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People use ice chests mostly in outdoor situations, and they’re just about as tough and adventurous as their owner. The best ones are designed to keep the contents cold for multiple days while taking some beating.
Most households probably have one of some sort for camping, fishing, beach getaways, soccer games, or other outdoor activities. It may not be the best ice chest, but that’s why you’re here reading this, right?
If you’re looking to get an ice chest, make sure you read some of our tips before you make the purchase. We also have a list of the best ice chests out in there to help you narrow down your choices.
- What to look for the best ice chest?
- Top 5 Best Ice Chests in The Market
What to look for the best ice chest?
1. Identify The Main Purpose For An Ice Chest
The main purpose for an ice chest is to keep things cool, but you’ve got to look deeper than that. Are you using it for camping or fishing? Or maybe it’s just to keep drinks cold for a day at the beach? Of course, you want something you can use for different occasions, so flexibility is important.
When choosing a cooler, you may want to focus more on how often you’ll use it in the toughest occasions. For instance, you might use the cooler for a beach trip, but also for fishing or hunting. In this case, you should get a cooler that’s suitable for keeping your catch or your game from spoiling.
You can still use a high-end cooler for less demanding situations. Otherwise, if you get a low-end cooler for the beach, but then use it for your fishing or hunting, then it might not insulate well enough.
The main purpose for your ice chest helps you determine the best cooler that can provide the best insulation performance for your needs. Some coolers can only hold ice for a few hours, while others can hold ice for multiple days.
If you only need to keep things cool for a day or so, then I don’t think you should spend so much on an ice chest meant for multiple days of ice retention.
Aside from insulation, you should also look into the toughness and durability of the ice chest. You have to look into the physical features of the ice chest to see if it can withstand the beating it’s about to take.
If you’re using the ice chest on a boat or for fishing, then you should consider the waterproofness, the feet, and the locking system. You don’t want your cooler to open up or slide around when you’re rolling in waves.
For camping, how the cooler locks can be the reason animals cannot access your food. You may also encounter animals who will sniff around or try to beat up your ice chest.
2. Get The Right Size
The size of your cooler affects portability and insulation performance. Large coolers can keep things cool for longer periods than small coolers. However, they are not as easy to take around. You should also keep in mind that a large cooler that is half empty may not insulate as well as a medium-sized cooler that is fully loaded.
Ice chests come in a wide variety of sizes. To determine the right one for you, you have to know the number of days and people you are packing for. If you are using the ice chest to store the game from hunting or fish from fishing, make an estimate of how much space you’ll need.
Finally, don’t forget that you’ll be lugging the cooler around and putting it in your vehicle. Make sure you can carry it and fit it in the trunk of your car or truck. For easy transport, consider getting a cooler with wheels. You should also look at the handles and make sure they are easy on the hands and are durable enough to be used on a full load.
3. Easy is Better
Ice chests should be easy to open, close, pack, unpack, fill, and drain. That’s what’ll you’ll do with it most of the time, so make sure you look at how easy they are easy to do. Look at the how the lids open up and stay open, or close and stay closed.
How the ice chest drains is also another factor to consider. A nice cooler doesn’t require manual effort to drain the water out. Ice chests with low drain holes often excel at this function because it allows the water to drain by gravity.
But don’t forget to check how large the drain holes is as well. Otherwise, you might end up losing ice as you drain the water out.
Finally, consider how easy it will be to transport. Coolers with wheels are easy and require no lifting, but not all coolers have them. Look into handles as well and see how easy they are on your hands. Look for handles that are sturdy and comfortable.
Top 5 Best Ice Chests in The Market
Though “best” is totally dependent on a person’s needs and preference, we think these five are worth considering.
1. ORCA Cooler, Tan, 58-Quart
One of the most durable types of coolers are ones that have a roto-molded construction. The Orca Cooler is just that! Its boasts on its ice or cold retention for up to 10 days, so it’s perfect for multi-day fishing trips, boating, camping, and hunting excursions.
- The lid seals nice and tightly, keeping the cold air in and the warm air out.
- It’s very durable. I wouldn’t worry about animals trying to break it.
- The size is perfect for multi-day trips. I love that I can enjoy having meat and other perishable food outdoors. It keeps my drinks nice and cold too!
- The handles offer a nice and comfortable grip. It also seems strong enough to use even on a fully-loaded chest.
- The drainage system is great and doesn’t require any tilting.
- The net attachment that comes with the cooler is great. It offers more storage for small and dry items.
- It has a heavy empty weight, which is around 32 pounds.
- Quite on the expensive side, but if you want ice retention, this is better than the low-cost ones.
- The lid may shut unexpectedly.
2. Yeti Tundra Cooler
Yeti has quite a good reputation for outdoorsmen. This is another cooler that is roto-molded, making it very durable and hard to beat up. That’s why fishermen, campers, and hunters love this ice chest.
The Yeti Tundra comes in many different sizes; from 35 quarts so 350 quarts. The 50-quart can fit 32 cans. The manufacturers recommend that you fill it with a ratio of 2 parts ice and 1 part contents. All Tundra coolers come with a dry basket.
- This cooler also has bear-resistant certification.
- Their standard T-Rex lid latch design keeps the lid secure. It also has the Coldlock Gasket, which seals the cold in and keeps the warm air out.
- You can use this on deck as a casting platform.
- The 65-quart is lighter than the 58-quart of the Orca cooler.
- The draining system isn’t as neat as the others on this list.
- It can get quite uncomfortable carrying it with the handles, even when the cooler isn’t full.
3. Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler
Coleman has got to be a part of any ice chest/cooler list. It’s a widely known reliable brand for anything involving the outdoors. The Coleman 54-quart steel-belted cooler is one of their popular ones. It has a classic look but has a body made of steel.
The cooler can fit about 85 cans, and it’s tall enough to fit 2-liter bottles upright. As for insulation performance, it can keep ice for up to 4 days at temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The steel body is durable, strong, and easy to clean.
- I love that you don’t have to lay down the bottles since they can fit standing up.
- You can use it as a seat or a stand because it is sturdy enough to support up to 250 pounds.
- It’s easy to open, and it locks pretty well.
- For the quality, the price is pretty reasonable. You can choose from a variety of colors: Green, Black, Red/Black, Rose, Silver, Stainless Steel, Turquoise.
- The side handles can be quite painful to the hands.
- The paint can easily be scratched off. After a few uses in camping, it already looks so scratched down.
4. Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler, 45 quart
Another high-end cooler is the Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler, which was designed with fishermen and hunters in mind. It can hold ice for up to 7-10 days, making it ideal for multi-day excursions.
The inside of the cooler is 19 inches long, 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. The exterior is over 29 inches long, 20 inches wide and almost 20 inches in height.
Pelican boasts on their bear resistance certification, which means their product is safe for bears and reduces the risk of bear-human encounters. This is done by ensuring that bears cannot access and become accustomed to anthropogenic food.
- Insulation performance is pretty good.
- The features are ideal for fishing. The top of the lid is a great surface for cleaning fish, and it also has measurement lines so you can measure your catch.
- The drainage system allows for easy draining. It requires little to no manual effort.
- The handles are pretty comfortable and durable for using on a full load.
- It has a bulky exterior, and it’s quite heavy.
- This brand is also on the more expensive side.
5. Coolest Cooler in Classic Orange
How about a cooler with built in speakers so your group can have a blast?That’s right! The Coolest Cooler is a unique cooler that allows you to play music via Bluetooth. The makers had a party in mind when they made this.
Aside from the detachable speakers, this cooler also has a USB, a built in blender, and LED lights. For easy transport, it is designed with big rubberized wheels. It also has a tie-down bungee cord which you can use to secure items on top of the cooler. That way, you don’t have to make multiple trips to get the things you need.
- It’s a fun cooler for beach and backyard fun.
- The handles and wheels are sturdy. It makes transporting the cooler easy, consider an empty cooler is already heavy alone.
- The cooler has a bottle opener and a compartment on the front where you can put small items.
- Insulation performance doesn’t live up to the 4-5 days it advertises. I think it can hold ice for two days, at most.
- The cooler is very heavy even when empty, which is around 29 pounds.. It might be better to get a regular cooler and separate blender, speakers, etc.
- This cooler is expensive, in my opinion.
Finding the best cooler requires some research and a little knowledge on what to look for. People buy one with one main purpose: to keep things cold. That said, insulation performance is one of the top factors consider.
First, identify what situations you’ll be using a cooler for and how long you want it to keep things cold. Second, identify what size is just right for your needs. Then finally, look for one that has features that make it easy to handle.
When it comes to insulation performance, I would say that the Orca does it best. The Yeti Tundra and Pelican also perform very well in this area. These three brands are all on the expensive side, but also because they are high-quality cooler.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, I think the Coleman is the best option. For the price, it’s still a very good ice chest.