This year, rotomolded cooler options have expanded—including new models from Cordova. The 50 Medium chest cooler ($275, CordovaOutdoors.com) is made in the USA, and has looks, functionality and performance that prove hard to beat for the price.
To see how this cooler performed we gave it an informal test. Weather conditions ranged from 65 degrees and misting, to the low 80s with lots of sunshine. The Cordova stayed in the back of a rental SUV for the duration so it was out of the sunlight.
This hard-bodied cooler is a tank. It’s also designed clean with large, top-open latches, and an air-tight lid with gasket and grommet. Instead of opting for rope handles, Cordova wisely included two CNC-machined, anodized aluminum handles. They include the ever-important bottle opener. These handles are mounted to the sides of the cooler.
The easy to use, reverse T-lock latches are built of tough rubber that have the durability to keep this lid locked tight for many years. Since the latches on this cooler pull up instead of down, the lid is easier to open. The lid hinges are designed to not fall, which is great for when the cooler is placed against a tailgate.
Cordova has their own proprietary foam. It’s denser than conventional foam, which means you don’t have to use as much of it to keep things frosty inside. The air-tight lid and quad-core gasket combo boost the cooler’s cold storage performance. The gasket provides a hermetic seal that keeps warm air out and cold air in. When you open the lid, there’s a color-changing indicator that helps to gauge the temperature inside.
All that insulation power means the Cordova can do more with less. We used two small 10-pound bags of ice from the gas station for our testing, which lasted over 48 hours. Over this time, we opened the cooler about 20 times. On the last day during clean-up, there was still a substantial amount of ice remaining in the cooler.
The drain plug is a ported-screw type made from delrin plastic. The port means you don’t have to unscrew it all the way to drain water, which increases the convenience factor. Another helpful feature is the raised rim around the edge of the cooler’s top. The walls are high enough to keep stuff from sliding off the lid on a boat or in the back of a pick-up. Gorilla Grip non-skid feet on the bottom of the cooler also help in this regard.
You can certainly buy a good cooler for less than half the price of this one. But, you get what you pay for. With the Cordova 50 Medium you can keep more stuff colder, for a longer time, using less space—which makes it a great option for competitive shooters. Think about it, how many times have you struggled to fit everything you needed into your vehicle before driving to a match? A high-performance ice chest cooler like this one could be what you need.
And it’s tough. Possibly indestructible―a drop test from the rear of our GMC Arcadia rental vehicle barely scratched the plastic. Our cooler for testing was white, one of five colors available—gray, sand, white, orange and aqua.
The Cordova 50 Medium retails for $275; we looked for more realistic pricing, but the best deal we found was the white model via Amazon for that price, with free shipping. A lifetime warranty is included. There are four other rotomolded cooler options from Cordova in addition to the medium—small, large and extra-large sizes. Visit cordovaoutdoors.com.
What is Rotomolding?
Rotomolding, short for rotational molding, is a manufacturing process that has become the gold standard for sturdy and durable chest coolers. Rotomolding manufacturing utilizes a mold that is rotated while the plastic is poured in. The end product is plastic that’s more uniform in density and performs better as an insulating layer.
Photos by Jesse Snyder