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The 10 Best Coolers for Camping
There’s a case to be made that packing for a camping trip is the best part of camping. You get to rummage through the garage. Find all your beloved gear. Pack the cooler full of goodies. Reminisce about camping trips past.
Hang on, let’s go back to that cooler for a second. It’s been with you a long time. It’s like an old friend. But you know one thing without a doubt: no matter how much ice you pack in that thing, your drinks and ketchup bottles will be floating in lukewarm water by the time you get to the campground.
It might be time to let that trusty old cooler go, and upgrade to something newer and better. Luckily, we’ve sorted through some of the best coolers on the market this year, and we have some great recommendations.
1. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze
By just any measure with which one could judge a cooler, the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze is a great piece of equipment. It’s tough, it’s heavy-duty, and it keeps ice for four days or more.
It’s hard to imagine a better cooler for camping trips and outdoor adventures. Thick polyurethane insulation keeps things cool longer, and built-in Microban product protection offers a defense against odors and bacteria.
One of the great things about the Titan is it’s rugged enough to withstand all kinds of conditions. And with seamless construction, secure T-latches, and a 360-degree rubber gasket, the cooler holds moisture as well as the cold inside.
The Titan Deep Freeze also meets the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee’s bear-resistant container standards (when used with the appropriate locks, sold separately). If this cooler has a downside, it’s its weight, but a few extra pounds is a small price to pay for this level of durability.
2. Yeti Tundra Haul Hard Cooler
YETI has a well-deserved reputation for making some of the toughest coolers on the market. The Tundra Haul Hard Cooler is the brand’s first-ever wheeled cooler, and it’s a superb blend of convenience with that legendary YETI toughness.
But of course, this cooler has a lot to offer besides being portable and nearly indestructible. The Tundra Haul has extra-thick walls filled with commercial-grade polyurethane foam for maximum ice retention, and a freezer-grade gasket around the entire lid to seal in the cold.
This thing is seriously heavy, though. When the YETI is packed full, lifting it into your truck bed is a two-man job. But if you take good care of it, you’ll be using this cooler for decades.
The Tundra Haul has one of the best ice retention periods on the market – up to eight days – and you can essentially drop it off a cliff and it’ll keep on rolling.
3. Coleman 60 Quart Performance Wheeled Cooler
If you went camping when you were a kid, chances are you had a Coleman cooler along for the ride. Coleman camping gear is practically part of our DNA, and you know what? They still make some solid, budget-friendly coolers.
All of the above makes the Coleman 60 Quart Performance Wheeled Cooler a fun, somewhat nostalgic addition to any camping trip or picnic. This cooler has rough-and-tumble wheels to get where you need it to go, and a handy telescoping handle to help you get it there.
The Coleman does a good job keeping things cold, with up to four days’ ice retention. It’s not a cooler that will last a lifetime, but it’s a sturdy camping companion sure to give you several years of reliable service.
Spacious enough to hold 94 cans (and with four handy cup holders molded into the lid, the Coleman 60 Quart Performance Wheeled Cooler is a great choice for the thirsty, budget-conscious camper.
4. Igloo Quick and Cool
The Igloo Quick and Cool has a classic design and the ability to keep ice up to seven days. What more does one need? Well since you asked, it also has UV inhibitors in the lid to guard against sun damage, and snap-fit latches to secure the lid.
With a 150-quart capacity, this is one spacious cooler. That makes it ideal for family camping trips when there are a lot of mouths to feed. If this cooler has a weak link, it’s the plastic flexible hinges. They wear out easily, but on the plus side, they’re easy to replace.
A threaded drain plug that can connect to a hose is a handy addition that makes the Igloo easier to drain and clean. It also has a stain-and odor-resistant inner lining to help it stay fresh on those long camping trips.
5. Seavilis Milee-Heavy Duty Wheeled Cooler
One of the best-wheeled coolers we’ve seen recently, the Seavilis Milee-Heavy Duty Wheeled Cooler is a tough, well-insulated piece of equipment that will go wherever the road takes you.
With a no-frills design and virtually indestructible construction, the Heavy Duty Wheeled Cooler is built to keep your food and drinks cold in any conditions. It has built-in bottle openers, a freezer-style gasket, leak-free drain plug, and military-grade nylon handles.
The 7” wheels are sturdy and handle varied terrain with ease. The cooler also comes with accessories like a wire basket and plastic divider, which is especially nice since most cooler companies expect you to pay extra for those kinds of gadgets.
6. Kalamera Portable Refrigerator
Are you fed up with roughing it? Blurring the line between fridge and cooler, the Kalamera Portable Refrigerator is a great option for anybody who’s been on enough camping trips that they’re ready to be done buying bags of ice once and for all.
This 12V portable fridge can plug into any wall outlet or your vehicle’s cigarette lighter. It runs nearly silent and is compact enough to fit in the trunk or behind the front seat of most cars.
Although it operates like a refrigerator, the Kalamera opens from the top like a cooler. It has a 54-quart capacity and digital thermostat and does a great job keeping your drinks and snacks chilled on long car rides and camping trips.
7. RTIC Hard Sided Cooler
RTIC makes some of the hardiest, sturdiest, most rugged, rough-and-ready coolers you’re ever likely to encounter. It’s nice to know your sandwich is inside something you can basically back your truck over without leaving a scratch.
Another perk of the RTIC Hard Sided Cooler is it retains ice for up to 10 days, which is about the best anybody can expect a cooler to do. It also has adjustable rope handles, molded tie-down slots, a freezer style gasket, and an integrated locking system.
The RTC Hard Sided Cooler is a favorite of hunters and fishermen, but it’s a great companion on any camping trip. Available in five sizes ranging from 20 to 145 quarts, this cooler is bear-resistant and just about bomb-proof.
8. ROVR Rolling Cooler
The RovR Wheeled Camping Rolling Cooler is versatile, functional, and about as durable as it gets. With a 60-quart capacity and deep-freeze removable dry bin, it deserves a place on any camping, fishing, or boating trip.
The RovR’s elevated body design is innovative and helps keep its contents colder for longer. The cooler also has an airtight gasket and thick walls filled with high-density foam insulation to keep ice for seven to 10 days.
With a pop-up storage bin that essentially converts the cooler into an all-terrain wagon for hauling gear, the RovR is perfect for campers on the move. The 9-inch puncture-resistant rubber tires help get you and your lunch wherever you need to go.
9. Pelican Elite Wheeled Cooler
The Pelican Elite Wheeled Cooler is made for heavy-duty use. It’s been certified bear-resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, it’s made in the USA, and it’s guaranteed for life.
This is a great cooler for keeping your drinks cold and your food fresh. A 2-inch layer of polyurethane insulation gives you plenty of life out of your ice – up to 10 days depending on the conditions. The freezer-grade gasket also helps.
An integrated ruler on the lid makes this a perfect cooler to take along on a fishing trip, and the built-in bottle opener is great for knocking back a cold one to celebrate your catch. The Pelican Elite Wheeled Cooler comes in two sizes (45-quart and 80-quart) and three colors (white, charcoal, and tan).
10. Orca 40 Cooler
The Orca 40 Cooler is a great option for short camping trips in all conditions. With a 40-quart capacity and available in a rainbow of colors, this could be the only cooler you ever need.
You can easily expect ice to last a week or more inside the Orca 40. It’s well-built, with roto-molded construction and integrated insulation. This cooler is made to be taken out on a boat in the blazing sun, and it’ll keep your catch fresh no matter what.
Like a lot of coolers that offer this kind of next-level cooling power and durability, the Orca is a bit on the heavy side. It weighs about 30 pounds empty, but it keeps cold things cold like a champ.
Camping cooler FAQs
Aside from the obvious – hard coolers have solid construction while soft coolers are flexible – there’s a wide variation between these two types of coolers, both in terms of capacity and ability to keep things cool.
Soft coolers are generally meant for limited short-term use. You throw a few drinks in one and carry it over one shoulder. Hard coolers are made to hold more and stay cold longer, making them ideal for camping trips.
When selecting a cooler for a camping trip, a couple of the biggest factors to consider are durability and capacity. How durable you need your cooler to be depends on the conditions you plan on subjecting it to, and the ideal capacity depends on the length of your trip, and how many people are going.
A 40-quart cooler is generally perfect for three people on a day trip. For a weekend camping trip, the same number of people should consider a cooler in the 60-quart range.
You can get a decent cooler for $100 or less, but like many things, you often get what you pay for. Advanced coolers that are durably built and well-insulated to keep their content cold longer, tend to cost more.
In the end, the choice depends on your needs and budget. But a great cooler can last a lifetime.