Ice chests come in many sizes and types, from a simple insulated bag to a fancy 12-volt version that plugs into your car – the options seem nearly limitless! When choosing an ice chest, consider what will work best for you:
Hard side vs. soft side
Zipper closure vs. lock/latch
Size – Does it fit in the front seat? (often your only option when car camping)
Weight when full – Can you lift it?
We started out with a zippered insulated tote bag style cooler, which we love for bringing home groceries, but quickly determined a medium size freestanding hard-sided plastic ice chest was a better fit for our trip. We also discovered that zip-top bags DO NOT keep food dry in melting ice so bought leak proof containers to house items we didn’t want submerged in water (like butter and avocados).