The 10 Best Camping Coolers

Updated September 25, 2017 by Melissa Harr

10 Best Camping Coolers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. When you need something that can keep your food and drinks chilled for longer than just a picnic or day at the beach, it's time to invest in one of these camping coolers. Built with extra-thick insulation, most can maintain ice for several days even in blistering outdoor temperatures, and are available in highly portable or "feed the family for a week" sizes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best camping cooler on Amazon.

10. OAGear Backpack Cooler

If you want to take a long hike into the woods for an overnight camp, the OAGear Backpack Cooler might be just right. It's comfortable to carry and has front and side pockets to help you keep everything organized. A double heat-sealed PEVA liner prevents leakage.
  • modestly priced
  • range of color choices
  • interior is prone to ripping
Brand OAGear
Model wclbp-gray
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Engel USA UC13C1

The Engel USA UC13C1 has an airtight O-ring seal that will keep water out even if it gets fully submerged, which allows it to function as a dry box, too. It also features stainless steel latches and quality hardware that make it impervious to nosy animal paws.
  • self-stopping hinge
  • odor-resistant interior
  • not resistant to extreme heat
Brand Engel
Model UC13C1
Weight 6 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

8. AO Coolers Canvas Soft

Crafted with a vinyl liner that’s made from the same materials as above-ground pools, the AO Coolers Canvas Soft promises to hold ice for 24 hours, even in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can choose between 12-, 24-, 36-, and 48-can sizes.
  • outside won't scratch car upholstery
  • convenient clip-down ends
  • may begin leaking with extended use
Brand AO Coolers
Model AO36RB
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Igloo Maxcold Ultra Roller

The Igloo Maxcold Ultra Roller saves your back, thanks to handy wheels and a swing-up tow handle that’s wide enough to accommodate bigger hands. Load up to 40 quarts’ worth of beverages, snacks, and meals, then roll it to wherever you need to go.
  • stain-resistant liner
  • lighter than many comparable items
  • lacks gasket for tighter seal
Brand Igloo
Model 45266-PARENT
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Kelty Folding

The Kelty Folding won't keep your stuff cold as long as better insulated models, but it makes up for that with portability and compact storage. Fold it down and zip it completely flat when it’s not in use; when you’re ready to fill it, unzip and Velcro panels into place.
  • rip-proof polyester fabric
  • two sizes available
  • molded eva foam lid
Brand Kelty
Model 24668712FG
Weight 7.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Orca 40-Quart

Made in the USA, the Orca 40-Quart has flex-grip extendable handles for easy toting, a cargo net attachment for extra storage, and a rotomolded construction for longevity. You can also expect a perfect seal with its heavy-duty lid gasket.
  • lifetime warranty included
  • tough feet for stability
  • well-established company
Brand Orca
Model TP0400
Weight 29 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted

The sleek, retro styling of the Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted invokes images of campgrounds of yesteryear, while its modern construction makes it durable, rust-resistant, and solid. It’s also highly functional, with a “Have-A-Seat” lid that lets it do double duty.
  • easy-to-use channel drain
  • holds up to 85 cans
  • hinges could be better quality
Brand Coleman
Model pending
Weight 20.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Pelican ProGear Elite

The Pelican ProGear Elite fits the bill whether you plan on spending up to ten days at sea or in the woods. Even left out in the sun, it’ll keep ice and food cold thanks to its freezer-grade gasket that’s designed to lock in precious cool air.
  • press-and-pull latches
  • tethered and threaded plug
  • padlock compatible
Brand Pelican
Model pending
Weight 36 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

2. Igloo Glide Pro

The Igloo Glide Pro is ideal for those isolated areas that are far from car access. It has a long telescoping handle so you can roll it without hunching, while its rally wheels will take on rocky, uneven terrain. And at 110 quarts, it holds a lot of food.
  • zinc-plated metal hinges
  • built-in fish-measuring ruler
  • works well for large families
Brand Igloo
Model 45184
Weight 31 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Yeti Tundra 35

The Yeti Tundra 35 is small enough to be carried easily but still holds ample necessities for a couple of days in the wilderness. Its walls are extremely thick at nearly 3 inches, which makes this model not only greatly insulating but also bear-resistant.
  • can fit in an inner tube
  • includes dry goods basket
  • sturdy one-piece construction
Brand YETI
Model 10035010000
Weight 26.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Planning The Perfect Camping Trip

When planning a camping trip, the journey defines the gear you'll bring more than the destination. If you're hiking many miles overland, you can't bring a bunch of folding chairs and a boombox and a BBQ grill, no matter how much those items would spruce up the campsite. If you're camping out near your car, however, go ahead and bring all that and more. If you're canoeing downriver to a campsite, feel free to toss a large cooler in the boat, but make sure it's one that seals tightly in case you capsize. And if you're climbing a mountain, make sure you account for every ounce you'll have on your back, because you'll pay for excess weight with lactic acid.

Common sense dictates that you bring enough clothing for potentially cold temperatures and to be changed when soiled, enough water (and/or the ability to purify more) to stay thoroughly hydrated, and proper gear for sleeping in comfort and safety. You also might need headlamps, crampons, ropes, and dozens of other sundries; it's up to you to make sure you have all the gear necessary for the outing at hand.

As for the items you bring camping intended make your trip more fun, that's entirely subjective. Perhaps a guitar is your idea of a campsite commodity, or maybe you want to bring along a few books. Whatever you choose to bring, make sure not to weigh yourself down too much, and make sure to plan out your meals before you start adding in "luxury" items.

Far too often, hikers and campers assemble their gear and think they have an amount of weight they can comfortably carry before they take into consideration the food and water they will also bring. Food weight adds up quickly, and should be your next consideration after you have the basics (as touched on above) covered. And don't forget that along with the weight of the food itself comes the weight of cookware and food storage containers, i.e. the camping cooler.

Choosing A Camping Cooler

If you're hiking overland, a large hard-walled cooler is the wrong choice; if you're car camping or traveling by boat, a hard-walled, cube-shaped cooler is a great choice. Wheeled hard-sided coolers are great for shorter treks, such as the trip down to the beach from the cabin or out onto the docks, but they won't help much at all on longer trails.

As with the rest of your gear, the journey dictates which camping cooler is right for you and which an illogical choice. Backpack style coolers are great for trekking but won't keep foods cold for nearly as long as larger solid coolers, many of which can keep items below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for days.

You will have to make sacrifices when choosing the right camp cooler, just know that going into the process. For hikers, weight is more important than capacity. Choose a smaller, easy-to-carry cooler and plan the parts of your meals that need cooling accordingly. If you're not covering much land, go ahead and bring along a case of brew in an oversized cooler, but know that you'll not be straying far from your campsite with cold food.

A Guide To Great Camp Cuisine

There's no way to make a camping trip more pleasurable (beyond camping with people whose company you enjoy) than by making sure your meals are great. Especially after a long day's hike fueled only by energy bars and beef jerky, a hot, hearty meal makes the perfect end to a day in the field. So too does a warm, filling breakfast fuel you and the team for a long trek, climb, or simply for a great day enjoying the outdoors.

As with gear, so too is weight the major consideration when it comes to planning your campsite cuisine. As much as possible, you should plan the protein portion of your meal around meats (or vegetarian equivalents) that require no additional ingredients, e.g. steaks, fish fillets, or pork chops that taste great on their own as opposed burgers or hot dogs that need buns and may necessitate condiments, all of which take up space and add weight.

When planning the grain/starch portion of you meals, consider fast-cooking options like couscous or angel hair spaghetti. Rice or thicker pastas requiring long cook periods are a bad idea unless you plan to cook over a fire, as the extra time needed will drain lots of stove fuel. Bread is not a bad item to bring along if you're not hiking long distances; while bulky, bread isn't heavy. Ultimately, though, dried grain-based foods that are cooked in water are your best bet. There's a reason hikers and mountaineers have long eaten oatmeal, after all, and it's not because all outdoorsmen love the stuff.

And for the record, these ideas for cooking grains only work if you have a readily available source of water and a filter (or iodine tablets) that can ensure it is clean and safe for drinking and cooking.

Vegetables like carrots and dark greens like kale are great campsite eats, as they can be enjoyed cooked or raw. Lettuce or celery has no place in the field, as you get few calories from these veggies; you'll be burning enough energy such that you want highly caloric foods.

As far as condiments to spice up and sweeten your meal, try for hot sauces and soy-based marinades, both of which pack a punch, unlike ketchup or mayo, which must be heaped on to be thoroughly enjoyed.

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Last updated on September 25, 2017 by Melissa Harr

Melissa is a writer, editor, and EFL educator from the U.S. She's worked in the field since earning her B.A. in 2012, during which time she's judged fiction contests, taught English in Asia, and authored e-courses about arts and crafts. In her free time, she likes to make stuff out of sticks and string.

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