Keeping food cold and safe to eat is important when camping out in the woods, and having the best camping coolers will ensure that a well-insulated interior keeps your food cool and dry.
Our camping expert reviewed dozens of different camping coolers to determine the top pick. Their #1 choice is the Yeti Tundra 65, a robust cooler with an impressive capacity of 65 quarts that’ll keep your food and drink cold for days.
Our Expert’s Top 5 Best Coolers for Camping
Here are the top picks from our expert. Compare the ratings and features of different models.
|Best Overall||Yeti Tundra 65||34lbs||52qts|
|Best Budget||Igloo BMX||16.33lbs||52qts|
|Best Powered Cooler||Dometic CFX28 Electric Powered Cooler||28.88lbs||26qts|
|Best Wheeled Cooler||Coleman Xtreme Wheeled Cooler||12.8lbs||50qts|
|Best Portable Cooler||Yeti Hopper Portable Cooler||3.3lbs||8.4qts|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Buy a Camping Cooler
- Long-term campers – If you’re camping for a few days, you’ll want to have a high-quality camping cooler. Keeping your food and drink cold for days is easy when you’re using the best camping coolers.
- Party hosts – Are you hosting a party at your campsite? If so, you’ll need a durable and well-insulated camping cooler to keep everyone’s drinks cold for hours.
- Backyard warriors – If your yard is the hangout of the block, the best camping cooler will ensure you always have plenty of room when your neighbor brings over a case of new craft beer.
Who Should Not Buy a Camping Cooler
- Occasional campers – Do you hit the trail once every few years? If so, you might not need to invest in a high-quality camping cooler.
- Backpackers – there’s no room for a cooler in your backpack. Enough said.
Research Tips (from a Camping Expert)
Many people often ask how you choose the best camping cooler. Truth be told, it’s an investment when you go for a premium option over something cheap. If you’re planning on keeping food and drinks cold for extended periods of time, it’ll be important that you put in enough research before making a decision. Here are some of the most crucial factors to consider before making a purchase.
- How is the insulation? The insulation on your cooler is the single most important aspect. A lot of coolers will provide ratings based on the materials used to insulate them and how much of those materials were used. You’ll want to have a solid idea of how well insulated your cooler is before purchasing it.
- How long will it keep food cold? You should have a firm number on how long the cooler will refrigerate or freeze items for. When choosing the best camping cooler, keep in mind how long you’ll need to keep the food cold and how cold it will need to be to remain safe and edible.
- Is it portable? Where is your campsite? Is it a two-mile walk from wherever you park your car? If that’s the case, carrying a giant Yeti cooler isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need something small and handheld, or a larger cooler with wheels.
- Is there a drain? The drain is an important feature, especially when talking about heavy and expensive coolers. You don’t want to pick up a 50+ quart cooler and dump all the water out. Having a drain is also a great way to ensure that food doesn’t get wet because the drain can let melting ice flow out naturally as it melts.
- What is the capacity? Capacity is another big factor because you never want to find out you don’t have enough room to store all the food and drink you’ve brought with you. Make sure the capacity is enough for the number of people you’re camping with and the length of time you’ll be out in the woods.
How Much Do They Cost?
Between $100 and $750
The price range for camping coolers can vary dramatically because you have huge brands like Yeti, Coleman, and Igloo all competing in different ways, but you can usually expect to pay between $100 and $750. Yeti typically doesn’t try to do anything to cut costs and comes right out as a premium brand charging the highest prices. Coleman finds themselves somewhere in the middle and Igloo would definitely be considered the bargain brand.
The Best Camping Coolers: Full Reviews
The Yeti Tundra 65 is the cream of the crop when it comes to durable, functional, and long-lasting camping coolers. People all over the world use these coolers for a variety of different purposes, and it holds up well. It comes with a 52-quart capacity which is more than enough to store food and drinks for a number of people at the campsite.
If we’re talking about insulation, this cooler has it. It comes with a fatwall design which allows the manufacturer to insert two full inches of insulation in the walls to ensure the ice never melts. It also comes with permafrost insulation – a pressure-injected polyurethane foam that gets inserted into the walls and lid to add another layer of protection against the heat.
Lastly, this cooler is a tank. You needn’t worry about either the cooler or its contents getting damaged. Nothing can break through the hard exterior of this cooler. It’s durable and the lid clips are strong enough to handle years of wear and tear. The Yeti Tundra 65 is my own go-to camping cooler, and it’s held up well during the two years I’ve had it.
- Superior insulation
- Yeti brand
- 52-quart capacity
- Hefty price tag
When you’re on a budget, something like a Yeti cooler might not cut it. If that’s the case, the Igloo BMX will work perfectly fine. Best of all, it’s a 52-quart cooler with a rugged exterior and a great reputation in the industry. It also comes at a fraction of the cost of the Yeti Tundra 65 and boasts many of the same features. It has blow-molded construction with a reinforced base to ensure that nothing scrapes or damages the bottom and causes a leak. It also comes with a useful drain on the right side that you can use to drain water out as it melts.
According to Igloo, the BMX has a 4-5 day ice retention at 90 degrees. It can hold up to 83 cans and it’s rust-resistant with handles on the sides to make it easier to carry and transport. The Igloo cooler also contains a unique piece of technology called “Cooler Riser Technology.” This feature is said to actually raise the cooler up off hot surfaces so the heat can’t penetrate through the exterior and melt the ice inside. For a cooler that’s priced affordably, it still does a good job holding its own against much more expensive coolers. All told you can’t go wrong with the Igloo if you’re on a budget.
- Well insulated
- 4-5 day ice retention
- Cool riser technology
- Lacking a rubber seal or gasket on the lid
- Lid hardware is a little flimsy
Are you looking for something really unique? Have you ever considered a refrigerated cooler for your camping needs? The Dometic CFX28 Electric Powered Cooler is great as long as you have an emergency backup power source or a backup battery. This cooler runs primarily on battery power but it does come with a 12/24 volt DC cord that you can use to charge it from a car or external power source if necessary. It features a temperature memory panel so it can remember the temperature you need based on what you’re storing inside.
One of my favorite things about this cooler is that it comes with two separate compartments. Each of these sections can freeze to -7 degrees without requiring any ice. No more having to drain water, no more wet food, and no more worrying about running out of ice. If you have a way to charge it or a way to maintain the battery life, you’re good to go.
This cooler could make a great addition to a long-term campsite with electric power. In the event you’re sleeping in a camper and need a little extra storage for campsite drinks, this could be the option for you. However, if you’re roughing it and have no access to electricity (i.e., primitive camping), then this cooler may not cut it.
- No ice necessary
- Portable and relatively lightweight
- Requires a power source
- Not ideal for wilderness camping
If you’re looking for a cooler with the capacity to hold all your food and drink but still be portable, go for the Coleman Portable Wheeled Cooler. At 12.8 pounds, it’s the second lightest of our picks and it comes with heavy-duty wheels and a telescoping handle that makes it easy to transport over any terrain. Once you’ve reached your destination and are ready to enjoy the evening, there are built-in cup holders to help prevent spills.
This cooler has a capacity of 50 quarts – enough for 84 cans – and boasts an insulated lid and walls that can keep its contents cool in temperatures of up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for up to five days. For even more convenience, the cooler also comes complete with a leak-resistant drain, so when it’s time to pack up and come home, the cooler can be easily emptied of any excess water.
All these features combined, plus its low price, make the Coleman Portable Wheeled Cooler great value for money.
- 50-quart capacity
- Keeps cool for 5 days
- Telescoping handle
- Great value for money
- Wheels need to be a little more robust
Last but not least, how about a cooler that maximizes portability and functionality? The Yeti Hopper is the perfect choice for a single person or a couple looking to bring a few snacks and drinks on a hike, hunting, or fishing. The cooler comes with a comfortable strap you can throw over your shoulder, and the soft-sided cooler is portable enough to fit underneath the bench of your boat or even in a large backpack.
It comes with an 8.4-quart capacity which is enough to store up to six cans and enough ice to keep them all cool. It also features a 100% leakproof HydroLok zipper and a wide mouth opening that makes it easier to get what you want. Lastly, the one thing a lot of people worry about with soft-sided coolers is their durability. As you’d expect, that’s not an issue with Yeti, as this cooler comes with a DryHide Shell which is waterproof and puncture-resistant, so it can easily stand up to years of abuse.
- Highly portable
- Well insulated
- Yeti brand
- The zipper is flimsy
Frequently Asked Questions
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- Yeti. Warranty Information. Yeti.com. Accessed October 2, 2021.