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Best Ice Coolers For Camping

Best Tote: Out Of The Woods Seagull Cooler

Best Coolers for Your Camping Trip: Yeti, Frosted Frog and More
  • Most sustainable and planet-friendly on the list

  • Good value for the price

  • Good for day trips, not overnights

The Seagull Cooler from Out of the Woods is a solidand relatively inexpensivecooler option for grocery store runs and beach days. It’s got a surprisingly large capacity and looks more stylish than the more outdoors-focused coolers on this list. It’s also more planet-friendly than other options on this list with a proprietary “Supernatural Paper” outer material made from tree cellulose. We also like that there are two ways to carry this bag: a shoulder strap and handles.

Size: 15.7 x 6.3 x 14 inches | Weight: Not listed | Capacity: 24 cans

Best Looking: The Wooly Cooler

Lets just start by saying that this isnt your typical cooler, as youll no doubt observe the moment you take in its smooth, sleek contours in natural aluminum, as well as the bamboo cutting board lid and matching bamboo handles. The 52-quart capacity is kept cool by wait for it wool. Yes, you read that right. It sounds strange, but if youve ever worn wool socks to go ice fishing, you know how great they insulate, and that principle is put to good use with sustainable insulation that keeps your cooler chilly for up to three days.

Ice Types: Crushed Blocks Packs Or Dry

As committed cooler enthusiasts know, the type of ice you use heavily impacts how much youre able to store and how long it stays cold. Crushed ice is the most readily availableyou can find it at most gas stations and supermarkets for fairly cheap. The major draw is that it easily fills the gaps between your food and beverages, cooling them quickly and efficiently. However, crushed ice is also the fastest to melt and youll likely need to replace it fairly frequently. Blocks of ice, on the other hand, take much longer to melt than crushed ice. However, blocks are bulky and take up a lot of space in the cooler since they dont conform around your food and cans. If we have enough space, our preferred method is to use both block and crushed ice together, and YETI has more great tips here.

If youre worried about re-stocking, ice packs are a viable alternative. Most major brands have their own designs that work well in their coolers, and the best part is that you can use them repeatedly without ever having to drain melted ice. That said, ice packs are fairly expensive and require refreezing once they lose their coldness, which limits practicality for longer trips.

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How Should You Pack A Cooler To Keep It Cold For Longer

For best results, start by pre-chilling the food and drinks you plan to store in your cooler. Be sure to pack your cooler as full as possible, because too much air can cause the interior temperature to rise. Add ice lastâcool air travels down, so putting the ice on top will keep the entire cooler cold.

Schultes suggests layering using ice blocks rather than ice cubes, as blocks will melt slower. During use, be sure to store the cooler out of the sun and keep the lid closed as much as possible when not actively removing or loading items.

Which Camping Cooler Will Keep It Chill In 2022

Best Cooler For Camping

A quality cooler is essential to fresh camping fare and ice-cold beverages

If its 2022s best coolers for camping youre after, look no further than our nine top picks from brands like YETI, RTIC, Igloo, and more. These models retain ice, take a beating, keep food and drinks fresh, and hold during all different types of camping trips.

Are you the weekend warrior type who loves a good car camping adventure? One of these ice chests will undoubtedly suit your needs. Do you need a wheeled cooler to help you go deeper into nature than a car will allow? Weve got an excellent option for that too.

Whether youre looking for a burly rotomolded cooler or a lightweight plastic injection chest, your camp cooler should keep ice for as long as you ask of it. The outdoors can be unforgiving, so you must rely on your gear to keep your food fresh and your drinks cold.

After checking out our best camping coolers of 2022 post, we hope we have all the information you need to pull the trigger. If not, leave a comment below, and well try and steer you in the right direction.

Stay cool, my fellow campers.

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The Best Small Cooler For Day Trips: Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler

The original Roadie is more compact and easy to bring down to the beach or even on the train if youre a city dweller thanks to a shoulder strap. Designed to hold up to 18 cans or 24 pounds of ice, this scaled-down companion to the brands larger models proves that size doesnt matter. Its as thoughtfully designed as Yetis grander coolers like the Tundra 45 or 65, with rotomolded construction that allows it to be thinner and lighter without losing anything in terms of durability or insulation. Like the wheeled version, its also got a taller build, allowing it to hold bulkier items upright, like two-liter bottles of soda or the aforementioned a bottle of wine.

In addition to two-inch layers of insulation and foam walls that keeps ice frozen for some time, the Roadie features sturdy, flappable latches built for one-handed access, a rubberized handle that provides comfortable grip, nonslip feet that keep it in place, and slots for tie-down straps, which enable you to anchor it in a car.

Oh, and it comes in a whole slew of cool colors, from Ice Pink to Sagebrush Green to Aquifer Blue! Talk about a stylish travel companion.

Assuming youre choosing the Roadie 24 with full knowledge that does not have a large capacity compared to the others recommended here, there really isnt anything not to like about it. Its durable, portable, and does a tremendous job keeping things cool.

Choosing The Right Cooler For Camping Trips

Theres a lot more that goes into picking the right cooler than you might think. Everything from insulation, seals, and even drains can be factors that need to be considered when youre choosing a unit for your next camping trip.

Im going to go over all the criteria that you should look at before making your decision in this section.

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Which Size Cooler Do I Need

Although you might feel compelled to buy a large cooler, make sure it fits in the car. Smaller coolers can be lifted without the need for assistance. However, coolers with larger capacities can hold more ice and so tend to stay cool longer than smaller models. Higher coolers can store bottles more upright. Models with recessed lids are better for loading items higher, but they may become warmer.

The Best Budget Cooler: Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler

â TOP 5 Best Camping Coolers [ 2022 Buying Guide ]

Theres a reason Coleman remains one of the most recognizable names when it comes to outdoor gear. Coleman coolers are all about function at achievable prices, and this one is no exception. At 70 quarts, its sized to hold up to 100 cans plus ice and keeps those drinks cold even in blazing temps. Not bad for less than 80 bones.

Surprisingly streamlined and attractive , the jet-black and white box has a smooth surface for easy cleaning, a channel drain for emptying without tipping, and a lid that functions as either extra seating or a tabletop with four integrated cupholders.

If youre craving an exciting year of beachgoing or tailgating, this may just be the cooler for you.

What you gain in cost savings, you lose in features and long-term durability. There arent any wheels, so moving the filled cooler is a definite team effort. And after our stress tests, we observed a couple of screws from the hinged lid coming loose. So consider throwing a screwdriver in with your six-pack. Also, this cooler may actually be bigger than you need in many cases. Its best for things like backyard barbecues or car camping when you can pull right up to the site and dont have to carry the cooler too far.

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Yeti Roadie 20 Cooler

This hard-sided cooler is built to go with you on all of your short adventures. The Yeti Roadie 20 is an 18.9-liter cooler that has a proprietary insulation and is compatible with dry ice to boost its cooling power. The cooler is designed to handle lock-neck bottles and can hold 12 cans. Its tie-down slots are molded into the body of the cooler so you can easily mount it in your truck or on your boat. The gasketed drain plug wont leak and it only needs to be partially unscrewed to drain the water. This cooler has a stainless steel handle, and only weighs 15 pounds. The Yeti Roadie is a great option for a short camping trip.

How I Determined Which Coolers Performed The Best

I do not personally own all these coolers and these coolers come in all different sizes, so doing a single ice test of every brand wasn’t possible for me without investing tens of thousands of dollars.

However, I do own or have owned A LOT of different coolers on this list including Yeti, RTIC, Lifetime, Coleman, Engel, Pelican etc.

Instead I treated this like a detailed research project and did all the research into other ice retention tests that people have done including some of my own ice retention tests done a few years ago.

Overall I looked at 23+ ice retention tests of varying types and quality to see which coolers consistently pulled ahead and kept ice longer than other brands.

I took into considering the different sizes of coolers during the ice tests as the larger a cooler the longer it is going to hold ice if completely filled. So a larger cooler completely filled has an advantage over a smaller cooler completely filled.

When only partially filled the opposite is true. The more empty space inside a cooler the worse it’s ice retention.

Also doing some cross analysis helped in creating the final ranking.

Looking at a Yeti vs Patriot video and seeing the Yeti slightly outperforming the Patriot. Then seeing how the Patriot compared to other brands etc etc gave me the ability to create a pretty robust and accurate list.

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Best Coolers For Ice Retention 202: Ranked

Coolers these days can keep ice for days at a time and even up to 1-2+ weeks depending on the brand and the size of the cooler.

With so many brands out there all claiming Keeps Ice For X Days I wanted to actually compare these cooler brands to each other to determine which coolers are the absolute best for ice retention and which cooler brands don’t perform as well.

With a heck of a lot of in depth research here’s what I found out:

The best cooler for ice retention is the Kong Coolers with 10-14 days ice retention. This was followed closely by Orca Coolers, Techniice and then Siberian Alpha . Yeti coolers ranked 10th and Lifetime coolers offers the best value for money ranking 7th.

Runner Up

Hydro Flask Carry Out 20l

Rubbermaid 75 qt 5

BEST VALUE SOFT COOLER

EMPTY WEIGHT: 2 lbs. 8.3 oz.

VOLUME : 20 L

PROS: Lightweight, compact, multiple ways to carry, retains ice for up to three days

CONS: Less insulated than some, less durable than some

BOTTOM LINE: The Hydro Flask Carry Out is perfect for active people who need a high-quality grab-and-go cooler that works well for everything from day trips to camping and everything in between. Its small enough that its easy to throw over your shoulder and it wont take up too much space in the car. But its also surprisingly spacious – we easily fit a whole case of seltzers and a hearty array of road-trip snacks in it. It kept things deliciously chilled for multiple days of enjoyment, and we found that the coolers flat top makes a convenient side table between two camping chairs. You wont find a better quality and more stylish soft cooler than the Carry Out, especially for the price.

PROS: Retains ice for up to 10 days, durable, certified bear-resistant, comfortable handles, locking latches

CONS: Expensive, heavy, less interior space due to thick insulation

PROS: All-terrain wheels, retains ice for up to 10 days, durable, top storage bin for hauling gear/dry goods, interior organizer, certified bear-resistant, accessories available, towable by bike

CONS: Very expensive, heavy, less interior space due to thick insulation

We own and use all of the gear we recommend

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Compare To Similar Products

Excellent insulation, super durable, easy to use, great size Very durable, good insulation, comfortable handle grips Excellent seal, convenient size, durable design, IGBC certified, exterior pocket, rubber feet Sturdy construction, easy-to-use latches, good insulation for its size, multiple ways to carry Super lightweight, decent insulation for the price, surprisingly large capacity, inexpensive
Cons Expensive, no leash for plug, smaller than claimed A bit large for one person, no leash for plug, latches are scarily stretchy Stiff latches, no dry basket included Handle gets in the way of opening, no drain, not totally airtight Not airtight, not particularly durable, uncomfortable handles
Bottom Line If you want the best insulation and the longest lasting cooler, look no further than this simple yet effective model A high-performing and durable cooler with solid usability features at a lower price than expected An impressive mid-sized model that offers high-quality insulation and simple but convenient features This durable and useful 1-2 person option won our testers over among the competition of its size A functional cooler for a mere fraction of the price of the competition
Rating Categories
Shelf Life of Food 6.5 days
Days of Cold Beverages 7.4 days
Internal Maximum Body Height 10.5″
Does it Fit a Wine or 2L Bottle Standing Upright? No
Exterior Dimensions 30.75″ x 17.5″ x 16″ 32″ x 18.5″ x 17″ 25.75″ x 18.25″ x 17″ 16.5″ x 14″ x 17.5″ 28.5″ x 15.5″ x 17.5″
Construction

Budget Pick: Lifetime Coolers

Ice Retention: 5-7+ Days

Even after writing a Lifetime cooler review over a year ago now I still continue to be shocked by how good these coolers are for the crazy low price they sell for.

They are one of the cheapest coolers on this list, with the smallest sizes selling for under $100, but despite their low price their performance is really good.

The outperform big name brands like Yeti, RTIC, Ozark Trail, Grizzly and Orion in ice retention test and their overall build quality is still really good.

They are bear proof, have easy to use cam latches, a freezer grade gasket, thick insulation and unique grip and slide feet which are extremely practical.

If you’re looking for a great budget cooler that can hold ice for a really long time then you can’t go wrong with Lifetime.

They are available at both Amazon and Walmart with prices fluctuating between which site is cheaper. I’ll link up to both below so you can find the best price:

  • Not as durable as roto-molded coolers
  • Only comes in 1 color

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Best Water Resistance: Orca Cooler

Laura Lancaster

Why It Made the Cut

No matter which side I turned the ORCA Cooler on, only a drop or two of water managed to escape the seams of the lid.

Key Features

  • Widest variety of sizes available of any cooler in my test

Cons

  • Difficult to open

Product Description

When I first unboxed the ORCA Hard Cooler, I thought there was something wrong with it. No matter how hard I pried at the lid after unhooking the two rubber latches, I couldnt get it open. Was I going to have to leave this cooler out of my test due to lack of upper body strength? As a last ditch effort, I unscrewed the drainage port: there was an immediate hiss of air, followed by the popping sound of the cooler walls releasing. To say that the amount of pressure this cooler is capable of holding is impressive is an understatement.

Even when filled with room temperature water, this cooler is quite water resistant. During my test for waterproofness, the sides and the back held the water completely in, and only a small dribble escaped the front. However, when the cooler is filled with ice , the cooler becomes entirely waterproof. The pressure inside the cooler creates a seal similar to when I first unboxed the cooler.

Product Description

Other Options We Tested

Best Ice Coolers for Camping
  • Engel 65 High Performance Hard Cooler: This is a solid cooler with bear-resistant construction and a hefty capacity. And its UV-resistant colors are a plus. However, it lacks wheels, making transport a bit more of a challenge.
  • Cotopaxi Helio Cooler Bag: We love the colorful design of this soft cooler, and the padded shoulder strap makes carrying it a snap. It also did a great job on our insulation test. But there are some issues with construction: The fabric and zipper leaked liquid, and both were heavily damaged in a drop from only table height.
  • Igloo Ecocool Latitude 52-Quart Cooler: This capacious cooler holds a huge amount for its price. We weren’t quite able to cram in the 85 cans it claims, but we did manage five dozen. The main problem is that its lid doesn’t have a latch or any way of sealing closed. If the cooler gets tipped over, the lid pops right open and spills the entire contents.
  • Polarbox Pop 21 Quart Cooler: This cooler’s retro style and pastel color options are attractive, but we found that the top doesn’t seal perfectly and leaks liquid, which also made it not perform very well on the insulation test.

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