Comparative Cooler Review of the Orion 85, Canyon Coolers Prospector 103, and Yeti 105
Courtesy of iReviewGear.com
Editor: Cory McLaughlin
Just the Facts:
Could be you’re the hunter or angler who lives by the credo “go big or go home” … the outfitter who delivers exceptional experiences for his clients … the big-event caterer who is renowned for the quality of your service. Our largest cooler is up to your grandest expectations. Shipping multiple quartered game, King Salmon filets or servicing a multi-family picnic, the 85 says, “bring it.” Add the brilliant functionality and customizability of our exclusive YakAttack gear tracks and a range of RAM accessories — cup holders holders to GoPro® mounts — and you have an indispensable asset for everyone who works, hunts, fishes and lives large.
- Capacity: 85 quarts
- Tie downs: 6
- Bottle openers: 4
- Insulation: 2″-2.75″
- Standing pad: Integrated,
- Interior tray: Solid thermoformed ABS plastic.
- Hinges: Lifetime
- Closures: Lifetime galvanized cam latches
- Exterior Dimensions, base: 34.25″ x 18″
- Exterior Dimensions, top: 37″ x 20.75″
- Exterior Height: 17.75″
- Weight: 43 lbs.
- Price: $549
Canyon Cooler’s Prospector 103
Canyon’s new flagship cooler, the Prospector, is built incredibly strong featuring a premium polyethylene RotoMolded fat walled shell filled with high-density foam. The Prospector rocks thicker walls then anyone else where it matters most: where your ice is sitting. This monster ice chest is virtually indestructible, it can easily take on the use and abuse of countless rapids, fishing trips or the rough waves of boating excursions in stride.
The Prospector ties down with 6 built-in tie down areas, accommodating the roughest seas, worst roads and wildest rivers you can throw at it. If that’s not enough, the Prospector also sports accommodating strap channels both over the top and underneath for super secure mounting like any true adventure box should have.
The completely recessed and protected latches, drain plugs and handles are super protected from rough handling, they avoid stray fishing line, and allow us to offer a lifetime warranty.
Often that ‘perfect’ spot on your rig doesn’t give you access to the drain plug. The Prospector defeats this problem – no longer do you have to wrestle the beast just to smash your hand into an impossibly small space. The Prospector comes with both a front and side no-lose drain plug, both fully recessed like our handles and EZCAM latches. Everything is protected and super functional.
Baskets don’t sound exciting, and so it was time to twist it up. This ice chest can accommodate up to 4 tiered baskets for the ultimate in expedition organization. Drop the basket on to the lower lip, and load it up, later when it’s time to reorganize just turn the basket 90 degrees and it fits into the top lip. Need a divider? The Prospector accommodates that, too. (Baskets are not included with your purchase.)
Compare to YETI
- Front and side drain plug
- 3 lid latches and heavy contouring keeps the seal spot-on and resists warping
- 103 quart capacity, that’s 12% bigger then a Yeti 110
- Weight: 39.5 lbs.
- Great fit for marine applications
- Fits the Aire 156 raft like money and just squeezes into a Aire143
- Great for offshore sport fishing casting or scouting water
- Outside: 18.56″ H x 37.5″ L x 21.25″ W (at the widest point)
- Footprint at base: 36.98″ L x 17.98″ W
- Set your raft frame opening to 20″ on center
- 37.5″ long below lip
- 18.75″ wide below lip
- 13″ high from lip to center of cooler
- 13.75″ high from lip to bottom of cooler end
- Interior height:13.7″
- Interior base: 13″ W x 31″ L
- Interior at top: 15.5″ W x 32.25″ L
- Huntsman High Density PU foam
- Walls: 2.76 – 2.99″ thick
- Lid: 3” thick
- Floor: Up to 2” thick
- Huntsman High Density PU foam : Alabama
- Polyethylene Shell: Thailand
- Seal: New Jersey
- Design: Flagstaff, Arizona
- Company: family owned and based in Flagstaff, Arizona. A 7000′ high mountain town known for hunting, rafting, the Grand Canyon and a collection of great outdoorsy characters.
Lifetime (or 1 year commercial use)
Bear Certification: YES IGBC #5094
“We designed the YETI® Tundra® 105 with more height and a smaller footprint, so it takes up less room in your boat or truck bed.” That extra altitude lets you stack your meats and drinks up high with enough room for a layer of ice on top. This body shape means greater capacity and longer ice retention than standard coolers, and the benefits don’t stop there. The Tundra 105 is dry ice–compatible, so you can keep everything cooler for even longer than with standard ice and with less weight. It’s the perfect cooler for extended hunting and fishing trips.
NOTE: All Tundra models come standard with one dry goods basket.
- Holds 59 cans with recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio
- Perfect for extended hunting or fishing excursions
- Can act as an additional seat in front of center console
- Taller design for more content stacking
We live in cool time. Obviously, this is a reference to coolers and the new standard that is roto-molded coolers. The days of flimsy Styrofoam boxes and cheap plastic coolers are nearing their end. With all the options out there it can be hard to make a choice.
I, like many of you, was late to join the roto-molded cooler revolution. I had a pretty healthy collection of your standard $40-100 coolers from years of fishing, hunting, and camping. Those coolers did the job as long as I had the ability to buy a few bags of ice every other day or so. I was content with them as the sticker shock of these roto-mold coolers was just something that I could not get over. Sure, I wanted to check them out, but real life often times gets in the way of “wants” and so it was not a reality for me until this past summer.
I got this idea to try and do a comparative review. This was a bit different than the reviews of the past. When I chose to do this I wanted to keep the coolers as close to apples to apples as possible so I settled on the 85-105 quart range. This was the best range that I could find that put some of the big dogs to the test. The 3 cooler brands that I will be looking at for this review are the Orion 85, Yeti 105, and the Canyon Cooler’s Prospector 103. What this test really came down to was trying to put large family size coolers to the ice retention test.
So, the first cooler I want to explore is the Orion 85. As the picture above shows this is one neat looking cooler. I know looks are not everything, but they certainly help draw you in. The Orion coolers have a very unique look and a wide verity of color options to choose from. Orion also has some very cool features to complement their amazing appearance.
The first feature is not necessarily something that is openly visible but the 2.75’’ of insulation are going to make sure that your items stay as cold as possible for as long as possible.
The handles on the Orion cooler are simply outstanding. They are large and seemingly very sturdy. The rubber composite is textured providing excellent grip when under stress from holding heavy weight.
The latches are not only simple and stylish but very functional. I very much appreciate a handle that is not a pain to open. Sometimes you just want to get into a cooler without a struggle and this great design is going to allow that.
The lid to the Orion 85 comes equipped with a standing pad for traction and it also doubles as a nice pad while sitting on the cooler.
Some additional features that you might find appealing are the multipurpose corner protectors/tie downs and bottle openers. These thing will keep your cooler secure while helping to pop the top on a cold one. Another feature is the YakAttack track system that allows for the attachment of a myriad of accessories.
The Basket on the Orion is the only area that I would like to see a little more work go into. It can be a little bit of a bear to get it to fin into the slot after it gets warm. I set the basket out while filling the cooler and when I heated up it must have expanded slightly making it a little difficult to get back into the cooler.
In the next few photographs you will see the Ice retention test results. I did these in 6 day increments as that was the best way to actually show the melt. Unfortunately I had a mishap with my phone for the 12 day photos and so we have 1, 6, and 18 days.
I really think this is one of the best coolers that I have ever used. It is made in the USA and has a lifetime Warranty.
Canyon Coolers Prospector 103
The next cooler was the Canyon Coolers Prospector 103. This thing is pretty dang impressive. The first thing you might notice is the sandy color. I love the color of this cooler as well. There is something to be said for a cooler that hides the dirt. Yes, I know that dirt does not have anything to do with functionality but I just like that I can’t see it. The UV resistant shell protects the 2.76-3’’ of insulating Huntsman High Density foam that is the pride and joy of this cooler. These two components pair up and do their job very well.
The handles on The Prospector are ergonomic and feel comfortable in the hand. The rope is long enough that you can hold the cooler without feeling like you are over stretched. This makes moving the cooler a lot more comfortable though it can be a real bear as it holds 100lb’s of ice with ease and it certainly going to be best suited for team lifting.
The latches on this cooler are simply fantastic. I love that they are both strong and simple. They open with almost no effort and make accessing the cooler a real breeze.
One of the coolest things about this cooler is the molded cut out areas for straps. There are more than enough for just about any configuration. We are talking front, back, and sides, if you cannot find a way to secure this cooler you need to consider a new hobby.
You will also notice that there are areas for locking the cooler. This prevents theft of the cooler and its contents from both people and bears.
The basket and drain features are possibly the most unique and interesting of any cooler I have tested. The basket is seemingly standard until you turn it and realize that it can fit in the cooler two different ways allowing for change of depth.
The drain system is simply outstanding! The Prospector allows for draining from two separate drain plugs. They are organized in such a way as to allow for access in almost any situation.
The Prospector is backed by a Lifetime Warrantee against manufacture defects and workmanship. Aside from the polyethylene shell, which is made in Thailand, the Prospector is made in the USA. I really have grown to love this cooler and think it is a fantastic addition to any outdoorsman’s kit.
In the next few photographs you will see the ice retention test results. I did these in 6 day increments as that was the best way to actually show the melt off. Unfortunately I had a mishap with my phone for the 12 day photos and so we have 1, 6, and 18 days.
The YETI Tundra 105 is a representation of what has long been thought to be the standard in the roto-molded cooler world. The name Yeti has now become common place and it essentially the Nike of the cooler world. Their reputation is not to be taken lightly and the performance of these great cooler has long be raved about in the outdoor world. While I think the bear testing is a little silly for 90% of us I do think it was a great marketing strategy and seems to have worked wonderfully.
So, it should go without saying that the Yeti 105 is bear resistant.
I previously tested a YETI Tundra 65 which we drove a jeep onto during testing. So, I know that I can confidently say that these YETI Tundra’s are tough as nails! They offer a very competitive UV resistant coating that holds the 2’’ of PERMAFROST INSULATION. Here is a picture from the Tundra 65 test.
The YETI 105 is a bit different. YETI made this guy a little taller than the other coolers and shortened the overall length a bit. This was done to create a cooler that allows for some space saving in the raft or truck bed. With the additional head room you can stack your items and still have room for a layer of ice on top.
The Yeti Lid is held by two metal pins and is well made and feels very sturdy. The lid is held down by two rubber latches that do a great job but are far more cumbersome to deal with than the other two coolers tested. This is especially evident in areas that do not offer much space. It can be difficult to get the leverage needed to open these latches.
As I said in my review of the Tundra 65 I have a love hate relationship with the rubber BEARFOOT NON-SLIP FEET as they are great for making sure the cooler stays put but can make it a real “bear” to move. That said they do a great job making sure the cooler stays put while riding in the back of the truck. Just don’t expect to slide it around with ease.
The drain plug on this cooler is sufficient and well-constructed. I like that it can drain without being completely taken out, because in the event that you want to drain the cooler quickly, the plug can be fully removed. My method for making sure that I don’t lose the plug is to throw it inside the cooler as soon as I take it out. Just a helpful hint I thought I would add.
The handles on the Yeti are well designed and allow for relatively easy transport. I say relatively, because this thing is heavy when it’s full of ice, but I would not really change anything with the handles as they seem to do a fine job.
Overall the YETI Tundra 105 performed at the excellent level that you would expect from such a popular company. The ice retention below shows that it is more than capable of being a great camping cooler and will keep your items cold for days on end.
In the next few photographs, you will see the Ice retention test results. I did these in 6 day increments as that was the best way to actually show the melt. Unfortunately I had a mishap with my phone for the 12 day photos and so we have 1, 6, and 18 days.
In closing, what I found is that all 3 of these coolers seemed to hold ice for at least 2 weeks in a daytime average of 70-80 degree temperatures. I feel that the bear rating is a great marketing tool but is essentially just that, a marketing tool, and not necessarily something that is a concern for most of us. While these coolers all do a fantastic job of holding ice there are some small things that set them apart.
When rating these coolers it really comes down to the features that I feel will be the most useful. Bells and whistles are cool, but if you don’t use them they are not worth the money. In the case of the three coolers tested here this was a very difficult choice to make. Honestly, I had a hard time choosing between the Orion and the Canyon Coolers, alas, a choice had to be made.
1) On the Orion 85 I love the bottle opener, rail system, latches, and tie down options. I am a big fan of the standing pad on top as it also doubles as a pretty comfortable seat. The color options on this cooler are out of this world and unlike any others I have seen. The Orion 85 also had fantastic Ice retention. Lifetime warrantee and made in the USA!
2) Canyon Coolers Prospector 103 is a fantastic cooler and its dual drain system, double depth internal basket, and ample tie down points made it a real competitor. The internal basket and dual drain system are just so useful and innovative I am in love with them. Pair those with the great lid latches and it was a very tough choice. Lifetime warranty, made in USA and Thailand.
3) The YETI Tundra 105 came in third as I just could not give it the edge above coolers with similar ice retention and more features. The YETI has less tie down points, more cumbersome latches, and its ice retention was slightly less than the Orion. The 5 year limited warranty is great but certainly not as good as lifetime. These coolers are made in the USA and Philippines.
Price range order:
1) Canyon Cooler Prospector 103- $410
2) YETI Tundra 105- $479
3) Orion 85-$549
This was a very difficult choice indeed. That said, my overall choice is the Canyon Coolers Prospector 103. I really like everything about it, and though it is not made entirely in the USA, it is still a great American company. I like the warranty, price, looks, and usefulness of the dual drain and basket design. The ice retention was more than acceptable. With a price point significantly lower than the other two companies and performance that is at or above the same level, I just can’t give this spot to any other cooler. With that said, I really feel that you cannot go wrong with any of these great coolers. I hope this helped to outline some of the differences of some great coolers and helped you to make the choice that is right for you.
Find it Here:
What can they do better?
I cannot find any major changes that I would like to see with any of these coolers, but I would like to see Orion put some work into their basket. All these coolers are simply great, and I love how they all have their own little unique accessories and add-ons that seem to really give you an option that will fit your needs. In the end this is about buying the cooler you like most. I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of these great options.
These coolers are all 5 star products, So you will have to make a choice for yourself based upon personal preference.