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The best coolers in 2021

Cooler
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best coolers are a must-have during these hot summer months, particularly if you’ve got any barbecues or camping trips lined up. It should keep your drinks cool for days at a time, while also being able to insulate if necessary. On top of this, a good cooler should be convenient to use and maneuver.

However, coolers are available in a huge range of sizes and designs, so many that it can be difficult to tell which one would be best for you. Some come in a small and portable backpack style, while others can fit hundreds of drinks, ideal if you’re throwing a party. Some even come with tons of extras, such as cupholders and towing attachments. To help you decide, we’ve found the best coolers the market has to offer.

What are the best coolers?

After extensive research, we’ve found the best cooler to be the RovR RollR rolling cooler. This is because it’s much more than just a cooler, it’s actually the ultimate outdoor BBQ accessory. With a useful pop-up storage bin, cutting board and optional bike attachment, this cooler comes with an array of accessories and add-ons. You can even upgrade it into a mobile wagon, which is brilliant for moving it around. It’s available in three sizes and a selection of colors as well. 

If you’re in the market for a more traditional design of cooler, then the Coleman 54 Quart Steel Belted Cooler is worth considering. It may not feature any add-ons or accessories as some others do on this list, but it serves its purpose — it will chill your drinks and it will support your weight if you sit on it. In fact, it can accommodate up to 250 pounds! It’s unfortunately only available in one size, but there are six colors to choose from.

Should you be looking for something more durable, then the Pelican Elite could be the cooler for you. Its heavy-duty design is available from a 12-quart size up to a huge 150 quarts and it features 3-inch locking latches, a reinforced lockable hasp and an anti-shear hinge system. It’s not the cheapest, with the 70-quart model costing $350, but it does come with a lifetime warranty, which shows Pelican’s confidence in this cooler.    

The best coolers you can buy today

RovR RollR Wheeled Camping Rolling Cooler (Image credit: RovR)

1. RovR RollR Wheeled Camping Rolling Cooler

The best cooler overall

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 45, 60, 80
Can Capacity: 60 (plus 10 pounds of ice) to 80 cans (plus 20 pounds of ice)
Ice Retention (Days): 7 to 10
Size: 24.0 x 22.0 x 21.0 inches to 28.0 x 25.0 x 25.0 inches
Weight: 37 pounds to 64 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Optional bike attachment+Puncture-resistant tires+Lots of customization options
Reasons to avoid
-Less spacious than advertised, according to reviews-5-year warranty could be longer

If we’re talking outdoor essentials with a sense of flair, nothing comes close to the RovR Wheeled Cooler. In fact, this thing is practically a mobile home for food and drink. Let’s start from the bottom up: the 9-inch high-performance, puncture-resistant tires are perfect for any terrain, from concrete to deep sand. A pop-up storage bin converts the RollR into a temporary wagon--perfect for short trips into bear country. (Did I mention this cooler is certified bear resistant? Well, it is.)

What’s unique about the RollR cooler is its upgradeability. What does this mean, exactly? It’s all about the accessories. For a few extra bucks, you can install cup holders, electric lanterns, and even an umbrella holder to the RollR itself. And speaking of trips, the optional bike rack lets you tow this cooler/wagon/tiny house with aplomb. 

When it comes to innovative functionality, the RovR RollR is tough to beat. It’s quite possibly the best cooler (and camping accessory) you never knew you needed. (And if you have a little more to spend, the 80-quart option is worth the splurge.) 

Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler (Image credit: Coleman)

2. Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler

The best cooler for those on a budget

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 54
Can Capacity: 78
Ice Retention (Days): 4
Size: 25.1 x 17.5 x 17.2 inches
Weight: 19.0 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Classic design+Rock-solid construction+250-pound weight limit
Reasons to avoid
-Less portable than other models-Only one size option

Over the age of 30? You might recognize this cooler from your childhood. Heck, you might recognize it no matter what. That’s because the iconic Steel-Belted Cooler is an oldie but a goodie. This no-nonsense stainless steel unit has a 54-quart capacity (or 85 beverage cans), and like other models in the Coleman line, its Have-a-Seat lid supports up to 250 pounds. The scorching heat is no match for this bad boy; it offers 4-day ice retention, even in temperatures as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

While aesthetics should come last when considering a cooler, this one sure aims to please. Combined with excellent portability, ease of use, and a competitive price point, this is one of the best coolers on the block. For the nostalgia types, you can get this cooler in the traditional Coleman green, or opt for matte black, red, silver, stainless steel, or turquoise models.

Pelican Elite Cooler (Image credit: Pelican)

3. Pelican Elite Cooler

The best cooler for outdoorsy types

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 20, 30, 50, 70, 150
Can Capacity: 15 to 216
Ice Retention (Days): 5 to 10
Size: 18.8 x 17.7 x 12.6 inches to 45.0 x 25.0 x 24.4 inches
Weight: 12.5 pounds to 66 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Excellent ice retention+Self-draining beverage holders+Materials are built to last+Lifetime warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

It might be on the expensive side, but the Pelican Elite Cooler is built like a tank. (Which is probably why it comes with a lifetime warranty.) Boasting up to a 150-quart, 216-can capacity, the Elite Cooler will take anything you throw at it--or inside it, for that matter. This monster has two inches of polyurethane insulation with a 360-degree freezer-grade gasket, which means exceptional ice retention for the long haul. (Up to 10 days, depending on weather conditions.) You won’t have to worry about rotting food anymore. 

The ergonomic design is held to a higher standard, and it shows. Durability is the standout feature here, and the hard-molded plastic is meant to withstand the harshest of elements. Add in a few more perks—a fish ruler, built-in bottle opener, easy-to-open latches—and this is one of the best coolers money can buy. It might even be the last cooler you ever need to buy.

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler (Image credit: Arctic Zone)

4. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler

The best bang for your buck on a budget

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 12 to 55
Can Capacity: 9, 16, 30, 48
Ice Retention (Days): 2 to 3
Size: 9.6 x 9.5 x 8.0 inches to 16.5 x 10.3 x 9.0 inches
Weight: 2.0 pounds to 4.3 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Water- and stain-resistant+Convenient zipperless lid+Limited lifetime warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Underwhelming insulation-Lower-quality materials

Arctic Zone proves that the best coolers don’t have to break the bank. Available in four different sizes (and three earthy colors), the Titan Deep Freeze cooler is a great companion for budget-conscious adventurers. The flip-up lid is ideal for easy access to food and drinks, and the FDA-compliant HardBody liner is equipped with a removable shelf. It’s perfect for city dwellers and food couriers--or for when cleanliness needs to be top-of-mind.

The adjustable shoulder strap lets you move your perishables around with ease, and you’ll be the talk of your friends’ next beach day with the detachable bottle opener. (Oh, the zippered/mesh pockets on the outside are a welcome addition, too.) Arctic Zone sweetens the deal with a limited lifetime warranty. 

Reviewers reported poor insulation performance, but for the price, this is the cooler to beat. 

Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler (Image credit: YETI)

5. Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler

No frills, all chills—for a price

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 38
Can Capacity: 28
Ice Retention (Days): up to 10 days
Size: 25.8 x 16.1 x 15.4 inches
Weight: 27.7 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Materials are built to last+Excellent ice retention+Easy-to-carry handles+Molded tie-down slots
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

If you haven’t yet heard of Yeti (the cooler brand, not the Himalayan humanoid), it’s about time you did. Since 2006, this company has been churning out high-end outdoor gear, but everything started with its cooler line. Meant for the “serious outdoor enthusiast,” these coolers are absolutely designed for maximum use and abuse--from mountaineers to fishermen to big game hunters. 

It’s the extreme attention to detail that puts this cooler ahead of the pack. The freezer-quality Coldlock gasket keeps your ice retention on point; the Lipgrip handles make transporting the cooler more comfortable; the leakproof design is easy to drain; the T-Rex lid hatches keep everything in place; and the molded tie-down slots make it easy to attach the cooler to a boat, trailer, or truck bed. You won’t find any extra features—like built-in cupholders or bottle openers—but the Yeti Tundra does its job, and well. 

Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler (Image credit: Igloo)

6. Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler

A portable cooler at an excellent price

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 25
Can Capacity: 34
Ice Retention (Days): 4 to 5
Size: 19.6 x 15.7 x 13.3 inches
Weight: 11.3 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Affordable and portable+Excellent insulation+Comfortable carrying handle
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks airtight/watertight seal-Somewhat flimsy hinges, according to reviews

Some of the best coolers out there can be on the pricey side, but Igloo proves you don’t need to break the bank to get one. This 25-quart cooler boasts heavy duty blow-molded construction and a reinforced base, which means the BMX 25 can take a little abuse; the rust-resistant, stainless-steel hardware should provide peace of mind while it’s bouncing around in the back of your truck. (Or getting rained on in the driveway.)   

Thanks to Cool Riser Technology—which elevates the molded base to improve cooling performance—you can count on up to 5 days of ice retention; the extra-thick foam walls and insulated lid do the rest. A fish ruler and four tie-down points are both welcome perks, and the skid pads on the corners add an extra layer of protection. Not bad for a cooler that costs less than $100.

YETI Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler (Image credit: YETI)

7. YETI Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler

A leakproof, portable cooler that’s worth the splurge

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 30
Can Capacity: 20
Ice Retention (Days): Unspecified
Size: 25.0 x 17.5 x 12.0 inches
Weight: 7 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Attractive, leakproof design+Useful accessories+Easily portable+Lots of compatible accessories
Reasons to avoid
-Magnets are so strong it’s tricky to keep it open while you use 

This is a fantastic cooler for keeping your stuff chilled, but that’s not all it does. The YETI Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler stands out for its wide mouth and magnetised closing with buckles. This means it can withstand impacts without opening up. And that’s just the start. The dryhide shell is also resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays, and the liner is constructed from FDA-approved food-grade material.  

The “hitchpoint grid” lets you clip stuff to the cooler itself, such as a bottle opener or YETI Sidekick Dry bag (not included). The wide strap makes the Hopper easy to lug around, and the added grips on the side are a welcome design choice. This cooler isn’t cheap, and the magnetised closing can be awkward to keep open as you load and unload, but for busy parents and day-trippers, it just might be a chilly godsend.

OtterBox Trooper LT 30 Cooler (Image credit: Otterbox)

8. Otterbox Trooper LT 30 Cooler

The best cooler for full pedestrian mobility

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 30
Can Capacity: 50
Ice Retention (Days): 3
Size: 11 x 17 x 21 inches
Weight: 6.7 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Includes padded shoulder strap or backpack carrying options+Leakproof seal+Lifetime warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Some reviewers were not convinced by the strength of the lining 

That’s right, OtterBox doesn't just make phone cases. For those who don’t mind schlepping stuff around on their back, the Trooper LT 30 cooler might just be the perfect fit. Not only is this one of the best coolers around, but it’s also an uber-convenient option when you need to take your foodstuffs off the beaten path. And it holds an awful lot (for a backpack): up to 30 quarts or 50 cans. Another standout feature of the Trooper LT is the accessory mounting system, which lets you install cup holders, storage racks, and other useful goodies (not included). 

An adjustable shoulder strap offers alternative carrying options to even out the load, and exterior pockets (OtterPockets?) are an added bonus. The Duraflex tie-downs are ideal for sporting events, road trips, and fishing expeditions; it’s even rated IP-65 to protect against rough river rapids and relentless riptides.

Coleman Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler (Image credit: Coleman)

9. Coleman Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler

Large-capacity cooling on a budget

Specifications
Quart Capacity: 62
Can Capacity: 85
Ice Retention (Days): 5
Size: 31.5 x 17 x 15.5 inches
Weight: 14 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive+Good insulation+Super portable
Reasons to avoid
-Not as durable as other models-Wheels are a little clunky

Coleman is an affordable outdoor brand that’s been around for ages. When it comes to quality materials that are built to last, their cooler line has always been top-notch. Case-in-point: The Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler is perfect for casual camping trips, baseball games, family reunions, and more. This model holds up to 62 quarts (or 85 soda pop cans, if you prefer), and it’s easy to cart around with the included flip-up handle. (Though some reviewers found the wheels to be a tad clunky.)

A good cooler is also a good travel accessory, and Coleman includes four molded cup holders built right into the lid. The Xtreme 5 is meant to be sat on, too; as an ad-hoc stool, it can hold up to 250 pounds without breaking a sweat. (Pun intended.) The extra insulation retains ice for up to 5 days, and the leak-resistant channel drain makes clean-up a snap.

How to choose the best cooler for you 

Before pulling the trigger on a new cooler, the first thing to consider is size, which directly affects how portable your foodstuffs will be. (You also don’t want to purchase something that’s too bulky for your body type.) You’ll need to decide between a soft or hard cooler: the former is usually more comfortable to carry around, but for higher storage capacities, you’ll want the latter. 

Durability and ease of use should also be top of mind. Latches should fasten each compartment together securely; seals should remain tight over time; hardware should stay in place.

Depending on your lifestyle’s food-and-beverage-cooling demands, insulation performance is perhaps the most important factor. After all, a cooler’s primary purpose is to keep things...well, cold. The best coolers can keep ice from melting for up to a full week, while less expensive models might only last a day or so.

If you have a little more coin to spend, look for coolers with special features in the fine print: exterior storage compartments, cup holders, cutting boards, bottle openers, umbrella holders, and bike attachments can be found on the higher-end models. 

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TJ Fink

As a freelance writer, mobile tech journalist, and molecular mixologist, TJ has over a decade of extroverted storytelling under his belt. As a full-time human, he's also passionate about everything outdoors; he'll never stop exploring this beautiful planet. When he’s not coddiwompling through the Catskills, TJ can be found sipping Negronis in his living room and crafting Dr. Seussian poetry inside a tattered moleskin.