How To: Choose A Cooler For The Outdoors 

You probably need more than this little cooler for your outdoor adventure.

If you are an outdoor type of person that loves going on trips, then you must have a cooler. If you don’t, then you are in big trouble! Fortunately for you, you still have time to solve this issue. In this article, you will read about backpack coolers and how they can change your traveler’s life. Just stick around and you will learn plenty of information about the world of outdoor cold storage.  

A look at one of the soft coolers available at (image courtesy of

How many types of outdoors coolers there are” 

Right now, there are three main types: basic, soft-side, and heavy-duty. You may find other types like disposable (Styrofoam boxes) and ice-less, but we will skip them because they are not useful at storing food and drinks at camp. Here is what you need to know about the basic three types:  

  1. Basic coolers: These have relatively minimal insulation and they only partially seal around the lid. Try not to tip them over as you will cause a mess. Also, these have a great price tag at most hardware stores.
  2. Soft-side coolers: These are a little more specialized for weight-conscious consumers but they tend to have a lesser insulation.
  3. Heavy-duty coolers: This is a freshly new category. They have very thick insulation, locking lids, and tight seals which makes them ideal for long trips and difficult conditions. However, they cost a lot more, too.

What uses can you give a cooler” 

This is a very important question to ask yourself when deciding which type of cooler you need. If you only go on long road trips a couple days each year and you might use it to store soda and beer for some birthday parties, there’s no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on a renowned cooler brand like YETI, Grizzly, or Coleman. However, bear in mind, that if you make regular long trips where you need ice for days, then you must buy a heavy-duty cooler. Furthermore, if all you need to pack for a campsite is your drinks, go for a soft-side cooler with good straps and handles. A cooler of some sort is also great for events like bike races, especially if they’re the 6, 12 or 24-hour brand of event where you need to refuel between laps.

Some coolers can get pretty fancy! (image courtesy of

What’s the price range like for coolers” 

Another important factor to take into consideration is your personal budget. There is marked cost difference between the three types. Basic coolers range from about $20 to $150 based on their size and features. Soft-side coolers range from an $8 insulated sack to a $400 backpack with dry bags and a flotation device that can keep its content cold for many days. Lastly, heavy-duty coolers start at $50 but they can go up to $1,300. 

Additionally, you need to add to that initial price, the cost of ice. Yes, ice doesn’t come by cheap! Especially during long trips when you may end up buying extra ice. If you have a heavy-duty cooler, you will just buy ice once during a trip. But if you get any of the other two, you might need to stop several times to get ice. 

Which is the best cooler size for outdoor trips” 

Last but not least, we need to discuss the size of the cooler. Even if you are going on a really long trip, you don’t need a 350-quart cooler. Just get a normal size cooler that can cope with your demands. For example, if you are carrying groceries and drinks with some ice, you’re looking for a cooler in the 20 to 50-quart range. When it comes to fishermen, you need a smaller cooler than that!  

Super-cool vintage cooler that’s probably way too big for outdoor use!

 The best way to determine the right size for your cooler is to plan the menu for one of your typical trips. Buy all the food and drinks, then stack it all and measure the pile. Calculate a ratio of 2:1 (food-ice) for trips longer than two days. Once you do the math, you know which size is better for you.   

Take a closer look at these tips when choosing your cooler. Remember that it is very important not to get carried away when buying a cooler. You really don’t want to buy a heavy duty when in fact you need a basic cooler. All considered, it is not worth it. Follow the instructions to determine which type of cooler will satisfy all your needs. 

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By Wandering Justin

Writer. Traveler. Gastronomic daredevil. Fitness fan. Homebrewer. Metal dude \m/. Cat and dog lover.

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