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You have a family and they love to go to the beach. The only trouble is, in order to make your beach outing a sane affair, you have to pack quite the array of gear that you will undoubtedly have to drag across the beach. That includes a beach cooler of course to keep drinks, snacks, fruit, baby formula, camera film (okay some people still use it), medicine, and other essentials cold throughout the visit. A beach cooler can be many things to many people so manufacturers make many different styles.
Sometimes, when I read about the best beach cooler in a blog or other article, it makes me think that these folks have never been to the beach with kids. When you have kids, it’s a fact of life, you have to take a bunch of stuff to the beach. Taking a lot of stuff means carrying a lot of stuff and if you’re kids are too small to be pack mules (are they ever really too small), you will have to carry it all yourself.
So that’s the focus. You need something that can hold all your stuff and easily transport it across the beach and back. You can get beach coolers with wheels, so that helps. You can roll that across the beach, right? Unfortunately, probably not! The wheels on most beach coolers are woefully inadequate to say the least. They are so small that the cooler will actually be dragging on the sand, which means you will be literally dragging the cooler across the sand. That’s not very helpful.
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So should you just buy a beach cooler with big wheels? A beach cooler with wheels is really a compromise between an ice cooler and a cart. It tries to do both things well, but ends up being only average at both. Plus, in the end, it’s just one more thing to drag across the beach. You could buy a beach cooler with big wheels, but we think we have a better suggestion.
Buy a really good beach cart and a really good cooler that will fit in the cart along with the rest of your stuff. That way, you can choose any cooler you want and you get a beach gear setup that will make your life much easier and your family beach visits much more enjoyable.
So are we going to recommend a beach cooler or are we going to recommend a beach cart or are we going to recommend both? We are going to recommend a couple of cart solutions and a couple of beverage cooler solutions that you can assemble into a gear carrier that we think is perfect for a family of four to take to the beach. Together they should satisfy your family’s need for keeping things cool while also carrying all your gear.
What makes a good family beach cooler?
You need whatever capacity you need, but in our hypothetical gear setup, the cooler needs to fit in the cart. The smallest of the two carts we’ve suggested should have enough room for a 28-quart cooler or maybe slightly larger.
Smaller cubed-shaped coolers also weigh less fully-loaded, so it’s more likely that you will be able to pull the cart across soft sand without bogging down too much.
If you need a larger cooler, you will also need a larger cart, but that’s okay. We’ve given you suggestion and you can take that and build a larger setup. Keep in mind that if you put enough weight in the cooler, it’s going to be more difficult to pull the cart over the sand no matter which cart you buy.
The larger hard-sided coolers are almost all rectangular shaped boxes. For our gear hauler, we recommend you buy a more cubed shaped cooler that takes up less space, gives you more options for the layout of your gear in the hauler and in your car.
The beach is probably the most brutal environment that a cooler can face with its hot direct sunlight, hot beach sand, and plenty of reflected sunlight from the bright white sand. That means that you need a cooler with enough of the right type of insulation to keep your food, beverages, and other essentials cold for the whole day at the beach. Most of the name brands including Coleman coolers and Igloo coolers can take the heat for a day at the beach. Beyond that, you should consider a more expensive cooler with better insulation.
Coolers take a beating no matter where you take them. The beach presents an especially harsh environment with abrasive sand, a salty, corrosive, wet environment, relentless sunshine with damaging UV rays, and heat from the sun and sand. Modern coolers are designed for a variety of tough environments so you can expect them to be somewhat durable.
Coolers can be hard-sided or you can also get soft-sided coolers. Some soft-sided models can also come with a hard inner liner to protect food and beverages from being crushed. Hard-sided models are usually plastic or metal on the outside and plastic on the inside.
Hard-sided coolers are going to be more durable and protect their contents better than soft-sided models. Look for models with a durable outer shell to withstand the beach environment better and so that your beach cooler can also serve as an extra seat when needed.
If you’re planning to keep your cooler and use it for several seasons, consider investing in a better quality model that can keep coming back year after year.
Hard-sided coolers nowadays feature modern outer shell materials that are lighter and stronger. Soft-sided models are typically lighter, but are not usually as durable and can’t be used as a small tablespace or additional seating.
Our beach gear hauler has wheels so you might think you don’t need wheels on the cooler. You will probably go other places beside the beach without the beach cart where a beach cooler might be handy like picnics, camping, tailgating and more. For those times where you’re without the cart, a cooler with wheels can really save the day when you have to haul your cooler to the party.
What makes a good family beach cart?
By far, the biggest complaint about beach carts is how poorly they perform on soft sand. Hard sand, pavement, and concrete are no problem. Any cart will get you down the road on those. The problem is soft sand. It’s an engineering nightmare.
To be fair, if you put enough weight on any wheels, they’re going to sink and you will end up dragging the cart.
Many carts choose wide, hard-plastic wheels with the theory that they won’t cut into the sand and will float on top of it. The problem is that wide wheels have a large surface area that can build up a lot of sand in front that with enough weight they won’t float, but will turn into a plow. They’re still better than thin wheels which don’t have enough of a tire patch to stay on top of the sand.
Large, low-pressure polyurethane wheels, like those on the Wheeleez products, do the best job of floating above the sand, but you’ll definitely pay more for this design.
It can roll easily, hold a lot of your stuff including a cooler, and have plenty of bling, but if you can’t fit it in your car or SUV, it’s not going to the beach. A useful beach cart should fold to fit more easily in your vehicle. It should be as compact as possible when folded, but easy to assemble when you get to the beach and disassemble when you’re ready to go home.
Cart or Wagon
Wagons carry more, but they have four wheels, a wheel at each corner, that all have to make it through the sand. Since they carry more weight, that puts more weight on each wheel that can make it more difficult than cart to pull through the sand.
Carts have two main wheels and may have additional supplemental wheels for support when not moving. The most popular models have netting to hold items on the cart and a method of accommodating beach chairs and other necessities.
We searched forums, beach-lover’s sites, customer review sites, manufacturer sites, social media, and retail sites to find coolers and carts that would be good choices for our beach gear setup.
Take a look at our choices and see if one of these carts or coolers is the best ice cooler or best beach cart for your needs.
The Coleman 42-Can Wheeled Soft Cooler with Hard Liner is easy and comfortable to transport whether you put in in a cart or pull it. It’s perfect for the beach, your BBQ, sporting events, picnics, tailgating, or wherever you need cold food and beverages. It comes with durable wheels and a retractable handle so you can easily pull it without having to carry it. It’s large enough to hold 42 beverage cans or plenty of food or both and it has nifty storage touches like a front zippered pocket, side mesh pockets, bungees on the lid, and a mesh pocket in the lid. It’s soft on the outside, but has an FDA approved, removable hard plastic liner to protect your food and drinks from being crushed. It measures 11.42 x 1.6 x 21.26 inches and weighs 5.19 lbs.
The Igloo 45069 Island Breeze Cooler is a hard-sided cooler that still comes with Soft Ridge sport rally wheels and a push-button, locking, telescoping handle for easy transport when not on a wagon or cart. It also features built-in molded side scoop handles to make it easier to pick up. It also has a 3-point grab, swing-up handle that provides solid leverage and gives it easy one-handed carrying ability. Its compact size and light weight also make it the perfect beach companion or picnic cooler. It has unique Igloo Cool Riser Technology that improves cooling performance by elevating the cooler farther away from hot surfaces like beach sand. It’s made in the USA and carries a 1-Year limited warranty for peace of mind. It’s capable of holding 41 beverage cans or 28 quarts of food and snacks in its dimensions of 18.24L x 12.5W x 15.39D inches and it weighs in at 6.76 lbs.
If you’re looking for a cart with wide rear wheels and plenty of storage space in a foldable design, the Wonder Wheeler Beach Cart is a popular choice. It features huge 4-inch, 10-inch diameter wide rear wheels that make rolling it over terrain and soft sand easier. It’s designed not to sink or plow in sand, but realistically the more weight you put on it, the harder it will be to pull through the sand. This will be true of just about any cart you buy. It has dual steerable 4.5-inch front wheels that will maneuver and navigate a variety of terrains more easily. Its extended neoprene handle makes maneuvering the cart easier. This model has a stylish silver mist-finished tubing with grey/silver mesh and black fabric. Its additional storage touches include an embroidered, quick access back pocket, a 16.5-inch chair hanging bar in the front, and an umbrella holder mounted on the side. The platform measures 21L x 14W inches perfect for holding a medium-sized cooler and plenty of beach gear up to its 77 lb. capacity. You will love how easily it folds flat to only 37H x 16W x 8D inches for easy transport in your car or SUV and empty it weighs only 13.5 lbs. Its open dimensions are 39.5H x 16W x 28.8D inches. The cart’s frame comes fully assembled. All you have to do is pop on the wheels and you’re ready to go.
Your other option is a beach wagon like the Folding Utility Beach Wagon in Navy and Light Blue that’s made from tough 600 denier polyester fabric and can hold up to 150 lbs. of gear yet folds easily to a compact size for easy transport and storage in its included carrying bag. It made Its storage touches include spacious compartments so you can bring all your beach gear like chairs, towels, umbrellas and a cooler and it even includes built-in cup holders. It has large wheels that roll easier over beach sand although with most wagons you have four wheels to pull and if you weigh it down enough, it will bog down in the sand. This is true of most any beach wagon you buy. Thoughtful touches include a mesh bottom with a removable cover that helps keep sand out of the wagon. Its dimensions are 39.4 x 21.3 x 26 inches.
Beach Cooler Comparison
Beach Cart Comparison
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As always, thanks for reading our BestRefrigeratorCentral.com Beach Cooler post! We sincerely hope that it has provided you with valuable information that helps you choose the best beach cooler setup for your needs!