Buying Guide for Ice Chests in 2020

You might be considering buying an ice chest/cooler or thermoelectric cooler/warmer and do not know where to start. You want the best ice chest in the marketplace. We have reviewed what we think are the best coolers. You will want value for your money, portability, extreme cooling properties of the materials, or an electric powered cooler/warmer with great merits.

You want to be able to take the cooler to the backcountry, the woods where the roads are mostly ruts, so you need a unit that can take the bumpy rides. You might be going to the sandy beach, or the hot scorching desert sunshine. Maybe you want a large one, a small one, a medium-sized one, and of course, convenient features.

Read more for features and functionality when you are thinking of an ice chest for summer or winter.

Ice chest buying guide

Ice chests/coolers are available in 3 types:

  • High-end is for the discerning and sophisticated buyer. These units have all the bells and whistles with expensive engineering and flawless neat and tidy construction. They are rugged, heavy, have super insulation and thick walls that take up space.
  • Long established is the traditional classic plastic portable ice chest/cooler. 
  • Distinctive are the units that are special in their design such as folding, have soft sides, and those that are thermoelectrically cooled.


Every manufacturer provides units in a variety of different sizes. For the size you will need to determine how much food and drinks you want to keep cold, how far you need to move the unit, how far and how often you need to get to it, and the time or days you need to keep everything cold. Check out the coolers listed here.

Product Name

The word ‘cooler’ is inaccurate. All of these ‘chests’ or ‘boxes’ are designed to maintain the temperature inside using the insulation it is built with. If you provide lots of ice, it will start cold, and then warm up as the ice melts. Frozen water is a great cooling source and dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide that has a lower freezing point than water, so it keeps the contents colder than ice.


You will want the insulation to provide and keep things cold. This is dependent on its thickness, the space inside, the seal of the lid, and outside color. White deflects sunlight while dark colors absorb it, so you know what that means. The thicker the insulation the longer the stuff inside stays cold. Look for rubber refrigerator-type gaskets for the seal that indeed keeps the box shut tightly.


Your first consideration should be structure followed by hardware for the hinges and closures, locks, handles and straps. Check how any wheels function, number of wheels, and how the coolers are constructed and what materials they are made of.

Simplicity in Using

With your ice chest, you open it and close it, pack and unpack, clean, fill with ice and drain it innumerable times; therefore, you want lids that stay open or closed, smooth working hinges, and secure latching latches. Large units have threaded plugs and recessed grooves that are an avenue to let the water drain.


Top 5 Ice Chest Reviews

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