Why buy a cooler?
Access to water and food is vital whenever you plan on being outdoors for extended periods, especially in the heat. Coolers are the easiest way to keep snacks and drinks cold without annoying leaks or spills. Plus, they feature multiple storage and transportation options that make it easier to pack and move whatever’s inside. Pick the perfect size, fill it with your favorites, add ice or freezer packs, and forget about it.
What should you know when buying a cooler?
- Size: Choose a model that fits your vacation needs, whether a 30-pack of beer for an all-day party or a few bottles of water and a granola bar for your short hike. Bringing the kids? Consider a cooler with plenty of space for sports drinks and snacks without sacrificing your favorite adult options.
- Insulation: Ensure your cooler has sufficient insulation to last the length of your stay. Some ice chests cool items for up to 10 days at a time (great for long camping trips), while others only offer 10 hours and are better suited for “daycations.”
- Portability: Rolling over rough terrain? Keep an eye out for heavy-duty wheels and comfortable handles for a more leisurely trek to your favorite spots. If you’re an avid hiker or need a fast solution for hot game days, consider purchasing a lightweight cooler backpack or shoulder bag.
Which extra features should you look out for in a cooler?
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, think about any extra features that may come in handy on your next trip. Do you need a bear-resistant latch or locking mechanism? How about a sturdy cooler lid for extra food preparation space or seating? You’ll even find coolers that double as lunchboxes or feature an attached bottle opener. Keep an eye out for all the bells and whistles that could take your trip (or daily lunches) to the next level.
Arctic Zone Titan Deep-Freeze Hardbody Cooler
Pack 16 to 48 cans based on your needs with this all-around great pick.
Pros: Discover the perfect travel buddy in the Titan waterproof cooler from Arctic Zone. This hardbody ice chest features a patented flip lid (instead of zippers) for quick and easy access to food and drinks and an insulated front pocket for extra storage. You can conveniently choose between four sizes accommodating 16 to 48 cans depending on the size you pick. The Titan’s insulation and ColdBlock base also protect ice for up to two days, even in the most intense heat. Pack your new cooler with all the essentials (no worries about heavy cans crushing softer items, like sandwiches with the different sections) and enjoy your walk down to the beach with its extra-wide shoulder strap.
Cons: If you previously owned a Titan cooler, you’ll notice differences in this newer model, like a smaller top divider.
Bottom Line: This comfortable, convenient cooler with handy features ensure the integrity of your food and drinks (and your back).
Coleman Xtreme Portable Cooler with Wheels
This cooler requires effortless rolling over all types of terrain.
Pros: Who doesn’t love a classic? This Coleman portable 62-quart cooler on wheels features revolutionary cooling technology, insulating and keeping ice for up to five days in temperatures as high as 90 degrees. Its large, plastic construction holds up to 95 cans and rolls on heavy-duty wheels for an effortless experience on any terrain, including stubborn sand. Need extra seating? The great thing about Coleman coolers is their sturdiness and ability to support up to 250 pounds, so feel free to grab a seat when the lid’s closed. Otherwise, crack open a cold one and keep it conveniently close in one of the lid’s handy cupholders.
Cons: Handle it with extra care on high, rocky terrain, as the water valve cover at the bottom of the cooler is exposed.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a more traditional ice chest for overnight trips without sacrificing extra-cool storage and durability, Coleman has you covered with this cooler at an excellent price.
TOURIT Insulated 30-Can Cooler Backpack
A lightweight pick with tons of storage options.
Pros: If you want to keep things small and simple, this TOURIT cooler backpack is an excellent and affordable option. It’s a top-notch large-capacity backpack (holds up to 30 cans) constructed from strong 600 Oxford fabric, density foam, and a thick lining for the ultimate leak-free experience. Store snacks and drinks for up to 16 hours in temperatures below 59 degrees when you add freezer packs. Your new backpack also features one extra-roomy storage compartment, two side and front pockets, a lid pocket, and a super handy bottle opener connected to the strap—feel free to bring your favorite glass-bottle drinks.
Cons: Use freezer packs instead of ice to cool your food and drinks to avoid extra weight and potential leaks.
Bottom Line: A stylish, comfortable way to transport important nutrients on your long hike or bike ride. Fill it with freezer packs and enjoy hours of fun in the sun with cold food and beverages.
Carhartt Deluxe Dual-Compartment Cooler
An option that features separate insulated top storage.
Pros: If backpacks and wheeled coolers are overkill for your trip, consider this deluxe dual-compartment cooler bag from Carhartt. Constructed from water-repellent Rain Defender material and thick interior insulation, this carry-along cooler sturdily holds up to six cans in its main compartment, with room for food and snacks in a convenient zipper compartment on top. Its triple-needle stitching and metal hardware ensure extra durability and allow you to carry your bag with its nifty top handle or shoulder strap without worrying about tearing. This Carhartt bag is also a great addition to everyday hauls, like hearty work lunches or baby’s daycare essentials.
Cons: The handle and straps are not removable, so make sure you’re content with both before purchasing.
Bottom Line: It’s a simple solution without sacrificing the necessities, like sufficient room for freezer packs and a few of your favorite snacks and drinks. It’s great for hungry hikers and hard workers alike.
RTIC Hard Cooler with Heavy-Duty Latches
A solid choice that holds up to 40 pounds of ice for 10 days.
Pros: This RTIC hard cooler with industrial rubber latches is a beast on the beach, tent-side, or wherever you need to store food and drinks (for up to 10 days, too). Its traction lid alone doubles as a casting platform, cutting board, seat, or tabletop. Three-inch foam-insulated walls, plus a “cool-lift” design, ensure ice and freezer packs stay cold. It’s also designed with T-latches and molded tie-down slots, so you don’t have to worry about food and beverages shifting during bumpy rides as you pull your cooler along by its marine-grade rope handles and textured grips. It’s bear-resistant and virtually indestructible.
Cons: Over time, you may need to apply super glue to the cooler’s rubber feet to help maintain their integrity on rough terrain.
Bottom Line: If you’re happy to spend a little more on a high-quality, long-lasting cooler, this could be the one of your dreams. It’s got all the bells and whistles, which explains the higher price tag.
Ready to hit the road? Any of these top-rated coolers will keep drinks and food fresh for hours of fun in the hot sun.