YETI Tundra coolers for camping

10 Best Camping Coolers in 2017

Camping coolers are one of the most versatile pieces of outdoor gear. Whether storing meals for a week-long car camping trip or just keeping drinks cold for a backyard barbecue, our cooler is the piece of equipment we use the most. Although coolers are easy to find, the features and costs vary wildly. Spending the time to pick a cooler with the features most important to you is worth the time and effort since a durable cooler can last for decades.

This quick overview of the best coolers for camping gives you a basic idea of which coolers are leading the way in the camping world, with more detailed info on each cooler later in the article. But if you really want to understand what to look for in a great camping cooler then read on.

ProductCooler typeCapacitySizeCost
Yeti Tundra 35Hard shell chest25qt20x16 x15 in (51x41x38 cm)$$$
Orca 20 QuartHard shell chest20qt15x14x9 in (38x36x23 cm)$$
Cabela’s Polar Cap CoolerHard shell chest25qt26x17x17 in (66x43x43 cm)$$
Pelican Products ProGear Elite Wheeled CoolerHard shell chest with wheels45qt30x20x19 in (76x51x49 cm)$$$$
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker CoolerHard shell chest50qt34x18x17 in (86x46x43 cm)$$
Grizzly 40 CoolerHard shell chest40qt26x16x16 in (66x41x41 cm)$$$
Coleman 52 Qt. Xtreme CoolerHard shell chest52qt28x17x15 in (71x43x38 cm)$
RTIC 30 Soft PackSoft cooler30qt16x13x12 in (41x33x30 cm)$$
Yeti Hopper Two Portable CoolerSoft cooler20qt22x14x11 (56x36x28 cm)$$
Polar Bear 24-Pack Solar Series Soft CoolerSoft cooler24 cans + 10lbs of ice18x12x10 in (46x30x25)$

What to Look for in a Great Camping Cooler

Capacity and Weight

Most cooler specifications will list capacity in terms of quarts or cans. When comparing the interior capacity of coolers, don’t forget to factor in the space taken up by ice or cold packs. Choose a cooler that is just big enough for your most common uses. A cooler that is too big will be harder to transport and keep cool. It may be a better idea to purchase two smaller coolers than one extra large cooler for that reason.

Portability

How easy a cooler is to carry will matter more if you plan to carry your cooler after loading it with ice and food or drinks. Look for a cooler with secure handholds or comfortable straps. Another option entirely is to choose a cooler with wheels like the Pelican Products ProGear Elite Wheeled Cooler. If you need your cooler to stay put in a boat or truck bed, tie-down points are an absolute must. Soft coolers are the most portable option, but they will only keep food cool for a few days at most.

Cooling Time

A decent hard-shell cooler should keep food and drinks cold for at least three days. Some coolers, like the Yeti Tundra 35, boast up to 6 days of cooling time. As a general rule, coolers on the high end of the cooling range have much thicker insulation than those designed to keep ice frozen for just a few days. The extra insulation will cut into the interior capacity and add extra weight, however. Finding the perfect cooler is all about balancing size, weight, and cost.

Once you have narrowed down your must-have features, choose from one of these fantastic coolers:

The best camping coolers: hard shell

Yeti Tundra 35 camping cooler

Yeti Tundra 35

Yeti is the premier name in high-end coolers for good reason. Rubber latches and enclosed hinges mean your cooler lid won’t break off or shatter. Three inches of insulation and a freezer-quality gasket inside the lid will keep your food cold for close to a week in ideal conditions. The Tundra 35 can hold 20 full-sized cans and 28 pounds of ice. When empty, the cooler weighs over 17 pounds, so this is a great option if cooling time and durability are the most important features for you.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


ORCA 20 QUART PINK NWTF

Orca 20 Quart

A second durable option is the Orca 20 Quart, which also features shatter-proof rubber latches and a gasket seal. Although the Orca 20 Quart is extremely durable and keeps food cool for over 5 days, it also comes in a wide range of colours and designs. If you are looking for something other than the standard white or tan in a cooler, you might enjoy the 7 colour options ranging from green to bright pink. The large carrying handle is another unique feature of the Orca 20 Quart, making the cooler much easier for a single person to carry.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


cabelas camping cooler

Cabela’s Polar Cap Cooler

Cabela’s offers a high-end cooler with many of the same features as more expensive brands. Although their Polar Cap Cooler is not the least expensive cooler on the list, it does cost around 15% less than other similar coolers. The exterior of the cooler is durable enough to qualify as certified bear resistant and the interior is dry ice compatible. If you do opt to use regular ice, draining the cooler is made easy with a drain cap that comes off entirely.

Find the latest price on:
Cabela’s


Pelican Products ProGear Elite Wheeled Cooler

Pelican Products ProGear Elite Wheeled Cooler

The ProGear Elite Wheeled Cooler from Pelican Products is the only cooler on our list with built-in wheels for easy transport. Even unloaded, the cooler weighs over 30 pounds, so you will want to use this cooler in places with flat or paved terrain where you can utilize the wheels. Other thoughtful features include extra wide latches that can be opened with gloves on, cup holders in the lid, and a threaded plug that can be attached to a garden hose for easy draining and cleaning.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler

Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler

If you do a lot of fishing and hunting, the Yukon Cold Locker Cooler 50 from Igloo is a great option. The cooler is not only bear resistant but also features a slot on the lid for a padlock and a ruler right on the lid. The hinges are molded directly into the cooler and attached with a stainless steel bolt, making them extremely durable and shatterproof. The handles are also molded into the cooler so that the cooler is easier to carry. The molded handles do stick out from the side of the cooler quite a bit, however, which might be an issue if your gear space is limited.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Grizzly Coolers

Grizzly 40 Cooler

Another option if you want something with more personality is the Grizzly 40 Cooler, which comes in 8 different colours. Grizzly guarantees the cooler will be indestructible and bear proof for life. It comes with thick braided straps for easier carrying and mount points for tying it down. The drain plug on the Grizzly 40 is larger than most, making it quick to drain when you get home from a trip. Dry goods trays designed to fit at the top of the cooler are also available from the manufacturer for keeping things cool but out of any melted ice.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Coleman 52 qt. Xtreme Cooler 760

Coleman 52 Qt. Xtreme Cooler

The main advantage of Coleman’s 52 Qt. Xtreme Cooler is the cost. At just 1/4 of the cost of the pricier coolers on our list, you don’t have to commit to this cooler for life. The cooler only weighs 12 pounds empty, despite having a 52-quart capacity. Cup holders molded into the lid are extremely useful for providing another place to keep your drinks, which is especially helpful for primitive camping when there might not be a table at your campsite. This is an updated version of our first cooler that served us well through many years of camping trips and soccer games until we were ready for a more expensive cooler.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


The best camping coolers: soft coolers

Fisherman carrying camping cooler

Soft coolers, or cooler bags are an excellent choice for shorter trips and when you need to haul your chilled food and drinks a little further than just from your car to the tent. They are much lighter than hard shell chest coolers and are also easier to store when they’re not being used. If you don’t live in a super hot climate or tend not to spend more than a couple of days at a time camping out, then soft coolers are well worth looking at. They are also a fair bit cheaper than their hard shell cousins so are not such a huge investment.
RTIC Soft Camping Cooler

RTIC 30 Soft Pack

For short trips or days out at the beach or lake, a soft pack might be the best option. The RTIC 30 Soft Pack is tear resistant thanks to the heavy vinyl sides, which are sweatproof and includes an exterior pocket for storage. One problem with some soft coolers is how to fit large items through the opening; that is no problem with this cooler thanks to the lid that zips all the way around. Like all soft coolers, it won’t hold ice as long as a hard cooler, but it’s great for packing meals to and from work or short trips.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


YETI Hopper Portable Cooler

Yeti Hopper Two Portable Cooler

The Yeti Hopper Two Portable Cooler has all of the attention to detail Yeti is known for in a smaller package. In addition to a leak-proof zipper, the material is waterproof and mildew resistant. Tie down rings on the outside of cooler make it easy to keep in place while boating. If you are looking for a deal, the original Yeti Hopper costs 1/3 less than the Hopper Two, although the opening and straps were redesigned on the Hopper Two to make it easier to use and more comfortable to carry.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Polar Bear Coolers Solar Bear Series Soft Cooler

Polar Bear 24-Pack Solar Series Soft Cooler

The Polar Bear 24-Pack Solar Series Soft Cooler is a great option if you want a really excellent soft cooler at a lower price. Despite being no larger than most carry-on suitcases, the cooler can hold up to 24 standard cans. A bottle opener on the zipper and an outside zipper pocket are two features that give the cooler more versatility than even more expensive brands. Although it will only keep ice frozen for a day or two, the design of the cooler makes it easier to keep in place on a boat or the back of an ATV than a hard-shell cooler.

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Finding the right cooler for your needs can make your weekends more enjoyable. Whether you are looking for something with maximum chilling power or the most portable option, take a look at the outstanding coolers on our list. Once you find the right cooler for your needs, you will be one step closer to faster, easier trips.

You may also like

Open Menu