At last! The season of picnics, barbecues, and camp-outs is here. And no matter which summer fun you’re attending, the right cooler can do wonders to keep your food and drink cold, safe, and tasting fresh.
Ready to buy a cooler? Here are 3 good things to know before you shop.
1. The size you need
You obviously don’t want to pick a cooler that’s too small, but you might not realize that a cooler that’s too big is a bad idea too. Why? Because a cooler that isn’t packed pretty close to full won’t keep your food as cold. You can make up the difference with extra ice, but it’s no fun to haul more weight than you need.
So, how do you know what size to get?
Cooler capacity is rated in quarts. An 8-quart cooler can hold 10 cans plus ice, while an 80-quart cooler can hold 108 cans plus ice. Since there isn’t conversion chart showing many cans a tray of brownies and a bowl of potato salad equals (yet), you might want to “measure” the food containers you know you’ll bring against a soda can before you choose a model.
If you’re going on a picnic or camping out, consider bringing separate coolers for food and drink. Food temps will stay more constant if you’re not constantly opening and closing the cooler as people help themselves to cold ones.
2. If you require portability
If you’re just setting the cooler out on your deck for a barbecue, you don’t need to worry about portability. But if it’s a hike from the car to the campsite or beach, features that make the cooler easy to maneuver become more important.
3. Where you’ll store it
Hopefully, you’ll have lots of festive events this spring and summer which will keep your cooler(s) in constant use. But at some point, you’ll need to put it away. If space is at a premium, a soft cooler (made out of nylon) that collapses when not in use takes up less room. Or, consider a plastic cooler that’s stackable for easy storage.
Coolers are the kind of thing you don’t think about … until you realize the one you have isn’t working. So here’s to buying the right model, and not giving it a second thought, until one of your friends asks to borrow it!