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How to Pick the Perfect Cooler

Picking the perfect cooler may not be at the top of your list when you start planning Spring Break or summer road trips, but it is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle to help ensure a successful vacation. Before you head out on your next adventure, take a few minutes to ask the questions that will help you pick out the perfect cooler!

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How to Pick the Perfect Cooler

Back when I was growing up there were two types of coolers – big ones and small ones. That was about it. But now there are so many options that you can pick out the perfect cooler to meet your needs no matter what type of adventure you have planned.

What Size Do You Need?

We always travel with two coolers on road trips. We have a large cooler that fits perfectly in the back of the van and another smaller cooler that fits between the seats up front so we can easily access drinks and snacks. When we recently needed a new cooler, we measured both spaces so they would fit exactly into the space available.

Does It Need to be Portable?

Are you planning a hike out in the backcountry where you need to carry multiple bottles of water and snacks on your back? You might want to buy a backpack cooler that will free up your hands while you hike.

How Long Does the Ice Last?

Each cooler has a rating for how long the ice will last. This is important to know when you are traveling. When we were on a road trip out west with hundreds of miles between cities, we wanted to make sure the food would be cold for several days. Make sure you check the specs to see how long the cooler will keep food and drinks cold.

Does it Have Special Features?

Specific dry areas may not be as important if you are using the cooler in your vehicle, but if you are taking it out to a public pool or beach area, you may want to purchase a cooler that has a dry area for hotel keys or valuables.

Do you need a bottle opener for glass bottles? Some coolers like the Trailmate Journey provide some special features to solve problems when out on adventures. My husband loves Ale-8 One that is bottled right here in Kentucky so of course, a bottle opener is a great feature! **You can even go on a free tour and see them bottle this Kentucky soda!

Go anywhere you want with the ultimate all-terrain cooler, featuring the kind of built-tough mobility that can traverse in all kinds of conditions. From grassy fields to beach dunes, from dirt roads to wooded trails, you’re in good company with the Trailmate Journey.

The Trailmate Journey has a 70qt capacity and can keep 112 12oz beverage cans cold with Ultratherm® Technology built into the body and lid.

Trailmate Journey

How Will You Transport the Cooler?

Is the cooler light enough to carry when you get to the picnic area or do you need wheels? Does it have an extension handle making it easy to pull? Do you need large wheels that will let it roll over sandy beaches or across a field? Remember that the cooler will easily double or triple its weight when you fill it with food and drinks. You need a way to easily transport the cooler to where you need it.

Does it Have a Drain Valve?

No matter how insulated your new cooler is, the ice will eventually melt. Most coolers will have a drain valve so you can easily get rid of melted ice. If it doesn’t, check to see that it is light enough that you can turn it over when the ice turns to water.

What are the things you look for in a cooler? Are you looking for a particular style or cooler for a specific event?


Use these resources and tools to help you plan your next road trip!

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