The 7 Best Coolers, According To Reviews

·7 min read

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Summer is almost here. Whether you're planning a road trip, going camping for the weekend, taking a day trip to the beach, spending time with family and friends, or even just planning the ultimate staycation at your house — you'll probably be spending extended periods of time outside at some point. No matter your plans, if food and drinks are involved, you'll need to have a quality cooler to keep everything cold. Not all coolers are built the same: they vary in durability, portability, capacity, and price. Choosing the right one depends on your specific needs.

Hard coolers are ideal for keeping food and drinks cold for multiple days. They typically have thick, insulated walls and can store ice for up to a week (or more) before melting. Their hard shell makes them more durable than other coolers, and also slightly more expensive. Standard sizes range anywhere from 20 quarts to over 65 quarts. Some hard coolers, like the YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler, have wheels for easy transport. Instead of lugging your heavy cooler around, you can use the handle and roll it easily behind you.

Soft coolers are slightly more portable, because of their smaller size. They don't have the thick outer "shell" that a hard cooler has, but that doesn't make them any less effective at keeping things cold. They have a heavy-duty exterior (usually vinyl or canvas) and are available in a range of backpacks, magnetic-sealed totes, and zipper-close bags with handles and shoulder straps for easy transport. Because they don't fit as much as a hard cooler, soft coolers are perfect for day trips or outings with fewer people.

If you're looking for smaller, more portable and eco-friendly options, there are coolers out there that fit the bill as well. Bottom line: no matter what type of cooler you're looking for, you're going to want a quality product that will keep your items cold and ready-to-enjoy for days on end.

Take a look at these seven top-rated coolers, according to customer reviews. While there are a few splurges on the list, we also have plenty of affordable options. You're sure to find one that meets your needs for all of your summer plans!

Best Wheeled: YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler

This hard cooler is YETI’s first-ever cooler on wheels. It’s garnered a nearly perfect 4.8/5 star rating on Amazon, and it’s easy to see why. “From the cutouts on the lid so it stays strapped in my truck, to the fact it keeps ice for 8 days; what more could you want?” raves one 5-star reviewer, who also calls it “the absolute best cooler on the market.” It has extra-thick, insulated walls and a freezer-grade gasket along the length of the lid to lock in the cold. The best part? It also has impact and puncture-resistant wheels and a durable aluminum handle with comfortable grips, making it so much easier to tote your cooler around with you wherever you go.

Buy It: YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler ($400, Amazon)

Best Backpack: Coleman 24 Can High Performance Soft Cooler Backpack

This backpack cooler has a 4.6 rating on Walmart, with reviewers raving about how lightweight it is. It’s also leak-proof and has thick insulation, which keeps drinks and snacks cold for up to 34 hours. The padded backpack straps are adjustable for extra comfort, especially when you are carrying a full load. “I used the bungee straps that are on top of the lid to hold a blanket. This durable backpack is so convenient and an easy way to have a cooler on all your outings,” says one 5-star reviewer. The cooler holds 24 cans and has an integrated bottle opener so you’ll always have one handy.

Buy It: Coleman 24 Can High Performance Soft Cooler Backpack ($90, Walmart)

Best Hard Cooler: Orca 58 Qt Ice Retention Cooler

For week-long trips, use this Orca 58 Qt. Cooler. Featuring integrated insulation and a lid gasket, it’s designed to keep items chilled for days. It’s also durable: customers are rating it a 4.9 for its superior quality. “First of all, this is a well-made cooler,” says one 5-star reviewer. “I tested it out in my yard with 20 lbs of ice, opening it once a day to check, and it kept for 11 days!” Another 5-star shopper adds, “All in all a great cooler. Drains great, super durable, and keeps food and drinks cold for days.”

Buy It: Orca 58 Qt Ice Retention Cooler ($350, Bed Bath & Beyond)

Best Soft Cooler: RTIC Soft Cooler 30 Insulated Bag

With a heavy-duty nylon shell and a waterproof zipper, this leak proof soft cooler can hold ice for days. Reviewers gave this cooler a 4.6 rating. It holds up to 30 cans plus ice, and it has an exterior pocket for any items that need to stay dry. For transport, you can either use the top handles or an adjustable shoulder strap. “We used it on our trip to Disney and took it in the parks for snacks, light lunches, and water! It was amazing! When I pulled out the ice packs they were still mostly frozen,” says one 5-star shopper.

Buy It: RTIC Soft Cooler 30 Insulated Bag ($190, Amazon)

Best Eco: Igloo Recool 16 Qt Cooler

Looking for an eco-friendly option? Igloo’s first-ever biodegradable cooler is made with compostable materials. It can hold 20 cans, and it has 4 built-in cup holders on the lid as well as built-in side handles for carrying. Even though it’s made with recycled paper, it won’t get soggy. In fact, it holds ice for up to 12 hours and water for up to 5 days. When you’re done using it, simply dump out the water and let it air dry. One 5-star reviewer says the cooler is “great to use, stackable, keeps food items at the right temperature and easy for traveling.” At just $10 each, you can buy several if you need extra storage space.

Buy It: Igloo Recool 16 Qt Cooler ($10, Dick’s Sporting Goods)

Best Budget: Engel 19 Qt Drybox Cooler

This compact, lightweight cooler is odor resistant, making it a great option for hunting and fishing. Rated a 4.7/5, reviewers love the durable construction of the cooler, as well as its ability to keep things cold for hours. At full capacity, this cooler can fit 32 12-ounce cans. It also has a handle and built-in shoulder strap for easy transport. One 5-star reviewer says the cooler is “better than expected,” saying, “I purchased this cooler to keep things cold for a few hours while traveling, but I was pleasantly surprised by how long it retained ice. If you need a small, lightweight, high-quality cooler for day-use, this is the cooler for you.”

Buy It: Engel 19 Qt Drybox Cooler ($60, Amazon)

Best Portable: Pelican 20 Quart Elite Cooler

This cooler, which has a 4.6 rating, is small but mighty: it has two inches of polyurethane insulation and a freezer-grade gasket for extreme ice retention. Size wise, it holds either 15 cans or 3 bottles of wine, and it also has 4 built-in cup holders and a stainless steel bottle opener. The carrying handle makes it easy to bring this cooler along on all of your adventures. “I considered buying a much more expensive cooler but I'm so glad I didn't,” says one 5-star reviewer. “It keeps things cold for days. Even after the ice melts (after 2 days locked in a very hot car in the middle of summer in the south), the remaining ice/water keeps drinks icy cold for another 3 days.”

Buy It: Pelican 20 Quart Elite Cooler ($150, Amazon)