Born in Florida, Calcutta is a brand that managed to build up quite a reputation in such a brief period of time. Indeed, the brand at hand was conceived in a bait & tackle shop with the sole purpose of developing essential tools for outdoor lovers.
Being in a market of big sharks, Calcutta is definitely hard to spot, especially since it is relatively younger. In that respect, this brand is around 25 years old and that sounds like enough time to master a product. However, there are a few things that push Calcutta to stand out when compared to other brands.
In fact, Calcutta is not just a cooler brand but also an ambassador that invests in the outdoors & those passionate about it in all shapes and forms. Whether you’re looking for snorkelling gear or a pair of hip boots, you will find your match in their catalogue.
Nonetheless, in this Calcutta coolers review, we will only highlight the brand’s arsenal of coolers in order to give you a clear idea about what to expect in terms of practicality, performance and build quality.
Calcutta Coolers Compared
(L X W X H)
Calcutta Renegade 20L
|20 Liters||• Exterior|
20.9" x 12.4" x 13.8"
15.5" x 8.1" x 9.6"
Calcutta Renegade 35L
|35 Liters||• Exterior|
26.4" x 15.8" x 15.4"
20.8" x 11.1" x 10.4"
Calcutta Renegade 55L
|55 Liters||• Exterior|
29.9" x 17.4" x 17.1"
24.3" x 12.7" x 12.2"
Calcutta Renegade 75L
|75 Liters||• Exterior|
34.1" x 17.4" x 19.1"
28.6" x 12.7" x 14.2"
Calcutta Renegade 100L
|100 Liters||• Exterior|
38.6" x 19" x 19.1"
33" x 14.4" x 14.2"
Calcutta Renegade 125L
|125 Liters||• Exterior|
45.1" x 19.2" x 19.7"
39.5" x 14.4" x 14.8"
Available Sizes & Dimensions
Variety is a high commodity in the cooler universe because it is synonymous with client satisfaction. Hence, it doesn’t come a surprise to learn that Calcutta holds diversity close to heart.
Indeed, Calcutta is one of the few ‘non-specialized’ brands that feature an entire line of hard-sided coolers as well as a bunch of soft-sided options.
Whether you are a lone camper, a picnic lover or an avid angler you will definitely find your match in Calcutta’s hard-sided collection. In fact, despite being far less popular than other ‘premium’ brands, Calcutta offers a variety of sizes that ranges between a 20L portable cooler and a 125L beast.
Hence, Calcutta made sure that every one can find their match which is why they provide 4 extra sizes in-between the smallest and the largest models.
Then again, all of our tests have proven that White coolers are significantly less vulnerable under direct sun light.
Impressively enough, the brand at hand plays a risk free game by providing as much variety in the soft-cooler section.
Calcutta’s idea of soft coolers is definitely different from the common stance and a great example of that is the Renegade Roller 45.
While most people hardly ever see a purpose for large soft-sided coolers, this brand doesn’t hesitate to break that exception. Hence, for those who prefer the soft side, this cooler is a great alternative as it is capable of handling up to 45 liters as it measures 23 x 19.5 x 16 inches.
For daily commuters & future road trips, Calcutta designed the Pack cooler just for you.
Indeed, this soft-sided cooler might not be able to compete with the bigger options in terms of performance but it definitely offers great value to those who need a cooler that can keep their lunch / drinks fresh during the day.
Accordingly, the Pack Cooler comes in two different sizes: the 12 and 24 pack.
Back to the larger scale, Calcutta presents their Keeper which is significantly larger than the previous option and that consequently means better ice retention. Hence, whether it is a day at your favorite fishing spot or a weekend up the mountain, the Keeper will get the job done.
Accordingly, since this is a larger cooler, it is no surprise that it measures 12″W x 16″H x 24″L & capable of accommodating for around 60 cans.
Design & Build Quality
Design is undeniably a big deal and that’s something Calcutta is fully aware of. Indeed, one look at a Calcutta cooler should give away that their design is coherent with the guidelines of rotational molding.
In fact, all Calcutta coolers are roto-molded which means that they feature a unified mold with no crack or gap, giving them that premium, satisfying look.
Also, one thing that sets these coolers apart from the majority out there is the fact that they clearly aren’t trying too hard.
Yes, because they are a premium brand, Calcutta coolers are designed to blend in nicely without attracting attention. However, the minimalistic design of these coolers is going to be a significant contributor to performance as we shall see in the following segment.
As far as quality is concerned, the uniform strategy that prevails design is also clearly applied in the build process of these coolers. Indeed, Calcutta coolers are roto molded, as mentioned earlier, and that means that they have these rigid almost unbreakable molds.
Moreover, quality is not limited to the crust as you can clearly identify dedicated work on minute details & features. Accordingly, a great example of the build quality of Calcutta coolers has got to be the fully protected hinges which consist of a long bar that is completely coated in rigid polyethylene.
Further, since these coolers are bound to a risky environment, they have been the subject of multiple torture tests that have proven them capable of handling impressive amounts of pressure and serious beating.
Consequently, anglers can use these coolers as casting platforms without a single concern.
Ice Retention & Insulation Ability
Calcutta is definitely not trying to be a mediocre brand, which entails some serious engineering and build quality. Indeed, the brand is capable of challenging the top tier because of its all-premium theme, including insulation.
A Calcutta cooler review is not complete without an in-depth analysis of the brand’s insulation & ice retention ability, which calls for a C-section.
Accordingly, in order to get to the bottom of the debate, we have to saw a Calcutta cooler in half and the view was beautiful.
Hence, just like Yeti, Orca & others, Calcutta bases its insulation on a rigid polyethylene crust that protects the cooler as well as repel UV rays. However, the exterior crust is nowhere near as thick as the foam injection. Speaking of which, this brand overthrows many so called ‘legends’ by investing in a 2 inches thick insulation and it’s all thanks to the thick foam walls.
Consequently, after the rotational molding of the outer cast, these coolers are pressure injected with PE foam, which is a dense substance with a myriad of tiny air bubbles that work to disperse heat effectively.
A solid contributor to the insulation of Calcutta coolers is the premium gasket that sticks firmly against the cooler and denies air circulation in both senses. Accordingly, once sealed, these coolers will not lose any of their cool nor will hot air penetrate the lid and it’s all thanks to this little feature.
In conclusion, with all of its efforts invested into making these coolers into portable freezers, Calcutta efforts pay off quite generously. While similar coolers are capable of holding up for a few days in mediocre conditions, Calcutta coolers push through & stand at the 6 days mark in prime summer conditions.
In order to savor your journey, you are going to need a cooler that is both efficient and practical. Hence, to fulfill the practicality aspect, Calcutta reinforces its coolers with a set of features that is meant to facilitate your regular interactions and hopefully improve your experience.
While it isn’t an extraordinary feature, rubber feet are still pretty much indispensable for coolers of all sizes. Indeed, as small as they are, Calcutta’s unique rubber feet will do a fantastic job at keeping your cooler still which is a necessary feature for anglers, as well as truckers.
Indeed, the last thing you want is a heavy box sliding around and putting everyone at risk.
Calcutta blessed its coolers with anchor or T-latches & that is perhaps our favorite feature. These latches are made of resilient rubber and they can be easily manipulated with one hand.
Also, once locked in place, these latches will hold the lid down tightly, pushing the gasket to maximum efficiency.
As it is the habit for premium coolers, the lid is an open area for innovation. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise to see a built-in ruler on Calcutta coolers.
That’s not all, the brand made sure that the lid has a traction texture to allow anglers to use it safely as a casting platform. If you’re not an angler then you can still use the lid as a table, a chopping board or a good old bench.
The draining plug on Calcutta coolers is a little ambassador for the brand since it is pretty unique. Indeed, for their smaller model, Calcutta fused the draining plug with a LED light that will guarantee visibility at night.
Frankly, our first reaction to the LED light was rather skeptical since it seems like a stunt feature that doesn’t serve any purpose. However, after using it for a while, it became almost natural to turn the LED light on while digging for our favorite drink at night.
The plug itself is also pretty smart as it is conveniently attached to a breaking net on the inside of the cooler.
The little net is connected to the plug & it is meant to stop the ice from escaping the cooler when draining water out. Hence, not only are you not losing ice during the draining process but your plug isn’t going anywhere either.
Who is it for?
Through this entire Calcutta ice chest analysis, we avoided profiling these coolers for a valid reason & that reason is simple. After our experience, we discovered that Calcutta coolers could work under any environment.
Indeed, these coolers are consciously designed to appeal to anglers, hunters, campers and even job site managers and none of its profiles fringes on the other.
Accordingly, we seriously do not know how to make this statement without sounding a little bias but Calcutta coolers are capable of handling any task, in any environment and under any pretext.
These coolers are fully equipped with everything necessary for a professional hobbyist as well as a weekend BBQ fanatic and most importantly, it costs far less than most of its rivals.
Calcutta Vs. Yeti: Which Is Better?
Before we can conclude this Calcutta cooler review, you should take one more minute and try to locate this brand on your scale of worthwhile coolers.
Accordingly, since the beginning of portable coolers, Yeti has been the benchmark to measure a brand’s success or failure. Indeed, because it is such a wholesome name, Calcutta is up for a challenge & that can only be settled by a head to head comparison.
Starting at variety, Yeti is known for being the king in this domain due to its endless variety of lines, sizes, shapes and textures and there is literally no way that Calcutta can stand in the face of Yeti’s mirage of choices. However, Calcutta has been capable of satisfying the majority of its customers with its limited 6 hard-cooler options and a handful of soft-sided ones.
As far as build quality goes, the distinction becomes harder to pull since both brands rely on rotational molding and pretty much the same build material with a slight advantage for Yeti.
In fact, you will hardly even notice the difference once you get your hands on both brands because the only difference is that Yeti’s foam compose is slightly denser than that of Calcutta.
As far as performance is concerned, we were very surprised to see that both brands pull around the same ice retention life in similar conditions.
Indeed, while Yeti coolers range between 5 to 7 days, Calcutta had a solid combo of 6 days throughout our tests, which certainly does not explain the immense price gap.
Calcutta Coolers – Bottom Line
Calcutta coolers are easily one of the best coolers we reviewed since it has a lot to offer for much less than its contenders.
This brand is just as premium as any but it still costs about $50 to $100 less than Yeti coolers and that calls for some serious decision making.
Sadly, our job here seems to be over and it is now up to you to make that final call. So, stay cool and good luck.