While there are many reasons to find yourself a new, durable cooler (mostly having to do with keeping food and drinks cold), the main reason is so you don’t have to go out and buy another one a couple years down the road. Plain and simple: there is no room for pinching pennies when looking for the best coolers.
We aren’t saying you should go out and get a cooler just to have one, but we are suggesting that you keep in mind the purpose, longevity, and functionality of what you’re purchasing. If you need something personal for tabling events, a short weekend camping trip, or tailgaters, it’s unnecessary to pack a 65 quart cooler along with you.
On the contrary, if you’re taking a family trip for an extended period of time, you can’t just go swoop any old cooler off the shelf at Walmart. A dollar here or a dollar there could be the difference between your cooler giving you a day or two of ice cold freshness and happiness, or a seemingly long, bitter trip filled with non-perishable foods and lukewarm beer.
Now, finding the cooler that’s just the right for all your needs isn’t easy. So we’ve compiled a round-up of the best coolers on the market to assure your daily needs and summer deeds are met with success.
Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler $104
Coleman’s a well recognized name in the cooler game — and although their Steel Cooler isn’t tough enough to fend off a bear from satisfying his hunger — it’s the coolest cooler for your buck, and it gets the job done in regards to keeping your food and drinks at optimal temperatures. The 54-quart cooler boasts a carrying capacity of 85 beers and is made from solid stainless steel ,which aids in the prevention of corrosion, leaks, and rust to your cooler. It also features rubber-gripped handles to help during transport.
Canyon Coolers 22-Quart Outfitter Series $140
Canyon Coolers has claimed that their Outfitter Series of ice boxes are “colder than Yeti,” boasting the ability to retain ice for an insane duration of six to 18 days. Whether the “colder than” claim is true or not, the 35-quart container from Canyon Coolers will successfully keep your goods cold and fresh, and at a fraction of the price. It’s made of the same plastics as Yeti coolers — high-impact polyurethane, which is also used in kayak manufacturing — which means it’s just as durable and bear proof as the best coolers out there. And if it doesn’t hold up to par, Canyon Coolers offers a lifetime warranty on their products.
Marine Ultra Glide 110 $160
Igloo’s modern cooler is a step above their cookie-cutter 120-quart monster we used to all use 5-10 years ago. It’s still massive, making it a good go-to option for family functions, long days barbecuing at the park, or even your typical weekend camping trip. Better yet, Igloo’s new design features an innovative handle that aids in the heavy lifting of a 110-quart cooler brimming with ice and beer.
Ryobi Air Conditioned Cooler $200
The Ryobi creation is the ultimate job site or hot summer day companion, acting as either an air conditioner or a 50-quart cooler. Not only does this cooler function as a normal cooler would — simply by adding ice — you now have the option to turn on the Cooling Cooler Kit and regulate the temperature around you. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a cooler, but also an air cooler. It also features a lengthy handle and set of wheels for easy transport.
Pelican 20-Quart Elite Cooler $200
From tightly secured latches to the freezer-grade seal, every Pelican cooler is engineered to foster extreme durability and functionality. The 20 quart elite cooler is the perfect food and beverage carrier for any handyman packing a lunch to work, short camping trips, or a tailgater. With corrosion resistant hardware, four cupholders, a lock hasp, and — man’s best friend — a built-in bottle opener. But, the cooler’s best feature has to be its success in retaining ice compared to your typical cooler. Some say it can keep ice cold and solid for up to three days, while holding optimal temperatures for up to 10 days.
OtterBox Venture 25 Cooler $250
You’re probably familiar with OtterBox as the phone case and accessory aficionados, but they have a crazy cool collection of coolers for the outdoor junkies looking to brandish a cold brew in the woods or on the lake. Their Venture cooler system comes equipped with rubber feet to prevent thrashing during transport and a mounting system that hosts a heap of accessories, such as a side table, a dry box, and of course, a bottle opener. The accessories are sold separately, but the American made coolers come packaged with free shipping and a lifetime warranty.
IceMule Coolers Pro Coolers Backpack $140
If you’re someone who needs to holds easy transportation over robust exteriors, try the 40-L IceMule Coolers backpack and cooler combo on for size. Now made with reinvented materials and extra reinforcing layers, this everyday cooler was built to stand up to the high-end, high-performance outdoor coolers. Each pack features their TriFold DriTop System, which is foolproof and designed to keep ice in, and air out for 24 hours at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. So, there’s no need to worry about your ice melting overnight, but you should be attuned to how long it’s exposed to direct sunlight during the day.
Article updated June 15, 2017 by Bryan Holt.