There are many considerations to make when looking for the best coolers for camping. These insulated storage containers are meant to chill your food and beverages, allowing you to have a great time on your camping adventures.
Since you’ll be using the cooler mostly in the outdoors, durability is a very important factor to think about. It should be durable enough to withstand the wear and tear and the harsh weather elements. Of course, it should have the right capacity as well.
The cooler must be big enough to accommodate all the things you need to keep in there but not too heavy that you’ll have a hard time carrying it on the campsite. To help you look for the right cooler to buy, we’ve prepared a few tips on how to choose the best cooler for camping.
This will serve as your guide when shopping for this product on the market. And to make it even easier for you, we’ve included a list of coolers that we would highly recommend for camping along with a short review of each model.
Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Camping Cooler
When searching for camping coolers online, you’ll notice that these products seem to have the same look and features. But they actually differ from one another in some ways. It’s important that you choose a cooler that can keep your chilled items cool for longer.
Depending on how you will use it, it’s a good idea to go for a model that comes with features that can help make storing food and beverages more convenient.
Here are the factors to keep in mind when shopping for the best coolers for camping.
The problem with cheap coolers is that they don’t seal tightly enough, which defeats the purpose. Keep in mind that if the air can penetrate inside the cooler, its insulation will be ruined and this could spoil the food you keep there.
Therefore, one of the most important things to consider when buying a cooler is its sealing mechanism. Avoid coolers that have weak seals or poor sealing mechanism. Instead, go for something robust and if possible, a model that has sealing gaskets made of rubber.
Having rubber gaskets on the lid can help keep your stored items cool and fresh for longer. With the help of the gasket, the cooler will stay latched at all times despite repeated use.
Coolers come with insulation and this is how they keep the food and drinks that you store in them cool. Most of these containers use foam as insulation. Basically, the thicker the insulation, the longer it can make your food to stay cool.
The best coolers for camping use polyethylene foam that’s around 1.5 inches thick and more on all its four sides. Another type is called the extruded polystyrene insulation.
Both of these options work great when it comes to keeping food items and beverages cool. The biggest difference lies in the thickness of the foam material that’s used.
Coolers will understandably get wet. Those frozen products that you keep inside will eventually melt and this will cause an accumulation of liquid inside. That’s why you should look for a cooler that has the ability to drain the water easily. You should be able to drain it from the outside and eliminate the presence of water as a result of the melted ice.
It’s also a good idea to choose a cooler that you can easily drain after washing. As for the drain option, durability is an important factor. When it comes to this, choose the type of cooler where the drain plugs are attached to the body so they won’t get broken or lost easily.
Remember that you’ll be moving your cooler from one place to another as you go camping. If there are items inside, carrying these containers can become even more difficult. This is why it’s important that you look for coolers that come with handles.
The handles must be robust and allow you to comfortably carry the box even when there are frozen items inside. Furthermore, the handles of the cooler should be tucked seamlessly away so you can pack it tightly in your car’s trunk. Don’t get a cooler that has poor quality handles.
Rotomolding Molding vs Injection Molding
The top coolers for camping are constructed in different techniques, but the most common methods used in making them are injection molding and rotation molding.
Also known as rotomolding, the rotation molding technique was made popular by a company called Yeti. They have dominated the industry of coolers and cater to the higher end market.
Rotomolding coolers use a single continuous plastic material that’s rotated to form a certain shape. The best thing about these types of coolers is that the thickness of its outer shell is consistent, which means they are exceptionally durable. However, the biggest disadvantages are their heavyweight and expensive cost.
On the other hand, injection molding works by injecting hot plastic in a pre-defined mold. It is then left to cool and removed. This is much simpler compared to rotomolding, which is why it’s usually cheaper. However, these coolers have to be made from several components, which affect their durability.
Some coolers also come with add-ons and accessories that make them more convenient to use for camping. For instance, some coolers have food baskets that you can use to store fresh fruits and other produce.
There are also those that have dividers, allowing you to organize the things that you keep inside the container. Some of the best coolers for camping come with side tables, cup holders, and other addons. There are also other brands that sell these attachments and accessories separately.
Coolers don’t come cheap, which is why it’s important that you choose a cooler that has generous warranty coverage. That way, you’ll not have to worry in the event that it gets damaged. The warranty coverage of a cooler will mainly depend upon the brand. Some of the best brands are Pelican and ORCA.
They offer a lifetime warranty on defective covers and other components. Other brands also offer a warranty of 1 to 10 years. Hard-sided coolers have different warranty coverage compared to the soft-sided coolers. For instance, Yeti offers a 5-year warranty on the hard-sided Tundra series, while soft-sided ones are only covered for 3 years.
The size is an important factor to consider when buying a cooler for camping. Of course, you need something that can accommodate the things that you want to store inside it. But it should not be too big that you won’t be able to fit it in your trunk.
The best thing to do when deciding on the right size of cooler to buy is to think about the number of items you will keep inside it. You should use it to store only those items that must absolutely stay cool or fresh in order to save some space.
Related Post: There are many things one can bring to make the outdoor adventure a positive experience and one of them happens to be an ice maker. See our take on the Best Portable ice Makers for Outdoors.
Best Coolers for Camping This Year
You’ll surely come across a wide range of coolers for camping online, and this can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. So, we’ve made it easier for you by providing a list of recommended coolers for camping. Take time to read each review so you’ll know if this is the right cooler for you.
As mentioned above, Yeti is among the best brands of coolers out there, however, their products come with a hefty price tag. Nevertheless, investing in these products is really worth it, especially for regular campers who need a reliable cooler that they can use on their camping trips.
When it comes to the best Yeti cooler, the Tundra 35 is what we would highly recommend. Offering superior insulation and excellent durability, this cooler is made of polyurethane foam insulation that’s about 3 inches thick.
Thus, your ice will stay cool for so long and your food and beverages will be kept fresh during the entire duration of your camping trip. This product is made with rotation molding, which means it’s guaranteed to last for a long time.
The Yeti Tundra is capable of accommodating up to 20 soda cans so it’s great for those who are camping in a large group. What’s great about this cooler is that it has no-slip feet, which means you’ll not have to worry about it sliding off when used at the camping site.
Other great features that this product has are the rubber latches, sealing gasket, and tie-down points. It also comes with a small basket that you can use for fruits.
Easy to use
Great insulation and features
A bit pricey
2 – Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler
Coleman is another popular brand for coolers, especially for camping. And unlike Yeti coolers, Coleman coolers aren’t that expensive, which is why they are great for those who are on a tight budget.
But despite being affordable, Coleman coolers such as this Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Portable Cooler are packed with great features. As a roto-molded cooler, this product is guaranteed to keep your food and beverages cool and fresh longer. Furthermore, it has decent insulation, which makes it a great cooler for camping.
Although this cooler is non-airtight and has thin walls, it could keep your ice frozen for up to four days! Other things that make this cooler stand out are its spacious and lightweight design. Thus, it’s very portable and you can carry it on your camping trip with ease.
Furthermore, it’s spacious enough to accommodate a number of foods and drinks! Given its great features and with a price that everyone can afford, it’s definitely the best camping cooler for the money.
Another affordable option is the Igloo Max Cold Roller Cooler, which is perfect for day trips. And although this product is cheap, it does come with a lot of great features, such as large latches, something that’s usually available only in the more expensive models.
The best thing about the latching lid is that you’ll be able to easily access your food and drinks without the need to undo the cooler’s latches and exert some effort in opening the lid up.
Furthermore, it has drain plugs that allow you to easily drain the melted ice. As for portability, you’ll love the fact that this cooler is equipped with rotating side handles and a telescoping handle.
There’s also a molded-in handle for quick and easy lifting of the cooler. Perhaps the only drawback is that the wheels of this cooler are not the best in terms of quality, yet decent enough given its affordable price.
The insulation is not the thickest out there, although it can effectively keep the heat out and preserve the coolness of the food and drinks that you keep inside it.
Comes with Ultratherm insulated body and lid
Reinforced swing-up handles
Ultimate in-cold retention system
With a generous capacity of 8 gallons as well as a load capacity of more than 50 lbs., the OlarHike Large Cooler Lunch Bag is what we would recommend for those who need a cooler for a big group of campers.
Its 8-gallon capacity can handle food and bottled drinks for camping, picnic, and hiking with friends. The cooler’s exterior is made from a durable Oxford Fabric that’s easy to wash and dry after use.
As for the interior, it’s made from an eco-friendly material that has 5-mm EPE foam padding, which results in superior thermal resistance. This soft cooler is also equipped with a durable food-grade aluminum foil that’s water-resistant and dirt-proof.
Featuring an exclusive Anti-Snap technology, this OlarHike cooler is definitely very durable. It’s perfect for picking up light loads, thanks to its padded handle at the top. There’s also a side handle, which is suitable when carrying heavy loads.
This cooler features an excellent design that you can store pretty easily. Simply fold it down and store it in your trunk or luggage. The OlarHike Large Cooler Lunch Bag is covered with a 2-year warranty and the company offers lifetime customer support to its customers.
Can be carried in two different ways
Soft cooler with a collapsible design
REYLEO is another popular brand that’s known for making good coolers for camping. In fact, this is one of those coolers that are gaining positive feedback online. Customers are satisfied with the way this cooler works and they believe that this product is truly worth the money.
You get to choose from two different colors – neon yellow and grey. They both look very stylish. Furthermore, it’s very efficient and practical to use and will keep your ice cool for a maximum of 5 days.
The REYLEO Cooler is also equipped with excellent features, such as a cup holder and a built-in bottle opener. With a generous capacity of 20 liters, this cooler is perfect for those camping trips with your family and friends!
Aside from the features already mentioned, this cooler is also equipped with rubber feet that are slip-proof, airtight gasket, secure latching, as well as a handle made from stainless steel and a durable locking system. This cooler is extremely lightweight and can be stored pretty easily.
Capable of retaining ice for up to 3 days
Durable rotomolded construction
The hinges might not last that long without the utmost care
Best Camping Cooler Brands
Knowing the best camping cooler brands can save you a lot of time in your search. Although all the products we have reviewed on this list are great, some brands stand out from the rest.
These are brands that customers trust in terms of durability, usability, and other factors discussed above. Below are some of the most reliable brands of coolers on the market.
Yeti is a popular cooler brand. However, their coolers are usually expensive. Nevertheless, they are worth investing in because they are of good quality and are capable of holding ice longer, even up to five days! In terms of durability, these coolers will not disappoint.
Orca may not be as popular as Yeti, but it’s another brand that you can trust when it comes to coolers. Their products are indestructible and will not disappoint you if you need to keep your drinks and food items cold and fresh for a long time. Furthermore, Orca prides itself as a company that is fully supportive of environmental causes.
The Pelican brand has been on the market for several years now and it’s only recently that they have started producing some of the best coolers with hard sided cases. Even though they are still new in this field, they have already built a strong following of customers, thanks to their coolers’ excellent features and design.
The Seavilis Cooler is, without a doubt, one of the top coolers for camping. It has a spacious design so you can use it to store plenty of food items and drinks to keep you full for the entire duration of your camping trip.
When it comes to stylish coolers, this is one of those products that we would recommend. It’s available in a wide variety of colors so you can choose anything that suits you best. Aside from the various color options, this cooler is also available in different sizes.
It’s equipped with bottle openers so you can easily consume the drinks that you’ll take on your camping trip. With an easy latching system and non-leak design, this cooler is exactly what you need for an enjoyable camping trip.
Available in different sizes and colors
Comes with built-in bottle openers
Features a commercial-grade construction
Has an easy latching system
Not efficient enough to keep the ice cold for longer
Another excellent choice of a cooler from YETI is this Roadie 20 Cooler. Although it’s a bit on the smaller side, this product doesn’t lack the necessary features that the best camping cooler should have.
What makes this cooler stand out is its excellent build quality. It’s constructed with the rotomolding technique and is definitely built to last. The insulation is made of polyurethane foam and can keep your drinks cool for a long time.
Furthermore, it has integrated hinges, rubber latches, and rubber gasket. The Yeti Roadie 20 Cooler is also equipped with 4 tie-down points, non-slip feet, as well as a cushioned handle made of metal.
There’s also a built-in drain in this cooler so you won’t have a hard time draining the melted ice. Like most of the coolers from Yeti, this model is a bit expensive. But you will certainly not regret choosing this cooler for your camping.
Easy to use
Equipped with convenient features
This next cooler is from RTIC, a Texas-based company that is known for producing uniquely designed coolers. This top-performing cooler is hard-sided and is constructed using the rotomolding technique.
In fact, it has a somewhat similar design to coolers from ROCA and Yeti, yet this model is more affordable. So, if you’re on a tight budget, this is a great product to check out. But just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it lacks the features that other expensive brands have.
In fact, this cooler has rubber latches and non-slip feet, as well as longer ice retention. But the only downside is that this cooler is not that convenient to handle. Also, some customers complained about the lack of customer support and poor warranty coverage.
Equipped with heavy-duty T-Latches
Molded tie-down slots
We believe that this heavy-duty cooler from Cascade Mountain is one of the good coolers for camping out there. Cascade Mountain is known for producing some of the best camping gears on the market, including tumblers, LED lanterns, camping chairs, and trekking poles.
This premium cooler for camping is manufactured using the rotomolding technique, which is why it’s truly durable and guaranteed to last longer. Furthermore, it’s capable to withstand almost all types of shock, strain, or stress, which is why it’s perfect for outdoor use.
The cooler is also an excellent insulator and can preserve the coolness of the food and beverages that you keep in it for a long time. What’s more, this particular model of a cooler is bear-resistant certified!
Available in two different sizes
Ice retention could last for several days
Ideal for all kinds of occasion
When it comes to the best size cooler for camping, the Rio Gear 54 Quart Portable Cooler is perfect. With a massive capacity of 54 quarts, this cooler can take up to 85 cans of sodas. Furthermore, it has a stylish design that will surely stand out at the campsite.
Aside from its great design, customers love this cooler because of its rubber grips that make carrying it from one place to another a breeze. On top of that, this stainless-steel cooler has a durable design and is guaranteed to last a long time even when you use it outdoors on a regular basis.
The cooler features a stainless-steel body that looks very elegant and stylish. It also has a rustproof drain cap as well as a built-in bottle opener that is truly very useful for avid campers.
Although this cooler is made from stainless steel, it’s definitely lightweight so you won’t have a hard time carrying it on your camping trip. Another great thing about this product is that it can be stored very easily, thanks to its compact design
54-quart capacity can store up to 85 cans
Comes with a built-in bottle cap opener
Dual rubber grip carry
Maximum insulation for a long-lasting ice retention
Rust-proof and powder-coated steel body
Misleading product dimensions
Types of Camping Coolers
To save you time when looking for the best coolers to buy, it’s a good idea to identify ahead of time whether you should go for a soft or hard cooler:
Powered coolers work like a portable small fridge. These coolers are usually connected to the DC outlet of a car and will take power from your car’s battery. It’s the battery that will keep it stay cool so it doesn’t require ice most of the time. However, these types of coolers are undoubtedly more expensive.
These coolers have textures similar to stiff insulated bags. They are lightweight, compact, and portable and are usually better suited for daily use due to their compact size.
Hard coolers are more suitable for outdoor campers since these coolers are more durable and hard-wearing. Although they are heavy, they are capable of retaining ice better, which is why your food and beverages will stay cool for longer. You’ll find hard coolers in different styles and sizes and they have different price tags as well.
The type of ice that you’ll be using for the cooler is also an important factor to consider. Most people use crushed ice because it’s readily available. The biggest advantage of using crushed ice is its ability to fill the gap between the beverages and food items, which helps to cool them quickly.
But the biggest drawback is that it tends to melt very easily and you may have to keep on replacing the ice just to keep the stored items cool. Another thing that people use are blocks of ice. They take longer to melt compared to crushed ice.
However, they are very bulky and will take up lots of space in your cooler. If your cooler has plenty of space to accommodate both crushed and block ice together, you better use both. When it comes to re-stocking ice during your camping trip, the ice packs would be a better alternative.
Some of the best brands of coolers come with their own ice packs and what’s great is that you can use these repeatedly without having to worry about draining the water that comes from the melted ice.
However, ice packs are usually more expensive and require refreezing when they lose their coolness, which may not be ideal for longer camping trips. Dry ice is also a great option to consider.
This type of ice is frozen carbon dioxide and won’t melt no matter what. However, dry ice is pretty dangerous to handle and some coolers are not safe enough to handle dry ice.
With a great customer rating score online, the YETI Tundra 35 Cooler is certainly one of the most popular coolers on the market, especially among camping enthusiasts.
This cooler is portable enough to carry in the campsite and is capable of retaining the coolness of the ice for longer, thanks to its 3-inch PermaFrost Insulation.
Furthermore, this product is made using rotomolded construction, which guarantees its durability. Given these excellent features, we believe that the YETI Tundra 35 is one of the best coolers for camping.
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