Tried and Tested – Cooler Bags and Boxes

Sunny days are great, but warm beers and floppy sandwiches – not so much! Keep your beverages cool and your food fresh with a cooler box or bag. From the innovative to the straightforward, from the mini to the maxi, we tried out a selection of those on the market

Best large-capacity

50QT Xtreme® Wheeled Cooler, £115,

This cooler has a huge 47-litre capacity, so is ideal for large families or a camping trip.
Its two durable wheels and telescopic handle mean its easy to transport, and its side
handles make it easy to lift. Insulated with polyurethane (PU), it claims to keep contents cold on ice for up to five days. On a long camping trip during a heatwave, food stayed cold for three days and cool for four days. It has a drain plug in the base to remove ice melt, and the lid can be used as a useful table.

Best for adventurers

Red Original Cool Bag, £159.95,

If you love active days out at the park, beach or a festival, this 18-litre bag is for you. Its price reflects its numerous features, from a waterproof Aquaseal zip and high-density waterproof fabric to thermal-lock insulation, which keeps contents colder for much longer. It can also be attached to boats, paddleboards and canoes. Food and drink stayed ice-cold and frozen for 48 hours, even on the hottest of UK days. It also comes in a 30-litre size.

Best for kids

Vaya Tyffyn Lunch Box, £36,

This vacuum-insulated box promises to keep food at its optimum temperature for up to six hours. Great for school lunches, picnics or days out. It comes in several designs and is BPA-free, non-toxic and leak-resistant. The children’s version holds 600ml and comprises two stainless steel containers with partitions that allow you to carry up to four dishes. Read the instructions, though, as some preparatory directions may need to be followed to ensure food stays hot or cold.

Best backpack

Primus Cooler Bag Rolltop Backpack, £85,

Externally, this insulated cooler backpack is made of a heavy-duty nylon resistant to snags and tears. Internally, waterproof PU-coated polyester with EVA foam insulates and helps to pad the backpack for extra comfort. It has an outer waterproof pocket and comes with a bottle opener, and the roll top makes it easy to open and close. It’s 22 litres so is quite heavy when full. After using, pull out the waterproof liner and wipe it down, ready for the next use.

Best economy

Postcard Cooler Box, £52.99,

We love the fun retro design of this box, it’s the perfect accompaniment
to a picnic. It holds a generous 25 litres – which is enough for a day out or short
camping trip. It kept food and drink cool on a hot day, though the ice blocks did melt by the end of it, so if camping, you’d need to replace them each day. It was easy to carry, if a little heavy for one person when full – but the large handle means two can easily share the load.



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