The cooler is how we take our convenient refrigerated life on the road with us. Since Richard C. Laramy filed his patent application for the portable cooler on December 22, 1953 these compact pieces of the modern world have been empowering our road trips, making 4th of July an even bigger blast and putting the finishing touches on our campsites. Whether you’re a competitive runner, dedicated RV enthusiast, enjoy tailgating or just love a Sunday picnic, the cooler is the one must-have piece of gear that makes it all possible.
Below we’re going to feature what we believe to be the 10 best coolers on the market today. As always these best cooler reviews represent the consensus of our objective product review staff.
The Best Cooler
Until you really take a look at all the varying YETI products, you don’t understand how different coolers can really be. YETI aims to make every model different, with different benefits, and the Hopper knocked all expectations out of the park. Designed with 100% leakproof HydroLok Zippers and the DryHide Shell, this cooler stands up to all of life’s little adventures. Whether you left it outside of the tent during a rainstorm, or it fell off the boat for a moment, your cooler will maintain.
ColdCell Insulation technology allows you to leave all worry behind. It goes beyond normal foam insulation with closed cells, giving the Hopper its soft exterior, while cracking down hard on ice retention in higher temperatures. This is designed for single use; you can hold a six pack of cans plus ice (great for beer lovers), and enjoy a cold brew at any time of the day. Available in six different designs to contour to your style, each sporting the comfortable shoulder strap—what are you waiting for?
Mildew-resistant, UV-resistant, puncture-proof, waterproof DryHide shell made of high density fabric material
Food-grade liner duly approved by the FDA
ColdCell rubberized foam closed cell insulation system
High-performance, leak-proof, waterproof and durable HydroLok zipper
Versatile HitchPoint Grid attachment system
Holds 6 cans of beer plus ice or 8 pounds of ice
- Weight2.8 pounds
YETI is back again with another tempting (but slightly overpriced) cooler that will give every avid camper a run for their money. From camping to concerts at the park, the YETI Tundra 65 is an indestructible product that works overtime to keep all your drinks and snacks in good order. Sufficient space is available for larger families that require more volume and a bonus is the supplied dry goods basket, which is included in the delivery. Despite it’s low weight, the bag is sturdy and easy to carry which makes it a true lifestyle product with its high quality, striking design and Rotomolded Construction. Overall, this cooler is functional enough to keep your nibbles cold in the field as it is in the refrigerator.
Extra-thick walls that hold up to two inches of PermaFrost Insulation
Sturdy build thanks to its Rotomolded Construction
Military polyester rope for added durability
Heavy-duty rubber latches made from patented technology
Pressure-injected commercial-grade polyurethane foam
Leak-proof design for fast draining
Inter-lock lid system for a secured barrier from heat
- Weight35.7 pounds
Coleman was actually the first large company to engage in portable cooler manufacturing beginning way back in 1954. So it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about how to make a cooler. The Coleman 54 qt is a prime example. Built out of high grade stainless and with a sleek look that’s totally modern while tipping its hat to the past, the Coleman 54 qt has all the bases covered.
While it may only keep the ice frozen for 3 days at 100 degrees remember we’re talking about a high quality stainless steel piece of outdoor gear that will only cost you 20% as much as the top rated coolers. ASs such it’sa tremendous bargain.
1954-inspired retro design
4-day ice retaining capabilities
Corrosion-resistant hardware made of stainless steel
Durable, sturdy, and versatile Have-a-Seat lid
Easy-grip steel handles
Leak-resistant channel drain
- Model19.4 pounds
Soft coolers are ideal for fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, and myriad other activities. The AO soft cooler allows you to bring along enough perishables to enliven the party without having to schlep a cumbersome traditional freezer along. The Ao soft side features 3/4 inch thick closed foam cell insulation that’s as lightweight as it is effective. It will keep your food cold for up to 24 hours even when the thermometer hits the century mark.
As it’s a soft-sided cooler you don’t have to reserve half of your trunk to take it along and carrying it over the shoulder isn’t a back-breaking burden. The AO soft sided cooler is lined with the same material used to line swimming pools and waterbeds so you don’t have to spend time worrying about leaks. You can also place it confidently on the back seat of the car without worrying that it will tear upholstery or leak all over the place.
Available in various capacities: 12-, 24-, 36-, and 48- cans
Durable, strong, heavy-duty polyester coated with sweat-resistant canvas material
Lightweight and moisture-proof polyethylene film
3/4 –inch thick insulation made of high density polyurethane foam
Waterproof, leak-proof, eco-friendly, heavy weight TPU liner
Reinforced, fully-welded seams
- BrandAO Coolers
- Model2.8 pounds
The Tundra 75 raises cold retention to an art form. Featuring the company’s PermaFrost insulation throughout and an exterior that’s virtually indestructible, it’s definitely not your parent’s portable cooler. The clean, sleek design is as pleasant to look at as the cooler is easy to carry with its smooth edges and tough as nails polyester rope handles.
While there’s nothing visibly revolutionary about a rectangular box for keeping things cold, the Yeti Tundra 75 revolution is one that goes on behind the scenes. You can take the Tundra 75 on an all-day sojourn to the beach and be confident that the sodas will be as cold at the end of the afternoon as they were at the beginning and that any perishables will still be safe through and through. In the past the end of the day typically meant a bunch of soggy food and warm drinks slopping around in the lukewarm water. Not anymore. Not with the Yeti Tundra 75.
2-inch thick ice-retaining FatWall wall insulation
PermaFrost commercial-grade PU foam wall and lid insulation
Indestructible Roto-Molded construction
T-Rex heavy-duty rubberized lid latches
Form-fitting, heatproof interlocking lid system
Mil-grade polyester double haul handles
Anchorpoint fully-molded mounting tie-down slots
- Weight42.3 pounds
The Orca TP0580RC portable cooler has some of the most mind-blowing cold retention ability you’ll ever experience. If you leave the lid closed you may be able to leave the cooler for a week without the ice inside melting. That by itself practically justifies the purchase. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast you know the number 1 challenge when it comes to portable coolers is poor cold retention. With the TP0580RC that long worrisome issue is finally a thing of the past.
Beyond its exceptional cold retention powers this Orca is the beneficiary of outstanding design and build quality. Even something as normally forgettable as the drain plug gets careful attention and the proof is that it can drain 5 gallons of water in under 2 minutes. All in all this Tennessee designed and built portable cooler is not just a step up from your parent’s cooler, it’s on a whole ‘nother floor.
Fully-integrated, ice-retaining insulation
Sturdy roto-molded construction
10-day cold retention and ingredient freshness guarantee
Cold-retaining lid gaskets
Mesh storage panel at the back
Capacity: 58 quarts
- BrandORCA Coolers
- Weight34 pounds
The Pelican ProGear Elite is a no-nonsense cooler that performs as advertised. To do that it has taken on a bit of a tank-light aura but it’s all in the service of keeping your perishables both fresh and dry and your sodas or brewskis ice cold. The price is a bit and we’ll assume they saved money on aesthetics.
The more important thing than whether you can parade the ProGear Elite down the catwalk with you is how effective it is at doing its job of keeping things fresh and cold, and it does that as well or better than any other cooler on the market. We’ve heard tales of ice that’s lasted 10 days and more in the ProGear Elite so chances are that when you trot it out to the beach this summer your perishables will still be safe at the end of the day and your drinks will still be frosty and delicious.
10-day ice retention capability
2-inch thick polyurethane insulation
Stainless steel corrosion-resistant hardware
Freezer-grade, ice-retaining lid gasket
Hinged and molded-in handles
Non-marking and non-skid feet
- Weight35.9 pounds
The Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler has a throwback profile but that’s where the similarities with the coolers of old ends. The Ultra employs state of the art insulation technology to provide longer than you’d expect refrigeration for such a large piece of gear. The Ultra therm insulation includes UV inhibitors that prevent the sun’s invisible weapon from melting your ice and ruining your day out on the boat.
The handles, hardware, lid and body of the Ultra Cooler are the product of many years of Igloo R&D and will stand up admirably to everyday wear and tear and the worst the sea can throw its way. You won’t see rusted hinges on an Ultra Cooler just like you won’t have to worry about the generous, comfortable handles failing on you when you’re carrying a full load of steaks and brews to the boat.
Nearly indestructible roto-mold construction
UltraTherm body and lid insulation system
5-day ice retention capability
Threaded, leak-proof drain plug
Comfort-grip, non-slip, telescoping handles
Built-in transport wheels and cup holders
- Weight5 pounds
We start our tour of our top-rated coolers with Yeti’s Hopper Two. It’s an upgrade of their original Hopper design that features enhanced cold air retention, easier handling and improved exterior molding for easier storage and retrieval. The improved Hopper is a breeze to carry about and the newly available color schemes will ensure your cooler doesn’t get lost. Spend even more time outdoors knowing the meat won’t go bad and the beer won’t get all warm and yucky.
Yeti reached out to those who know airtight best and appropriated the HydroLock zipper from HazMat suits. As such, there’s no chance you’ll need to worry about water entering the cooler if you’re outside in the rain or if it gets submerged in that country steam. The ripstop nylon straps are as though as they come and will simply never fail on you. You may also like our review of the best soft sided coolers.
With looks to kill and the ability to keep your perishables safer for longer the Yeti Hopper Two makes a worthy entry into our list. Yes it will set you back a few dollars, but in the end it will deliver for you in spectacular fashion time after time. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Waterproof, mildew-resistant, puncture-resistant, UV-resistant high-density DryHide shell
Food-grade, FDA-approved inner liner
ColdCell Insulation technology with closed-cell rubber insulating foam
Ultra-tough, leakproof, waterproof, and high-performance HydroLok zipper
Hitchpoint grid mechanism for multiple attachments
Holds 18 cans of beer + ice or 20 pounds of ice
- Weight5.8 pounds
The 16 Can soft cooler is another outstanding product from Coleman and one that’s sure to get the attention of value seekers from sea to sea. Bring the 16 can cooler with you to sporting events, picnics, tailgate parties, barbeques, camping weekends as well as road trips and you’re ready for just about anything. The removable hard liner is FDA approved and provides a lot of structural integrity so that your hamburgers won’t get crushed.
The Coleman 16 also sports dual mini bungee cords on the top for securing items you need but that don’t need refrigeration. The nylon shoulder strap includes a comfortable pad so you’ll be able to tote the cooler long distances without overworking your arms. And the best thing of all about the Coleman 16 Can portable is the price. For about the price of a large pizza you can have this amazing portable cooler that’s sure to become your go to cold storage for outdoor activities for years to come. Now that’s value.
Soft, flexible, permanent, easy-to-clean, food-grade, FDA-approved PEVA liner
Mold-, mildew-, odor- resistant antimicrobial liner
Additional removable liner made of hard plastic
24-hour ice retention capability
Leak-proof heat-welded, ice-retaining seams
Fully adjustable shoulder straps
- Weight1.12 ounces
The Coleman 70 Quart Xtreme 5 cooler is just that: extreme. This one’s for the large scale cookouts when the family and half the people from work are meeting you at the campground for some serious summertime fun. Among the great things about the Xtreme 5 is that, in spite of its size, it’s still able to retain cold for prolonged periods of time. That’s a testament to the quality of the build and the quality of the insulation.
The 2 inch thick insulated lid features a formidable gasket seal that keeps the outdoors out and the cold inside where it belongs. That same lid can also be outfitted with mini bungee cords that allow you to strap additional items to the top for transport to the party location. When you fill this bad boy with ice and many dozens of cans you’re going to want someone to take the other handle because it’s going to get heavy. But you knew that when you bought it.
5-day ice retention capability for temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit
2-inch thick ice retention wall and lid insulation system
EZ Clean lid design
250-pound weight capacity Have-a-Seat lid
Airtight, leak-proof, ice-retaining, freezer-grade lid gasket
2-way, comfortable, easy to grip handles
- Weight14.38 pounds
Inexpensive and built to last, Stanley’s take on the outdoor cooler comes with a minimalist design, and durable construction, all for a lower price than you’d expect. Hold up to 21 cans plus ice in this cooler, kept cold by the double wall foam design. With ice retention capabilities for up to 32 hours, you can pack for the campsite, set everything up, and still have more than enough time to enjoy everything you’ve packed.
In the past, old model coolers would always leak out cold air. Stanley took care of your concerns with a leak-resistant locking lid, designed to keep water in if it bangs around, and retain every cubic inch of cold air keeping your food and beverages chilled. This model comes in two colors, and features a sturdy handle for maximum carrying capabilities.
Double-walled cold retention foam insulation with leak-resistant, ice-retaining lid
36-hour cold retaining property
Fully adjustable tie downs
Rugged and durable handle and latches
Holds 21 cans
- Weight13.7 pounds
Much like the previously reviewed Coleman model, this thermoelectric cooler works as a portable refrigerator via a 12C DC outlet. Plug this into your car lighter port through the eight foot power cord, and enjoy the perfect chill on the road. This is optimal for thousand-mile (or longer) road trips. Avoid spending an arm and a leg at drive-thrus and on expensive single serve coffee in the morning; you can just pack it all here.
Featuring an ergonomic and comfortable handle, you get ample storage for two-person, short-term use. This electric cooler comes with a brushed stainless steel exterior, alongside the Igloo logo—they’re still here, and they’re still making quality coolers with a modern day twist. This thermoelectric cooler works well in multiple scenarios, and keeps cold for days. There’s no excuse to not pack up, and hit the road with Igloo by your side.
Portable, lightweight, outdoor thermoelectric cooler
Ice-less convection cooling technology
Energy-efficient, extra-quiet yet powerful brushless motor
Pluggable on car 12V cigarette lighter receptacle
Cools food and drinks up to 36-degrees Fahrenheit lower than ambient temperature
- Weight1 pounds
Wheel it like luggage, and stash a massive amount of cans in this epic, low-priced 42-Can cooler. Coleman works rigorously to bring you the best products at the very best prices—you simply can’t beat the value of this cooler. Outfitted with a durable liner, this vertical, portable ice chest allows you to stash ice (or ice packs for coolers) to keep your contents cold for days.
Heat-welded seams allow for maximum exterior durability, and provide a leakproof protection that works alongside the PEVA liner to give you maximum ice retention. Easy to clean, flexible material keeps this cooler looking excellent and in full form, while the luggage wheels work through dirt and brush. Coleman understands that your camping trips aren’t the same without a few cold drinks—fill to your heart’s content for the whole camping party. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best golf coolers.
Germ-, mold-, and mildew- resistant, fully removable, food-grade, FDA-approved liner
Retractable, telescopic, durable handle with heavy-duty transport wheels
Additional storage solutions up front, on the side, and a pocket in the lid
Bungees for added item or gear stowing
Holds 42 cans of beverage
- Weight1.12 ounces
It’s not all about hiking and hitting the weekend with your mates—you need a high-capacity cooler to ice down your catch. This marine cooler is specifically designed to hold 120 quarts, allowing perfect conditions for transporting your catch back to land, in the car, and to the fridge all the way back home. Marine coolers can run you hundreds, which is why Coleman took to the task to show everyone that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
Alternatively, this can hold up to 190 cans, and holds ice for up to five days at 90F. Proper drainage is important, especially out on the ocean or lake—Coleman included a highly durable protective ring for the drain, ensuring that it won’t leak unless you pull the plug. Convenient, and easy to clean out; anglers will have an easy time getting the “fishy” smell out of their cooler, prepping it for the next voyage.
Xtreme 5 Technology delivering 5 days of ice retention capabilities in 90-degree Fahrenheit conditions
Fully insulated walls and lid with UVGuard protection
EZ-Clean, Have-a-Seat versatile, freezer-grade gasketed lid
Threaded, leak-resistant, no-tilt drain system
120-quart storage capacity; holds 204 cans of beverage
- Weight3.88 pounds
Didn’t know they also made coolers? Most folks don’t. This inexpensive and ultra stylish cooler is designed to keep 24 cans chilled, and look good doing it. Sporting the FLEX-A-GUARD liner, crafted from FDA approved, low-density polyethylene, your ice retention capabilities are pushed to the max. With a comfortable shoulder strap and IsoTec closed cell foam insulation construction, Under Armour Soft-Sided Cooler is ready to hold up to the elements, and the test of time.
If you’re grabbing it by the handle, you’ll experience ultimate comfort thanks to a molded rubber construction, fitted for your fingers. Users love the easy-to-clean fabric—simply wipe it once with a damp paper towel, and you’re good to go again.
Low-density polyethylene FLEX-A-GUARD FDA-approved liner
Closed cell IsoTec polyethylene foam insulation
Durable and extra-strong 420D polyester
Molded-in, comfort-grip handles
Exterior zippered pockets with fully adjustable shoulder strap
Holds 24 cans of beverage
- BrandUnder Armour
- Weight1 pounds
Engel is an old and beloved brand, bringing you high durability products, crafted right here in the United States. 19 quarts of storage gives you enough power to pack a dozen cans, with ample room for ice. Retention capabilities give you up to two days of premium chill before your product temperature begins to rise. An inexpensive alternative to max storage coolers, Engel’s 19 quart model is perfect for the solo traveler.
Injection-molded, high-quality PP co-polymer
2-day cold retention capabilities
Dual functionality: cooler and dry box
Molded, high-grade polystyrene foam insulation with EVA gasket seal
19-quart storage capacity; holds 12 cans of beverage
- Weight6.6 pounds
Cooler Buying Guide and FAQs
In this section we’re going to take a look at a couple of common questions that come up when people are thinking about buying a portable cooler.
Features To Look For in Coolers
While it’s not in the same league as buying a car there are nonetheless a number of things to consider before you decide to plunk down your hard-earned on a cooler. Especially when you consider many of them can run you $400 or more. Below we’ll go over a number of the most common considerations.
Ice retention – Typically the smaller the cooler, the thinner and softer the walls, and the lower the price the shorter the ice retention time. Those wonderful over the shoulder coolers with the rigid walls that pop out are really convenient and affordable but don’t expect to get more than a day or two of ice retention out of them. Maybe that’s all you need. For many people it is. But maybe you hanker for something a little more substantial so be sure to determine exactly what kind of ice retention you need before you decide on a cooler.
Durability – The average portable cooler is made for outdoor activity so they’re not going to be gilded lilies that fall apart if you leave them in the rain for a little while. That said, there will be a difference in the amount of abuse the different coolers can take. Where you start to see a loss of long term durability is typically in the less expensive coolers simply because quality materials – which are the backbone of long term durability – cost money. That said places like the handles and hardware are where a less well-built cooler will betray itself so keep a sharp eye on them.
Capacity – What do you plan to use your cooler for? If you’re getting it to supply a small horde with cold brews during a tailgate party you’ll want something big like the Yeti Tundra 65 cooler. If on the other hand you’ll likely just be toting a few cold drinks and hot dogs to the picnic table in the woods for a low key get together with some friends the AO Canvas cooler may be more your speed. This is one case when you’ll really need to think about how you’re likely to use it before deciding on a cooler. Make a mistake here and you could wind up with a virtually empty monster or an overstuffed and overstressed over the shoulder job.
Portability – If you’re young and able this category won’t mean much to you. Even if there’s 48 drinks and several pounds of meat in the cooler you’ll likely be able to handle it. If on the other hand you are not built like a linebacker or you have back problems, you’ll want to think very carefully about how you’re going to get it from the car to the ultimate destination. There are a number of manufacturers today who offer coolers on wheels so you can save your back for other things, like living and working and enjoying yourself.
Draining – Even the best insulated cooler won’t be able to keep the ice intact if the lid is being opened constantly. To get rid of melt water you remove the drain plug and let the water run out. Better designed coolers will have their drain holes located at a low point so that the water drains out quickly and completely. Also, since the drain hole is the weak link in the cooler’s insulation armour you’ll want to make sure it closes tightly and that it’s attached to the cooler so that you don’t lose it.
Price – In the end everything comes back to price in one way or another. You need to balance what you want against what you can afford and then choose the cooler that provides the best combination of those things. Of course if money is no object then money is no object. For most of us though spending $400 on a portable cooler is a bit of a stretch so try to find that happy place where your budget meets your needs.
Get The Most Out Of Your Cooler
There are an infinite number of ways to use your cooler and a bunch of scientific tricks that just make them so much more useful than the package implies. You can utilize your cooler in a multitude of ways that make ice last longer, and you can even use them to keep items hot like a thermos. Put your cooler to the test and see what it can do.
Pre-chilling – It sounds a bit mad, but think of this: if you put ice into a cold drink, it’s going to last longer, right? The same principle applies. If you take your items—beer, sandwiches, the lot of them—and you chill them on ice before loading up your cooler, what’s going to happen? With everything being (roughly) the same temperature, you’re going to have ice for much longer than before. And that’s not the only trick.
Mass X Melting – Don’t fill her up halfway—the more ice, the better. Think about how long one ice cube takes to melt versus an ice ball. It’s about mass, and jam-packing all that ice into a tiny confined space can work in your favor, and deliver the results that you’ve been looking for. Keep your ice for longer, enjoy your cold items for longer, too.
It’s All About Ratio – If you have a 24-pack of bud in a small cooler, you’re only going to do so much to keep it chilled. Don’t jam so many products in there that they have to touch just in order to exist in the cooler. Ice should be thrice the number of your products, just to be on the safe side. When it’s for a camping trip, you’ll be thankful that the beer didn’t run warm with this little trick.
Not Just For Cold Drinks and Food – You can jam hot food in there as well. Crazy, right? It takes a bit of skill, but you can essentially turn your cooler into a Crock-Pot on the warm setting. Firstly, you’re going to want to fill up your cooler with as much hot water as possible. Let it heat the interior wall before you continue. Next, wrap up your food nice and tight in tinfoil. Fold a towel in half two times and load your food up. When it’s time to get going (I hope you have a lot of towels) double-fold another towel to place in the bottom and place the food atop that. Add another towel atop the food-towel, and seal up the cooler right away. Presto—you’ve got a hot holding unit on-the-go.
Locks – It’s not just about animals—it’s about John who won’t stop drinking all the beer. To avoid bears, raccoons, and other intelligent animals who have had their run-ins with camping humans before, lock up your cooler and ensure that it’s good and tight. Now, if you don’t want your evening to be ruined, be certain to give the secondary key to someone you trust. Nobody wants the beer to run out just because you lost the key.
Locks are also good for situations where there are more than one or two campsites nearby. If you’re using a camping ground, and you don’t know the people next to you, the last thing you want is for their teenagers to sneak into your cooler when you aren’t looking, all because they know there’s alcohol within. For your own consumption and safety keep it locked up when not in use.
The best portable coolers today are miles ahead of the best cooler brands from your parent’s day. Today they employ high-performance materials and are designed using computer programs to exacting tolerances. Some company’s also employ highly skilled industrial designers to put a unique twist on an otherwise mundane product. Use the information in these best cooler reviews to help determine which is the right portable cooler for you and we’ll see you at the tailgate party!