There’s no denying it—when you’re far from your kitchen or takeout, an ordinary sandwich can taste extraordinary. With the right cooler, you can save lunches, snacks, and even multi-course meals for later that retain their temperature and freshness. Clever use of aluminum foil, insulated containers, and even heated bricks can turn your cooler into a warmer for use all year long. Here are four great options for the perfect outdoor nosh.
Do you have an active job in construction or fieldwork? This cooler is a reliable and affordable solution to buying lunch every day with plenty of space for ice, ice packs, and a hearty meal. It’s tall enough to chill a bottle of wine, and the lid has two cup holders and a slot for a tablet for people who like to watch movies or catch up on email as they eat. The handle folds into the lid so you can stack other gear on top if you’re headed out for a road trip or picnic. It doesn’t come with a lock, but the lid and body have loops that will fit a lock if you want to make sure no one steals your sandwich.
If you’re headed out for a Little League tournament or family reunion, keep everyone happy and hydrated by loading up this small cooler with beverages. It’s only 6.7 inches thick, so you can stash it on the floor behind the front seats of your car or by your feet when you’re in the bleachers. You can fit 14 standard size cans of soda or beer in this cooler, or accommodate taller wine bottles about 12 inches in height. The padded strap is a welcome hands-free feature for parents ferrying kids and equipment from class to practice.
It may look soft on the outside, but this excellent portable cooler isn’t just a glorified school lunch bag. The inside has a hard and durable liner to prevent leaks and to keep your food and beverages from getting squished. A removable shelf allows you to separate food from drinks to avoid soggy bread and sweaty cheese. Store linen napkins, cutlery, trail maps, and GPS devices in the outer pocket to keep them dry. The padded exterior is water and stain-resistant, and is more comfortable to sling over your shoulder than coolers with hard plastic exteriors. Choose from four sizes up to a 48-can capacity.
Serious outdoor enthusiasts will find many uses for this tough and sturdy cooler that holds up to 45 cans of beer with a 2:1 ratio of ice to can. Take it along while fishing and camping, or load it up for an epic barbecue knowing that the solid construction is designed to withstand a beating from weather or greedy bears. This kind of protection and insulation does come at a high price and a heavyweight—37 pounds when empty!—but the wheels make it simpler to haul to your destination.