The 6 Best Coolers to Take Cold Drinks Wherever You Go This Summer
The best coolers are durable, portable and designed with outdoor fun in mind.
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Summer is the season for enjoying warm weather and taking advantage of outdoor gatherings with family and friends. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or an evening dinner party around the patio table, a reliable cooler is a must-have item to keep your drinks and snacks chilled to perfection. With countless options available online, finding the best coolers can be a daunting task. To help you make an informed decision, we researched the top coolers available to elevate your summer entertaining game.
The Best Coolers
- Best Overall: Coleman 316 Series Insulated Cooler
- Best Budget: Igloo Special-Edition 25-Quart Cooler
- Best Splurge: Yeti Tundra 105 Hard Cooler
- Best Hard: Igloo Thermoelectric Iceless Electric Plug-In Cooler
- Best Soft: Hydro Flask 20-Liter Insulated Tote
- Best Backpack: Maelstrom Cooler Backpack
Best Overall Cooler
Coleman 316 Series Insulated Cooler
Coleman has been making outdoor recreation products for well over a century, and the company has just about perfected its cooler designs. Take this classic insulated cooler, for instance. It’s so well insulated that ice stored inside can last up to five days without melting.
While the wheels and handle attached to the body of the cooler aren’t especially high-tech, they’re certainly effective and easy to use. Another plus? The cooler is durable enough to do double duty as a bench-style seat for outdoor gatherings—it supports up to 250 pounds. It also comes with a handy drain plug and fits up to 101 cans.
- Ice lasts up to five days
- Fits up to 101 cans
- Heavy-duty wheels
- Built-in cup holders
- Stain-resistant liner
- Not ideal for small parties
Best Budget Cooler
Igloo Special-Edition 25-Quart Cooler
Some of the best coolers available online are surprisingly affordable. This 25-quart cooler from Igloo offers a high-quality product at a price that won’t break the bank. It features molded side handles, impact-resistant hinges and an insulated interior large enough to hold up to 36 cans. As an added bonus, the cooler’s picnic basket-sized construction is fun and fashionable, and it comes in several vintage-inspired colorways.
- Has an eco-friendly insulation
- Durable construction
- Colorful, fashionable design
- Not as well-insulated as some other models
Best Splurge Cooler
Yeti Tundra 105 Hard Cooler
If you want to throw a big outdoor bash, you’re going to need a cooler large enough to handle the job. Fortunately, the 105 Hard Cooler from Yeti is sized to accommodate several dozen guests. And, because the cooler is taller than it is deep, it fits neatly inside a car with limited cargo space.
Beyond its size and capacity, the Tundra’s chief selling point is its high-quality rotomolded construction, making it virtually indestructible. It also features anchor point tie-down slots that make it easy to attach to a boat or trailer, as well as a leak-proof drainage system for quick and seamless water removal. There are also nonslip grippers on its feet so you don’t have to worry about it sliding around in the back of your vehicle on your next road trip.
- High-quality rotomolded construction
- Fits 139 cans or 93 pounds of ice
- Bear-proof design
- Hard-bodied exterior
- Five-year warranty
- Big and bulky
Best Hard Cooler
Igloo Thermoelectric Iceless Electric Plug-In Cooler
Most coolers require ice cubes or freezer packs, but not this hard-bodied electric cooler from Igloo. It’s powered by a 12-volt DC auto plug (so you can use it in a car’s cigarette lighter) that’s capable of cooling the interior down to 38 degrees Fahrenheit below the ambient temperature. It’s ideal for keeping food cold during camping trips, and can be used upright (like a refrigerator) or horizontal (like an ice chest).
- Durable polypropylene exterior
- Adjustable interior shelf
- Has an 8-foot-long power cord
- Quiet brushless motor
- Cools without ice taking up room
- Requires electricity
Best Soft Cooler
Hydro Flask 20-Liter Insulated Tote
The best coolers aren’t always the biggest. Sometimes you just need a cooler large enough to accommodate a few drinks or a picnic lunch for two. That’s when this insulated tote comes in handy. The cooler’s soft-sided construction is lightweight and portable, which also makes it helpful for grocery store trips if you have a long drive home with freezer items.
There’s a fully-lined interior with welded seams for easy cleanup. The colorful exterior features a durable coated waterproof fabric, water-resistant zippers and an easy-access pocket for essentials. A sturdy base allows for unsupported self-standing, so you can set it and forget it while you entertain outdoors.
- Made of waterproof, durable fabric
- Fully lined interior with welded seams
- Bisphenol A (BPA)- and toxin-free
- Five-year warranty
- Not ideal for larger groups
Best Backpack Cooler
Maelstrom Cooler Backpack
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who loves hiking or camping, then this cooler backpack is a must-have item for your next adventure. Its durable nylon exterior is not only waterproof, but also designed to withstand the rugged terrain of the great outdoors. The interior is leak-proof and expertly insulated, ensuring that your food stays hot or cold for up to 16 hours.
The backpack comes with a host of features that make it the ideal accessory for outdoor dining, too. It includes an integrated bottle opener and several zippered pockets to accommodate cutlery or other essential outdoor picnic accessories. Perhaps most importantly, the backpack is ergonomically designed with well-padded shoulder straps and a comfortable back panel, making it easy to wear for extended periods of time.
- Ergonomic, comfortable design
- Adjustable, breathable and padded shoulder straps
- Waterproof exterior and leak-proof interior
- Keeps food and drinks hot or cold for 16 hours
- Five color options
- Not ideal for larger groups
What to Consider When Buying a Cooler
Sure, they seem straightforward enough, but the best coolers are so much more than just a utilitarian box built to store food or beverages. There are several factors to consider before buying one.
First, think about how big you want the cooler to be. Make sure the option that you choose is large enough to serve all of your guests, but not so large that you’ll have trouble lugging it around. And be sure to factor in the cooler’s overall dimensions—not just its total capacity. Wine bottles fit neatly inside taller models, for example, but shallow coolers are handier for larger parties, because guests can quickly reach what they’re looking for.
Next, consider both portability and durability. In general, soft-sided coolers are slightly easier to carry, which makes them ideal for beach excursions and camping trips. Hard-bodied coolers are typically heavier and bulkier, but they’re also darn-near indestructible, and can last for years.
How We Found the Best Coolers
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
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