15 Of The Best Coolers Reviews – Top Rated Coolers

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Best coolers

Regardless of where you are going and what you’re doing, you’ll definitely need something to keep your drinks and food cool along the way.

Coolers can help during a short day trip and during longer trips. But in order to make sure that you get something that does what you need, you’ll need to know the best coolers out there.

We’ll be going over some of our favorites and providing advice on top-rated coolers that are available to you.

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Top 5 Best Coolers (Summary)

 

Image Product Details  
YETI Tundra 65 Cooler, Desert Tan Most CoolingYETI
  • Extremely durable
  • Has thick sides which will be better insulated
  • Patented keeper technology
ORCA BW058ORCORCA Cooler, White, 58-Quart Best for CampingORCA
  • Well insulated
  • Customizable inside and outside storage
  • A lot of storage space
Coleman Cooler | Xtreme Cooler Keeps Ice Up to 5 Days | Heavy-Duty 70-Quart Cooler for Camping, BBQs, Tailgating & Outdoor Activities Biggest StorageColeman Xtreme
  • Handy lid that has cup holders
  • Affordable price
  • Works for a variety of different drinks and foods
Igloo BMX 72 Quart Cooler with Cool Riser Technology, Fish Ruler, and Tie-Down Points - 18.70 Pounds - Carbonite Gray and Blue Igloo
  • Decent price
  • Sturdy materials and lasts much longer
  • Easy to carry because of the carrying straps
RTIC Hard Cooler, 45 qt, White, Ice Chest with Heavy Duty Rubber Latches, 3 Inch Insulated Walls RTIC
  • Keeps food cool for a very long time
  • Dividers keep food organized and easy to access
  • Very sturdy construction

For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.

What Is a Cooler

You can call it a chilly bin, an icebox, a cool box, a chilled container, an ice chest, and many other monikers but it’s got one purpose – to keep food and beverages cool inside.

It is like a fridge on the go that you can carry around when you brave the outdoors for camping, fishing, or want to enjoy a lovely weekend on a picnic with family and friends. Just fill it with ice cubes or blocks of ice and you’re good to go! 

Benefits of Using Coolers

Coolers have become a staple piece of equipment that makes food storage and packing cold beverages a lot easier. While a cooler is designed to keep contents as cold as ice, it also offers a lot of benefits that make it more than just a handy cooling bin. 

Here are some of the benefits you should know:

Ease of Use

Coolers do not require any electricity or energy points to function. You can just fill it with your preferred drinks, beverages and all sorts of food that you need to store and cover them with ice packs or blocks of ice to keep them cold or frozen for as long as possible.

Alternative Storage

When your refrigerator breaks down and you’ve got a lot of food and beverages to store for hours, you can make the most out of your cooler use it as your alternative storage. Top it all off with lots of ice to maintain the freezing point at its optimum chilling level. It’ll be much better if you have solid blocks of ice so they won’t melt halfway through. You don’t want to end up with messy spills and leaks, particularly when you need to put away food or leftovers in containers.

Efficient Cooling

The ability of a cooler to deliver efficient cooling is essential. You can use a cooler as reliable storage to keep your drinks, water, beer, other kinds of beverages and even your favorite ice cream.

Prolonged Freshness

While it is known to keep contents cool and freezing, a cooler can also prolong the freshness of your food when you go on long road trips or even when you bask in the scorching heat of the afternoon sun. You won’t have to worry about maintaining the quality of your food, particularly when the temperature wavers and gets too hot, as this can lead to food spoilage.

Portability

Best Cooler Portability

Coolers are portable and you can take them pretty much anywhere you go whether you go outdoors for camping, fishing, swimming, a family picnic or outing or you just want to frolic in the summer heat at the beach. Typically crafted with ergonomic handles, they are easy to carry around or to take it from and out of the vehicle. 

Some manufacturers, however, added a few tweaks in the designs of their coolers and spruced up the portability using wheels, allowing you to push or pull the cooler easily, especially when you’re carrying a heavy load.

Handy Food and Drink Container

If you want to quench your thirst or grab a bite for a quick snack, a cooler gives you easy access to your cold drinks and packed food anytime you want.

Long-Lasting Quality

As they are made of durable materials and intricately designed for outdoor activities, these coolers ensure a quality that won’t easily wear out even when you leave them out on rough terrain, sand or under the rain. They are reliable and sturdy enough to withstand different elements in the environment and harsh weather conditions, especially when you head outdoors for an adventurous trip.

Storage for Perishable Goods

When you go hunting or fishing, you can preserve your trophy in a cooler and keep it fresh or frozen while heading back home. You can also utilize your cooler as storage for perishable goods like raw meat, seafood or chicken after running errands and shopping for food at the market. You can keep them in a cooler for the meantime to maintain their freshness. 

Pros and Cons of Using Coolers

While coolers offer a lot of advantages, they also have their share of pitfalls and limitations. Jotted down below are some of the significant points you can take note of:

Pros

Efficient Cooling System

Regardless of the size, coolers offer an efficient cooling system that does not need to be plugged into an electric outlet to function. These coolers come in a vast range of sizes and each lends ample storage space for any type of food or drink that you need to keep cold and frozen. With an adequate amount of ice, your cooler can deliver optimum cooling so you can indulge in cold and fresh drinks and other beverages anytime and anywhere. 

Great Storage For Food and Beverage

Another impressive feature of these ice boxes is ice retention and insulation. While a cooler keeps the drinks and beverages cold, it also renders preservation properties that can minimize the risk of food spoilage. Whether they are perishable goods such as meat, fish, poultry or fruits and vegetables, you can keep them in the cooler and let them sit there for hours as long as there’s an adequate amount of ice. 

If you have also prepared some salads and snacks for an outing or family picnic or some cooked meals that you want to reheat afterward or just want to keep the popsicles and buckets of ice cream cold and frozen, you can put them all away in your cooler for easy and efficient storage.

Sturdy Quality

As coolers are innovatively designed to endure harsh conditions and different elements outdoors, they are known to be very durable. Whether you place it on the wet or dry ground or in the summer heat or cold breeze, a lot of coolers showcase an exceptional quality that won’t easily get damaged and can last for years. 

Typically made of BPA-free plastic material, coolers ensure not only great quality but also safety, allowing you to make use of its cooling properties without harming your health. 

Highly Portable

A cooler is like your very own compact refrigerator that you can take on long road trips, family outings or outdoor adventures. Crafted with ergonomic handles, it is transportable and you can easily load it to or take it out from your vehicle. For large-sized coolers that can accommodate a heavier load, some manufacturers feature wheels to enhance their mobility and make them much easier to carry or push around.

Pros and Cons of Using Coolers

Cons

May Require Frequent Ice Refilling

Solid blocks of ice are an ideal option if you want to keep your cooler cold and frozen and it will be a lot better if you let it be jam-packed with ice. 

However, when the ice starts to melt you may need to refill the cooler with more ice now and then. If you’re planning to use it to store drinks and food for long hours, refilling can be time-consuming. And when you’re out on the road and ice is unavailable, that could be another problem. 

Limited Space

As much as you want to fill it with your favorite drinks and beverages, each cooler has a capacity limit. It may not always accommodate your storage needs unless you expand in size and weight. 

Coolers are available in different quart measurements and you can always go for the largest if it meets your storage needs. But of course, the larger the cooler is, the heavier it will be. It may not be as portable and compact as other alternatives.

You Can’t Open the Box Too Often

Aside from frequent ice refilling to maintain the cooling system, you should also be careful not to open it too often to prevent the ice from melting. You also don’t want to leave it open, especially when you’re outdoors because insects or dust might enter your cooler.

If you’re going to take a few bottles or cans of beverages, make sure to close and lock the lid tightly all the time. Otherwise, you’ll end up with messy spills and warm beers.

Requires Cleaning Now and Then

To deter buildup of mold and mildew, it is important to clean your cooler regularly. This is probably a general rule but it can be time-consuming and a hassle for some users. Mild soap and warm water will do or if there are tough stains, you can use baking soda and water to clean the cooler thoroughly.

Be Careful With the Products You Store

Your cooler is reliable storage for food and drinks but you can’t just put raw fish and beers inside at the same time. Otherwise, they might end up contaminating the other.

Types of Coolers

There are a ton of different coolers out there, but there are two particular types: hard-sided and soft-sided. Each one has pros and cons for normal use.

Just keep in mind that the type you choose might depend on what you’re doing. Hard-sided coolers tend to work for overall purposes, but the soft-sided coolers might suit you better as something that is easier to store.

There are different types of coolers and each has its respective features in terms of ice retention, durability, portability and storage space. If you want to know which cooler would fit your personal needs, check out the types of coolers listed below:

Hard-Sided Coolers

Hard Side Cooler

Hard-sided coolers are fairly common. They are usually made out of plastic. There are versions that have a bit thicker sides or use certain materials inside of the plastic area to try and make sure that the contents stay at the right temperature. These come in a range of sizes, but you will find that the hard-sided ones come in larger sizes just like the fish finders that can locate the fish anywhere.

These coolers work well for all sorts of purposes, but they are a bit harder to store. They won’t fold down and they normally take up the same amount of space. If you are trying to find a way to make them work for you when you’re not trying to store cold items, then you might be able to use them as temporary storage inside of your home.

If you’re camping or hiking on rugged terrains, a hard-sided or hard cooler lends durable storage that can endure harsh conditions and rough environments. Typically made of sturdy plastic material, they are not as prone to damage as soft coolers are. Therefore, activities like camping in the wild won’t be much of a problem.

What’s also great about hard coolers is their storage capacity. Unlike soft coolers, hard coolers offer much more space, allowing you to fill them with more contents. Therefore, if you’re after larger capacities, hard coolers can offen the ideal size for your needs with their vast range of sizes.

Another advantage that you might also want to look into is its performance in terms of ice retention. The concrete build of hard coolers makes them efficient for cooling food and beverages for long periods.

The drawback, however, of hard coolers is how they can be heavy even without the contents inside. Their rigid structure adds up on the total weight of what you put inside. As they are also bigger and bulkier compared to soft coolers, it requires a larger storage space as well.

Soft-Side Coolers

Soft Side Cooler

When you think about soft-sided coolers, you are likely to think of smaller ones that are intended to be used as lunchboxes. However, that isn’t the only purpose that these coolers can have. There are some larger ones that you will be able to find. The advantage of having one that is quite a bit bigger is that you won’t have to keep a cooler that will be hard to store.

Soft coolers can work really well in specific situations, but you might not always want something like this because it won’t protect the softer foods that you put in there.

Perhaps the highlight of a soft-sided cooler is its weight. Because it is relatively lightweight compared to hard coolers, this portable icebox is ideal for daily use. If you’re up for long hikes and adventurous trips on mountainous terrains, you can carry your food and drink like a breeze. 

Typically structured with a vinyl or fabric exterior, you won’t have to strain your back and shoulders with a heavy load and the total weight primarily comes from the content of your cooler. Therefore, how heavy your load is would depend on how much food or drinks you carry.If you take more than its capacity, it’ll be bulky and awkward.

Soft coolers are usually designed with backpack or shoulder straps that make them much easier to carry around, especially if you’re going uphill. They are highly portable. Also, unlike hard coolers, they are collapsible. You can fold them up or fold down for easy storage. 

The downside of soft-sided coolers is their performance against rough terrains or ground. They are reliable but may not be sturdy enough to withstand harsh conditions and rugged trails. You’ve got to be careful where to place it to prevent the fabric from damaging or ripping.

Roto-Molded Cooler

For durable quality and superior ice retention, roto-molded coolers could be your best bet. They are impeccably tough and specifically designed to withstand rugged environments and even keep your perishables and trophies protected against the sneaky creatures in the wild. Some roto-molded coolers are even bear-proof!

The namesake is derived from its manufacturing process where a high-grade raw plastic — a pricey but incredibly versatile type of plastic — is typically used to make these coolers. These plastic materials are polyresin pellets and are initially utilized to coat the mold. After the coating, the mold is placed in an oven and will constantly rotate on two axes, horizontally and vertically, to make sure the material is evenly spread throughout the mold. Thus, they get the name rotationally molded coolers.

The aforementioned process ensures remarkable durability on all parts of the cooler. No wonder they are expected to last a lifetime. Also, most of them are leak-proof and UV-resistant, making them incredibly tough to withstand pressure and rugged conditions. They provide reliable storage not just for food and drinks, but also for perishables when you go hunting or fishing.

However, with such remarkable quality comes a question: Are roto-molded coolers expensive? The answer is yes, they are. But it’s worth the investment if you’re looking for a quality cooler that can last for many years.

How to Choose the Best Cooler

Picking out the best cooler is always a difficult process. You’ll have to consider a many different factors. We’ll go over the most basic things that you can look at. You might find extras that are based on what they are intended to be used for, but you may not always need those.

Additional features or coolers that are designed for very specific purposes can mean that you’ll pay more.There are a lot of basic coolers that will do everything you need that will also cost less.

Outside of style choices and extras that are specific to different uses, there are several categories that could work for you.

Style

Cooler Style

You may think that the style options are going to be limited to simply the two styles of soft and hard-sided options. But there are other options that are available to you. The style might change depending on the size that you are getting. Some designs are built specifically for outdoor use while others aren’t meant to be beat up that much.

There are some styles of coolers on wheels that are built to go places as well.

Just make sure that you choose a style that fits what you’re doing. The soft-side versions will work well as a lunchbox for day-to-day use, but they might not work as well for some people that are planning on taking something a further distance or in a rougher area.

Purpose

Cooler purpose

There are different coolers that are made to work for specific purposes. You’ll find some specific ones that are made for very specific purposes. This is sometimes found in different types of constructions. Some of them are made to be more rugged, especially if you are taking the cooler while hiking or in a canoe.

Some are made to be of more general-purpose use, so they won’t be quite as specialized. This is good news for some as this also means that they are more likely to cost less. However, it does not mean that they might not hold up to as much if you are buying it to actually use it. Of course, it might also hold up for a long time regardless of how you use it as long as you are making sure to clean it out and really take care of it.

Space

Cooler Space

This can be an incredibly important factor when you are looking for a cooler that you can take with you for a trip with a ton of different people. If you know that you’ll be using the cooler often for large groups, then getting a larger cooler can be incredibly important.

However, if you aren’t going to use it that often or use it for large things that often, you might want to consider getting something that is a bit smaller. You can always get a second small cooler if you need a bit more room in the cooler. It might be a little bit annoying at the moment, but it can mean that you’re spending less at one time.

Price

Of course, the biggest factor that you will face when it comes to getting a cooler is the fact that it will cost you some money. Getting something that is built a little bit sturdier or built out of more durable materials is going to cost you a bit more.

Any extra features will also cost more. For some people, these extras will be worth all the money. For others, these extras won’t matter that much. You’ll have to figure out what you really need and what you don’t. There are many extras that might be considered more frivolous such as the outer design of the cooler. But make sure that you focus on what is most important for you.

Portability

Different brands and types of coolers are manufactured with features that enhance their portability. Because they are primarily designed for traveling or outdoor trips, these coolers are crafted with straps that make them highly transportable. 

If you’re going to purchase large-sized coolers, you can consider those units with wheels and handles so you can push or carry them around with ease, especially if your cooler contains a heavy load.

Ease of Use

Coolers are innovatively designed to make lives much easier in terms of storage and portability. The latches and buckles promote hassle-free access and secure locking system to keep the cooler tightly closed at all times. 

Besides these primary features, many types of coolers crafted their designs with a few tweaks to make it much easier to use like wheels, dividers, baskets, fish openers, additional pockets and many others.

Longevity

We always want to make sure that every penny we spend is worth it. And when it comes to investing in a cooler, you’ll definitely get more than what you pay for if you choose a quality that can last for years. You might want to focus on the material, design and structure or if the parts are available for replacements in case they wear out. 

Reputable brands can also be your basis, especially if you’re picking out your cooler for the first time or if you’re looking for a better replacement for the old one. Settling for cheap quality will cost you more money for repairs and also time and effort in the long run. 

Durability

Best Coolers Durability

There is a bracket of features that make a cooler durable and reliable to use. It is usually based on the design, material and the technology used. But if you delve into the intricate details and highlighted features of each type of cooler, you can differentiate how one is more durable than the other. 

When it comes to soft coolers, you can probably tell its durability primarily on the material, the zipper enclosures, buckles, compartments and the straps. You may also have to check the edges if they are carefully sewn. The straps should also be strong enough to handle heavier weight.

Roto-molded and hard coolers truly are outstanding with their durability. Known for their solid structure, they can endure pressure, rugged conditions and also different levels of ambient temperature. Besides their exterior, you might also want to take a closer look at the lid, handles, latches and wheels if there are any. Their rigidity, moreover, ensures excellent quality that can last for a long time.

Better Insulation

When a cooler delivers heavy-duty insulation, it can perform well not only in keeping the drinks and beverages cold but also in storing food. It can prolong the freshness. Each type of cooler offers respective insulation properties and roto-molded coolers may seem to be ahead of the others. But for daily use and portability, you can also go for soft-sided coolers and hard coolers.

Moreover, it is important to consider the insulation as it works both on cold drinks and hot food. It’s pretty obvious what coolers are utilized for but you can make use of it with hot food as well. Sounds crazy but if you fill it up with hot water and let the heat build up inside the cooler, just layer the bottom with folded towels and put your food in it. Make sure to wrap the food in foil and voila! You’ve got delish and warm food to dig at any time of the day!

Draining

You’ll have to worry less about cleaning if the cooler has a drainer or a drain plug. Some coolers enhance their design with this feature which makes it a lot easier to clear out any spills from food and melted ice. You won’t have to empty the cooler, wash the dirt and toss the water out. 

Ice Retention

Ice retention is probably one of the key features that will either make or break your cooler. However, it may not always be easy to identify which cooler offers the best ice retention. 

But if you’re going to make your choices among soft-sided cooler, hard cooler and roto-molded cooler, the latter truly stands out in terms of durability, insulation and overall quality and hence, offers better ice retention than the two. 

Although roto-molded coolers might seem a preeminent option among the other types of coolers, there are several factors that you may consider to determine if the cooler has the best ice retention whether it is a soft-sided or a hard cooler. This includes the amount of ice, how and how often you use it, the temperature, the contents, the condition of the environment and many others. 

Handles and Wheels

There are significant features that make a cooler much easier to transport from one place to another. If you often travel on long road trips, for adventurous excursions,  camping and family outings, a cooler with a handle and wheels allow you to hike and navigate the trails with ease. 

Some brands manufacture coolers with built-in wheels and handles which could probably be an ideal design for large and heavy coolers. If you’ve already purchased a cooler and you want to maximize its mobility, you can consider buying detachable and adjustable wheels and handle.

Warranty

It is a lot better if the cooler you’re buying is backed up with a decent warranty coverage as it can define the durability of the product. This may also be a plausible indicator that the brand houses a lineup of well-made products that can last for years or even a lifetime. 

When it comes to expensive high-end coolers, a long warranty period seems imperative. This may range from 1 year to a lifetime warranty and a longer coverage could be a substantial offer as this somehow counterbalances the hefty price tag.

Because there are so many coolers out there, you will have to take some time and look at the coolers that will probably suit you the best. We’ve gathered 17 of our favorites to help you decide to find some that are good examples of ones that you can get. If these ones aren’t exactly what you want, then you’ll be able to find similar models of varying sizes.

15 Best Coolers – Reviews and Comparison

1. YETI Tundra 65 Cooler – Best Overall

When you’re looking for coolers, people all over the internet and in real life will tell you to consider the YETI coolers. This particular model is going to keep everything that you have very cool. It’s so well insulated that you will be able to put dry ice into the premium small cooler without worrying too much. This is great news for people who want to keep everything extra chilly in their cooler.

Because of the brand and how well it is made, this cooler is on the high end of the products we have. However, you shouldn’t let that dissuade you. This one will work great for people that need quite a bit of storage, but don’t need to travel with the cooler. It will be a bit heavier than the others. You’ll definitely be able to move it in and out of your car, but it isn’t one that you would probably want to take on a hike.

YETI Tundra 65 Cooler, Desert Tan

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Keep things very cold
  • Durable
  • Thick sides for better insulation

Cons

  • Rather expensive compared to other coolers
  • Isn’t that easy to travel with

2. ORCA BW058ORCORCA Cooler – Best for Camping

This ORCA cooler is going to be just as good as Yeti coolers. Of course, some people will find that the cooler won’t always work for them. You have to make sure that you bring a cooler in a backpack and pack it in a way that will keep your beverages and foods cold. As long as it is well packed, this particular cooler can really make sure that you’re able to do well during your camping trip.

It is also pretty sturdy and well made. This means that it will last while you’re out in the woods. However, just like Yeti coolers, this ORCA one is going to cost a pretty penny as well. But it can be a good investment for people who like to bring polarized sunglasses for fishermen, a flashlight you can recharge and camp a lot.

ORCA BW058ORCORCA Cooler, White, 58-Quart

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Well insulated and can help keep things cold over a longer camping trip
  • Capable of using some additions and accessories to customize how the inside and outside of the cooler can store things for you
  • Also requires quite a bit of storage space, which makes it great for people who are going on longer trips

Cons

  • Still as expensive as the Yeti coolers of similar quality
  • Some people have had issues with the cooler needing to be refilled with ice on regular basis

3. Coleman Xtreme Cooler – Best for the Beach

Coleman is known for making sturdy products and many people will also enjoy the fact that this cooler won’t break your bank. It can function just as well as some of the higher quality coolers out there. It even has a lid that has cup holders.

This makes it great for on the beach. You’ll be able to keep your drinks safe and sound even when you’re sitting around or standing on a useful stand for trees. At the same time, all of your drinks will stay nice and cold as well.

Coleman Cooler | Xtreme Cooler Keeps Ice Up to 5 Days | Heavy-Duty 70-Quart Cooler for Camping, BBQs, Tailgating & Outdoor Activities

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Pretty big and can work for a variety of different drinks and foods
  • Handy lid with holders for cups
  • The price is much less than other coolers that you will find out there

Cons

  • While it is more affordable than some coolers, it will still be a little bit more expensive than some people will want to pay
  • Doesn’t have wheels which could make it much easier to travel with, even at the beach
  • While it will work great for most things, it may not prevent warming as well as the other coolers

4. Coleman FlipLid Personal Cooler – Best Small Cooler

Many people may think that a small cooler is good for lunch or a picnic. However, a small cooler can be a great compliment when you are using a larger cooler as well. In fact, having something small for some of the overflow or some of the more fragile foods that you want to keep safe.

Coleman FlipLid Cooler, 5 Quart , Blue

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Well-constructed
  • Small design is really easy to carry around
  • Can fit at least 6 cans still, which is quite a bit
  • Very reasonably priced for a small cooler

Cons

  • Won’t work for more than a personal meal
  • Might not seal as well as larger, more expensive coolers

5. Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers – Best Large Cooler

Despite the fact that this cooler is soft, you’ll find that it is quite solid. You won’t have to worry too much about being able to fit things in this cooler. In fact, it might be easier to carry because there will be a strap that will fit across your body a little bit better than the solid handles that are typical of the hard side coolers.

Igloo Marine Ultra 24-Can Square Cooler

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Decent price compared to other, similar-sized coolers
  • Sturdy materials that will make sure that the bag lasts much longer
  • Easy to carry because of the carrying straps

Cons

  • The fabric may fall apart after a full season of use
  • May leak if you have just ice in the bag as a way of keeping it cold

6. – Best Soft Cooler

When you’re looking at soft side coolers, you’ll want one that can really handle a lot. This particular cooler is made to be sturdy inside and out. That is one of the biggest problems that you will run into when you’re using a soft side cooler.

Because this one is designed to survive more abuse, you’ll find that it is a little bit more expensive. However, when you compare it to coolers that are of a similar size, but hard-sided, then you will find that it isn’t that bad. It is also easier to carry with the straps that it has attached.

Pros

  • Straps attached to the bag make it much easier to carry around
  • Durable inside and out
  • Reasonably priced compared to similar size models

Cons

  • Because of the design, it may not keep things as cool for as long as a hard side container would
  • Not as much room on the inside as most people would like

7. RTIC Cooler (RTIC 45 White) – Best Hard Cooler

This cooler is a little less expensive than other options that are out there, which is nice. But it has a solid construction. In addition, you will be able to change how you organize foods inside with the dividers. This means that you can divide food and drinks from each other to make sure that everything is kept in such a way that they are easy to access.

RTIC Hard Cooler, 45 qt, White, Ice Chest with Heavy Duty Rubber Latches, 3 Inch Insulated Walls

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Solid design will keep everything nice and cool for a very long period of time
  • Better price than most Yeti coolers, but still of a similar quality

Cons

  • Some people find that this cooler breaks down sooner than a Yeti
  • If you have problems with the product, customer service might be harder to reach

8. K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler– Best for a Road Trip

This cooler by K2 coolers is the right size and right style to really make sure that everything turns out great on your next road trip. This cooler will fit easily in the car. It may not last multiple days, but it can at least last a day so that you can replace the ice at the end of the day or before the next day of traveling.

You don’t need something as sturdy as you would need camping coolers for a relaxing day outdoors. So this one isn’t as sturdy, but it still works really well for traveling.

K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler, Duck Boat Green

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Nice size for putting in the car
  • It will work for the right length of time for a road trip
  • Can hold enough for a day of travel and eating

Cons

  • Doesn’t seal as tightly as other coolers which is why it doesn’t keep ice as long as other coolers
  • Can leak when it isn’t at the right angle or isn’t sealed properly

9. Ozark Trail 73-Quart High-Performance Cooler– Best for Insulation

This cooler by Ozark is meant to stand up to the test of time when it comes to keeping your food and drinks cold. Of course, the cooler will still struggle at times depending on what is packed into it or how well you have closed it. But in general, the cooler will keep everything really nice and chilled out for many days. This can be a great cooler if you are worried about major events like hurricanes or a really long camping trip.

Ozark Trail 73-Quart High-Performance Cooler, Grey

Check Price and Rating on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Large space to fill with a lot of food or drinks and ice
  • Solid seal that will make sure that all of the cold stays inside
  • Really thick insulation

Cons

  • Not quite as sturdy as some Yeti coolers and other high price coolers that are out there
  • Depending on how it is packed, the cooler may not last as long as it is advertised to

10. Artic Zone

Arctic Zone can store ice well for up to three days. The patented flip-open zipperless lid allows the user easy access to food and drinks. It also comes with an FDA hard body liner with an easy-to-remove smart shelf.

Artic zone hardbody cooler has an adjustable shoulder strap and it comes with a shoulder pad for convenience. The product is Rhino-tech and stain resistant, the exterior can be easily cleaned and it’s puncture-resistant, which prevents it from cracking.

Soft products and hard products could be kept separately, thanks to the smart shelf. This makes your food and drinks properly kept and intact. It is designed for convenience and it is very user-friendly.

The leak-proof lining would prevent the cooler from leaker hen in an upright position. Finally, the cooler is a stain, UV and water-resistant.

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler - 48 Can Zipperless Hardbody Cooler - Moss Green Cooler with Deep Freeze Insulation, HardBody Liner, and SmartShelf

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Pros

  • Keeps drinks cold and ice for up to 3 days
  • Very easy to open and pack
  • Adjustable shoulder strap makes it convenient to carry

Cons

  • Taller bottles may not fit in easily

11. Plano Frost Cooler

Plano Frost Cooler can store ice for up to 5 days. It has a built-in bottle opener, a cup holder and 20L capacity. The product is lightweight, which makes it extremely easy to store.

Some of its unique features are stainless handle with lock system, on-top ruler, on-top bottle holder, slip-proof rubber feet and others. Its bear-resistant level construction means it can withstand over 700 pounds. It’s quite reliable amongst regular picnic goers.

It is perfect for those who love the outdoors experience. The exterior and internal surfaces are all anti-UV. It also possesses non-skid feet.

It can easily accommodate up to 30 cans without ice added. The recommendation is a 2:1 ice to content ratio.

Plano Frost Cooler 14-Quart Capacity | Heavy-Duty Insulated Cooler Keeps Ice Up to 5 Days | For Tailgating, Camping and Outdoor Activities

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Pros

  • Ice retention is great
  • Strong body
  • Very useful features

Cons

  • Closing the lid might require some effort

12. AO Coolers

AO Coolers are soft-sided coolers perfect for boating, parties, fishing and just about any outdoor event. They have a quality TPU liner that prevents the leaking.

This cooler could preserve ice for 24hrs in a heat up to 120 degrees. Its unique features are a leak-proof liner, adjustable shoulder strap and durable soft canvas material. The item may not be as popular as other brands, but it is just as good, if not better.

The soft exterior is carefully designed so it won’t destroy upholstery. They can easily be carried on a plane and their inner insulation has a thickness of 3/4, very high density and cell foam that’s closed.

It can carry 24 cans and 14 pounds of ice. The product is made of very strong canvas material to keep things warm and cold.

AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, Navy Blue, 24-Can

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Pros

  • Can preserve ice, cold and warm drinks for a very long period of time
  • Leak-proof
  • Distinct compartments to store other items

Cons

  • Cleaning might be difficult because of its material

13. CleverMade

CleverMade can carry up to 50 cans. It’s large enough to carry food, drinks and ice to cool them. The exterior of the bag is made of polyester fabric, which makes it quite strong and water-resistant.

For your comfort, it has shoulder and side grips that are made out of nylon. It has a unique built-in bottle opener made out of aluminum on the straps. Don’t worry about your drinks spilling, the flop-free design of the cooler cushions the contents comfortably.

It’s the perfect cooler for the beach, soccer practice and just about any outdoor activity. The beauty of the bag is its ability to fold down to less than three inches. This ability makes it very easy to pack during road trips.

It has a front zipper where you can safely keep your keys, wallet and another zipper at the back for additional storage.

CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag: Insulated Leakproof 50 Can Soft Sided Portable Cooler Bag for Lunch, Grocery Shopping, Camping and Road Trips, Heather Grey/Black

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Pros

  • Very versatile
  • Multiple pockets to keep your small items safe
  • Keeps food and drink cold for up to 36 hours or more

Cons

  • Strapping may not be okay for heavy loads

14. Seehonor

Seehonor is just the cooler you need for the outdoors. Whether it’s picnics, road trips or beach parties, this is the bag for you. The material is made from a high quality thicken PEVA hot-pressed material. This keeps your snacks and drinks cool for a long time, below 15 degrees.

Its unique features are the insulated zipper pocket, horizontal leak-proof zipper, a heightened mesh side and breathable mesh back pads. It has very strong shoulder straps that are quite adjustable.

The zippers are of very high quality and waterproof. This prevents the cooler from leaking. The item is big enough to carry meals, drinks, beverages and everything you need for your outdoor events.

This cooler has two side bottle holders that are okay for water, wine and even umbrella.

SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack Leakproof Soft Cooler Bag Lightweight Backpack with Cooler for Lunch Picnic Hiking Camping Beach Park Day Trips

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Pros

  • Made of a very strong material
  • Very comfortable and easy to carry
  • Quite a large storage capacity

Cons

  • Some people say it looks cheap

15. DeWalt

DeWalt is one of the smallest hard-sided coolers around. It’s ideal for picnics, outings or even for carrying your food to the job. If you want a cooler that would not crack, this is it. It is powerful enough to withstand any kind of situation.

The weight is about eight pounds, which makes it very easy for the user to carry it around. It has a built-in bottle opener and an inner lid that provides space to store an optional ice pack inside.

It comes with a strong metal handle for easy handling and transportation. The cooler is user-friendly and can be easily handled by anyone.

Finally, it comes with a non-slip rubber feet that allows for a firm grip and keeps the cooler well fastened.

DEWALT 10 Qt Roto Molded Lunch Box Cooler, Heavy Duty Ice Chest for Camping, Sports & Outdoor Activities

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Pros

  • Preserves ice for a long time
  • Known for its tough roto-molded build
  • Very effective under harsh weather

Cons

  • Price is high compared to similar models of different brands

Tips for the Most Effective Cooler Use

When it comes to using your cooler, there’s a lot that you will need to know about how you use it. You may think that it’s as simple as putting in some ice packs and then your drinks or food. There’s a little bit more to it than that.

Tips for the Most Effective Cooler Use

Layers

When it comes to packing your cooler, you will want to make sure that you’re laying everything correctly. The layers will help make sure that there are a lot of cooling elements throughout and also make sure that you are crushing things in the cooler.

Often, you should start with the heavier or bulkier items on the bottom like any cans and larger items. This makes sure that your heavier items get settled.

By putting the lighter things on top, like any vegetables or bread, you’ll make sure that the food isn’t crushed or destroyed. Of course, you will also need to make sure that you put the cooler in an area where the cooler won’t roll around.

Don’t Overpack

Overpacking can cause a lot of problems when you’re using a cooler. The soft side coolers might be able to handle a little bit more because they will be a little bit more flexible. However, even with a soft side, you will want to avoid putting too much into your cooler.

Putting too many items inside the cooler can prevent your cooler from actually being able to keep things cool. In fact, it might mean that some items won’t be that cold because of the fact that it might also prevent the cooler from closing.

Make sure that you’re able to close and secure the cooler when you are using it.

Clean Your Cooler Regularly

Of course, one of the best ways to make sure that your cooler is usable for a long period of time is by making sure that it is clean. Cleaning out the cooler will make sure that you are able to keep it around longer. If you don’t clean out your cooler by washing it, then you might see mold growing on it depending on the area where you live.

You don’t have to clean the cooler every week or every month. You might want to just clean it a couple of times every year. You may want to clean it more often if you are using it a lot more often.

While cleaning the inside is incredibly important, you will want to make sure that you are get the outside cleaned as well. If you are taking the cooler to a lot of places, then dirt and grime might be getting on the outside of the cooler. Washing the outside of it will also make sure that it doesn’t make the area where you’re storing it dirty as well.

How to Pack a Cooler for Adventure Travel

You have probably been pretty familiar with how coolers work and it seems to take only a minute or two to pack it up. But if you want to get the most out of your cooler, you might want to jot down the following notes:

Step 1 – Fill the bottom with a layer of ice

If you want to keep the cooler perfectly chilled and essentially insulated, filling the bottom with a layer of ice does it so. It can also maximize ice retention, allowing you to keep food and especially drinks and beverages cold for a longer time. 

Step 2 – Fill the cooler with solid blocks of ice if they are available

Ice cubes can also be a good option but if you want your ice to stay frozen for a much longer time, go for solid blocks of ice.

Step 3 – Use ice cubes to fill the gaps

Keeping the cooler jam-packed with ice minimizes melting, so it will be a lot better to leave no gaps or holes. Therefore, you should put a lot of ice cubes on top of the ice blocks.

Step 4 – Add food and beverages

After filling the cooler with blocks of ice and ice cubes, you can now place your food items inside. Just make sure to keep everything organized and don’t just throw everything in. While this can prevent any messy spills, it will also keep your cooler cold for the longest time possible because you won’t need to open it frequently to find whatever you’re looking for. 

Step 5 – Top everything off with ice cubes or ice packs

When you’re all done organizing the food items, drinks and beverages, keep it chilled and frozen by filling the top and the rest of the cooler with ice cubes or ice packs. 

Do’s and Don’ts When Using a Cooler

Coolers seem easy to use and to care for. But to maintain its quality at the top condition and prevent further damage, there are do’s and don’ts when using a cooler. Take note of the reminders listed below:

Do’s

  • Clean your cooler regularly. Go for the interior and exterior of your cooler and rinse it with warm water. Make sure to use mild soap, particularly on the inside and right before using it for the first time.
  • Air-dry the cooler after washing to deter any mold and mildew buildup.
  • Perishable goods like raw meat or fish should be directly placed on ice to maintain their freshness.
  • Use blocks of ice to keep food and beverages cold much longer.
  • Keep the cooler jam-packed with ice. Fill every void space as much as possible.

Don’ts

  • Don’t open the lid very often to prevent hot air to enter and cause the ice to melt quickly.
  • Don’t place the cooler directly under the sun or any hot surfaces.
  • Don’t use harsh detergent and boiling water to clean the cooler. 
  • For soft coolers, don’t drag them on the ground.

Frequently Asked Question

Frequently Asked Question About Coolers

How long will things stay cold in my cooler?

This is a really varied question. There is no way that we can answer it for even one individual cooler. You’ll find that how long things stay cold can depend on the insulation. It can also depend on what you’re trying to keep cold.

Because it is so varied, you’ll have to approach each cooler with the mindset that it could be great or terrible. As long as you pack the cooler well, then you’ll find that it will work well.

Can you put dry ice in a cooler?

You can in some coolers. This isn’t true for every single one. You will want to avoid putting dry ice into soft side coolers. It can make the material brittle and make it very easy for you to break the cooler apart by accident.

However, many hard side coolers will be able to handle dry ice. You’ll find that some are better equipped because of how thick the walls are and how it is insulated. For instance, many Yeti coolers will be able to handle dry ice. If you are looking at a particular cooler and want to know if it can handle dry ice, then you may want to look at the company’s individual statements. Some will tell you that it can.

You might also be able to find videos online that will tell you about whether or not the cooler can handle it. Reviewers like to try a lot of different things, so use the internet to look at the particular models that you are interested in.

Can you use a cooler to keep hot foods warm?

This might not be something that you consider when you’re looking for coolers, but it is absolutely true that you can use a cooler to keep hot foods warm. This is more typically true of hard-sided containers, but some soft-sided coolers can help with this.

This can make it easier to transport food to your next family gathering. Instead of having to carry a crockpot with you, you’ll be able to put the food in the cooler and make sure that it’s nice and warm when you set it down on the table.

Why are some coolers hard to open or use at first?

Like with anything brand new, the cooler that hasn’t been used at all can be challenging to use in the beginning. You’ll find that shoes for running on a trail, bags, best sleeping bag and many more items need to be used a little bit before they actually are easy to use. A soft-sided container will have this issue more often than a hard-sided cooler, but it isn’t something that you should be worried about.

Give the cooler some time and it will be easy to open and use. Of course, if the container is more than just stiff and is actually almost impossible to open, then you should contact the manufacturer and see if there’s anything you can do, such as getting a replacement or finding a way to break in the cooler.

Why should I consider a cooler that has thicker walls?

When a cooler has thicker walls, it means that the container is going to be a lot more insulated. The actual amount of insulation will depend on the material that is used within the walls as well, but generally thicker walls will mean that things stay at the right temperature for longer periods of time.

It does mean that you might end up spending a little more money for a bigger container or just for the thickness of the walls, but it can be really worth it in the long run.

Is there a type of cooler that works great for everything?

No. While some coolers are better than others, you probably won’t find a cooler that will work for every single situation. Sometimes you might need something smaller. Sometimes you might want something that can fold up when you’re doing using it.

There are tons of options because there is no particular cooler that will work best. You’re going to have to do your best to see if you can find one that suits you the best. If you find that it’s not going to work for a certain situation, then you may need to buy another one. If you are getting it for a particular purpose (camping, kayaking, parties, etc.), then you’ll want to choose something that will work better for those situations.

You can get a middle of the road, a medium-sized cooler that will work for most things, but it won’t necessarily be the best.

Why should I spend more money on a cooler?

Why should I spend more money on a cooler

Spending more money on a cooler means that you’ll be getting better materials or a more durable product. Thicker walls can also cost more. This means that you will be paying more for the materials of the cooler.

In general, a more expensive cooler will last quite a bit longer. It will also be able to keep your food or drinks cooler for longer periods of time as long as you pack it correctly.

Of course, if you aren’t able to spend a ton of money on the cooler, there are still great options that you can get. As long as you maintain those coolers, they’re likely to hold up for longer periods of time as well. You’ll have to balance what you want to pay for the features that you want to have.

Does cooler size matter?

Yes, it does. The size of your cooler all depends on your needs and preferences. To help you narrow down your options of which size to get, consider your outdoor activities, the places you’re going, how far you would travel and how much food or beverages you’re planning to get. You may also want to consider the storage space in your vehicle.

Which cooler keeps ice the longest?

It is actually hard to tell which cooler offers the longest ice retention. There are a lot of factors to consider like how much ice you’ve used, how often you use or open the cooler, the temperature and condition of the environment and many others. 

But if you’re going to base on the structure and put up their features side by side, hard coolers offer better ice retention than soft coolers. However, roto-molded coolers seem to be ahead of the usual types of coolers and hence, can keep the ice much longer. 

How much can you fit in a 20-quart cooler?

It can fit approximately 16 to 24 cans of beer or 20 pounds of ice but this may still vary according to the amount of ice, the shape of the cooler and other beverages or food you put inside.

What is the best alternative to Yeti coolers?

Known for its superb features and exceptional performance, it is no surprise that Yeti is one of the most reputable brands for coolers. With its lineup of outstanding products, you’d see how much they’ve invested in its heavy-duty quality. Many rave about this brand but fails to impress those with a tight budget – Yeti is expensive. 

However, if you wish to find an alternative that can stand as a worthy competition against Yeti but at a cheaper price or perhaps find a cooler that somehow exhibits similar features as Yeti, you can consider coolers from Orca, Pelican and Grizzly. These are also some of the popular brands that showcase great quality but relatively cheaper in terms of price. 

You might also want to give other brands a chance – brands that haven’t yet established a popular spot in the industry but impressively excels with their durability and innovative design as Yeti’s. These budget-friendly knock-offs namely Orion, Cordova, Kysek and Techni Ice coolers are not yet well-known, making them a lot cheaper in price compared to other brands of coolers.

Conclusion

When it comes to keeping your items cool (or warm), coolers can help you a lot. It can make your life a whole lot easier. You’ll be able to take a delicious meal with you for a picnic or preserve foods while you’re out camping. A good cooler will be able to last you for a very long time, so you need to take the time and invest in one that will probably suit you for as long as possible.

There are different types of coolers and each exhibits exceptional features that can comply with your personal needs and storage demands. Although a plethora of cooler brands may overwhelm you, considering the significant factors such as insulation, ice retention, durability, portability, capacity and ease of use will help you find a worthwhile purchase.

Coolers with hefty price tags may seem remarkable and worth the investment but do know that the ones with the best quality and performance don’t always have to be expensive. You can find affordable options without compromising quality. Just make sure to determine what your needs and preferences first and you’ll surely find the best cooler for you.

Photos from: gstockstudio / depositphotos.com, willeecole / depositphotos.com, olesiabilkei / depositphotos.com,  AllaSerebrina / depositphotos.com, tonodiaz / depositphotos.com and ArturVerkhovetskiy / depositphotos.com.

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Sammy Garrard

I am the Founder and Chief Editor of soutdoors.com and a prepper with over 15 years of experience. I’m excited to my knowledge and the things I learn while travelling in British Columbia, Canada where I live and around the world. Feel free to follow me on Twitter!

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