What if we told you that the best hard-sided coolers don’t have to weigh a ton or cost a fortune? Would you believe that a nearly indestructible workhorse cooler weighs around ten pounds and keeps drinks cold for up to seven days?
These numbers sound impressive, and that’s because they are. And so is the attention-grabbing Rugged Road 65 V2 portable cooler, new and improved. This model’s second generation was worth the wait, so let’s check it out.
Rugged Road 65 V2: expert Key Features and Specs
- Empty weight: 13 pounds
- Outside dimensions: 27’’x 18’’x15.5’’
- Storage capacity: 65 12-ounce cans
- Gasket seal around the rim
- Blast-resistant coating
- High-density insulating core
- Sliding Divider & Snack Rack
- Lifetime warranty
How It Compares to Other Hard-Sided Portable Coolers
Unlike Yeti Tundra Haul, the portable Rugged Road 65 V2 doesn’t have wheels. On the other hand, the second iteration of the 65 model weighs three times less than the Tundra Haul.
And while Rugged Road 65 V2 weighs around the same as Yeti Roadie 24, the V2 cooler offers much more storage space and a more functional design. The same goes for the classic-looking Coleman Steel Belted Cooler, but Rugged Road 65’s improved ice retention tips the scales effortlessly.
I also compared the Rugged Road 65’s features to Igloo ECOCOOL 52, a budget-friendly model that easily beats Rugged Road price-wise. Yet, the lack of a drain plug, latches, and questionable durability make the V2 a wiser, long-lasting investment for outdoor enthusiasts.
What I Liked
- Feather-light construction
- Detachable & reversible lid
- Cavernous interior
What I Didn’t Like
- No outside pockets
- Smells a little funny at first (But it goes away)
Rock-solid Rugged Road 65: What’s New in V2?
Before diving deeper into the actual Rugged Road 65 V2 review, let’s say a word or two about the brand. After all, this Georgia-based company stepped into the scene in 2021, making it a recent addition to the coolers market.
The founder, Spencer Sutlive, dreamed of creating the ultimate outdoor cooler, but the first version of the Rugged Road 65 wasn’t good enough. That’s why people at Rugged Road Outdoors listened to their client’s feedback and introduced the V2 in late 2022.
As expected, the second iteration brought many improvements, including a gasket seal, a more durable coating, and non-sleep feet. Likewise, the company now offers a lifetime warranty, free shipping, and a 100% money-back guarantee.
If that’s not enough, the V2 version includes a sliding divider and a convenient snack rack, but we’ll get to that later.
Design & Aesthetics
Besides the overall functionality, Spencer Sutlive and his team improved this cooler’s looks by decluttering the design and streamlining the exterior. As a result, the compact Rugged Road 65 V2 hard-sided cooler is up there with the best coolers money can buy in 2023, aesthetic-wise.
Rugged Road Outdoors offers four color combinations: Polar White, Gunmetal Gray, Blue Steel, and Sahara Tan. These names are self-explanatory, but I preferred the white version because of the contrasting colors of the handles and the cooler’s body.
Another lovely detail would be the engraved Rugged Road logo on the cooler’s front, with the mountain peaks illustrating this brand’s vision and philosophy.
Weight & Build
Thanks to the patented Titan Shell construction, the ultra-light Rugged Road 65 V2 cooler weighs only around ten pounds. Yes, you’ve read that right! In other words, this hard-sided cooler comes in at half the weight of most rotomolded coolers.
If you’ve ever brought along a cooler for camping or tailgating, you’ll understand the importance of lightweight construction. An average cooler will double in weight after you pack the food, beverages, and ice cubes, so keeping the structure as light as possible is essential.
Meanwhile, the Rugged Road 65 V2 doesn’t lack sturdiness because the proprietary Rigorite spray provides incredible strength and resilience. Allegedly, this coating makes buildings bomb-proof, so I wasn’t surprised when this cooler survived a weekend of being stood on, dropped on hard floors, or banged against the car trunk.
As much as I liked the virtually indestructible Rigorite construction, this cooler’s cavernous interior blew me away. After all, you can load up to 65 12-ounce cans and still have room for ice! Believe it or not, the reinvented Rugged Road 65 cooler fits an upright wine bottle!
And even though Yeti Tundra 65 boasts up to 72 cans, the Rugged Road cooler is 16 pounds lighter and much less cumbersome. Therefore, if the goal is to load up as many drinks in the lightest possible frame—the winner is clear as day.
If you load up only ice, the Rugged Road 65’s spacious, smooth interior will hold up to 55 pounds. In any case, this lightweight beast will handle weekend getaways and multi-day adventures without hassle.
Functionality & Ease of Use
Any outdoor-oriented gear or equipment that aims to attract a large audience should focus on convenience and usability. The same goes for portable coolers; the people at Rugged Road Outdoors know this well.
That’s why they designed the V2 hard-sided cooler with a handy snack rack and an easy-to-use sliding divider. Of course, these elements might not be decision-making for all potential buyers, but they could tip the scales if you frequently tailgate or visit camping sites.
But the list of functional features doesn’t end there, given that the Rugged Road 65 V2 cooler offers two carrying options. Namely, you can choose between the integrated grip handles or the flexible dual-padded ones. Both methods are reliable and well-tested in real-life situations, so no worries about dropping the load.
Finally, let’s mention the clever KickFlip lid, a detachable element you can reverse and use as a cutting board. In addition, the detachable cooler cover features a measuring unit and four cup holders. So, your friends can position their beers securely while you slice the meat for the barbecue—a win/win situation.
The indestructible construction and spacious interior wouldn’t mean much without adequate insulation, and Rugged Road 65 V2 cooler ticks all these boxes. More precisely, this hard-sided cooler features a patented Fridgite core. This high-density layer keeps the structure ultra-thin while insulating the interior and offering up to seven days of ice retention.
Of course, you should always take the manufacturer’s numbers with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, our real-world test kept the drinks cold for three days, with the cooler occasionally under direct sunlight at 95 degrees. There was ice left to spare after the weekend, so you do the math.
The gasket seal around the rim helps with ice retention and temperature variations, and this detail also appeared in the cooler’s second iteration. Yet, given that the Rugged Road 65 V2 is a floatable hard-sided cooler, the gasket’s crucial role is preventing water from entering the interior. Moreover, this cooler always floats upright, making it ideal for lake parties and trips to the beach.
Is it Worth the Money?
Admittedly, the improved Rugged Road 65 hard-sided cooler is among the priciest on the market. Nevertheless, the asking price of $349.99 for a once-in-a-lifetime investment makes it a bargain compared to most hard-sided coolers available in 2023.
After all, this game-changing product includes an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, cutting-edge technologies, and a spectrum of outdoor-tested features that make it an invaluable adventure companion. Whether tailgating, camping, or barbecuing—Rugged Road 65 V2 cooler can handle everything!