Need a good cooler for camping? Look no further – this detailed guide covers all the best camping coolers, and we’ve got something for every budget!
Whether you’re looking for a small and simple cooler or a beast that can hold enough food and drinks for a multi-day trip, you’ll find a good solution here. Read on to see our favorite coolers for camping, and find the best one for you!
Best Medium-Capacity Hardshell Cooler
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Best Cooler For The Money
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Best Cooler With Electricity
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Most Versatile Camping Cooler
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Best Budget Cooler
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Best Wheeled Cooler For Camping
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Yeti Tundra 45 is one of the best medium-sized coolers you can get. It is made from sturdy materials, it features thick walls with PermaFrost insulation, and it comes with a wire basket so you can organize the contents.
The Tundra is Yeti’s best-selling cooler. It’s exceptionally tough and durable, so you can use it as an extra seat or even a table. Also, it’s lighter than it looks – 23lbs is a lot for the size of the cooler, but keep in mind that the walls are extra thick. This is because the Tundra cooler is heavily insulated for excellent performance even in extreme conditions.
It will keep drinks ice cold for an entire day even in 100°F+ weather. In mild temperatures this cooler has ice retention of several days, making it an excellent option even for longer camping trips.
The handles are textured for good grip, but they’re secured in place with lightweight polyester rope, as opposed to heavy stainless steel. The rope is military-grade, so it’s extremely strong, and it helps make the cooler lighter overall.
This Yeti Tundra cooler also features T-Rex lid latches that will stay in place no matter what, as well as a drain plug at the bottom. And it comes with a five-year warranty – that alone says quite a lot about the quality of the Tundra cooler!
The Lifetime cooler is one of the best options for people who often go camping in rugged conditions. This hardshell cooler is bear-certified for up to an hour, and that’s not something that can be said about many other coolers.
It has a generous capacity of 55 quarts, which easily holds food and drinks for a multi-day trip with several people. And in terms of insulation performance, the Lifetime cooler boasts ice retention of up to seven days. That’s the best cooler performance so far, making this a great option for anyone who needs a cooler for long camping trips.
There’s a drain plug at the bottom, which makes it super easy to just rid of the excess water. Additionally, the lid is secured in place with two sturdy rubber latches that are easily opened with one hand.
The carry handles are molded plastic, but they are secured in place with heavy-duty fabric instead of more plastic or steel. The fabric is ultralight, and it helps reduce the overall weight of the cooler. Considering the entire thing weighs more than 23lbs, every ounce counts!
One more thing to note is that the cooler has a built-in bottle opener, but that’s the only extra feature it boasts.
Have you considered getting an electric cooler? It’s a good option if your car is at the camp. The Coleman electric cooler plugs into your car lighter, for mess-free iceless operation. The main advantage of this cooler is that ice packs aren’t taking up unnecessary space inside, so you will be able to fit more food and drinks. Plus, you don’t have to drain the when you’re done using it, which is pretty nice.
On the other hand, it’s useless if you can’t plug it into a power source. If you need an off-the-grid cooler, this is definitely not a good option for you. But if you have access to electricity or you are car camping, it’s certainly something you should consider.
This Coleman cooler has a capacity of 40 quarts, and it can hold up to 44 cans. The cooler door opens from either side for added flexibility, and it comes with both 12V and 120V power cords. In addition to being a great cooler, you can also set it up to warm food, which makes it a must-have on barbecues.
The temperature inside the cooler can be 40 degrees Fahrenheit lower/higher than the ambient temperature, so it will perform best in mild weather. It has a divider/shelf inside, allowing you to keep your food and drinks organized, so it can also function as a portable mini-fridge. And it’s very affordable – the cooler is under $80, which is a great deal for the size and capacity.
The IcyBreeze is a portable cooler and air conditioner. It’s great for short trips with friends, or maybe car camping, but I wouldn’t recommend it for multi-day adventures. That’s because of the battery – it can last up to four hours on the lowest setting, and in that time you will see most of the ice melt.
You can buy a power supply for the IcyBreeze separately, and if you have access to electricity you can have AC all day long. Just keep in mind that the ice retention is not great when it’s blowing cold air, and you will have to replace it now and then. The IcyBreeze blows cold air through the wide adjustable hose at the top – it uses absolutely no Freon or chemicals to cool you down.
If you use it just as a wheeled cooler, you don’t have to worry about the battery life at all. The IcyBreeze has a capacity of 38 quarts, and it can keep ice for up to seven days in mild temperatures. Also, it weighs about 19lbs, so it’s one of the lighter coolers at this capacity. Plus, it has wheels for great portability, as well as a sturdy plastic wheel handle.
Additionally, there’s a drain point at the bottom of the cooler, which makes it very easy to get rid of any excess water. Due to the design of the lid, you can’t really use this as an extra seat, but that’s okay. In terms of extra features, the IcyBreeze really blows all the other coolers away.
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It’s you’re on a really tight budget, go with the Coleman soft sided cooler bag. It’s a $20 cooler that can fit up to 16 cans, making it the perfect option for a weekend camping trip for two people. It’s super lightweight when empty, and it won’t get ridiculously heavy even when you fill it with those 16 cans and ice.
This soft sided cooler has multiple pockets and compartments, but only the main compartment is insulated. It also features heat-welded seams that prevent any leaks and keep the food cold for hours on end. The liner inside the main compartment is removable, making it extremely easy to clean.
Also, the liner is treated with antimicrobial agents that make it resistant to mold, fungus, and odors. If you’re using plain ice instead of an ice pack, the liner is a must.
This cooler has an extra pocket inside, and it’s great for any snacks you want to keep cold. There are also several external pockets on the Coleman soft cooler – an open mesh pocket on either side and a large zippered pocket on the front.
The zippered pocket is great for essentials like phone, keys, wallet, or even just for napkins and plates. The side pockets are very small, so they’re good for items like bottle openers. In addition to that, this camping cooler has bungee cords on the lid exterior, and you can use them to carry a blanket or just a spare jacket. Overall, it’s definitely the best softshell cooler in the price range!
Not interested in carrying a 40lb+ cooler in your arms the entire hike to the camp? Then you should get a wheeled cooler, and the Igloo Trailmate Journey is by far the best option in that category. It has two big and durable wheels that are suitable for all-terrain types, so you can bring it on all your trips.
This cooler has a capacity of 70 quarts, which is enough to hold 112 12oz cans and some ice. It has a convenient basket inside that’s great for smaller items you want to keep separate from the cans, and it features a drain at the bottom.
The Igloo cooler has Ultratherm Technology built into the body and the lid, and it has ice retention of up to five days. Also, it’s tough and durable enough that you can use it as an extra seat. But that will only work if you’re not using the cup holders that are molded into the lid.
The slide handle is secured to the sides of the cooler, so it’s not in the way when this thing is parked and in use. It’s tough, durable, comfortable to hold, and extends with the push of a button.
The only issue with the Trailmate Journey cooler is that you get all the bulk without the capacity. This is larger than most other hardshell coolers featured here, and yet its capacity is not that much bigger. Plus, it weighs a lot – it’s almost 35lbs when empty, plus the weight of all the food and drinks inside. Even though you don’t have to carry it, you still have to drag all that weight to the campsite.
Yeti Hopper Backflip is a great option if you’re looking for a backpack cooler. It’s great for groups of friends who can divide the necessary outdoor gear among themselves because whoever is carrying the cooler can’t really carry an additional backpack.
The Hopper cooler is spacious, waterproof, and resistant to UV rays. It’s insulated with closed-cell rubber foam that performs remarkably well in all weather conditions, and it has a total capacity of 20 cans. There’s also extra space inside for ice packs that will keep everything inside chilly.
In addition to the roomy interior, this camping cooler also has multiple external attachment points. You can use them for anything, so long as you can attach the item to the exterior of the bag with a carabiner. There are a total of 18 webbing loops on the bag’s exterior, and you could technically attach an entire bag to the cooler. I’m not saying that you’d be able to carry all the weight, but it’s possible.
This is a backpack cooler, and it has a very comfortable back panel with thick padding. You won’t feel any of the cans or bottles inside, and the wide hip belt will help transfer the weight onto your hips, so your torso is not under too much stress. There’s also a sternum strap, as well as top, side, and back grab handles.
Coleman is one of the top brands among frequent campers. They offer high-quality gear at great prices, and they make everything you could need on a camping trip from a nice cooler to a portable stove.
The Xtreme 5 cooler is a good option if you want something affordable, but with a big capacity. It has an insulated lid and walls, and it can keep drinks ice cold for up to five days, even in temperatures that are as high as 90°F. That’s impressive for a $50 cooler!
This cooler can hold up to 100 cans or 90lbs of ice, so it’s great for trips that are either several days long or include large groups of people. In addition to that, the lid of the cooler features four molded cup holders, and it also doubles as a seat. The cooler can withstand the weight of 250lbs – just throw a comfy pillow on top, and it’s like an extra stool!
One thing to note is that this specific cooler does not have wheels. Instead, it features two sturdy grab handles that are textured for improved grip. The Xtreme 5 camping cooler is available in an option with wheels, but that one has a smaller capacity.
Igloo BMX is a good option if you want something tough and spacious. It’s a heavy-duty camping cooler with ergonomic handles, sturdy latches, and thick walls for excellent insulation. This cooler is available in three capacity options – 25, 52, and 72 quarts.
The walls and the lid are all insulated with extra thick foam, for premium performance. This cooler can keep ice frozen for up to five days, and it performs the best in temperatures under 90°F. It will still keep your drinks cold even in higher temperatures, but it probably won’t be able to stay cold for five days.
The swing-up handles are primarily stainless steel, so they’re extremely durable. And that is great, especially if you with one of the larger options that get very heavy when filled to capacity. It also features oversized hinges and screws that will extend its life and ensure you get more use out of the product.
The BMX cooler has a fish ruler on the lid, as well as four tie-down points that allow you to secure it in place. In addition to being great for camping trips, this is a cooler that’s also really good for boating and fishing trips, thanks to all those extra features!
The Portable Lunchbox cooler from Igloo is a good option for people who want something small and easy to carry. It is available in a wide variety of designs, including everything from Baby Yoda to Mickey Mouse.
Also, there are three size options for the cooler – the small one can fit four cans and some ice while the largest one can hold up to 10-12 cans. It’s a good cooler if you want something ultra-portable to carry food, but if you want to fit enough beers for a weekend camping trip for five people, it’s not the cooler for you.
The molded handle makes this easy to carry with one hand. Also, you must push a button to open the cooler, so you don’t have to worry about any malfunctions while you’re on the move. The lid swings to either side to expose the contents of the entire cooler, so it’s super easy to grab whatever you need.
The insulation in the Playmate is good, but it’s not quite up there with Igloo’s high-end coolers. It won’t keep drinks cold for days, but it’s perfectly fine for a few hours.
Getting a cooler that’s the right size is crucial. You want something big enough to hold enough drinks and food for everyone on your camping trip, but still not so big that you need a forklift to get it out of the car. Before you buy any of these coolers, consider two things: the number of people that you go with on camping trips, and the length of the trips.
If it’s just you and two other people on a short weekend camping trip, you’ll be fine with a smaller cooler. But if you normally go away with a large group of people and you tend to stay for more than 2-3 days, you’ll need something with a bigger capacity.
Would you prefer a soft shell or a hard sided cooler? As a rule, a soft cooler is lighter and easier to carry. Especially if they’re in the form of a backpack or a cooling tote. Some of them also include multiple compartments and pockets, so you can easily separate the food from the drinks, and even have a dedicated spot for cutlery and cups.
Hardshell coolers, on the other hand, are bigger, bulkier, and heavier. They also have better insulation than a soft sided cooler, and some of them can even double as extra seats. Most hard sided coolers featured here have an extra feature on their lid, whether it’s a ruler or molded cup holders.
In any case, if you are prioritizing carrying comfort, grab a soft sided cooler. But if you just want bigger capacity and better insulation, a hard shell cooler is likely the better option for you.
The coolers featured here cost anywhere from $20 to $500. So, how much can you afford to spend on one?
If you’re on a tight budget, I’ve included several options under $50 that will do just fine. Just don’t expect to get several years of use out of them, since these are usually not the best long-term solutions. The more expensive coolers are usually made with sturdier materials, they have better insulation, and they will include more extra features than the cheaper options.
One thing to note is that Yeti coolers are top of the line, but I consider them overpriced. Coleman and Igloo both offer similar performance at lower price points. If you want a more affordable alternative, go with one of the two other brands. But if you want the best of the best and money’s not an object, Yeti is likely the best fit for you.
Still not sure which of these coolers for camping is the best option for you? That’s fine – go with one of our top three picks, depending on what exactly you’re looking for in a cooler!
If you want a durable medium-sized cooler, Yeti Tundra 45 is without a doubt the best option. It’s a premium cooler with extra-thick walls, expensive insulation, and military-grade rope for handles. This cooler can keep ice for nearly a week, it comes with a wire basket for internal organization, and it’s covered with a five-year warranty. That alone is a guarantee of the Tundra cooler’s quality.
The Lifetime high-performance cooler is the second-best option, especially if you’re looking for a large cooler. This is a bear-resistant cooler made from sturdy materials, and it doubles as a seat.
It has a capacity of 55 quarts, which is enough even for camping trips of several days, and it has a stainless steel bottle opener built into the cooler. It keeps ice for up to seven days, and it’s half the price of a Yeti cooler.
In case you’re not looking for a premium cooler, go with the Coleman soft cooler bag. This is a small, softshell cooler with multiple pockets and compartments, and it’s the most affordable option out of the bunch.
It’s lightweight enough you can carry it in addition to another bag, and it’s perfect if you don’t need drinks to stay cold for more than a day. The antimicrobial liner inside is removable for easy cleaning, and it’s leakproof so that the fabric of the bag doesn’t get soaked as the ice melts.
Head over to Amazon to see the prices and more photos of all the camping coolers featured in this review. And check out our related posts, for ideas on even more portable coolers that might be a better fit for your needs!