Pelican 30QT Elite Cooler: For the Shorter Adventure

Sometimes the adventure is long, or the hunt is that big, that you’ll need something bigger than just your average cooler. With its Elite Cooler series, Pelican has brought its rugged hard case design to those who need to keep the supplies or harvest cold for extended periods of time. Made from an overall body of molded Polyethylene, the 30QT Elite Cooler has an immense storage space that can fit any number of cold items. It has an overall exterior measurement of 25.30” (H) x 19.00” (L) x 18.50” (D), with a double 2” wide wall (with polyurethane insulation) and freezer-grade gasket, that gives the cooler up to eight days ice retention.


On the front of the 30QT Elite Cooler are a number of features built to make the storage and transport easier and more ergonomic for the user.

On both sides of the cooler are over molded-in handles with a wide grip area to assist if the cooler ever needs to be picked up.

The lid features two wide, press-and-pull latches at the front for use with or without gloves, and a molded-in hasp and integrated bottlecap opener. The top of the lid also includes an integrated scale (in both inches and centimeters) to measure those rod and reel catches or gage cuts of meat, and four cup holders for various party drinks.

To prevent any excess movement, the bottom of the Wheeled Elite Cooler has four non-skid, non-marking feet that helps ensure no accidental runaways of the cooler on inclined surfaces.


The interior of the 30QT Elite Cooler is a single, 14.60” (H) x 10.20” (L) x 11.00” (D) open-space that has a sloped bottom and a single drain tap for easy cleanup, with a tethered plug to ensure it doesn’t disappear. As such the cooler has an overall storage capacity of 32.95 quarts.

The 30QT Wheeled Elite Cooler is available in Dark Grey/Green (featured) and White/Dark Grey.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • Cost – Average (3/5): With an MSRP of $269.95, the 30QT Elite Cooler makes for a good, multi-day sized cooler that is capable of storing food, supplies, ice, drinks, or any other innumerable things needed for life afield. The quantity of material, hardware, and ability to provide for sustained insulation gave the Elite series a distinct advantage in transport and function, while maintaining an appropriate (or average) overall price point. In contrast, Yeti’s Tundra 35 ($275.00) or Rtic’s 45QT ($219.99) are closest in capacity and design, but both lack many of the associating design aspects for drinks or measurement. Thus, while Pelican’s Elite cooler is appropriate in cost, that cost is offset with the added features and Pelican’s longstanding legacy that add to the product.
  • Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the Elite cooler was very easy to maneuver/transport (despite its size even when full) with both the wide handles on either side allowing for easy lifting (easier with a two-person lift). By intergrading the handles into the upper portion of the cooler’s bottom half, the handles and cooler felt very secure when lifting and did not risk slippage. Perhaps the only recommendation for Pelican to improve on the Elite cooler’s comfort, would be to give the handles some means of rubberized grip texture (similar to the handles in its Protector series) to aid in tactile feel, as well as comfort on the handle’s angles. This issue of grip comfort became exacerbated as more items, particularly liquids, were added to the cooler and its overall weight increased.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): Like all other Pelican products, the Elite cooler was formed from Polyethylene a type of high-density plastic similar to the high-density polyethylene used in a lot of daily things. This made the shell of the Elite cooler (and indeed almost all of Pelican’s hard cases) amazingly durable, and resistant to shock or stain. With its size, the Elite cooler was loaded up with ice and necessities, then transported (loosely) in the back of a pickup truck and left unsecured to rattle around during a camping trip and on several trips to the range. The non-skid feet ensured the cooler didn’t move during transport and around sharp corners. Throughout it, the Elite itself only ever showed signs of menial surface marring and gouging, none of which ever compromised the thickness of the material or damaged the associated hardware. If it ever came to that, the Elite series does come with Pelican’s Guaranteed for Life protection warrantee that covers damage to the unit. Pelican has improved the drain plug cap design over previous versions by securing the cap via cable to the body of the cooler, and thus will prevent potential loss.
  • Functionality – Good (4/5): Functionally, the Elite cooler had an excellent performance in its primary role of storing food and maintaining a consistent internal temperature to prevent spoilage. To this aim, the Elite did this in spades, keeping ice and food stable for up to three days duration (max length of camping trip) with minimal transference of ice from its solid state, to liquid (an issue easily resolved by draining the cooler via its large integrated drain plug). Pelican does maintain its Elite series coolers can retain the presence of ice on the interior for up to 10 days, however this is also determinate by the overall mass of ice at the beginning, and how often the lid is opened and that cold air barrier was lost over time. In an outdoor setting and again using a 25lb bag of ice, the Elite was able to maintain an ice presence consistently up until the 8th day of testing. But likely the ambient 80-90 degree spring temperatures, loss of internal temperature seal from daily opening and closing, and the volume of drinks and internal space drawing upon the ice to keep it cool, led to the cooler coming up slightly short of its advertised 10 day retention performance. Additionally some “sweating” was noted around the drain plug throughout the review period. But regardless, on the 8th day the water was still in the mid-40s, and the remaining energy drinks were cold to the touch (and taste). The large, heavy-duty non-slip pads easily maintained grip on most improved surfaces (concrete sidewalks, wooden floors, truck beds, paved roads, etc.). The press-and-pull latches provided clear audible and tactile indication when secured, and ensured the lid was tightly sealed (thus engaging the wide freezer-grade rubber tube and seal on the interior of the lid) with no escape of moisture or air. Of note, the cooler’s body and lid shared interlocking interior lugs that further ensured the cooler’s security against accidental opening, and the included metal hardware made the Elite very capable to resist unwanted individuals from accessing it. The intergraded rulers and drink holders were a nice finishing detail that other coolers of similar size often lack.
  • Weight – Average (3/5): While the Elite 30QT Cooler was a robust 21 pounds (empty), it will be important for users to remember to exercise caution when lifting the cooler alone once it is full, as the storage capacity of the cooler itself can make it very heavy depending on contents—thus a two-man lift is strongly recommended if it is full of liquids. In contrast, Yeti’s Tundra 35 Hard Cooler (20 pounds when empty) or Rtic’s 45QT (29 pounds when empty) are both on opposite weights of the 30QT Elite, giving the Elite an appropriate (or of average) weight for its overall mass of materials, ability to maintain stable temperature, and all-inclusive design.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

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I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

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