Tailgating 101: The Best Travel Coolers for Tailgate Parties

Travel Cooler

Finally! The start of the 2013/2014 NFL season is upon us. It’s been exactly 6 months and 3 days — or 194 days to be exact — since the Superbowl ended. If you’re like us here in the CompactAppliance office, you’ve got your pick’em leagues already set up, your fantasy football draft night scheduled and you’re now counting down the days for kick off. But, don’t forget to get your essential tailgate supplies in order, before the season officially starts.

Most people think that tailgating involves a lot of time and effort, and at the end of the day, it does take a lot of planning. But it’s much easier to plan out the perfect tailgate party when you have the right supplies ready to go. No matter how extravagant your tailgate party is, one of the most important accessories you need is a durable cooler to keep your tasty beverages cold.

Choosing the Right Cooler For Your Tailgate Party

Without a cooler, it’s a little difficult to keep your food and drinks cold, and what is a tailgate without hamburgers, hot dogs and ice-cold beverages? Travel coolers are an ideal choice for tailgating because they are easy to transport and come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. There is a cooler for every situation, guaranteeing that your tailgating needs are met.


There are a couple of types of coolers you can choose from. Each type has their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Chest Coolers:
A portable chest cooler, for example, is probably your go-to cooler. Chest coolers are your basic cheap insulated plastic boxes that keep your drinks and food cool. You probably know them as the bright blue or red box, with a white top. They’re light and easy to carry around. Some of them have wheels and a handle on them to make it easier for you to transport. Once you add loads of ice, they do a pretty good job at keeping your contents cool… at least until the ice melts. This is one of the main disadvantages of a chest cooler. It only works for a short period of time. On top of that, you still have to deal with trying to find the right drink buried under all the ice.
12 Volt Travel Coolers:
Portable 12 volt travel coolers, on the other hand, work on the same principles as the chest coolers, but they are more reliable, less messy and have many desired features available. The most important difference between a chest cooler and a 12-volt travel cooler is that you can control the temperature. If you want to bring along frozen foods, you can do that without worrying about them defrosting or going bad. Or, if you just want to keep your food and drinks cold, you can do that as well. Because there’s no melting ice, there’s less clean-up involved and it’s much easier to find the drink you want. You can plug them into an wall outlet or a lighter outlet in your car. This is the perfect type of cooler for tailgating, as well as camping, boating, picnics and all other outdoor activities.


No matter what you’ve heard, size does matter. Choose the best travel cooler for tailgating based on the amount of people at your event, as well as the amount of food and beverages you need to entertain your guests. When it comes to the size of a cooler, you have plenty of options. Travel coolers can range in size from 18-quarts to over 100-quarts.

A 40-quart cooler has enough space to store approximately 50 cans of beer or soda. Generally, this is an ideal size cooler for smaller tailgate parties. If you plan to have a larger tailgate, you will obviously want to choose a travel cooler with a larger storage capacity. We would recommend a 100-quart cooler, or larger, to ensure you have enough room to store both food and beverages.


In addition to size, travel coolers are made from different materials, including fiberglass and plastic. Both of these materials are a good choice. They’re both lightweight and rust-resistant. Unpleasant odors don’t linger in either type. They’re also both easy to clean and easy to carry. Both types of materials are great choices for tailgating purposes, because they have superior insulation and store ice for an extended period of time.

Warming Coolers

This may seem odd at first, but there are coolers out there that can help keep your food warm. Working on the same principles for keeping your food cold, these coolers utilize the insulation to help keep your food warm. Depending on your tailgate setup, there are coolers that are flexible enough to allow you to choose between cooling or heating its contents.

When choosing the best travel cooler for tailgating, it’s important to consider the amount of room you need for storage and the temperature at which your items need to be stored. This information helps you determine the right size and type of cooler is best for your tailgate party. Regardless of whether you actually use it for tailgating or not, a durable travel cooler is just one of those items that everyone should own.

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