There are a variety of lunch coolers out on the market today, but if you work on a construction site, you don’t need one that’s targeted at a child or an office worker. You need a heavy-duty model that can keep food cold in the heat and stand up to the random abuses that happen on the jobsite. Unfortunately, shopping online can make it hard to tell if you’re getting a great deal, or just getting ripped off.
Manufacturers are all too happy to tell you everything that’s great about their product in theory but fail to describe how their products will live up to the use and abuse they may encounter. Our reviews are designed to show you the ways in which these products will succeed and fail on the jobsite. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide which covers lunch coolers in detail so that you can ensure you get a great deal for your money.
|Stanley 7QT Heritage Cooler|
|Klein Tools Work Cooler 17-Quart||7 lbs||4.7/5|
|Igloo 14.8 Quart Playmate|
(Best for the Money)
|IceMule Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag||5 lbs||4.3/5|
|Carhartt Insulated Lunch Cooler Bag||1 lb||4.1/5|
The Stanley 7QT Heritage Cooler isn’t your grandfather’s cooler, even though it may sometimes remind you of that device. This model retains the simple green coloring that its models used in the past, but this model is updated with modern tech that keeps food cold for longer and in a lighter form factor. This model also comes with a vacuum bottle, which is arguably better than the cooler itself, as it can keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold for up to 24 hours and can keep iced drinks iced for up to 120 hours.
Both the bottle and the cooler are leak-proof which is good to have when transporting food and drinks. Both also come with a lifetime warranty, so if they do break, you’ll be able to replace them. It’s also a good size, not so large that you’ll struggle to carry it around, and not so small that you can’t pack a decent meal. It’s not as large as other lunchboxes, and the inner compartments are on the small side, so if you’re a big eater, you’ll want something bigger. Overall, this is a great combo pack that delivers exceptional quality at a good price.
The Klein Tools Work Cooler 17-Quart is more than a lunchbox, as it could carry dinner and breakfast, too, without missing a beat. This monster of a cooler has a large capacity and is good for those who need to carry around a lot of drinks in addition to their food. It can keep that food and those drinks cool for up to 30 hours, which is more than enough for day-to-day work. This model can support up to 300 pounds, which makes it suitable as a seat during lunch.
It also comes with an interior compartment which can be used to hold small items like a phone or medicine, separate from the food and drinks. While the rest of the cooler is well made, both the strap and the point where the strap attaches to the cooler are made cheaply and are a common point of failure. This model has the potential to be the best on the market, but only if those parts are improved and brought up to the high-quality, that’s found in the rest of the cooler. Overall, it’s still a decent buy, but you shouldn’t expect the straps to last forever.
The Igloo 14.8 Quart Playmate cooler is an updating of an old-school model to the toughness you’d need on the jobsite. This model has nearly 15 quarts of capacity, giving it enough room to store an entire meal and more. It also features diamond-plating on its exterior, which is made from impact-resistant plastic, which makes it a good choice for construction work and other situations where it might come into harm’s way. The lid swings either way so you can use it in tight spaces.
Best of all, you can get this cooler for about half of what you’d pay for the top two models on our list. Its great quality and low price earn it the title of best for the money on our list. If you’re looking to get a deal on a great cooler, then this is the model for you. The only downside we can find is that this model’s insulation is only average. If you’re going to need to keep things cool for more than a day, you’ll want a cooler with better insulation. But, if you need something to keep your lunch safe at a great price, you can’t go wrong with this cooler.
The IceMule Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag is an innovative spin on the cooler. Instead of working like a chest with inflexible, sturdy walls, this bag is flexible and collapsible. That means you can fold it and put it away in your toolbox when you’re done eating, which is a huge benefit. It also comes in three different sizes, so you can get the smallest to carry just your meal or get the largest and have enough space to bring a full meal and drinks to the jobsite. It’s also leak-proof, so you don’t have to worry when it falls over, and it doesn’t sweat in the heat as some coolers do.
While this cooler will do a good job keeping things cool through lunchtime, it won’t provide a day or more of coolness like some coolers will. It’s also soft-sided, so it’s not going to protect your meal from getting crushed if something falls on it. That’s ultimately what costs this cooler some spots on our list. However, the concept is very cool, and if you’re not worried about your meal getting crushed, then this collapsible cooler can be a real asset on the jobsite.
The Carhartt Insulated Lunch Cooler Bag has a simple, utilitarian look that may lead you to think that it works well. However, it has a number of significant downsides that lower its usefulness for construction work. On the plus side, it’s rainproof, so you won’t have to worry about your meal getting spoiled by a sudden shower or accidental spills on the worksite. It also weighs just 7.2 ounces, so most of the weight that you feel will be related to your meal and not your bag.
However, like the previous model, it won’t protect your meal from getting crushed if something falls on it. That’s a big detriment if you’re not going to be around to protect your meal all day. It’s also not the biggest cooler out there, as it measures ten inches on its long side. It also has issues with quality control. Some customers got units that weren’t properly stitched. If that happens to you, you have to return it or put up with a model that wasn’t made properly. This isn’t an expensive lunch cooler, but if you’re looking for a model with which you’ll be happy, you’ll need to find a different lunch cooler.
The three most important things to consider when shopping for a lunch cooler for construction work are heat resistance, durability, and capacity.
Heat resistance is important. Chances are you’ll find yourself outside on a summer day with the heat beating down on you, and on your cooler. If it doesn’t have adequate insulation, your sandwich and drinks will end up as hot as the outside air, which makes for a disappointing lunch. While you may not need a cooler that can keep your food cold for days, you’ll want one that can at least get you through lunch.
Strength and durability often come together, and it’s no different with lunch coolers. Not all coolers are made to resist crushing, so it’s important that you get a model that will protect your meal. Hard-sided cases are a must unless you know for a fact that nothing will fall on your cooler while you’re not around.
Capacity is the third thing to think about before you buy. Not everyone eats the same amount of food, so it’s important to get a model that has the capacity you need. Too much will lead to you carrying around too much weight, while too little will leave you wishing you had more space.
The Stanley 7QT Heritage Cooler is our favorite lunch cooler for construction workers due to its lifetime warranty, leakproof cooler, and great included vacuum bottle. The Klein Tools Work Cooler 17-Quart has a large capacity, can keep your food cold for up to 30 hours, and can support up to 300 pounds as a bench, though its inferior strap keeps it out of first place. The Igloo 14.8 Quart Playmate cooler features a good capacity, a lid that swings in two directions, and an impact-resistant shell. Since you can get it for a great price, it’s the best model for the money on our list. The IceMule Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag is an innovative, soft-shell model, which can fold down when your meal is over, however, it has no crush protection and doesn’t have top-of-the-line cooling. The Carhartt Insulated Lunch Cooler Bag is rain-proof and lightweight but won’t protect your meal from crushing and has poor quality control, dropping it to last place on our list.
Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you discover all of the features that you can get in your next lunch cooler and find the model which is right for you.
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