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Picture this: the only time you have to leave the pool all day is to grab a cold one from the cooler. Heaven, right? Some poor suckers have to wrap themselves in a towel to go all the way to the fridge. Thanks to soaring, record-breaking temps, some have resigned themselves to spending their days supported by their AC units, but we’re here to tell you that you can still get outside with proper heat control. The park, beach, pool, or trail are all within reach.
A high-quality cooler is the difference between a lackluster, overheated afternoon and a satisfying summer day. Here are the soft top, hard top, and cloth coolers that will keep you refreshed in any situation.
Austin-based outdoor brand Yeti’s an icon for a reason: it withstands the test of time. The brand’s offerings are rugged, reliable, and a solid go-to in any situation. I’ve bought insulated wine glasses as gifts and travel mugs as trusted partners in the early morning commute. Over time, my family has amassed a few of these coolers for various purposes, the most important of which being our annual three-day drive from Florida to Canada. We need our groceries to stay cold during the haul, and Yeti’s the brand we trust to do it.
Enter the Yeti Tundra 65 Hard Cooler ($375). Although the initial price is hefty, the Yeti quality is unmatched – and it’s paid for itself a thousand times over. Our version is about five years old, and it’s still in tip-top shape despite getting thrown around.
For about a year, I’ve been haunted by the thought of the Italic cooler. As soon as this backpack cooler and six-pack cooler popped up under the site’s “Coming Soon” tab, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. This summer, I decided to take the risk.
I’ve traditionally had great luck with the Italic at-cost model, using it to buy skiwear, bedding, candles, and more. But in terms of coolers – in which functionality is key – I’d probably just rather buy a Yeti that lasts me years, even if it sets me back a few hundred bucks.
First up, I tried the Welded Cooler Pack ($160). When I lived in Hawai’i, my friends and I loaded up the OG Yeti version for marathon beach days, especially useful for spots you had to hike into first. With the Italic version looking and feeling so similar, I was dying to know if it’d stack up.
Italic’s cooler? Shockingly effective. I left it in a scorching tent for an entire day with a few bottles of wine, and it held its frigidity. It didn’t last quite as long as the Yeti, but if you’re not traveling, do you really need a 24-plus hour cooler anyway? If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly pick or gift, it’s a great competitor. The brand also offers a Welded Day Cooler ($140), built for six-packs and lunches.
The Quality Edit is all about those retro summer vibes. Editor Scott ooh’d and aah’d over this stainless steel cooler ($229.99) from Igloo, inspired by good ol’ fashioned ice chests. Packed with handy features like a built-in bottle opener, the Legacy 54 Qt Cooler’s bright colors add a pop of fun to your poolside soirée.
For a smaller vintage version, people swear by the nostalgic charm and effective insulation of the Polarbox, available in thirteen and twenty-one quart capacities. The default leather strap adds an additional adorable factor, but you can also personalize the accompanying strap and choose from various other prints. The brand recently launched a Pop model in which you can flip the lid to use as a tray for cocktails or lunch. Shop the Lilac-Yellow Pop model starting at $49.99.
Let us introduce you to this party-ready line from REVO Coolers. Voted a best cooler for entertaining about a dozen times over, the REVO Party Barge Cooler ($168.88) is made for tailgating, showers, bashes, and more – creating an instant all-in-one bar simply made for a self-serve Bloody Mary station.
The cooler (dare we say ice bucket) itself comes with two insulated compartments alongside two condiment trays for garnishes, plus an aluminum ice scoop. If you’re hosting a lot of people, this solution will make each refill go smoothly.
Cloth coolers generally don’t last while I’m sunbathing, but they’re excellent to have on hand for picking up a pint of ice cream from the grocery store, bringing lunch to a picnic spot, or other small uses. Functionally, they feel like a tote bag with some bonus time before melting.
Enter Out of the Woods. Crafted like your school time lunch paper bag, this sustainable paper formula construction is washable, durable, and attractive; the brand’s work processes are certifiably ethical too. Out of the Woods’s line includes its simple zip-top Seagull Cooler ($46), an extra-thick Walrus Cooler ($46), and the large Dolphin Cooler ($46), ideal for grocery shopping. A Walrus Mini ($36) is an adorable size that channels the days of the lunchbox. Honestly, the variations themselves blur together, but I loved trying each of them for various reasons.
Business & Pleasure Co. is also a “Coney Island in the 1950’s” vintage beach brand with an ideal mix of perky aesthetics and modern convenience. With an array of thoughtful colors and styles, these timeless bags are the perfect addition to your next trip to the coast. Try the Premium Cooler Bag ($99) in Yellow Vintage Stripe.