7 Best Coolers for Camping (2022)
There’s hardly any replacement for a reliable cooler when embarking on a long camping trip. Not only does the right cooler make it easier for you, but it is also convenient as it allows you to keep your food fresh for a day or two. This means that you don’t have to cook every day you camp.
However, the thing about coolers is that they tend to be a bit more expensive than most people think they should be. They also tend to be a bit bulkier, so much so that if you don’t choose the right option, you might not be able to take it hiking with you.
While the weight and bulkiness shouldn’t bother people who enjoy car camping, the best coolers for camping take everything into account and make it easier for all campers, including backpackers, to preserve their food.
With that in mind, here are some of the best coolers for camping.
Best Coolers for Camping – Winners
Check out our quick recommendations here, or keep scrolling for detailed reviews:
- Best Overall Camping Cooler: YETI Tundra 65 Cooler
- Best Budget Cooler: Coleman Rolling Cooler
- Best Cooler for Boating and Fishing: YETI Hopper Portable Cooler
- Best Wheeled Cooler: Igloo Trailmate Journey
- Best Backpack Cooler: TOURIT Leak-Proof Soft sided Cooler Backpack
- Best Large Model: OtterBox Venture Cooler
- Best Personal Cooler: Klein Tools 55600 Work Cooler
Best Overall Camping Cooler
- Exterior dimensions: 30.5 x 17.5 x 16 inches
- Weight: 34 lbs.
- Capacity: 65 Quarts
- Reliable, heavy-duty rubber latch
- 3 inches of PermoFrost keeps ice as ice for longer
- FatWall design that is Bear-Resistant or bear-proof
- Tough rotomolded cooler construction
- 65-quart capacity
- Easy to clean
- Slightly pricey
When it comes to the best camping coolers, you can rest assured that you get a high-quality product whenever you see the YETI brand. This YETI Tundra 65 Cooler is designed to keep your catch of the day fresh just as well as it can keep your beers cold when you are out on the beach.
Certified Bear-Resistant thanks to the extra thick FatWall design, this is the best kind of cooler to bring on a camping trip in the woods. One of its greatest features is that ice stays good for longer thanks to the PermaFrost Insulation.
This premium cooler is tough and can survive the harshest environments and roughest treatments thanks to the Rotomolded construction that gives it an armored core. Featuring T-Rex Lid Latches, these Tundra coolers are built for durability. Because it uses heavy-duty rubber, you are not very likely to see busted latches on this camping cooler.
Best Budget Cooler
- Exterior dimensions: 23 x 18 x 18 inches
- Weight: 2 lbs.
- Capacity: 53 Quarts
- Easy to clean
- Can hold up to 84 cans
- Heavy-duty lead can be sat on
- Heavy-duty wheels for easy transportation
- Built-in cup holders
- The plastic used in its construction makes it a little wobbly
Yet another excellent brand for outdoor gear production, this Coleman Rolling Cooler is beautifully constructed and built for durability. It features an insulated lid that can keep ice-cold for up to 5 days.
In addition, the lid of this outdoor cooler is extra tough and strong enough to carry up to 250 lbs. This also means you can use the cooler as a seat when taking a break on your hike. It also features a cup holder for your convenience. With a 53-quart capacity, this cooler can hold up to 84 cans of your favorite beverage while keeping them cool for longer.
It also features heavy-duty wheels, making this one of the easiest coolers to transport since you can roll it over most terrain. It has a telescoping handle, which makes it even easier to pull along and store.
Best Cooler for Boating and Fishing
- Exterior dimensions: 12.62 x 10 x 11.5 inches
- Weight: 3.1 lbs.
- Capacity: 27 Quarts
- Soft cooler
- Easy to carry
- DryHide Shell
- Waterproof HydroLok Zipper
- ColdCell Insulation
- Quite expensive
This YETI Hopper Portable Cooler is a superior soft cooler designed to make your fishing days fun and much more convenient. Featuring a host of features such as a welded DryHide Shell, a waterproof HydroLok Zipper, and a ColdCell Insulation, this soft cooler is designed to hold ice and keep your catch of the day cool for much longer.
Another excellent feature about this soft cooler from Yeti is the handy YETI Sidekick Dry designed to help keep your essential electronics such as your phone and fishing license dry and secure while you are out.
With a 27-quart capacity, this cooler can hold up to 12 cans as well as the ice you need to keep everything cold and fresh. The HydroLok Zipper on this cooler is 100% leak-proof. That zipper gives way to a wide opening that allows for easy access whenever you need to reach into the cooler.
Best Wheeled Cooler
- Exterior dimensions: 34.59 x 23.61 x 19.7 inches
- Weight: 34.7 lbs.
- Capacity: 70 Quarts
- Oversized wheels for easy transportation
- Easy to pull telescoping handle
- Storage pockets
- Butler tray
- Available bottle openers
- Self-draining cup holders
- Longer ice retention
- 70 quarts
- The build quality isn’t very good
Designed as an all-terrain camping cooler, this Igloo Trailmate Journey is perfect for people who like to rough it and prefer bringing fresh food and cold drinks with them while they do so. With a 70-quart capacity, this durable cooler can hold up to 112 cans of your favorite beverage and can keep them cold for up to 4 days in the best of circumstances.
Equipped with rugged oversized wheels, this outdoor cooler is the best camping companion when you go hiking or camping in places that have sand dunes, grassy fields, wooded trails, and other rough or uneven terrain.
Another excellent feature of this Igloo cooler is its telescoping glide handle, making it much easier for you to pull the cooler along that rugged terrain. Additionally, it has a removable butler tray that makes it convenient to serve both drinks and food.
Best Backpack Cooler
- Exterior dimensions: 17.7 x 13.8 x 10.0 inches
- Weight: 4.6 lbs.
- Capacity: 22 Quarts
- Liner is made out of BPA free material
- Soft cooler designed as a backpack
- Large capacity
- Multiple storage pockets
- Not very easy to clean
This is another soft cooler, but this TOURIT Leak-Proof Soft sided Cooler Backpack is as durable as they come. Made out of tough fabric that is leak-resistant, this is one of the best backpack coolers on the market.
It is perfectly ideal for beach trips, picnics, camping, hiking, BBQ, and cycling. As a large capacity cooler, it can carry up to 36 cans with ice. Furthermore, it has multiple pockets that are all very roomy. It comes with one main storage compartment as well as two side pockets that are handy when it comes to keeping some of your valuables dry and protected while out on the trail.
This is a leak-proof insulated cooler that is designed to be used as a backpack. Featuring high-density insulation material as well as a reliable leak-proof liner, you can count on this cooler to keep your food and snacks fresh for up to three days.
Best Large Model
- Exterior dimensions: 40.01 x 18.83 x 18.76 inches
- Weight: 26 lbs.
- Capacity: 65 Quarts
- Extremely well-built
- Injection molding instead of Rotomolding
- Has allowance for extra add ons such as cup holders
- Excellent ice retention
- 65-quart capacity
- Rugged and durable
- Quite expensive
Capable of holding 36 twelve-ounce cans plus ice cubes, this OtterBox Venture Cooler is a durable, well-designed alternative to the most well-known cooler brands on the market. What stands out most is that this cooler features injection molding instead of Rotomolding like most of its competition.
Injection molding has one big advantage, it allows for better customization, a feature that the manufacturer has taken great advantage of by offering latches onto which you can place add-ons such as a cup holder and tray (sold separately).
Designed with little rubber feet, this large cooler is stable and won’t slide around when put on the ground. It also has very sturdy handles on the sides that can be used to pick the cooler up, transport it, and tie it down whenever you are transporting it in your car.
In addition, the bottom interior of the cooler is slightly slanted, which makes it easy to clean and drain and allows the melted ice to run off and out of the cooler.
Best Personal Cooler
- Exterior dimensions: 16.75 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches
- Weight: 6.8 lbs.
- Capacity: 17 Quarts
- Can keep food and drinks cool for up to 30 hours
- 17-quart capacity
- Well-designed lid
- Can support up to 300 lbs. of weight
- Nice place to sit
- It’s a bit heavy
Capable of carrying 18 cans, this Klein Tools 55600 Work Cooler is a 17-quart capacity quality cooler box designed for people who like going on solo camping trips or hikes. Built for the rugged outdoors, this cooler does more than just carry your food and drinks; it can also carry you. Capable of supporting up to 300 lbs. of weight, this cooler doubles as a wonderful place to sit when you are out hiking or camping.
The lid features an interesting design. It can open up to 180 degrees, for starters, which gives you excellent access to whatever you have stored in the cooler. It also stays open at 90 degrees which means you can have uninterrupted access to your cooler without using one hand to hold the lid open while using the other hand to grab what you need.
Finally, the lid features no-rust stainless steel hinges. This lid is held in place with a handy shoulder strap when carrying this cooler through the woods or to the beach.
Camping Cooler Buying Advice
Before you take out your wallet to buy the best coolers for camping, you need to ask yourself a few questions. These are questions that will help you make the right choice. These questions include:
- Type of Camping: Which type of camping are you thinking of doing? Solo or group? If solo, you might want to choose something with a smaller capacity that is easier to carry. In this case, soft coolers almost always win.
- Number of Users: This will determine the capacity of the cooler you bring with you. Big capacity coolers tend to be ideal if there are more than two campers on the trip.
- Type of Food: In many cases, you will find that the cooler in question can carry a certain number of cans and ice. Depending on the kind of food and drink you want to bring with you on the camping trip, you need to pay close attention to the ratio of food to ice that the cooler can carry and how long the cooler can keep ice as ice. There’s no point bringing ice cream on the trip if the cooler can only keep ice frozen for less than five hours on a 24-hour trip.
Types of Camping Coolers
There are two main types of camping coolers.
- Soft Sided Cooler: A soft sided cooler is typically made out of tough fabric and has a soft shell. These types of coolers can typically be carried as backpacks and are ideal for solo campers and hikers.
- Hard Sided Cooler: A hard sided cooler is made out of hard plastic material and is the most rugged of the cooler options. They can survive any environment and often make for an extra seat when you are out on the trail.
How to Choose the Best Cooler for Camping
You need to consider a few very key factors when choosing a cooler for your next tailgating or campsite visit. First, of course, there are issues such as price, which tends to be more subjective, but as you may have noticed, most coolers are not that cheap. This means that the price factor does come into play a lot more than it typically would when dealing with other outdoor gear.
As such, the price you are willing to pay for the cooler should be commensurate with what the cooler is offering you as per your specific camping or hiking needs. Other than that, here are some other important factors to consider.
The insulation used in your cooler determines how long the cooler can keep cool on the inside. Therefore, when comparing cooler models, you should be looking at their ice retention rate.
It’s unlikely that you’ll get a cooler that can retain ice for much longer than five days, so if you’re planning a longer trip, you may have to find a store close by so you can refresh the ice in the cooler.
Durability is important when shopping for any camping products you will use outdoors. Your cooler needs to be able to withstand the elements, including inclement weather that may batter your new cooler. Therefore, the cooler you choose should be made from durable and tough materials to guarantee a longer life. Making a higher investment in a good quality cooler may prove to be in your best interests as it is something you will find yourself using for years on end.
Size & Weight
The size and weight of your cooler directly speak to its overall portability. When considering the portability of your cooler, you need to first decide on how you intend to use it. If you can drive to your preferred camping spot and set up your campsite near the parking lot, or if you’re RV or car camping, then you can opt for a larger cooler (65 quarts+) which will keep your supplies cool for you and your group for roughly five days. These coolers are big enough to store all the food and drink you’ll need to keep cool for your trip.
However, if you’re going to be hiking long distances, or it’s a long walk from the parking lot to the campsite, take a look at some of the smaller, lighter cooler options available. There are even some backpack cooler options, which will prove to be a great option for hiking.
Some coolers also have handles and wheels, which is great if you’re setting up camp on even ground. Depending on your needs, there are portability options for you in the models we’re reviewing above.
The best camping coolers or ice chests might be a little expensive depending on your choice, but they are an expense worth undertaking since you are essentially buying peace of mind knowing you will have fresh food and cool drinks during your trip.
The list above gives you excellent options to choose from. All you have to do now is choose one based on your specific needs, buy it, and start enjoying ice-cold drinks on your camping trip.