If you’re planning on spending some time in the wilderness, you need to invest in the best cooler for camping. With a cooler, you can store essential food, drinks, and ice to keep everything from getting too hot or spoiling. Depending on the length of your stay, you need a cooler that will keep you full enough day and night, but also not too bulky to carry if you have to change campsites because of bears, angry locals, or scary lights and events that you can’t always explain… (X-Files theme indicator).
Coolers aren’t just great for camping either. You can also use them on fishing trips, boating trips, picnics, or even sporting events to cheer on your team and feel the highs and lows that come with being a sports fan.
The best coolers are more than what you may remember growing up. The most efficient products can keep everything cool for up to six days, and some special models can even run on off-grid electricity, allowing you to fulfill your mountain man dreams without anyone bothering you.
With that in mind, why not relax with us for a minute or two and see what the best coolers for camping is for your next big day.
- Coleman – 3000004956 – Xtreme Passive Cooler
- Mammoth Coolers Cruiser Series
- Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Portable Marine Cooler
- Coleman Xtreme Wheeled Cooler 50QT
- Coleman 30-Can flexible cooler with removable cover
- Dometic 12 volt portable cooler with power supply for camping
- Things to consider when buying a camping cooler
- What is a camping cooler?
- What is a bear-proof cooler?
- What will you use the cooler for?
- How do you keep the inside of the cooler longer?
Coleman – 3000004956 – Xtreme Passive Cooler
Our top pick for the best coolers for camping is the Coleman Xtreme Series portable cooler, with a substantial 49-liter capacity. It’s ideal for anyone who frequently needs to provide refreshments for parties and family gatherings that are always bearable and make sure you always have something fresh on hand when you’re at home, right next to your favorite chair in front of the TV.
The lid and sides are insulated, so whatever you store inside can be kept cold for up to five full days. For true camping enthusiasts who like to go deep into the woods, this is ideal, and it should give you enough supplies -; but it also depends on how hungry (or bored) you are. On the lid are 4 molded cup holders, so there’s no risk of spillage, while that same lid can also serve as a seat for one lucky camper (though we’re sure your group will take turns sitting on something that isn’t grass). Just be sure not to leave the cooler out in the sun for too long, or you’ll risk burning your thighs from heat absorption.
As for carrying comfort, the non-crushing handles won’t destroy your fingers and ensure easy lifting. Since this cooler doesn’t come with wheels, ease of transport is certainly a consideration, and this simplicity will save you a lot of tired arms and complaining mouths, which is the last thing you want to see out in the middle of nowhere.
- Well-insulated lid and sides for up to 5 days of ice retention
- Cup holders molded into the lid
- Non-crush handles provide comfortable and controlled lifting
- 12.3 lbs.
Mammoth Coolers Cruiser Series
The Mammoth best coolers for camping offers rugged, fully reliable features that will make your camping trip a resounding success. From the sturdy, roto-molded construction to the T-latches and freezer seal, there’s little to no chance of heat from the outside getting into this badass cooler. The 3-inch walls provide that protection, so whatever you take with you on your next trip will stay cool as a cucumber (or your pre-cut T-Bone steak) for as long as possible.
The Mammoth Coolers also feature non-slip feet, which keep the cooler in place during transport and prevent damage to its precious contents – alcoholic or not – while the Rapid V-Drain system keeps you from pouring out gallons of water. Anyone who likes to get off the beaten path will be happy to know that it’s designed to be bear-proof, which is a welcome relief when you’re preparing delicious food that might attract some of nature’s more curious animals.
You can fit up to 24 cans (with ice) inside, although this can add weight to an already heavy cooler. This problem is mitigated, however, by the easy carry system, but only slightly. It also keeps ice longer than other coolers, saving suddenly frozen hands late at night when the campfire is dying. Overall, this is a camping cooler that’s perfect for a few days in the sticks, but for the price you’ll pay, it doesn’t offer enough space for longer excursions, at least there’s no risk of bears stealing your food, though.
- Freezer T-joints and latches
- 3 inches of insulated walls
- Non-skid feet and bear-resistant design
- V-shaped quick-drain system
- Mammoth Coolers
- 20.6 lbs
Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Portable Marine Cooler
A great best coolers for camping for big days and perfect for those of you lucky enough to have more than a couple of close friends to party with, the Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series portable marine cooler evokes fond memories of cool days lounging in the sun, listening to the waves crash against the shore and dancing on the white sand to music you didn’t know you liked, all with a calm ocean breeze to keep you cool. Yes, beach parties (and parties in general: in the woods, in the backyard, on Mars) are where that coolness shines.
It offers a 120-liter capacity, capable of holding 200 cans of your favorite beer, and the insulated lid keeps ice for up to six days, so the party never has to end if you’re still able to go that hard for that long now that you’re older. Speaking of effort, the sturdy stainless steel and UVGuard sun protection prevents yellowing and ensures longevity, turning this simple cooler into a legendary item you can pass on to your party-going grandchildren. For added convenience, the leak-proof threaded drain allows you to empty it as early as day 7 without having to waste what little energy you have left on tipping.
However, it’s not the entirely perfect cooler we’ve always dreamed of (or at least have dreamed of for the last ten minutes). The handles almost feel like they can’t handle the weight, and could end up breaking if you put too much on, and it’s probably too big for casual outings. That said, it’s easy to clean, and it’s a surefire way to convince people on the beach that you’re the guy they need to talk to for a good time. (No, not like this). Party on, our guy.
- 120-liter capacity holds over 200 cans
- Insulated lid for up to 6 days of ice retention
- Stainless steel and UVGuard solar protection ensures longevity
- Sealed threaded drain ensures easy emptying without tipping
- 3000002458 25 lbs.
Coleman Xtreme Wheeled Cooler 50QT
The Coleman Xtreme Rolling best coolers for camping is a great idea if you’re looking for the best cooler for camping while trying to get the most out of your money. This wheeled cooler offers sturdy and durable carrying options and eliminates the usual carrying hassles as if they were nothing at all. These wheels can handle any internal weight and are suitable for handling many different terrains, from rough meadows to asphalt, when you join your friends at a tailgate party.
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The 47-liter capacity provides enough interior space for up to 84 cans. You can also use it to carry large slabs of the finest beef, chicken breasts, and ice cream to keep everything fresh during your trip. The insulated walls provide up to 5 days of ice retention, which may not be necessary for some, but it’s always good to have, and can handle temperatures up to 90 Fahrenheit. The hinged lid makes it quick and easy to retrieve food and drinks, so you won’t feel parched on hot summer days.
Even with this hinge, it’s still designed with a stand-up lid, while maintaining the convenience and efficiency you’ve come to expect from Coleman coolers, and it’s the perfect place to rest your legs by the fire. The problem is that the handle doesn’t feel as sturdy as you’d like, but should suffice, while the dark color absorbs heat, which could be a problem. You may also notice that this isn’t the cheapest cooler on the list (see below for that), but since it offers enough extra features, you’ll get a lot more out of it than cheaper options.
- 47-liter capacity holds up to 24 boxes
- Heavy-duty wheeled design for easy transport, regardless of internal weight or terrain
- Insulated walls help retain ice
- Hinged lid for quick retrieval of food and drinks
- 17.1 lbs
Coleman 30-Can flexible cooler with removable cover
With a capacity of 30 boxes, the Coleman Soft Cooler is the smallest option on our list, but still an efficient product, perfect for a quick outing with friends or family. Unlike our other selections, it’s a bit more versatile, with its hard plastic liner that can be removed for flexibility, allowing you to easily store different foods and drinks. This versatility also makes it easy to carry from home to car, from picnic table to back, all without bumping knees on solid corners and sending birds flying with a crazy, confusing flap.
For the germaphobes among you, the antimicrobial material will (or should) put you at ease, and you can forget about the risk of mold and that particular picnic smell that can linger in a product made on the cheap. Safety is also guaranteed, thanks to the soft PEVA lining, which is ideal for protecting food from spoiling. These features are useful for solving meal storage problems, and can even help you on car trips, especially with children in the back seat.
However, its size does hinder some activities. You can’t take it on week-long hikes, and its design means you won’t get as good ice retention. The zipper also seems a bit flimsy, especially when compared to the waterproof closure of solid plastic Fort Knox coolers. However, for a small cooler, the compact design and adjustable shoulder strap make it more convenient to take to the park or camping without hurting your hand while carrying it, which is especially useful if you want to use it on solo outings and have no one to share the load.
- 30-can capacity
- The removable hard plastic liner allows for packing flexibility
- Adjustable shoulder strap for carrying comfort
- Double-sided mesh pockets increase storage space
- 2.2 lbs.
Dometic 12 volt portable cooler with power supply for camping
Our latest cooler for camping is the gigantic Dometic 12-volt electrically powered portable cooler. Unlike the other models we’ve found for you so far, it runs entirely on pure electricity, eliminating the need for ice, while keeping everything cool and fresh for as long as you need it. It holds 72 cans of food, and since it doesn’t need ice, you can fit more food and drinks in it than in other similar-sized coolers.
It can cool and freeze at temperatures as low as -7℉, which you can also control via wifi to adapt to the environment and the insulated lid ensures a constant and satisfactory temperature. For the environmentally-conscious among you (which we hope is everyone), you’ll be happy to know that it’s not only energy-efficient (it runs on AC and DC power) but also much quieter than you’d imagine. It’s not as quiet as a non-electric cooler, of course, but there are limits to what you can do. Despite these benefits, it is heavy, which doesn’t make it ideal for long camping trips, especially if you don’t have wheels, but for a few days with your car or truck, there’s probably nothing better.
If you’re buying a high-end cooler, you’ll have to pay top dollar, and this guy isn’t cheap, he’s over $800. But if you need something reliable for your next outing, a short trip into the wilderness, or an extra place to store your food and drink during those sweltering summer months, then the Dometic is a sturdy, durable option that will (we’re sure) eventually pay for itself.
- Use for refrigeration or freezing from -7℉ (-21℃)
- Sturdy body with a robust closing mechanism
- Control and monitor the cooling temperature via WiFi
- Holds up to 72 cans
- 45 lbs
Things to consider when buying a camping cooler
When you’re looking for high-performance coolers to serve you on many camping, fishing, and boating trips or sporting events, you need to consider these factors to get the most out of them.
Size – Coolers come in all shapes and sizes. Granted, they come in all sizes; the shape is predictable (you don’t fix what isn’t broken and all that), so you have a lot of options to choose from when selecting your new camping cooler. You may be tempted to go for the biggest one, but you may regret your purchase if you never make the most of its size.
Larger coolers also mean heavier coolers, which may not seem like a major issue, but you may change your mind once they are filled with food. Conversely, coolers that are too small won’t give you the same storage and insulation options and may ruin the food and make your drinks too hot to drink after a long day of exploring.
If you know what type of camper you are and what type of cooler you need, you should have no problem finding the right size for you, but if it’s the first cooler you’re buying, you’ll need to think about how often you’ll use it and what it will do.
Ice retention – The best coolers will provide you with enough ice retention to last you at least three days, and often even longer. Coolers of this type allow you to keep your food and drink fresh for as long as possible, which can be a deciding factor in which cooler you buy.
If you like to get away from all the hassle and stress of the world for a week, then finding a cooler with the highest ice retention is a must. However, if you prefer to take a short trip into the woods for a day or two, you won’t need as much ice retention, but it’s always helpful to have a small buffer, just in case.
You also need to think about how you’re going to drain the ice once it melts (so we could have said water, but whatever). Some coolers have spouts near the base to help drain the water, but not all do. These spouts save you from having to lift and tip your cooler and save energy after your adventure in the bush.
You all probably remember the retro cooler your parents always brought on family vacations that never changed, never deteriorated, and always felt like part of the family. There’s a reason mom and dad never upgraded, and it’s because coolers are durable.
As with any product you buy, you want to make sure this cooler lasts as long as possible. So look at the construction, materials, design, and components like handles, latches, hinges, and wheels to make sure it’s a product that will last until you and your spouse take your kids on memorable trips (good or bad, that’s a whole other story) across the country.
Durability is also key to ensuring that your food and beverages stay fresh and safe, as any damage to the exterior could affect the reliability of the insulation. If you’re venturing out on particularly bumpy and dangerous roads, you also run the risk of damaging the cooler in transit, which, aside from generally sucking, can also ruin your trip before it even begins.
While large coolers are great for large events and ensure you have enough space to store all your food and drinks, they also have portability issues. A cooler that’s too big can impede movement, momentum, and comfort when you’re heading to your campsite or carrying it from place to place, and can become more of a burden than it’s worth.
Coolers like Dometic Electric could suffer from these portability issues. While these coolers are very convenient at home and extremely reliable for short days, they can’t be more than $800 if you have nowhere to power them.
If you just want to go on a short outing, you don’t need a large cooler that will only cause you pain, unless you have a vehicle to move it.
What is a camping cooler?
A camping cooler is an insulated box that you take camping, to sporting events, or use in the backyard to store your beer on a hot summer day. There are many varieties, but you can generally expect them to have an airtight lid to seal them and insulated walls to prevent heat from entering the cooler.
Coolers range from simple to complex and depending on your budget, you’ll find a host of different features to choose from.
What is a bear-proof cooler?
As the name suggests, bear-proof coolers are coolers designed to keep bears out. If you live in a part of the world where there are no bears, this may sound a bit melodramatic, but in some parts of the United States and Canada, bears are very curious about what’s inside your cooler. By investing in a bear-proof camping cooler, you eliminate the risk of waking up to food and drink strewn across your campsite, as well as a satiated, even slightly tipsy, bear taking a nap under the nearest tree.
What will you use the cooler for?
You can use the cooler for just about anything. You can take it camping, fishing, on a boat, to your kids’ soccer game (or any other sports game, really), and you can take it on a trip. You don’t even have to take it out of the house, and they can be useful for keeping your drinks cool on sweltering summer days with your feet soaked in the kiddie pool.
How do you keep the inside of the cooler longer?
The best way to keep the inside of your cooler cold is to fill it with ice. There are two types of ice to choose from crushed and block. Both have their advantages, and crushed ice will cool your food and drinks faster, but block ice lasts longer.
Your choice will depend on the length of your trip. If you want to cool quickly on a one-day trip, crushed ice is your solution, but if you’re taking longer trips (more than 2 or 3 days), block ice is better.
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