The 7 best coolers for camping
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.
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
1. The basic one
This 16-quart Stanley cooler is perfectly sized for holding food and beverages for shorter outdoor excursions. Its interior features double-wall foam insulation that locks in the chill, keeping your items cold for up to 27 hours. The outer shell, which is constructed with high-density polyethylene, is extremely tough yet it looks sleek. The latches click open easily and the cooler itself is lightweight given its size (just 3.9 pounds).
The cooler has a convenient carry handle on top as well as strings to secure a thermos or water bottle. I had the chance to test this one out myself and I can vouch that it's as sturdy and long-lasting as it claims to be. It is also available in 7-quart and 10-quart sizes.
2. The roto-molded one
Constructed with extra tough polyethylene material that can hold up to 18 cans of beer or soda (and 12.5 pounds of ice), this 25-quart roto-molded cooler is one of the most durable options on this list. In addition to its ability to keep ice cold for a staggering 10 days, it boasts a slanted design that lets you open it to a 45-degree angle when it's backed against a wall (which makes it easier to dig in while it's in your car's trunk or other packed spaces).
The easy-flip latches are both secure and smooth to operate. I've tried this one out too and it ranks among my favorite camping coolers ever. In addition to the 25-quart size, it comes in 50-, 70-, and 110-quart models. Handy accessories such as bottle openers, drink dividers, and cutting boards are also available to purchase separately.
3. The budget one
This dependable Coleman is one of the best coolers for the money by far. With 800-plus reviews on Amazon, the budget option is popular among reviewers, many of which say it can keep ice cold for 12 hours if you pack it right. It's made from robust polyethylene that doesn't crack easily, and it can hold up to 36 cans at a time. What's more, it's extra tall so you can stand 2-liter bottles of soda in it upright.
"A sturdy basic item that's nice for the price," wrote one reviewer. "We went camping in very hot weather and it kept our perishables fridge cold with daily ice refills." A similar version of this cooler is also available in a bigger 48-quart size.
4. The fan favorite
Boasting more than 8,000 reviews on Amazon, this zipperless hardbody cooler is a favorite among reviewers. It keeps food and drinks cold via a reflective barrier that diverts heat and prevents it from penetrating the inside. The result is a cooler that maintains its chill for anywhere from 12 hours to several days, according to fans. In addition to its effectiveness in that realm, it has smartly designed features such as a removable shelf for organization and a lid that flips open so you don't have to hassle with a zipper. It also comes in 9-, 16-, and 48-can sizes.
5. The personal-sized one
This miniature lunchbox-style cooler comes in handy during camping trips, especially if you have day hikes or other adventures planned where you'll want to pack a lunch in your backpack. The ultra-durable YETI is lightweight yet it still does an excellent job of insulating your food. It's made with robust closed-cell foam that blocks any heat from getting in and the exterior is water-resistant. The cooler's Thermo-Snap closure system is magnetic which makes it easy to close — and it's super efficient, too.
Given the size, it doesn't have the same temperature retention as some of the bigger options on this list, but one reviewer noted that it keep items cold for seven hours when used with an icepack. I have this mini-cooler myself and I love its versatility as well as its convenience.
6. The one with a thermometer
Not only does this outdoorsy sports cooler do an amazing job of chilling your food and beverages (for up to five days, no less), but it also has a built-in thermometer integrated on the exterior, so you can monitor the temperature inside without even opening the lid. Made with tough polyethylene, this cooler has an anti-leak rubber gasket and it's tough enough to be dropped from up to 33 feet without cracking, according to the brand.
"I LIKE IT!" wrote one reviewer. "This white ice chest is built to last and to actually keep things cold for long time, and [remind] me to check the temperature. [...] Very high quality."
7. The one with wheels
For folks looking for a little extra convenience, this Igloo Wheelie is one of the best coolers with wheels out there, particularly for the price. Able to hold up to 56 canned beverages at a time, it's built with sturdy wheels that glide smoothly (even on dirt and rough roads), along with a reinforced towing handle. It has powerful Ultratherm insulation that gives it great cold-retention capabilities, along with side handles for easy lifting. One reviewer wrote that a similar version of this Igloo cooler lasted them 15 years, while another packed this cooler for a camping trip and wrote that there was still some ice in it on day three.