Whether you're lounging by the lake with chilled beverages or storing hot dogs for a nighttime wienie roast, a reliable cooler is an essential part of any camping trip. The best coolers for camping are typically extra durable and they can keep ice cold for a long time.
When it comes to exactly how long, there's a wide range of numbers out there. Cheaper options sometimes only keep items cold for a few hours, while higher-end models — particularly those with roto-molding — can insulate food or drinks for up to 10 days. Generally speaking, coolers meant for camping should stay cold for at least 12 hours.
As for durability, your cooler can get pretty roughed up while you're trekking around so this is especially important. Between getting knocked against picnic tables and exposed to heavy weather elements, you'll want something that can take a beating. Opt for selections with thick walls and robust designs, usually made from polyethylene or other similarly sturdy plastics.
Lastly, don't forget the smaller details. Do the lids open and close easily? Do they latch properly? How about the handles? Do you like them on the side or do you prefer the bucket-style options? Size and shape are important considerations too — how much stuff do you want to fit inside? Will you have tall items like wine bottles or two-liters of soda?
To help you out, I rounded up the best coolers for camping, some of which I even tested myself. Take a look below to find the best fit.
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