The 13 Best Coolers You Can Buy, According to Thousands of Reviews
Coolers and ice chests seem a little bit like smartphones these days: they keep getting more expensive, and it's not entirely clear why. Thankfully, some of the best coolers on the market also happen to be less than the cost of dinner at a cloth-napkin restaurant.
Yes, there are some benefits for the coolers that cost a few hundred dollars, but depending on what you need from them — tailgating, spending a day at the beach, or just keeping picnic foods chilled — you can easily find coolers as good as Yeti (the undisputed cooler king) and far more adaptable to your budget and lifestyle.
We scoured dozens of the best coolers available today to create this definitive list of the top-rated coolers. We read thousands of customer reviews. We read dozens of studies and temperature-based reviews. We compiled our own personal experiences.
Keep reading to see which coolers came out on top so you can know the best cooler to buy if you're shopping for one. We also have a recommendation for the best ice packs for coolers, too.
Best Coolers at a Glance
- Best Cooler: YETI Tundra 65 Cooler
- Best Hard Cooler: RTIC 65
- Best Soft-Sided Cooler: Coleman 30-Can Soft Cooler
- Best Budget Cooler: Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler
- Best Portable Cooler: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler
- Best Cooler Tote Bag: CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag
- Best Cooler With Wheels: RovR Rollr 45 Cooler
- Best Small Cooler: Igloo BMX 25-Quart Cooler with Cool Riser Technology
- Best Personal Cooler: Carhartt Deluxe Insulated Lunch Box
- Best Disposable Cooler: Igloo Recool 16-Quart Cooler
- Most Durable Cooler: ORCA Classic Cooler
- Best Backpack Cooler: TOURIT Insulated Backpack Cooler
- Best Cooler for Outdoor Parties: Sunjoy 80-Quart Wood Grain Cooler
- Best Ice Packs for Coolers: Cooler Shock Mid-Size Cooler Freeze Packs
What to Consider When Buying a New Cooler
The best cooler for you will depend on several factors, such as your intended use, how much you need to hold, and how much you have to spend. Most larger coolers will be filled with ice and used to hold drinks and food.
Smaller coolers may only need to hold a few bottles of water or a picnic lunch. Ice packs will be preferable in those circumstances. But coolers can also be used to hold hot dishes before a meal, chill food quickly for long-term storage, or hold fish fresh from the water.
Here we'll break down the difference between some of the most popular coolers so you can decide which one is a fit for you. The right cooler for your needs may not be the most expensive, so consider some of these tips to make sure you're not overspending — and to make sure you're not getting one that won't fit your needs.
Price: Some of the best coolers on the market can set you back $400 or more. These coolers are designed for days of use in rugged environments (camping, hunting, etc.), and they back up their price point with high-quality materials like steel hinges and latches. But some of the most highly-reviewed coolers cost less than $100. Don't assume you have to sink some savings into your next cooler. Based on your needs, the best cooler for you may very well be only $50 to $100.
Capacity: Coolers range in size from small five-quart lunch coolers to extra-large totes that can conceal 125 quarts, or about 200 cans. The bigger the cooler, the more you can put in it. But the more you put in it, the more it will weigh.
Material: Hard-sided coolers are typically made from double-walled plastic. Some are insulated with foam. As a result, they tend to be more durable and stand up to use, impact, and transportation well. Soft-sided coolers may be made from neoprene, flexible plastics, canvas, and other easy-to-clean materials. They can also typically be flattened for easier storage.
Intended Use: If you're a fan of camping, hunting, hiking, and all other outdoor activities, you likely need the durability and large capacity of a hard-sided cooler. Perhaps you need one with wheels for easy transport from your car to your camp site. But if you're just looking to have a cooler you keep on hand for picnics or tailgating, you can save your money and consider a small cooler or even a soft-sided one in many cases.
Best Cooler: YETI Tundra 65
Rotomolded coolers are all the rage — and cost quite the penny. These coolers are heavier, more durable, and more well insulated than almost anything else on the market. Manufacturers produce these features through a process called rotational modeling (rotomolding). During that process, a heated mold is filled with a powdered plastic material that melts and expands to fill the entire mold. The result is a single-piece cooler that is consistently thick and sturdy.
Yeti is an example of one of the best rotomolded coolers available today. People covet Yeti coolers for a reason — they're high-quality coolers that are very durable. Are they perhaps too expensive? Yes. But for the regular camper, hunter, or hiker, the Yeti is a win-win purchase — and a great gift!
With a Yeti Tundra, you can expect top-of-the-line ice-keeping capabilities. Three inches of insulation and the brand's signature FatWall design put a great deal of cooling space between your food and the outside air. All Yeti coolers are made with rubber latches, one of the few drawbacks for the brand; they sometimes feel a little weak for the price point.
The 65-quart capacity can hold about 40 cans with ice. The cooler comes standard with one dry goods basket for keeping some food cool but suspended above any ice. For personalization, the Tundra 65 is available in several colors, and if you order through Yeti, you can even pick custom designs.
"I own three Yeti coolers. Though not cheap, they keep ice longer than any cooler I've ever owned," one Amazon reviewer writes. "The 65 is my work horse. From camping to hotel stays to concerts at the park, this thing keeps the drinks and snacks cold."
Best Hard Cooler: RTIC 65
Rotomolded coolers like this RTIC 65 option, our pick for the best hard-sided cooler on the market, are stuffed with insulation for superior ice-keeping capabilities. In my own personal experience, this RTIC cooler option keeps ice frozen for more than a week. One reviewer has had the same experience with this cooler's insulation: "Will hold ice for days, even with regular beer fetching. Even in Texas in 90+ heat. We throw freezer blocks in and ice on top. Will keep beer cold all weekend no issues at all.....even longer," they say.
Another reviewer writes, "Awesome cooler!! We camped for 9 days and 8 nights and we used the purple Xtreme ice packs in the bottom with ice and then froze our meals. We still had frozen food on the way home the next Sunday! We only had to add 1 10lb. Bag of ice the whole time, which really makes it easier so you don't have to run everyday for ice. We had average temps of mid-80's through the week during the day and tried to keep it out of the direct sunlight. Love this cooler!!"
And though you may not need eight or nine days of freezer capability, you've got it with this cooler. That means even if you're using this for your weekend tailgating spot, holding beers and sodas, or if you're taking it with you to the beach for a day and need to ice down some sandwiches and juice boxes, this all-purpose cooler is the one for you.
Best Soft-Sided Cooler: Coleman 30-Can Soft Cooler
Hard coolers put in a lot of work, but their size and rigidity may not always be the best option for you — and you don't always need to keep food chilled for a week. Soft-sided coolers, on the other hand, are among the best coolers you can buy, even if they're not the typical cooler option.
This Coleman 30-Can Soft Cooler gets high marks for its flexibility and dependability. Even for its petite size, this cooler can accommodate 30 cans and keep them cool for up to a day. The food-safe liner can be easily cleaned in between uses. If you have a big spill, it can be removed entirely.
As a bonus, the padded strap makes transportation easier — no lugging a cumbersome cooler several blocks to the beach. It also has side handles so you can easily lift and move the cooler from place to place. Keep snacks nearby with the mesh pockets on the two sides.
"I use these mostly on the back of my tractor while mowing so they get used a lot. I just wrap the shoulder strap over the seat and I'm good to go. It amazes me that the strap has never broken off after so many years. The hard liner is what sold me on this cooler in the first place. I didn't want a hard cooler scratching my tractor up and sliding around, and soft coolers with no liner constantly leak everywhere. This cooler is the best of both worlds," a reviewer writes.
If you like the features of this soft-sided cooler but want one that's a bit smaller, the 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner gets marks equally high as its bigger sibling.
Best Budget Cooler: Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler
While there may be cheaper cooler options, we specifically wanted to find the best cooler at the best price point for the results. Cheap coolers may ultimately cost you in lost food and bags of ice. Coleman's line of Xtreme Coolers is a much lower price point than many similarly sized coolers, and it has all the benefits you expect from those high-price coolers.
So what are the sacrifices for a budget cooler if you don't want to shell out the cash for a rotomolded cooler? The two primary concessions are in durability and temperature retention. To put it another way, this is a cheaper product, so long-term, heavy use will take its toll. And while this budget-friendly cooler will most certainly keep things chilled all day, you shouldn't expect to get more than a day or two of ice retention without a great deal of ice reinforcements.
One Amazon reviewer writes, "The solid ice lasted about 3 days. It still had icy water for my water and soda though. Everybody told me I would need to spend money on a Yeti if I wanted to have ice for 4 days, but for way less, this did great."
Best Portable Cooler: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler
This portable cooler is a bit of a surprise. Tucked beneath the water- and stain-resistant padding is a HardBody liner. This plastic liner protects your cooler's contents from rough and tumble transportation. What's more, the liner has a built-in SmartShelf that can keep soft goods, like sandwiches, away from the cans and bottles below.
With more than 22,000 reviews on Amazon, it maintains a 4.5+ star rating, with reviewers giving praise like, "The performance of each of these coolers is top notch. Drinks say cold for what seems like forever. The extra pouches around the bag are a nice touch as well."
A padded strap makes for easier and more comfortable carrying. A patented zipper-less top gives quick one-handed access. If you like this small size (it holds 16 cans), you can size up to 30 or 48.
Best Cooler Tote Bag: CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag
Whether you need a cooler to keep groceries chilled while you run errands or like having an insulated picnic basket, this soft-sided collapsible cooler is a great option for your new cooler. Designed to hold up to 50 cans, this cooler tote is surprisingly spacious. The designers know the flapping bag lids can be annoying, so they designed SnapHinges to keep the cooler's lid upright while you dig through the ice for your next drink.
Though it weighs only two pounds when it's empty, this great cooler can carry up to 50 pounds of goods, and the carrying strap has a built-in bottle opener. Pick from five color options for your favorite.
Best Cooler With Wheels: RovR Roller 45 Cooler
Not all coolers with wheels are made equally. RovR took all the bad things about wheeled coolers, got rid of them, and made a product that's infinitely better. What's the biggest improvement? Puncture-resistant rubber tires. These wheels can take your cooler anywhere you want to go.
The cooler is also certified bear-resistant, which tells you it is tough as can be. (Bears may not be a concern where you're going, but it means the construction is meant for rough and tumble action.) Plus, the cooler is still big enough to hold 60 cans and 10 pounds of ice — and it can still hold 24 cans 10 pounds of ice if you need to use the "Deepfreeze bin," which allows you to keep things cool but away from ice. A Wagon bin is also included for easily carrying dry items out of the cooler.
Reviewers say the cooler is easy to transport and does a good job of holding chilled foods and ice for days; RovR says up to 10 days. And reviewers agree it does have excellent ice-retaining capabilities: "Maintains coldness as well as my Yeti," one reviewer writes.
Best Small Cooler: Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler with Cool Riser Technology
Small can still be mighty, and this heavy-duty Igloo cooler is proof of that. With a 25-quart capacity, you've got room for about 15 cans and a few snacks or a large picnic for the whole family. And even if it's small, it has major ice-keeping capabilities thanks to UV-inhibiting plastic, thick foam, and an insulated lid.
"This Igloo BMX cooler is doing just as good as my Pelican at a fraction of the cost. It's a little lighter, the handle and straps seem to be heavy duty. It's got a great look and works just the same ! Very happy with this," writes one reviewer.
If you're an angler, this is a great option for keeping your catch, too. There's a ruler integrated on the lid for measuring your fish. There are even built-in tie-down loops for strapping the cooler to your boat deck.
Best Personal Cooler: Carhartt Deluxe Insulated Lunch Box
With more than 20,000 reviews, this insulated cooler lunch bag still maintains a 4.8-star rating, which speaks to just how much users love this cooler. A dual compartment (the second is in the lid) body keeps dry items away from ice and liquids. The bottom compartment is insulated to keep foods cold for hours. There's enough space for a six pack, but this is a great option for a lunch or road-trip cooler for one or two people.
A soft handle makes for easy carry, and a cross-body strap can help you go hands free if you need to carry other things. Weighing less than a pound when empty, it's also a good option for kids going to sports practice or friends' houses for playtime.
"I bought this for my husband; I pack him breakfast and lunch for his work days. The lunch box seemed to have enough room but the reviews had me worried. I bought it anyway and am so glad I did! Anybody saying it's small must be packing for a 3 day camping trip," writes one reviewer.
Buy it: Carhartt Deluxe Insulated Lunch Box, $25; Amazon
Best Disposable Cooler: Igloo Recool 16qt Cooler
Disposable foam coolers do a number on the environment, so Igloo created one that does all you need from a cooler without the environmental impact. The 100-percent biodegradable cooler is molded for easy carrying; the lid also has wells for cups or bottles. Despite being made from natural products, you won't have to worry about leaks with a day of use. It's designed to keep water for up to five days; ice for up to 12 hours.
"Took it out to the the beach and back home, all afternoon with ice and very cold beer. Interesting that it never got wet on the outside," a reviewer wrote.
There's space in here for about 12 cans and a few sandwiches. If you need more space, get a few. At just $7, it'll take days of using these disposable coolers to get near the cost of a reusable one.
Buy it: Igloo Recool 16-Quart Cooler, $7; Target
Most Durable Cooler: ORCA 58-Quart Classic Cooler
Orca may not be as widely known as Yeti or Pelican, but it's every bit as good as those brands. It's also made with rotomolded construction, integrated insulation, a lid gasket for a complete seal, and extendible flex grip handles mean this cooler is made to last. But because of this heavy-duty construction, there is one negative quality: it's heavy.
"It is an excellent cooler. I like the fact that it was made in the USA. The reason it is four stars and not five is because it is already a heavy cooler empty, when you get it full of stuff it takes about two people to lift. I would recommend, but do know it is not a lightweight cooler whatsoever," writes one reviewer.
Best Backpack Cooler: TOURIT Insulated Backpack Cooler
Slip on this backpack cooler before you head out for a day in the canoe, an evening of stargazing, or an afternoon of hiking. The 25-liter main compartment is large enough for the equivalent of 28 cans. That's plenty of space for a day outside the house. But besides all the space, the backpack keeps everything you pack cool with high-density insulation, and a leak-proof liner.
In addition to the main compartment, the backpack cooler has two mesh pockets and one large front zipper pocket for stashing snacks or supplies that need to stay dry. Lightweight and padded for comfort, this backpack cooler is designed for all-day wear. Because of the design, it'll be better to use ice packs instead of ice.
"We used this backpack on the 4th of July while it was swelteringly hot and our food and drinks stayed nice and cold, despite sitting out in the sun. The backpack is a great size and holds a good amount inside. All zippers worked great, no issues at all with functionality. We had no leaking and it cleaned up easily," writes one reviewer.
Buy it: TOURIT Insulated Backpack Cooler, $40; Amazon
Best Cooler for Outdoor Parties: Sunjoy 80-Quart Wood Grain Cooler
For a bit of style at your next backyard picnic, opt for a rollable cooler that's as fashionable as it is functional. The 80-quart cooler sits atop rust-resistant powder-coated steel legs. The exterior and a bottom storage shelf are made to look like wood grain finish.
The wheels lock in place so the cooler won't role away from the party. There's even a built-in bottle opener that won't get lost and a reservoir for caps. When not in use, close the two-sided lid, and store for your next use. You'll just drain any liquid through the built-in plug.
Buy it: 80-Quart Wood Grain Cooler, $194; Wayfair
Best Ice Packs for Coolers: Cooler Shock Mid-Size Cooler Freeze Packs
Bags of ice are not always the easiest — or the cleanest — option for keeping food and drinks chilled in a cooler. These ice packs for coolers, however, do a fantastic job of keeping everything frosty without a mess. What's more, if they melt and spill out, you don't have to worry about unusual chemicals or gels covering everything.
Once activated, the cooler ice packs are designed to stay at 18°F for for up to 48 hours. That makes it especially great for weekend camping trips when you may not have access to ice. Their size — 10 inches by 10 inches — makes them right-sized for just about any cooler, even smaller ones.
Buy it: Cooler Shock Mid-Size Cooler Freeze Packs, $22; Amazon