When searching for a cooler, we all want one that keeps the inside cold for days, is durable, sturdy, lasts for years and is fairly cheap. This all sounds great but is actually nearly impossible to find. As you can see, there are many cheap coolers on the market for every occasion, season and personal preference. To choose the perfect cooler, you need to determine what size you need, what you are going to use it for, and what is the occasion or event you plan to take it to.
Coolers don’t have to be large and clumsy. There is a cooler for those who throw large parties every weekend, or going solo on a backpacking trip. Thus, while buying a cooler first thing you should consider is how big you want it to be. Think what you want to use it for and for how many people. If you have a large family and often attend large sport events, picnics or outdoor weekend trips, go for Igloo Polar Cooler. Yet, such a large cooler is not useful for you if need something to put in your car to keep your drinks cold on the road. You can choose from middle-sized and non-wheeled options.
Sturdiness VS Mobility
There are both rolling and fixed coolers, and while wheels undoubtedly make coolers mobile and easier to use, they aren’t always necessary. If you plan to keep your cooler at home or in the car you might not need wheels after all. Fixed coolers are more stable, and even the largest one of them can be easily placed in the trunk or car seat without fear of it moving around and destroying the contents. While having rugged wheels does not exclude stability, such coolers are way more comfortable to use when you expect to move around on foot a lot and planning to carry a lot of food and water with you. Most mobile one, however, are those made of soft fabric. Extremely light and easy to carry they have almost no stability and provide little to no retention.
Ice Retention Properties
Maybe the most important feature of the cooler is the ice retention that it provides. Most of the coolers are said to keep ice for up to 5 days, yet this is rarely the case. Most will surely keep the ice for only 3 days and then you’ll need to add more ice. For some, using coolers for a couple days is more than enough, but if it’s not, go for the Igloo Polar Cooler. However, if you take long road trips often, especially into the wilderness, with no chance to grab more ice, you might want to consider taking the electrical Wagan EL6224 cooler instead. No ice is needed and the drinks will stay just as cold.
Proper durability for the right occasion
Most coolers are made of plastic, which makes them particularly sturdy and rigid. Others are simply made of fabric, which increases the comfort of use and their mobility. While choosing a cooler consider for what occasion you’ll be using it for. This will help to understand how durable it should be. On the road every weekend, have camp fires every now and then or throwing wild parties, prioritize durability and sturdy materials: go for plastic coolers with reinforces lids, no wheels. These coolers survive long drives and keep the food and drinks cold for longer. If you require a smaller, lighter and more mobile version and don’t need long ice retention, choose plastic ones with wheels or even soft fabric.
Best brands within the price range
As a matter of fact, it is relatively easy to find a high-quality and affordable cooler. If you don’t want to go broke and striving to find the best cooler under $100 focus on the Coleman and Igloo brands. They are just as well known and of the same quality as Yetis, but are a lot more affordable. They have many reliable options for many occasions. For example, Coleman Xtreme Series Portable Cooler – a sturdy, extra-insulated cooler can be used for both road trips and large home parties and it goes for just $60. Igloo Ice Cube for instance costs less than $30 and is great for those prioritizing mobility over sturdiness, as it is spacious, but portable and easy-to-use wheeled cooler.
Choosing a great cooler isn’t as hard as it might seem. The key is to understand what you need it for and how you are going to use it. Things you should focus on are the size of the cooler, its stability and durability, as well as ice retention. Our top pick for the best budget cooler is the small but powerful Wagan EL6224 because it is electric and requires no ice to cool of drinks, or the need to warm up the food. The best mid-sized one is the Coleman Xtreme (70 quart) – an easy to carry, portable option with long-lasting ice retention. The best large cooler for big parties or camping trips for a large group is undoubtedly the Igloo Polar Cooler.