With so many on the market, it can be hard to narrow down your options. So here’s a list of the 5 best coolers for camping…
Whether you love epic road trips or trekking out over rugged terrain to an isolated camping spot, you need a good cooler. In fact, you need a great cooler.
The good news is that there are tons of high-quality coolers on the market. Many options can keep your food cold for the long haul, keeping ice frozen for up to a few days or even a week!
High-quality coolers can make your life much easier on your next camping trip. Many are roomy, made from good quality materials, and will save you multiple trips to buy ice.
As expected, the highest quality comes with a high price, but there are good affordable options, too. The following outlines what you should look for in a good camping cooler. Then, I offer my top picks, including the best budget cooler you can find.
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Types of Coolers
There are many different coolers on the market.
Soft coolers are made from an insulated, but pliable soft material. They are usually made for day-use since they keep food fresh for a few hours. They work well for a picnic lunch or day out sightseeing.
Soft coolers are also usually carried using a shoulder strap and are typically not made to hold open ice but frozen “blue ice” packs. They are not used as a primary camping cooler but are great to have stashed for those little day trips when camping.
Hard coolers are the focus of this post, so you will not find advice on finding the best backpack coolers or the best soft cooler here today.
Instead, I am focusing on coolers for longer camping trips and RV road trips. I have taken a look at several excellent, high-quality hard coolers that can keep your food fresh for many days. Some even boast of keeping ice frozen for more than two weeks, but that has to be in the exact right conditions.
A hard-sided ice chest is a well-insulated, durable cooler that makes a great option for camping.
Features to Look for in Camping Coolers
When it comes to high-end coolers, they usually have great extra features. The following are some to look for when shopping around.
Another important factor in choosing the right cooler is to look for one with thick insulation. Many coolers offer extra-thick walls and insulated lid. That extra insulation can mean the difference of a few days in cooling capacity.
Comfortable handles are an often overlooked feature when it comes to heavy-duty coolers. You don’t want to rub your hands raw when trying to maneuver a filled, portable cooler.
Look for stainless steel handles or others made from durable, yet easy to hold, materials.
Size and Capacity
The perfect size cooler has enough space to house the contents for the number of people you are traveling with plus ice or cooling packs, and that’s it. When it comes to RV travel and camping, you don’t want an excessive-sized cooler weighing you down or taking up too much space. Plus, tightly packed coolers will stay colder for longer.
Just keep in mind that the high-quality coolers are usually significantly smaller on the inside than they appear on the outside. That’s because they have thick walls of insulation. So be sure to look at internal space, not just the dimensions of the cooler.
Another one of the important features to look for is all-terrain wheels with non-skid feet or non-slip feet. In most cases, it’s much preferred to pull a heavy ice chest than lift it!
No, I am not calling a bear a “critter.” But, if you get a bear-proof cooler (or at least bear-resistant), then it should also be safe against other critters as well.
A styrofoam cooler, for instance, or one with a too-easy-to-remove lid will likely be an easy target for critters. Raccoons and squirrels are frequent visitors of campsites and learn what they can break into.
In addition to the features previously mentioned, you might also like the following:
- drain plugs (I think these are a must!)
- shoulder strap
- cup holders
- bottle opener
- tie-down slots / tie-down points
- rubber latches
The 5 Best Camping Coolers
The following are my top choices when it comes to excellent, high-quality camping coolers.
Yeti Tundra 75 Hard Cooler (So Cold!)
Yeti Tundra coolers are known for their rugged durability, but they are expensive coolers.
This large cooler keeps food fresh by featuring two-inch thick, insulated walls made with commercial-grade foam insulation. Its outer shell is made from rotomolded construction, making it a truly durable beast of a cooler!
It will keep ice frozen for days and even when it melts, the water is frigid for another day or so.
If you love Yeti but not their price tag, check out these Coolers Like YETI but Cheaper.
Igloo Trailmate Journey Cooler (All-Terrain)
This Igloo cooler is designed for all-terrain. You can take this over sand dunes, dirt tracks, or grassy areas.
This cooler can hold up to 70 quarts of food and drinks. It has extra features including a bottle opener, cup holders, exterior storage pocket, and a butler tray. Sounds like a glamping cooler to me!
Rovr Rollr 80 Cooler (All-Terrain)
This is another great all-terrain cooler, offering easy transport out of all the cooler brands. It has all-terrain tires, and a large pull handle constructed from aluminum.
In addition, it features dual motocross grips that fold down when they are not being used.
It also has other removable features, such as non-skid feet, rubber latched, handle, and airtight gasket. That makes replacing parts a breeze, meaning that you can use this cooler for years to come.
Coleman Xtreme 50 Quart, 5-Wheeled Cooler (Budget-Friendly!)
The Coleman Xtreme is my top pick for the best budget cooler. It comes at a great price and is excellent for a shorter camping trip.
It features extra insulation to keep food cold for up to five days. Its molded handles make it easier to maneuver and it features four cup holders right in the lid. That means it can easily double as a convenient side table to help facilitate your relaxation!
Dometic CFX3 75 Dual Zone Powered Cooler (Take it to the Extreme)
This amazing cooler is an honorable mention. That is because this is a temperature-controlled, powered cooler with a 75-liter capacity. It even has dual-zones for fridge and freezer sections. Talk about a powerful cooler!
It’s really more of a portable refrigerator, which means it comes with a hefty price tag. But man, is it cool (literally and figuratively)!
Made from heavy-duty, yet lightweight and durable materials, this machine can offer precise cooling to as low as -7 degrees. It includes options for solar power and AC/DC and can be controlled using an app on your phone.
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