We plan our day at the beach and begin to prepare our things: swimsuits, towels, umbrella … and of course, we have to eat and drink. Even if we are not going to spend many hours on the beach, we cannot forget to hydrate ourselves well and have something to eat on hand. Either because we want to save a little money, or because there are no nearby restaurants or bars, it is very likely that we will take our food and drink. And we can’t carry it in a bad way.
Why buy a beach cooler
We may be tempted to put food or drink in the same bag where we carry towels or other items, but that would not be a good idea.
The drink is easy to get the rest of belongings wet, unless we use a bag with separate compartments. And food is in danger of being squashed. The best option is to have a beach cooler where we can take our food and drink in the best conditions.
Being on the beach even for a few hours our belongings will be exposed to the heat and sun for a long time. The drink will heat up and the food is in danger of spoiling. With a beach cooler we can keep our food and drink safe from the direct impact of the sun’s rays and the temperature.
We can divide beach coolers into two main types: rigid, made of some type of plastic material, or flexible fabric
- The former offer greater protection and insulation in exchange for greater weight. They are also easier to clean.
- The latter are much more flexible but of lower performance and less durable.
We must also pay attention to the closure system (that is robust and resistant), and to the handles
The heaviest rigid coolers should also offer us comfortable and resistant handles. The flexible ones can be presented under different aspects: handbag, shoulder bag, or even backpacks.
We must also consider whether we want a cooler with or without wheels.
In case we are going to carry it a lot, and if the path to the beach allows it, they can be a good option.
Finally we can find thermoelectric beach coolers
They have a cooling system and we can plug it into the power or the car’s cigarette lighter.
Rigid coolers are usually made of some type of plastic: polypropylene, polyethylene, and the like, with a polyurethane or polystyrene insulation. But we can also find aluminum models.
The flexible ones are made of a material such as EVA or PEVA and an insulator such as expanded polyethylene. The exterior can also be made of plastic or canvas or of some type of fabric such as polyester.
Size and compartments
Beach coolers have a wide variety of capacities
The smallest ones have a capacity of around 13-15 liters, while the large ones can reach more than 50 liters. The average is between 25 and 30 liters of capacity, for rigid coolers. The flexible ones, due to their lower resistance, have much less, around 20 l those with the highest capacity.
The largest ones can incorporate compartments to keep food and drink separate, for example. The flexible ones usually include pockets as they are more similar in design to a beach bag.
We must also take into account if we are going to put ice cubes or bars to keep the content cool, or cold accumulators, which take up a little more space but avoid leaving the fridge full of water.
Tips for choosing your ideal beach cooler
The first thing we should consider is where we will mainly use our beach cooler and what we are going to put in it.
- If we are going to use it to store food and drink, a larger one will suit us, and if possible rigid, to better protect the content. The size will depend on whether we go alone or as a couple or if we go as a family or a group.
- If we are only going to store drinks or a small amount of food, a flexible beach cooler will be a good option because we will save weight.
- If the beach or cove where we are going to spend the day is easily accessible, a bulky refrigerator will not be a problem. But if we have to travel a long distance or the road is not very practicable, an easy to carry cooler is convenient for us. In that case, we should consider a flexible one of the type of a backpack to be able to carry it comfortably on the back.
- In case you have to make a long trip by car before reaching the beach, a thermoelectric refrigerator may be interesting. We can plug it into the cigarette lighter connector (or the trunk, if our car has a connection there) and thus gain additional cooling time before reaching our destination.
The best beach coolers in value for money
esonmus, 10l insulated bag
This insulated bag is perfect for one or two people, or to spend just a couple of hours at the beach. Its 10 l compartment holds several lunch boxes with food and it has an outer pocket where you can put a bottle of water or soda. Alternatively we can put a dozen cans of soda or several bottles of water inside.
- It is made of waterproof and easily cleanable Oxford polyester
- The interior is canvas that protects the aluminum film insulation
- Includes a practical outside pocket to store cutlery
- It has a practical and comfortable handle, and also a strap to hang on the shoulder
Advantages: price, quality of manufacture.
Cons: it is not airtight.
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ALLCAMP Outdoor Gear, bolsa térmica plegable de 30 l
Another but more sophisticated thermal bag is this one offered by ALLCAMP Outdoor Gear. Made of polyester, it weighs only 1.8 kg and offers many quality details. The top cap includes a smaller, quick-open and close cap. It also has an outside pocket for cutlery. It has practical handles and a removable strap to carry on the shoulder.
- In its 30 l capacity we can introduce 20 half-liter bottles or 40 cans of 33 cl
- It also includes a pair of cold accumulators to favor the maintenance of a low temperature
- It is very well manufactured, and it is also fully foldable, which saves us a lot of space when we do not need it
Advantages: very light for its capacity, build quality, foldable.
Cons: it is not airtight, it does not retain its shape when empty.
Lifewit, 26 l flexible cooler backpack
This backpack format cooler offers us a good capacity (26 l) that can hold 34 33 cl cans or half a dozen lunch boxes. It also has a good number of additional compartments: a large upper compartment and a front compartment, closed with a zipper, plus a front pocket, and side meshes where you can insert light objects.
- It is made of high quality washable Oxford fabric and good workmanship
- The inner lining is PEVA and the thermal insulation is 8mm EPE foam, which guarantees the maintenance of the temperature for many hours.
Advantages: capacity, airtight, comfort.
Cons: if it is very hot the insulation does not maintain the temperature for many hours.
Campingaz Icetime Plus, 38 l portable cooler
If we need greater capacities, we must now switch to rigid coolers like this one offered by the legendary Campingaz brand. Somewhat heavier (3.6 Kg), it has resistant handles to load the cooler with maximum comfort.
- The insulation is made of polyurethane, paying particular attention to the lid and the base, where cooling is mainly lost.
- This insulation, together with an excellent seal, allows the temperature of the content to be maintained for up to 30 hours
Advantages: capacity, excellent temperature maintenance.
Cons: It only has side handles.
Coleman 70 Quart Xtreme 5, 64L rigid cooler
The Coleman brand presents this huge cooler where we can put 100 cans, or a good amount of food. Its exclusive insulation technology keeps the temperature a whopping five days. Ideal for long trips or a stay of several days in the field or on the beach.
- Its robust construction allows it to be used as a seat, supporting up to 120 Kg of weight
- We can also use it as a small table thanks to the supports to hold glasses or cans
- It has two robust handles to lift it, and includes a practical drainage system to extract any liquid that may have spilled into it without having to tip it over.
Advantages: huge capacity, incredible temperature maintenance for several days.
Cons: somewhat weak lid hinges.
Coleman 50 Quart Xtreme 5, 47L rigid cooler with wheels
As an alternative with better capacity but with wheels we have this other Coleman model. Everything said for the previous one applies to this one: robust construction and excellent insulation that provides up to five days of cold to the contents of the cooler, but with the addition of wheels and a telescopic handle to drag it.
Advantages: capacity, incredible temperature maintenance for several days.
Cons: impractical side handles to lift the cooler.
Severin KB 2923, 20 or 28 l thermoelectric cooler, hot / cold
One step beyond the classic beach cooler is the plug-in beach cooler. This popular model from the firm Severin has a 220V connection for a conventional plug, 12V for the car cigarette lighter socket, and even with a 5V USB connection, with the possibility of connecting it to a 10,000 mA powerbank. The cables are hidden in practical compartments at the top.
The 28 l version can hold 40 soda cans or 2 l bottles standing up. The 20 l can handle 1.5 l bottles without problems
- Includes a divider to organize the contents in the fridge
- Connected to 220V it provides a power of 58W, more than enough to cool to 20º less than the ambient temperature
- In eco mode it consumes 8W, which allows the maintenance of the content temperature to be considerably extended.
Advantages: high cooling when connected to the current.
Cons: weight, without plugging in, it does not maintain the temperature for many hours.