July 20, 2018

11 Best Coolers and Cooler Buyer Guide

The First Class Travel Guide

With so many cooler options available, its hard to know where to start.  We looked at a range of coolers and selected the best cooler for each type of buyer.  Our guide highlights the cooler brands, options, and features most valued and helps you make the best cooler choice.

We’ve included our 11 top coolers below.  We categorized coolers based on major product categories including: camping, personal sized, portable, rolling, travel, marine, and best value.  We further review each choice and highlight why it made our rankings for a given buyer category further down in the article.

Brands

The best cooler brands tend to fall into two categories: Quality brand names with a long track record and new, upstart brands offering an improvement or technological enhancement on an existing product.

Quality Brands with a Long Track Record

  • Coleman – Well known, high quality outdoor company founded in 1900 that offers a wide range of outdoor products, including coolers, at reasonable price points.
  • Igloo – Originally founded in 1947 to bring clean water to work sites and has evolved into a well known, high quality, and reasonably priced cooler brand.

Newer Brands with Premium Offerings

  • Yeti – Founded in 2006 and offers some of the most technologically advanced coolers on the market.  Yeti’s products are well known for their ability to retain ice for days at a time and are constructed to be virtually indestructible.  The advanced features and durability also carry a premium price.
  • RTIC – Designs premium cooler products with very high quality construction, durability, and ice retention.  By creating a direct to consumer model, RTIC is able to offer an attractive balance between a premium product offering while maintaining competitive price points.

Our Top Choice

YETI Hopper 20 Portable Cooler

If you are looking for the very best cooler possible, we have the right choice for you.  This Yeti cooler offers an ideal combination of premium features, durability, and portability.  How about a cooler that holds ice for days at a time, is completely leak proof, nearly indestructible, has plenty of carrying capacity, and is still highly portable.  Carry 20 pounds of ice and up to 18 cans and keep it cool for days at a time.

  • Holds ice for days at a time.
  • Highly portable.
  • Virtually indestructible.

Runner Up

  1. YETI Tundra 75 Cooler

Ice Chest

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 45 Tan)

This remarkably durable cooler is intended to be indestructible in anything that could be considered normal use. It is sturdy enough to be recommended for use as a bench, non-slip step stool, table, or cutting board. It will hold 40 12-oz cans plus 20 pounds of ice.  The commercial-grade walls are up to 3″ thick to help ice last up to 10 days.  It has an easy-lift lid handle for easy access, and 2 rubber T-latches for secure closing. It is roto-molded with slots for tie-down belts and a fitting for a long-shank padlock.

  • Keeps ice cold for up to 10 days.
  • Durable with heavy duty construction.
  • Plenty of holding capacity without being too big to carry.

Value Choice

Coleman 54 qt. Steel Belted Cooler

With the same classic design that first appeared in 1954, this cooler is tall enough to hold 2-liter bottles upright and roomy enough to hold 85 12-oz cans. The stainless steel handles have rubber grips for comfort, and the sides and top are metal-clad for durability. It is comfortable and strong enough for a 25-lb person sit on, and it has a leak-resistant channel drain on the side for easy, no-tilt water draining. The one-piece plastic interior wipes clean easily, and it can be used to transport hot dishes if it is pre-warmed with hot water.

  • Holds up to 85 cans.
  • Rust proof and leak resistant.
  • Securely seal your food and drinks.

For the Beach

RTIC 20 Soft Pack

We selected the RTIC Soft pack as our best beach cooler due to its portability and its unique ability to retain ice for up to 5 days.  With this cooler you have everything you need for a great day at the beach.  Plenty of storage space with room for up to 20 cans and heavy duty insulation which keeps your food and drinks cold no matter how hot the weather gets.

Portable Choice

Cooler Bag Large

This multi-compartment cooler bag is made from heavy-duty 840D polyester with thick high-density foam insulation, a replaceable heat-welded PEVA liner, and hefty dual-pull zippers. The upper insulated compartment is equipped with a top mesh pocket for utensils and napkins, and the lower compartment is large enough for 9 12-oz cans. There are 2 handles for easy carrying, a removable, adjustable padded shoulder strap, and a pass-through pocket for mounting on top of rolling luggage. There are 3 exterior zipper pockets for storage, an extra PEVA liner, and a lifetime satisfaction guarantee on materials and workmanship. The manufacturer recommends the use of gel-style ice packs rather than loose ice.

  • Available in 2 colors (black and blue).
  • Long lasting cooler with easy portability.

Camping

Della 40 Quart Portable 12V Electric Cooler/Warmer Thermoelectric Travel Camping

This portable cooler/warmer plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter socket to keep food cold or warm on the road. The motor is designed for quiet operation, and it is equipped with wheels for easy hauling and a reliable lid lock incorporated into the handle to prevent accidental opening. It will keep the contents 40F cooler or up to 140F warmer than the ambient temperature. The interior has a divider/shelf, depending on whether it is being used horizontally or vertically.

  • Designed to keep food and drinks fresh for a full weekend getaway.
  • Option to keep your food warm or cool with the built-in motor.
  • Connects directly into your vehicle for use anywhere.

Small Option

Coleman 16 Can Cooler

This soft cooler has a removable hard plastic liner and a permanent flexible PEVA liner that is easy to clean and incorporates an anti-microbial treatment to prevent mold, mildew, and odors.  It will hold 16 pre-chilled cans in two 2 by 4 can layers, with an interior pocket for a sandwich or snack.  There are two net pockets on the sides, a zippered front pocket, and bungee cords for cargo on the lid. It has an adjustable shoulder strap for comfortable carrying, both liners are FDA-approved for food contact, and the soft liner has heat-welded seams to prevent leakage.

  • Available in 5 colors (red, blue, green, gray, and tree).
  • Holds 16 cans.
  • Highly portable.

Personal Size

eBags Crew Cooler II

This soft-sided, double-decker cooler bag was specifically designed for use by flight crew, but its features make it a wonderful lunch box for almost everyone. The cool compartment is insulated on all 6 sides and features a replaceable, easy-clean PEVA liner. There is a dry insulated compartment in the lid above it, with plenty of room for chips or snack bars, with a mesh compartment for napkins and utensils. The cooler compartment will carry 10 12-oz cans in two ranks of 10 cans, making it roomy enough for a large lunch in reusable snap-lid containers, plus drinks. It has a pass-through pocket to ride on top of rolling luggage, 2 adjustable side pockets for drinks or extras, and a front drop-down pocket.

  • Available in 7 colors.
  • Split cooler solution with a dry compartment for food and a separate cold compartment.

Travel Choice

RTIC 20 Soft Pack – (Keeps Ice up to 5 Days)

This cooler will comfortably store 20 cans with room for ice, and keep it cold for up to 5 days, due to the 2″ of closed-cell foam insulation. It is leak proof, puncture-resistant, and does not sweat.  It can be carried with the sewn-on handles, the clip-on shoulder strap, and has built-in rings for easily tying it down upright. It has a leak proof zipper that fits snugly even unzipped for easy access.

  • Highly portable cooler easy to carry for travel.
  • Stays cold for up to 5 days.

Beverage Holder

Coleman 5 Gallon Beverage Cooler

This team-sized, insulated beverage dispenser has 2 side-mounted handles for one- or two-person carry, a screw-off top for easy filling, and a removable spigot for easy dispensing of beverages. The easy-clean spigot is removable and dishwasher-safe. The recesses in the lid can be used to steady a stack of disposable cups on a quiet day.

  • Available in 3 colors (blue, orange, red).
  • Designed with premium insulation.

Wheeled

Coleman 62 quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler

This sturdy cooler holds up to 85 12oz cans plus ice, and features comfortable swing-out side carry handles and a longer tow handle for use with the built-in all-terrain wheels. The lid has 4 stay-put beverage wells, and is sturdy enough to provide seating. Coleman’s Xtreme technology uses extra insulation in the lid and sides to help ice last up to 5 days. The leak-resistant drain makes it easy to drain excess water, and the sturdy construction will last you for years.

  • 5 day ice retention.
  • Holds up to 95 cans.
  • Easy to transport anywhere with wheels.

Marine

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 65 Tan)

Large enough for week-long camping or hunting trips, this cooler will hold 70 pounds of ice, and the 2-3″ thick insulation will keep it cold for up to 10 days. The sturdy Roto-molded construction will hold up under use as a non-slip step stool, supporting up to 250 pounds. It has 2 swing-out handles for carrying, not too far apart for an average-sized person to use solo. The easy-lift lid provides easy access, and has 2 T-latches for secure closure. There is an easy-flow drain spout, molded-in tie-down slots, and a hasp for a padlock.

  • Holds ice for up to 10 days.
  • Heavy duty roto molded construction, great for camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities.

Note: The First Class Travel Guide is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

About First Class Travel Guide 128 Articles
Travel enthusiast that spent years flying in the back of planes and staying at cheaper hotels in order to save a little money. After learning how to leverage airline and hotel loyalty programs, I've developed an interest in luxury travel and write about my experiences with it.

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