One of the best parts of picnicking and camping is the food; aside from the fact that meals just seem to taste better in the outdoors, if you have the ability to take and store food for more than a meal or two -- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches don't cut it for repeat breakfasts -- the rest is just fun. The modern technology and design of coolers has made the food storage part of car camping, and overnights at the beach, almost a luxury.
As with this Coleman Steel Belted 54 Quart Cooler ($138); Coleman has been making outdoor gear since 1900 and this retro cooler is an updated model of its early steel containers. It's pretty close to indestructible with the stainless steel lid, case, hardware and handles (with comfortable rubber grips). It's not the lightest cooler on the market but it will be around for your kids to use. With the 54 quart capacity, the cooler will keep you in top shape -- food-wise -- for multiple days. Six year warranty on this beast.
So; you want to party on your patio? Here's an easy way to keep your drinks cold and close at hand. With a design based on commercial drink coolers, the Oakland Living 80 Quart Patio Cooler ($183) is hand-made from powder-coated stainless steel and brass components for durable service; the cooler features a removable, hinged top that opens in either direction, and an amply sized lower storage tray for stuff that's in the on deck circle to be cooled. Also, a handy bottle opener and catch tray, plus over-sized handles and locking caster wheels. Nice.
For commercial use or lengthy cold storage use, this over-large capacity Rubbermaid 102 Quart Marine Cooler ($67) sports extra-thick insulation to keep goods cold for up to 5 days. It will ice down 156 cans and your two-liter bottles stand upright. Heavy duty side-swing handles and a stain and odor-resistant liner are salient features of this robust cooler; the lid locks tight with a sturdy latch, and the threaded drain plug ensures leak-proof cold storage.