Whether you’re headed to the beach, tailgating before your favorite sporting event, or camping in the wild, there’s a good chance you’ll want to keep your food and drinks cold. Thankfully, the market is packed with high-quality coolers that excel at everything from short day trips to week-long adventures. Below we break down our favorite hard-sided designs of 2023, including budget-friendly Coleman models, ultra-premium YETIs, and popular offerings from brands like RTIC, ORCA, Pelican, and more. For more background information, see our cooler comparison table and buying advice below the picks. If you’re a serious hunter or angler, you need a cooler large enough to store your kill or catch for the journey home.
However, blocks are bulky and take up a lot of space in the cooler since they don’t conform around your food and cans. If we have enough space, our preferred method is to use both block and crushed ice together, coleman sundome and YETI has more great tips here. If ice retention is not an important factor for you and if you really need a wheeled cooler, Igloo Ice Cube 60qt would be a good option for those who’re tight on the budget.
Two internal baskets make loading and locating things that much easier, as you can lift out the basket to find what you need. An internal light assists in finding that last beer in the dark, and a tall interior easily accommodates your celebratory champagne. A free app on your phone lets you easily control and monitor your powered cooler without having to get out of your sleeping bag or camping chair. Choosing the right Coleman cooler really depends on what type of trip or event you are taking your cooler to. For example, if you’re taking a picnic lunch to a park in town, perhaps a soft-sided Coleman cooler is all you need. A soft-sided cooler is easy to pack, fits easily in your vehicle, takes up little space, and keeps your food and drinks cold.
Each cooler was opened only once per day to photograph where the ice level was and how well each cooler was doing. This test is just a practical, real-world test of how people actually use similar coolers. It still has high-end cooling capabilities but at a much cheaper price than the big boys. Today, I want to focus on the budget-friendly Coleman Xtreme and see how it holds up to the rest of the competition.
Other features that are still useful but are more specific to certain styles of use received lower scores. These include things like cup holders, bottle openers, and measurement notches. We also only ranked contenders based on the features they come with and not on all the accessories you could choose to purchase for an additional charge. That said, many manufacturers offer some exceptionally handy add-ons that, should you choose to purchase coleman sundome them, can easily turn a product into your perfect hunting companion, tailgating buddy, or camping friend. Mid-sized models offer a middle ground between the many large options that can often be overkill for a simple picnic or road trip but offer more storage space than the small personal chests. It fits a full 40 quarts of contents and whatever you can cram into the large external storage pocket covering the back of the box.
After spending many years evaluating more than 40 cooler models, we’ve chosen eight that are well made, well insulated, and well suited for a range of outings. Coolers are undoubtedly expensive, but having a generous warranty can help ease some of the buying anxiety. And a look at the market reveals a surprisingly wide range of available manufacturer guarantees.
We are a bit disappointed to have measured this large model with “65” in the name at just 56 quarts, but our testers ended up appreciating this surprisingly useful size more than the models that are actually 65 quarts. The Tundra line also includes a plethora of other sizes, many of which we’ve tested — from small, personal boxes to behemoths. Like many of its competitors, the Tundra 65 has a tiny lip on the inside of the bottom of the drain, so it is challenging to fully empty without flipping the cooler upside-down. Still, we think the Tundra 65 is a useful choice for almost any vehicle-powered activity. We’ve tested Polar Bear coolers for seven years now, buying them or receiving test units from Polar Bear. Recently, however, we’ve been let down by the lifespan of its soft coolers (though not this backpack in particular).
The most crucial aspect of any wheeled model is how easily it gets you there, which the RovR does spectacularly. That said, it lags a little in the insulation department compared to some intense rivals, which is likely due to the imperfect seal between the top of the body and lid. It is important to remember that you’re probably not interested in taking a wheeled chest on a ten-day rafting trip or a three-week road trip, but rather to the picnic down the road or a tailgating party. We think the latches are a bit stiff to manipulate but can become easy to learn with some practice. After using it for years now, this rolling icebox is like nothing we’ve ever experienced before and is the only one that our friends request to cart around. The RTIC Ultralight 52 has nearly everything you could want from a cooler.