Hands-on Gear Review

ORCA 58 Quart Review

Top notch insulation performance, but slightly smaller than other competing models.
By: Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Feb 8, 2018
Price:  $300 List  |  $225.00 at Amazon - 25% Off
Pros:  Best in class insulation, durable, easy to carry
Cons:  Lid snaps shut unexpectedly, expensive
Manufacturer:   ORCA
78
OVERALL
SCORE


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

In our testing, the ORCA 58 Quart, maintained temperatures below 40˚F for a full 6 and a half days, beating many comparably-priced models. The more cubic design also made for slightly easier packing and a more comfortable seat (just remember it'll probably be too tall to fit in most campground bear boxes). At $300, the ORCA is much cheaper than most roto-molded coolers. If you really want a deal on a roto-molded model, the new RTIC 65 lists for only $240, and is often available for even less. However, it still can't match the performance of the ORCA.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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Performance Comparison


The ORCA 58 Quart came out towards the top of the heap, being bested only by the Editors' Choice-winning OtterBox Venture and the high-scoring Pelican Elite

The latch design on the Extra Heavy Duty takes inspiration from its namesake aquatic mammal.
The latch design on the Extra Heavy Duty takes inspiration from its namesake aquatic mammal.

Insulation


The ORCA dominated the food safety portion of our insulation test. It was able to maintain temperatures below the FDA recommended 40˚F for an impressive six full days. It outlasted the nearest competitor by a full 24 hours. That's another full day of omelets, cheese, and sausages. It lasted nearly twice as long as the Best Buy Award winning Coleman Xtreme. It also retained ice for an impressive seven days. That translates to a full week of frosty beers and refreshing beverages. This performance earned the ORCA a score of 9 on our insulation test.


This is particularly impressive considering worst performing model, the Rubbermaid DuraChill, scored a 2 on the same test. The ORCA is the clear choice for anyone looking to push insulation performance on long trips far away from places that sell ice. This insulative dominance may be due, in part, to its unique shape. The ORCA is slightly taller than most of the models we tested, making its shape a bit closer to a perfect cube. This geometry decreases the surface area to volume ratio, meaning heat has fewer surfaces through which to radiate into the 58 Quart than in other more rectangular models of a similar size. Or it could just be magic —it's probably more fun to believe it's magic.

The Extra Heavy Duty still had lots of ice left on day 5 of our insulation test.
The Extra Heavy Duty still had lots of ice left on day 5 of our insulation test.

Durability


The ORCA's design has all the reliable hallmarks of high-end construction. It has pin style hinges that look and feel like they can stand up to loads of abuse. The lid feels solid, and the latches are thick and durable. You have to search far and wide to find any user reviews complaining of durability issues.


In testing structural integrity we found the lid seal on the ORCA to be one of the strongest; we couldn't get any water to leak out no matter how much we knocked it around. All this scored the ORCA an 8 in the durability category. This is the top score, shared by several other high-end models, and far better than the worst performing model, which scored 3.

The Extra Heavy Duty has extra heavy duty hinges.
The Extra Heavy Duty has extra heavy duty hinges.

Ease of Use


Ease of use is the only area where the 58 Quart doesn't shine. It scored a 5, which works out to a bit below average in our ease of use testing, which saw scores ranging from 5 to 8. This is mostly due to its lid, which tends to snap shut unexpectedly when left unattended (which caused more than one of our testers to blurt out words we can't print here). While this can be annoying, and a bit scary if it catches you off guard, it can be dealt with. Just remember to keep one hand on the lid when you're rummaging for snacks and you'll be fine. It's a small price to pay for the overall best performer in our testing.


The drain works well and is unobstructed by the handles, but does create some splashing when first unscrewing the plug and some water does trickle around onto the underside, but to a lesser extent than the Yeti Tundra. This is a problem we encountered, to varying degrees, with most of the high-end models we tested. This is probably due to high-end models generally utilizing plugs that screw into the cooler body rather than an extended spout. So if you're looking for the increased performance of high-end models these minor draining issues are hardly a compromise. Some of our testers found the latches, which attempt to make up for any shortcomings by being adorably shaped like little whale tails, just slightly harder to use than those on other high-end models. However, once you get used to them they are second nature and are so charming you may just want to give them pet names.

The ORCA creates some splashing when you first unscrew the drain plug  and can trickle some water onto the underside of the cooler  but otherwise drains fairly well.
The ORCA creates some splashing when you first unscrew the drain plug, and can trickle some water onto the underside of the cooler, but otherwise drains fairly well.

Portability


The handles on the 58 Quart were some of the most comfortable we used. The combination of a semi-rigid rubber handle with nylon webbing attachments performed exceptionally well. The handle flexed and moved enough to comfortably distribute weight, but did not flex so much as to allow any pinching or uncomfortable pressure points. It tied our carry test with the Pelican Elite.


The 58 Quart opts for a more cubic design, resulting in a smaller footprint but taller height than most of the other models. This additional height makes it just too tall for the smaller Yosemite National Park bear boxes. That added height may be an issue if you own a sedan, but we felt that this shape was a more economical use of space when loading up a pickup truck or station wagon. This cubic shape also facilitates an easier single-person carry using the inset handles, as you don't have to reach your hands as far apart. Although, like all models of this size, we wouldn't recommend attempting a one person carry with a fully loaded ORCA. The handle design and shape earned the ORCA a 7 in our portability testing. It shares the top spot with the Pelican Elite Cooler 70. The worst performer in this category was the Grizzly, which scored a 4.

The Extra Heavy Duty was one of our testers' favorite models to carry.
The Extra Heavy Duty was one of our testers' favorite models to carry.

Features


The features on this cooler include an external mesh pocket, both extended and recessed handles, and pin style hinges. This earned the ORCA a score of 5, which equates to just above average in a test that saw scores ranging from 3 to 7.


Value


While the ORCA is not the most expensive cooler we tested, it is cheaper than most of the other high-end models. If you have already decided that your intended use requires the increased performance of a high-end model, then this represents a great value. More casual users, such as those thinking about one or two long weekend camping trips each year, would probably be better served with our Best Buy Award winning Coleman Xtreme 5-Day, which would serve those situations well at a much lower price.


Conclusion


Based on our testing, the ORCA delivers best-in-class insulation capacity in a design that is easy to carry and packs well in most vehicles. Despite a few shortcomings in the Ease of Use category, we feel the ORCA is a great option for those with a big budget looking for maximal performance.

All packed up and ready to go. We measured the Orca's internal capacity at 54 quarts.
All packed up and ready to go. We measured the Orca's internal capacity at 54 quarts.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 8, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Sep 19, 2016 - 06:57pm
Alois · Climber · Idyllwild, California

I bought this cooler (70 liters-tan color) for our two month trip to Sawtooths and Absaroka ranges this past July and August. It performed as reviewed with one big exception:

When elevation is changed, when you take your vehicle down even slightly in elevation (a few hundred feet) the cooler is impossible to open. The pressure change creates such a hold on the lid that it is impossible to open. I mean impossible….

Luckily, we had a small shovel with us which pried the lid open every time this occured (very often). Now it may be that opening the bottom drain will change the pressure inside the cooler and enable one to open the lid but, we had the cooler in the back of our car and taking it out every time was pain and opening the drain not practical.

Other than this, the cooler performed great. It is very heavy when full of food and ice so moving it frequently is a pain. Food does stay cool for about a week even in high temps (high 80s).

So other than this weird problem, the cooler works.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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