You know OtterBox: it’s a brand that’s been in the business of protecting your $649 iPhone investment from the all-too-human tendency to drop nice things on solid pavement. But maybe you don’t know that the Colorado-based company has been in the business of protecting our stuff since 1998, when it started out as an outdoor brand making dry boxes (OtterBox still makes them; they’re relegated to the top-right corner of their website, under the menu for “Accessories”). Now, the brand is getting back to its roots and taking on the likes of Yeti with a line of burly coolers.
But what does a phone case company know about making coolers? A lot, it turns out. Rugged injection-molding and high-grade cooling technologies are integrated to bring OtterBox’s first cooler attempt straight to the top of the crowd. The Venture comes in 25-, 45- and 65-quart size options and is rated to hold ice for up to two weeks. More minute details include anti-slip rubber feet and a bottom that’s slanted just slightly enough to make draining easier. And, as you’d expect from OtterBox, this thing has been dropped from every angle and on every side to ensure that it can’t be damaged, empty or full.
But perhaps the coolest feature (crappy pun intended) of the Venture is its modular customization capability. A range of accessories subdivide the interior, elevating dry goods away from the ice, providing a cutting board surface, and adding a side table equipped with three cup holders. This customization broadens the cooler from an outdoor utility item capable of keeping a fishing expedition’s morning catch fresh til the end of the day to a lifestyle product that can support taco prep while weekend car camping.
There’s no wrong way to set up the Venture. “Being outdoors is about having fun,” says OtterBox founder Curt Richardson, “not worrying if you’re doing it the way the pros do or following a set of unwritten rules.” Yet another customization feature on the Venture is a handy clip that lets you attach OtterBox dry boxes onto the exterior of the cooler for gear storage — a useful (if not symbolic) touch that brings everything back full circle to where the brand started.
Venture 25 $250
Venture 45 $350
Venture 65 $400