Kayak coolers need to hold plenty of beverages but be small enough to fit in the back of an average sized kayak. For this test, no soft sided coolers were put through the paces.
The two coolers under the microscope in this installation of “The Search” are the Grizzly 20 and the previous winner the Brute Box 25.
Here are the specifications:
The Grizzly 20
Weight: 16 pounds Capacity: 20 quarts Dimensions: 20” X 14.38” X 13.88”
The Brute Box 25
Weight: 16.5 pounds Capacity: 25 quarts Dimensions: 18.75" x 16" x 15"
At first glimpse, these two coolers share lots of similarities but after a few days of testing, the differences stand out.
Difference #1- The Handle
The Grizzly has an aluminum handle that does not lock and is free to swivel. It cannot be carried comfortably by more than one person which might be needed if it’s loaded down with 20 quarts of beverages. If we use water as the test, that would put the full capacity weight at just over 55 pounds. For some of us, that’s the weight of our kayaks. We might want a hand, especially if we are schlepping beer to share with a buddy. The handle makes it difficult. Another downer on the handle is in hot weather if you touch the aluminum and not the padding, it will burn you.
The Brute has two rope handles with rubber carrying grips. One person can carry it but if it is a two man job, the handles spread out more to allow for side by side carrying. These also give you a few more options for lashing and no worries of bending the handle.
Difference #2- To Drain or Not
The Grizzly 20 has a large two inch drain on the side of the cooler. You can drain the melted ice after a few days on the lake with just a twist. This is not a small drain. It’s an almost immediate emptying if filled with water. No need to unload everything in it.
The Brute 25 doesn’t have a drain. Most times it’s not a big deal but if for some reason you had beverages or food still in the cooler and wanted to lighten the load by draining any melted ice, you’d have to unload everything.
Difference #3- The One Hand Latch Test
When you have a cooler behind you in a kayak more than likely you only have one hand available to reach behind you, unlatch the cooler, open the lid, get what you need, close it and latch it back.
The Grizzly has a t style latch called a Bear Claw that has to go over an extrusion. It holds well, is a little difficult to fasten well and is hard to latch with one hand. In three tries though, I finally got it to open with just one hand without completely turning around to put more torque on the lid. Sure it’s a good latch but if I have to dismount to get to my fluids, that’s a bit much.
The Brute uses a large rubber lunch box style latch. These are easy to latch and unlatch; even with the heavy gasket seal in the lid I could get to my cold beverages with one hand and little effort.
Criteria #4-Where It's Made
Both of these coolers are proudly Made in the USA
The easiest way to break it down with different sized coolers is dollars per quart.
The Grizzly 20 is $229. At 20 quarts, the price per quart is $11.45
The Brute Box 25 is $229. At 25 quarts, the price per quart is $9.16
Other important things to note:
In the testing I did, both coolers kept ice for a little over three days, side by side with the lid staying closed most of the time. The average temperature where they were kept (my garage) was 92 degrees. Both coolers performed well in the rugged wear and tear department. Hose them off when you are done and the dirt and mud comes right off. They both also doubled as a casting platform with no buckling or fear of toppling over.
When you total up the scores, the final verdict for this battle is closer than the previous “Search”. The Brute Box 25 in my testing was the winner. If you’d like to check out the 25 and all his big brothers go to www.bruteoutdoors.com. To check out the full line of Grizzly coolers go to www.grizzlycoolers.com