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Keep It Cool: Steel Or Foam Drink Coolers?

August 15, 2018 Allison Hess

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You’re at a barbeque with your closest friends and family, soaking up the sun and chomping down on delicious summery treats. You have a drink in your hand—maybe a beer or soda or cocktail.

 

As the sun shines down to warm the party, it also starts to warm up your drink. Your drink is sweating even more than you are. Your hand is getting wet from your drink, while your beer or soda starts to lose its flavor. Your ice melts and your drink waters down.

 

You’re stuck with a warm, watered down drink—and you’ve barely taken a sip.

 

That’s what drink coolers are for. Drink coolers are sleeves or jackets that wrap around your drink to keep them cold—no matter how hot the sun is beating down. They also soak up your drink’s sweat to avoid wet hands or water rings.

 

Drink coolers are a must-have for every party, and they’re also one of our favorite gifts! They’re fun, clever, and practical no matter to whom you’re giving. They’re also a great marketing giveaway for businesses because they’re inexpensive but highly branded and useful.

 

But there are hundreds of types of drink coolers out there. They come in different materials, shapes, sizes, and features. You can even order personalized or custom coolers.

 

So how do you choose the right one?

 

Choosing your drink

Before you select a drink cooler, you’ll want to choose the right summertime drink.

 

Wait, there’s a right way to drink?

 

Yes, there is! Here are some of our tips to keep your drinks cooler and tastier for longer:

  • If you’re a beer drinker, opt for a bottle. Bottles typically stay cooler longer than cans do.
  • Keep your drinks chilled before you bring them outside. This saves you from needing ice, which can water down and ruin your drink.
  • When packing in a cooler, put the drinks in first and then the ice. Cold air travels downwards. Also, add salt; when the ice melts, the water will mix with the salt to keep your drinks colder.
  • Need to cool down your drink in a pinch? Wrap your drinks in a damp cloth or paper towel and throw in your freezer for 15 minutes. This helps cool them down faster. Don’t leave them there or they’ll freeze.

 

The average drink cooler will keep your beverage at 40 degrees or below for 35 minutes. That’s roughly 3x longer than not using a drink cooler, especially in warm environments.

 

So which types of drink coolers are best?

 

1. Stainless steel = 10/10

Stainless steel is naturally insulating, and most steel coolers have an additional vacuum insulation. Stainless steel insulators keep your drink cool and sweat-free for significantly longer than other types of holders. They protect your hands from the cold of your drink while protecting your drink from the warmth of your hands. They’re virtually unbreakable, which helps protect both cans and bottles alike.

 

They’re the classiest looking cozy, but some will scratch over time. They’re also more expensive—but they’re often worth it because they last longer and work better than other types of drink coolers.

 

 

That’s why our HomeBev reusable mugs are made out of stainless steel. They’re naturally insulating to keep your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot. Plus, you can’t beat the durability and design.

 

Read: Reusable Travel Mugs – Stainless Steel vs Plastic vs Glass

 

2. Hard foam = 7/10

After stainless steel, hard foam is typically the most popular type of drink cooler. Also called “polar foam cans,” these are the classic drink cooler. They’re made of hard foam on both the inside and outside, so they soak up drink sweat without transferring to your hand. After stainless steel, these keep your drinks cool for the longest possible time.

 

Hard foam is one of the cheaper types of cozies. This means less expensive prices—but reduced quality as well. With some wear, the foam starts to fray or tear. Plus, they’re not very attractive, as they have a bulkier feel and appearance than other types of drink coolers.  

 

3. Collapsible, soft foam = 4/10

Collapsible coolers are usually made of a soft, open-cell foam. Because of the lightness and thinness of the foam, it’s pliable and bendable—but it also doesn’t have much insulating power.

 

 

These are less of a cooler and more of a sweat-reducer. They work well to help eliminate water rings, functioning almost like an extended coaster. They also keep your hands free from the coldness of your drink.

 

These are usually best if you’re looking for an easy drink cooler to travel with or store in small places.

 

4. Wetsuits = 7/10

Drink cooler wetsuits are becoming more popular—and for a good reason. These are made of neoprene, which is the same sort of flexible synthetic plastic that diver wetsuits are made of. These wrap around the entire bottle and zip up, keeping the bottle in an enclosed environment. They’re available for beer bottles, wine bottles, and even some cocktail glasses.

 

These work well to insulate and keep your drink temperature even. They’re also protective, so they’re great for ensuring glass doesn’t break at an outdoor barbeque. Drink wetsuits are also comfortable to hold and easy to travel with.  

 

5. Squeeze foam = 4/10

These squeezable pliable foams are slightly harder than soft foam and slightly softer than hard foam. They feel like stress balls, and they’re fun to play with.

 

They insulate decently well, but usually only for an hour. They’ll protect from drink sweat, but it can be challenging to put drinks inside. You’ll often hear a “pop” when you try to pull the can or bottle out, and it may take a little extra force.  

 

Squeeze foams are best if you want a comfortable grip but you’ll drink your beer fast.

 

6. Freezer coolers = 5/10

Freezer coolers work like ice packs. You toss them into the freezer or cooler to “charge” them, so they’re ready to chill your bottle or can. They can actually chill your drink, even if it was previously warm. Most will work for 3 hours before starting to thaw.

 

We like these because you get the benefit of ice without the mess or watering down. However, as cozies, they’re not the most convenient. They make your hands cold, they sweat themselves, and they have to be frozen first in order to work.

 

7. Plastic lined = 3/10

Some drink coolers are foam on the outside with a smooth, plastic lining on the inside. These don’t typically keep your drink very cold because plastic doesn’t conduct temperature well.

 

Also, when your can sweats, the water can actually fill up in the liner. When you go to pour your drink in your mouth, the water can spill down your chin and shirt. Party foul!

 

The upside is that plastic liners are the easiest to clean and reuse.

 

DIY drink cooler tips

Want to make your own can cozy? Try Rice Krispie treats. It seems like a lot of work for little reward—but hey, you can eat your drink cooler afterwards!

 

Another great DIY cozy in a pinch is a sock drenched in cold water.

 

What’s your favorite kind of drink cooler?

 

Tell us in the comments below!

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