How to Pick the Best Cooler for You
Do you find yourself frequently replacing non-biodegradable Styrofoam coolers? Maybe you’re just really excited for National Cooler Day on May 27th and want something new to celebrate with! Or have you been disappointed that your ice melts after a couple of hours in the cooler that your family has used since you were a young explorer? If so, it’s time for a cooler upgrade.
Like technology, sleeping pads, and water bottles, coolers have come a long way thanks to brilliant material and outdoor experts. From weatherproof outer materials to excellent insulation techniques, coolers are now made to suit your lifestyle. They keep your contents cold for days when you are out camping and some are even built to be bear-proof, yes bear-proof.
So whether your adventures take you near or far, bear country, or the beach, there is a cooler to fit your needs. Check out our guide below to find the cooler right for you!
How will I use the cooler?
Are you a big camper? Do you find yourself going on a short day hike and wishing you could’ve packed a small lunch and some ice-cold beverages? Do you like to hunt or deep-sea fish? If you answered yes to any of those, a new cooler will be your best sidekick. Depending on what you are using the cooler for, there are multiple styles and sizes for you to choose from!
What to keep in mind:
- Material (soft-sided or hard cooler)
- Weight (empty and filled)
- Ice and temperature retention
Do I need a soft or hard cooler?
Due to the difference in weight between the two styles, your activity and usage for the cooler will determine which one is best for you.
Soft-sided coolers are more portable because they are lightweight. If you plan on going more than a short distance, a soft-sided cooler is recommended- more specifically a backpack cooler. Do not let the fabric outer layer mislead you, though. The best coolers are constructed with durable fabrics that are waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays.
So go ahead and take it to the beach, take it through some treacherous trails, it’s sturdy. Do they really keep your contents cold and ice from melting? YES! With leak-proof sealed zippers and added insulation, these can keep ice cold for days under the right circumstances and elements.
When to use a soft-sided cooler:
- Walking any substantial distance to your destination (backpack coolers are great here)
- Lunch bag for work
Hard-sided coolers will keep your contents colder for a longer time because they are better insulated. The rotomolded plastic constructed with insulation makes these nearly indestructible and built to stay ice-cold even in the hottest conditions. Fun fact: Yeti hard coolers are grizzly tested, and bear-proof. So on your next camping trip to bear country, make sure you keep your food in a Yeti Tundra.
When to use a hard-sided cooler:
- Hunting or fishing
- Backyard BBQ
- Car camping
What size cooler do I need?
By now you have been able to determine what you want to use the cooler for, where you are going with it, and if you are interested in either the soft or the hard cooler. Now you can decide what size you will need. See below for a comparison chart to determine what size you need.
Shop –> All Coolers
Tips and tricks for maximum cooler performance
- Pre-chill your cooler. Either with ice, ice blocks, or if it will fit, in a freezer.
- Ice blocks will keep your food and beverages colder longer as they have a longer melting time.
- Use ice cubes to fill the spaces and holes around your content that your ice blocks can’t reach.
- Use twice as much ice as your contents.
- Less opening of the cooler will give the cooler a better performance and keep your contents cooler longer.
- Don’t drain the water!
- Dry ice is best but ONLY for hard coolers.
- Keep your cooler in the shade when possible or cover it with a towel.
Get Ready for summer with fresh new arrivals for all of your adventures. Alabama Outdoors wants everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors