Spending time outdoors is a wonderful way to enjoy the summer and soak up time with your friends, family, or alone time. When the great outdoors calls your name, you know it’s time to pack up and head into the wild blue yonder.
If you’ve ever looked for a cooler, you know that there are tons of options and styles to choose from, each one suited for different activities ranging from long-term camping to hikes or soccer game sidelines.
To help you find the perfect fit, we put together this breakdown of the five types of coolers for every occasion. Let’s discuss.
What To Look For in a Cooler
When you are shopping for a cooler of any variety, it’s essential to know what to look for. Not every cooler is made equal, and if you want your food and drinks to stay ice-cold, you need to get the best coolers.
Here are a few of the most important things to look for:
The first and foremost thing you need to look for in a cooler is durability. Coolers are meant for outdoor use, which means exposure to the elements, and sometimes falls, drops, bumps, scrapes, and accidents.
You need your cooler to stand up to the fight. At Patriot Coolers, we build all of our gear to stand up to whatever life or nature might throw in your path.
You must also make sure that your cooler is made of the best materials to keep your drinks and food cold and secure. Coolers are made of many unique materials, depending on their primary function and quality.
For the softshell variety, you are looking for a fabric or nylon exterior which can withstand scratching and tearing and is easily foldable and collapsible for storage and travel. For a hard-sided cooler, you need a material that is tough, strong, and insulated, like rotomolded plastic.
The material also relates to location-based threats. If you are entering bear territory, you’ll want a cooler that keeps bears (and other dexterous wildlife) away from your food supplies — for your safety and theirs.
A cooler is not of much use to you if it doesn't actually keep your food and drinks cold. You need your coolers, whether soft shell or hard-sided, to have a good insulation material.
For our softshell cooler, we use closed-cell insulation, which is an industry-leading technology capable of keeping your food and drinks ice-cold for up to 24 hours. Our hard coolers use three inches of rotomolded plastic walls to provide insulation capable of keeping ice frozen for five days.
It is also critical to consider the size you need from your cooler. If you are going on a several-day-long camping trip, then you will need more storage space than if you are going to the beach for an afternoon. A beach or lake day might be the perfect place to bring an Insulated Tote, but not weekend-long camping endeavors. “Day coolers” are called “day coolers” for a good reason, after all.
Plan for the size of the cooler you need, but never forget the bandwidth of your vehicle — it’s a measure twice, pack once sort of thing.
The final consideration that you need to make when looking for a cooler is its potential for portability. If you are camping, you may be able to bring a heavy, large cooler that can stay planted at camp. But if you are hiking, portability begins to matter quite a bit.
We have options ranging from our large hard-sided coolers, which, when full, can easily weigh over 100 pounds, down to our tote and backpack style coolers designed with carrying in mind.
The Five Different Types of Coolers for Specific Occasions
Now that you know what to look for when shopping for a cooler that will live up to its name, it's time to take a closer look at a few different types of coolers.
1. Softpack Coolers
Softpack coolers, also known as soft-sided coolers, are a great option for short-term trips that require portability and won't need overnight cold storage. Softpack coolers are commonly made from synthetic fabric blends. The fabric composition can vary widely, so double-check that you’re getting the good stuff.
Soft-Sided Coolers are an excellent option for short excursions; they are lightweight, durable, and offer enough storage to make sure that your daily needs are met. Soft pack coolers are a must-have at a family picnic but are also smart choices for sports games to bring snacks, water bottles, and other goodies.
Soft-Sided Coolers include can coolers, backpack coolers, and insulated tote bags.
2. Hard Coolers
For more heavy-duty missions, you need a more heavy-duty cooler to rise to the challenge. That is where hard-sided coolers tap in — the tanks of the cooler world.
Hard-sided coolers are much larger than soft-sided coolers and tend to offer better, more powerful insulation. However, these advantages can come at the expense of higher weight and decreased portability.
The best hard-sided coolers on the market are made from rotomolded plastic. This thick plastic material is strong, sturdy, and incredibly insular, giving you a superb combination. These hard coolers are ideal for long-term trips or trips that require a lot of storage, like camping or fishing trips.
Patriot Coolers Hard Coolers are the best in the industry, featuring three-inch-thick rotomolded plastic walls to offer maximal insulation to keep ice frozen for up to five days. The lid also comes with a bear-proof lock, and our rotomolded coolers are built tough to avoid vacation-disrupting damage.
3. Lunchbox Cooler
People say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but we’d be remiss to forget about lunch. Whether you’re at camp, school, or the office, you want your cold items to stay cold and fresh until the clock strikes noon.
For these situations, a soft-sided lunch box cooler is the ideal solution with portability, style, and multiple compartments… not to mention unbeatable insulation.
Our Patriot Coolers Duo Lunchbox Cooler is the best of the best in terms of quality and functionality for lunch box coolers. The Duo Lunchbox features dual compartments with a sealed interior lining, preventing leaks and spills in the bag. The lining and interior are also mold-resistant to prevent mold development and ensure easy cleaning.
The Duo Lunchbox Cooler promises superb insulation, which, just like other soft-pack cooler offerings, can keep your items nice and cold for as long as 24 - hours. It’s small but fierce — ideal for the worksite, fishing boat, office, school, or anywhere else.
4. The Backpack Cooler
If you yearn for adventurous outdoor activities, you might benefit from a backpack cooler. Backpack coolers are designed to look and function like backpacks but offer the insulation of an elite cooler. These coolers are a fantastic option for people who like mountain biking, skiing, hiking, canoeing, ATVing, and other fast-paced, outdoor activities.
The Patriot Coolers Backpack Cooler is a six-gallon backpack, giving you enough room for up to 20 pounds of iced or 36 cans, so you've got plenty of storage for the whole family. This backpack may be perfectly portable for sports, but it is also super practical for beach trips, hikes, and days at the park.
5. The Tote Cooler
Another great option in the world of stylish and practical soft-sided coolers is the tote cooler. Tote style cooler looks just like a functional tote bag that you might take shopping or to the beach but features an insulated interior lining and durable material to keep your food and drink icy cold.
Our Insulated Tote doesn't mess around when it comes to storage space, giving you eight gallons of usable storage space for a day's worth of food and drinks.
The carrying handles are remarkably durable, so you no longer have to worry about flimsy straps giving out under a load of a full bag. Plus, the bag is made of tear-resistant materials so that you can bring your tote anywhere without fear of damage.
No matter what you are doing or where you are going, the Insulated Tote is well-suited for your outdoor day trips and adventures.
Giving Back at Patriot Coolers
What sets Patriot Coolers apart (beyond our coolers and insulated drinkware) is our dedication to giving back. We take our inspiration from the brave men and women who serve our country - we build our products to be as tough and dependable as they are.
That is why we give back a portion of our profits to the charity Homes For Our Troops. HFOT is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the day-to-day lives of post-9-11 U.S. veterans by building adaptive renovations into their homes.
It is just one small way that we like to show our thanks.
When you buy from Patriot Coolers, you know that you are getting a high-quality product that is going to live up to your high standards. From our Rotomolded Coolers to our Lunch Boxes, you'll be glad you gave us a try.
Five Types of Cooler for Every Occasion: Takeaways
There are dozens of varieties and styles of coolers out there, each one particularly suited for a particular occasion. Knowing what to look for in a cooler for different activities and events is crucial to making a smart decision.
Depending on your need and wants in a cooler, you must balance durability, material, insulation, size, and portability. By balancing these three elements, you will find the type or style of cooler that is most appropriate for you.
Patriot Coolers offers various types of coolers to fit any occasion, need, or budget. From lunch box coolers to backpack coolers, there is a cooler for everyone.
Patriot Coolers also gives back to the community by donating a portion of their profits to Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit organization that helps wounded veterans. When you buy from Patriot Coolers, you can be confident that you are getting an elite-quality product that will last.