Know Your Options: The Variety of Customized Coolers, Explained

“Customized coolers? Did you say coolers?? Oh, right–the kind that keeps our food and drinks cold while we’re having fun! That’s cool.”

Yes, there are many types of coolers out there. And not just coolers, but personalized coolers–with your name, business logo, favorite sports team, school name, and lots more.

Did you know that a great cooler can be key to a successful tailgate party, company picnic, camping trip, or even a simple bag lunch in the office?

Keep reading for more details on this!

Types of Coolers

There are dozens of different types of coolers–almost too many to list! Quite a few of them can be personalized too–as we’ll discuss later in this article.

Let’s begin, though, by looking at hard-sided coolers.

Hard-Sided Coolers

These are generally the higher-end coolers. They will protect their contents and keep things cool for quite a while, especially when packed with ice and/or cold packs.

They are coolers you’ll want to transport by car since even smaller ones can be bulky and often heavy. So be sure to leave some room for the cooler when packing all your stuff!

Materials and Manufacturing Processes

There are two main materials for hard-sided coolers: durable plastic and stainless steel.


Hard-sided coolers are made using sturdy materials and special processes. One example is roto-molded plastic–where a mold is filled with molten plastic and then rotated at a consistent speed.

“The cooler is able to achieve consistent thickness, which means there aren’t any weak spots that are especially prone to cracking or shattering.”

Another way of manufacturing a plastic cooler is injection molding. With this method. individual pieces are formed by injecting molten plastic into a mold, where they are allowed to cool before being assembled into a cooler.

Since joints and corners are weaker with this process, the cooler can be more subject to breakage from wear and tear.

Other processes called thermofoaming and blow molding are also used, although they are said to produce lower-quality products. For more information on thermoforming, go here. And check here for information on blow molding.

Stainless Steel

If you’re looking for a very sturdy cooler, consider stainless steel (or partial stainless steel in some cases). It is more durable than plastic–though also heavier at 15-20 pounds (not counting the bases or shelves that come with some models).

The top-of-the-line Coleman 54-quart Steel Belted Cooler retains ice for up to four days at temperatures up to 90 degrees. Sadly, today’s Coleman steel cooler is not all steel like older models. It has a steel core, covered with high-quality plastic.

Special Features of Hard-Sided Coolers

Some of the larger hard-sided coolers come with wheels and sometimes a shelf on the bottom, which makes them super convenient for tailgating or public park events. Some can even double as portable seating!

One specific example of a hard-sided cooler with special features is the Ice Block 22 cooler contains twice the insulation of an ordinary cooler. It has four cup-holders in the lid, rubber lug latches, and an extra padlock for “creature-proofing.”

Another example is the 54 Quart Steel Cooler which has a bottle opener and an optional rolling stand. This cooler also is fully wrapped with four-color process art–which provides optimal customization (artwork can be uploaded when ordering).

And features of the 25-quart Engel Cooler include a non-skid lid and non-skid, non-marking feet. It retains ice for up to ten days!

It seems clear that the hard-sided coolers offer a lot of advantages–however, they are more expensive for the most part as well.

Let’s take a look at soft-sided coolers so we can begin to make some comparisons.

Soft-Sided Coolers

Although they might not be quite as sturdy or durable as hard-sided coolers, soft-sided coolers definitely have their advantages. For one, they weigh a lot less and can be carried more easily. For another, they are collapsible, fitting in tight spaces.

And don’t write off soft-sided coolers as being “cheap” (literally or figuratively). Some models are made with pretty sophisticated materials. They don’t all come at a low cost either (though some do, of course).

Materials and Manufacturing Processes

Most soft-sided coolers are made from some type of synthetic waterproof fabric (e.g., polyethylene or tarpaulin cloth) on the outside and plastic or synthetic fabric lining–with insulating material in-between the outer and inner layers.

The insulating material is important since it’s the key to keeping things cold. Essentially, there are two kinds of insulation for soft coolers: open-cell and closed-cell. The difference basically comes down to how densely packed the air cells are.

Yeti brand coolers use something called closed-cell rubber foam, which looks like a grid of small and large hexagons. Other types use polyethylene. The denser the insulation, the better it works. However, the denser it is, the less flexible it is too.

Special Features of Soft-Sided Coolers

The material for soft coolers allows for some features not available in hard-sided coolers. These include inside and outside pockets, sewn-on D-rings for attaching accessories, back straps, and (in some cases) expandable capacity.

Some popular brands of soft-sided coolers include Yeti, Igloo, Polar Bear, RTIC, Coleman, Arctic Zone, Homitt, Carhartt, and several others.

Quality-wise, the Yeti Hopper Flip and the Homitt Soft Cooler are rated highest, at least by one reviewer. Nonetheless, there are other brands and models that can meet your needs quite well if you’re concerned about cost.

Selecting Coolers

When buying a cooler, it’s important to select the right size, materials, and other features. Think of the uses you will have for the cooler and consult a knowledgeable salesperson if needed.

If it’s a lunch bag, a small, insulated cooler bag should do the trick. There are dedicated lunch bags available too, with some clever accessories such as small resealable food containers that fit spaces in the bags.

But if it’s a group camping expedition, you’ll want something very different–like a large, hard-sided plastic cooler. You might even consider one with wheels. Make sure it’s rugged since you will need to get it from your car to the campsite.

Coolers are also great for trips to the supermarket or big-box discount stores, especially in summer when the car is hot. If your store sells coolers there, they probably won’t be the items on sale, so be sure to bring your own.

People usually buy more groceries than we intend to, so when going to the stores, bring a medium or large cooler–soft-sided is fine–for meat and other perishable foods. And be sure to bring pre-frozen ice packs as well.

If you’re selecting coolers to purchase in bulk for a large group or to be distributed over time, be sure to select a size that not only fits your budget but also suits many different purposes. Medium soft-sided cooler bags (“six-pack” coolers) are popular.

Can You Get Customized Coolers?

Yes, you absolutely can get customized coolers–in various sizes, shapes, and colors. And with different kinds of materials and uses. There also are several different brands and models available for personalization.

There are many reasons to get either personalized hard coolers or personalized soft-sided coolers. You can even get small personalized cooler bags.

We are excited to share information about all of these in the following sections!

Ideas for Custom Coolers

When purchased in bulk, custom coolers–especially soft-sided ones can make unique and inexpensive gifts. You can fill them with interesting things too!

Here are some ideas we thought of. Of course, we hope you will come up with some good ideas of your own as well.

Employee Gifts

Looking for a novel employee gift idea for the company picnic? Why not order small cooler bags with the company logo for everyone? And to make it even more of a novelty, have a local caterer fill them with actual lunches?

Or, for a holiday gift, why not fill the bags with candy and a few logo trinkets? Maybe also some gourmet bottled soft drinks if there’s room left over.

School Trips and Other Events

If your school class is going on a field trip, good luck! Field trip destinations are never visited by just one class on any given day. There are lots and lots of kids and chaperones from different schools! And most have brought lunches.

Make yours stand out, though. Order lunch bags with the school name, logo, or mascot imprinted on them. What fun for the kids! And at least you’ll be able to narrow the lunch bag shuffle down to just those from your school.

Swag Bags for Meetings and Conferences

Usually, swag bags are made out of cheap material (which is great if it’s recyclable). But people get tired of these. Why not have insulated custom cooler bags with your organization’s logo and possibly a slogan or mantra?

Be sure to get bags that are big enough to hold a program, a notepad, and any brochures, though. Many people will expect to carry the giveaway bag around at the conference. But then it can have other uses when they get home.

Delivering Food to People

Are you someone who’s always making dinners for new neighbors, new parents, sick friends, and so on? Are you just that kind of person? Why not jazz it up–and make the delivery easier with a medium-sized cooler bag?

You would need a relatively large quantity, but if you do this often, it will pay off. Plus the recipients will have a useful item and adore you for the thoughtful gift. Pick a fun design to decorate them with!

Celebrations and Fundraisers

Is a big event taking place in your community? Maybe celebrating a local anniversary? Or a major victory for a local sports team? Possibly the retirement of an adored local citizen, such as a longtime teacher or principal?

If so, why not share your support with commemorative cooler bags customized with a team logo, the town seal, or maybe even a new design by a local artist?

If it’s a fundraiser, you could sell medium-sized cooler bags packed with homemade food or, better yet, donated food from a local restaurant or caterer. Customize by adding their logo, and those of any other donors, to that of your organization.

Don’t Forget the “Special” Coolers

These are the big ones we’re talking about–the hard-sided, “hold everything imaginable” ones. Yes, we know you probably can’t buy these for all your neighbors or even all your employees.

But what about using special coolers as raffle prizes? If it is a celebration or fundraiser of some kind, why not buy three or more of the 54-Quart Steel Cooler that can have just about any image you’d like emblazoned across the sides?

Three fancy coolers: first, second, and third place?

Depending on the event, here are some suggestions for the image to use:

  • A photo of the local downtown
  • An image of those served by the charity (e.g., shelter cats and dogs)
  • An image of the flag for a patriotic holiday celebration
  • Or an action shot of a sport that’s being celebrated

If it’s a corporate event like a conference or picnic, why not have a raffle, with just a few grand prizes, such as large high-end coolers with the corporate logo?

Grab a Six-Pack–We’re Ready to Celebrate!

Isn’t it remarkable how much better-customized coolers can be than just plain, ordinary coolers? How special it is to see a familiar name or logo on a gift someone gives you?

And this is a gift that is sure not to just sit around the house or be relegated to the basement either. Believe us, it will get used. In fact, it probably will be used so much that its recipient will be ready to give another one before very long!

So start thinking about which cooler(s) you would like to customize or personalize and give to friends, neighbors, people you work with, and any others who might enjoy this unique gift.

And why not take a look at this blog to learn more about the many customizable items that are available?

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