Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.
Richard Laramy probably wasn’t thinking about stowing copious amounts of trout and citrus-infused booze when he first patented the portable ice chest in the early ’50s — though, we can’t say for certain. More than 60 years later, the common cooler has become as ubiquitous with camping as s’mores and mosquitoes, serving as a convenient means of keeping your food and drinks on ice when a fridge is nowhere to be found.
Today, there are plenty of companies making coolers that are as rugged as the men and woman wielding them. Some of the more extravagant offerings are poised for deep-sea vessels and basecamps, while others are better suited for a beach-side BBQ or your own backyard. Below are six of the best coolers of 2016, from the likes of Bison, Yeti, and Coleman.
There are better soft-shell coolers on the market, true, but Bison’s latest Softpak provides the best bang for your buck. It can hold up to 24 cans and is made of 1000-denier vinyl, meaning you to pack up to 375 pounds without having to worry about tearing. The American-made cooler also features nearly an inch of insulation, ensuring it keep ice for 24 hours (even in 120-degree weather).
Pelican’s wears feature bear-resistant certification from what’s known as the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, meaning Yogi will be the least of your troubles when you decide to step away from your campsite. The cooler’s rugged, ultra-thick polyurethane insulation can also hold ice for up to 10 days, and comes equipped with dual handles, a freezer-grade gasket, lockable latches, and an integrated fish scale on the lid.
Most coolers don’t have 10 inches of ground clearance — in fact, pretty much none of them do. Igloo’s Trailmate does, however, along with 70-quart capacity and burly wheels that are designed to tackle any terrain you might encounter on your travels. It even features 4-day ice retention and a convenient butler tray that snaps onto the telescoping handle for times when space is at a premium.
Yeti’s bear-resistant coolers have quickly become some of the most formidable offerings on the market, namely due to their rotomolded construction and two inches of insulation. That said, the rectangular Tundra 75 is the perfect size for tailgating or a lengthy day at the lake, outfitted with heavy-duty rubber latches and an interlock lid system that’s made for thwarting excess heat from the sun.
Coolers are designed to go places, yet that doesn’t exactly mean most of them are all that portable. Fortunately for the adventurer on the go, IceMule Pro Cooler lets you carry 65 pounds on your back within streamlined bag, one that’s comprised of 1000-denier fabric and ventilated padding. The insulation keeps contents cool for 24 hours, too, so there’s no need to fret while on the trail.
Coleman was the first company to popularize the cooler in the ’50s — and the Kansas-based company hasn’t stopped doing so in the years since. Coleman’s stainless-steel offering isn’t the most durable cooler available, but it adds an undisputed touch of elegance to the company’s flagship design, not to mention leak and rust-proof properties that will ensure it for future generations.