There’s no worse feeling than an ice-cold drink sweating it out or your favorite dip going down to room temp before you can finish them. And if you’re planning to see friends and family for backyard hangs or picnic dinners, it’s the last thing you need to ruin the good vibes.
A good cooler can help prevent those dreaded drops of condensation and keep drinks and snacks chilled for hours—long after the last bottle’s open. Take your pick of classic soft- or hard-sided coolers, hands-free backpacks, or even upgraded koozies for canned wine, bottled wine, and beer. Whichever your flavor, rest assured that your drinks won’t be warm before you can finish them.
Here are our 12 favorite coolers to keep things chill all season long.
If you’re only carrying a few drinks and snacks, a soft-sided cooler is much more convenient than a hard-sided one. These two look like any other bag you’d carry during the weekend, but with an insulated interior to keep your rosé at the right temp. The chances of melting ice leaking through the insulation is higher than hard-sided coolers given the material, so we suggest using an ice pack over real ice.
For families or crowds, there’s nothing better than a hard-sided cooler (preferably on wheels) that can fit drinks and snacks for days. They’re much more of an investment than soft-sided coolers, but they’re built with extreme durability in mind—melting ice won’t leak through the heavy-duty insulation and the tough exterior can withstand years of scrapes and scratches.
Or go hands-free with a backpack cooler. Since the weight is more evenly distributed on your back, this is a great option if you’re carrying containers of snacks, six-packs of beer, or a few bottles of wine. Both bags from Picnic Time and Corkcicle have extra compartments for utensils and napkins, as well as adjustable straps. And if you’re ever without a bottle opener, don’t worry—Picnic Time even has one built in for convenience.
For BYO situations, don’t forget to bring along an insulated wine chiller to keep the bottle cold until the very last drop. Uashmama’s version comes as a cute tote bag with handles while Vinglacé is molded like a wine bottle—guests will barely notice it’s there.
Just slip your favorite canned wine or beer into one of these upgraded koozies and keep your drink chilled for hours. There are different versions for tall boys and standard cans, but each one works the same—pop in your drink, secure it to the cooler at the top or bottom, and enjoy.
While not necessarily a cooler, one of our go-to way to keep drinks cool at the beach or picnics is with the same travel mug we use for the workweek—preferably with a cocktail instead of coffee. It’s also an easy way to store snacks like cut fruit without needing food storage containers—the insulated mugs will keep them chilled until you’re ready to dig in.