Otterbox Cooler Review: Trooper LT30
Often, you get what you pay for any time you're looking at quality products. In this case, Otterbox gives you more while charging you less and getting the same kind of performance as other major players in the premium soft cooler market.
Order it Direct
There was a time that it seemed like Yeti was the only game in town when it comes to the premium cooler market. That sector has exploded recently with a dizzying array of options. The Otterbox cooler lineup caught my eye with their new Otterbox Trooper LT30. Yes, I said Otterbox – the same company that came to the rescue when my phone decided to live and work in something other than a padded, air-conditioned room.
The Trooper series Otterbox cooler is a soft-sided option and comes in two sizes – 20 or 30 quarts. The trade-off in moving away from hard coolers is that you get better portability but sacrifice ice retention. There’s no surprise there, so what does Otterbox do to stand out from the crowd of premium coolers trying to draw your attention?
I have the original Yeti Hopper and its opening is one of its greatest weaknesses. The zipper rubs against your arm as you put things in or take them out of the cooler. The Otterbox Trooper LT30 solves this with a wide open top and a rigid frame that holds it open easily. It’s easy to see where everything is in the cooler and retrieve them without having to think about it.
This Otterbox cooler also moves away from a zipper for closure and uses a latch instead. As a water-friendly design, I was a little concerned about how the hardware would stand up to use around saltwater. However, with multiple trips in our kayak to the coast under its belt, the Trooper isn’t showing any signs of rust. Just be sure to rinse everything in fresh water when you’re done for the day.
At first, the closure system feels a little foreign. However, after just a couple of uses, it’s become much more easy to use and I greatly prefer it to the zipper system on my Yeti Hopper.
Multiple Carry Options
The first thing that really caught my attention on the Otterbox Trooper was a photo of someone wearing it like a backpack. The concept is intriguing, but it looks like it will be about the most awkward backpack you’ll ever wear.
When the Otterbox cooler arrived, I adjusted the straps and put it on my back. Guess what? It doesn’t suck! In fact, it’s actually quite comfortable. The straps have adequate padding to keep from rubbing your shoulders the wrong way. What really surprised me was how well the side design forms to my back and sits perfectly just above the lower curve of my spine. Save for hip straps for when it’s really loaded down, I’m not sure Otterbox can do a whole lot more on that front.
As a bonus, your back gets a very nice cooling effect from the ice while you’re carrying it as a backpack.
The straps pull double duty, so how you adjust them for your back affects how much slack there is for standard or shoulder carrying. There’s zero doubt that whether I’m taking the Trooper out to the car, down the trail, or to the kayak launch, I’m going to carry it on my back.
You get a little bit of exterior storage as well. A larger zippered pouch integrates into the side of the cooler and is great for keeping things like beef jerky or trail mix separate from the ice. You also have a smaller zippered pouch that stands out from the cooler a bit. This is where I like to store my phone and wallet to keep it out of the way. Otterbox says these are water resistant rather than waterproof. So like the dry storage areas on your kayak, assume some water might get in.
There are two accessory points on the Otterbox cooler. The Trooper comes with a bottle opener that goes in one, so feel free to bring that craft beer along with you for the day. The other accessory currently available is a dry bag clip to attach Otterbox’ Drybox 3250 series for the best protection against the elements.
The drybox will set you back $40 – $50, depending on color, and the clip is another $5. If you just want to snag a second bottle opener, that’s going to be $20.
I have the Hazy Harbor Otterbox Trooper LT30. It’s a nice, clean look that’s pretty attractive. If you’re looking for something more subtle or for hunting, you can also get green (Alpine Ascent) or camo (Realtree Edge – $50 upcharge).
Features are cool, but when it comes to premium coolers, ice retention is the number that everyone wants to know about. According to the website, this Otterbox cooler will keep ice for 3+ days. That’s pretty much what we expect from this class, but we’re not just going to take their word for it.
With temperatures ranging from the mid-40’s to start the day through mid-70’s in the afternoon, I started by filling the ice to the fill line. I opened the cooler to check it once in the morning and once in the evening as it sat out on my back porch in the shade. The final verdict?
Ice made it into its 5th day before completely melting. Just keep in mind those results will vary depending on how often you get into it and what the temperature is.
All of the Otterbox cooler lines are premium products and you should expect a premium price. The Otterbox Trooper LT30 comes in at $299.99 (or $349.99 for camo). That’s $50 less than Yeti and $30 less than Pelican. Given that you have a pretty attractive feature set to go along with the lower price, it’s a compelling value proposition.
The Bottom Line
Often, you get what you pay for any time you’re looking at quality products. In this case, Otterbox gives you more while charging you less and getting the same kind of performance as other major players in the premium soft cooler market. While we still have to wait to see how the product holds up over 6 months, a year, and longer, the lifetime warranty offers peace of mind that you can get more bang for your buck.
Click here to learn more about the Otterbox Trooper LT30 and order online with free standard shipping!