If you are someone who loves the outdoors and often spend your time camping, hunting, or fishing, there would be a few gears that you consider essentials. Some of those would be a sleeping bag, tent, and backpack. What should also be on your list is a camping cooler. Similar to any other camping gear you own, choosing a cooler also takes time, and making sure that the one you choose is the right model is usually confusing and daunting. As the options are plenty and the models and technology keep changing, shopping for the best cooler for camping can be difficult. This page consists of all necessary information you need to know about a camping cooler.
Types of Coolers for Camping
Also known as collapsible coolers or insulated cooler bags, fabric coolers are designed to accommodate only fewer items. These coolers are usually made from durable materials and lined by a layer of foam. Fabric coolers are light in weight and would be perfect for carrying a few beverages, snacks, or lunch. As these coolers fold up, they are easy to use and extremely convenient to carry around and store as well. However, these coolers are not capable of keeping things cool for a long time and therefore would work best only for short day outing.
Widely referred to as ice chests, plastic coolers are constructed from strong molded plastic and hence are durable. These coolers are available in different designs and colors to suit your taste. Most plastic coolers come with strong plastic handles on both sides of the lid to make carrying easier, and the lids are always highly insulated. Modern plastic coolers also have retractable handles and wheels as well, so transporting them from one place to another will never be difficult.
These are basically insulated coolers that can be plugged in your car’s cigarette socket to keep food cold whenever you are on a long drive. These coolers work similar to refrigerators, as they use electricity for functioning. Also known as portable car fridges, these happen to be the most expensive cooler type. However, one huge benefit of electric coolers is that you don’t have to fill and refill ice in them.
These are lightweight coolers and are perfect for storing items that are light in weight. Styrofoam coolers are generally less expensive than other traditional cooler types. But, as these coolers are not as sturdy as plastic coolers, they will not be suitable for camping and other outdoor activities.
Metal coolers are the best in terms of durability. These are usually used by hunters and fishermen who need a sturdy cooler to store their game. These happen to be expensive, and also much heavier than the other types.
Best Coolers for Camping
Coleman Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler
If you are looking for a camping cooler that can keep all your food and drinks cold for more than a couple days, the Coleman Xtreme 5 could just be what you need. Being one of the best and most preferred coolers on the market, this one is made more appealing with a set of wheels at the bottom to make it easy for you to move it around. The cooler is designed to hold up to a whopping 160 cans, which is ample to be sure that you won’t run out of food or drinks for a whole week.
A hinged lid is another vital feature that you need from a camping cooler and this model from Coleman offers exactly that. In addition to a hinged lid, the cooler also offers four cup holders to prevent spills. The two-way handle makes it easy to pull the cooler even on uneven surfaces. In addition to the majority of positive reviews, some users encountered malfunctions in one way or the other. One of the most common complaints was the hinges breaking off. The Coleman Xtreme 5 is available for $71.
Pros – Large capacity, ability to keep items cold for up to a week, excellent insulation.
Cons – Hinges may break, and could be less efficient in hotter conditions.
Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
The Igloo Iceless cooler is one of the most unique models you will find on market today. If you plan on travelling by car and stay in hotel rooms where you get ready access to power, then this cooler for camping is something you should not miss. When it comes to cooling, Igloo cooler does its job pretty well. Similar to how your refrigerator works, this cooler is designed to cool the air as well as the contents. The lid’s electric mechanism is capable of cooling the contents to about 35 degrees below the ideal conditions.
The cooler is compact and easily maneuverable. When you use a traditional cooler, you will have to leave at least half of the available space for ice. But, in the case of this cooler, you can utilize the entire internal space for your food and drinks. This makes this cooler a lot more functional. The Igloo Thermoelectric Cooler is highly durable as well. Even when it is full with food and drinks, its large folding handle makes carrying the cooler easy for an adult. For a price of $74.99, this cooler certainly provides value for the money. One major downside that many users have reported about this cooler is its cord which is considered not as heavy as it should be to support the size of the cooler.
Pros – Great technology, highly efficient, portable.
Cons – Needs access to power source, the cord is known to melt down when plugged in.
Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler
Pelican is a company that is known for producing extremely durable, heavy duty cases for electronics, camera gear, guns, and other items. The company started producing coolers a couple years back, and the ProGear Elite line of coolers come in a wide range of sizes, including 45 quart, 65 quart, 150 quart, and more, to suit individual needs. Each of these units is designed to keep its contents cold for up to 10 days, a feasible claim that many users have tested and approved. The dual handle system in the cooler makes transportation easier. The cooler can be easily accessed by simply pressing and pulling the latches, which are wide enough to be handled by gloved hands.
The ProGear cooler features non-skid plates that not only prevent the cooler from skidding or sliding on slopes or slippery surfaces, but also protect it from unwanted scratches. The cooler is tested and certified bear safe, so the next time you go camping, you don’t have to be concerned about your cooler’s encounters with a bear. The whole hardware is constructed from stainless steel to prevent corrosion, but this factor also places the cooler a bit on the heavier end. The 65 quart ProGear Elite cooler comes with a price tag of $374 and is available in a variety of colors. Additionally, the product comes with a lifetime warranty.
Pros – Easy to use, durable, good insulation and solid handles.
Cons – Heavy, and relatively expensive.
Yeti Tundra Cooler
Tested and proven by many reviewers and organizations, the Yeti Tundra coolers are certainly one of the best selling coolers on the market mainly for its high quality. Unlike the many cheaper models you will come across, the Yeti cooler is designed to resist ultraviolet rays, heat, and also rough handlings and surfaces. Similar to the other models we discussed about, this cooler is also capable of retaining coldness for several days. The cooler is efficient enough to hold ice for at least five consecutive days, if not more, with moderate use.
The Yeti Tundra cooler comes in different sizes. The hardware is constructed using heavy duty materials to resist leaks, skid, and to protect the contents. The easy drain plug makes it easy for you to drain water without having to tilt the case. But as most of you would be aware, the biggest concern about the Yeti cooler is its price, which has always been on the high end. A 45 quart Yeti Tundra cooler is available for $430, and the pricing differs in accordance with the size you choose. The product is backed by a 5 year limited warranty.
Pros – Good ice retention capability, durable, and easy to drain.
Cons – Expensive.
AO Coolers Soft Cooler
The AO Coolers Soft Cooler is a unique model that comes with a removable shoulder strap, a feature that no other cooler on our list has. The cooler is made of lightweight materials, which makes it easily transportable and a lot flexible. With the shoulder strap, you can carry the cooler hung on your shoulder, which will be highly beneficial if your camping site is located in an uneven terrain. But, unlike the other models on our list, this cooler cannot hold ice for many days and therefore will be suitable only for a very short camping trip. The maximum this cooler can offer is 24 hours of ice retention.
When it comes to soft coolers, most people imagine a small product that can accommodate only a few cans of drinks or a single person’s lunch. AO Coolers has broken this myth and provides soft coolers in a wide range of sizes, from 12 pack to 48 pack, so you can choose a size based on the count in your group of campers. There are of course a few downsides to this cooler. The plastic clips provided for the shoulder straps are known to break easily with constant use; and also, the exterior canvas could wear when used in rough conditions. Users have also experienced leakage after a year’s use. Overall, for what it costs ($30 to $112, depending on the size) the AO Coolers Soft Cooler is a good bet for those short camping or picnics.
Pros – Easy to carry, light in weight, and good value for money.
Cons – Relatively less durable, could leak, and breakable plastic clips.
Whether your camping trips are short or long, you need a best cooler for camping to ensure that you enjoy your time outdoors. Go for a cooler that is packed with useful features and also fits your budget.