7 Best Coolers Worth Buying in 2024, According to Our Gear Editors

best coolers

Eli Schmidt

Best High-Capacity Cooler

Igloo 70-Qt Premium Trailmate Wheeled Rolling Cooler

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70-Qt Premium Trailmate Wheeled Rolling Cooler

Best High-Capacity Cooler

Igloo 70-Qt Premium Trailmate Wheeled Rolling Cooler

Now 11% Off

Credit: Eli Schmidt
Pros
  • Tackles sand and rough terrain with ease
  • Smart design maximizes volume
  • Durable with rugged good looks
  • Doubles as a bench seat
  • Butler tray included

If you’ve spent any time at the beach, you know there’s nothing worse than finding the perfect spot right before realizing you’ll have to lug a heavy, jam-packed cooler across a long stretch of soft sand to get there. No more, thanks to Igloo’s Premium Trailmate Wheeled/Rolling cooler. Its oversized wheels and metal stability bars are designed to tackle tricky, uneven surfaces like sand, gravel, dirt, and more. Think of it like the SUV of coolers. While it’s a little heavy at roughly 34 pounds empty, it sort of doesn’t matter with the built-in wheels.

The large, 70-quart capacity is spacious enough for all but the longest trips with the largest groups. A family of four can easily pack a weekend’s worth of food and beverages inside. Beyond “just” keeping your food cold, it also features a removable butler tray that adds a dash of class to your favorite beach spot or hilltop perch. There’s also a bottle opener and a dedicated dry storage area is great for stashing smartphones, wallets, or anything else you want to keep dry and away from moisture. Plus, we like the rugged good looks and the fact that it’s available in a handful of sharp colorways.

Construction Hard plastic
Capacity 70 quarts (112 cans)
Dimensions 34.6″ x 19.7″ x 23.6″
Weight 34.2 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Best Backpack Cooler

Engel BP25 25-Quart Roll-Top Backpack Cooler

BP25 25-Quart Roll-Top Backpack Cooler

Best Backpack Cooler

Engel BP25 25-Quart Roll-Top Backpack Cooler

Credit: ELI SCHMIDT
Pros
  • Ultra-portable, lightweight design
  • Padded back support and shoulder straps make for easy carrying
  • Closed-cell foam insulation all around
  • Easy-open, watertight roll-top closure
  • Holds up to 24 cans

If maximum portability is key, it doesn’t get any more portable than a backpack cooler. Engel’s BP25 is a roll-top model that’s lightweight (just 3.5 pounds empty!), yet plenty roomy. The 25-quart size has space for 24 12-ounce cans. Even fully loaded, the foam-padded back support and shoulder straps make this surprisingly comfortable for hauling your chilled goodies just about anywhere.

The design features a full inch of closed-cell foam insulation all around, ensuring your food and snacks keep cold for at least a full day. With waterproof fabric and a roll-top closure, it’s virtually guaranteed not to leak along the way. We like the clever, nice-to-have features Engel includes, too, like the built-in bottle opener and integrated D-rings, allowing you to lash lightweight gear and essentials to the exterior.

At almost $200, this is a pricey option for its size (especially compared to something like RTIC’s 32-quart hard-sided model above). But, this is hands-down the best solution if you value ease of transport above all else.

Read more: Best Camping Coolers

Construction Soft-sided
Capacity 25 quarts (24 cans)
Dimensions 14″ x 9″ x 20″
Weight 3.5 lbs
Warranty 1 year (limited)

Best Soft-Sided Cooler

Bison Coolers 24 Can XD Series SoftPak

24 Can XD Series SoftPak

Best Soft-Sided Cooler

Bison Coolers 24 Can XD Series SoftPak

Credit: Eli Schmidt
Pros
  • Soft and lightweight
  • Durable, leakproof, marine-grade construction
  • Stain-, fade-, and mildew-resistant fabric
  • Heavy insulation on all sides
  • Bottle opener and exterior lash points

Hard-side coolers have a lock on the best ice retention. But, if you’re looking for something more portable, soft-sided is the way to go. The Bison 24 Can XD Series SoftPak is made of soft, pliable polyester that’s ultra-lightweight yet extremely durable. The marine-grade fabric is resistant to stains, fading, mildew, and bacteria, making it a great option for boating and other high-humidity environments.

This model doubles the capacity of Bison Coolers’ 12 Can soft-sided coolers, with enough room for at least a day’s worth of food, snacks, and bevies. The design features almost an inch of insulation all around. Coupled with YKK zippers designed to keep cold air in and hot air out, this best-in-class cooler keeps ice for up to a full day, even in 120-degree heat.

We like that Bison includes a simple bottle opener, and sturdy straps on the rear of the cooler add more storage functionality for clipping small essentials to the outside. The only minor downside? Price. At $200, it’s an expensive option for a soft-sided cooler. Still, we think it’s a solid buy, especially knowing that you likely won’t have to buy a replacement for a very, very long time.

Construction Soft-sided
Capacity 24 cans
Dimensions 16″ x 11″ x 10″
Weight 3.6 lbs
Warranty 2 years

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Best Deal Cooler

Coleman 316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler (52qt)

316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler (52qt)

Best Deal Cooler

Coleman 316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler (52qt)

Credit: Eli Schmidt
Pros
  • Great bang for your buck (under $50)
  • Durable, hard plastic construction
  • Good ice retention
  • Lightweight, handled design is easy to carry
  • Available in sizes up to 150qt

Your grandpappy’s OG Coleman cooler hasn’t changed much since, well, ever. Strong latches, easy-carry handles, and a durable bench seat top still make the brand’s 316 Series cooler a solid option for all-day hangs at the beach, at camp, or chilling in your friend’s backyard.

The 52-quart model is perfect for most outings—not too big, not too small. It’s just right. Plus, it’s available in large and jumbo sizes up to 150 quarts. In any size, it’s surprisingly lightweight, with this smallest and most portable option tipping the scales at less than nine pounds empty. Simple folding grab handles make it a breeze for one person to transport, even when full.

The hard plastic shell is reasonably durable, especially for a sub-$50 cooler. It’ll handle occasional drops, bumps, and dings without issue. It’s plenty strong enough to support a couple hundred pounds to use as a bench seat. That same construction also provides reasonably good ice retention for days at a time. With proper ice management, you can expect to get up to four days of solid ice out of it. Our team did notice that the insulation’s effectiveness does taper down after the first 24 hours, so it doesn’t stay quite as cold after the first full day of use.

Still, this is a solid value cooler anyone can scoop at any time. Just don’t expect it to come with any fancy features or trust it will insulate very well past 24-36 hours. But, seriously, it’s $50. You can’t beat this price!

Construction Hard plastic
Capacity 52 quarts (80 cans)
Dimensions 25.6″ x 14.8″ x 16.5″
Weight 8.6 lbs
Warranty 1 year

Best Iceless Cooler

Oyster Tempo Cooler

Tempo Cooler

Best Iceless Cooler

Oyster Tempo Cooler

Credit: Eli Schmidt
Pros
  • Unique iceless design
  • Incredible cold/heat retention
  • Featherweight construction
  • Retro-cool good looks
  • 100% recyclable design with eco-friendly manufacturing
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Aluminum shell scratches and dings easily

Cooler technology hasn’t changed much in forever. So, Norwegian company Oyster decided to reinvent the wheel with the Tempo. It ditches traditional hard plastics for a clever vacuum-insulated design not unlike the one used in double-walled travel mugs for keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. The company claims the design is six times more efficient than high-end polyurethane alternatives. The result is a sleek aluminum cooler that feels a little bit retro, a little bit modern, and a whole lot “cooler” (get it?) than any of its competition. Bonus: The Tempo is also 100% recyclable!

By design, the aluminum shell is not only sleeker but significantly lighter than most old-school plastic coolers. By eliminating the ultra-thick insulated walls, it’s also much smaller on the outside, with plenty of room on the inside. It’s actually deceptively small for a cooler that can hold up to 36 cans with Oyster’s own ice packs. Speaking of, the “iceless” design might sound like a gimmick, but, trust us, it works incredibly well.

Oyster thought of everything with the Tempo. Clever design features include swappable carry methods. The included hard aluminum handle can easily be switched for a carry strap that’s far more comfortable for transporting over long distances. Plus, the lid can be opened from either side or removed completely for ultra-easy access to your snacks and beverages.

The Tempo’s two real downsides are price and durability. At $500, it’s more expensive than any comparably sized rotomolded cooler. The aluminum shell, though handsome, doesn’t quite hold up to dings and drops as well as its hard plastic brethren.

Read more: Best Beach Coolers

Construction Vacuum-insulated
Capacity 23L (36 cans)
Dimensions 20″ x 11⅞” x 12⅝”
Weight 12⅜ lbs
Warranty Lifetime

Best Wheeled Cooler

Yeti Roadie 48 Wheeled Cooler

Roadie 48 Wheeled Cooler

Best Wheeled Cooler

Yeti Roadie 48 Wheeled Cooler

Now 11% Off

Credit: Eli Schmidt
Pros
  • Virtually indestructible, bear-resistant construction
  • Solid, never-flat wheels
  • Strong retractable handle
  • Roomy interior with organization racks
  • Wine bottle compatible

Yeti’s iconic Roadie cooler has been a go-to favorite of ours for years now. The company found the only way to make it better: By boosting its capacity and adding wheels. The result is an ultra-tough, do-it-all wheeled cooler that is perfect for BBQs, camping, and, yes, even trips to the beach. The Neverflat wheels are impact- and puncture-resistant and probably the smoothest we’ve tested—they roll like butter on all types of terrain. Coupled with the retractable metal handle, it’s easy to reliably maneuver this cooler wherever you need it.

Capacity-wise, we found the 48 to be the most versatile size. It’s big enough for all-day outings, but compact enough that one person can carry (or wheel) it around. It fits up to 76 cans (without ice), and we love the interior racks for keeping food and bevvies (up to and including wine bottles) organized. Yeti also provides ice packs and a carrying rack for the Roadie, too. We tested the brand’s own ice packs and regular ice and found they seem to insulate similarly well. We also used the included interior rack to store food and discovered it was a smart way to keep it dry.

The only downside? Well, it’s a Yeti, after all, so … price. At $400, it’s an investment. But we’re firm believers in the “buy once, cry once” philosophy. If the Roadie 48 isn’t big enough, the Roadie 60 holds up to 98 cans for those long, multi-day outings.

Construction Rotomolded
Capacity 76 cans
Dimensions 19.8″ x 20.1″ x 20.6″
Weight 28.3 lbs
Warranty 5 years

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Best Lightweight Cooler

RTIC 32 QT Ultra-Light Cooler

32 QT Ultra-Light Cooler

Best Lightweight Cooler

RTIC 32 QT Ultra-Light Cooler

Now 45% Off

Credit: Eli Schmidt
Pros
  • Great price (under $200)
  • Lightweight, easy-carry design
  • Good color selection
  • Built-in bottle opener
Cons
  • Divider and add-on basket sold separately

Rotomolded coolers are awesome, but they’re also heavy, even when empty. RTIC’s made a name for itself with lightweight alternatives that weigh up to 30% less than traditional rotomolded options. Coupled with an O-ring, freezer-style gasket, and 2.5 inches of foam insulation on the 32-quart model, the design is still beefy enough to keep ice frozen for days.

We like that it’s available in a good variety of colors, including Trailblazer (pictured), Sage, and eye-popping Mardi Gras (purple and green). The Ultra-Light also comes with durable carrying handles, secure sealing latches, and a built-in bottle opener. Our only real beef is that it doesn’t ship with RTIC’s freezable divider and food basket—nice-to-haves that we wish the brand included in the purchase price. Still, it’s hard to complain about this cooler with a price tag of around $150. It’s a solid option if you like this rectangle style of cooler and you want to optimize keeping your gear lightweight.

Construction Rotomolded
Capacity 32 quarts (48 cans)
Dimensions 14.5″ x 23″ x 15.5″
Weight 21 lbs
Warranty 1 year

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What Brand of Cooler is the Best?

It all depends on what you’re planning to use it for. In general, you really do get what you pay for. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune (e.g., north of $300) to land a decent cooler for your warm-weather adventures. Mainstay brands like Igloo and Coleman make solid, reliable cooler models for $100 or less. If you don’t mind splurging, however, spending a few hundred dollars or more on Yeti, Bison Coolers, or Engel often means you may never need to buy another cooler again because they’re built (and often warrantied) for life.

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What Cooler Keeps Ice the Longest?

In general, rotomolded coolers are the best at keeping ice frozen the longest. Ultra-thick models from the likes of Yeti and Igloo are designed for multi-day outings. At a minimum (i.e., even if opening these coolers more often than usual), you can expect to get at least 72 hours of solid ice out of these coolers. With proper ice management—that is, paying close attention to how often and for how long you open your cooler—many of these coolers will keep ice for up to a week.

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Other Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Cooler

Ice Retention

A whole lot of physics goes into determining just how well a cooler will retain ice. Things like ambient temperature, the ratio of ice to cold goods, direct/indirect sunlight, how often you open the cooler, and—well, you get the gist. In general, a styrofoam cooler is good for 12 hours or less of ice retention. Soft-sided coolers are fine for up to a day. You’ll likely get up to two days of ice out of even the cheapest hard-sided plastic coolers when properly packed. For extended trips or those where high temperatures will be an issue, you’ll almost definitely want a high-end cooler that’s either rotomolded (like an RTIC or Yeti) or vacuum-insulated (like the Oyster Tempo).

Size and Capacity

Capacity is one of the most important things to consider when shopping for your personal best cooler. The right size really depends on what you’ll most frequently use your cooler for. Small coolers of less than 25 quarts are ideal for solo and day trips. They’re typically large enough to hold lunch for two, a few drinks, and a bag of ice or an ice pack. For weekend camping trips with small groups, look to medium-sized coolers (with a capacity of 35-50 quarts). Camping trips or trips with larger groups will likely need a large cooler with around 75 quarts of capacity. For extended trips with large groups, consider a cooler with a 100-quart or larger capacity. Many brands build their largest cooler models with built-in wheels, which makes transporting them (especially when full), much, much easier.

Other Cooler Features

Most coolers are pretty straightforward. They’re designed to keep your food and drinks cold for as long as possible and, well, that’s about it. But the best coolers add nice-to-have features that are sometimes worth spending more on. Consider things like built-in cupholders to help prevent spills, tie-down points for lashing the cooler to a vehicle or boat, and even an integrated bottle opener, so you never have to worry about finding a church key to crack a cold one.

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