Coolers provide a simple way to help keep food, beverages, bait, or your day’s catch fresh during transport on land or water. The selection of a cooler (or coolers) should depend upon the actual size of your crew, the time of the outing or cruise as well as, your financial allowance.
Coolers vary in proportion, form of construction, durability, impact resistance, ice keeping ability and then in other respects, including handles, hinges, latches and in some cases, wheels for portability. You will find three basic forms of coolers: soft-sided, hard-shell and electric coolers, which tend not to require ice.
This category includes the many familiar designs that may be seen lining the aisles of any grocery or hardware store. Generally, these models feature components of foam insulation sandwiched between plastic shells which are glued or epoxied together. Most lids in this category are attached with screw-on hinges and either snap shut by having an internal mechanism or depend on a tight fit and friction to keep closed. Products within this category generally have a reduced price point (those we tested list from $70 to $90) and styles give attention to obtaining the highest ratio of insulating performance to cost.
Traditional models are likely the proper and economical choice for the majority of people. Unless you will end up planning to keep food below 40° for over six days, or perhaps you think you’ll be abusing your cooler and requiring greater durability, a normal model will serve you well.
In 2006 Yeti changed the video game by introducing a value-is-no-object design centered on maximizing insulating capacity and sturdiness. In the intervening years several manufacturers followed suit. Competitive designs are actually made available from Pelican, ORCA, Engel, RTIC and Grizzly, to name a few. These models utilize a rotomolding process that produces a single piece plastic shell, which happens to be then injected with insulating foam. This single piece construction, along with external latches and pin style hinges which are built into the lid, make these high-end models far more durable than traditional designs. Additionally, these models utilize thicker walls and rubber gasket sealed lids to increase insulative performance. It needs to be noted that thicker, more insulative walls often come at the fee for interior space, creating a capacity that is certainly somewhat smaller compared to advertised.
All of these improvements include better prices, however, these models are meant to keep going for a lifetime and endure probably the most rugged abuse.
High-end models shine should you be looking for increased insulation performance or better durability. Upon inspection, all of the high-end models we tested appear to be more durably built than their traditional counterparts, and also this is corroborated by several user reviews. Generally, high-end models work most effectively for people planning to keep food cold beyond six days, or whose normal everyday use will need an increased degree of ruggedness.
There are numerous of specialty designs available too, each serving an alternative niche. The most common are electric coolers and soft coolers.
There are some models available, like the Igloo Iceless 28, that utilize electric cooling mechanisms. Many of these models could be connected to a wall socket or even a car cigarette lighter. They don’t require ice and offer almost indefinite cooling capacity, providing you gain access to electricity. These models are perfect for extended road trips where you will be residing in hotel rooms and wish to pack your very own drink and food.
Soft models occupy significantly less space than hard ones and tend to be quicker to carry. Most offer an over-the-shoulder or backpack style carrying method. They are ideal for per day by the pool or a picnic. Additionally, they excel at carrying cans. The truth is, many manufacturers advertise the size of these models as the number of cans that can fit inside.
The dimensions you pick out should depend upon the intended use, the telephone number in your party, and how long you need it. A tiny soft-sided or hard shell cooler is okay for any day trip on the kayak but longer outings need something bigger. What size? Cooler capacity is usually stated in quarts or capacity in 12-ounce cans. One quart equals about .75 cans, so a 24-quart cooler will hold around three six packs or 18 cans.
Another way to gauge capacity is to divide the ability in quarts by 30, so a 60-quart cooler equals two cubic feet. When choosing a cooler, do not forget that about 30-fifty percent of their capacity will be taken with ice. For 3 people on a day trip, a 40-quart cooler is often fine. For the same group with a weekend camping trip, a 50- to 60-quart cooler is useful. Try not to purchase a cooler that is too big, as tightly packed coolers keep food colder and longer. Investing in a jumbo sized cooler and filling the surplus space with ice might appear OK, except for the expense and additional weight you should carry.
Conversely, an excessive amount of air or open space inside an overly large cooler helps make the ice melt faster. An exception to this conservative approach is offshore fishing coolers. How big are definitely the fish you intend to catch? We can’t answer that, but we are able to claim that most anglers could be loath to slice their trophy sized catch by 50 percent as a way to take it home! Samples of coolers popular for offshore fishing excursions include coolers by Igloo, Engel and YETI from the 150-250 quart class.
Advice for cooler use
Whenever possible, pre-chill drinks and food before placing them inside the cooler. It takes 1.5 lbs. of ice just to cool a gallon of room-temperature liquid. Having it already cold ensures ice lasts much longer. It is also a good idea to pre-chill the cooler itself by placing some ice inside 1 hour prior to load it.
Put ice in last. Cold air travels down. For beverage-only coolers, load cans and bottles first, then cover with ice. Use crushed or block ice? Crushed ice cools food and drinks fast; however, block ice lasts longer. Pre-freezing drinking water or juices in clean milk jugs is a wonderful substitute for the bulk of block ice. This will keep foods cold and offer a source of cold beverages as the jugs thaw.
Pack foods in chronological order by placing foods that can be consumed last at the base, storing first-used and quite often-used items on top. Store perishable foods like meat and dairy foods right on ice. Keep foods dry by using sealed plastic containers or zip-closure plastic bags.
Store coolers out of the sun, along with your ice or ice packs can last doubly long. To help keep heated air out and cold air in, open the lid only if necessary and close it immediately. On a trip, pack picnic blankets, sleeping bags or clothing throughout the cooler to insulate it a lot more.
Don’t drain the cold water from freshly melted ice to maintain contents cold. Cold water will preserve the remaining ice far better than air. Drain this type of water provided that essential for convenient removal of cooler contents or before adding more ice.
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