Shopping for the most suitable cooler is not easy. You will need to select one that is suitable for the task it has to perform. The decision can be a difficult one, mainly due to the wide variety there are on the market. Coolers can be different shapes, sizes and designs and they can be constructed from different materials. So how do we choose the best cooler for our situation?
The first decision to make in selecting an ice box is the size that you require. The important issues with respect to cooler size are the quantity of food and beverage you need to store and the amount of time it is to be kept in the cooler. Always remember that as you will need at least one half of the box filled with ice, you will need a box that has at least twice the capacity of the items you are storing. The longer you are storing items, the more ice you will need and the larger must be the capacity of the cool box.
The next decision to make is the shape of the box you will need for your requirements. Ice coolers are available in two basic shapes. There are cube shaped boxes which are called, appropriately enough, cube boxes. There are also rectangular shaped boxes which are called long boxes.
Cube Boxes have side wall dimensions that are roughly equal. They have a square foot print and they take up relatively less room on the floor of the pickup or car trunk. As they are higher, you can often stand bottles upright in these boxes. The disadvantage is that you may have to dig around in the ice to get items that are deep at the bottom of the box.
Long boxes are lower and longer than cube boxes. Long boxes are the most popular as it is easier to get to your food and beverage. You will probably find that you are able to fit a larger capacity long box cooler into your trunk than if it was a cube shape due to the height restrictions in a car trunk.
Ice retention capability is an important criterion if you are choosing an ice box to hold food and beverage for a number of days. The thickness of the insulation is a good guide to ice holding capability; however that is not the full story. The quality of the insulation is also important. Insulation quality can vary with how the insulation is injected during manufacture. A manufacturer using the best quality insulation foam, expertly injected between the cooler walls, will result in insulation with a larger number of smaller air bubbles, which in turn will be a better insulator.
When you choose to purchase an ice box from a supplier, check on their claims regarding the ice holding qualities on their range. Many will state that their box will hold ice for a certain period of time, but they often do not back this up with any evidence. Some suppliers will provide customer feedback but although the best and most scientific is where an ice retention claim is backed up by a test carried out under controlled conditions. A good quality cooler box of around seventy liters capacity should retain ice for up to seven days. Smaller boxes will have lower ice retention qualities due to their higher surface to volume ratio, and larger boxes should retain ice longer as the surface to volume ratio for these boxes is lower.