No one thinks they need a cooler until they get active, whether it is of their own accord or because they are dating a nature lover.

However, most people will have a small tote cooler that can hold a 12 pack of soda and a 5-pound bag of ice that can be used at the beach, and also have a huge 48 can monster that can be used for long camping trips or tailgating parties.

Before finding your favorite coolers, you’ll probably learn that not all products are created equally! There some pretty shoddy cases out there that don’t keep things cold and even leaks all over the place.

We want to share with you the features that set great ice chests apart from the shoddy ones.

Essential Features Coolers Must Have

What is the main purpose of a cooler? To keep things cool.

Seems simple enough right? We certainly like to think so.

Unfortunately, not all coolers live up to expectation. When you’re searching for the best cooler for your camping trip or tailgating party, make sure you consider the following features.

1. Size

Before you even think about purchasing a cooler, you first want to think about what you are buying it for. Will it be used for weekend camping trips where you’ll need several days worth of food and drinks?

Will it only be used to carry a few bottles of water and ice? Maybe it’s got to be large enough to hold several cases of booze for a block party.

Once you figure out what the cooler will be used for, then you can choose the right size.

Let’s say you and your partner are going on a 2-day camping trip, you can get away with a 54-quart cooler, which is large enough to hold 72 cans of soda and still have room for ice.

2. Material

A cooler is available in a variety of materials such as fabric, foam, strong plastic and metal. The material of the cooler you choose is going to play a big role in how the cooler functions and it’s a big factor you need to consider.

Coolers made from fabric are not going to be able to keep things cold for extended periods of time, nor are they going to be durable. They are best suited for lunch boxes that are kept in a refrigerator or short day trips.

Foam coolers aren’t that great of a cooler because they can easily be damaged if you aren’t careful. Even if you are careful when carrying the cooler, should you trip over a rock and lose your hold on a foam cooler to which it falls from your hands, that cooler will bust open and all of your contents would spill out. So not only is your cooler ruined, but you have nothing to keep your food and drink cold.

We do not recommend these foam monstrosities!

Strengthened plastic coolers are by far the strongest of the three options. The plastic is fairly resistant to cracking or denting, so it can withstand rough use. They can keep water from getting in (or out) because they usually have a rubber casing around the lid that will create a watertight seal when closed.

Metal coolers are similar to a strengthened unit in that they are durable and can create a tight seal when it’s closed. However, metal cases tend to be very heavy even before you put anything in them! Also, the metal can rust if it doesn’t have a protective coating on the inside.

3. Insulation Quality

The quality of the insulation is going to determine how long your cooler is going to do what you need it to.

For a cooler that is only going to be used for day trips, you can get away with using cheaper quality insulation, which usually holds for at least 12 hours. However, if you want to go camping for more than a couple of days, you’re going to want a higher quality insulation.

Do keep in mind that insulation quality is going to be a factor in the overall price of said cooler.

4. Price

Like anything else you can buy, the price for these things can be incredibly cheap, or incredibly expensive. Top of the line products will cost more money, but if you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors using your cooler, then it may be worth the expense.

5. Portability

When choosing a cooler, you want to make sure that it is going to be easy to carry to and from the car or house.

Coolers will sometimes feature a handle so you can carry the cooler in your hand, or it will feature a shoulder strap so that you can sling it over your shoulder and carry it hands-free.

For large ice chests, you will want to make sure they have handles on either side so that it will be easy for two people to carry it.

Another option is to look for a cooler that has wheels on one end and a handle on the other. This way you can roll the cooler to the desired spot without too much trouble or need someone else’s help.

6. Drainage

Drainage isn’t necessarily a problem if you have a small cooler because you can easily dump it out when the cooler is empty. However, if you have a larger cooler, you will want to make sure there is a bottom drain.

This drain will make it easy to remove water from the cooler without having to scoop the water out or tilt the cooler over. It’s important to remove the water as it accumulates because you don’t want the contents to become waterlogged, or have the cooler begin to smell funky.

Go Forth and Keep Food and Drinks Cool!

Some people simply cannot stand being indoors and they will use any excuse they can to get out and be one with nature. Unfortunately, the need to stay hydrated and nourished can put a damper on the outdoor fun.

Coolers are the solution to that problem! Check out our catalog to see what options we have.

It doesn’t matter what type of activity you want to do, you can bet we have the right cooler for you!