More than 38 million Americans like to go fishing and hunt. It may because the average vacation can cost a family about $1,400, whereas a camping trip may cost that same family about $380. That amount includes transportation, any camping fees, supplies, and food.

Where do you keep your food when camping?

You might think the camping cooler the family has had for a decade works just fine for what it is used for: keeping food chilled and bugs out. But what about bears?

A dog is universally acknowledged to have a great sense of smell. A bear is said to have seven times the olfactory ability of a dog. A bear-proof camping cooler seems a little more pragmatic when a bear might scent your supplies from a mile away. A heavy duty cooler is thought to be bear-proof if it can stand up to 60 minutes of contact with a bear. The testing for this certification must be interesting.

If your plans are not so much camping out in the woods with the bears but hiking to a destination, a smaller backpack cooler will be more appropriate. The average daily distance recommended for a weekend of hiking is between 6 and 12 miles. Carrying a big heavy cooler is not feasible.

What about coolers for fishing?

For those who are not looking for a camping cooler because they prefer to fish, the specifications for the best cooler are a little different. The type of fish you want to catch matters, as it may affect the cooler type. If you need live bait to catch your fish, a live bait cooler will have specific features, such as an air pump and superior insulation.

When you plan to use a cooler to store fish, a big concern is the mess involved. Whether you clean the fish at the site, or wait until you get home, that cooler is going to be holding raw fish for a while. A sturdy, non-porous interior is standard for hard coolers for good reason.

Some companies make draining the melted ice an easy task by having a small drainage plug on the bottom. Some even have a pitched inner bottom to avoid having to tilt it later to remove all of the water.

What about… tailgating?

For this type of event, that decade-old cooler in the garage may work just fine. If you live in a very hot climate though, a well-insulated cooler may keep drinks colder and enhance your enjoyment of the event. And it could be used when you go camping or fishing, too.

While there are a few defining features for specialized camping coolers and live bait coolers, the message is that a good product can make a difference during your little vacation.

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