There's nothing worse than reaching for a cold drink on a hot summer day just to discover that all of your drinks in the cooler are warm. An even worst scenario would be packing days worth of food for a family camping trip just to be dismayed that all the ice in the cooler has melted and the food has gone bad. To avoid situations like these, picking the right cooler is crucial. Here, we break down everything you need to know about purchasing a cooler and compare some of the best ones on the market.

What to Look for in a Good Cooler

Not all coolers are created equal. There are some that are top-notch and some that should have never left the manufacturer. Good coolers have excellent ice retention. This is important if you plan on storing food for a long period of time. A cooler that is well insulated will prevent your food from perishing and keep your drinks colder longer. In addition, a high-quality cooler must have durability. It must withstand being lugged around in the stand and rolled on rough terrain. Therefore, it is wise to purchase a cooler with sturdy lids and handles. Lastly, choosing a cooler with lock-ability is important. If you're camping, you don't want other ravenous campers (or bears) stealing your food. Therefore, it is crucial that you purchase a cooler that will allow you to efficiently secure the goods.

The Best Coolers on the Market

Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler -- $299.99

yeti cooler
  • Superb durability
  • Great ice retention
  • DoubleHaul handles

Yeti is brand that is known for producing coolers that deliver. Specifically, the Tundra 45 cooler is unique from many other coolers with its construction. To explain, this cooler was made using a process called rotomolding, which makes this cooler's material strong and durable. This is reflected in its 500-pound weight capacity. Additionally, the walls on the Yeti Tundra 45 cooler's walls are thicker than most coolers, meaning it has better insulation. It has something called PermaFrost Insulation (PU) foam which traps in the cold and ensures that your food stays colder for longer.

Along with proper insulation, this cooler has a freezer-quality gasket in its lid that reduces heat intrusion. In other words, even the sun's beaming rays won't cause this cooler to warm up. Since the Tundra 45 comes with all of these great features, it is quite heavy, and adding food and drinks could make it even heavier. Not to worry, because this cooler comes with DoublelHaul handles that allows you to securely transport it. A major difference between these handles and those of other coolers is that these are made with rubber and rope instead of weak plastic ones. The Yeti Tundra cooler is a great value and will last through any camping trip or day party.

Orion 25 qt Heavy Duty Cooler -- $369.00

orion cooler
  • Supreme lockability
  • Can preserve ice for 6 days
  • Built-in bottle openers

Similar to the Yeti brand, Orion manufacturers durable and premium coolers. Also similar to the Yeti Tundra 45, this cooler was made using rotomolding which means that it can withstand any condition or surface. Its insulation is two inches thick in every wall and on the lid. In fact, it can preserve ice for up to six days. That's quite the feat compared to most coolers. Another great feature of this cooler is it's bear-resistant lock, which makes it ideal for camping trips. The camming latches on the front of the cooler make it difficult for animals and humans to crack it open. Also, this lock ensures that the lid does not come open during bumpy car rides. Another great addition to this cooler the easy-grip rope handles make carrying it a breeze. The only downside is that does not have a pull handle like other coolers.

This cooler was definitely made with fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts in mind. The Orion cooler has four aluminum bottle openers and six tie-down points. It also offers YakAttrack Tracks for mounting your fishing supplies. Although this cooler is a bit more costly than other coolers, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Outdoor Recreational Company of America 58-Quart Cooler (ORCA) -- $338.05

ORCA cooler
  • Premium insulation
  • Easy portability
  • Packs well in vehicles

ORCA is another pioneer brand that manufactures superior quality coolers. This one, in particular, is comparable to its high performing counterparts. The Outdoor Recreation Company of America's 58-Quart cooler is rotomolded and has pin-style hinges that can defy the tests of time and endure the expected rug and tug. Speaking of resistance, this cooler is efficiently insulated and prevents heat from seeping in. It is able to maintain temperatures below 40 degrees for up to six days, and it maintains ice for up to seven days. Thus, this cooler is great for camping or long road trips. Speaking of long trips, its perfect cube shape allows it to fit perfectly in vehicles. Another great feature is its portability. Its semi-rugged rubber and nylon handles are comfortable and allow you to distribute weight easily. Therefore, it can easily be carried by one person. An additional feature that gives this cooler an edge on the others is its strong lid seal, making it leak resistant. However, the lid unexpectedly slams close, which can be alarming and be a problem for small children. If you can look past this flaw, the ORCA 58-quart cooler provides a decent value.

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