The Fishpond Ice Storm and Blizzard Soft Coolers blend striking, rugged good looks with all-day performance, plus they come in at a surprisingly affordable price point. In fact, for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a well-built soft cooler that spans the gap between cheap department store models and pricey brands, the Fishpond Ice Storm is far and away our favorite soft cooler for the money.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Fishpond, the company produces high-quality fly fishing bags, packs and related gear. Fly fishers need coolers, of course, but then again, so does most every outdoor enthusiast who might not know Fishpond.
To get us a closer look, Fishpond sent us two waxed-canvas review units. This is what we learned:
Fishpond Ice Storm Cooler Review
Let’s start with the Fishpond Ice Storm Cooler and the two exterior fabric choices. The “Earth” brown version is made from waxed canvas while the “Yucca” green version is made from Fishpond’s Diamondtech nylon fabric. Both are very durable fabrics, but I have to say, the waxed-brown version is just awesome. It looks fantastic and boasts old-school vibes yet the whole cooler maintains a modern design sensibility. Very nice — and no one is going to mistake it for everyone else’s plasticy soft cooler.
How big is it? How is it constructed?
The cooler measures 19″ x 11″ x 11.5″ and offers 2400 cubic inches of space. If you wanted to, you could stuff it with up to 60 cans, but that wouldn’t leave any room for ice. The fact is, the more ice you have in relation to your beverages and food, the longer the beverages and food will stay cold. All you have to do is figure out where you’re going, how long you’re going to be out there, what sort of temperatures you’ll be facing . . . and pack your cooler accordingly.
Side note: If you’re willing to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, a.k.a. PBR, the cans freeze with excellent rates of success. Same goes for juice boxes, of course.
The interior liner is sealed together making it waterproof up to the zipper, which is not waterproof. This is actually great for usability because zipping and unzipping the Ice Storm is a breeze (waterproof zippers are usually harder to zip). Either way, the Fishpond Ice Storm is not tippy — the Ice Storm has a nifty molded bottom that makes the cooler very stable.
As for ice retention, all of that depends on how you use and load it and access it. In our experience, you can load this cooler up with plenty of ice and it’ll push two days without much trouble. But again, that depends on direct sun, how often you open it up and how much ice you started with. If you throw barely chilled cans or bottles in there and fill with ice, you’ll melt a lot of ice just bringing your beverages down to 35 degrees or so. Basically, it’s a well-built soft cooler with about an inch of insulation all around. While you can stretch it past two days with smart planning, we usually just shift to a hard-side cooler with more insulation and more ice when we’re planning to be gone for three or more days.
As for carrying, you get a shoulder strap, as well as carry straps over the middle as well as two side straps, which are great for when you have overloaded the cooler and are trying to carry it over rocky, uneven ground. In addition, Fishpond includes lash loops so you can strap it down on a boat, vehicle or ATV.
The Ice Storm has two exterior pockets for odds and ends like a cutting board, utensils or a bottle opener.
What does this all add up to? The waxed-canvas Fishpond Ice Storm is one of our all-time favorite soft coolers. It’ll be a sad day here when we ship the review unit back to Fishpond.
Fishpond Blizzard Soft Cooler Review
The Fishpond Blizzard Soft Cooler is constructed of the same materials as its larger Ice Storm sibling. The key difference is the size. The Blizzard measures in at 11.5″ x 9″ x 10″ with 1,035 cubic inches of space. It’ll comfortably hold 18 cans (without ice, of course). For short trips, we’ll throw in an ice pack or two and jam it full of beverages out of the refrigerator and call it good. For all-day use on the river, we suffer through less beverages and more ice. Pretty straightforward — the insulation levels are similar to what you get with the Ice Storm.
There is one super-cool feature, though, and that’s the quick access hatch in the top lid. You can pop this hatch open and nab a drink without needing to unzip and open the entire lid (which would introduce more heat to the inside of the cooler). Is this feature really going to save your ice? A little, but that’s not the main point: The quick access hatch is undeniably handy. We’re big fans.
As for size, the Blizzard is small enough to make a decent lunchbox cooler but large enough to get you through a full day of fishing and still share a couple drinks with your buddy.
Fishpond Ice Storm & Blizzard Soft Coolers Review: The Verdict
All-in-all, Fishpond has created a line of soft coolers that are rugged-yet-affordable. The waxed canvas delivers refined good looks without breaking your budget, while the Yucca versions offer a sleeker look if waxed canvas just isn’t your vibe. Both models are great for anglers and hunters and can easily transition to the beach. When it comes to versatility, usability and cost-to-value ratios, Fishpond has nailed it with its Ice Storm and Blizzard Soft Coolers. Very highly recommended.