Xspec 60qt Review
Cons: No internal basket, not IGBC rated
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Xspec is a rotomolded cooler with dual handles and an internal height that easily accommodates an upright, average-sized wine bottle. It features two bottle openers, anti-skid feet, removable handles, tie-downs, a lock plate, a pressure release valve and dual-use drain, a built-in compass, and an integrated fish ruler.
When it comes to insulation performance, the Xspec isn't knocking our socks off, but it delivers a decent performance that's likely to be enough for most weekend warriors. It held temps below the USDA-recommended safe food threshold of 40ºF for 4.7 days during our torturous insulation testing and held onto temps under 50ºF (a great all-around beer temperature) for a grand total of 5.3 days. While this isn't quite as long as some of the seriously beefy models we tested, it's impressive enough for 3-4 day weekends. It's also dry-ice compatible, which can go a long way toward extending the "lifespan" of your food.
To provide reliable insulation, the Xspec is rotomolded and filled with 3 inches of polyurethane foam. A freezer-style (think "flattened tube") gasket completely seals the contents of this box. The bottom not only has anti-skid feet but also several raised sections to help keep your cooler away from the hot surfaces of summer — a clever design to help keep its contents cool. We also tested the aqua color, which doesn't heat up too much in the sun compared to several other shades of light blue coolers we tested. Of course, if you really want the lightest and coolest (temperature-wise) option, it's also available in classic white.
Though it doesn't carry the weight of certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, we found the Xspec to be on par with the durability of the models we tested that are IGBC certified. The integrated hinge easily withstands our pulling, overextending, and abuse. It took some close inspection to find the small seam in the rubber seal, lending credibility to the airtightness of the box. When we left it sitting out in the hot sun for several days, we couldn't find any reason to doubt its integrity.
Though a handful of online user reviews we found complained of a leaking drain plug, we didn't have any issues with this during our testing. The plug itself is constructed similarly to many other models we reviewed and features a rubber gasket to keep it sealed. Even the air pressure release valve (which can also be unscrewed from the body of the cooler) has a rubber gasket that appears legit.
The latches, another common source of durability issues, also seem to be rather solid. They're part rubber and part plastic, using the rubber to maintain tension on the lid and the plastic part to actually grip the body of the cooler and keep the lid latched. Though making closures such as these, out of several different materials, can potentially introduce longevity concerns over the otherwise long life of your cooler, we can't find anything actually wrong with them - and in fact, appreciate their usability.
Ease of Use
One of our favorite aspects of the Xspec is how simple and straightforward it is to use. The latch design we previously discussed also makes opening and closing the chest much easier than some of the muscley all rubber T-latches, that require two hands to operate. The Xspec latches can be a bit more challenging on your fingertips, but overall we think they're pretty easy. The dual-function drain works well and efficiently, with an interior channel and small lip that facilitate emptying meltwater with relative ease. The air pressure release valve is also an excellent addition. Whether you're experiencing temperature changes from early morning to mid-afternoon or gaining elevation as you head up into the mountains on your adventures, this valve makes certain that you'll never be stuck wrenching and cursing at your cooler's lid.
While most coolers are fairly simple to load contents into their cavernous interiors, we've found that some are more accommodating than others. What we appreciate about the Xspec is its clever ratio of height to width to length that makes it both convenient to pack into the car while still being tall enough to fit most common objects standing upright inside. Planning on bringing a 2-liter bottle of soda or a chilled bottle of white wine? Rest assured that both will fit standing upright inside the Xspec. With 13 inches of internal clearance, standard wine bottles will also fit even with the cork replaced, safely bringing home your leftovers. We also measured this advertised 60-quart icebox to actually have a 61-quart capacity. Many coolers we tested don't actually have the volume they claim, often falling short.
Like so many similar coolers we tested, the Xspec has two sets of handles for carrying solo or with a partner. The indented handles on the underside of the ends of the lid are easy to find and use. They are a bit shallow compared to many others, letting your fingertips jam into the tie-down slots a little too readily for our taste. However, this shallow design comes in handy though, for easily removing the second set of handles. These cleverly designed grip-and-webbing handles are easy to remove in a few seconds if you'd rather leave them at home, with your cooler securely tied down in the back of your trailer or boat. Replacing them is just as easy, because of the slightly shallow primary handles that easily allow you access to the required attachment points. Some other coolers we tested that have similar removable handles proved to be harder to replace with deeper indented hand grooves, and we appreciate the ease and simplicity of the Xspec.
A 60-quart ice chest is never going to be your favorite piece of gear to cart around, but there are a few things about the Xspec's design that make it less painful than some. Weighing 30.5 pounds before loading it with an array of food and beverages, it's on the lower end of average weight among similar models we tested. The two sets of handles are fairly comfortable to use - though we've already discussed that the indented pair could be deeper for more comfort, but are more shallow to facilitate easy removal and replacement of that second set of handles. The longer handles are made of hard plastic but have a good curve, that helps with carrying comfort. They're not as nice as some foam handles we tested, but they're above average for in-hand comfort.
One area where the Xspec really gets it right is the dimension ratio of this big box. A short, long cooler is much harder to carry around solo. A tall, narrow cooler is easier to carry but can be harder to pack into your car or find things buried at the bottom. The Xspec is one of just a few we tested that thread the needle of the ideal height to length ratio. It's narrow enough to be carried by yourself, without being so tall it becomes top-heavy or harder to find contents hidden at the bottom.
This is another area in which the Xspec nails it. During our testing, we discovered that most models either sell all their accessories for an additional cost (if they are available at all), or they come with just about every feature conceivable, but of very low quality as to be almost unusable.
In contrast, the Xspec comes fully equipped with two stainless steel bottle openers (that actually work), lock plates, an integrated fish ruler, and a built-in compass (that also actually works, though we don't recommend it for precision navigation). Those extras come on top of the more common features like anti-skid feet, tie-downs, and a dual-function drain, AND alongside previously mentioned features like the pressure release valve and removable handles. The one feature that it doesn't come with that we are a bit sad about is a dry-bin basket inside. Other than that, the Xspec is a fully-loaded - and fully-functional - cooler right out of the box.
With performance this great, we expected this cooler to cost more. In fact, many lower-performing coolers cost much more - some even double. Though it's not the most amazing cooler we tested, it has some serious perks and holds its own among stiff competition, while costing much less. Any way you slice it, the Xspec offers some seriously high value.
We find there's a lot to love about the Xspec 60qt. It brings solid insulation performance, a very functional design, and top-notch features to the table attached to a pretty reasonable price tag. If you're after a reliable cooler that's a joy to use and built to last, but don't want to spend a fortune, this chest is a well-rounded competitor and our choice for a Best Buy Award for its near-high-end performance for a comparatively low price.
— Maggie Brandenburg