The Crucial Step You’re Missing When It Comes to Getting the Most Out of Your Cooler

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Summer is officially here, and with its arrival comes abundant opportunities to pack up a cooler and embark on a great outdoor adventure. Whether your final destination winds up being the beach, the woods, or somewhere in between, before you hit the open road with your drinks and snacks on ice, there’s one very important cooler-prep step you don’t want to skip: You need to you need to temper (or pre-cool) your cooler before you begin to fill it up with stuff.

This may seem like a duh thing to do, but it was news to us—and a lot of people on TikTok, based on the comments section of an instructional video by @anna_truth on how to pre-cool your cooler. “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you need to temper your cooler before your big summer trips,” Truth's video copy reads. “Let some ice set in [it] for at least 24 hours.” The reason for this pre-cooling process is to bring the portable ice box’s temperature down closer to where you’ll want it before your trip, so that it doesn’t do this with your drinks and food inside causing the ice to melt faster.

@anna_truth it’s literally life changing!! dry ice works too but that’s expensive ? #summerhack #lifehack #outdoorhack #campinghack #festivalhack #fishinghack #summertrips #coolerhack #lifehackvideo #coolers #yeti #lifetime #coleman #hydroflask #fyp #foryoupage #camping #festival #rave #lifehackstiktok #campingtok #ravetok #festivaltok #worksmarter #lifechanging ♬ The Home Depot Beat - The Home Depot

There are a few ways you can pre-cool a cooler, the aforementioned ice method being one. But you can also, leave it outside in the cold (if you live in a chilly environ) or inside a freezer, or fill it with frozen ice packs or bottles of frozen water. Doing this at least overnight should be enough to bring the temp of the cooler down and ensure that you get the max time with your food and drinks on ice before it melts.

Don’t already own a cooler for your summer travels? Here are five you can shop right now that’ll arrive before Fourth of July Weekend.

Yeti Hopper m30 — $350.00

This may look like a tote bag, but, in truth, it’s a soft cooler that comes with both top handles and a crossbody strap, making it easy to transport. The inside is leak-proof and can hold up to a full case of your favorite bev and then some.

RTIC Soft Cooler — $130.00

A Yeti cooler is always worth the investment, but if you’re looking for a more affordable dupe, this is it. As an added bonus, next time you need to BYO for a lazy day the river swimming, tubing, or cabrewing, you’ll be glad you’ve got this travel ice chest because it can float!

Carhartt 2-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack — $65.00

This backpack cooler from a brand known to make built-to-last products is an ideal, hands-free option for a day of hiking. It’s insulated base uses ice packs to keep things cool for up to 24 hours, while its top compartment can hold non-perishable food and all your gear. Not a fan of classic camel? No worries, this cooler also comes in black.

Coleman Ice Chest — $116.00

When it comes to coolers, it doesn’t get more quintessential than a Coleman. This hard-cover ice chest is ideal for long weekend getaways since it can hold ice for up to five days in 90-degree temps, as well as bigger group gatherings. It comes with wheels and a handle for easy portability.

Igloo Hardsided Lunch Playmate Pal Cooler — $30.00

For a tinge of nostalgia, look no further than this insulated lunch cooler—perhaps you carried a version of it to camp with you as a kid? It’s an ideal, personal-sized ice chest for outings where you want to pack light, making it perfect for picnics or beach hangs.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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