I don't know what it is about fishing, but I always seem to get hungry and thirsty very quickly. Even if I'm not moving around a whole lot or doing anything particularly strenuous, several brief food and drink breaks are often required. Maybe it's just being outdoors and on the water that has some mental effect on me, but whatever it is, having a good cooler on-hand with some thirst-quenching and tasty items inside is typically a must. If the fishing is particularly slow, this is even MORE important!
I've never owned what I'd call a "premium" cooler. For years, budget-friendly $10 soft-sided coolers have been my go-to choices because, well, they're cheap and do a fair job of keeping things chilled. They have always been on the small side which is great for portability, but they lack interior room and the quality is nothing noteworthy.
Since I lack experience with coolers from the higher-end of the spectrum, when Fishpond offered to send out one of their Blizzard Soft Sided Coolers for a quick review I jumped at the chance. With the temperature and humidity already climbing as summer encroaches, this is a great time of year for testing!
Exterior Material: 16-ounce waxed canvas/Cyclepond interior lining
Dimensions: 11.5" x 9" x 10"
Capacity: 1,035 cubic inches / rated up to 18 beverage cans
Shoulder Strap/Carry Handles: Yes/Yes
Rigid Bottom: Yes
Anything I've encountered that wears a Fishpond logo has been of outstanding quality, and this cooler isn't any different. The brown waxed-canvas exterior fabric is really classy and wouldn't look out-of-place at, say, a baseball game or picnic at the local park. On a random note, the fabric also smells really nice, too! Inside, there's multi-layer insulation and a tough dark-grey lining made from recycled Cyclepond fabric (sourced from old fishing nets) that's waterproof/leakproof—ideal for damp stuff like ice or ice packs.
Both inside and outside, the stitching is clean and tight. No defects were to be found and various parts of the cooler withstood firm tugs and pulls to test strength. The bottom of the cooler sports a firm, flat, waterproof molded bottom boasting a grey color and large "FP" logo right smack in the center.
Though not as big as the Fishpond Ice Storm cooler ($99.95), the Blizzard has plenty of space for an ample amount of various necessities and goodies. In fact, Fishpond states that it can handle up to 18 beverage cans. Unfortunately, at home I didn't have nearly that amount of cans on-hand, but luckily I was able to grab some and found the rated can capacity of 18 was correct, but in a pinch it can actually hold 20 cans while still being able to be zipped up!
Some other handy features not yet mentioned include a removable shoulder strap, one small carry handle on each side, large front velcro pocket, large rear zippered pocket, and small front accessory loop. The front pocket opens nicely thanks to the fabric tab and not-too-much velcro, while the rear pocket's zipper works smoothly and fluidly. The included detachable shoulder strap is a nice size, feels comfy, and can be unclipped quickly.
An interesting standout feature is the top access port which opens easily and provides an effective seal when closed to trap coldness inside. This small door flips back to reveal a can-sized opening for ultra-fast grab-n-go convenience. It should be noted, however, that it is not a waterproof seal. When tested under a direct, modest stream of water, a fair amount of water found its way inside the cooler, so keep that in mind if it starts raining.
In my eyes, two minor things could improve slightly. One, is the carry handles on the sides could be just a tad longer. Second, when unzipping the top of the cooler, these same side handles and the interior fabric can interfere with the zipper a bit making it work slightly less-fluidly along the sides of the cooler.
I decided to run a little non-scientific ice test one hot, sunny day. At 8:30 in the morning with temps already pushing 80F, I filled just the bottom of the Blizzard with fresh ice, zipped it up, and set it down on concrete in the direct sun. With the pavement getting hot and a forecasted afternoon high temp of about 92F degrees, I figured this was about as extreme as I could achieve during the test period.
I didn't spend my whole day checking on the ice hourly, but did give it a few looks to keep tabs on the melting progress. Three hours later at 11:30AM, the ice still appeared very fresh. At about 2:15PM, the ice was still in very good condition but it wasn't quite like new anymore. By around 5 or so, the ice had turned into a frigid pool of water. Since I can't say for sure exactly when the ice completely liquified, I'll take an educated guess that it probably remained usable for a good 7 to 8 hours total—pretty solid for sitting on hot pavement under intense, direct Florida sunlight.
Durability-wise, I already mentioned earlier that the joints and stitching were all tight and strong, but how rugged do the actual materials seem? The waxed-canvas fabric and interior lining are definitely both tough and should withstand tons of typical usage. The outer waxed canvas will show marks when, for instance, a fingernail is lightly scraped against it, but I found simply rubbing these self-inflicted marks with my finger made them pretty much disappear. Underneath, the waterproof molded bottom isn't rock hard, so I wouldn't expect it to remain in mint condition forever depending on what kind of treatment you dish out.
Photo Courtesy of Fishpond
If you're tired of the same old boring coolers, the Fishpond Blizzard Soft Cooler is something refreshing. It blends high-quality construction and admirable performance, all wrapped-up in a very classy and very attractive appearance that looks good from the drift boat to the city park. With that said, if the looks aren't quite your thing, fear not, because the Blizzard is also offered with Fishpond's Diamondback Nylon exterior (shown above) in the "Yucca" color scheme for a slightly-cheaper price of $69.95.
Interested in a Fishpond Blizzard Cooler?