Whether you’re going tent camping with the family or on a weekend girls’ trip in a tow-behind trailer, you’ll need something to keep your food and drinks cold. From frozen burgers for the kids to your favorite Sauvignon Blanc, a good cooler is essential for housing various items you might need on your next outdoor adventure. There are many variables to consider when purchasing the perfect cooler for your family. You’ll want something versatile that you can use on any trip, regardless of length. Here are some tips for choosing the best option for you.

Size

Size does matter when it comes to choosing a cooler. You’ll want to consider both the cooler’s physical size and how much storage space it has inside. If you often go for long family camping trips with the kids, you’ll need a decent amount of storage space. What types of items do you typically take with you that are perishable or need to stay cold? It’s also important to remember that some of the space will be for ice or ice packs, so sizing up is always a good option.

Additionally, consider how you will be transporting your cooler. You need to make sure that you have space in your car, boat, or tent to house your cooler while you are on your trip. Choosing a lightweight cooler that also offers adequate storage space is the best option. As a ballpark figure, 52 quarts is a fair size, allowing you to fit everything you need, while also offering flexibility when it comes to storage and transportation.

Insulation

Next, you need to consider the insulation capabilities of the cooler. If you need a cooler for day-use, you may be OK with a soft-sided cooler with minimal insulation. Soft-sided coolers won’t last you more than a day, maybe two at max, so you’ll need to upgrade for anything over this. Ideally, getting a good quality cooler that offers 6+ days of cooling will make it the most versatile. That means that whether you take it on a weekend outing or an entire week, you can use the same cooler and ensure your food is kept cool.

Secure

If you’re heading into the wilderness camping, you’ll want to make sure that your cooler is secure. Bears and other furry friends are tactical when it comes to breaking into coolers, so secure clamps are essential. It will also help during transport to ensure that items don’t spill out if your cooler happens to tip over.

Material

Coolers come in a variety of different materials, with benefits to each kind depending on your needs. The most common material that coolers are made from is plastic. Plastic is lightweight, durable, waterproof, and inexpensive, making it an obvious choice for a cooler. That said, all plastic isn’t created equal, and you’ll want to look for rotomolded construction, meaning it’s all made from one piece, to ensure it lasts longer and doesn’t leak. You can also find coolers made from metal, fabric, and rubber components.

By taking these factors into account, you can choose the best option for your next family adventure.

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