Four friends sitting together at the beach with an variety of Arctic Zone coolers

How to Pick an Insulated Cooler That’s Just Right for You

Gear up for spring and summer outdoor adventures with a new cooler! Check out our guide on How to Pick an Insulated Cooler That’s Just Right for You. 
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Are you starting to plan your spring and summer outdoor adventures? Need a new cooler? Picking the perfect cooler can be tricky; let us help!

Here are answers to questions you should consider when investing in a new cooler.

1. How long do I need the cooler to retain ice?

Did you know? Coolers are made with different types of insulation that affect how long they will retain ice.

  • Some coolers keep ice for a week while others can keep food and beverages cold for one to two days before the ice needs to be replaced.
  • Check the product page details on our website or the manufacturer’s label for the amount of time the cooler will retain ice.

Keep in mind that ice retention time depends on variables including the type of contents, ratio of ice to food and drinks, exposure to sunlight and how often the cooler is opened. For more information on our ice retention claims, visit here.

2. What size cooler do I need?

Manufacturers may show capacity by quarts, liters or by the number of cans the cooler can hold.

General guidelines: Arctic Zone’s Titan Zipperless™ cooler is available in sizes ranging from 9 to 48 can capacities. The 9, 12 and 16 can sizes are ideal as personal coolers and will hold ice for up to two days. The larger 30 and 48 can versions of this cooler can keep ice for three days and can accommodate quite a few people, depending on the duration that they are used for. When the load is large, there are hard coolers and soft-sided coolers that can hold 60 cans and up.

Two people walking side-by-side with one person carrying a drink and cooler bag


3. Am I better off with a hard or soft-sided cooler?

  • Soft-sided coolers are made of fabrics like nylon, polyester, and vinyl. They are lightweight, designed for portability and easy storage. Most keep ice for one to two days, but some offer three or more days of ice retention.
  • Hard coolers are made of plastic, are capable of holding larger capacities, and often have longer ice retention – some promising a week or more. These coolers are more durable, less portable, and generally more expensive. They work very well if your destination is a camp or fishing site where the cooler will be stationary. These coolers are designed to resist the elements and can even be used as a place to sit.
On the left: Two people sitting outside while camping and one person is reaching into a cooler bag for a cold drink. Image on the right: girl sitting outside with a hard cooler.



4. How portable do you need your cooler to be?

As mentioned above, lightweight, soft-sided coolers with handles and shoulder straps are more portable than heavier, hard-sided coolers with the same contents.

If portability is an important criteria: consider a backpack or wheeled cooler.

  • Insulated Backpacks: These hands-free coolers come in many sizes and styles. A 24 or 30 can backpack is a standard size cooler that can be used for hiking or long walks. Some backpack coolers keep ice for one day while higher performing versions can keep ice for up to two days.
    • Comfort is key: Select a backpack cooler that has a well-padded back panel and backpack straps as well as a waist strap to prevent the backpack from shifting from side to side.
  • Wheeled Coolers: This is a great choice if you need a portable cooler that can carry a lot, like our Titan 60 Can Wheeled Cooler that can keep ice up to three days and hold refreshments for your entire sports team.
    • Pay attention to wheels and handles: Make sure the wheels on the cooler are large and treaded if you plan to use it mostly on rough terrains. Also make sure that the handle is long enough so you don’t have to bend down when you push or pull it.
On the left: man wearing an Arctic Zone Backpack Cooler while hiking. On the right: man pulling an Arctic Zone wheeled cooler.



5. Are there other features I should consider?

Some coolers come with extra features that can support different uses.

  • Clip points, daisy chains, webbing straps, and bungee cords enable you to carry extra gear.
  • Exterior pockets hold cell phones and water bottles.
  • Some of Arctic Zone’s Titan coolers have removable interior shelves and dividers, built-in drink holders and bottle openers.
  • Many of our coolers feature Microban® to help prevent the growth of bacterial stains and odors and make them easier to clean.
Man on the beach in wet suit with an Arctic Zone Zipperless Cooler and surfboard, about to open a drink.

We hope this has helped you determine what kind of cooler will be best for your needs. If you still have questions, please contact us at

Here’s to warmer days and more adventures.

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