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Canyon Coolers: Keeping it cool in Flagstaff

Canyon Coolers: Keeping it cool in Flagstaff

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Canyon Coolers, a favorite of river runners and hunters, is expanding into a new home for the fourth time in six years.

The company is moving from its current 2,000-square-foot location on Blackbird Roost to a 3,200-square-foot facility on Brannen Avenue, across the street from Aspen Place at Sawmill, said Canyon Cooler Sales Director Eric Boatner. The company’s sales have been growing at a steady 20 percent clip every year for the last three years. In February, their sales were double over last year’s sales.

Jason Costello purchased Canyon Coolers, then known as Galaxy Coolers, from its owners in Durango, Colo., and moved it to Flagstaff. Costello was first introduced to Galaxy Coolers as a river runner living in Flagstaff. He’s lived in Flagstaff for 26 years after moving to the city to finish college at Northern Arizona University. When Galaxy started to slide into financial problems, he bought the company and moved its headquarters to Flagstaff.

The coolers made by Canyon Coolers are known as one of the toughest and highest performing coolers in the industry. Outdoor Magazine awarded them with their 2014 Great Buy Award. Four Wheeler magazine recently awarded them as the best out of five of the industry’s best high-coolers, beating out Yeti Coolers, a more well known brand.

For the test, Four Wheeler placed a couple of bags of ice in each cooler and opened the coolers twice a day. After seven days, Canyon Coolers was the only cooler with ice left.

All of the company’s coolers are roto-molded into a single polyethylene shell and injected with two or more inches of high-density insulation, said Eric Boatner, Canyon’s sales director. This makes the coolers more durable and better insulated.

The hinges, latches and handles on Canyon Coolers are all recessed into the plastic to prevent snagging while packing the cooler into a car, on an ATV, a boat or raft. The coolers include a locking, leak-resistant lid, an attached drain plug and a lifetime warranty, he said. They’re also UV resistant.

By comparison, a picnic cooler that you might pick up from your local big box store is usually made of injection-molded parts that are filled with about an inch of insulation and glued together, Boatner said. They’re not really designed to last up to a week on the river.

The coolers come in sizes from 22 quarts to nearly 750 quarts and are usually cheaper than their competitors. Canyon keeps the price down by having the coolers manufactured overseas.

Costello is constantly messing with the design of the coolers. The company’s newest cooler on the market is the Prospector, which is specifically designed for river runners and ATV users. The Prospector has six tie-downs that allow you to open the cooler’s lid without untying the straps. It also has two drain plugs in case one is blocked, and includes interior ledges to hold baskets to organize your stuff.

The company also plans to release two new soft-sided backpack-style coolers. The coolers look like the rubberized dry-sacks that many river runners use to keep their gear dry. However, these backpacks are much larger and are insulated.

The company is also producing an updated 222-quart long cooler. This cooler is the workhorse that most canyon river runners use in their rafts. The cooler now has slots for dividers, an integrated hinge, tie-downs in the handles and two drain plugs.

Most of the company’s Outfitter series of cooler have been tested by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to be bearproof. The IGBC tests the coolers by locking a bag of dog food inside and then placing them in front of a grizzly bear.

Boatner said the bear managed to chew off the latches and the drain plug on the cooler but was unable to open it.

Having that certification is a nice bonus, since many national parks now require visitors to store their food in bearproof containers or hide the items out of sight in their cars.

Most of Canyon Coolers sales are done through its internet site and smaller outfitters, Boatner said. They’re working with some of the bigger outdoor stores, such as Bass Pro, to get their coolers into more markets. Locally, you can find their coolers at Olsen’s Grain, Babbitt’s Outdoor Outfitter, Peace Surplus, Wet Dreams river outfitters, Bull Basin Archery and soon at HomCo Lumber & Hardware.

The reporter can be reached at sadams@azdailysun.com or (928)556-2253.

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Education/Business Reporter

Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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