K2 coolers are tough roto-moulded coolers that keep ice for days. It is a well priced and high performing cooler that, when compared to competitors, really shows it's value.
In this K2 cooler review we will look at the K2 summit series to determine if it’s a good cooler to buy over other similar options.
We will go in depth into the different features of the K2 coolers and look at what makes it a good cooler and what problems or setbacks it has.
What To Look For In A Cooler
Before we get into this K2 cooler review it’s important to talk about what exactly to look for it a cooler.
Exactly what you want/need will depend on your circumstances but there are generally a few things to look out for. These are the measures I use to compare cooler brands (see my K2 vs Yeti article) and to determine how good a cooler is.
Price – The first thing I always look at is price. Most people want to get the best cooler for their dollar so price plays an important role. Is K2 cheaper or more expensive than other models?
Ice Retention – It’s often worth paying a premium for high end coolers because they can keep ice for 5-7+ days instead of the 1-2 days of an ordinary cooler. So it’s important to choose a cooler that has premium ice retention.
Durability and Warranty – You want your cooler to last you a lifetime so we will look into common issues and how durable the cooler is.
Customer Satisfaction – A lot of little issues or problems only come to the surface by trawling customer reviews.
Features – This is everything from the types or latches and handles all the way through to color options and whether or not the cooler is bear proof.
Accessories – Accessories can add a lot of functionality to your cooler. We’ll look at the range of accessories available as well as the price compared to other models.
K2 Pricing Review
Let’s start by looking at the K2 cooler pricing vs other coolers that are similar.
There are 10+ brands of roto-moulded coolers with new options coming to the market every single year. The main brands currently are Yeti, Pelican, Engel, Siberian, K2, Coleman Xtreme, Orca, Grizzly, Yukon, Canyon and Sportsman. There are a few other lesser known brands, but this list compiles all the main brands in roto-moulded coolers.
The chart below lists the pricing for each of these coolers around the 30-50 Quart mark which tends to be the most popular size. For full pricing on every make and model check out my Ultimate Cooler Comparison Guide.
K2 30 – $249
Siberian Outback 30 – $219
Pelican 30 – $299.95
Canyon 35 – $239.99
Engel 35 – $269.99
Yeti 45 – $349.00
Igloo Sportsman 40 – $219.99
Orca 40 – $349
Grizzly 40 – $339.99
As you can see the K2 is in the middle range of pricing. It isn’t the cheapest roto-moulded cooler but it also isn’t the most expensive.
You’ll save roughly $100 buying a K2 cooler over the most popular brand Yeti, but you’ll pay an extra $30 when compared the the lesser known Siberian Outback.
There isn’t a huge price difference between the coolers like Yeti but cheaper and the K2 doesn’t feel overpriced at all to me. I’m not a guy who likes to buy the cheapest cooler, but I also like to avoid overpaying for something if I can avoid it.
So for me the K2 cooler feel fairly priced when compared to a variety of other models and it offers a significant saving when compared to the “big brand” coolers like Yeti, Grizzly and Orca.
When buying an expensive cooler like the K2 you want to make sure it can retain ice for a long period of time.
The best way to assess this is through the use of an ice test. This is where you test the cooler against other similar coolers (or a regular cooler) and see which one comes out on top.
Luckily for you there are a few ice tests out there for the K2 cooler and I am happy to say that it gets really good results.
While not the absolute best at retaining ice (that award goes to the Orca) it is right up there with some of the best coolers on the market.
The K2 50 has been shown to outperform the Yeti 45, Pelican 45, Grizzly 40, Igloo Sportsman 40 and Siberian Classic 40.
The Engel 50 outlasted it by ¼ of a day and the Orca 58 beat it by less than 24 hours.
I say all this to say that from all the ice test challenges I have seen the K2 holds it’s own against the biggest brands in cooler and outperforms a lot of them.
If you choose a K2 then you are going to get amazing ice retention.
Durability and Warranty
The construction on the K2 cooler is impressive. Roto-moulded using the same plastic they use to make kiyaks this cooler can withstand a beating and won’t crack even under high impact hits.
You can throw it around, jump on it, drop it and heck even pull it behind your quad-bike for half an hour if you wanted to and it’ll handle the beating (see below video).
The K2 cooler is built to last and buying this cooler you can be assured that you are going to get something that is going to last.
The K2 summit series comes with a 7-Year warranty. This beats out the Yeti’s 5-Year warranty but isn’t as good as many brands (like Canyon, Orca, Pelican and Engel) who offer lifetime warranties on their coolers.
It seems pretty insane to get a lifetime warranty on a cooler, and 40 years down the track redeeming your warranty might become difficult.
So all in all I think a 7-Year warranty is more that fair and is likely more than what needs considering the price.
The K2 summit series comes loaded up with a whole bunch of features you’re sure to love.
Pull up latches – The K2 cooler has rubber latches like most models but it is the only model with pull up instead of pull down latches. This is a unique way to keep the lid tight and I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about it.
Really it’s not a big deal. They do the job fine and are easy enough to use.
Commercial Grade Gasket – The K2 cooler keeps the cold air in and the warm air out with the help of a commercial grade rubber gasket in the lid.
This is one of the things that allows the K2 to perform so highly in ice tests when compared to regular coolers. Regular coolers have no gasket and thus often have some airflow in and out of the cooler, melting the ice quicker.
2+ Inches of Insulation – The K2 is packed with pressure foam insulation which both works to keep the cooler strong and acts as the insulation.
With walls that are 1.5-2 inches thick and an even thicker lid you know the K2 is going to get great ice retention.
While not the thickest insulation in the industry it is right up there and as previously discussed it obviously performs really well.
Non-Slip Rubber Feet – All K2 coolers have non-slip rubber feet on the bottom. This will stop your cooler sliding around in your truck if you slam on the breaks or take a corner too quickly and also make the cooler great for casting off on your boat.
You don’t need to stress about your cooler sliding around. These non-slip feet really work.
For those of you who would prefer slippy feet you can buy them separately and they are really easy to install.
Single Pin Hinge – On cheaper coolers the hinges are one of the first things to break. Either the plastic breaks down through overuse or sunlight or the hinges get rusty and old.
The K2 uses a single stainless steel pin that connects the lid to the base of the cooler. This means you have intense strength in your hinge that is likely to last just as long as the cooler itself.
Drain Plug – The drain plug on the K2 coolers have the ability to drain the cooler even with just a partial turn. This means you can drain your cooler without ever having to worry about where you put your drain plug.
You can completely pull the drain plug out if you want to drain your cooler faster.
Rope Handles – The K2 cooler has nylon rope handles similar to that of the Yeti. The K2 has a moulded plastic grip with finger moulds.
Personally I prefer a round rubber grip as I can hold it anywhere and don’t have to put my fingers in a particular spot, but the K2 grips work fine and aren’t worth seriously complaining about.
Integrated Handles – A nice feature that the K2 has is integrated handles that are moulded into the main cooler. I love this and find it way easier to carry the cooler this way when I’m by myself.
Rope handles tend to sway a bit when you walk and integrated handles just make me feel more secure when carrying my cooler.
Anchor Points – The K2 cooler has 2 anchor points which can be used to lock you cooler in place in your car or truck and ensure that it doesn’t move around. They also act as spots to added extra accessories (which we will talk about shortly) which is a nice feature.
When reviewing any cooler it’s important to look at what existing customers say about their experiences. This can uncover flaws you otherwise didn’t know existed or even reveal the best buying techniques.
After reading through over 100 customer reviews on multiple different models here are my key takeaways:
Of the critical reviews only 2 of them mentioned product defaults. One person had a broken handle and one person’s cooler came with marks and scratches on it.
The majority of the complaints around this cooler was on ice retention. The 20-Quart size had the most issues around ice retention and it appears you’ll be lucky to keep ice 3 days in the smaller cooler but the larger sizes seemed to have less complaints about this.
There are ways to keep your cooler colder for longer and it’s unclear if the people writing these reviews are using their cooler in such a way that they will get the best ice retention.
Some people complained that a standard $30 cooler could keep ice longer but every ice test I’ve seen or done myself tells me otherwise.
So all in all a solid 4-4.5 rating for the K2 range (rating varies depending on size) with the majority of customers loving their coolers and very few obviously defaults of flaws that I could pick out.
The last thing I like to look at when reviewing a cooler is what accessories they have that I can use to customize my cooler to my liking.
While the K2 cooler doesn’t break any ground with their accessories they do have a decent line of accessories that are somewhat fairly priced (maybe slightly overpriced, but not by too much).
A bottle opener will set you back $25 and a seat will cost you $100. They also have padlocks, tie down kits, ice bricks, dividers, baskets and more.
All in all it’s a decent accessory range that allows you to slightly customize your cooler if you so desire.
Problems With K2 Coolers
No cooler is perfect and while the K2 is great it does have a couple of issues.
Molded plastic grips – I’ve already mentioned these but I’m not a big fan of the moulded plastic grips. Having to set your hands perfectly before you pick it up may sound like a little nuance but once you start carrying this thing around a lot it gets annoying
No bottle opener – Something I love about the Engel is that the latches double as bottle openers. The K2 doesn’t have a built in bottle opener and you’re going to have to dish out $25 or so to buy one that will fit into your cooler.
Build quality not as high as Yeti (but close) – Yeti has really set the standard with build quality, churning out pristine products with a premium feel to them. Don’t get me wrong, K2 are built to an extremely high standard and after a day or two you won’t notice the difference, but I thought it would be worth mentioning.
No drainage plug on Summit 20 – For some odd reason the Summit 20 doesn’t have a drainage plug. This is annoying when you want to drain some water but not the entirety of your cooler. I don’t know why they didn’t put this in.
K2 Cooler Review Conclusion
In review the K2 cooler is a great cooler. It has exceptional ice retention that has been proven over multiple ice tests.
It is priced well for the market, not being the cheapest cooler but being around $100 cheaper than the expensive coolers like Yeti.
By buying a K2 cooler you’re going to get a robust cooler that will hold ice for almost a week and you’re going to get the security of a 7-year guarantee.
All in all I think this is a great cooler and if you decide on K2 then you’ll likely be really happy with your purchase.
I hope this K2 cooler review helped you. If you’re interested in purchasing the K2 then simply pick your favourite size from the links below to be taken to Amazon, where you can get a great price plus free shipping.