Best Cooler

product photo of a vintage ice cooler

Whether you are going on a picnic or planning a hike through the woods, it is imperative that you are able to keep cold water on hand and keep any food supplies properly chilled. To do this when you are out in nature, you have to turn to a cooler. These units are designed to help keep your food and beverages at cold temperatures even if the air around it is hot.

They are essentially a very simple portable refrigerator. Most do not require electricity. They are usually easy to carry as well. They come in all different sizes and materials. You should have no trouble finding a cooler that meets your needs, but sifting through all the options can be tough.

We want to help you out by arming you with important information to help you decide what type of cooler is best for you. We also went ahead and reviewed the top 10 coolers on the market right now, so you know which are the best. Read through our review of the best coolers of 2018 and arm yourself with everything you need to know to make sure your next cooler purchase goes smoothly.

Comparison Table

[amazon box=”B003V53GFM, B01LY2GZOZ, B00AU6GB2K, B000W4RV6K, B07H1NV28Q, B00C9RPPNE, B01M1NYVTH, B00J8KU580, B00ZITEZZ4, B01NBQG5DA” template=”table”]

Cooler FAQs

Before you start shopping for a cooler, it can help to learn a little more about your options along with getting a better idea of how coolers work to keep contents cold. Find out answers to common questions and build up your knowledge base to help you make the right decision when it is time to buy.

1. Does a cooler have to be pre-chilled?

2. Should I add salt to my cooler?

3. What size cooler should I buy?

4. What is the best cooler material?

5. What's the most important consideration when buying a cooler?

How We Reviewed

cooler with bottles of drinks near a rocky slope and sea

via Giphy

To put together our reviews of the top 10 coolers in 2018, we did a lot of research. We looked at manufacturer specifications, read expert reviews and took a look at what consumers had to say about each model. We used all of this information to create an accurate and unbiased review of each cooler on our list.

We present you with this information so you can make an informed buying decision. You can trust that the information presented here is correct and truthful. It provides a clear picture of each cooler and what to expect if you should buy it.

Overall Price Range

Coolers have a huge price range. You can pick up a simple cooler for around $, but the more features and advancements the cooler has, the more it will cost. Top brands can sell for hundreds of dollars. However, you are often paying for quality. Longer lasting coolers cost more as do those with advanced cooling features that will keep your items cold for a long period of time. Materials may also affect the price. Hard coolers are more expensive than soft coolers. You will pay more for a better-insulated cooler or one with more insulation, as well. Overall quality is often reflected in the price, but as with any product, there are also instances where you are paying for a name more than the actual quality of the unit, so watch out for that, too.

Top 10 List of Coolers

Yeti Tundra 65

[amazon box=”B003V53GFM” template=”horizontal”]

Key Features:

  • Dry goods basket
  • 30 1/2 x 17 3/8 x 16 inches
  • 27 pounds empty
  • 3 inches of PermaFrost insulation
  • FatWall design
  • Certified bear-resistant
  • Rotomolded construction
  • T-rex lid latch

Pros

  • Durable
  • Excellent insulation
  • High quality

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Heavy

Polar Bear Nylon Series 12 Pack

[amazon box=”B01LY2GZOZ” template=”horizontal”]

Key Features:

  • Holds 12 cans
  • 1000 Denier luggage grade nylon
  • 1-inch high-density foam insulation
  • Leak-proof
  • Sweat-proof
  • FDA food grade liner
  • Heavy-duty #10 YKK weatherized zipper
  • Comes with ice packs
  • Fabric cooler

Pros

  • Easy to carry
  • Durable
  • Great insulation

Cons

  • More for personal use than for storing large amounts of food and drink

Coleman Xtreme

[amazon box=”B00AU6GB2K” template=”horizontal”]

Key Features:

  • 70-quart capacity
  • No-crush comfort handles
  • Hinged lid with molded cup holders
  • Have-a-seat lid holds up to 250 pounds
  • EZ-clean top
  • Xtreme 5 technology for ice retention for five days

Pros

  • Great capacity
  • Cupholders and built-in seat add to functionality
  • Great price

Cons

  • No wheels
  • Seal is not always airtight

Coleman FlipLid

[amazon box=”B000W4RV6K” template=”horizontal”]

Key features:

  • Personal cooler
  • FlipLid hinge
  • Lid doubles as tray
  • EZ-clean top
  • Molded beverage holders
  • 5-quart capacity

Pros

  • Well-made
  • Easy to carry
  • Fits up to six cans

Cons

  • Seal may be weak
  • Small capacity

Orion 25

[amazon box=”B07H1NV28Q” template=”horizontal”]

Key features:

  • Holds ice for seven days
  • Made in the USA
  • 2-inch insulation
  • Corner bottle openers
  • Tie down points
  • Snag-free cam latches
  • Certified bear resistant
  • Large drain plug
  • Gear track integration
  • Motorcycle grip handles

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Great built-in design features
  • Excellent insulation

Cons

  • Very expensive

Igloo Marine Ultra Square

[amazon box=”B00C9RPPNE” template=”horizontal”]

Key features:

  • Fabric cooler
  • Easy to clean
  • Anti-mildew
  • UV protection
  • 1-inch extruded closed cell foam insulation
  • Ice keeps for up to two days
  • Leak resistant
  • Antimicrobial liner
  • Odor resistant

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easy to carry

Cons

  • Leaks
  • Fabric is not as durable as plastic reducing lifespan

RTIC 45

[amazon box=”B01M1NYVTH” template=”horizontal”]

Key features:

  • Roto-molded construction
  • Heavy-duty T-latches
  • Freezer grade gasket
  • Molded tie-down slots
  • Non-slip feet
  • Integrated locking system
  • Bear resistant
  • Rapid V-drain system
  • No fail hinges
  • No sweat
  • Cool lift design
  • Molded side handles

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Keeps contents well chilled

Cons

  • No wheels
  • Customer service is not very responsive

Orca BW058ORCORCA

[amazon box=”B00J8KU580″ template=”horizontal”]

Key Features:

  • Cargo net for dry storage
  • Made in the USA
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Flexgrip handles
  • Lid gasket
  • Roto-molded insulation
  • Purchase benefits conservation
  • 40 quart storage capacity

Pros

  • Customizable with optional accessories
  • Large storage capacity

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

K2 Summit 20

[amazon box=”B0144A52S6″ template=”horizontal”]

Key features:

  • Roto-molded construction
  • Padded shoulder strap
  • ICE vault lid gasket
  • POSITRAC lid latches
  • ENDURA integrated hinge system
  • SURE grip rubber feet

Pros

  • Nice personal size
  • Durable

Cons

  • Does not hold ice as well as expected
  • Construction is a little weak

Ozark Trail 73-Quart High-Performance

[amazon box=”B01NBQG5DA” template=”horizontal”]

Key features:

  • Roto-molded construction
  • Holds ice up to nine days
  • Heavy duty, comfort grip handles
  • T-handle latches
  • Certified bear resistant
  • Fish ruler on lid
  • Built-in drink holders
  • Stainless steel locking plate with bottle opener

Pros

  • Nice extras like the bottle opener, fish ruler and cup holders
  • Large capacity
  • Good seal
  • Excellent insulation

Cons

  • Heavy

Key Specifications

PRODUCT:

PRICE:

SIZE:

TYPE:

Yeti Tundra 65

[amazon fields=”B003V53GFM” value=”button”]

30 1/2 x 17 3/8 x 16 inches

Hard

Polar Bear Nylon Series 12 Pack

[amazon fields=”B01LY2GZOZ” value=”button”]

Holds 12 cans

Soft

Coleman Xtreme

[amazon fields=”B00AU6GB2K” value=”button”]

70-quart capacity

Hard

Coleman FlipLid

[amazon fields=”B000W4RV6K” value=”button”]

5-quart capacity

Hard

Orion 25

[amazon fields=”B07H1NV28Q” value=”button”]

25-quart

Hard

Igloo Marine Ultra Square

[amazon fields=”B00C9RPPNE” value=”button”]

24 can capacity

Soft

RTIC 45

[amazon fields=”B01M1NYVTH” value=”button”]

45-quart

Hard

Orca BW058ORCORCA

[amazon fields=”B00J8KU580″ value=”button”]

40-quart

Hard

K2 Summit 20

[amazon fields=”B00ZITEZZ4″ value=”button”]

16.9 x 15.6 x 12.6 inches

Hard

Ozark Trail 73-Quart High-Performance

[amazon fields=”B01NBQG5DA” value=”button”]

73-quart

Hard

The Verdict

cooler

via Giphy

When it comes to buying a cooler, it is a very personal process. Your needs may differ from someone else's, so choosing the best cooler is difficult. However, when looking at overall quality, it is really hard to top Yeti. Yeti coolers are by far the best rated coolers on the market. However, the price point scares many people away. A less expensive option that consumers feel has the same quality as Yeti is RTIC. The downside with RTIC coolers is that if something breaks or you need help, customer service is not very responsive. So that is where you get the trade-off for the lower price.

When it comes to more affordable coolers, Coleman is at the top of the list. These coolers have a lot of great built-in features. They are designed with comfort in mind. They come in a variety of sizes to suit your needs, too. They are very easy to find and sold pretty much anywhere that coolers are sold. The main issue is Coleman coolers tend to have weak seals. If you do not ensure it is sealed tight, you will lose ice and not get as long of a cooling time as you might expect.

drinks submerged on ice chest

Image via Unsplash

Soft coolers often have many downsides. First, they simply are not as strong as plastic coolers. They usually are not expected to last as long, and they are more likely to leak. However, we found the cooler from Polar Bear stands up well to its plastic counterparts. You will never get the storage capacity you can with hard coolers in a soft cooler, but the Polar Bear model is still rather large, holding 12 cans. It also had great reviews when it came to durability and not leaking. It seems well-made, and the price isn't too bad for this size and type of cooler.

Choosing the best cooler out of the ones we reviewed is tough. There are best coolers for certain situations, but no one cooler that we could say is the absolute best based on our research. It comes down to what is best for you. The cost will likely play a large part because many of the top-rated coolers are also the most expensive. For some people, spending $$$ or $$$ on a cooler doesn't make sense compared to their needs, so a cheaper cooler will work just as fine. The best option is to arm yourself with the information we've presented, check out the coolers yourself and then go from there to make your final decision, and buy the cooler you feel best fits what you need.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here