Whether you’re out for a camping trip or a barbeque in your backyard, you’re going to need a cooler to keep the refreshments cold. And before you purchase a cooler, you may ask yourself, “What size cooler do I need?”
The answer to that question is dependent on what activities you plan to use it for.
WHAT SIZE COOLER DO I NEED?
Coolers are measured in quarts, and they come in sizes that range from 16 quarts to 400 quarts. On average, 1 quart is enough space for 0.75 cans.
The size cooler you need is mostly determined by how long you’re going to be out in the wilderness. If you’re out for a weekend camping trip, you might want one small and one medium cooler. One can carry drinks, and the other can carry meat and fish.
However, if you’re planning on an extended vacation in the woods, you’ll want to purchase a larger cooler. That’s because if you’re away from civilization for a long time, you’ll need the cooler to store a large amount of food.
WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER BRINGING MORE THAN ONE COOLER ON EXTENDED TRIPS?
When you go on an extended vacation, the question you ask yourself shouldn’t be what size cooler do I need; it should be, how many coolers should I bring? This is because it’s important to store meat and drinks separately.
Storing your drinks and meat separately is important because you will be opening the cooler for drinks far more often than for meat. This might not seem incredibly important, but it is.
When you open a cooler, you’re letting the hot air inside. This forces the cooling process to start again, and the food or drinks inside don’t stay as cold as possible. Exposing meat to warm air for too long is dangerous as it could cause it to go bad sooner than you’d expect.
If you have a separate cooler for your meat, you’ll only need to open it to get food ready for meals. As a result, your food will last longer.
WHAT TYPES OF COOLERS ARE THERE?
A few years ago buying a cooler was simple, you’d go to the store and buy the first thing you saw on the shelf. That’s changed in recent years as many different types of coolers are now available. So, you need to have a better idea of what you need the cooler for before you buy it.
Plastic coolers are the most common type that exists today. They’re also the most popular because they’re very durable. They also can usually hold a large amount of food in them.
Another reason for their popularity is that they are often equipped with wheels or handles. This makes it a lot easier to transport them. Additionally, they usually come with extra compartments. These compartments can be used for ice packs, or they can hold a valve for draining excess water after the ice melts.
Metal coolers are the most durable option on the market right now. However, many people choose to go with other options because metal coolers are very heavy. You only need the durability of metal coolers if you’re going on a high impact fishing or hunting trip.
Styrofoam coolers are unique because they aren’t meant for long term use. You fill them with ice or ice packs to keep things cool.
Unfortunately, styrofoam boxes don’t keep things fresh for very long. They’ll do a fine job for a short period of time if you have no other options, but if you’re going for a long trip, you’ll want a different cooler. You should only use a styrofoam cooler for things like a barbecue where you only need it for a few hours.
Fabric coolers are usually smaller than other types. They can be convenient for storing little things on a camping trip. However, if you plan on going on an extended trip, you’ll either need multiple coolers or a bigger option than a fabric cooler.
These coolers are made from synthetic fabric, and they’re easy to carry. This makes them great if your camping spot is away from the road, and you need to walk.
Electric coolers have risen in popularity for the past few years. They work much like a mini refrigerator that you plug into your car. While they aren’t necessary on every occasion, they’re handy if you’re planning a long trip.
These coolers will keep your food and drinks nice and cool for longer than any other cooler. However, you will need to bring some sort of battery or generator to keep it going.
WHAT SHOULD YOU CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A COOLER?
Before you ask yourself the question, “What size cooler do I need?” you need to understand what to look for in a cooler. The first thing you need to do is determine what type of cooler you need.
The cooler best for you is mostly determined by how long a trip you’re going on. You then need to figure out how much food you need to store.
You should also consider the insulation of the cooler itself. All coolers attempt to keep their contents cold, but some do it better than others.
Therefore, it’s essential to look for coolers that are well insulated. Otherwise, you’ll be left with meat that is inedible before you get the chance to cook it.
You should also look for a cooler that is IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) certified. An IGBC product is more bear-resistant than other products.
Although they aren’t entirely bear-proof, IGBC certified products will do a better job of keeping bears and other animals out.
Furthermore, you should look for a cooler that is easy to use, but not too easy. Noone likes a cooler that takes an enormous amount of effort to open. At the same time, you don’t want a cooler that opens from a small bump in the road.
You should look for a cooler that falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. This way, your food, and drinks will be kept cool while staying easily accessible.
WHAT SIZES DO COOLERS COME IN?
Before you ask yourself, “What size cooler do I need?” you need to know what sizes coolers come in.
Coolers that are smaller than 16 quarts are for personal use and can only store a few items. Then there are small coolers that are between 17 and 35 quarts. These coolers are good options for backyard barbecues.
Medium coolers range from 36 to 59 quarts. A lot of people prefer coolers of this size because they are good options for a weekend camping trip for two.
Large coolers are from 60 to 99 quarts. These coolers are big enough to hold supplies for an extended camping trip for an entire family.
Finally, there are the giant coolers that include all coolers bigger than 100 quarts. These coolers can carry a full week’s supplies for hunting, fishing, or camping trips. However, these coolers are incredibly bulky and heavy to carry.
IN WHAT SITUATIONS DO I NEED A COOLER?
There are several situations you might need a cooler. Firstly, you might need a small one to keep your lunch cold at work. You could also need a small or medium one to keep drinks cold at an afternoon barbecue or tailgate.
Coolers are also crucial for anyone who plans on going on a hunting, fishing, or camping trip. Having a cooler or two on these trips will allow you to bring perishable food with you on the trip.
HOW TO PACK A COOLER
After you’ve answered the question, “What size cooler do I need?” and you’ve purchased a cooler, you need to learn how to pack a cooler.
When packing your cooler, you want to make sure your cooler is cold before you start storing things inside. You also should pre-chill all the items you plan on putting inside it. This will increase the amount of time things stay cold.
Place ice at the bottom of the cooler. This is because cold air sinks, so ice at the bottom of the cooler will stay frozen longer.
Once the ice in place, you can place the food or drinks on top of the ice layer. Frozen food should go towards the bottom if you’re storing different contents in one cooler. Use a towel to separate the contents.
If there is any room on the top, fill the void with more towels. This will help keep your food cold for longer. And keep your cooler in the shade and out of the sun whenever possible.
BE PREPARED WITH THE BEST SIZED COOLER FOR YOU
So, “What size cooler do I need?” Now you shouldn’t have a problem deciding.
Before you purchase a cooler, you should know what activity you need it for, how long you need to store food, and what you’re going to store in it. Without this information, you won’t be able to make an educated purchase.
Do you now have the answer to “What size cooler do I need?” What cooler size do you think you’re going to choose? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image by: Pexels
Daniel C. Warren gradually morphed from a weekend warrior into a full-time outdoorsman and outdoor blogger. From picking up trash in the woods or sleeping under an open sky to hiking until his plantar fasciitis says no more or having a field day fishing with like minded fellow countrymen, there’s little he doesn’t wholeheartedly enjoy while out in the wild. While some might call him a true-born nature freak, he likes to see himself as a “born-again” outdoor enthusiast. Daniel just can’t get enough of nature, and we’re grateful whenever he decides to share his latest experiences with us.