Stanley Adventure 30 Review
Cons: Lackluster insulation, questionable durability of lid clasps, single carry option, expensive for what you get
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Stanley Adventure 30 is a 32-quart cooler made of polyethylene. It features a locking corner, plastic drain plug and leash and lid grooves for a tie-down.
The Stanley Adventure is constructed of a high-density polyethylene outer shell, a polypropylene inner layer, and filled with double-wall foam. Stanley boasts "36% more foam than a typical cooler", though we're not sure what "typical cooler" they're comparing it to. They also claim that this icebox will maintain four days of cold, while at the same time state clearly that it's "not intended for prolonged storage of food and liquids." It's unclear what they mean by "cold" or "prolonged," but in our intensive insulation testing, this cooler wavered above and below the critical temperature of 40º F for just two days before surpassing it for the last time, ranking last in our insulation test. Though it's not rotomolded like so many of the other coolers we tested, we expected more from this little box.
As the Stanley is one of the few coolers we tested that the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee does not certify, it lacks some of the gravitas of its competitors. That being said, we found some positives of this cooler regarding durability. We used it as a seat and an impromptu step stool without issue. We also found nothing to complain about concerning the hinge, and when we tested its seal by tipping it over full of water, it remained 100% sealed with no leaks!
We wish it had some rubber feet on the bottom though, as it got scratched up pretty easily through regular use. We also have some concerns about the handle attachment, as you can easily see the simple screws used to hold each on to the outside of the cooler. And while we liked the ease of the plastic latches, they seem like an obvious failure point after years of use and abuse. It didn't happen during testing, but we could readily imagine one hard knock resulting in a broken latch.
Another thing we noticed during our testing that gives us pause is the drain. Rather than being just a hole through the cooler, it's an entirely separate piece that has been fitted into the wall of the cooler. This potentially opens up a whole new can of worms, as not only can the gasket on the drain fail over time but so can the seal holding the whole drain into the cooler. If that fails, not only will your Stanley leak but it will also saturate the insulating foam between the walls. And while we'd like to think that this is an unlikely scenario, we found many complaints of leaky Stanley drains in online reviews. Good thing they also offer a lifetime warranty!
Ease of Use
As coolers go, the Stanley is relatively easy to use. It has large handles that jut out from the sides, making it easy to grab them when you need them. The plastic latches are simple to open and close with a single hand. And its overall size and shape are conducive to packing in a bunch of food and even tall drink containers and odd-shaped treats. While it claims a 30-quart capacity, we measured it to be just over 32 quarts. The drain works well to empty any ice water at the end of your trip. It doesn't have any handy usability features like a basket or cup holders on top, and it lacks the over-the-top handle of the other personal-sized coolers we tested. Though with the Stanley fully loaded, we doubt anyone would be keen on carting it around with just one hand. Overall, this box is easy to use without standing out in any big way.
For a large personal-sized cooler, the Stanley Adventure is pretty light, tipping the scales at just 13.5 pounds. However, a jam-packed Stanley weighs more than most personal coolers because of its significantly larger capacity. We found it fairly easy to carry wherever we needed it to be with its large plastic handles. The handle placement and size is conducive to a single person carrying it or even grabbing a buddy for a farther picnic destination. Our only complaint about them is that they lack any squishy grip or ergonomic shape to better conform to our hands. They are rounded appropriately and do the job well.
Without the bells and whistles of some of the other models we tested, the Stanley is fairly bare-bones. It has a plastic leash for the drain plug and grooves on the lid to hold in place a tie-down cord during travel. It can also be locked closed on the front left corner, though don't expect this lock to keep out hungry bears. This chest also boasts a lifetime manufacturer's warranty.
With a relatively high price tag (for its size) and a below-average performance, we're not sure this cooler is worth the dough. If you love the size and shape it brings to the table and don't need it to maintain cold temps for days on end, you might be pleased with this boxy cooler. But there are better deals out there, in our opinion.
There are certain things we like about the Stanley. Its middling capacity - large for a personal cooler but too small for a full weekend of camping - and tall shape make it a good choice for oddly-shaped objects and a single person who likes to bring a lot of choices. While we found it to be pretty sturdy, its construction leaves us with a lot of questions about how many seasons of wear and tear it can handle. Along with the least effective insulation of any cooler we tested and a price tag that we think doesn't match the performance, we're not convinced this is the cooler to recommend over other options.
— Maggie Nichols
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