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Updated on October 13, 2022 at 3:32 p.m
Nothing says summer like packing an ice chest full of drinks and snacks. Whether you’re going fishing for a day with friends or taking the truck on a weekend camping trip with your family, an ice chest is a must-have item. Once you find the best ice chest for you, the one that’s right for your use, you can make the real decisions – what foods and drinks to pack. Then, you can get out there and enjoy the wine.
The quality of the ice chest dictates how long it will keep your food and drinks cold, and this is generally related to price – but not always. Think about how much you are willing to spend.
Then consider the space. How much do you need? The better the ice chest, the less ice you will need to keep the contents cold for a longer period of time.
Hard-sided ice packs are durable, strong and effective, but also heavy and cumbersome. Soft-sided ice packs are lightweight and easy to carry, but they won’t withstand the same level of abuse and won’t keep your food and drinks cold as long as hard-sided ones . Finally, you should consider style. There are ice chests designed to be placed on a boat, as well as wheeled ice chests that will serve you better if you are a shore fisherman. There are also cooler backpacks that allow you to keep your food and drinks cool while on the trail, and coolers for kayaks.
Need a solid, high-quality ice chest?
Hunting and fishing requires strong equipment. For a cooler, this means hardware that will withstand repeated use without latches failing, hinges breaking, or walls corroding during use.
In recent years, companies have begun producing coolers and chests that will withstand rough use. They are strong enough to last, will take a beating on the back of a truck on a bumpy road without losing its integrity, and will work in extremely hot conditions.
Best Overall: YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
The YETI Tundra 45 Cooler is an excellent ice chest in a popular size. YET
The ultimate in all-around ice comfort, the YETI Tundra 45 cooler has extra-thick insulated walls that provide long-lasting coldness for up to 28 beverage cans. The cooler is strong, durable and features T-Rex grips with heavy-duty rubber caps that keep the lid secure and non-slip feet that will prevent the cooler from sliding around on wet boat decks and truck beds. A gasket on the lid ensures that warm air does not enter when it is closed.
Is portability a concern?
Ice chests are meant to be moved. Many coolers fit easily in a boat or car, but if you’re going to be traveling a considerable distance from your vehicle, lugging around a large, heavy cooler filled with food and drinks will quickly become a hassle. If this is the case for you, there are two main types of portable ice chests to consider.
The first is an ice cooler on wheels. These are similar to your typical ice chest, except they have wheels on one side, as well as an extendable handle to roll the cooler around, similar to a carry-on bag. If you go this route, get a cooler that has rugged enough wheels to handle off-trail terrain. The other option is a soft-sided cooler. These are easy enough to sling over the shoulder, and are also easy to squeeze into tight spaces that sturdy coolers wouldn’t fit.
The best on wheels: Pelikan Elite Cooler on Wheels
The Pelican Elite Wheeled Cooler keeps ice for ten days and has a lifetime warranty. pelican
Pelican’s Elite Cooler is the ultimate ice chest on wheels with 8-inch tall, 2 ½-inch wide wheels and a collapsible cart handle so you can easily roll it around the room or on a trail to a campsite. distant It’s made in the USA and has a lifetime warranty – if you somehow break it, Pelikan will replace it.
The best soft side: ROCKBROS 30 soft cooler
The ROCKBROS 30 soft cooler is portable, light and functional. ROCKBROS
The ROCKBROS 30 soft cooler is great for outdoor people on the go. The 6-pound cooler boasts an impressive cooling duration of 48 hours in a 107-degree environment. The cooler is portable, durable and fits up to 30 beverage cans.
Need a big cooler?
The volume a cooler holds is the main specification. Cooler volume is almost always given in quarts, but keep in mind that 30% to 50% of the storage capacity will be taken up by ice. While 15- to 30-quart coolers may seem large, they will only fit enough food and drink for a few people. A 50-quart cooler is versatile and large enough for larger groups and multi-day trips. Jumbo coolers will hold a lot of food and drinks, but keep two things in mind: Too much air in a cooler will lead to faster ice melting, so the more you put in the cooler, the better… but this will certainly make it heavier and more difficult to transport.
The Big Best: Igloo Polar Cooler 120
The Igloo Polar Cooler 120 is a classic cooler designed for large gatherings or long expeditions. Igloo
The Igloo Polar Cooler 120 is a big cooler – the 120-quart capacity means it will hold up to 188 12-ounce cans. The cooler has a simple yet effective clip-on design and Ultratherm insulation rated to keep ice for up to 5 days in temperatures up to 90 degrees. It is an excellent choice for large parties as well as multi-day expeditions.
Should You Consider An Electric Cooler?
Ice chests have one obvious limitation—they rely on ice to keep your food and drinks cold. For most people, this works well. But ice melts, which means that over time, your coolant will lose its effectiveness. Additionally, you won’t be able to precisely control the temperature inside your cooler.
An electric ice chest eliminates the drawbacks of traditional ice chests. Note: they usually don’t come with built-in batteries. You’ll usually need to run them off a car battery or some other type of portable battery. How long an electric cooler will keep the contents cool depends on the size of the battery you use. Electric coolers aren’t generally as versatile as regular coolers, but they eliminate the need for ice, meaning you can pack them full of food and drink and control the cooler temperature more precisely.
Best Electric: Coleman Iceless Electric Cooler
The Coleman Iceless Electric Cooler can keep your food cold or warm. Coleman
The Coleman Iceless Electric Cooler is an affordable and versatile electric cooler that keeps contents up to 40 degrees cooler or warmer than the outside temperature. An 8-foot power cable makes it easy to connect to a car or boat battery. The 40-quart capacity holds up to 44 cans.
Budget Ice: What you get for under $26
Budget ice packs will keep your food and drinks cold, just not as long or as cold as more expensive ones. Budget ice chests should still be stable and durable. Look for low-cost ice chests that have secure lids and are portable enough that you can still transport them where you need them without too much trouble.
The best budget: Igloo 25 Quart Marine Contour
Igloo 25 Quart Marine Contour is inexpensive, but will still get the job done. Igloo
The affordable Igloo 25 Quart Marine Contour features a hard-sided Ultratherm body that keeps contents cool. It is particularly suitable for anglers and has a fish measuring ruler molded into the lid. It doesn’t hold ice as long as more expensive coolers, but the Igloo 25 is ideal for short trips in mild weather.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Do ice chests go bad?
Ice chests don’t “go bad”, but they do lose their effectiveness over time. Some signs that you need to buy a new cooler include a broken lid and cuts or scratches along the walls. Cracked hinges and broken latches can be replaced.
Q: How cold does an ice chest stay?
How cold an ice chest stays depends on the insulating quality of the ice chest, as well as how much ice you fill it with. To keep perishable food safe, the ice chest must keep the contents below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider using a kitchen thermometer to make sure your cooler stays at the right temperature.
Q: Which ice chest holds ice the longest?
As a rule, hard coolers keep ice longer than soft ones. More expensive solid refrigerants such as Yeti ice chests, will perform better than cheaper ones.
The last words on the best ice chests
Even the best ice chest, no matter the price, will lose efficiency every time it is opened. Don’t go into the cooler unless you want something, and don’t leave the lid open longer than necessary. Your ice will last longer and your contents will stay colder.