OtterBox Trooper 20 Review
Cons: More rigid shape, heavy, no top handle
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OtterBox Trooper 20
$249.99 at Amazon
$239.99 at Amazon
|$129.95 at REI|
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$83.32 at Amazon
|Pros||Unique leak resistant lid, no difficult-to-use zipper, good insulation, external pocket, included bottle opener/multitool||Very durable construction, excellent insulation, useful handles and features, comfortable shoulder strap||Durable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensive||Watertight fabric and zipper, good insulation value, great size to capacity ratio, convenient top handle, great value||Simple and easy to use, decent insulation, folds flat for storage, duffel handles|
|Cons||More rigid shape, heavy, no top handle||Zippered exterior pocket not waterproof, very large||Learning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pockets||No external storage options, plastic D rings twist, doesn't come with zipper lubricant||Shoulder strap a little short, zipper and exterior fabric are not waterproof, less durable materials|
|Bottom Line||An easy opening cooler that offers pretty high-quality insulation in an interesting design and comes with its own multi-tool||When it comes to the best performance, this model takes home the well-chilled trophy||This backpack-style cooler is our favorite model to carry over longer distances||A watertight cooler that's convenient to use, with above-average insulation for a below-average price||A solid performer that's simple to use, easy to carry, and costs less than most|
|Rating Categories||OtterBox Trooper 20||Engel HD30||IceMule Pro||Igloo Reactor Porta...||AO Coolers 24 Pack...|
|Insulation Value (30%)|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Specs||OtterBox Trooper 20||Engel HD30||IceMule Pro||Igloo Reactor Porta...||AO Coolers 24 Pack...|
|Measured Capacity (qt)||19.5 qt||32 qt||25 qt||26.5 qt||24 qt|
|Measured Capacity (cans with no ice)||28 cans||48 cans||39 cans||30 cans||39 cans|
|Carry Style||Messenger Bag||Messenger Bag||Backpack||Messenger Bag||Duffel Bag|
|Internal Maximum Height (in)||12"||13"||17" fully closed
|9.5"||11" fully closed
|Fits Standard Wine Bottle Standing Upright?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No - will fit on side||Yes - some flex required, no zipper strain|
|Shelf Life of Food (Measured Hours Below 40ºF)||57 hr||73 hr||52 hr||51 hr||55 hr|
|Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Hours Below 50ºF)||70 hr||79 hr||55 hr||54 hr||63 hr|
|Measured Weight (lb)||6.8 lb||5.9 lb||3.0 lb||3.1 lb||2.7 lb|
|Exterior Fabric||TPU coated nylon||Abrasion-resistant fabric||Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon||Unspecified water resistant polyester exterior, nylon interior||1000 x 1300D heavy duty polyester with vinyl coating|
|Closure Method||No-zip flip top||Zippered top, watertight zip||Roll-top||Zippered flip top, watertight zip||Zippered top|
|Handles and Straps||Shoulder strap, end handles||Shoulder strap, end handles, duffel handles||Backpack straps, sternum strap||Shoulder strap, end handles, top handle||Shoulder strap, duffel handles|
|Additional Storage||Yes; 1 medium zippered exterior, daisy chain on back, 2 attachment clips for additional accessories||Yes; 1 larger exterior zippered (meant to be waterproof but isn't)||No; exterior shock cord panel||No||Yes; 1 very large zippered exterior pocket|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The OtterBox Trooper 20 is a messenger bag style soft cooler with an adjustable padded shoulder strap and two end handles. It has a unique, plastic flip-top lid and latch and features an external 3D zippered pocket and removable multi-tool.
Among stiff competition, the OtterBox Trooper holds its own when it comes to insulation. It managed to maintain food-safe temperatures below 40° F for an impressive 57 hours during our intensive hot room testing, simulating real-world use and conditions. This impressive 2+ day performance is well above average across the soft coolers we tested. It then went on to maintain temps below 50° F for a full 70 hours — just shy of 3 full days. Though this doesn't quite live up to OtterBox's claim that the Trooper will "keep ice up to 3 days", we also treat these coolers pretty harshly in our testing, so we think this claim isn't terribly far off, depending on how carefully you prep your contents. The unique plastic lid is fully rimmed by a rubber gasket, effectively sealing in your contents and keeping meltwater contained within.
Ease of Use
If you've ever tried to operate a waterproof zipper, you know firsthand that they can be difficult to maneuver and often require two hands. OtterBox has done away with the zipper in the Trooper 20, and we love how easy the flip-top lid is to use. We had a few struggles at first, understanding how the latch works, but once we caught on, this cooler is a cinch to open and shut; easily one of our favorites to access its contents. It also has a decent-sized zippered pocket sticking out from the front of the cooler for those extra items that don't need to be chilled. But you won't have to worry about packing a bottle opener, as the Trooper comes with a clip-on multi-tool, including a bottle opener, various sized wrenches, and a regular screwdriver head. It also has a short daisy chain on the back of the cooler, but clipping anything to it interferes with your ability to comfortably carry it. The only thing we miss that the Trooper doesn't have is a handle on top for easier snagging when you're ready to go. When packing this soft cooler full of all our picnicking essentials, we also discovered its shape isn't particularly conducive to maximizing space when loaded full of cans. For mixed food and beverage needs though, it works great.
The Trooper 20 weighs about 6.8 pounds when empty. This makes it one of the heaviest models we tested, even compared to much larger coolers. We can't say we noticed it too much though, and its medium capacity helps keep it fairly reasonable to carry when it's full. However, the Trooper is more rigid than many other soft coolers we tested and always seems to find a way to bump into some part of our hips or sides in an uncomfortable way when we carried it. Its shoulder padding proves to be less conducive to comfort as well — the bottom section is a thick, water-resistant material that bunches up when bent over the top of your shoulder, creating tall stiff ridges that don't feel particularly pleasant. The side handles are a great alternative to carrying the Trooper for longer distances more comfortably.
The Trooper is right up there close behind some of the most durable models we tested. It's made of TPU-coated nylon that effectively keeps contents insulated and protected and resists abrasion. The bottom is covered with reinforcing rubber-like material that wraps around the bottom edges, offering additional protection against the bumps and scuffs of life. The plastic lid, latch, and hinges all seem solid and sturdy, as does the rubber seal running around the inside. Even the minor components performed well in our testing, with beefy shoulder strap clips and thick webbing with reinforced seams. We read several online testimonies saying that other users had issues with the plastic lid starting to peel when left in the sun. We left ours sitting in the hot, high-altitude sun for several days to test it and didn't notice any change in the cooler's integrity or appearance.
While we really like the OtterBox Trooper, it's also one of the most expensive models we tested. If you're absolutely in love with this cooler's overall look and performance, its price may be worth the investment for its novel flip-top lid and easy usability. If having the best insulation is most important to you, there are other better insulating soft coolers in our impressive lineup.
The Trooper 20 is a durably built, impressively insulated soft cooler that stands out from the rest for its easy-to-love plastic flip-open lid. If you're all about user-friendliness, the Trooper impresses us and just might be worth the extra investment for something we think you'll love to use.
— Maggie Nichols
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