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The very first cooler was invented in Illinois in 1951 when a man named Richard Laramy filed an application with the United States Patent Office for a portable ice chest. More than half a century later, they’re more lightweight and more effective than Laramy’s metal incarnation.

Budget Pick

This versatile tote with impressive capacity keeps food and drink cold, but folds flat for storage and comes in three different colors. CleverMade

Before you pick your cooler, think about what you’ll be using it for most of the time. If you’re not going to carry it a long way, you can afford to invest in a sturdier solid box-style cooler, but if you want something lighter weight, look for an insulated bag instead. Some bags have the advantage that they can be folded flat so they’re easier to store.

Easy-Open Pick

Flip-lid box-style model with a dividing shelf means you can keep heavy drinks separate from sandwiches, so nothing gets squashed. Arctic Zone

Check that your choice of cooler is waterproof—the last thing you want is melting ice leaking into the trunk of your car or dripping down your leg as you carry it. A box-style cooler is more likely to be watertight than an insulated bag, but if you’re looking at bags, opt for those with the fewest seams, as this is where water will most likely escape.

Waterproof shell and leakproof zipper, available in three different sizes. YETI

Cooler bags are typically lighter and more convenient to store than hardside coolers. But one downside is that they can be more easily punctured. So look for a bag with a puncture-resistant coating, fabric or inner lining that can stand up to pokes and jabs along the way.