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Moveable Feasts

Tips for Choosing & Using Coolers


by Sofia Romano

Backpack cooler
A loaf of bread, a jug of wine: "Fully loaded" backpack picnic cooler
Coolers and road trips were made for each other. Coolers are also wonderful for family outings -- a day at the beach, a sporting event, or even a trip to an amusement park. They're even great for grocery shopping on hot summer days, and they're indispensable for picnics and backyard barbecues. As uses for coolers have multiplied, so have innovative designs. Whether you're setting out to conquer Route 66 or just heading up the road for a picnic in the park, here are tips for choosing and using the best coolers for your needs.

If you are going on a long trip, it's best to bring one cooler for beverages and a separate cooler for food. The reason is that beverage coolers are opened frequently, allowing cold air to escape. Coolers with food will stay colder longer because they will be opened less frequently. Depending on the length of your trip or day out, a separate cooler filled with extra ice will help you to replenish ice in both food and beverage coolers.

Wash all perishable foods such as fruits & vegetables before you leave home. Pack all foods in air tight bags or sealed plastic containers. This helps prevent cross contamination, not to mention a mess.

Ice packs are available in many different sizes and styles. For the softer coolers, we advise that you DO NOT put loose ice in the food coolers. The reason for this is simple: the sharp edges of the ice can rip the lining. Also, ice melts faster than ice packs and makes the cooler heavy and misshapen. In order to prolong usage of your cooler, it must be cared for properly.

Beverage cooler tips: Pre-chill beverages before placing them in a cooler. Pre-cooling preserves ice, because you will be using ice to keep drinks cold, but not to cool them down in the first place. Since cold air travels down, place beverages in the cooler first and ice last. If possible, try to keep your cooler out of the sun and out of a hot car. Try finding a shaded area for your cooler once you arrive at your destination.

Food cooler tips: To keep food cold on long weekend getaways, several ice packs are best, or you can use a block of ice, which will keep food cold for a longer period than ice cubes. Always place ice packs or ice blocks on the bottom of the cooler. Always pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator into the cooler -- don't let them warm up first. Keep foods dry and safe from cross contamination by placing them in air tight bags or sealed plastic containers. Along with your icepacks, pre-freeze several small bottles of water. Fill in any spaces and gaps with the frozen bottles. Not only are they extra ice packs, they're also extra water if you get thirsty!

Keeping hot foods warm. Coolers can be used not only for cooling but also for keeping foods warm. We highly recommend the following to keep warm foods warm. Purchase some combination ice /hot packs. Once you have heated your food, wrap it up in tin foil and then place the hot packs (please read instructions for their use) on top. If there are any spaces, cover the foil-wrapped food with a kitchen towel. Wrap hot bowls containing hot foods with more towels and then carefully place in the cooler. Fill up and gaps or spaces with kitchen towels -- filling in as much empty space as possible will help keep foods hot.


Backpack cooler combo
Backpack cooler "combo"

Picnic cooler
Picnic cooler

Cooler tote
Insulated cooler tote

Rolling cooler
Cooler on wheels

Party cooler
Party cooler



All coolers are designed to serve the same purpose: to keep foods cool or warm until they are enjoyed. Innovative and specialized designs add style, comfort, and flexibility, which means the possibilities for fun and healthy eating are limited only by your imagination!

Sofia Romano


Sofia Romano has been with Keep Your since 2002. Getting to know all types of coolers (picnic, backpack, rolling) is her job -- she is in charge of quality control and the in-house expert on all products. Sofia and her staff personally test and review all of the coolers that can be found at Keep Your


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