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We know there's a lot to lug around when you bring the whole crew, so we've helped determine the best coolers for families with a variety of uses in mind.
Whether you're planning a big camping trip, need something for a day hike, or are just hanging out in your backyard, a cooler is one of the essential things you and your family need to make the most of your time spent outdoors.
But of course, there's a decision to make. What works best for you and your family? How much stuff do you need to keep cold, and for how long? Are you avid campers, or just sporadic day trippers? Do you need to carry it and move it around, or will it stay mostly stationary?
Hopefully some of the features of these cooler selections are distinct enough to help you make the call, and determine which style would be best for you and your crew.
You can't go wrong with a Coleman cooler, and the Coleman Xtreme 150 Qt Cooler delivers in terms of durability and ice retention. This hard cooler is said to be able to keep ice for up to six days in 90 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, and it's built to withstand rough conditions with UVGuard sun protection and rust-resistant stainless steel hardware. The Coleman Xtreme can double as a bench, as the heavy-duty lid can hold up to 250 pounds.
For when you need less room and a cooler you can throw on your back, the Mier Insulated 2 in 1 Backpack Cooler is the way to go in terms of portability. The roomy upper compartment will keep stuff dry and secured, while the lower compartment serves as your leakproof cooler that can hold around 11 or 12 cans, plus ice or freezer packs. There's even a pouch for keeping tablets or cell phones safe, plus a few exterior mesh pockets for more storage. This is the kind of cooler bag needed for quick day trips or picnics.
If your family adventures involve a multi-day camping trip, the Pelican Elite Cooler is nearly a requirement. Super-tough construction and seriously impressive ice retention help this high-end ice chest stand up to Pelican's reputation. There are a whole 2 inches of polyurethane insulation inside, with a 360-degree freezer-grade gasket around the rim to provide that extreme performance. Four cup holders on top and non-skid feet on bottom make this one of the best (and also most costly) coolers we can recommend. It's great for long road trips or extended stays at a campground.
The beauty of this high-quality Ozark Trail Soft-Sided Cooler, besides the price point, is the Microban antimicrobial protection, which fights the growth of stain and odor causing bacteria in the lining. This makes it easy to clean and adverse to some of the nasty characteristics coolers adopt later in their lives. The welded, waterproof exterior of the cooler is resistant to punctures and UV rays, plus it includes a heavy-duty waterproof EVA-molded base, water-repellent zippered pocket, and adjustable shoulder strap. It isn't exactly a small cooler, but it will pack away in a trunk or backseat better than a lot of others. All that adds up to one impressive portable cooler.
The wheels on this Coleman 42-Can Soft-Sided Wheeled Thermocooler make it super easy to cart around, so this would be the one to choose if you and your crew are going somewhere that involves covering a bit of distance. The integrated pockets and bottle opener add some extra appeal, but the main draw is the wheeled cooler's size (it fits 42 cans) and the duration it keeps food and drinks ice cold (42 hours thanks to welded seams and extra-thick insulation). Beach days and summer picnics would benefit from a cooler like this.