Companies often measure their coolers with a dubious metric called “ice retention.” That’s the number of days that ice stays intact inside the insulated cavity. But there are so many factors: What was the outside temp during the test? Was the box pre-cooled to keep ice cold for the longest time?
Why would you buy a cooler with anything but the longest ice retention time? Price, convenience, and weight. Our lighter picks go anywhere and some pack down flat when you’re done. The heavily insulated units weigh up to four times more—over 25 pounds for a small chest. But, then again, they are bear-proof and can keep your catch cool for up to two weeks while you’re at the off-grid cabin.