When you're shopping for a small cooler, you'll find there's no shortage of choices out there. But the best personal coolers have a capacity of about 22 cans (or 16 quarts), are easy to carry, and provide insulation and leak resistance on par with many of the larger models. In order to find the right one for your outing, you'll want to consider how you expect to use it.
If you're planning on packing a simple picnic or work lunch, you'll do well with a cooler that can hold about six to nine cans and keep items cold for at least seven hours. For overnight camping trips or long, hot beach days, a cooler with a capacity of 16 to 22 cans will offer ample space for refreshments as well as extra ice packs to help with temperature control. Some of the larger options below can provide more than 24 hours of portable refrigeration.
Consider coolers with multiple compartments and additional pockets if you want to consolidate your stuff, so you can keep your drinks on ice while having a separate space for room temperature snacks or other items like utensils.
Lastly, you'll want a cooler that's easy for you to carry, whether that means a traditional hard-shell model with a handle, a soft-shell tote with over-the-shoulder straps, or even an insulated backpack.
With all that in mind, read on for the best personal coolers — all of which are available on Amazon.
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 lunch bag cooler
Dimensions: 8.75 x 5.75 x 8.75 inches
Capacity: 6 cans
Like all Yeti coolers, this foldable lunch bag has excellent insulation. Made with cold cell foam, the bag has superior temperature holding power, while remaining lightweight and flexible. It features a leakproof design and has a waterproof outer lining, as well as a magnetic closure that locks in cold or heat for at least seven hours, according to Amazon reviewers. The cooler's nylon closure strap is adjustable, so you can resize it for a tighter fit when it's less full. And it's available in four colors, including navy and river green.
2. The basic hard-shell cooler
Dimensions: 16.73 x 12.8 x 11.22 inches
Capacity: 9 cans
This 7-quart Stanley cooler has double-wall foam insulation that keeps contents cold up to 27 hours, according to the brand. Reviewers found that it lasts even longer than that, with one writing "kept my food ice cold and half of my ice was still solid on the third day in the desert." The container's durable outer shell is made from high-density plastic and can withstand being knocked around. It also has leakproof gaskets and the top is fitted with an adjustable bungee system to secure a vacuum flask or, as one reviewer suggested, a small cutting board. The cooler comes in three colors: green, light gray, and red.
3. The collapsible cooler
Dimensions: 12 x 9 x 8 inches
Capacity: 16 cans
Made with lightweight and tear-resistant polyester fabric, the GigaTent cooler has a fully insulated interior, keeping contents cold for up to nine hours, according to reviewers. When not in use, the bag folds flat for easy storage. The leakproof cooler has a zipper closure, a keychain bottle opener, and an additional small pocket for personal belongings. Amazon reviewers were impressed with how well-made the cooler is, especially given its low price point. In addition to the gray and lime green design pictured above, it's also available with contrasting orange, black, and blue detailing, as well as in a camo print.
4. The backpack cooler
Dimensions: 17.7 x 13.0 x 7.5 inches
Capacity: 16 cans
In addition to keeping contents cold for up to 16 hours, this lightweight backpack cooler has a number of cool features that make it especially handy for day trips into the woods or to the beach. In addition to the insulated cooler compartment, the backpack has a separate dry compartment for snacks. There's also a front zipper pocket and two side mesh pockets for water bottles. The padded shoulder straps have a handy bottle opener and a zippered pocket big enough for a smartphone with a 4.7-inch screen. The backpack's outer lining is made of water-repellent Oxford nylon, and the inner insulation foam and liner form a leakproof barrier. Get this cooler in your choice of blue, black, or gray.
5. The meal prep cooler
Dimensions: 10.7 x 9.8 x 7 inches
Capacity: 3 cans (top compartment) plus 3 included glass containers (bottom compartment)
This cooler set comes with everything you need to take your pre-prepped meal to go. The soft-shell bag itself has two insulated, leakproof compartments. The bottom pocket is designed to perfectly fit all of the rectangular glass containers included in the set (two 12-ounce containers and one 35-ounce). All three are dishwasher-, oven-, and microwave-safe and come with leakproof lids. The top compartment can fit additional snacks and drinks. Though the brand doesn't specify how long the lunch bag keeps food cold, one reviewer wrote that leftovers were still chilled at the end of the day, when used with the included ice pack. This option comes in the gray featured above as well as in black.
6. The rolling cooler
Dimensions: 15.4 x 14.9 x 10.8 inches
Capacity: 22 cans
Most coolers with wheels are quite substantial in size, but this one from Coleman combines the convenience of a rolling cooler, with the practicality of a personal one. The plastic cooler is tall enough to fit up to three 2-liter bottles upright and can keep your items cold up to two days. The durable, telescoping handle has a molded grip to make it easier on your hands, and the recessed wheels are made to withstand rough terrain. Also available in blue, this hard-shelled container is a popular choice with weekend campers, as it's easy to haul from the car to the campground while carrying other gear.
7. The crossbody cooler
Dimensions: 13 x 8 x 11 inches
Capacity: 12 cans
With almost an inch of insulation, the Bison cooler bag will keep ice in tact for up to 24 hours (per the brand, the contents will even stay chilled in up 120 degree Fahrenheit heat). Though the liner is leakproof, the zipper closure is not, so it's best to keep the tote upright if you have melting ice inside. Available in four colors, the durable cooler has an additional outside pocket for dry goods or utensils, and it has a removable shoulder strap for crossbody carrying. It also comes with a keychain bottle opener.
8. The Bluetooth cooler
Dimensions: 12.2 x 13.8 x 15 inches
Capacity: 12 cans
The two Bluetooth speakers and subwoofer of this personal cooler provide up to eight hours of play time on one charge (rechargeable battery and micro USB cable included). Best of all, the cooler is compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled device, and you can even use the built-in USB port in the power bank to charge your device, too. The cooler is shock- and water-resistant, with one fan boasting they've taken it on several rafting trips.
In spite of all this, the cooler still only weighs 1.7 pounds when empty, and its adjustable shoulder strap makes for easy carrying. Though the brand doesn't specify how long you can expect your beverages to stay cold, one reviewer reported that it held ice intact for about 24 hours.
9. The insulated grocery bag
Dimensions: 14 x 13.5 x 5.5 inches
Capacity: 20 cans
Great for grocery store runs, the Activo tote has a roomy, insulated main compartment, as well as smaller exterior zip pockets for change or receipts. The outer polyester canvas fabric is made to last, and the internal insulated liner is waterproof and can be pulled closed with a drawstring for better temperature control. This one isn't designed to keep perishable items cold for as long as some of the other picks on this list, though one reviewer reported that their drinks remained chilled for 13 hours. Get this tote in navy, red, or black.