These Compact Coolers Are Made for Beach Days, Picnics and Other Outdoor Adventures

·8 min read

On hot days, there are few better ways to cool down than with an ice-cold beverage. That’s why keeping a cooler stocked with drinks and ice packs by your side is always a good idea. And while larger coolers are definitely better suited to bigger get-togethers, they aren’t always practical for personal use or remote locations. In these cases, turning to the best small coolers is a smarter idea.


What Is a Small Cooler?

There are no official guidelines that determine when a cooler becomes large, medium or small. However, for the sake of this article, our “small” coolers will all offer an internal storage capacity of 18L (20 quarts) or less. This cutoff point makes sure the coolers in our selection are more compact, making them easier to store and transport, and generally better suited to everyday, personal use. Small coolers are great for beach days, day trips, camping, hiking and picnics in the park.

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YETI Hopper M20 Backpack
YETI Hopper M20 Backpack


What to Consider When Buying a Small Cooler

There are several key factors to consider when it comes to finding the best small cooler for your individual needs. These include:

  • Capacity – Yes, every small cooler on this list has a capacity under 20 quarts. However, in our selection we have coolers ranging from ultra-compact to our maximum 20 quarts. When choosing your cooler, think about how many cans, snacks and accompanying ice packs you want to store inside.

  • Portability – Perhaps the biggest decision, after the size of your cooler, is how you want to transport it. Our list includes numerous small coolers which can be carried via over-the-shoulder straps or dual carry handles. You’ll also find a cooler with wheels and a cooler that can be worn as a backpack.

  • Style – Think about which color and style of small color you would prefer. Most coolers come in a range of different colors and several different designs, such as retro-inspired bags and one-piece, plastic models.

  • Features – In addition to keeping your food and drink cool, one coolers comes with speakers and Bluetooth technology built in. This addition is great for beach days, picnics and other social get-togethers.

Check out our selection of the 12 best small coolers available online. We’ve got coolers to cover every need, from office lunches to outdoor pursuits. Scroll down to find the right cooler for you.


1. YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler


The YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler is an impressively reviewed, conveniently sized option which is suited to a lot of everyday cooling needs. The 13-quart capacity cooler has space for up to 12 cans with ice and sports ColdCell Insulation to keep your stuff cooler for longer than its competitors. The cooler also features a number of ways to carry it, including a top-mounted carry handle and an over-the-shoulder strap. Additionally, you’ll have more than 10 colors to choose from, along with two additional models in the form of the Flip 8 and the Flip 18.

Read More: YETI Just Dropped a New Wheeled Cooler

small coolers yeti hopper portable
small coolers yeti hopper portable

Buy: YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler $250.00

Buy: YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler from YETI $250.00


2. Igloo Retro Fanny Pack


We love Igloo’s retro cooler line, and he Igloo Retro Fanny Pack is the smallest cooler on our list. It has space for up to three cans in the zippered central pocket and a smaller front pocket for storing smaller essentials. To ensure a secure fit around your waist, the belt is adjustable and sports a buckle closure. The exterior is also constructed from a soft 420D polyester fabric and comes in five different colors. Furthermore, the inside is antimicrobial, resistant to leaks and easy to clean.

small coolers retro fanny pack
small coolers retro fanny pack

Buy: Igloo Retro Fanny Pack at Igloo $29.99


3. Retro Little Playmate Cooler


At under $35, the Retro Little Playmate Cooler is the most budget-friendly option on our list. It’s available in either a four or a seven-quart option and sports a stylish ‘70s-style design. The lid acts as the handle and can be opened and rotated via the push button on the side of the cooler. This USA-made cooler’s extra-large handle also makes one-handed carrying simple. In addition, the inside of the cooler is lined with THERMECOOL foam insulation which is both eco-friendly and easy to clean.

small coolers retro little playmate
small coolers retro little playmate

Buy: Retro Little Playmate Cooler at Igloo $34.99

Buy: Retro Little Playmate Cooler $38.99


4. Coleman Personal Wheeled Cooler


If being effortless to transport is top of your priority list, this Coleman Personal Wheeled Cooler definitely fits the bill. The USA-made cooler is ideal for camping, picnics and other outdoor pursuits. It has a 16-quart capacity and is made from the highest quality materials, including a lightweight and durable polyethylene. In addition, the cooler comes in either blue or red and features a telescopic handle to accommodate a range of user heights.

small coolers coleman personal wheeled
small coolers coleman personal wheeled

Buy: Coleman Personal Wheeled Cooler $48.99


5. Lifewit Large Lunch Bag


Whether you’re on a road trip, heading out for a picnic or going to the beach, this Lifewit Large Cooler Bag is made for keeping your lunch cool. It comes backed by more than 25,000 five-star ratings from Amazon users and has space for up to 15 liters worth of food, drink and ice packs. The bag also sports a four-layer wall for longer lasting insulation and has dual handles and an over-the-shoulder strap to choose from when carrying the cooler. In addition, you’ll find two side pockets and a front-facing pocket for storing other lunchtime essentials.

small coolers lifewit large bag
small coolers lifewit large bag

Buy: Lifewit Large Lunch Bag $19.99 (orig. $39.99) 50% OFF


6. RTIC Day Cooler Bag


Thanks to its dual handles, compact size and heavy-duty construction, the RTIC Day Cooler Bag is one of the most versatile small coolers available online. In addition to choosing from six, eight, 15 and 28-can models, you also get to choose from 12 different colors. In addition, you’ll find a sizable central pocket for storing food and drink, as well as side pockets and a front-facing pocket for your other belongings.

rtic day cooler bag
rtic day cooler bag

Buy: RTIC Day Cooler Bag $39.99


7. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Hardbody Cooler


With more than 25,500 five-star ratings from Amazon users, this Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Hardbody Cooler is one of the best-reviewed products on our list. The cooler is available in a range of different sizes and features a patented flip-open, zipperless lid. The Backsaver shoulder strap is adjustable for a secure fit and makes the bag more comfortable to carry, while the Deep Freeze performance insulation can keep ice frozen for up to two days. Furthermore, the inside is easily cleaned and resistant to stains.

artic zone titan deep freeze
artic zone titan deep freeze

Buy: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Hardbody Cooler $42.99


8. Igloo Retro Duffel Bag Cooler


The Igloo Retro Duffel Bag Cooler is a standout member of Igloo’s Retro Collection. It combines colorful style with outstanding function. The bag is constructed from soft 420D polyester exterior fabric and boasts a 24-can capacity. You’ll also find an adjustable and removable shoulder strap and grab & go top handles for a choice of carrying options. In addition, the retro-style bag has multiple external pockets for storing other essentials and rubber feet to protect the base from harsh ground.

retro duffel bag cooler igloo
retro duffel bag cooler igloo

Buy: Igloo Retro Duffel Bag Cooler at Target $64.99

Buy: Igloo Retro Duffel Bag Cooler at Igloo $64.99


9. Igloo KoolTunes Boombox Cooler


If the idea of listening to your favorite tunes while enjoying ice-cool beverages sounds appealing, definitely check out this Igloo KoolTunes Boombox Cooler. This 14-quart (24 can) cooler is party-ready thanks to its two built-in, five-watt speakers and accompanying Bluetooth technology which allows you to effortlessly connect your smartphone. The retro-look cooler is also IP56-rated and provides up to 10 hours playtime from a single full charge. In addition, the cooler comes in white, red or jade and features a rotating lid that also acts as an easy-carry handle.

Read More: We Tested the Best Waterproof Speakers

kooltunes boombox cooler
kooltunes boombox cooler

Buy: Igloo KoolTunes Boombox Cooler at Igloo $149.99

Buy: Retro Igloo KoolTunes Boombox Cooler at DICK’s $149.99


10. K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler


The K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler is made from a single piece of roto-molded polyethylene. The result is a cooler which is more durable than many of its competitors. Its extra-thick insulation can also keep a box full of ice frozen for over 24 hours. The cooler comes in three different colors and includes an over-the-shoulder, padded carry strap for comfortable carrying. Furthermore, the ICE vault lid gasket creates a tighter seal for preventing leakage, while the POSITRAC latches ensure the lid remains securely closed.

k2 coolers summit cooler
k2 coolers summit cooler

Buy: K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler $169.99


11. Pelican Elite Cooler


The Pelican Elite Cooler is another adventure-ready small cooler. From fishing to picnicking, this 20-quart cooler has space for 15 cans or three large bottles to keep you hydrated or fed during excursions. It also features two inches of polyurethane insulation to deliver long-lasting ice retention. This USA-made cooler also includes a number of user-friendly features, including three-inch locking latches for greater closure security, a handle for carrying comfort and a built-in, stainless steel bottle opener for greater convenience. Furthermore, four built-in cup holders, a reinforced lockable hasp and non-skid rubber feet make this one of the most feature-filled options on our list.

pelican elite cooler
pelican elite cooler

Buy: Pelican Elite Cooler $208.73


12. YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler


This YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler is the choice if you want to be able to carry your cooler on your back. It sports an ergonomic design with padded straps to ensure it remains comfortable, even during longer journeys. It also leaves your hands free to perform other necessary tasks, such as navigating or enjoying an ice-cool beverage. The bag is made from a high-density fabric that is resistant to punctures and capable of withstanding exposure to UV rays. Both the inside and outside have also been treated with a mildew-resistant covering. Capacity-wise, the cooler has space for up to 18 cans using a 2:1 ice to can ratio, while the seal uses a strip of ultra-strong magnets to deliver a secure closure. In addition, a HitchPoint Grid provides plenty of anchor points for attaching Yeti accessories or other items.

hopper backpack yeti
hopper backpack yeti

Buy: YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler at YETI $325.00


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