Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Day Cooler

Simple solutions for keeping beverages and snacks cold while you enjoy your time outside.

These days, a day cooler can be as much a status symbol as a way to keep drinks and lunch cold and ready to go, and there is a huge range of available products. When thinking about a cooler, you’ll want to balance the cooler’s weight, exterior size, and ease of transport against the ability to keep a T-bone steak frozen solid for three days. After all, it’s a “day” cooler, yes? So, when you’re ready to chill from dawn to dusk, here are three things to think about when choosing a day cooler.

Multiple carry straps, grab handles, and accessory loops make this a handy design. YETI

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You don’t need a day cooler to keep ice for a week, although well-insulated coolers create less melted ice water that can turn sandwiches soggy, which is a definite bonus. Buy a well-constructed cooler but look for features that matter more during a short trip: ease of entry, lots of grab handles to make carry and transport convenient, and an exterior tough enough to take some abuse.

This is a great hard-sided option that will hold up in a car or truck packed with other gear. YETI

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One big decision is whether to go with a wheeled cooler. There’s no doubt that wheels make it much easier to move heavy coolers around, but make sure you’ll be using the cooler in a wheel-friendly environment. Soft sand can bog the wheels down, and mud and dirt that cakes onto wheels will turn your car into a mess. If you choose a wheeled cooler, know that the larger the wheels the easier it will be to maneuver a cooler loaded down with ice and drinks.

This product has a base that elevates the unit above the hot ground for thermal efficiency. Igloo

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The revolution in cooler technology has resulted in coolers that are super-efficient for the long haul, but that increase in long-term cooling can come at the expense of interior space. Thicker, cooler walls, and more features like T-latches take up more space. Even though it’s a day cooler, be sure you’re buying a cooler large to swallow all the drinks, snacks, and grub (plus ice) to get you through the day.