04.What to look for
Size Check the cooler fits the space you intend to transport it in. Narrow and smaller coolers are easier to lift without assistance. Vertical bottle storage is offered by taller coolers. While models with recessed lids allow loading above the top of the compartment, items stored in this area could be very warm.
Insulation Thicker walls generally provide better insulation. Look for walls that are consistently thick, not just at the top. Also look for walls and lids that don't compress easily when pressed, as these are more likely to be filled with air rather than a better insulation material. You're also more likely to be able to use the better insulated hard coolers as a seat, as they're sturdier.
Wheels make pulling a heavy loaded cooler on smooth surfaces much easier than carrying it.
Handles should be easy to grasp and robust. Shoulder straps are useful for smaller coolers. Pull handles for larger wheelie types are handy but try them out to make sure they suit your height.
Non-slip rubber feet help stop the cooler sliding around in a vehicle, but they may also make sliding the cooler into position difficult.
Cleaning Cheaper coolers have white textured lids that can be difficult to keep clean. Flush-mounted drains don’t trap dirt or objects.
Bungs that seal the drain hole should fit well and be attachable so they don’t get lost.
A hose fitting allows the cooler to drain without being moved.
Latches, and lids should be easy to open and close, one handed types are easier for general use. However watch out for some hinged type lids that can cause the cooler to tip over when it's empty.
Ice and or dry-ice compatibility Most coolers make claims about being ice compatible and leak proof, but we found not all meet there claims - so check the details in our Compare Coolers table. Also check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the use of dry ice. Generally, a dry ice block should be heavily wrapped so it doesn’t come into contact with the liner and therefore damage it.