Hit the beach, campsite or backyard with the best coolers
Whether you're an active hiker or a casual beach goer, you need a cooler to keep your food and drinks cold. It's essential for hydration, and it's highly convenient - not to mention a potential moneysaver - to have some home-packed food and snacks on hand.
Should you get a hard cooler or a soft-sided cooler? That depends on how much weight you want to carry. A cooler can weigh anything from less than a pound (for a soft-sided model) to over 25 pounds for a large steel model. Don't forget to factor in the weight of any ice, food, and drink inside the cooler, too. If you're concerned that your chosen cooler might be too heavy to carry, consider a model with wheels.
In addition to weight, it's important to know how long your chosen cooler can keep its contents cold. Product quality varies, as does ambient temperature - both of these factors affect the length of time your cooler will effectively keep items cool. However, you can help the situation by adding a pound of ice for every quart your cooler holds. For instance, if your cooler holds 10 quarts total, you should add at least 10 pounds of ice.
If you're ready to chill some food and beverages and head out for a day (or more) of fun, check out the three reliable coolers we're endorsing below.
It might not be cheap, but this rugged, durable cooler could last you a lifetime. It is certified as "bear proof" with extra-thick walls to keep contents cooler longer. Indeed, the build quality is incredible; it delivers just what consumers have come to expect from the YETI name.
This is a soft-sided choice for those who want a lightweight, easy-to-store cooler. It probably wouldn't keep contents cold for as long as a hard-sided model would, and the lower price reflects this. However, some users report that it can keep ice frozen for 24 hours. That's more than long enough for a day at the beach or a picnic at the park.
This is an affordable choice from Coleman, one of the best-known manufacturers of quality coolers. It might not be as durable as a top-of-the-line model, but it can definitely hold its own. We love the huge 85-can capacity and no-tilt drainage system.
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