Pelican ProGear Elite 35 QT Cooler Review

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler 35 QT

Pelican ProGear Elite Coolers retain ice for any outdoor adventure.

We got our first look at the Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler Series at The National Hardware Show. You can take a look at the video by CLICKING HERE. We recently got our hands on the 35 QT version and put it to the test. Before I jump right in, I considered the fact that quite possibly, my demographic might not be the market Pelican is aiming for, so consider that when you read my review. This cooler is pricey, so you should know all the facts before you spend over $200 on any product. Oh, and the 35 QT version that I tested is the second smallest of the series. Pelican ProGear Elite Coolers come in 7 sizes starting at 20 QT all the way up to 250 QT.

I have been a big fan of Pelican cases for all kinds of gear for a very long time. There is NO doubt they make quality products, and I’m glad to see them step into some fields like outdoor products, but as with any product there are always pros and cons.

Pelican ProGear Elite 35 QT Cooler

Testing in the Field

I originally planned to test the Pelican cooler on a recent trip to Death Valley, but when I packed up the gear, it didn’t fit in my Jeep. I normally take a small off-road trailer on trips like this, and it most likely would have been fine had that worked out, but technical difficulties squashed that idea. So instead, I used the cooler for a fire department training exercise, strapped down in the back of a fire engine. It was a bit cramped so the swing out handles got in the way. Maybe on the larger models those handles make the cooler it easier to carry but at some point the sheer weight would require some kind of cart.

Features of the Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler:

First and foremost, it has to live up to the number one claim and that is that it keeps ice for a long time. In this case, Pelican says that’s “up to 10 days”. I agree that it certainly does insulate well. I don’t doubt the Pelican cooler keeps ice as the company claims. And obviously, you some pretty hearty insulation is required to do that. The Pelican ProGear Elite 35 QT cooler measures in at 26.41″ x 20″ x 18.75″ on the outside and that gives you 15.75″ x 12″ x 11.5″ on the inside. One you’ve done the math, you’ll see that you end up having a large cooler in order to get the 35 QT capacity and keep ice that long.   But if you need that feature, there are really not many choices, if any, on the market that will make that same 7-10 day claim.

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler 35 QT

Retains ice for up to 10 days.

Creature Comforts:

We’ve already covered the most important aspect of the cooler, but here are some things that might make it more pleasant to use.

The bottom of the cooler is sloped. Since this cooler can get kind of heavy, that’s important so you don’t have to lift to drain the water.

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler 35 QT

1/2 degree slope for easy draining.

The drain plug is tethered to the cooler and is beefy and easy to use.  It’s also threaded so that you can attach a garden hose for quick draining with no mess.

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler 35 QT

Drainplug is tethered and threaded.

Two other nice features built-in tie down points, and locking ability, make this cooler good to go.

Pelican ProGear Elite cooler 35 QT

Tie-down slots make for easy mobility.

Pelican’s dual handles are molded-in and hinged. As I mentioned earlier, in my application they got a bit in the way, although for the smaller coolers like the 35 QT version, I think it does make it easier to carry to the campground or on and off a boat.

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler 35 QT

Rubber over-molded handles

About the press and pull latches: I understand what Pelican says about their latch system but, like the handles, I prefer simplicity and ease of operation. I hate to bash anything as well made at the Pelican latches are so lets just agree that in tight quarters the press and pull design can be a challenge. Others may love this feature.

Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler 35 QT

Press and pull latches and locking hasp with stainless steel plate.

Oh, and though I’m certainly glad I did not have to personally test this particular feature, Pelican ProGear Elite coolers are bear resistant and have even received a certification saying so.  Watch this video from Pelican to see what I mean.


Pelican ProGear Elite Coolers are second to none at retaining ice for long periods of time. However, the sheer size of the Pelican Elite Cooler (at least the 35 QT version) is both a blessing and a curse. If you have the space and require long-term ice retention you should get one. This is a solid product with some really nice features. But know it’s not your normal grab and go cooler. It’s much more.

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