When buying a camping cooler, it is important to find a cooler that is durable enough to withstand the weather, compact enough to travel, and insulating enough to keep ice cold. With there being so many models on the market, choosing the best camping cooler for your needs can be tricky.
To help you out, we have created this comprehensive review of camping coolers. In this review, we will go over the 10 best camping coolers in 2021, 5 factors to consider when buying a camping cooler, and frequently asked questions. Let’s get started.
Here are the 10 best camping coolers in 2021
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YETI Tundra 45 Cooler is one of the best camping coolers that combines versatility and durability to give you a functional, long-lasting, and attractive cooler.
This YETI Tundra cooler is 25.5 x 16 x 15.5 inches and weighs 23 lbs when empty. It can hold up to 26 cans within the cooler while there is a 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio. Additionally, the ice is guaranteed to stay cold thanks to the 3-inches of PermaFrost Insulation.
This cooler is also highly durable. Its FatWall design makes it bear-resistant, and it has a roto-molded construction that makes it virtually indestructible. The T-Rex Lid Latches are also durable since they are made from heavy-duty rubber.
The YETI Tundra 45 Cooler is the best cooler for camping because it is durable, versatile, and long-lasting. It is guaranteed to keep your food and drinks cold and last over many years of intense camping. The only downside of this cooler is that it is one of the most expensive options on the market.
The RTIC Heavy Duty Cooler is another great option available on the list of best camping coolers. This cooler is built with functionality and durability in mind.
This cooler is highly durable thanks to its roto-molded construction. The construction is matched with heavy-duty T-latches to prevent the latches from wearing and breaking over time.
Additionally, the RTIC Cooler will keep the contents of the cooler cold and fresh. It is made with 3-inches of an insulated wall that can keep ice cold for days. Better yet, the cooler is designed so that there is a no-sweat exterior as well.
It is also attractive and easy to transport. It comes with a cool lift design, molded side handles, and tie-downs that will make transporting and storing your cooler much easier.
The RTIC Heavy Duty Cooler is the best runner up for camping coolers in 2021. It is durable and functional, ensuring that this cooler will fit in anywhere. The primary downsides of this cooler are that it is expensive and has fewer color options than the YETI.
Another great camping cooler to check out is the Igloo 50 Qt. Maxcold Cooler. This cooler is highly durable and one of the largest on the market. No matter how many people you plan to serve, you should have enough space for all your drinks and food in this cooler.
This Igloo cooler comes with an ultratherm insulated lid and body that are guaranteed to keep drinks, food, and ice cold for several days.
Additionally, it comes in 3 other sizes, including 40 Qt., 70 Qt., and 100 Qt. The 40 Qt. cooler has the capacity to hold up to 56 cans, which makes it an extremely large cooler, and the 50 Qt. cooler holds even more.
The Igloo 50 Qt. Maxcold Cooler is a great camping cooler choice. Because of its large capacity, this cooler is great for family trips that require a lot of extra space. With that being said, this cooler does not come with baskets, which is a downside.
The Coleman Xtreme Cooler with Wheels is another excellent camping cooler option. This cooler has a large temperature retention rating and is extra large.
Most notably, this Coleman cooler model can keep ice cold for up to 5-days in temperatures of 90 degrees or below. The extreme technology allows for the lid and walls to have some of the longest ice retention rates.
Additionally, this cooler is huge and can hold up to 95 cans, making it the largest cooler on this list.
Better yet, it is made with low C02 insulation, meaning that the foam manufacturing uses reduced carbon emissions and is better for the environment.
The Coleman Xtreme Cooler with Wheels is a great camping cooler option if you need a large cooler to hold a lot of food and drinks. This cooler has good ice retention and is better for the environment than other options. The main downside of this cooler is that it only comes with only 1 color option and is not very attractive.
If you want a camping cooler with all the bells and whistles, you will like the Pelican Elite Cooler. This camping cooler keeps ice cold while being easy to transport and functional to use.
The Pelican Elite Cooler is made from 2-inches of polyurethane insulation and a 360-degree freezer-grade gasket that keeps the cooler cold and fresh inside.
Additionally, it comes with many cool features. It comes with an over-molded carry handle, stainless steel bottle opener, 4 self-draining cup holders, and non-skid rubber feet. These features make the cooler more functional and easier-to-use.
The Pelican Elite Cooler is a great camping cooler because it has a good ice retention rating, is made from durable material, and comes with several additional features. The main downside of this cooler is that it is costly.
The Orca Classic Cooler is one of the best camping coolers that will keep the contents of the cooler safe and cold thanks to its insulation and sealing.
This camping cooler offers excellent ice retention because of its roto-molded construction, integrated insulation, and lid gasket. Together, these 3 features keep the cooler insulated and seal the lid shut, ensuring that your ice is kept cold.
Additionally, the Orca Classic Cooler comes with extendable flex-grip handles, cargo net attachment for added storage, and a drainage spout. These features allow the cooler to be easy-to-use and transportable for a variety of situations.
The Orca Classic Cooler is excellent in terms of ice retention, insulation, storage, and drainage. The various features of this cooler will allow you to keep food cold, drain excess water, and store additional items. With that being said, this cooler is also expensive, heavy, and only comes in 1 color.
If you want a high performing camping cooler, you will be interested in the Thermik High Performance Cooler. This cooler offers competitive ice retention and a 5-year warranty for an affordable price.
The Thermik cooler has a roto-molded construction and thick urethane insulation that should keep ice for 5 or more days. Additionally, the cooler comes with a freezer-grade lid with a vacuum release function that will both seal the cooler shut and prevent the lid from becoming frozen-shut.
More so, it is highly durable and comes with indestructible hinges, durable rubber feet, and a 5-year warranty. Together, these features allow your cooler to perform well in the rugged wilderness.
The Thermik High Performance Cooler is one of the top rated coolers for camping because of its ice retention and durability. It is guaranteed to both keep your ice cold while withstanding the elements. The main downside of this cooler is that it only comes with 1 color option.
The Lifetime High Performance Cooler is the best camping cooler for those who need a highly durable and bear-proof model.
The Lifetime Cooler is exceptionally durable. It is made from heavy-duty plastic that is designed to withstand a bear for up to an hour. Additionally, it comes with heavy-duty rubber latches that are easy to open, designed to withstand bears, and last several years.
Additionally, this cooler has a good ice retention rating. It comes with thick insulation that can keep ice frozen for up to 7-days, ensuring that the cooler contents are kept cold.
The Lifetime High Performance Cooler is a good camping cooler for keeping drinks and food cold. It also is extremely durable and is designed to withstand bears, making it a great option for those in bear-territories. The main downside of this cooler is that the rubber gasket is prone to sticking to the lid when being opened.
Another great heavy-duty camping cooler is the Rovr Rollr 60 Wheeled Cooler. This camping cooler with wheels has one of the highest ice retention ratings and is designed to be easy-to-use and durable.
The Rovr Rollr has a roto-molded construction with high-density foam insulation, airtight gasket, and heavy-duty rubber latches. Together, these features work to keep food properly cold. In fact, this cooler has ice retention of up to 10-days.
Additionally, it has a high-performance wheel assembly that includes 9-inch all-terrain rubber tires. In other words, these tires are heavy-duty and built to roll on all terrains.
This cooler model also comes with additional features that make it user-friendly. Notably, it comes with anchor pins, a Deep Freeze removable Dry Bin, and a Wagon Bin/removable storage bin.
The Rovr Rollr 60 Wheeled Cooler is a great camping cooler for its functionality, durability, and ice retention. The main downside of this cooler is that the wheels don’t lock.
If you need a camping cooler that is also dry ice compatible, you will need to check out the Engel 65 High Performance Cooler.
As the name suggests, the Engel 65 is a high-performing cooler which means it has great functionality in terms of ice retention. It has an ice retention rating of 10-days, and it can even hold dry ice.
Additionally, it comes with an IGBC Certified Bear Resistant Container that is molded on the cooler's lid.
The Engel 65 High Performance Cooler is one of the best performing coolers. It can even handle dry ice and comes with an IGBC Certified Bear Resistant Container, making it perfect for those with extreme needs. The main downside of this cooler is that the drain leaks over time.
Regardless of whether you want a cooler from the above list of 10 best camping coolers or from somewhere else, there are 5 key factors to consider when buying a camping cooler. These factors will allow you to decide on a camping cooler based on your needs and the cooler's functionality.
The first factor you should consider when buying a camping cooler for camping is your ideal size. No matter what size you want, you will want to minimize empty air space to keep the ice and cooler cold for a longer period. So, it is best to choose the smallest option that fits your needs.
If you plan an overnight trip, you can get away with buying a small but efficient 25 Qt. cooler. This size cooler will not weigh you down or be excessive for a day, but it will give you some space for drinks and food.
In contrast, those going away for an extended amount of time will probably need between 100 and 150 Qt. cooler. This size cooler will allow you to pack a variety of essential food, drinks, and ice that will last over several days.
The second factor to consider when buying a camping cooler is the material of the cooler. Typically, there are 4 cooler types to choose from:
Of the 4 materials, we typically recommend plastic. A plastic cooler will insulate your ice without adding excessive weight, costing a small fortune, or being prone to damage.
The third factor to consider when buying a camping cooler is cooler construction. The cooler construction will determine how well it insulates. No matter why you want a cooler, you need to get one that is constructed well because good constructions will insulate and retain ice better.
Before purchasing a cooler, hold it in your hands and knock on the exterior. If the cooler sounds or feels hollow as you are holding it, go with a different cooler because it probably is constructed poorly.
Additionally, make sure that the cooler lid insulates well and seals tightly. Inspect for damage and be on the lookout for metal hinges, which are the most effective hinge material. If the lid is not constructed well, heat will be able to creep into the cooler, and the cold temperature will escape.
The fourth factor to consider when buying a camping cooler is portability of a cooler. The purpose of a cooler is to act as a refrigerator on wheels. As a result, you want your cooler to be highly portable. If it is not portable, your camping experience could be diminished.
Smaller coolers are more portable simply because they are lightweight and more comfortable to carry. It is best to go with the lightest cooler that is available for your needs. At the same time, though, do not sacrifice insulation for easy transport. Insulation is more important than portability.
Be on the lookout for coolers with wheels and handles. These features will increase portability, even if you need an extremely large camping cooler, without infringing on insulation.
Finally, you will need to consider the durability of your camping cooler. Since this cooler will be used outdoors, it will be exposed to a number of elements and rough and damaging terrain. If you do not consider the durability of the cooler, you may find yourself needing another cooler.
The best way to ensure that a camping cooler is durable is to look at the material used. Make sure all materials – whether it be on the hinges, exterior, or interior – be heavy-duty and freezer-grade. If not, they might not be able to withstand the elements or the temperature of ice.
If you are looking for the absolute best camping cooler on the market, then YETI coolers are worth the money. For most people, though, they are willing to sacrifice minimal performance differences for several dollars. Engel or Pelican are great options about the same quality of YETI without costing the same amount.
Any cooler that claims to keep ice for up to 10-days will have the best ice retention ratings. Yeti, Pelican, and Engel are the 3 best options for ice retention.
Note on ice retention ratings: The number of days a cooler will keep ice is under the best situations. For example, the rating tells you how long the ice lasts if the cooler isn't opened and the temperature is under 90-degrees. If you open your cooler a lot and the temperature is over 90-degrees, your ice will not last as long.