Hunters are not delicate creatures, so the equipment they use shouldn’t be either. Here are five things you need to consider when shopping for a hunting cooler.
The best hunting coolers do what they’re supposed to do
It starts with the ability to keep things cold. There’s no point in taking a cooler hunting if it doesn’t keep things cold. And depending on how long your hunting trip is or how fancy your accommodations are, you need it to keep things cold for multiple days. You don’t want to waste time driving into town to get ice for the cooler when you could be stalking Bambi and his friends or swapping stories next to the campfire.
Coolers that are more likely to retain ice and hold the cold for the duration of the hunt will have the following characteristics:
The best hunting coolers are tough enough to survive in the wilderness
Hunters don’t (usually) operate in a plush environment, so their coolers need to be constructed accordingly. Pickup truck beds, campsites, wildlife, and drunk dudes are all a threat to the life expectancy of a cooler. A hunting cooler should be able to take a beating and still survive multiple trips, multiple seasons, multiple years. You should be able to sit or stand on it without wondering whether or not it will support your weight (why you would need to stand on a cooler is irrelevant). If the cooler accidentally fell out of the back of the truck because you forgot to strap it down or close the tailgate, that shouldn’t be the end of it. If a bear thought it was a picnic basket, your contents should still be secure even if they are a little shaken. In short, you need your cooler to be durable.
Here’s the deal. If you can kick a cooler and put a boot-sized hole in it, it’s not up to the challenge. If you can drop it and it falls apart because the pieces were glued together and the glue didn’t hold, it’s not the right cooler for you. Durable coolers are rotomolded coolers that have been custom-shaped instead of glued together.
The best hunting coolers are big enough to handle the big game
Despite the fact that a big portion of hunting involves staying very still, hunters work up a big appetite. At the end of the day, a ham and cheese sandwich isn’t going to cut the mustard… so to speak. There needs to be foil dinners, steak, hot dogs, something cooked over an open flame. That means the hunting cooler needs to be big enough to hold all the goods for such a manly feast and the beverages necessary to wash it down. The longer the hunt, the bigger the cooler you’ll need.
Let’s say you don’t want the hunt to end as soon as you down a 10-point deer, so you field dress it and quarter it. You need to put it on ice to preserve the meat, so you need a cooler large enough to hold it until you can get it home to be properly packaged. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy to make the shot and end the trip just because your hunting cooler isn’t big enough to hold the game?
The best hunting coolers are easy to clean
Given the nature of hunting… in nature… and the messiness of a field dressed beast, you want a cooler that’s easy to clean. The exterior isn’t as big of a deal as the interior, where bloody residue could contaminate drinks or food. Easy cleaning isn’t simply a matter of a smooth surface with minimal grooves (although that helps). You need a way to drain the water efficiently and completely so you’re not stuck turning the cooler upside down to finish the job. For the larger coolers, dual drain plugs (one on each side) are ideal. But even smaller coolers benefit from having oversized drain plugs, especially when the goal is to drain bloody ice water.
Note: At Bison Coolers, we advise you to use separate coolers to store field dressed game and beverages for this very reason. However, coolers serve a variety of purposes throughout the year, and you don’t want to have to worry about cross-contamination when you decide to use the cooler for a beach camping trip in the summer after having used it as a hunting cooler earlier in the year.
The best hunting coolers are easy to transport
Last but not least, good hunting coolers are easy to transport. For example, here’s what Bison coolers offer to help transport coolers big enough to chill wild game:
You can keep this checklist in mind while you shop for a cooler, or you can save yourself time (and some money) by purchasing a Bison cooler. They meet all the requirements mentioned above… and then some.