The Best Camping Coolers Perfect For The Outdoors

Have you ever had a numbing thirst for cold water while hiking in the middle of nowhere on a humid day? Perhaps all campers had this experience. Well, we can’t bring our fridge to camp, so the least we can do is to scout for the best camping cooler to bring with us outdoors.

When you need something to keep your fresh meat, foods, and drinks (and booze) cool and dry for more than just day at camp, it’s time to get yourself a camping cooler.

Camping coolers are designed to withstand the elements of the outdoors and to keep your food fresh longer for days on end. They're very durable, waterproof, weatherproof, animal proof, and will stay intact against bump, thumps, and drops. Most importantly, camping coolers are easy to carry. Who would want to hand-carry an old, heavy cooler to camp, right?

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Of course, camping coolers are not only meant for camping. They’re ideal to bring on road trips, big game hunting, as a storage for open water fishing, and other outdoor stuff that will take you a day or longer.

You know you need one, don’t deny it. So first things first, before you go barging into Walmart, there are a few things you should consider when buying one.

Things To Look For When Choosing A Camping Cooler

1. Size

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Camping coolers come in a variety of sizes as needed by the camper. There’s the small cooler (25 quart) which fits items for at least one to two days, and there’s also the medium sized (30-45 quartz) that’s ideal for a small group of campers. Lastly, we have the large cooler (50-70 quartz) for a big barbecue dinner.

2. Basic, soft-side, or heavy duty?

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Of course, you’ve seen a basic cooler for once in your life. They’re the chunky ones without wheels. Basic coolers offer minimal insulation and no secure lids.

They’re big enough to accommodate a lot of beverages and meat. If you’re just camping out in a van and won’t take the cooler to a stroll, a basic cooler will do.

In contrast, soft-sided coolers are more advanced, smaller, and feature a shoulder strap for carrying. They’re like lunch bags made of waterproof material, except they provide flexible insulation.

They work best if you plan to take smaller quantities of food during an outdoor activity, especially on long hikes.

And then we also have the heavy duty coolers. The seemingly indestructible heavy-duty coolers have tight seals, locking lids, and a lot of insulation.

They’re made to withstand even the harshest conditions and the longest of days. Though they’re quite heavier than the two other types, this particular kind is a great investment for outdoor enthusiasts.

3. Specific features

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Being an avid camper for decades now, I have tried a lot of camping coolers that failed to meet my needs as a camper.

Camping is hard enough, especially if you’re out and about in isolated places and those which aren’t listed on the map (yeah, sometimes). So the best thing a camping cooler should be is to be useful.

For starters, a camping cooler should have a side or bottom drain so you wouldn’t go through the trouble of removing the contents one by one just to pour melted ice out. Next, it should have handles on either side or a trolley type handle for carrying convenience (for heavy-duty and basic coolers).

Also, I always look for coolers which are ruggedly built with sturdy hinges, locks, and latches. When camping out, it’s inevitable to cross rough trails and uneven grounds so it’s crucial to have a tight and secure cooler to prevent the contents from spilling all over the place.


The Best Camping Coolers of 2017

1. Coleman 48-Quart Cooler

via Amazon.com

If you’re going to have a big barbecue party on camp, the Coleman 48-Quart Cooler is the one thing you’ll need to store beverages and food. This classic cooler is among the best camping coolers rated by campers.

It can carry as much as 63 cans and is tall enough to hold 2-Liter bottles upright. Refreshments,anyone? There’s also a drain on the bottom right side of the cooler so you can quickly remove melted ice. Moreover, the hinged lid is durable and opens smoothly, and there’s the side swing handles for your carrying convenience.

With regards to the material used to construct this elegant piece, they used a hard, thick plastic that’s durable, provides great insulation, rustproof, and leak-proof. I’ve tried this one, and it kept booze cool for two days at most.

Pros

  • Good size for big groups
  • Leakproof
  • Rustproof
  • Good insulation
  • Easy to drain
  • Easy to clean
  • Has side swing handles for easy carrying

Cons

  • No locks/latches for secure handling
  • No wheels to drag it along (the cooler’s heavy if loaded with contents and carrying it by hand is a burden)
  • Sometimes, the lid gets hard to open (like a vacuum seal)

2. Rubbermaid Ice Chest

via Amazon.com

Another large-sized camping cooler on our list is the Rubbermaid 60-quart Ice Chest. This big cooler is perfect for your weekend tailgating with the squad.

The first thing you’ll notice upon seeing the cooler is its rugged appearance and sturdy-looking retractable top handle and wheels. Campers, this cooler will give you the utmost convenience, portability, and utility.

The superior thermal insulation of the cooler will definitely keep 80 beverage cans fresh and cold for more than a day or two at the camp. Aside from the top handle and wheels, the cooler also feature side swing handles, a central bottom drain, a split-lid design, and built-in cup holders on top of the lids.

What I like about this impressive piece is the hinged split-lid design which lets you open just the right lid, so the cold air won’t completely escape from the cooler thus a more efficient insulation. Also, it has built-in cupholders that can easily be flipped out to serve drinks at back of your truck.

Pros

  • Good size for big groups
  • Leakproof
  • Rustproof
  • Odor-resistant
  • Superior insulation
  • Easy to drain
  • Easy to clean
  • Convenient for carrying/strolling

Cons

  • No locks/latches for secure handling though the lids are tight enough
  • Sometimes, the lid gets hard to open (like a vacuum seal)

3. Coleman Soft Cooler With Hard Liner

via Amazon.com

The first soft-sided cooler entry on our list is the Coleman Soft Cooler With Hard Liner. This sophisticated-looking cooler somewhat resembles big camping lunch bags.

The cooler holds up to 30 cans, has plenty of extra storage space in its front and side pockets, a removable hard liner inside to keep the contents from being crushed, provides antimicrobial protection, and it’s also resistant to molds and mildew.

This small bag is ideal for picnics and sporting events. You won’t have a hard time carrying it even if it’s filled to the brim because it has a very soft padded shoulder strap to reduce muscle stress.

Pros

  • Good size for 1-2 persons
  • Leakproof
  • Good insulation
  • Odor-resistant
  • Mold and mildew-resistant
  • Easy to drain
  • Easy to clean
  • Convenient to carry
  • Durable zippers for a spill-proof transportation
  • Extra storage space is a plus

Cons

  • You have to be careful when draining the melted ice because you might wet the exterior of the bag
  • The hard liner may break if dropped (it’s just thin plastic)

4. Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler

via Amazon.com

The 54-quart capacity of the heavy duty Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler can load up to 85 cans. It’s constructed with steel handles with rubber grips, steel latches, durable hinges, and a durable hard plastic body

You don’t have to worry about the steel handles and latches getting rusty from contact with liquids because they’re completely rust-proof. The steel handles coated with rubber also makes transporting this heavy cooler easy peasy.

Furthermore, the leak-resistant cooler seals the unit from any leaks even when the cooler’s tilted or stored vertically, provided that you also close the latches tightly.

Most importantly, this cooler’s insulation is excellent – it can keep the contents cold for as long as three days! Yes, I’ve never heard any cooler that compares to the insulating ability of this one.

Though this thing’s insulation is superior to others, it has a drawback – it doesn’t have a side or bottom drain, so you have to flip the cooler over to remove the water.​

Pros

  • Good size for big groups
  • Leakproof
  • Rustproof
  • Odor-resistant
  • Excellent insulation
  • The steel latches secures the contents from spilling
  • Easy to clean
  • Convenient for carrying

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Lacks a bottom/side drain
  • Difficult to transport by foot because it lacks wheels
  • Faulty latch design – it becomes unlatched if you pull the lid with enough force

5. Arctic Zone Titan Zipperless Cooler

via Amazon.com

This zipperless cooler features a DeepFreeze insulation, a leak-proof material, zipperless lid, a hard body liner with SmartShelf technology, and extra storage space on the front and mesh pockets.

The DeepFreeze insulation feature creates a barrier against heat and combines a triple layer Cold Blockbase for superior cooling. In addition, the trademark of this cooler is its flip-open zipperless lid that provides easy and fast access to the contents.

With regards to the interior of the cooler, it has a removable SmartShelf technology which allows you to separate soft foods like sandwiches from hard-bodies cans and bottles to prevent crushing the soft foods. Also, the exterior material of the bag is waterproof and stain resistant.

Pros

  • Good size for 1-2 persons
  • Leakproof
  • Odor-resistant
  • Easy to drain
  • Easy to clean
  • Convenient to carry
  • Extra storage space is a plus
  • Waterproof exterior

Cons

  • The melted ice may spill if the bag is tilted (no zippers on the sides to prevent spills)
  • Light insulation (one day tops)
  • he hard liner may break if dropped (it’s just thin plastic)

The Verdict

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In the round-up review, we’ve included big coolers fit for a big group of campers and small coolers ideal for 1-2 campers.

The best choice for a big cooler is the Rubbermaid Ice Chest because it’s portable, convenient to carry, has advanced features like built-in can holders and a split-lid design, and it also offers excellent insulation.

In contrast, the ideal option for a small cooler would be the Coleman Soft Cooler With Hard Liner due to its stellar features such as the hard-liner, spill-proof zippers, extra storage compartments, and good insulation.

Don’t miss out on cold refreshments and fresh meat just because you’re camping. Bring a camping cooler with you to camp! At the end of the day, the best way to maximize your outdoor stay is to dine and drink with your fellow campers. Have fun camping!

Hey there! What camping cooler are you using now? Do you have one from our list? Do you have other recommendations? Comment below!

Are you glad you came to the right place for your quest in finding the best camping cooler? If so, share this article to show some appreciation. Cheers!

Cindy Herrera
 

I’m Cindy, a free-spirited outdoor enthusiast. Since childhood, I was very much exposed to the outdoor environment. Our family frequently goes on weekend camps and my father, who was a skilled hunter, used to teach me and my siblings valuable things about wildlife survival. Now that I’m a married woman with two wonderful kids, it’s hard to keep up with outdoor activities while parenting at the same time… so I made this blog to share the best of my knowledge, experiences, and tips from other bloggers to you, my fellow outdoor enthusiast because merely talking about the outdoors makes me feel closer to it.

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