Tailgating Product Review: Sta-Cold Coolers

The cooler is easily one of the most important items at a tailgate.  As such, it is pretty important to ensure that you have a quality cooler that won’t let you down.  After all, the cooler is responsible for the refrigeration of your food and beverage.  Warm beverages, or food that has spoiled is a good way to ruin an otherwise great day.  The truth is that there are so many coolers out there, that it is very easy to end up with one that just plain sucks.  You’ll have to believe me, because I have bought several that were just plain awful.  In this review we’ll discuss a high end cooler from Sta-Cold Coolers, and see if it has what it takes to earn the coveted title of, “Tailgate Approved.”

(Disclaimer: We received a sample Sta-Cold SCC60 Cooler for free. The fact this sample was provided without charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the Sta-Cold SCC60 Cooler fairly and objectively.)

I have to admit that when the Sta-Cold SCC60 arrived, I was impressed.  After buying several lack luster coolers I have an idea of what to look for. Some of the features that I do not like on my current cooler(s) are:

  • The Handles – The rigid plastic handles aren’t uncomfortable, but they do feel sloppy when carrying a full load.  So much so that on several occasions I’ve felt like they were about to break.
  • The Lid – The lid has nothing to keep it closed.  Even though this isn’t a big deal most of the time, a good tight seal is something I really like for both ice retention, and avoiding leaking water that splashes around.
  • Ice Retention – While it’s not the worst in the world, it certainly could be better.  Living in North Carolina you can imagine that we get some brutal summer heat.  Considering that most tailgating is done on pavement it doesn’t take long for a bag of ice to quickly disappear.  I can think of one after work tailgate, where I came out to a whole lot of water and not much ice.
  • Rigidity/Stability – While I do not like rigidity in the handles, I do like it in the body of the cooler. Needless to say, my old cooler is a little flimsy. Since cargo space is of the essence for most people, it doesn’t take long before you have to stack items on one another.  A cooler with a good solid build is crucial to make sure you can do that without trouble.

What Sta-Cold Coolers offer:

  • Sta-Cold Handles – Sta-Cold coolers have rope handles with a sturdy plastic grip.  The grip is comfortable, and the ability for the rope to flex, allows for much easier carrying.  Believe me when I say this, you will love being able to pull those handles towards your body. Since the empty weight of the cooler is 29 lbs, and it holds about 45lbs of ice, you’ll have one heavy cooler very quickly.
  • Sta-Cold Lid – Not only do Sta-Cold coolers have a rubber gasket, they also have stainless steel latches.  No worrying about that lid popping open here.
  • Sta-Cold Ice Retention – With 2-inch think insulation all the way around, the Sta-Cold is built to keep ice for a very long time.  Furthermore the cooler is rated for dry ice which, at approximately -110°F, can go a long way into making sure things stay frozen if that’s what you’re looking for. As the pictures indicate even after 48 hours there wasn’t much reduction in the amount of ice.
  • Sta-Cold Rigidity/Stability – The whole cooler just feels solid.  The hinge for the lid is not a couple of crappy little riveted-on pieces.  Instead it is molded into the plastic.  I feel confident that it would be a sufficient base for a pile of gear.

Other features that I really liked about the SCC60 were the divider, drain plug, and rubber feet.  The divider is much more sturdy than others I’ve seen and actually performs as designed.  The reason it is so sturdy is that it is a thick piece of plastic, designed to fit into a slot that is molded into the inside of the cooler.  Theoretically you could have one side with dry ice, and the other could have conventional. The ability to have two distinct sections in one cooler is something that I think would benefit a lot of tailgaters. The drain plug is threaded, so you won’t have to fret it getting snagged and pulling out.  It also has a nice rubber gasket to prevent leakage.  Lastly, the rubber feet are nice for a couple of reasons.  One is that it gets the cooler off the ground, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the asphalt, concrete, etc.  The other nice thing about them is that they keep the thing from sliding around.  Many a time have I have cringed as a cooler slammed around in the back of my vehicle, but no longer.

Testing a cooler in November was a little tougher than I would have liked.  If we were in the summer months I would have filled it with ice, and let it sit outside in the sun.  Unfortunately for me the temperature in my area has been fairly cool the last few days so I had to resort to just leaving it inside the house, which was maintained at 70 degree throughout the duration of the test.  The pictures show the ice levels when I filled it (Day 0), and then after 24 hours (Day 1) and 48 (Day 2) hours.  The final picture shows what the ice looked like after I pushed it down on Day 2. As you can see there is still a generous amount of solid ice even after two days. While this is not a completely accurate depiction of the ice retention capabilities, it is a fairly good one.

Finally we have to talk about crossover application.  While I have lots of equipment specifically allocated to tailgating, the coolers get used for lots of things.  Grocery shopping and road trips are two things that immediately come to mind.  Since I live in North Carolina, and hurricanes are a very real danger, I would have to think that a cooler such as this would be huge in preparing for a storm. While not everyone is going to experience drastic weather situations, the ability to safely store food in the prolonged absence of more conventional refrigeration is a big plus.

The only real downside, at least from where I sit, to the Sta-Cold coolers is the price. They are considerably more expensive than the coolers you would find at your local department store. That’s not to say that the old, “you get what you pay for” rule doesn’t apply here, it absolutely does. Trying to pit a Sta-Cold against a typical department store cooler isn’t a fair apples to apples comparison.  Now once you start looking at other high end coolers, Sta-Cold’s main competitors, you will see that Sta-Cold prices are quite good.  A quick comparison at two brands typically known for high end coolers show that their offerings are more considerably expensive than Sta-Cold.

All in all I think the Sta-Cold coolers have a place in the parking lot.  In other words I would deem them “Tailgate Approved.”   The footprint of the 60 quart model is 30 in × 17 in × 17 in, but there are several options to fit your specific needs.  All of which offer the same benefits as the SCC60.

Now it’s time for the exciting part!  The folks over at Sta-Cold were kind enough to give one lucky reader a Sta-Cold SCC60 . Details on how to enter the giveaway are below.  Their generosity went even further when they told us that they would give all of our readers a discount on their coolers.  All you have to do is enter the code “tailgatingideas” at checkout and you’ll receive 10% off.  Not a bad deal is it?

How the giveaway will work is simple and free. All you need to do is snap a photo of your old and busted cooler that you want to replace with a brand new Sta-Cold SCC60 Cooler. You can share it with us on either Twitter or Facebook.

If you choose Facebook, make sure you are a fan of Tailgating Ideas on Facebook first. Once that is taken care of, take your photo and post it on the Tailgating Ideas Facebook page wall. Feel free to leave a caption as to how long you have your cooler, why it needs to be retired and any other amusing anecdotes that you feel may aid in getting yours selected.

If you choose Twitter, make sure you snap a photo of your old cooler and upload it to any of the Twitter photo sharing sites. Alert us via Twitter by tweeting

Here’s my old & busted #tailgating cooler that I hope to replace w/ a #Sta-Cold Cooler from @tailgatingideas

(Make sure the URL to where we can see your photo is included in your tweet.)

The third and more traditional way of submitting your photo is via email. Snap a photo and attach it to an email and send it to: freecooler@tailgatingideas.com. Put “Cooler Giveaway” in the subject line and send us your worst looking cooler that need to be replaced.

Deadline to submit your photos via Facebook, Twitter or email is 11:59 pm pacific time on Friday, November 25, 2011. Winner will be chosen via an online vote by the readers of TailgatingIdeas.com. The staff here will choose a top three of the worst looking coolers submitted and those photos will be posted online along with a poll for our readers to vote which they think is the saddest and most deserving cooler to get replaced. Deadline to vote in that online poll will be 11:59 pm pacific time on Monday, November 28, 2011.

Good luck and for more information on Sta-Cold Coolers, visit their website, sta-coldcoolers.com.

Burger Pocket Press