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The most important question concerning any trip is “what are we going to eat?” When visiting family or friends, the answer is pretty simple. If you’re staying at a hotel, you probably need to seek out local restaurants. Camping, however, poses an entirely different challenge- especially if you don’t pack a fridge. 

Our last (attempted) camping trip to Joshua Tree came with the requirement of upgrading a few supplies. The cooler happens to have been at the top of the list. As I’ve mentioned a few times, my husband is a researcher. He’s the guy who checks all the ads, then checks the reviews, then goes to the store to see the things, then narrows it down… then maybe almost makes a decision. 

This particular purchase might only have taken 2 weeks and 3 stores to settle on; I don’t have enough fingers to count how many reviews he read through. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that he is so thorough even if sometimes it is a little frustrating for the instant gratification side of me. On the bright side, we usually end up with a really good version of whatever the thing happens to be. This time we ended up with a huge Igloo. 

Our goal was to be able to pack enough food for 5 people for 5 days without having to drop a small fortune on the inconvenience of daily ice. 110 quarts sounds -and looks- like a lot of space. The smaller models seemed… too small and the larger ones were impractical. Wheels were definitely a bonus, though not a requirement. The MaxCold Glide offered plenty of space and a whopping 6 days of ice (tested under controlled conditions, of course). 

We purchased our new cooler at Costco (one of our favorite go-to places) for $89.99. As always, it wasn’t as easy as just going in to buy one. On our first attempt, there were only two left on display and both of them had damaged handles. They had more stock but after waiting over an hour with the baby… we opted to come back another day. 


The test:

We packed for our trip on Monday around 1pm. There was a cooling rack (like you use when baking) on the bottom, then a layer of dry ice. That was followed by a layer of bagged ice, the food and drinks, and then more ice on top. We also pre-froze some water bottles which were packed in the corners and a few around the edges. I had a second, smaller cooler for drinks and snacks. 

After being packed, the cooler was loaded into the back of our Jeep along with other gear. We drove for roughly six hours on the freeway and through the desert with an average temperature somewhere in the range of “it is too hot to sit in traffic with no a/c”. It then stayed in the trunk overnight at about 50 ish degrees. Around 11 am the cooler was brought into the hotel room for a solid 24 hours, where the thermostat was set at 74. During this time, the cooler was only opened a couple of times to refill the “drinks” cooler. Wednesday the car was loaded and we made the long, hot drive home. It was definitely hotter than it was on Monday! Checkout was 11am so we were pulling out shortly after and didn’t get back home until nearly sunset. We were exhausted when we got home so the gear stayed in the trunk overnight.  Even though we brought everything in Thursday, I didn’t open the cooler until Friday evening. Everything was frozen. Everything. Even things that were not frozen when I put them in there. 

Pros:

– kept everything frozen for 6 days under somewhat kinda controlled conditions 

– solid construction. Overall it “feels” well made, like it will be able to handle some grand adventures. 

– telescoping handle. This definitely makes pulling the cooler 100x easier. Those models with teeny handles that make you hunch over all awkwardly are for the birds. 

– included “table”. There is a table shelf that nests in the cooler which could be used to keep something thin above the ice but more importantly, it fits on the handle to provide a place to set your plate and beverage 


– rubber wheels. These puppies are definitely more sturdy than those dinky plastic things. 

– Igloo. Buy American. 
Cons:

– it’s heavy. But then again, that should be expected of a large cooler 

– the telescoping handle has 3 design flaws. The first being it takes both hands to release the locking mechanism to pull it out. This is good and bad- good because it won’t accidentally pop out at an inconvenient time but bad because you need to use both hands which is inconvenient if you’re carrying anything else. You can’t just grab it and go. The second flaw is when the handle is ‘closed’, it is too close to the body. I understand this is most likely to keep it somewhat compact however it makes using the handle really uncomfortable when closed (using it as in when you’d use both handles to lift the cooler in/out of a vehicle or to carry it anywhere). I am a woman with small hands and it was awkward for me so I have to imagine this would pose a problem for man hands. The third flaw is related to the second: the handle is IN or OUT, there is no in between. Again, this is good and bad… which relates back to flaw #1… if you need both hands to open it, you can then quickly use one hand to extend the handle and start moving but it is bad if you’re short (my son had trouble pulling the cooler because it was at a strange angle). 

Overall, I give the Max Cold two thumbs up. It definitely lived up to its name- at least for the first time we used it. 
* I/ we did not receive any compensation from Igloo nor from Costco for this review. This product was purchased at regular retail price and the review is based solely on our personal experience. 

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