The Best Rated Coolers: We tested Yeti, Igloo, RTIC, Coleman and more

best coolers for camping

Best Coolers and Ice Chests of 2019 - Top Rated Coolers Reviews

In various situations, from a weekend cruise to a backcountry fishing trip, a proper cooler is sure to come in handy. Buying a cooler may sound like an easy task, yet with the large selection available on the market and new models coming out every year, you may waste your precious time answering such questions as “Which is the best cooler for camping?”, “Is that a reasonable cost for the best personal cooler?”, or even “What is a rotomolded cooler?”. Therefore, in this article, we will help you choose the best cooler for your needs and your budget.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 25 hrs of research

Yeti tundra 65

Editor’s Pick - Best Product: Yeti Tundra 65

Why is it better?

 Incredible insulation up to two weeks with thick walls and rotomolding technology

≫ Durable with good quality material

≫ Sturdy latches

≫ Features a dry basket

93/100
our score
19
Researched Sources
2600
Reviews Considered
25
Hours Researching
14
Productsd
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Yeti tundra 65
Products

Editor’s Pick - Best Product: Yeti Tundra 65

Rating
93
Shop Check Price
Insulation
95%
Durability
95%
Ease of use
87%
Portability
94%
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Rtic 65 cooler
Products

Runner-up: Second Best Product: RTIC 65 Cooler

Rating
89
Shop Check Price
Insulation
93%
Durability
89%
Ease of use
87%
Portability
86%
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Igloo marine ultra square coolers
Products

Budget Pick : Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers

Rating
87
Shop Check Price
Insulation
80%
Durability
86%
Ease of use
92%
Portability
91%
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Yeti hopper two 30 portable cooler
Products

Upgrade Pick: YETI Hopper TWO 30 Portable Cooler

Rating
94
Shop Check Price
Insulation
95%
Durability
93%
Ease of use
91%
Portability
97%
Image
Coleman fliplid personal cooler
Products

Best Small Cooler: Coleman Fliplid Personal Cooler

Rating
85
Shop Check Price
Insulation
70%
Durability
85%
Ease of use
85%
Portability
100%
Image
Igloo bmx 25
Products

Best Cooler Under $100: Igloo BMX 25

Rating
81
Shop Check Price
Insulation
73%
Durability
82%
Ease of use
80%
Portability
90%
Image
Steel-belted portable cooler 54qt
Products

Best Coleman Cooler: Steel-belted Portable Cooler 54Qt

Rating
84
Shop Check Price
Insulation
75%
Durability
87%
Ease of use
88%
Portability
85%
Image
Yeti tundra 45
Products

Best Medium Size Cooler: Yeti Tundra 45

Rating
86
Shop Check Price
Insulation
91%
Durability
92%
Ease of use
76%
Portability
85%

1. Editor’s Pick - Best Product: Yeti Tundra 65

Yeti tundra 65
93
Insulation
95
Durability
95
Ease of use
87
Portability
94
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Pros:

 Incredible insulation up to two weeks with thick walls and rotomolding technology

≫ Durable with good quality material

≫ Sturdy latches

≫ Features a dry basket

 

Cons:

≫ Rather expensive compared to other coolers

≫ Not a favorable weight for everyone

≫ Smaller capacity than claimed

Yeti is one of the most prestigious brands on the market, and the Yeti Tundra 65 is one of their most popular rotomolded ice chest models. This model weighs 29 lb., comes in five different colors, and has a size of 57.2 qt. (not as large as advertised, though), which allows it to hold up to 39 cans of beer and the ice needed to keep them cold.

It performed impressively in our tests. In the insulation testing, the Tundra beat the others for how long it could retain ice. Ice stayed intact after one day, and after three days, ice could still be found in there. After six days, beverages were still refrigerator cold. If you do not open the lid often, this Tundra can keep ice for up to two weeks!

This incredible ice retention is achieved thanks to 3-inch PermaFrost insulation and thick wall design. This makes it amored to the core and indestructible, as well bear-resistant.

The sturdy T-rex Lid latches make this Tundra easier to use than some other rotomolded coolers. It features a removable basket inside, so you can store your sensitive items dry. The shape is also reasonable, with a low profile, making beers easily grabbed. Plus, the plastic it is made of is thick, making its super durable. You won’t do much more than leave a few scratches on your Tundra.

There is just one downside to this ice chest; it is quite difficult to empty the drain because there is a little lip inside of it, so you have to turn the whole cooler on its side.

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2. Runner-up: Second Best Product: RTIC 65 Cooler

Rtic 65 cooler
89
Insulation
93
Durability
89
Ease of use
87
Portability
86
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Pros:

≫ Solid design

≫ Good insulation

≫ Better price compared to Yeti Tundra 65

≫ Portable with different handles

 

Cons:

 Less durable than Yeti Tundra 65

≫ Heavy

For those who are reluctant to get a Yeti because of its price but still expect similar qualities from an outdoor cooler, the RTIC Cooler is just the right choice. Each model comes in an array of colors and capacities.

The RTIC 65 is a rotomolded cooler, and its wall with continuous thickness and exact cut, together with insulating polyurethane foam material, ensure remarkable ice retention of just a few hours shorter than the previously discussed Yeti Tundra.

One more feature that makes the RTIC 65 a duplicate of the Yeti Tundra 65 is the T-latches. The freezer-grade gasket helps to seal off the cooler by keeping the cold air in and hot air out. Different types of handles on the RTIC give you choices of how to carry your cooler. There is a reliable handle over the top and two carry handles on the sides.

The capacity is around 65 qt.; roomy for cans and ice. It can hold up to 60 cans or 70 pounds of ice. It is around 36 lb., which is heavier than the Tundra.

All in all, though the insulation and durability of the RTIC 65 are second to those of Yeti Tundra, the affordable price and ease of use of the RTIC 65 Cooler make it definitely worth considering.

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3. Best Cooler for the Money: Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers

Igloo marine ultra square coolers
87
Insulation
80
Durability
86
Ease of use
92
Portability
91
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Pros:

 A real bargain for a personal cooler

≫ Portable with medium size, shoulder strap, and wrap handle

≫ Leak, stain, odor resistant, and anti-bacterial liner

≫ Handy features, providing extra storage

 

Cons:

 Shorter ice retention compared to hard-sided coolers

≫ Not as durable as hard-sided coolers 

If you want the best personal cooler at the best price for your fishing excursion, a camping trip, or some outdoor activities, check out this cooler.

The Igloo Marine Ultra Square Cooler is a soft cooler. It comes with a durable, anti-mildew and UV protective cooler bag. Its decent capacity holds up to 24 cans (approximately 12 qt.). The thick insulation layer will keep your beverages refrigerated for up to two days and retain ice for eight hours. The ice box is stain and odor resistant thanks to its 0.35 mm thick PEVA antimicrobial liner. Also, the cooler is easy to clean.

You can put your sunglasses, car keys, or cell phones in the front pockets of the cooler. If you want more storage space, there are mesh panels on the sides.

The medium size, together with an adjustable shoulder strap, comfort shoulder pad, and wrap handle make this cooler easy to carry.

The Igloo Marine Ultra Square Cooler is made of non-corrosive hardware, which is not as strong as the stainless steel of hard-sided coolers, but it is still resilient and usually lasts for many years.

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4. Upgrade Pick: YETI Hopper TWO 30 Portable Cooler

Yeti hopper two 30 portable cooler
94
Insulation
95
Durability
93
Ease of use
91
Portability
97
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Pros:

 Super long ice retention compared with other soft-sided coolers due to good quality materials and manufacturing technology

 Incredible durability

 Portable with light weight and various handle options

 Aesthetic design

 Good warranty policy

 

Cons:

≫ High price for a soft-sided cooler

If you are interested in soft coolers and do not mind spending money to get the best soft cooler in the world, look out for the Yeti Hopper TWO 30 Portable Cooler.

The name speaks for itself. Yeti has always been known as a high-end brand. Therefore, this Yeti Hopper Two 30 proved to be the best performer among soft coolers in our tests. It kept ice for up to three days; an impressive result from a soft cooler.

The cooler comes in a capacity of 37 qt., so it has room for 24 cans or 28 pounds of ice for your trip. It is lightweight, however, at just 5.5 lb. What is more, there are multiple carrying options, including a detachable shoulder strap and three double-stitched handles on two sides and the front. Therefore, don’t worry about stressing your back carrying heavy coolers.

Another factor that contributes to the great success of any Yeti Hopper is its lineup of features. Firstly, the rugged Dryhide shell encompassing the cooler is Yeti’s special high-density fabric. It is waterproof and resistant to mildew. Moreover, it is very tough and resistant to scratches and tears. Also, the FDA-approved food-grade liner inside the cooler bag is so tough that you can store your food and beverages without worrying about them going bad.

Between the Dryhide shell and the inner liner, there is a layer of closed-cell foam called Coldcell insulation technology, which is an inch thick. What is more, the Hydrolok zipper also plays an important part in keeping the cooler waterproof and airtight. These factors make this an incredibly insulated cooler.

As we mentioned, soft-sided coolers hardly beat the hard-sided ice chest in terms of durability, but not this Yeti Hopper. Yeti offers a three-year warranty for their soft coolers; one of the longest warranties in the industry, so you don’t have to worry about the durability of your cooler.

For additional features, you can hang items on the Hitchpoint Grid, or you can use it with Yeti’s zinger and bottle opener. However, there are no additional storage pockets.

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5. Best Small Cooler: Coleman Fliplid Personal Cooler

Coleman fliplid personal cooler
85
Insulation
70
Durability
85
Ease of use
85
Portability
100
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Pros:

 Affordable price

 Brilliant design of cup holders

 Great mobility

 Great durability

 

Cons:

 Short ice life

≫ Limited capacity

If you want the best small ice chest for one or two people but do not want to splurge on something like a Yeti, don’t miss this product.

The Coleman Fliplid Cooler has a 10-quart size, which has room for 6 cans plus ice and a meal – suitable for a short excursion, a family picnic, or bringing lunch to work. It is made of plastic, and comes in a couple of colors.

As the name suggests, one special feature of this small cooler is that its lid can flip over and become a serving tray with two molded cup holders inside, which would be very handy, especially when you don’t have much space to place your beverages and lunch, like in a car or a rocky area. What’s cooler is that its flat, sturdy top can serve as a chair, too.

The thermozone insulation helps keep your drinks, meal, or even fishing bait cool for a few hours. This is a shortcoming of this small cooler because its ice life is pretty short. This is because of the thin wall and small size. On the other hand, it is very lightweight; just around 2 lb. empty. Even with full 6 cans, you will hardly notice you’re carrying it. Plus, the handle makes it easier to carry around.

You shouldn’t doubt this drink cooler’s life expectancy because it is very durable. We have had one for a decade, and it seems to still work perfectly well. All in all, this deserve the title of best small cooler on the market.

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6. Best Cooler Under $100: Igloo BMX 25

Igloo bmx 25
81
Insulation
73
Durability
82
Ease of use
80
Portability
90
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Pros:

 Affordable price, around $60

 Outstanding portability with featherweight

 Good insulation

 Thick and durable wall and lid

 Comfortable handle

 

Cons:

 Not air and watertight

 Rubber latches may catch against legs

With a budget under $100, we believe you can still get a personal cooler with good performance. The Igloo BMX 25 is our pick.

The Igloo BMX comes in just two colors – grey and blue, and is 25 qt. in size. You can put 34 cans inside, with ice around the sides, which is quite spacious. It weighs just around 11.3 lb.; shockingly lightweight for a hard cooler.

The insulation is impressive, too. It retained ice for up to 2.6 days in 40 degrees Fahrenheit in our insulation test. Its consistently thick wall may play a role here. However, the color, in our opinion, may work against its insulation ability because it absorbs the sun rays more if you leave the cooler out in the sun. Furthermore, the lid isn’t water and airtight. It lets cold air out and hot air in.

We can’t complain about the durability of this ice chest. The construction plastic is engineered for sturdiness, even when you stand on, kick, or jump on the cooler. The thick handle also makes it feel more solid.

The ease of use of this BMX stands out compared to other models. Its rubber latches are easily unhooked, even with one hand. However, these latches are quite soft and can be damaged if pulled too hard or exposed to the sun for long.

One special feature of this BMX 25 is its inches and centimeter measurements across the top of the lid. This makes it an ideal cooler for those who love fishing and want to measure the size of the fish, or anyone who needs to measure the length of the paracord on their camping trip.

Apart from just a few minor concerns, the insulation, durability, and portability of the Igloo BMX 25 make it good value for money.

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7. Best Coleman Cooler: Steel-belted Portable Cooler 54Qt

Steel-belted portable cooler 54qt
84
Insulation
75
Durability
87
Ease of use
88
Portability
85
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Pros:

 Premium, nostalgic appeal

 Great durability with stainless steel shell and metal hardware

 Good insulation

 Affordable price

 

Cons:

≫ No wheels, pretty small handles

If you are a fan of Coleman and looking for their best product with an aesthetic design, the Steel-belted Portable Cooler 54 Quarts will meet your needs.

This ice chest is made of stainless steel and metal hardware, which makes it durable, break-resistant, and rust-resistant. It comes in different colors, from red, black, green, and rose pink, to silver and metallic as the most popular options. Thanks to the metal shell and metal hardware and hinges, this ice chest has a premium look and feel. Its capacity allows you to store up to 80 cans.

With regard to insulation, this Coleman Steel Belted can’t compare to that of Yeti or Pelican, but compared to products at its price, its performance is not bad. If you put in more ice, the ice life will surely increase. Ice retention is even better with ice packs, at up to 50 hours. The semi-thick insulation contributes to the insulation, but it is the sealing gasket on the lip of the base that actually adds another half day to the insulation. Moreover, the metal outer surface, together with the inner insulation, creates a double layer that adds some help to the ice life.

The big size and the steel material make this cooler weigh about 20 lb. empty. There are no wheels, but the handles serve their purpose.

One feature worth noting is the quick drain plug which allow you to empty water out effortlessly. The cooler also comes with a technology called Have-A-Seat, allowing you to use the lid as an extra seat, and it can hold up to 250 lb.

Coleman covers the product for 6 years, so don’t worry about the durability of this ice chest.

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8. Best Medium Size Cooler: Yeti Tundra 45

Yeti tundra 45
86
Insulation
91
Durability
92
Ease of use
76
Portability
85
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Pros:

 Rotomolding technology

 Excellent insulation for days

 Outstanding durability

 Sturdy latches

 Features a dry basket

 

Cons:

 Costly compared to similar-size coolers

≫ Smaller capacity than claimed

As we mentioned above, Yeti has always been one of the market leaders in the industry of coolers. If you don’t want to carry something as big as the Yeti Tundra 65, pick this smaller model: the Yeti Tundra 45.

The Tundra 45 is the best medium-sized cooler because of its versatility and durability. It weighs 23 lb. empty. The 37-quart net size allows it to hold up to 26 cans, or 34 lb. of ice.

Just like the bigger model Tundra 65, this Tundra 45 is rotomolded and the fatwall insulation technology creates its two-inch thick walls, which, together with the freezer gasket built into the lid, can retain ice for days. In controlled tests, this cooler can keep ice for up to 10 days.

Except from the smaller size, lighter weight, and a little different ice retention, you can refer back to our review of the Yeti Tundra 65 for all other characteristics and features of the Tundra 45 because all Yeti Tundra products are identical in construction technology.

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In General, What Makes For The Best Coolers?

 We will introduce you to some key metrics to help evaluate each cooler easily, including insulation, durability, portability, features, and price.

Hard coolers and soft coolersCouple carrying cooler at campsite

Hard coolers and soft coolers

Hard coolers are usually big, heavy, rotomolded, and have longer ice retention. Their capacities range from 20 quarts (qt.) to 350 qt.

Soft coolers do not use the rotomolding technique, but rather the RF welding technique. Their shapes are varied, and their sizes are usually less than 40 qt. 

Insulation

This is the ice chest’s ability to keep things cool. The ice retention of different coolers varies, from a few hours to hundreds of hours. This is influenced by the thickness of the cooler’s walls, material used, manufacturing process, and size. Usually those heavy-duty, rotomolded coolers excel in this criterion, but it does not mean smaller and more affordable ones stand no chance of winning the competition.

However, the ice retaining capacity is also influenced by how we use it. For example, the more frequently the lid is opened, the shorter the ice retention is, or if we keep the cooler in shady areas, it will preserve the ice better.  

Durability

The life expectancy of a cooler depends on how carefully you handle it and what kind of environments you put it in. However, the manufacturing methods and specs of the cooler certainly play a decisive role in this category.  

Rotomolded coolers’ durability is hardly doubtful since those coolers are made out of a single piece of material which is then molded into shape. They have no seams and linings, so it lowers the chances of shredding and tearing.  

Portability

Portable coolers allow us to easily lift or move them. Want to get a big cooler but worry about how heavy it is? Then handles and coolers with wheels will be your savior. You can also choose coolers with shoulder straps to keep your hands free. 

Many hard-sided ice chests come with wheels. They allow us to move the cooler with less effort, and hence do not stress hands or shoulders. You will find these wheels a lifesaver when you have to carry your cooler on rugged terrains or bumpy paths. 

If you are looking for a portable soft-sided cooler, ones with adjustable shoulder straps are for you. They can also offer overhead straps. Hence, soft coolers are very portable due to all these options.

Features

Today’s ice chests usually feature such things as bottle openers, cutting boards, fish scales, picnic tables, or even Bluetooth speakers, built-in blenders, and USB chargers. These original and brilliant ideas will make your parties more fun and reduce the number of small items in your backcountry trip.

best coolers to paint

Price

When determining the best cooler for the money, price should definitely be taken into consideration. Therefore, we are going to suggest the products with prices that are reasonable compared with what you are getting.

Time to make the final decision

To sum up, the answer to the question “What is the best cooler?” lies in our purposes and budget when looking for one. If you expect a long ice-life for your long trip to the backcountry, and if you go in quite a big group of people, rotomolded ice chests that have big sizes would be the best. They will not disappoint you in terms of their insulation and durability. However, be prepared to carry the heavy ones, and note that they are usually also expensive.

If you just need a medium or small-sized cooler for a day trip or carrying meals to work, soft-sided coolers are practical enough. They can keep your meal or beverages just fine. What’s wonderful is that they are super portable and affordably priced.

From all the information in this post, we hope you have found the right one for your needs. Should you have any questions to ask or thoughts to share, feel free to leave a comment below. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • 01. Which ice is better, dry ice or normal ice?
  • Normal ice is not as cold as dry ice.Dry ice can give double cooling energy compared to normal ice. It can keep frozen items frozen. If you put dry ice on top of the contents, the cold sinks and cool things down on its way. You can also use regular ice and put it between dry ice, which can bring better results.

  • 02. Which ice is better, dry ice or normal ice?
  • Normal ice is not as cold as dry ice.Dry ice can give double cooling energy compared to normal ice. It can keep frozen items frozen. If you put dry ice on top of the contents, the cold sinks and cool things down on its way. You can also use regular ice and put it between dry ice, which can bring better results.

  • 03. How to keep things in the cooler cold for longer?
  • The key word is prechill. Prechill your beverages and food in advance, this will make the ice last for longer because it doesn’t have to cool those contents down but just keep them cold. Moreover, it’s essential to prechill your cooler, too. Since most coolers are insulated containers, they can both insulate heat and cold. Therefore, you should keep your cooler in cool location prior to packing in order to diminish the trapped heat.

  • 04. What size of cooler should I go for?
  • Think about the purpose you use it for. If you usually hold tailgate parties, probably a big, rotomolded ice chest around 60 to 70 quarts like Yeti Tundra 65 or RTIC 65 may suit your need. If you just want a picnic with your family or a few friends, something smaller and soft-sided such as Yeti Hopper 30 is just good enough.

  • 05. What is “roto-molded”?
  • Rotational molding is a plastic forming process using heat and two-axe rotation. It involves high temperature and low pressure, which creates hollow, one-piece parts. This process prevents the powder from accumulating in one spot, making the plastic be melted and adhere evenly to the wall. Therefore, rotomolded ice chests are well known for their qualities, including the consistent thickness of walls, strength and durability.

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william  cawley
William is the editor-in-chief at TheKingLive, in which you can come across his writings in almost every imaginable product category. Dog lover, baseball fan, yoga enthusiast, and a believer. Formally working as a freelance copywriter and part-time photographer before channeling his passion into “hunting” for best products available on the market.

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