Whether you're hitting the campground or attending an outdoor event, a camping cooler is a very important piece of gear to bring. If you're going into the woods for a weekend or longer, you'll need a camping cooler to keep your food and drinks from spoiling. If you're going to the park for a concert or someone's house for a picnic, a cooler for camping cooler can keep your drinks as cold as if they came right out of the fridge.
A camping cooler is like a suitcase or a storage box for your perishable goods. The best coolers for camping are designed to retain ice for a long period of time and protect the contents from the impact of direct sun or humidity. What's more, the best camping cooler is durable enough to stay in one piece when your outdoor adventure gets a little rough and rugged.
Why Do I Need a Camping Cooler?
One of the biggest reason you need a camping cooler is because when you're on a camping trip, you don't want your food to spoil. Improper food storage can lead to major health problems, and a campground may not be the best place to suffer from food poisoning.
Additionally, a camping cooler can be used to keep the wildlife away from your food. When secured properly, a camping cooler can be used to keep bears, deer, raccoons, and other woodland creatures from helping themselves to your food.
What Is the Best Camping Cooler for My Needs?
When you're looking for the best camping cooler, you need to understand that no two coolers are alike. The best coolers for camping come in all shapes and sizes and are made out of different materials. Here's a look at some of the best coolers for camping.
A Personal Sized Camping Cooler
Picture the lunch tote in your desk at work. It's made to bring your lunch, but not enough food for your neighbors to join you. A personal sized camping cooler is just like that. The best personal sized camping coolers hold up to 8 cans and are ideal for a day of hiking through the woods. Usually made of fabric, they have a leakproof zipper and a single piece liner to keep a day's worth of food and drinks cold. They also have padded shoulder straps for easy transportation.
A Backpack Camping Cooler
If you're looking for something a little larger for a family camping trip, then a backpack camping cooler can do the trip. They are usually have a super tough waterproof and stain resistant molded shell, and an extra pouch for carrying your cell phone, car keys, and other items you want to stow away for a weekend camping trip. Also, you carry it like a backpack, so they have extra wide foam lined backpack straps and padded back support, which makes for a comfortable trip to and from the RV, car, truck, or SUV to the campsite.
A Tote Bag Cooler
If you want the best that both a personal sized camping cooler and a backpack camping cooler have to offer, then you may want to get a tote bag cooler. You can carry it like a personal cooler, and store as much, or more, inside it as you would a backpack cooler. Additionally, you can use carabiner clips to attach the tote bag cooler to a cart or a rolling cooler when you're transporting it from the vehicle to the campsite.
A Stainless Steel Camping Cooler
Stainless steel camping coolers have a large capacity, so they are awesome for large family camping trips. For example, a 54 quart stainless steel metal cooler can fit up to 85 cans, even though you'll want to use one to store more than just drinks. They have a durable stainless steel body and keyed lid latch that helps keep food and drinks colder longer. Additionally, they have a bottle opener built in so you won’t have to worry about losing yours, and a rustproof drain camp
A Soft-Sided Camping Cooler
Soft sided rolling coolers are functional and convenient for keeping drinks and food cool while you camp. Soft sided coolers with wheels have an extendable handle, which makes them easy to move from the car to the campsite. Don’t worry about spoilage: soft sided rolling coolers have leakproof, heat sealed microbial liners to keep drinks and food safe. They also provide superior ice retention to keep your food and drinks cold for a long time.
How Do I Choose the Best Camping Cooler Size?
Once you've chosen a cooler type, it's time for the next big question: which size will you go for? You may be able to find coolers with 12, 24, and 36-ounce capacities, or perhaps even larger ones. Here are the factors that'll influence your choice:
Some food items, such as fruits and salads, and water bottles, do not take up much space. Others, such as hotpots items, rice, or packaged goods, take up more space. Therefore, the dimensions of your food package matter, as does the fact that you shouldn't cram everything in such a way that your food items get intermixed and spoil each other.
Days of Camping
Even when you're packing loaves of bread, spreads, and jams, you can't be sure if a small camping cooler will suffice. So if you eat sloppy joes and guacamole twice a day for five days, you will still need a large camping cooler.
Number of Campers
The more the people, the larger your camping coolers should be. If you have a family with varying food requirements, that'll also impact the kind of containers that may suit you.
The cooling capacity relies on the amount of ice you store in your container. If you need more ice for more prolonged cooling, you'll ultimately need a bigger camping cooler.
The Importance of Ice Retention
The main point of a camping cooler is to keep your things cold. If you open your cooler often, it decreases your ice retention. That's because you let in a little warm air every time you open the cooler, and the ice needs to cool it down. That means the ice in your cooler will break down slightly as the ice does it's job chilling the warmer air to make it the same temperature as the inside of the cooler.
However, not opening your camping cooler is just not an option. That's why camping coolers are designed with insulation that keeps helps retain ice. Draining water from the inside of your camping cooler can help it retain ice longer, but you may also need to replenish your ice when you are on a longer camping trip.