Which cooler for camping is best?
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of our modern digital world. We can forget that everything we have comes from the earth. Going camping is an excellent way to remind us of this while relaxing away from our stressors. Using a cooler for camping keeps your drinks cold and certain foods safe to eat while you’re out.
If you’re struggling to decide which cooler to buy, take a look at the Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler — Yeti is the number one brand in coolers.
What to know before you buy a cooler for camping
Types of coolers for camping
There are three main types of coolers: hard, soft and beverage.
- Hard coolers are almost always your best bet for camping. They’re highly durable, have large amounts of insulation and have the largest capacities. They can be heavy, though, which only gets worse the more you pack in.
- Soft coolers can be better choices if you have to trek a long distance from your car to your campsite. You can use them while backpacking if you absolutely must keep something cold. They’re made of light material like canvas and have moderate insulation.
- Beverage coolers make for handy accessories to your main cooler, so you can keep the main cooler closed and cold for longer. They usually only hold a few cans or bottles at a time, enough for two people camping overnight.
Coolers are usually made from plastic, metal or fabric.
- Plastic coolers are most common. They’re exceptionally light, making them easier to move when full. They’re well-insulated, enough to keep items cold for a few days.
- Metal coolers are less common. They’re naturally heavy, which can make transporting a full cooler to your campsite difficult. They’re far more insulated and can keep items cold for several days. They’re expensive and slightly less durable, however.
- Fabric is used for soft and beverage coolers. These are designed with maximum portability in mind, with their insulation levels suffering as a result. They’re best used as an accessory to a plastic or metal cooler.
What to look for in a quality cooler for camping
Ice metals eventually, no matter what you do. Before you add more ice, you need to drain it. Try to find a cooler with a drain plug along its bottom edge. This way you can tip your cooler to the side and let the water out rather than unloading your cooler and tipping it upside-down.
Handles and wheels
Transporting a full cooler can be made much easier with the presence of handles or wheels. Some coolers have no handles at all, choosing to use hollows along the edge of the lid for your fingers to grip. Wheels are typically reserved for heavy and/or large coolers.
How much you can expect to spend on a cooler for camping
Coolers for camping are available at all price ranges to best fit how often you camp. The once-a-year camper can find options for $50-$100, while occasional campers can spend $100-$200. Monthly campers can look to spend up to $400.
Cooler for camping FAQ
Can I use dry ice in a cooler?
A. Most of the time, yes. There are a few coolers out there that may be damaged if dry ice is used, but most should be just fine. You need to line your dry ice with an additional insulator like blankets, however. If you intend to use dry ice every time, it’s best to buy a cooler that’s specifically made for such a cooling method. This way you won’t need to perform special actions, as there are compartments included to hold the dry ice.
How long will a cooler keep my stuff cold?
A. That depends on a variety of factors, including aspects of your cooler and the environmental conditions around it. A higher-quality cooler is typically able to keep its contents colder for longer. They aren’t strong enough to last more than a day or two when in direct sunlight and in high heats, however. You can help extend this period by packing your cooler as full as possible and by attempting to limit how often you open its lid.
What are the best coolers for camping to buy?
Top cooler for camping
What you need to know: The Yeti brand is the biggest and best name in coolers for a reason.
What you’ll love: This cooler is one of the most durable, most reliable and coldest-keeping coolers on the market. It’s available in nine color options, including three shades of blue. It has multiple tie-down points for keeping it secure. It has enough internal height to keep a bottle of wine upright.
What you should consider: This cooler is one of the most expensive on the market. When full of ice and food, it can be too heavy to move alone.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods
Top cooler for camping for the money
What you need to know: This low-cost cooler is a superb choice for the infrequent camper.
What you’ll love: It’s available in five color options, though each option has a different cost. It can hold up to 83 standard cans, not including ice. UV inhibitors protect the material from sun damage. T-grips help keep the lid tightly sealed. The base is reinforced.
What you should consider: It has a sloped lid, meaning you can’t use it as an additional table. Pieces of the handle can become dislodged, leading to possible handle breakage.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This cooler option is perfect for the once-a-year camper.
What you’ll love: It has a capacity of up to 100 standard cans, not including ice. The lid is reinforced so the cooler can be used as a chair. The lid can also be used as a table and features four cupholders.
What you should consider: Ice doesn’t stay solid as long as is advertised. Some consumers reported issues with rainwater being able to seep inside the cooler.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.