Have you ever wondered why the cooler you bought says your ice cream will last five days, but yours melted in five hours? It may not be false advertising. Maybe you picked the wrong cooler for the job, or you’re packing your cooler incorrectly. Or both. Here’s what you need to know if you want to relax well this summer.
Types of coolers
Coolers come in such a wide range of styles, materials, and sizes that it’s easy to get lost. But generally, like crabs, they fall into two basic categories: hard-shelled and soft-shelled.
From there, the choices become more suitable. Hard coolers are made of metal, rotationally molded plastic (rotomoulding), polypropylene or Polystyrene. Soft coolers are offered in neoprene, nylon, vinyl, Cloth and cotton. To make matters more confusing, soft sided coolers can also be their own kind of hybrid category, with a removable plastic form that gives it interior structure, such as the Artic Zone Deep Freeze cooler, which also has a flip top and is zipperless.
As for shapes, these include the familiar rectangular box with a fitted lid as well as picnic baskets, duffel bags, backpacks, drawstring bags, tote bags, bags buckets, bar carts, beer barrels, foldables, compartment coolers and more. They also come with built-in accessories, including zippered pockets and cargo net, all-terrain wheels, retractable or telescoping handles, tow arms, cup holders, cutting boards, dry baskets , butler trays, fish rulers, bottle openers, reservoirs and taps. for dispensing and foam bench tops for seating.
How To Evaluate Which Type Of Chiller Is Best For Your Needs
It’s best to assess what task you need a cooler for: hiking, fishing, camping, cooling wine bottles, throwing barbecues, or even just going to the grocery store to bring back your perishables in hot weather.
Leather Igloo Coolers and Lunch Boxes You’ll Want to Show Off
In practice, a household should have several different sizes and styles on hand, ranging from a cooler bag for taking lunch to the office to a large, sturdy rotomoulded cooler that guarantees several days of cold storage. These come in handy for entertainment, camping, fishing, and emergency food accommodation. In fact, a good rotomolded cooler can hold the contents of your fridge or freezer in the event of a power outage. If you live in an area where weather emergencies such as hurricanes or wildfires occur often, this is a necessity.
When packing your cooler, don’t start with ice on the bottom
Tracy Sinclair, Head of Marketing for wild forkone company that sends a variety of meats to customers recommends placing pre-chilled food or gel packs (not ice) in the bottom of any type of cooler.
Why? Food freezes at a colder temperature than water. Frozen foods will work like gel packs, which also freeze colder than water. When placed at the bottom of the cooler, solidly frozen proteins and gel ice packs are less exposed to the heat of the bag opening.
Next, Sinclair suggests using ice packs to separate your refrigerated foods from the rest of your items. After that, “next comes the drinks – layer of sodas, beer and wine”. She also recommends adding fresh ice packed in Ziploc bags. “They work to keep everything cool while also keeping the ice cold for the drinks,” she said. “Finally, on top you can place salads and fruit.”
For an extra layer of protection, pack a small cooler the night before with your items and place it in the fridge or freezer. Some of the newer backpack style coolers even contain gel type insulation or come with custom removable ice packs that fit into the sides.
Whenever using fresh ice to pack beverages and perishables, keep in mind that air is the enemy of ice. The more product and ice you fill, the more insulated your cooler is. Also, the ice to product ratio should be 2 to 1.
Experts’ favorite type of cooler and how to pack it
Both Michael Perez, Regional Chef and Head Chef of Loro Dallas and Shane McBride, chief operating officer and partner at New York and Palm Beach’s Pork beach barbecuerecommend Yeti coolers for entertainment.
“Yeti coolers are literally the best at keeping food and drinks cool. Although clumsy, [they’re] totally worth it,” said Perez, who serves customers queuing outside in 100+ degree heat with an impressive multi-Yeti setup.