Coolers are man’s best-ever camp-friendly invention, second only to campfires and hammocks. Whether car camping or overnighting in the backcountry with your best camping gear, nothing elevates your outdoor game like a cold beverage plucked from a perfectly packed cooler. If you’re in the market for a new top-notch cooler, here are our picks for the best coolers for camping.
Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler
As arguably the best camping cooler brand in the world, Yeti has long been a standard of the industry. Its best premium coolers boast class-leading ice retention, legendary reliability, and a near-bulletproof, bear-resistant design. For car campers who needn’t worry about weight, the Tundra 65 Cooler is a beast of a cooler with enough room for a long weekend’s worth of beer and groceries. Sure, it’s almost $500, but sometimes you just have to “buy once, cry once,” as the saying goes. This one may be the last camp cooler you ever need to buy.
RTIC 52-Quart Hard Cooler
Even when empty, the best coolers on the market are heavy. Add 20 pounds of ice and a few 12 packs, and they can be downright back-breaking to transport. RTIC’s 52 Quart Ultra-Light Cooler is an extreme cooler with the same 10-day ice retention as its more expensive competitors. But, what sets it apart is the unique injected-molded design that cuts 30% of the weight from traditional roto-molded coolers. The 52-quart capacity is plenty spacious while weighing just over 20 pounds empty.
Hydro Flask 20L Day Escape Cooler
Cheap backpack coolers do two things well: (A) They let ice melt and (b) they leak, typically in that order. Hydro Flask's Day Escape backpack cooler is the kind of camp cooler we'd make ourselves: It's built from super-durable TPU-coated nylon, is 100% waterproof and leakproof (it's even got watertight zippers), and is surprisingly supportive and comfortable to carry. It's properly insulated (keeps ice-cold for up to 36 hours) and features a compression-molded base, so you don't have to worry about it falling over when you set it down.
Coleman 150-Quart Marine Ice Chest Cooler
For hardcore car camping, you need a serious ice chest. Coleman delivers with the massive Marine Hard Ice Chest Cooler. The 150-quart capacity is designed for all-day fishing charters, but it works just as well as an ice chest for weekend
Nixon Wizard Stick Beverage Sling
For solo campers and those who demand the ultimate in cooler portability, there’s Nixon’s Wizard Stick. It’s a compact “beverage sling” with exactly enough room for a six-pack. The unique design allows for stacking cans end to end, so everything stays tightly packed with no slippage while out on the trail. This one’s best for quick outings where packability is paramount.
Otterbox Trooper 20 Cooler
For day hikes and quick overnighters, Otterbox’s Trooper 20 Cooler is an ideal solution. The compact design measures roughly 14 x 17 x 10 inches with a padded shoulder strap that makes for easy transport, even into the backcountry. Premium thermal insulation and TPU-coated nylon ensure up to three days of ice retention, and a built-in bottle opener makes quick work of your favorite beer after you make camp.
REI Co-op Cool Haul 24
Not every weekend camp trip requires $200 worth of groceries and booze. REI Co-op’s Cool Haul 24 is an excellent soft-sided cooler alternative for shorter jaunts and overnight stays where a small stash of chilled food and beverages will do. At 28 liters, it’s large enough to keep 24 cans and ice chilled below 40 degrees F for almost three full days.
Herschel Little America Pro Insulated Backpack Cooler
Coolers don’t always need to look like coolers. Herschel brings a dash of panache to traditional outdoor gear design with its Little America Backpack Pro. Billed as a “picnic in a bag,” it’s roomy enough for your most essential food and beverages. Fully packed, it’s capable of toting up to 32 standard cans. Plus, we appreciate the wide variety of modern colors and patterns available.
Hydro Flask Insulated Cooler Tote
For the shortest trips -- say, camping at the beach -- Hydro Flask’s Collapsible Insulated Cooler Tote is designed to chill everything you need and nothing you don’t. The 20-liter capacity is only as big as it needs to be. Welded seams and a fully lined interior ensure this soft-sided cooler keeps contents cold or hot for up to four hours.
Tourit Cooler Backpack 30
Of course, buying a decent cooler shouldn’t mean shelling out more than $400. At less than $30, Tourit’s Cooler Backpack 30 is the most affordable on this list, but it doesn’t scrimp on key features. The insulated, leakproof liner keeps food hot or cold for up to 16 hours -- more than enough for overnight camping in the backcountry. Multiple pockets also allow for easily organizing your cool bottle openers, utensils, and other kitchen essentials.
If your outdoor adventures are more water-centric, check out our top picks for the best floating coolers for kayaking, beachgoing, and beyond.
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