Assessing the quality of a portable ice chest or cooler

By: Ethan Luke.


Owning a cooler or ice chest is a necessity for various potential applications. Ranging from camping coolers, to marine ice chests, having a way to preserve your perishables (or keep your beer cold!) is an obvious but often neglected necessity. Not to say that the portable ice chest is a forgotten piece of equipment, rather the quality of iceboxes is often taken for granted.

In assessing the quality of a portable ice chest or cooler, it is necessary to consider the application of the cooler (camping cooler, marine cooler, etc.), construction of the cooler, and most importantly, its ice retention capabilities.

For the average camping trip, many families will opt for a low-end cooler, made of cheap plastic or poly. Perishables will be loaded in, along with adequate ice to keep their food cold for a few days. Although these types of ice boxes will keep food cold for a day or two, they won’t keep temperatures low enough to prevent spoiling inside of the ice chest. By the end of the first afternoon in the sun, a good portion of the ice will be gone, leaving the food to tread water until more ice arrives. One way to prevent unnecessary and premature spoilage, whether on the boat or camping, is by investing in a well-built portable ice chest. Construction is crucial to consider in choosing the best camping or boat cooler. A durable ice chest will not only stand up to external forces, but also keep the contents of the cooler safe.

In addition to the materials and construction of a portable ice chest, the ice retention dictates the overall quality of the cooler in question. Ice retention determines the aggregate temperature over time or how long the items inside the ice chest will hold. One overlooked method of improving ice retention that many coolers lack is a proper gasket that seals the unit closed. The lack of a quality gasket allows warm air in and cold air out, thus keeping food cold becomes next to impossible.

The construction of the cooler and the resulting ice retention capability makes purchasing such an ice box a decision of practicality. Buying a cooler that costs a little more but keeps food colder longer will pay for itself in terms of avoidable spoilages. Luckily, such a portable ice chest that takes all of the above cooler concerns into account already exists, designed by YETI.

Yeti ice chests are built with the outdoor enthusiast in mind. Constructed from heavy-duty roto-molded polyethylene (the same way kayaks are made), with up to 2” of insulation (depending on model), Yeti has taken the cooler game to the next level. High caliber construction coupled with freezer quality gasket technology eliminates air leaks that rob ice retention. The Yeti cooler is also durable—capable of withstanding predator attacks, keeping meals safe from bears and raccoons.

Investing in a robust and mobile ice chest such as a Yeti Cooler makes keeping food and drink cold for long periods possible. Purchasing a portable ice chest that offers the best ice retention, thus lower constant temperatures is the best way to keep perishables from spoiling while enjoying the outdoors.

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Helen Walker. A YETI Cooler is very high quality ice chest;combining the thick insulation with a quality sealing gasket gives YETI cooler superior ice retention.

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