Whether you’re camping, tailgating, or throwing an outdoor party, a great quality camping cooler will be your new best friend.
You’ll need a cooler that is reliable and stays cool even in the hottest weather.
Coolers nowadays range from traditional, basic hard and soft coolers, to highly advanced power coolers for camping.
The type of cooler you can buy largely depends on how and why you intend to use it.
A cooler can come in handy for preserving your favorite food and drinks cold on your short or long trips.
Modern camping cooler designs even come with cool features, but the options can be endless. The market is crowded, and it can feel overwhelming to decide which cooler will work best for your needs.
That’s why we’ve narrowed down our picks of the 10 best camping coolers for all your adventures.
10 Best Coolers for Camping Reviewed
1. YETI Tundra Collection
If you are looking for a camping cooler that will last you a lifetime, the YETI Tundra collection is for you. Named after a beast of the mountains, and durable enough to take on your wildest adventures, giving you the peace of mind you need and keeping your meats and supplies fresh and cold.
With the 3-inches of PermaFrost insulation, ice is kept twice as frozen than other coolers. Full rubberized latches keep everything cold. All YETI camping coolers are built to be bear-proof to combat the ultimate test!
Each Tundra cooler comes with a handy dry-goods basket, keeping ice and water away from your dry items, for freshness that lasts long-term.
- T-Rex Lid Latches
- Separating Basket
- Rotomolded Construction
2. Pelican Elite 50-Quart Cooler
Specifically manufactured for tough conditions, the Pelican Elite 50-Quart is one of our favorite camping coolers thanks to its maximum ice retention. The press and pull 3-inch locking latches are high-quality and will keep everything tight and secure.
This camping cooler is 100% waterproof and leakproof to avoid frustrating leaks. We’re impressed by the rotomolded design combined with the stainless-steel hardware for an ultra-heavy-duty construction.
You can share beers with your buddies and store them in the handy self-draining cup holders. Anti-skid feet are another clever component, as well as the complimentary bottle opener.
- Anti-Shear Hinge System
- Molded Handles
- 2-inches Polyurethane Insulation
3. RTIC 45 Camping Cooler
The RTIC 45 cooler is small enough to take with you easily on a road trip, and large enough to keep a weekend’s worth of supplies cold and fresh, making this the perfect one-person cooler companion.
The solid rotomolded construction creates an almost unbreakable shell that is additionally bear-proof, providing the highest of protection.
The RTIC 45 is a premium cooler due to its high-quality materials used in the manufacture, and an equally advanced design. It is an outstanding option that is multi-purpose, and it can even be used as a tabletop for cutting and preparing, a non-slip step, or even simply as a bench.
- Solid Rotomolded Construction
4. RovR Wheeled Camping Rolling Cooler
The RovR Wheeled Camping Cooler is built to be your durable and versatile companion. With high performance, puncture resistant tires, the RovR can accompany you on any terrain.
Carry even more supplies with the wagon bin attachment, transforming the cooler into a wagon for fewer trips between the car and your campsite. Easy to install and simple to maneuver when in transit.
The RovR has an optional tow arm attachment to connect your cooler to your bike – the only camping cooler of its kind on the market with this function.
- Puncture-Resistant Tires
- Wagon Bin Attachment
- Bike Towing Arm Attachment
5. Pelican Elite Cooler with Wheels
Your perfect companion for a day outdoors, the Pelican Elite cooler has rugged wheels making it easy to keep your supplies cool while you are on the move.
This hardy camping cooler comes with an array of functional features, such as easy to use press & pull latches, a built-in bottle opener, rubber feet and drain plug – which attaches to a standard garden hose for easy drainage.
Bear-proof and built to last, the Pelican Elite cooler comes with a guarantee for life. We believe this is one of the best camping coolers for ice retention, due to the 2-inch polyurethane interior paired with the 360° high-grade gasket – these features will give you up to and over 10 days of coolness.
- 3-inch Locking Latches
- Bottle Opener & Easy Drainage
- Lifetime Guarantee
6. Thermik High-Performance Cooler
One of the best camping coolers for all-purpose use, the Thermik Rot-Molded Cooler boasts some seriously high-grade features. Rotomolded construction with 3-inch insulation ensure long-lasting cold retention to keep all your products fresh. Extremely strong T-latches will keep everything securely inside the cooler, and we particularly love the rapid V-drain system.
A no-sweat exterior is a nice touch to avoid any perspiration that can be messy and frustrating to handle. Non-slip feet ensure you won’t have any nasty accidents.
- Integrated Locking System
- Molded Side Handles
7. Cascade Mountain Tech Heavy-Duty Cooler
Built tough enough to withstand the elements and the advances of wondering bears, the Cascade Mountain Tech cooler has everything you need for your outdoor adventure, or long road trip.
With 3-inch of insulation, your supplies will stay cold for up to 3 days and keep an ambiently cool temperature thereafter – this means it has enough insulation to keep water extra cool until your next ice fill-up.
The rope handles are built to last, and we especially love the hand-grip feature on the ropes with finger grooves for comfort. The heavy rubber latches will ensure that the cooler is tightly closed, keeping the ice atmosphere where it should be – inside.
- Rotomolded Construction
- 3-inch Insulation
- Heavy-Duty Rope Handles
8. Igloo BMX Hard Sided Cooler
The Igloo BMX camping cooler delivers solid, reliable refrigeration of all your supplies, whether you are off for the big game, or out planning your next big outdoor adventure – and everything in between.
Blow-molded for durability, this camping cooler is reinforced to prevent breakage. The lid features a fish ruler and tie-down loops, and with a 4 – 5 day ice retention system, this cooler is the perfect fishing trip companion.
The Cool Riser Technology used in the coolers elevates the base away from hot surfaces, which keeps your supplies colder for longer.
- Blow-Molded for Durability
- Fish Ruler & Tie-Down Loops
- Cool Riser Technology
9. Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series – Marine Portable Cooler
The Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series camping cooler is the perfect cooler for keeping multiple cans of refreshing beverages ice-cold, whilst still having enough ice left over to keep meat and other products seriously fresh.
This awesome camping cooler can hold 100 cans of brew, and the lid contains 4 conveniently placed cup holders for you and all your buddies. Each cooler is made from environmentally friendly ThermOZONE insulation, which ensures your supplies stay fresh and cold for up to 5 days.
The 2-way handles make it super comfortable to carry around, which is a blessing when you’re transporting this cooler from campsite to campsite.
- Snap-Tight Lid
- Built-in Cup Holders
- Rustproof Channel
10. Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler
For classic and timeless styling, the Coleman Steel Belted Cooler box is like owning a time capsule from the 50’s.
Keeping with the original design first developed in 1954, these unique coolers will keep your supplies cold and fresh for up to 3 days, plus it will give you those warm nostalgic feelings of yesteryear.
Made to last, each cooler has a sturdy steel construction with stainless steel hinges and screws that will last the test of time. Easy to carry with robust steel handles and rubber grips, and a breeze to empty after use with its rustproof, leak-resistant channel drain – no tilting needed.
- Stainless Steel Construction
- 4-day Ice Retention
- No-Tilting Drainage System
How To Choose a Camping Cooler?
We’ve narrowed down the types of coolers to basic camping coolers like soft and hard, and powered coolers that are much more advanced. When choosing which one is best for you, consider the reason why you are using a cooler.
Are you going on a short or long trip?
Do you need to carry it around a lot with you?
What kind of food and drinks are you bringing?
- Basic soft coolers are the best for portability. Most come with messenger-style bag designs that make them super easy to carry. While they have less insulation than heavy-duty coolers, they are preferred for short-term use.
- Hard coolers are used more for long-term storage and have high-quality insulation for great ice retention. They can be very versatile, and you can use them as a bench, a chopping board, or a stepping stool. They can range from a very basic design to more advanced with multiple features.
- Powered coolers are more high-end and can provide the longest ice retention for your long camping trips. They are closely related to a fridge, and some can even keep frozen items. These coolers require charging for constant use, so you might want to consider if you’ll have access to your car for recharges if you’re going on a camping trip.
This involves ease of use, as well as how you will use your camping cooler. Choose a cooler with sturdy latches that are easy to open and close. A comfortable, yet durable pair of handles is also an important feature to allow you to easily move it around. Also, take note if your cooler has a large drainage hole to be able to clean it with ease. We suggest considering how well the drainage plug seals as well – no one wants a leaky cooler. A drain plug leash can also be handy, so you don’t lose the plug.
There are many elements to consider for a camping cooler – insulation, construction, materials, drainage valves, cupholders, interior baskets, the list goes on. Like our list of the best camping coolers, you’ll find an abundance of options with a range of different features that will suit your needs. Some camping coolers can be quite versatile with how you can use them. You might be looking for one that has measurements embossed on its lid, or maybe you want one with a bottle opener if you know you’ll be drinking a lot.
Cooler Box VS Portable Refrigerator – Which One is Better?
This age-old question is a complicated one, and the answer ultimately lies in your own personal preference.
Each of these types of coolers have their own positives and negatives and comparing them can help you make your own decision.
Cooler Box Pros
- The most notable pro for cooler boxes is the price. They are certainly more affordable than portable refrigerators and are a great option for anyone on a budget.
- A second benefit is the simplicity of use when compared to a fridge freezer. All you must do is lift the lid, fill, close, and go.
- In opposition to the cooler box, portable fridges have many working parts that can fail easily, making them more complicated to use. The best cooler boxes are also much more portable than fridge freezers.
Cooler Box Cons
- Where they excel in price they can lack in ingenuity – you must have ice to use a cooler box.
- This is not always the case with portable refrigerators, and this can be a major setback for some travelers.
- Having to constantly stop at a gas station to refill on ice can be a burden while traveling. Another obvious con is the lack of space in a cooler box.
Portable Refrigerator Pros
- As mentioned above, the amount of space within fridge freezers is a huge positive for those looking to pack large amounts of foods and drinks.
- We recommend a 12-volt fridge for ultimate cooling capabilities due to the highly advanced internal parts, compared to the simplicity of an ice cooler box.
- The ability to adjust the fridge freezer to specific temperatures is a big positive, rather than the limitations of ice in a cooler box.
Portable Refrigerator Cons
- The high prices are an obvious con for fridge freezers; however this is a testament to the extremely high quality of expensive portable refrigerators – you are getting the quality you pay for.
- Compared to cooler boxes, portable fridges are significantly heavier due to the internal motor and other parts – this is a con because it is more difficult to transport for camping, road trips, tailgating, and other outdoor activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does a Cooler Box stay Cold For?
Depending on the quality of your cooler box and the type of ice you use, the average box can stay cold from 5 to 7 days.
Block ice is known to last much longer than regular ice, so this is a great option for keeping your food and drinks stay colder for a long period of time. If you make your own block ice in plastic bottles or containers, make sure you remove the plastic so your contents can achieve full cooling ability.
How Do You Keep a Cooler Box Cold?
To ensure your food is kept at its freshest, keep the cooler box itself as cold as possible.
Preparation goes a long way. Before you pack your supplies into the cooler, prepack the cooler with ice so that there is a stable temperature from the start.
Pack your cooler like a Tetris master to ensure that there is as little air as possible – the more air flow, the quicker your supplies will warm up.
We love the idea of using a separate cooler box for your food and drinks – we tend to reach for drinks at a faster rate than food, so having a separate cooler means you won’t let any cold air escape, and you can keep everything colder.
How to Pack a Camping Cooler?
The first step you can take when packing is chilling the camping cooler itself, if your fridge is large enough or you have access to a commercial freezer.
If you don’t have either of those, keep your camping cooler outside if it’s a cold night. A cold cooler keeps ice retention better than a room temperature one.
Using ice blocks instead of small ice cubes is another handy tip.
Put a thin sheet of cardboard on top of the ice blocks to avoid soggy food. Adding another layer of insulation while packing your cooler is great for keeping things extra cool for longer.
Make sure to keep your food separated and organized into sections, just like a regular fridge. You’ll find things easier and avoid contamination.