The 7 Best Speaker Coolers
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in January of 2016. Are you fully prepared to rock out at your next pool party or beach trip while keeping your drinks chilled at the same time? No? Then check out these nifty speaker coolers, which will help cut down on the number of things you need to carry by not only offering a way to keep your beer and soda refreshingly cold, but also delivering impressive stereo sound streamed from just about any device. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 05, 2021:
This remains a tricky category to navigate, without many models to choose from and mixed reviews found throughout, but we did our best to sift through the questionable options to find the solid choices scattered among them. As the last editor for this page did a good job of purging these rankings of low-quality offerings, during this list’s last update, most of our existing selections made it through this time, although we did wind up removing the Kube Storage due to availability issues, as it appeared to be sold out everywhere — including the company’s own website.
We also replaced the Budweiser Portable Soft Bag with the Budweiser Chair. Both options are essentially soft coolers with a 24-can capacity, but we liked the way that the latter offering incorporated a simple stool with a 250-pound weight limit into its design, making it an excellent pick for bonfires and outdoor sporting events. The affordability of both these options is a major selling point, too.
Budweiser’s basic strategy in the Bluetooth speaker space seems to be plastering its logo on budget-friendly electronics that undercut the competition, which boils down to good marketing for them and good value for consumers — so long as you don’t mind beer-branded gear. Notably, there’s also some Corona-branded options out there that take the same approach (unsurprisingly, given that the same parent company owns both brands), but none made our list, as they basically seem to be clones of existing Budweiser selections.
Our new additions also included a couple of larger, rigid options: the Wet Sounds Stealth SHIVR55 and CoolBox Entertainment. Both are nice-looking models that are available in several colors, and our choice from CoolBox does have a few bells and whistles that the SHIVR55 doesn’t – like an integrated digital clock, two USB charge ports and a compartment to stash your smartphone – but our rankings ultimately favored the SHIVR55 because of its four built-in cup holders, its six-speaker array and the fact that its battery life is about twice as long.
March 09, 2020:
For this update, we removed four of our previous options, primarily due to recent negative reviews highlighting quality issues.
After extensive research, we were only able to find one option that we felt confident enough to add to our list. This new option is the futuristic Kube Storage, an elegant, silver cooler that looks more appropriate carrying wine bottles than beer cans. Although it's quite expensive, this model doesn't skimp on the features. Its speakers create a 360-degree wall of sound, the 300-foot wireless range lets you control the tunes from a distance, and with 50 hours of battery life, you can haul it out on the boat without worrying about running out of juice.
The Game Before The Game
They cook hot dogs and burgers, toss footballs around, and they drink.
There’s a ritual here in America that takes place outside of football stadiums in the hours leading up to kickoff. Fans of the home team show up as early as the stadium’s parking lots will allow. They set up grills, tables, chairs, games like corn hole, and large outdoor enclosures. They cook hot dogs and burgers, toss footballs around, and they drink. And they drink. And they drink.
This is the ritual of tailgating, a name derived from the back portion of a truck, which is where the majority of this kind of partying takes place. It’s a fascinating form of communal bonding among fans, as people who may not be the more gregarious neighbors on the block suddenly want to share their food and booze with complete strangers (as long as they’re wearing the right team’s colors). It’s almost a kind of tribalism that you rarely see outside of music festivals and, well, tribes.
One of the strangest things about it is its legality. Many football stadiums are on publicly funded land, and many of the stadiums themselves are largely funded or subsidized with taxpayer money. If that’s the case, then the open container laws in many cities and states should prohibit the kind of drinking that consistently goes on at tailgating parties. Fortunately for football fans, that’s rarely the case.
While it’s important to know your rights —and the rules — at a given tailgating event, it’s more important that you have fun. If you’re in violation of any local laws and the police happen to swing by, they’re more likely to tell you to stop than actually detain you.
That means you have a lot of leeway to enjoy your tailgating party as you see fit, and whether you’re pre-gaming outside of a stadium or looking to boost your level of enjoyment at the beach or a backyard barbeque, a speaker cooler can do the job.
As its name suggests, a speaker cooler is a combination of two tailgating essentials: cold beer and music (or a live game feed for ticketless tailgaters). In one cooler-shaped body resides a compartment that can keep food and beverages cool, as well as another dedicated to housing one or more powerful speakers.
What To Look For In A Speaker Cooler
When evaluating the speaker coolers on our list, it’s important to remember what these items do best. Despite the order of words in their name, they are coolers first and speakers second. Rarely will these devices have the most cutting edge audiophile technology, but that’s really not what they’re for. Their speakers are designed to provide with an ambience, a feeling from the music that doesn’t necessarily require the widest dynamic range.
With that in mind, you should evaluate these items as coolers first, and ask yourself how much space you’re going to need inside. Because they come with built-in electrical components, these items have a little less internal space than regular coolers. If you know you’re going to need a lot of space, don’t skimp on size to save money, and don’t go with a smaller model that might have slightly better audio.
When evaluating the speaker coolers on our list, it’s important to remember what these items do best.
Other aspects of cooler evaluation also apply. More straps or handles (especially retractable handles) will make the unit easier to carry. When it’s laden with drinks and ice, it’s liable to be rather heavy, as well, so a unit with wheels might be nice.
You’ll also have to decide between hard- and soft-sided models. Hard sided models tend to keep food and drink colder longer, and they’re generally more durable, but they’re also a lot more of a pain to store when they aren’t in use.
When evaluating the speaker component of a given cooler, ask yourself how you intend to listen to your media. Some units have built-in radio components that can be great at the tailgate or on the beach, while others offer little more than the speakers themselves. Also, look out for Bluetooth compatibility, as you’ll have a much easier time connecting many of today’s —and almost all of tomorrow’s — devices via Bluetooth than you will employing an auxiliary cable.
Look for variety in the speakers themselves, as well. Some units come with one or two primary speakers. These are often capable of delivering competent mid-range frequencies with a little bass, but their high-end frequencies can often feel nonexistent. A speaker cooler with one or more tweeters can really give more articulation to your sound, so if you’re adamant about getting the best sound quality possible, this is the way to go.
Finally, there’s the element of style. These coolers come in styles that range from vastly understated models that look like ordinary coolers to more stylized units made in flashy colors or to resemble old school boom boxes. This is ultimately a personal preference, but it you’re worried about someone with sticky fingers running off with your cooler, it might be wise to keep a low profile.
A Few Extras To Improve You Party
We’ve already gone over a few tailgating essentials above: the grill, some shade, a lawn game or two. We’ve also commented on the local laws governing what you can get away with at tailgating event. There are some additional steps you can take and purchases you can make to ensure the best time possible.
We’ve already gone over a few tailgating essentials above: the grill, some shade, a lawn game or two.
For starters, if you’re worried about local laws, make sure everyone has a beer koozie. These handy devices obscure the contents of a given bottle while also keeping your hand from getting too cold or moist from condensation.
You should also make sure you have an extra jersey or team hat lying around. It may sound superfluous, but if a neophyte were to arrive unknowingly rocking the colors of the opposing team, your party could get awkward fast. Having an extra piece of gear around for them to throw on will show everyone where their loyalties lie.