7 Best Coolers WIRED Tested For Every Budget, Any Situation


Hard vs. Soft Coolers

If you’re wondering what a premium cooler has that your affordable plastic one doesn’t, the answer is better insulation. In 2006, Yeti pioneered the process of rotational molding, or “rotomolding,” a process wherein melted plastic is molded over foam insulation in one piece. Rotomolded coolers offer seamless, uniform density in their walls and lids, which drastically improves a cooler’s performance. In contrast, those ancient, affordable plastic coolers we’ve all used have thinner walls, leaky seams, and uninsulated lids. Hard-sided coolers are much bulkier and heavier than soft-sided ones, so space or weight is an issue, I prefer soft coolers. If you need to keep food cool over multiple days, a hard cooler is the way to go. Want to learn more? Our In-House Know-It-Alls have a more thorough insulation explanation.
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