sit or stand on - though it's narrow base makes it easier to tip or wobble than most the other coolers we tested. It has thick rubber latches and sturdy rope handles to facilitate this cooler lasting a long time. We found the integrated hinge to be as solid as we'd hoped. When we left the Orca in the hot sun for several hours, it, like several other coolers we tested, bowed slightly in the heat but quickly returned to normal when we put it back in the cool shade.
Ease of Use
With a simple design, the Orca is reasonably user-friendly. The thick rubber latches are slightly more challenging to operate with a single hand than those of some of its competitors. But the Orca does have one of the easier drains to use, with a sloping channel that facilitates a complete water exodus, rather than blocking it with an ill-placed ledge leading up to the drain, as several others do.
Our biggest complaint about the usability of the Orca has to do with its size. As a tall, narrow model, it's all too easy to lose items in the bottom of the cooler underneath layers of other food and ice. This translates into more time spent with the lid open searching for that last craft beer or the dijon mustard you swore you brought with. This is at least partially offset by the slightly smaller size of the Orca 58, but compared to the long, low profile of other models we tested, we certainly noticed the difference.
Tipping the scales at 30.6 pounds and with a measured capacity of about 56 quarts, the Orca is about average weight vs. capacity among the coolers we tested. Without wheels, this cooler isn't bound for portability magic. It's more narrow profile does facilitate a single person being more comfortable to carry it for short periods, and if it's not too full. However, this same taller profile also bumps uncomfortably against the knees and legs of some of our testers. Like several other coolers we reviewed, the Orca has a second set of handles for two people to better co-carry it from the car. The Orca's version of these handles isn't our favorite of the bunch, as the rigid plastic grips aren't quite wide enough for two hands or cushy enough for most of our testers not to complain about. That being said, they're not the worst handles we tested, and they still get the unpleasant job of hauling around a big cooler done.
With no internal dry storage, drain plug leash, or bottle openers, the Orca isn't the most flashy cooler we reviewed. It does have one exceptional and unique feature that we find quite handy though - a large netted pocket on the back of the cooler. Though we don't think it's the best space for squishy objects like a loaf of bread or bag of chips, it works remarkably well to bring along spices for the barbecue, plates for the guests, or paper towels for clean-up. The Orca also has tie-down points on either end to secure your cooler in transit while still being able to open it and retrieve a refreshment or the next ingredient in your outdoor meal.
The Orca offers excellent insulation and a high level of durability in a different-shaped package than most of the competition.
With a similar price to many other top-performing coolers, the Orca is unlikely to save you money. However, it offers excellent performance in a different-shaped package that just might be the perfect fit for your vehicle or patio. If you're looking for a cooler that has a smaller physical footprint but offers the same capacity and performance as other impressive coolers, we think you'll like the Orca.
In what sometimes feels like a sea of identical coolers all making fantastical claims, the Orca 58 Quart brings something a little different to the table. With great insulation and durable design, this handy model pulls it together in a slightly different shape than most the competition. If this shape ticks the box for what you want, we think you'll be quite pleased with the performance of the compact Orca 58.
— Maggie Brandenburg