Sure, any cooler will do for a weekend trip. But for a lifetime’s worth of long, rough journeys, get this durable, highly insulated model. Two-inch-thick walls and an airtight gasket are astoundingly effective at keeping food cold. One tester packed her food inside the Elite with a combo of crushed and block ice and set off on a car-camping trip throughout the Northwest. When she returned home 10 days later, leftovers were still cold (no ice was added during the trip), despite daytime temps in the 70s. (Tips: Pre-cool the chest with a bag of ice, and don’t drain meltwater—it insulates better than air).
The Elite withstood hundreds of miles of abuse riding loose in the back of a pickup, thanks to tough features like corrosion-resistant stainless steel components. Nice: rubberized feet that keep it from sliding, supertough latches, and holes that allow you to lock it with a padlock. Available in 35-, 45-, and 65-quart sizes. $260 to $360; 36 lbs. to 48 lbs.; pelicanprogear.com