Every camper needs a decent cooler, especially those who like to camp for days on end, or even weeks. Going for the largest size shouldn’t have to be necessary, a good cooler of any size should be able to retain ice for at least a few days.
The following five products are the best camping coolers for 2021 that I have come used firsthand. Each has its own great features, and possibly a downside or too as well.
Best Camping Coolers – Top 5
First, we have a 15-quart cooler by Grizzly, one of the best small coolers for camping on the market. There are multiple color options available: gray, lime green, orange, red, sandstone, tan, teal, or white.
Perfect for both camping and hiking, especially because of its durable and comfortable padded shoulder strap.
The interior dimensions are 14.1” x 6.8” x 10.8” (L x W x H), and the exterior dimensions are 18.8” x 11.4” x 14.4” (L x W x H). Fifteen cans and ice can easily fit inside without a problem.
What I love about this one is that it’s not easy to find a premium cooler brand with a 15 quart, as most tend to just go with 20 instead and those don’t usually have shoulder straps either.
An integrated hinge means that this can handle a beating, which is exactly what you need in a cooler that you use in the outdoors. Drops and scrapes will happen eventually, but you’d be lucky this one has an integrated and interlocking hinge design which makes for a very durable choice. The ice life is approximately 50 hours.
Grizzly’s coolers are all made from rotationally-molded LLDPE plastic, designed to achieve optimum thickness and durability whilst not being too heavy at the same time – this one only weighs 12 pounds.
Despite the size of this cooler, you can expect this cooler to have the same great features as a larger one would have.
The lid gasket seals with rubber in order to keep cold air trapped inside, as a result extending the longevity of your ice even in warm temperatures. Enjoy colder, fresher food and drinks for longer.
Coolers by Grizzly are IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) Certified Bear-Resistant, with two lock holes that keep your cooler secure and the contents completely safe.
I honestly couldn’t find anything to complain about during my time trying out this cooler, it works great and stays cold for ages, but I suppose I could see this size being impractical and too small for some campers.
Next in this list, we’ve got one of the best Yeti coolers for camping, the Tundra Haul. A much bigger option than our previous, more so for those who enjoy long camping trips.
Three color options are available: navy blue, tan, or white, and they are made of Acrylic. I kind of wish there were more color options, after seeing such a wide variety with Grizzly. Although, the Tundra Haul has an ice life of around 10 days, which is difficult to beat.
The dimensions are 28.3” x 18.6” x 19.5” (L x W x H), and it weighs around 37 pounds when empty. This weight is not ideal, but the size is worth the sacrifice. About 45 cans of beer can easily fit or just 55 pounds of ice instead.
Like most premium grade coolers, these too are made with rotomolded construction which makes it armored to the core and virtually indestructible. Extra-thick walls hold up to two inches of insulation, and commercial-grade polyurethane foam is pressure-injected into the walls and lid, enabling the cooler to maintain the cold for long periods of time.
This Yeti cooler has quite a rare feature; wheels. Not some tiny, useless wheels, no, quite large and tough ones on one side, that are puncture-resistant and made with a solid, single-piece construction. This way, it’s even more portable than coolers of the same size. These wheels can roll on any terrain, even sand.
There’s a durable, welded aluminum arm with comfortable grips, and it has curved design tracks left or right for heel-friendly towing. This handle is what helps a great deal, unless you’re very tall, then I can see it being rather uncomfortable to roll behind you.
I doubt it comes as a surprise to anyone, but this is on the pricier side, but coolers are investments after all.
There are multiple color options for the Igloo BMX 25- and 52-Quart coolers: Aquamarine, carbon black, green with orange, sandstone with red, and white with black and blue.
Since 1947, Igloo have been redefining camping while refining on their coolers through the years.
Whether you plan on camping on a beach or in a forest, you’ll be glad to have this cooler by your side.
All of the above color options are available in both sizes, except the aquamarine which is only 25 Quart.
The 25-quart coolers have dimensions of 19.6 x 13.6 x 15.7 inches and weigh 11.29 pounds. The 52 quart’s dimensions are 26.6 x 17 x 17 inches and weighs 16.34 pounds.
Made with heavy-duty blow-molded construction with a reinforced base to increase the strength and protection. With a 4-5 ice life, these are surprisingly lightweight camper coolers. UV inhibitors preserve the coolers extended life and color against sun damage.
The cooler has rust resistant, stainless steel rods and screws that also contribute to the longevity, and rubberized, sturdy T-grip latches keep the lid shut securely and tight. The ergonomic handle helps with portability.
With 20% thicker foam and insulation in the lid, this cooler lasts even longer if you keep in mind to not leave it out in the sun.
What I noticed was that this one is lacing an air/watertight seal, causing it to lack in cooling performance, and it also causes water to leak out if you’re not careful.
Also, the rubber latches kept catching against my leg when I walked. You can easily open the latches with one hand, so that’s a plus. Aside from the latches though, these coolers are extremely tough and can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
I really feel like they could have gone a bit further to make the tie-down holes lockable, because currently they are not animal proof.
The great thing about Igloo’s coolers is that they are very affordable though, with reason.
Another one by Igloo, this time a much larger option at 110 Quart, perfect for those who love long car camping trips or boondocking.
This is one of the best coolers for desert camping, with a capacity of 104 liters and weighing 25.4 pounds. The dimensions are 39.8 x 18.5 x 19.7 inches, it is available in the color white, and it’s made of polypropylene material.
It has UV inhibitors and infrared technology to protect the cooler from sun damage and discoloration. Thanks to the thick ‘Ultra-therm’ foam in the body and lid, it can reach an ice life of 5 days even at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The horizontal telescoping handle requires 50% less lifting effort, doing some of the work for you, and it’s cushioned for a more comfortable grip.
Portability is great because of the soft-ride wheels, providing a smooth ride on all terrain.
The hinges are made with stainless steel, which is rust resistant so that the cooler is more long-lasting.
Reinforced swing-up handles have a tie-down loop feature, and the dual snap-fit latches securely keep the lid shut tight.
Draining water and hooking up a hose is easy because of the threaded drain plug.
Aside from just the cooler, you can also choose an option to purchase both the cooler and another polar cooler or a wire basket.
You can use the wire basket to store food and other goods that you don’t want to get wet. It’s made of polyethylene-coated steel, which is corrosion resistant and can withstand long exposure to ice. It has a grid pattern of .67 by .98 inches to prevent smaller items from falling through while also allowing for circulation of cool air to the rack’s contents.
This cooler is on the pricier side, but it’s within reason and stands to be the only possible issue.
The Coleman 70 Quart cooler is one of the best ice chests for camping on the market today, and this one comes in matte black with gray.
The depth, width, and height of this cooler are 28.1”, 15.5”, and 17.7”. This is a hard-sided type, with low CO2 insulation. It only weighs 12.3 pounds, which is quite lightweight in retrospect, when you consider the capacity especially.
Available at a very affordable price, made of plastic and has an EZ-clean lid. Since it has a smooth texture, it is very easy to clean by simply wiping up.
This cooler is made so well that you can even sit on it without worrying about a thing, because with the lid closed it can support up to 250 pounds of weight on top.
Extra wall and lid insulation grants an ice life of up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can hold up to 100 cans inside.
The comfortable handles are designed with such a grip that ensures pinch free carrying, making it easier to take this cooler in and out of your car. There’s also a leak-resistant channel drain so that you can easily empty water out from this cooler without having to tilt it.
My absolute favorite feature is the one that is unique to this product; it has cup holders that are molded into the lid 2 inches deep, keeping drinks at arm’s reach and reduce spilling.
The only thing really missing from this one is a pair of wheels, which would have been a great addition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Cooler keeps ice the longest?
The Yeti Tundra Haul 33 Quart Cooler is the winner in this regard, having an ice life of a total of 10 days, which is a tough score to beat.
What is the best cooler for the money?
The Coleman Xtreme 70 Quart is the best for the money, as it comes at a very affordable price for good quality and a large capacity. It’s only suitable for larger groups and car camping, though.
What is the best size cooler for camping?
For one person or two people going camping for 3-4 days, a medium cooler is required which would be a minimum of 25 quarts and a maximum of 45 quarts.
A larger group, camping for about a week or so, would need a large camping cooler of 45-60 quarts.
What cooler is comparable to a Yeti?
Orca coolers are famously known as ‘competitors’ of Yeti, because of their likeness in quality. Orcas tend to be slightly cheaper, but Yeti have more variety.
Are expensive coolers worth it?
Coolers of high quality are not cheap, but this doesn’t mean you should spend an arm and a leg either. The larger the size, the more it’s going to cost, so keep that in mind. Other than that, you’re paying extra for longer ice life, more durability, and sometimes some extra features that are cool or useful.
How can I make my cooler cold for 3 days?
If you have the option to do so, keep the cooler in a freezer for a day or two before the camping trip, filled with ice. Pre freeze all of the food and/or drink you plan to store inside, too.
Don’t use any of the ice you’ve been keeping in the cooler pre-trip, use fresh ice.
These are just a few ways you can help your cooler stay cold for longer. Check out another article of mine, How to Keep Food Cold While Camping, for more tips.