True story: Last year I spent three days exploring the ghost towns of Colorado with a nature photographer and his best friend, who also happened to be the model for some of the photos used in the article I wrote from the experience. When I got to the photographer’s house, I saw that he had YETI… everything. Four different sized YETI coolers. A whole bunch of YETI insulated cups. YETI stickers on his truck and on his photo gear. He was all about the YETI.
I was confused because the only YETI I knew was the high-end bike maker that sadly moved to Taiwan for production about fifteen years ago. But I didn’t give it any more thought, until last week. That was when YETI became involved in a whole bunch of drama regarding its decision to withdraw its support from the NRA. To be honest, I’ve read twenty articles about the YETI/NRA thing and I still don’t know the truth. YETI claims it was all a misunderstanding — but is that just a case of a company walking back a social-justice policy when they realize just how unpopular said policy is among the hunters, woodsmen, and explorers that make up the company’s customer base?
In the middle of all the drama, Pelican Coolers popped into social media with a very canny promotion: buy a USA-made Pelican Cooler using a certain code (PELICANPROUD) and the company would donate ten bucks to the NRA. Plus you’d get a (Chinese-made) insulated cup similar to the YETI one that every thirtysomething mother in the Midwest has in her immediate vicinity at all times. So I took a look at the company’s offerings. They had a 30-quart cooler that looked about perfect for my summer NASA/SCCA/BMX/skatepark/World-Challenge season. And it was available in Lime Green. The price was a bit breathtaking, but I justified it using some absolutely stupid math that I’ll share with you after you CLICK THAT JUMP.
Most of you will be happy to hear that you don’t have get your cooler in lime green with a grey interior. You can get the reverse! And about ten other colors that have nothing to do with lime green. There are more colors on the Pelican site but at the moment the company is heavily backordered. Their NRA promotion has been a raging success as people blow up their YETI coolers and order Pelicans. It took about eight days for me to get mine, only one day of which was due to shipping time.
So what do you get for $229.99, which is the proverbial shit-ton of money? You don’t get wheels, I’ll tell you that. But wheeled coolers are overrated in my opinion. I’ve had a wheeled Coleman since 2007 that I bought for my race team. We never use it. Too much hassle — and it doesn’t work very well. The Pelican works. Last night, I filled it up with two fridge-box loads of ice and a bunch of water. Today, I took it to a long, extremely sunny BMX race where we had no shade whatsoever. Over the course of six hours, the Pelican kept everything cool despite being opened about a dozen times. It’s light enough for Danger Girl to carry it without trouble. I can sit on it without deforming the top, which means that I can use it when I change wheels and tires at the racetrack. It is Certified Bear Proof by an independent testing facility. This is only relevant if you live in an area with heavy bear penetration, such as Yellowstone or San Francisco. It is lockable using your choice of shackle lock.
You can drop it, kick it, or hit it with a car and Pelican will replace it free of charge. It is entirely made in the USA, unlike the coolers YETI, RTIC, and pretty much everybody else. The top lid has metric and standard rulers built into it, which seems ridiculous but might come in handy some day. The workmanship appears to be utterly beyond reproach. The tests I’ve read online say that it can keep ice from melting for up to six days. It’s a good product and I’m glad I have it.
How can I justify the price? Well, I’m doing it like so. By filling it with water and soda at home, I’m preventing myself and my team from buying about $30 worth of cold drinks per event. After a summer of that usage I should break even. This is particularly useful at Mid-Ohio where the concession stand usually closes well before the day is over. Because I brought eight bottles of water to the BMX race today, I didn’t feel like I was wasting money when I poured that water on my son’s head to cool him off between races. He was noticeably stronger than his competition on the second half of the track today, going from third to first on the long fifth straight in eighty-five-degree heat, and I think keeping him cool and hydrated was part of that advantage. He beat a kid whose bike was at least $800 more expensive. So I’m spending my money wisely, for the first and last time.
If you’re in the market for an outrageously expensive cooler designed to last forever, I recommend Pelican without hesitation. Mine even came with a sticker. Which I will not be putting on my truck. The end.