Pelican 80QT Elite Cooler: For the Deep Freeze

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 Wheeled 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 Elite Wheeled Cooler has an immense 80QT storage space that can fit any number of cold items. It has an overall exterior measurement of 20.3” (H) x 42.9” (L) x 20.8” (D), with a double 2” wide wall (with polyurethane insulation) and freezer-grade gasket, that gives the cooler up to 10 days ice retention.


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

One the left side are 8” tall, heavy-duty wheels that, when angled from the opposing side, allow the cooler to move effortlessly with its corrosion-resistant, stainless steel hardware. At the top of the left side is a molded-in handle with a wide grip area to assist if the cooler ever needs to be picked up.

Oppositely, the right side has a similar molded-in handle at the top, and an extended trolley handle that makes maneuvering the cooler easier.

The lid features wide, press-and-pull latches for use with or without gloves, and a molded-in hasp and integrated bottlecap opener. The top 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 non-skid, non-marking feet that helps ensure no accidental runaways of the cooler on inclined surfaces.


The interior of the Wheeled Elite Cooler is a single, 13” (H) x 42.88” (L) x 13” (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 2.84 ft³.

The Wheeled Elite Cooler is available in White (featured), Graphite, and Tan.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostGood (4/5): With an MSRP of $514.95, the 80QT Elite Wheeled Cooler makes for a formidable multi-day 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 for sustained insulation gave the Elite series a distinct advantage in transport and function while maintaining a good price. In contrast, Yeti’s Tundra 75 ($499.99) or Rtic’s 110QT ($349.99) are closest in capacity and design, but both lack the associating wheeled hardware or handle for ease of transport, as well as incorporating design for drinks. Thus, while Pelican’s Elite cooler is more expensive, that cost is offset with added features and Pelican’s longstanding legacy.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the Elite cooler was very easy to maneuver (despite its size) with both assisting wheels rotating independently, and its turn radius handled sharp corners and pivots as needed. The wide handles on either side allowed for a dual hand-hold that made for easy lifting. By intergrading the handles into the upper portion of the cooler, the handles felt very secure when lifting and did not risk slippage. The trolley handle, when extended, did angle the cooler at a comfortable degree that ensured it could be maneuvered without any drag. 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 to aid in tactile feel, as well as comfort on the handle’s angles. This issue 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 footers ensured teh 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. It is noted that upon inital inspections, the plastic lanyard securing the drainplug cap to the body already showed signs of crease fatigue and it is liekly that over time this will become the first sacrifical part needing replacement.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): Functionally, the Elite cooler had an excellent performance in its primary purpose 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 with the cooler’s 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 in the beginning, and how often the lid is opened and that cold air barrier was lost. In a controlled setting, the Elite was able to maintain and ice presence up until the 8th day of testing, but likely the loss of tempreature from continual opening and closing, and the volume of energy drinks drawing upon the ice to keep cool led to the cooler coming up slightly short of its advertized performance. But regardless, on the 8th day the water was still in the mid-30s and the remaining energy drinks were cold. The large, heavy-duty rolling wheels easily handled most improved surfaces (concrete sidewalks, wooden floors, paved roads, etc.) but lost some stability on unimproved surfaces with loose rocks and needed to be drug sled-like with the trolley handle over the obstructions. 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 80QT Cooler was a robust 50 pounds (empty), the 8” rolling wheels helped to defray that weight to a large degree when transporting it. It will be important for users to remember not to try and lift the cooler alone once it is full, as the storage capacity of the cooler itself can make it extremely heavy—thus a two-man lift is strongly recommended. In contrast, Yeti’s Tundra 75 Hard Cooler (34 pounds when empty) or Rtic’s 110QT (48.5 pounds when empty) are both lighter and have less bulk, but also lack the incorporating hardware and design that made transport and use of the Pelican Elite cooler much easier. So for its weight, the Elite is 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 (19/25)

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I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, 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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