orca walker cooler tote sitting poolside
(Photo/David Young)

(Almost) Perfect: ORCA Walker Tote Ultralight Soft Cooler Review

Ideal for that quick, spur-of-the-moment day trip or tailgating party, the ORCA Walker Tote is an ultralight soft-sided cooler that offers great durability and ice retention.

These days there is a glut of coolers on the market. It can be hard to tell the difference between various kinds and what makes them worth the price tag. The ORCA Walker Tote is an ultralight option, weighing 3.6 pounds dry, that is versatile, holds 18 cans, and is very easy to use for a variety of trips from camping to backyard barbecues.

So, out of all the coolers, why this one?

In short: ORCA’s big brother, the Walker 20 Cooler, made GearJunkie’s Best Soft Coolers list, so we were intrigued to see a new Walker cooler hitting the shelves. This is a slightly smaller version, for those looking for the same level of cold storage in a more compact form. And aside from boasting a tote style, this Walker has an updated, slimmer design and new volume.

ORCA Walker Tote Cooler Review: First Impressions

ORCA Walker Tote cooler
(Photo/David Young)

While touted as a soft-sided cooler, the ORCA is very stout and well built. From top to bottom, the cooler is crafted with durability in mind. The zipper is a Master Seal #10 waterproof zipper, ensuring the ORCA is leakproof and will keep contents cold for 24 hours and beyond.

The sides are heavily insulated, and the underside has tough, rubberized padded skin for added protection when you set the cooler down on sand and rocks. The bottom line, it is ready to rock right out of the box.

Opening and carrying the ORCA Walker Tote cooler is a breeze with the easy-open magnetic split handle. Rather than clasping together, the two-sided handles interlock and hold in place easily with strong magnets.

It’s an intuitive and simple mechanism to carry the cooler. The opposing magnets also stay open when unzipping the cooler, making access to the interior a breeze.

Compared to the Walker 20, the Walker Tote is a bit smaller: ½-inch shorter in length, 2 inches shorter in height, and 1½-inch shorter in width. They share similar designs, materials, and features.

ORCA Walker Tote Specs

  • Length: 15 in.
  • Width: 9.5 in.
  • Height: 15.25 in.
  • Dry weight: 3.6 lbs.
  • Max load: 50 lbs.
  • Claimed hours iced/cold: 12-24 hrs.
  • Ice retention test: ~28 hrs. iced

ORCA Walker Tote Ultralight Cooler

Cooler Test While Chilling Poolside

With a trip set for Arizona, I loaded up the cooler with some beer — 16 cans, to be exact — and set out on the road. The just over foot-high cooler fit snugly in the trunk of my car as I headed to the desert.

The cooler started about a quarter full of ice, and I let it sit in the trunk for the 2-day drive in some 70-degree weather. When I arrived, I opened the cooler to find most of the ice melted, but the drinks were still cold.

I restocked the ice and brews and tested out the ORCA poolside. And here is where it excels. This is what the ORCA Walker Tote is made for: a grab-and-go poolside session. The exterior side pocket held a paperback book and my sunglasses, while the cooler transported the canned brews with ease. (There’s an interior waterproof pocket as well.)

The detachable padded shoulder strap made it simple to carry the cooler to and from the pool, and the tote fits nicely by a chair or table without getting in the way. It really is an ideal size for a day out.

Carrying - ORCA Walker Tote Ultralight Soft Sided Cooler
(Photo/David Young)

A Known Issue

Overall, I was impressed by the ORCA Walker Tote. However, during my trip, the metal clasp holding the shoulder harness to the Tote broke, rendering the shoulder carry option useless. For the price of the cooler and the “durability” tag, I was disappointed to see this during the use of a normal road trip.

ORCA stated that this is an issue they are aware of and that clasps have broken from time to time. ORCA has a 3-year warranty that includes manufacturer defects such as a break like this. It’s worth noting that ORCA does expect to have the issue fixed in updated versions of both the Walker Tote and Walker 20 slated for fall 2022. (We’ll keep you updated.)

The other drawback is that the mouth of the cooler has difficulty staying open and, as a result, can be hard to fill with ice. Aside from this, the cooler performed well.

Conclusion

The Walker Tote’s body is strong, it keeps its contents cold, it’s easy to transport, and it looks good. (You may even get some jealous glances of cooler envy!) If it were not for the broken shoulder strap clasp and small guarded entry, it’d be the ideal tote for nearly any road trip or waterfront adventure.

Overall, this is a durable light cooler that looks good and offers great ice retention for a day trip. It’s compact, capable, and tough — throw it in the back of your vehicle, and beverages or food will be good to go when you hit the beach or pool.

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David Young
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David Young is a freelance writer based in Fort Collins, Colorado. He specializes in outdoor writing and has a degree in journalism and English. He has more than two decades of experience writing for daily newspapers and working in public relations. David enjoys all that Colorado has to offer from mountain biking and fly fishing to backcountry skiing and backpacking.