5 Best Coolers For Camping
If you click and purchase with one of our links, we earn a commission. Thanks.
What are the essentials for a camping trip? The tent, sleeping bag, and cooler, of course. Unless you’re planning on surviving on the fish that you catch and some forest berries, you’re going to need to bring your own food.
The best coolers for camping are practical, lightweight and will retain cold. But there are other features to consider too.
Take a look at the following five amazing coolers complete with their strengths and flaws. It’ll include the benefits of owning a camping cooler and what to look for when shopping for one.
The Top 5 Coolers for Camping
This is a no-nonsense sort of cooler, and without a doubt, one of the best coolers for camping on the market. It looks just any cooler, but in terms of performance, the Xspec Quart Roto cooler delivers like no other.
The ice retention is terrific due to the 3-inch polyurethane insulation that’s all over the body and the lid, which means it has a robust construction.
The surface has UV protection, which will make your food last even longer. The leakproof drain and nonslip feet are also some of the amazing features.
- Built-in bottle opener and compass
- Snap-tight latches
- Sturdy grab handles
- Impressive ice retention
Cons A bit heavy
Coleman Cooler | Xtreme Cooler
If you’re on a budget but you still want a cooler that will keep your food chilled for days, the Colman Xtreme cooler could be a great choice.
It’s affordable, and even though the walls are slightly thinner, it will offer 4-5 days of ice life. It’s also very lightweight and easy to transport.
It’s kind of an old-fashioned cooler in its look that features a lot of space and none of the fancy extras. It will get the job done and serve as a seat well too since it can support up to 250 lbs.
- Doubles as a seat
Cons Not the best insulation
Pelican Elite 70 Quart Cooler
The Pelican Elite 70 is a high-end cooler, and just by looking at it, you can tell it’s built to last. The ice retention feature is excellent, and it will easily keep your food and drinks cool for up to five days, and even a week depending on the outside conditions.
The Pelican Elite comes with a lifetime guarantee, which is a testament to the production quality. It won’t slip and has very comfortable handles, so it’s easy to move around. The bottle opener and cup holders are built-in.
- Lifetime warranty
- Impressive insulation
- Great ice retention
Engel 65 Hard Cooler
Engel 65 might not be remarkable in any feature in particular, but at the same time, it performs very well in all categories. This makes it one of the best coolers for camping, especially if you want something that has an excellent price to performance ratio.
The insulation is excellent and will keep your food cold for a little over five days in most cases. It’s a quite durable cooler that won’t leak or lose its shape.
It’s also not as spacious as you might expect. However, it’s light and easy to move around, which makes it an excellent pick for camping.
- Great value
- Easy to use
Cons No built-in features
Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Cooler
This cooler looks a bit like a treasure chest. And what’s hidden inside is extreme cooling capabilities that are created to fight the heat of the summer.
The manufacturer claims that it’s practically indestructible. The 3-inch commercial-grade insulation keeps all liquids and food cooler than you’d ever imagine.
The handles are made with military-grade rope and the rubber feet ensure there’s no slippage. The Driftsun is compatible with dry ice too, with proven no sweating on the exterior of the cooler.
- Nonslip feet
- Rope handles
- Stainless steel bottle openers
Cons Only 1-year warranty
What is a Cooler for Camping and Why Do You Need One?
A great camping trip always involves some good food and a couple of drinks. If you’re going with your family and friends, that means you need to bring a lot of food.
A cooler for camping is there to make sure none of the food gets spoiled and that the drinks remain as cool as the moment you took them out of the fridge.
If you’re going on a shorter trip, you might not need one. But if you’re planning a camping weekend, a cooler will make your camping so much more enjoyable.
The Different Types of Coolers
There are three basic types of coolers in general. Some of the newer models will offer not only ice retention but also heat retention when it’s cold outside. In terms of ice retention, however, these are the types of coolers in general.
A soft cooler looks like a stiff bag. It’s insulated and quite easy to transport. They are a great choice if you’re going hiking just for a day. On the other hand, soft coolers are not the best idea if you’re planning a longer trip for their lower ice retention.
Hard coolers are by far the most popular type of coolers, especially for camping. They’re square or rectangular and can double as a seat normally.
They retain ice exceptionally well and are usually very durable. You can also get them in different sizes. The downside is that they tend to get heavy. And the price range will vary vastly according to brand, model, and built-in features.
They’re more like portable refrigerators because they require the use of electricity. You can either have a power station, a solar panel, or even use an outlet in your car. They often don’t even require ice. Unlike soft and hard coolers, these are usually quite expensive.
3 Benefits of Using a Cooler for Camping
The purpose and benefits of camping coolers are pretty self-explanatory. But let’s review the most important aspects.
When you have a great cooler, you can carry enough food to feed an army. Instead of just sticking with foods that don’t need cooling to bring on your camping trip, you can bring anything you want. And your food and drinks remain neatly organized in one place and cool enough for you to enjoy.
2. They Can Double as Seats
If you bring a cooler, you can bring one less camping chair. The sturdiness of hard coolers makes them an excellent seat. They usually can sustain up to 250-300 lbs. of weight, and if they have anti-slipping feet, you can just grab a drink, close the lid, and have a seat.
3. They Last a Long Time
In fact, if you choose to invest, the good ones can often last a lifetime. Once you buy a cooler for camping, you likely won’t ever have to buy another one if you don’t abuse or outgrow it. And it might even be something you pass on to someone else.
3 Things to Look for in a Good Cooler for Camping
Before you lose yourself reading all the listed features of a cooler you’re looking to buy, let’s see what are the factors you should focus on.
1. Cooler Capacity
If your camping trip isn’t with a big group or for very long, you’re not going to need a big cooler. But if camping trips are a family affair for you, a larger cooler would probably be a better idea.
You can invest in a cooler that will work great for 5 or 10 years and then start to fail; you can also look for a cooler that uses quality materials and thicker walls. Also, rotomolded coolers are the kind that will usually last the longest.
3. Ice Retention
It’s all about the insulation and heat exchange resistance. This would include the rubber gasket that ensures proper sealing of the lid. Some coolers will have an ice life of two or three days and others perhaps over a week.
Camping can be fun even without all the perks like coolers or air mattresses, that’s for sure. But if you’re planning on spending a week in nature, some cool drinks and fresh food won’t hurt.
All the coolers reviewed will do the job more than great, but we find that Xspec 60QT Quart Roto-Molded Cooler is one the best coolers for camping if not the best.
It packs a lot of performance at a great price, especially in ice retention. It has all the accessories, excellent volume, and can double as a seat perfectly.