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Author: Mark Nelsen
Driving to Canada to pursue the largest member of the deer family meant that if the hunt was successful, I was going to have a lot of moose meat to transport home. A lot of meat. By my calculations, I was going to need every cooler I owned, and I would need to beg, borrow or steal a few more.
Moose hunting takes preparation, and I was prepared to stack coolers to the roof of my truck’s topper. My truck is a Ford F150 with a full-size bed, but with all those coolers and gear for two people, it would likely be packed to the brim. I wasn’t worried about the 1,400-mile trip (one way) to Stan Reiser’s Alberta Trophy Hunts camp in central Alberta - gear and duffel bags would be stowed in the coolers on the trip to the hunt. It was the trip home I was worried about. With two people going on this trip; me to hunt moose and my hunting buddy chasing big Canadian whitetails, where would we put everything if I managed to shoot a bull moose and he managed to bag a buck?
That’s when Jim Gianladis, Cabela’s Camping Merchandising Manager stepped in and suggested I take one of the Cabela’s Outfitter Coolers. One is all I would need, according to Jim. After all, he said, the larger-size Outfitter Cooler, aptly named the Grizzly, had been field-tested on a long-duration elk hunt, and easily held and kept fresh the quarters and trim meat from three elk at one time.
Outfitter Coolers are not your ordinary coolers. In addition to the behemoth Grizzly, which has a 420-quart capacity (47"L x 30"W x 30"H), there are three other models. The Wolverine is a 250-quart capacity model that measures 46.5"L x 24.5"W x 29"H; the Outback (40.5"L x 20.5"W x 21"H) has a 150-quart capacity; and the Ice Otter, which has a 70-quart capacity, measures 25"L x 17"W x 18"H.
These coolers are built to last a lifetime with heavy-duty hardware and construction features. The main cooler housing is crafted from tough polyethylene with UV blockers built in. The housing is filled with polyurethane foam for ultra-insulating properties. There are internal, removable dividers to keep things organized and separated. I left the dividers out on my trip since the cooler would only be hauling meat. The raised lid gives the cooler sort of a coffin-like look, but the design is very functional. The lids are attached with a full-length stainless steel hinge, so there are no stress points at the hinges like you’ll find on some coolers. And there are no plastic parts to break or wear out. The lid has a built-in gasket on the inside for an airtight seal when closed. Even the latches are built with heavy-duty hardware - they’re lockable, stainless steel latches (three on the Grizzly, two on the Outback). On the underside of the lid a portable cutting board is attached - held in place with snap latches, so it’s out of the way when you don’t need it (No cutting Board on the Ice Otter). But if you have butchering chores to do, the board quickly removes and sits on top of the raised lid. Four raised corners built into the lid keep the board securely in place while you’re cutting meat. It worked like a dream on our trip. There was plenty of surface for tackling the quarters of my bull moose. The hygienic, polymer construction of the cutting board made clean-up a breeze - no worries about bacteria and other germs getting inside the cooler.
Inside, the cooler has a drain trough that leads to a molded-in steel plumbers faucet, just like the type you’d find in your house. That means you’ll never have to worry about losing a drain plug or the plug accidentally popping open during transport.
For my trip, the Grizzly was just the right size. It fit perfectly between the wheel wells of my F150, and I kept all my hunting gear, equipment and packs in the cooler for the trip up to Canada. In fact, the Grizzly was so large that the only piece of gear I didn’t store in it was my black-powder rifle.
I locked the Grizzly each night on the road as it sat in the back of the pickup. Even with an aluminum cap on my truck, the Grizzly fit just fine. After the hunt, the Grizzly really shined. Following butchering chores, I had four standard meat tubs filled with cut and wrapped steaks and roasts, and three giant bags (approx 70 lbs. each) of trim meat to deal with once we got home. I loaded the trim meat first, then the tubs on top. There was plenty of room for more meat, and had we not used the meat tubs, I believe we could have fit the meat from two moose into the Grizzly. This was my first moose hunt, so I really had no idea how much meat there would be to deal with, but I can tell you that after many years of hunting elk, I’d wager that there was between two and three times as much meat from my moose than any bull elk I’ve ever butchered. My best guess would be about 450 pounds of boned-out meat.
Having all the meat in one cooler also made life easier at the Canada/U.S. border, where the meat, hide and antlers had to be accessible for inspectors. We were on the road two long days, and since the meat was frozen prior to our departure, I never had to add ice to the cooler to keep the meat in its frozen state.
If you’re outdoor adventures take you to places for extended periods and you need to keep fish, game and supplies frozen or chilled, the Outfitter Series of coolers is worth a serious look. With the Outfitter Series, you won’t have to take every cooler you own on a trip, and you won’t have to beg, borrow or steal any either.
Click here to view our Cabela’s Outfitter Coolers.