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Coolers are an essential tool for any outdoor event when you want to keep food and beverages icy cold. They’re designed to take abuse and weather the elements while keeping their contents intact and cold for days. The best ones will keep ice cold for hours (or days!), are easy to carry, organize food neatly, and are sturdy enough to last for years.
Coolers are available in various capacities, shapes, styles, and price ranges. Choosing the best one for your needs depends on the intended use for the cooler. To help you narrow down your choices, here are the best coolers currently on the market.
Best Overall: Coleman 120-Quart Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler
Coleman’s Coastal Xtreme offers a generous capacity with a rugged design that stands up to the harshest conditions for a fantastic bargain. It's UV- and saltwater-resistant with stainless-steel hardware that won’t rust so that it can withstand intense sun and inclement weather. The cooler features a 120-quart capacity, which equates to around 204 cans.
Although the cooler is specially designed for boating and fishing, this portable cooler offers plenty of room for beverages, food, and anything else you need to keep on ice. The insulated walls and lid will keep ice from melting for up to six days. Plus, it’s sturdy (and large) enough to sit on, making it perfect for extra sitting or a prep surface. Since it’s only available in white, there’s no worry about it fading over time.
The Coastal Xtreme also features a leak-resistant threaded drain that empties excess water without any tilting. The biggest con is that the lid does not latch, but for all its other attributes, it’s well worth the price for what you get.
Best Budget: Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme 5-Day Heavy-Duty Cooler
The Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme 5-Day Cooler features durable, insulated walls and a lid, which gives it the ability to retain ice for up to five days at temperatures as high as 90 degrees. The cooler is perfect for all-around use, including camping, tailgating, and family picnics.
This affordable cooler features a locking telescoping handle and heavy-duty wheels that allow for easy traversing on roads, flat trails, or smooth terrain. While the handle is easy to maneuver when rolling, it should not be used to lift a full cooler as it will most likely break. Instead, the molded side handles are designed for lifting. Since it only holds about 84 cans, this is best for weekend trips or daylong get-togethers. However, it will retain cool temperatures longer if properly pre-chilled with limited openings.
Best for Camping: YETI Tundra Haul Hard Cooler
Yeti coolers are known for their rotomolded construction, which translates to extra-thick, hollow walls, sturdy outside corners, and the ability to keep food cold for several days. The Tundra Haul is the first and only Yeti cooler on wheels. Like all Yeti coolers, the Tundra Haul is durable and can withstand pretty much anything you throw at it—even bear attacks—which makes this cooler a favorite among people who love the outdoors.
Whether roughing in the wilderness or glamping it with friends, the Tundra Haul is easy to maneuver due to its two single-piece tires and T-bar handle. The "Neverflat" tires are impact- and puncture-resistant and easily go over all types of terrain.
Able to hold up to 45 cans, this cooler will keep food cold for up to six days thanks to its extra-thick walls and two inches of pressure-injected polyurethane foam insulation. Like all Yeti coolers, the Tundra Haul is expensive. However, it’s an extremely durable cooler that you can count on to keep your perishables safe.
Best for Outdoor Parties: Black+Decker 60-Quart Mobile Cooler Cart
Black+Decker's Mobile Cooler Cart is an excellent choice for keeping drinks cool while relaxing on a patio or hosting a backyard BBQ. It features high-quality steel construction and a 20-gallon basin capacity. The cooler features a retro look with a clean, modern feel that will work with a variety of decor.
The cooler cart features a split-door top with stainless-steel hardware that makes it easy to access the contents. The insulated basin keeps everything cold throughout your get-together. There is no need to pass around a bottle opener; the cooler features an integrated stainless-steel opener and bottle cap basin conveniently on the exterior. Although the cooler is large and can be heavy once it's fully loaded, the wheels can turn 360 degrees if you need to move it or be locked in place for safety.
Best for a Beach Day: Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Insulated Personal Cooler
For a day on the beach, you need a cooler that’s easy to carry, clean, and will keep your drinks icy cold. Yeti’s Hopper Flip 18 Portable Cooler features everything the premium brand is known for: superior insulation, durability, and style.
The Hopper portables are soft coolers made from high-density fabric that is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. The line also features food-grade liners, leak-proof zippers, and closed-cell rubber foam insulation that offers better cold-holding capability than ordinary soft coolers. The Hopper Flip 18 cooler fits 20 cans or 24 pounds of ice in its compact, cubed body. The padded strap makes it easy and comfortable to carry wherever you go.
For a soft-sided cooler bag, the Yeti Hopper Flips is expensive. But if you spend a lot of time on the beach or need a portable cooler that will keep your contents cold, Yeti will not disappoint.
Best Wheeled: Blue Coolers 55-Quart Ice Vault
The Blue Coolers brand is relatively new in the cooler scene. Still, it is gaining popularity for manufacturing high-quality rotomolded coolers that cost around half of comparable Yeti coolers.
The wheeled 55-quart Ice Vault cooler is suitable for all sorts of outdoor activities. It’s comparable to the Yeti Haul with a similar T-style heavy-duty handle and durable plastic wheels that will easily travel over the roughest terrain. Unlike the Yeti Haul, this cooler has 2 inches of insulation that retains ice for up to 10 days and a bottle opener built right in.
Best Soft-Sided: RTIC Insulated Soft Cooler Bag
RTIC is another cooler brand that’s giving Yeti a run for their money. Its coolers are known for durable construction and impressive cold retention capabilities, both features evident in their insulated cooler bag.
Featuring a leakproof and puncture-resistant vinyl shell, the cooler is UV-protected to ensure it does not fade. This also has an antimicrobial liner that resists mildew and is rated to keep contents cool for up to five days. That is thanks to 2 inches of closed-cell insulation on the top of the cooler and one inch of insulation on the sides.
RTIC offers three carrying options: side handles, top handles, or a shoulder strap. No matter how heavy or light your load, this portable soft cooler remains comfortable to carry. Holding up to 30 cans plus ice, this makes the perfect cooling companion for an afternoon picnic.
If you’re looking for a cooler that has great ice retention, is extremely affordable, portable as well as durable, you should consider the Coleman 120-Quart Coastal Xtreme Marine Cooler (view at Amazon). If you have extra cash to spare, consider the Yeti Tundra Haul (view at Amazon) or Blue Coolers Ice Vault (view at Amazon), which are rugged, virtually indestructible, and easy to wheel around where you need them.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Debbie Wolfe is a freelance writer and an online shopping pro who spends hours researching and comparing household goods so you don’t have to. She loves the outdoors and has so many coolers that she knows how to pick the right one no matter what your needs.