Pelican coolers are a well respected brand that make extremely high-quality products and their soft sided line of coolers lives up to their repuation.
Pelican soft sided coolers are some of the most robust and durable soft sided coolers on the market. They are also light and portable and can hold ice for 1-3 days. They have extra features when compared to other soft sided coolers and come with a 3-year warranty.
In this Pelican soft sided cooler review we'll look at the full range of Pelican soft sided coolers in detail. We'll look at their build quality, ice retention, their features and colors and most importantly whether or not they are worth the money.
A Premium Cooler For a Premium Price
Pelican soft sided coolers don't come cheap, they are a premium cooler with a premium price tag. So I want to start this review by talking about whether or not they are worth the money.
Pelican soft coolers are up there as some of the most expensive soft sided coolers on the market.
They offer a slight discount on Yeti, who is the most popular brand, but they are more expensive than other high-end soft sided coolers like Engel, RTIC and Grizzly.
Below we'll compare the prices of Pelican soft sided coolers to Yeti and other brands but first lets answer the question:
Are Pelican soft sided coolers worth the price tag?
If you have the money then yes they are worth it. They are extremely durable and will last you years, they are heavily insulated and can keep ice 1-3 days (similar to Yeti). They have more features than other major competitors, the design is awesome and they are backed by a 3-year warranty.
Below you can see a comparison between the Pelican coolers and the similar sized Yeti soft sided coolers. As you'll see the pricing is pretty close with Pelican products being slightly cheaper than Yeti for just as good quality.
You can click the price links below to see the listings on Amazon. They are my affiliate links so if you buy through that I get a small commission.
Pelican Soft Coolers vs Yeti Hopper Price: Which Is Cheaper?
Pelican Soft Coolers
Pelican Backpack Cooler:
Yeti Hopper Flip 8:
Yeti Hopper Flip 12:
Yeti Hopper Flip 18:
Yeti Hopper M30:
Yeti BackFlip 24:
As you can see they are a little bit cheaper than Yeti but not by a great margin.
Now I want to compare just the Pelican soft sided coolers to the major competing brands that aren't Yeti.
Brands like Engel (arguably the best soft sided cooler), RTIC, Grizzly and Ozark Trail (which is cheap but has questionable build quality.
See the difference in pricing below to get an idea of where Pelican is at:
Pelican Soft Coolers vs RTIC, Engel, Grizzly, Ozark Trail & Tourit Price
Pelican Soft Coolers
Pelican Backpack Cooler:
RTIC Soft Pack 8:
Grizzly Drifter 12:
Ozark Trail 30-Can Soft Cooler:
Tourit Backpack Cooler:
As you can see from the above comparison chart Pelican coolers are more expensive than every other major soft sided cooler competitor – other than Yeti.
So you need to decide if you want to spend the money on a P
3 Different Form Factors – 5 Different Sizes
Pelican soft sided coolers come in 3 distinct form factors and 5 overall sizes.
The Pelican Sling is a tall and skinny cooler with a small 9-can capacity. It comes in 2 colors tan and grey
Pelican SC Coolers
These coolers are a more boxy rectangular shape and come in 3 different sizes:
- Pelican SC12 – 12-can capacity
- Pelican SC24 – 24-can capacity
- Pelican SC48 – 48-can capacity
Pelican Backpack Cooler
This is a dual compartment backpack cooler with a zipper in the middle to access the bottom compartment and a roll down top for the upper compartment.
Solid Ice Retention…For A Soft Sided Cooler
Pelican soft sided coolers have solid ice retention and can hold ice for approximately 1-3 days depending on the conditions and how much ice you have in them.
This video from Rizknowns shows two separate ice tests where they put the Pelican cooler head to head against the Yeti Hopper Flip cooler, which is another high-quality soft sided cooler.
Their test showed the smallest sized Pelican cooler keep ice for about 1.5 days when 50% full of ice. Obviously the more ice in your cooler the longer it will last.
This is up there with the best soft sided coolers like Yeti.
One of the downsides of the Pelican SC12, SC24 and SC48 is that they only come in black. Black retains more heat from the run and this poorly affects ice retention.
It would be great if they offered lighter colors like they do for the Pelican Sling and the Backpack but it would only really give you an extra few hours of ice retention so it's not a huge deal.
There are some 1-star reviews on Amazon with customers saying that their Pelican struggles to hold ice for very long. However, this is common with all high-end coolers as they need to be pre-chilled in order to work most effectively.
For the ultimate ice retention of any soft sided cooler you have to check out the Engel HD30 which can hold ice 4.5+ days. Click here to read my full Engel HD30 review, amazingly it's even cheaper than the Pelican coolers.
The Pelican coolers are up there as some of the most durable soft-sided coolers on the market.
They are made with heavy duty 840-denier nylon which is TPU laminated to make it waterproof as well as scratch, tear and puncture resistant.
The seams are also RF welded together to add extra strength and durability and to stop the seams from fraying or tearing.
These coolers are also backed by a 3-year warranty, so if anything does happen to them in that time period you can get them fixed or replaced free of charge.
The zipper is waterproof but also strong and long lasting. It does require lubrication though to ensure it opens and closes smoothly and doesn't break.
Some other competing soft sided coolers like the RTIC Soft Pack are cheaper in price but also cheaper in quality and more prone to seams, zipper and the fabric breaking. Pelican doesn't suffer from these issues and is a reliable soft sided cooler.
Packed With Features
The Pelican soft coolers are packed with high-end features that you would expect in a high-end cooler. They have also added some handy additional features that other soft-sided coolers like Yeti don't have.
Leak Proof Zipper
The Pelican has a sturdy leak proof zipper that is 100% watertight. When closed this zipper won't let any water out or in.
They aren't the easiest zippers to open and close and they do require some force to use, but it's worth it to know that if your cooler gets knocked upside down in the car (or anywhere else) no water will leak out.
These zippers do require lubricant to work smoothly otherwise they have a tendency to get stuck and break.
When you arrive at your destination and are accessing your cooler regularly then the Pelican SC line of coolers has buckles on the lids that you use to keep the lid on without having to open and close the zipper everytime you want to use the cooler.
The buckles also add some extra security to the lid when travelling.
However, seeing the buckles in action I question how useful they actually are and how much ice retention they actually add. It's not that different from simply closing the lid and not doing up the zipper.
External Zipper Pocket
Pelican coolers also have an external zipper pocket for storing small items you don't want to get wet or cold inside the main body of the cooler.
The pocket is weather resistant but it isn't completely waterproof (if you drop your cooler in a lake or something). It's a small pocket and is quite tight but it's large enough to fit your phone or wallet or keys.
The backpack has an expandable pocket that has a lot more space for items.
All these coolers, except the Backpack cooler, come with a detachable shoulder strap that makes it easy to carry your cooler and keep your hands free.
The strap is padded and comfortable to wear, however with the larger sizes when they are completely full it can be quite heavy on your shoulder.
You can wrap the strap around your body (the Pelican Sling is designed perfectly for this) or carry it on the side. It's really personal preference what is most comfortable.
All of the Pelican coolers, with the exception of the SC12, have carry handles for single or dual hand carrying.
- Pelican Sling – Single carry handle on the side
- SC24 + SC48 – Dual side carry handles
- Pelican BackPack – Top and front carry handle.
Exterior Loops For Attachments
Tie Down Straps
There are 2 tie down straps on the front of the cooler that are stainless steel and also double as bottle openers.
Then there are 2 tie down straps at the back of the cooler that are made of a heavy-duty plastic.
This allows you to tie down your cooler to your car, van, truck or boat so it won't slide around or flip over while transporting it.
Built In Bottle Opener
Backed By a 3-Year Warranty
Pelican offers a 3-year limited warranty on their coolers and unlike Ozark Trail there aren't lots of horrible reports about their customer service.
So if anything happens to your cooler in the first 3 years – like the zipper breaking, seams ripping, insulation coming out or anything not working as it should then you can get in contact with Pelican and they should fix or replace your cooler for you.
This is the same warranty that Yeti offers on their coolers and is better than brands like RTIC and Engel that only offer a 1 year warranty.
Alternatives To The Pelican Soft Sided Coolers
If the Pelican isn't exactly right for you or maybe you just want to do some more research to make sure you're buying the right cooler then below are some of the best alternatives to the Pelican soft coolers.
Yeti Hopper Coolers: Biggest Brand
The Yeti Hopper is the biggest brand in the high-end cooler market as they pioneered the industry back in 2006.
Yeti released their first soft sided cooler in 2014 and now have multiple sizes and form factors.
The build quality and ice retention is just as good as Pelican and Yeti are a brand you can trust.
Or click my affiliate link below to see the latest prices and size options of Yeti soft sided coolers at Amazon:
RTIC Soft Pack Coolers: Value For Money
RTIC Coolers are similar to Yeti and Pelican but have better ice retention because they have more insulation and they sell for a fraction of the price.
The downside to RTIC coolers is that they aren't as durable as Pelican or Yeti. The zipper, seams and the exterior fabric is more likely to wear down and break over time.
Still, they are so much cheaper and you could save over $100 by going with RTIC.
Engel HD30 Soft Cooler: Best Ice Retention
The Engel HD30 is hands-down the best cooler at keeping ice. In my full Engel review you'll see how it can keep ice for up to 4.5 days!
The durability on this cooler is equal to that of Pelican and YETI. The major downsides are that it only comes in 1 large size and personally I'm not the hugest fan of the design.
But otherwise this cooler is actually amazing and packs some really cool features and ice retention technology. It performs so much better than other soft sided coolers.
Should You Buy a Pelican Soft Sided Cooler?
With some other great options out there should you buy a Pelican soft sided cooler?
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and what you want from a soft sided cooler.
I like that Pelican is cheaper than Yeti but offers a similar form factor and also has more features than Yeti.
I also like that Pelican haven't compromised on quality or durability and that they offer a 3-year warranty and that this is a cooler I can trust.
It's up to you if you want to buy one of these or a different brand. But I do think these are great coolers and if you buy one you'll likely be very happy with it for years to come.