Whether you’re roughing it in the woods or set up with a nice tent on a national park campground, you’re going to need a cooler to store your perishables (and hopefully, keep your drinks cold!). But what’s the best camping cooler? We’ve taken the liberty of digging into that question and come up with the top coolers for camping of 2021.
Our Top Picks: Best Coolers for Camping
Here’s a quick overview of our favorite coolers:
- Best Overall: YETI Tundra 45. With a range of sizes, up to 10 days of frozen ice, heavy-duty rubber gaskets, indestructible hinges, and eight color options, there’s nothing not to love about the YETI Tundra 45.
- Best Budget: Coleman Xtreme 5-Day 70. At a fraction of the cost of other coolers without sacrificing performance, the Coleman Xtreme offers some “Xtreme” savings.
- Best Eco-Friendly: Igloo BMX 52-Quart Cooler. This eco-friendly cooler features sustainable insulation that is “50 times better” than California Air Resource Board standards.
- Best With Wheels: Pelican Elite Coolers with Wheels. For longer trips with more to bring, the all-terrain wheels on this cooler are a must-have.
- Best for Car Camping: ORCA 58-Quart Cooler. Whether it’s a long road trip or an overnight trip, this cooler is easy to pack and comes with exterior storage for easy access to the essentials.
- Best for Singles: YETI Roadie 24 Cooler. If it’s just you and the great outdoors, don’t forget the YETI Roadie, the perfect size for one.
- Best Durable: Pelican 70-Quart Elite Cooler. While many coolers are bear-resistant, are they virtually indestructible?
1. YETI Tundra 45
The best coolers overall
Brand: YETI | Capacity: 45 Quarts | Weight: 25lbs | Ice Retention: Up to 10 Days | Price: 💰💰💰
YETI is one of the most well-known producers of outdoor equipment, and that includes their world-famous coolers. The Tundra Series comes in a range of sizes. The one we’re featuring today has a capacity of 45 quarts— or about 26 cans of beer with the recommended two-to-one ice-to-drink ratio. There’s also a dry-goods basket to help keep crispy foods safe from ice and water. Three full inches of PermaFrost insulation, in addition to the extra-tick FatWall design, ensure that your ice stays ice for up to 10 full days, depending on the temperature outside.
The T-Rex lid features heavy-duty rubber gaskets to extend ice retention, with rubberized anti-bust latches and interlocking hinges designed to withstand years of abuse. The military-grade polyester rope makes up both the Doublehaul handles for easy carrying no matter how full you’ve packed it. You can also carry via the Lipgrip handles integrated into the sides of the cooler. Anchorpoint tie-down slots molded into the cooler’s design make it easy to secure to your car, boat, trailer, or truck bed.
If all that wasn’t enough, choose from eight gorgeous color options to suit your personal preference!
- Amazing ice retention, even with multiple openings per day
- Unlike “grocery store” coolers, the lid, hinges, and closing latches will never break off
- Incredibly durable to withstand rough-and-tumble outings in addition to bear attacks
- Pretty heavy when empty, so even heavier when full
- A little pricey compared to other brands, but reportedly well worth every penny
2. Coleman Xtreme 5-Day 70
The best coolers for camping on a budget
Brand: Coleman | Capacity: 70 Quarts | Weight: 12lbs | Ice Retention: Up to 5 Days | Price: 💰
For those of us who can’t afford to drop a couple hundred dollars on the YETI Tundra (or any YETI, for that matter), worry not! The Coleman Xtreme 5-Day 70 is here to save the day. This wallet-friendly alternative is a fraction of the cost of popular camping cooler brands, but will still get the job done. Integrated insulation in the lid and cooler helps keep ice frozen for an advertised five days. However, most reviewers agreed that this number is more realistically closer to three to four.
The interior of the cooler is spacious and can handle up to 100 cans of your favorite brew. There are also four cup holders molded into the lid to keep your drink safe and prevent spilling. Unlike some bulkier coolers, the Coleman Xtreme is incredibly lightweight at just under 12 pounds empty. Along with the folding handles, it’s “Xtreme”-ly easy to carry. When closed (and with no cups on top), the cooler can support up to 250 pounds, so feel free to have a seat!
- Large interior capacity
- Doubles as a seat with 250-pound weight capacity
- Medium-grade ice retention for less than half the cost of other brands
- Definitely not as durable as other coolers
- No baskets or dividers are included for organization
3. Igloo BMX 52-Quart Cooler
The best eco-friendly cooler
Brand: Igloo | Capacity: 52 Quarts | Weight: 16lbs | Ice Retention: Up to 5 Days | Price: 💰💰
For the environmentally-conscious camper, check out Igloo’s new insulation, called Thermecool Insulation. Manufactured in the USA, this insulation comes in every Igloo cooler. It is “50 times better for the environment than the California Air Resource Board (CARB) standards.” According to the information on Igloo’s website, “in 2020 alone, Igloo’s change to Thermecool insulation will have a net effect similar to removing over 86,000 cars from American roads for a year!”
And if that isn’t enough to convince you, don’t forget all the other unique features of the Igloo BMX, including its heavy-duty, blow-molded construction, reinforced base, rubberized T-grip latches, threaded drain plug, elevated Cool Riser technology, and UV inhibitors.
- Ruler design on the lid lets you measure your catch with ease
- Rust-resistant stainless-steel hinge rods and hardware built to last
- Lightweight construction is still incredibly durable and sealed for proper ice retention
- No food basket or dividers are included for organization
- The tie-downs are a part of the lid, rather than the body. You can’t open the cooler when it’s tied down
4. Pelican Elite Coolers with Wheels
The best camping cooler with wheels
Brand: Pelican | Capacity: 45 Quarts | Weight: 37lbs | Ice Retention: Up to 10 Days | Price: 💰💰💰💰
Perhaps the second-most famous brand of cooler on the market is Pelican. When it comes to price, performance, and durability, Pelicans are pretty evenly matched with YETIs, leaving the choice between the two up to the individual camper. But, when it comes to the best camping cooler with wheels, the Pelican Elite stands out. The heavy-duty wheels can traverse rough, rocky terrains just as well as smoothed, paved ones, so you can bring your cooler with you wherever you go. The trolley-style handle makes it easy to lug behind you with one hand, or you can lift the entire thing with the integrated handles on both sides.
In addition to the wheels, the Pelican Elite coolers also come with the features you need from your camping cooler. This includes an extra-wide latch that can open even while wearing gloves, a threaded drain plug for garden hose draining and cleaning, an integrated cup holder, and even a stainless-steel bottle opener!
- Trolley-style handle pivots for more directional control
- Wheels make it easy to transport over longer distances
- Freezer-grade gasket keeps ice frozen for up to 10 days
- Even with the wheels, the cooler is heavy at 37 pounds when empty
- Some reviewers noted they received defective products, but seemed to have an okay time getting replacements from Pelican customer service
5. ORCA 58-Quart Cooler
The best car camping cooler
Brand: ORCA | Capacity: 58 Quarts | Weight: 34lbs | Ice Retention: Up to 10 Days | Price: 💰💰💰💰
When it comes to camping in your car, no one does it better than the ORCA. This roto-molded, lockable cooler is made in the US of A and comes with a limited lifetime warranty, so you know ORCA is willing to back up their claims. Padded Flex Grip Handles make it easy and comfortable to carry around, even at its moderate 34-pound weight, but what makes this cooler especially suited for car camping is the exterior mesh storage pocket that can be accessed while the cooler is closed. This gives you easy access to your non-refrigerated snacks.
Plus, the 10-Day ice retention claim supposedly holds true even with frequent, daily opening, meaning you can sift through the cooler as often as you need during your road trip without worrying about losing your cool.
If that isn’t enough, every single ORCA cooler purchase contributes to conservation efforts throughout the United States!
- Flat bottom and all four sides make it easy to slot into place in your trunk
- Sealing gasket keeps ice frozen for days at a time, even with frequent opening
- Exterior mesh pouch is perfect for everything from granola bars to a bottle opener
- No organizational baskets or dividers are included
- The width of the cooler makes it awkward to carry alone, though easy with two people
6. YETI Roadie 24 Cooler
The best coolers for one
Brand: YETI | Capacity: 24 Quarts | Weight: 16lbs | Ice Retention: Up to 5 Days | Price: 💰💰
Sometimes, you need a private getaway in the great outdoors. On such solo trips, be sure to grab the YETI Roadie 24. This personal cooler is much smaller than other models on our list, but in this case, it’s an advantage. At just 16 pounds, you can easily carry this by yourself and move it around your campsite without strain. The spacious interior is still enough to hold up to 24 pounds of ice or 18 cans of beer at a 2:1 ice-to-can ratio. Like all YETI coolers, this baby is built to last. Featuring its rotomolded construction, polyurethane foam insulation, thick rubber latches, integrated hinges, and freezer-style rubber gasket keeps ice frozen for days on end. Non-slip feet ensure the cooler stays where you put it, while the four individual tie-down points mean you can secure it to whatever you need to.
As with all YETI coolers, the Roadie is certified as Bear-Resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
- Quicklatch locking system for easy, one-handed access
- 13-inch internal height to fit a standard bottle of wine as well as two-liter soda bottles
- PermaFrost insulation keeps ice frozen for up to five days at a time, perfect for a private adventure
- Fairly expensive for a personal cooler
- There’s no drain, so you have to tip the cooler over to empty it
7. Pelican 70-Quart Elite Cooler
The most durable camping cooler
Brand: Pelican | Capacity: 70 Quarts | Weight: 33lbs | Ice Retention: Up to 10 Days | Price: 💰💰💰💰
While many of the coolers on our list meet the requirements for bear-resistance, sometimes you need something even more heavy-duty. Enter the Pelican 70-Quart Elite cooler. This behemoth is, of course, certified bear-resistant, but has a bunch of additional features designed to protect your food and drink, like the integrated combination lock attachment point. The massive press-and-pull latches mean you can open the cooler even with thick gloves on. The dual-stage locking mechanism means no accidental seal breakage. When it comes to the interior, two-inch polyurethane insulation easily keeps ice frozen for up to 10 days, so you won’t have to make a special trip just for ice. Other great features include the overmolded handles that make it comfortable to carry and the four self-draining cup holders that won’t accumulate condensation.
- Anti-skid feet keep the cooler in place
- Slanted drain makes emptying the cooler even easier
- Combination lock attachment point means no unwanted fingers snitching your snacks
- The fixed handles make it easy to carry but take up extra space in the car
- Weighs in at over 30 pounds, meaning you may need two people to carry it
What to Look for in the Best Coolers for Camping
There are many different questions that might come up as you consider which camping cooler to get. Like, what’s the best size cooler for camping? Or maybe, what’s the best camping cooler brand? Unfortunately, the answers aren’t as simple as we might like them to be.
The best size cooler for camping depends on what you’re going to use it for — if you have a large family, you’ll want a higher capacity. If it’s just you, you can go with something smaller. And there are lots of brands out there worth looking at, though the most well-known is YETI.
The most significant things you’ll want to keep in mind as you look are these:
- How many people will need to store food/drinks in this cooler? Do you need a high capacity cooler, or something smaller?
- Where will you be camping? Do you need a lighter weight, more compact cooler so you can get it where you’re going?
- How long will you be camping? Will you have access to ice for refills, or do you need the cooler to keep your first batch of ice frozen for days on end?
For this guide on coolers for camping, our team spent # hours researching the most popular options from over # brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about # user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each cooler. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 coolers for camping on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.
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