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the RTIC halftime cooler being carried on the beach while being tested for our review.

A cooler for liquids that can be easily transported? Yes please. Photo: SA

The Inertia

Not many things are more satisfying than a cold refreshing beverage on a hot summer’s day. Or, to take things further, sometimes a cold drink is a lifesaver after hours of exertion out on the trails or after a good surf. Recently, the team at RTIC offered us a chance to sample their new Halftime Water Cooler collection. At first it seemed a bit excessive to have a cooler that had only one purpose. But, after giving it a try for a few weeks in a number of scenarios, we found that a dedicated drink cooler is well worth the investment in active summertime fun.

We tested both the 3 gallon and 6 gallon versions of the cooler in the middle of summer, using both cold water and some proprietary cocktail concoctions to see how it kept its cool.

The RTIC Halftime Water Cooler

RTIC has built up a solid reputation in their short history as a leader in outdoor coolers with excellent ice retention at a modest price point. Their durable coolers were enough for us to give them the ‘Best Ice Retention” award in our review of the Best Beach Coolers. But the Halftime Water Cooler is different: Its sole function in life is to keep liquids cold and dispense them out at will. It’s not a new innovation. Most of us probably have had some experience with the orange Gatorade and Igloo coolers at some point in our lives, most likely in the team sports of our youth. But RTIC has taken the drink cooler concept and added a few 21st-century innovations that make the reboot worth it.

A view of the RTIC halftime water cooler next to a beach on a lake in the mountains.

The Halftime Water Cooler has many more uses than just at halftime. Photo: SA

First Impressions

Pros Cons
Flat sided shape makes it easy to stack and pack. Debris can get into lid, causing it to leak.
Dual Dispensers saves time if there’s a lineup. Dual dispensers, but not dual compartments.
Reduces plastic waste – no single use bottles needed. Viewing window reduces insulation.

Out of the box, it’s apparent that RTIC has quality in mind. The exterior is solidly built out of durable plastic, and a few drop tests proved that durability is no issue when dropped from waist height onto concrete. The top lid involves a rubber gasket inside, and two pull-down rubber locks to ensure a tight seal when it’s on the move. Another benefit is the cube shape which allows for easy stack-ability.

The main head-scratcher for me was that with two dispensers, it feels like a no-brainer to also have two compartments for different drinks. It seems easy enough to introduce a sealed divider, but perhaps it would be cost prohibitive to do so. In the future, however, I could see this as a welcome addition.

a patio party with a table of drinks and garnishes, with the 6 gallon rtic water cooler full of a mixed drink.

Mix once, drink many times over. The 6 gallon version means many drinks without needing to refill. Photo: RTIC

Notable Features

As previously mentioned, the Halftime Cooler sports two separate spouts, which cuts down the time waiting in line for a refill in large group situations or during timeouts for team sports. Each spout has a lock on them to protect unwanted pouring in transit as well as to keep a constant flow if you’re not the type who likes to keep their hand on the button for extended fills.

What’s also unique about these coolers vs. the classic round water cooler is a clear viewing strip to see just how much you have left in there so some poor soul isn’t left with half a cup without being warned. I can see this as a huge bonus during situations like parties and events where you can easily tell when it’s time to get the refills ready.

The lid forms a tight seal thanks to the rubber gaskets and locking mechanisms, meaning a nice spill-proof lid for moving around. The mouth of the container is also plenty wide enough for quick pouring and drink-mixing without spills. The only issue we found was when some mint leaves got caught in the seal, which ended up making the unit leak when transported. Whoops. Can’t fault the maker on that but it’s worth a fair warning if you enjoy a tasty garnish in your drinks.

Who This Is Good For

The Halftime Cooler is ideal for those who like to drink cold beverages in group situations. This is not exactly a narrow field, and that’s the point. A lot of people would find value in this product. It’s especially good for those who like to make mixed drinks. Instead of opening up the cooler (and letting all the cold out) every so often to make a new drink, you can mix it all at once and leave the contents inside, thus preventing the cold from prematurely escaping.

Furthermore, and not to be neglected, is its ability to do what it the name suggests: keep water cold. If you’re like us and want to reduce plastic waste, it’s nice to be able to have a large amount of water kept cold and ready for drinking and not having a pile of single-use plastic bottles to deal with at the end of the day. If one adds up the number of bottles saved over time, this is also an environmentally responsible way to consume water in group situations.

pouring out strawberries into the RTIC halftime water cooler to make a cocktail.

Making drinks is fun, but making drinks for dozens is even more fun! Photo: SA

Who This Might Not Be Good For

This product won’t really apply to those who prefer their drinks in canned form. Most of these drinks are carbonated, and as such, it makes sense to keep them in their single-use glory. So for those who only consume carbonated beverages, you might want to invest in a regular cooler instead of this.

Final Thoughts

The Halftime Water Cooler is a new and innovative product in the tired category of water coolers. And those innovations are significant, including a sealed lid, the ability to view how much is left, and two locking dispensers – all things that come in handy more often than not. This water cooler would be a valuable addition to your camping, beachgoing kit, team sports, or parties kit, as long as you have the space to pack it.


Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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