Looking for the Best Camping Cooler? Here Are Some Great Products To Get You Started
If you are like me, you have not thought much about the cooler you use for camping. As our trips have gotten longer, and I have done some research, I realize that there may be a better cooler out there for our needs.
A great cooler keeps your food and drinks safe and cool. This enables you to enjoy your camping activities without worrying about your food going bad or drinks becoming hot. A poor cooler does the opposite. It is a source of frustration, uncertainty, and discomfort.
Therefore, when shopping for a camping cooler, you need to find the best camping cooler you can find. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. With scores of products on the market, how do you select the best one?
Well, the first step is to understand how to choose a camping cooler. In other words, what features should you look for when selecting the best camping cooler? There are four critical things to look for:
1. Ice Retention – a great camp cooler should be able to retain ice for a long period of time. Since most camping trips last for days, the cooler should retain ice for such periods of time.
2. Robustness – a great camp cooler should be strong, robust and durable. It should be able to withstand the hustles of camping without falling apart.
3. Security – a great camping cooler should have a lock which can be used to secure it against unauthorized humans and animals.
4. Portability – a great camping cooler should be relatively easy to move around. It should have wheels or handles which can be used to move it from one place to another.
Reviews of Best Coolers for Camping
Knowing what to look for when choosing a camping cooler is only the start. That still leaves dozens of products to consider. To simplify things for you, we have profiled for you the best camping coolers on the market. Each of them is reviewed below:
Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler
Renowned for being super-strong, this is the cooler to pick when going camping in an area notorious for harboring bears. This cooler has been proven to withstand an assault by a grizzly bear. This cooler can face a bear’s claws, rolling and pounding without prying open or even cracking.
Beyond sheer strength, the Pelican is among the longest-lasting in terms of holding ice. It can hold ice for 6-9 days – depending on the temperature. This makes this cooler perfect for long camping trips. The trick for holding ice this long is to constantly drain it. The ice cooler is also quite spacious, has robust handles and a secure latch for keeping out intruders.
- Super-strong and thus bear-proof
- Can hold ice for 6 to 9 days
- Robust and can withstand the hustles of camping
- Strong locking mechanism for keeping out intruders
- Extremely heavy. As such moving it around is quite difficult
- Its interior is quite small compared to other coolers
Yeti Tundra Cooler
This is another bear-proof cooler. Like the Pelican ProGear, the Yeti Tundra can withstand clawing, rolling and pounding from a grizzly – and still remain intact. Granted, unlike the Pelican, this one leaves the grizzly onslaught with a few scratches. Even then, it never pries open.
The Yeti Tudra is also extremely robust. It is the cooler campers often turn to when frustrated with other cooler’s latches breaking or hinges coming off. The Tundra can withstand the hustles of camping trips without falling apart.
Besides strength and robustness, this cooler also scores aces when it comes to keeping things cool. The Yeti Tundra is fitted with PermaFrost insulation which gives it maximum thermal resistance, thus enabling it to retain ice for a long time period.
The Yeti also comes in a variety of sizes – ranging from 20 to 65 quarts. This basically means that you can find the perfect size for you. Unlike the Pelican, the Yeti’s interior is actually quite spacious.
- Strong, robust and bear-proof
- Powerful latching mechanism for keeping out intruders
- Excellent ice retention
- It has rope handles which some people find inconvenient for carrying
- Some users complain of the cooler leaking
Coleman 6201A748 Xtreme 5
The standout feature of the Coleman Xtreme 5 is its capacity. With a capacity of 100 quarts, this cooler can hold up to 160 cans of soda. This makes it ideal for group camping expeditions.
However, size isn’t the only great feature of this cooler. The Colman is fitted with Xtreme® 5 technology. This means that it can keep ice for up to 5 days in thermal temperatures of up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This ice retention makes it ideal for long camping trips.
The Coleman is also fairly strong, and well-designed. It has a number of handles, and even a pair of wheels to make it easy to move around. Its cover has four cup-holders molded into it which gives it extra functionality. Best of all, this cooler can be purchased for under $100. This is quite a bargain.
- spacious (with a capacity of 100 quarts)
- Can retain ice for up to 5 days
- A pair of wheels for easy movement
- It is rust-proof, leak-proof and insulated with eco-friendly materials
- Massively heavy
- Its handles are too weak for its weight (they can come off suddenly)
- The lid has plastic hinges which break easily. However, they can be replaced by metallic ones
Coleman 48-Quart Cooler
This is can be described as the younger cousin of the Coleman Xtreme 5. Its capacity is 48 quarts – meaning that it can hold up to 63 cans. The interesting aspect of this cooler is its design. It is tall enough for a 2-liter bottle to stand upright.
The cooler also uses eco-friendly insulation mechanism. As such, it doesn’t deplete the ozone layer. It uses a hinge design for its cover – making it easy to open and close. The cooler also has two handles which make it easy to carry.
The ice retention of the cooler is quite decent. It doesn’t have the Xtreme 5 technology of its larger cousin. However, it has the capability of storing ice for up to 4 days – if drained constantly.
- A decent ice retention capacity
- Eco-friendly insulation materials
- It is quite weak (i.e. its plastic hinges and handles easily break off)
- Locking mechanism isn’t bear or intruder proof
Rubbermaid Cooler, 60 Quart Wheeled
The standout feature of the Rubbermaid is its split-lid design. Unlike most coolers which have one lid, the Rubbermaid’s lid is split into two. Each half can open separately. This means you can easily grab a drink without letting too much air out.
The unique design contributes to this cooler’s great ice-retention capacity. The Rubbermaid can retain ice for up to 4 days. The lid also has inbuilt cup holders on both sides, which gives it extra functionality.
The Rubbermaid is fitted with wheels and an extendable handle for pulling it. This makes it quite easy to move around – given its fairly massive size. The interior is fitted with a stain and odor-resistant lining. As a result the cooler is quite easy to clean.
- Decent ice-retention of up to 4 days
- Split-lid design which makes it usable
- A pair of wheels for easy mobility
- Its interior is lined with stain and odor-resistant material
- Hinges are weak and break easily
- Locking mechanism isn’t bear or intruder-proof
Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
The standout feature with this cooler is that it doesn’t require ice. This means two things. First, you don’t have to spend time making ice while prepping for your camping trip. Second, you don’t have to worry about ice melting.
This cooler uses thermoelectric technology to attain temperatures of up to 36 degrees Fahrenheit below the outside temperature. The cooler is powered by a 12V DC outlet. This is the kind of outlet used for cigarette lighters in a car or RV.
The cooler uses convection cooling for keeping everything cool. It features a brushless motor which means that it is extremely quiet. It is also robust, solidly built and fitted with two handles for carrying and lifting.
- Iceless cooling technology
- Ergonomic design
- Strong enough to handle the hustles of camping
- Quiet and convenient to use (doesn’t require draining)
- Need a power source to keep things cool
- Its power cord is quite weak (users complain of its melting after a few months of use)
Tips to Keep your Cooler Cool
Regardless of which cooler you choose for your adventures, there are things you can do to ensure that your cooler stays cool:
- Keep your cooler out of the sun as much as possible
- Fill a container (milk jug or freezer bag for example) about two-thirds to three-quarters full of water and freeze in order to make your own ice. Solid blocks of ice melt more slowly than ice cubes
- Refrigerate or freeze any items that you plan to bring prior to placing them in the cooler
- Regularly drain water (from melted ice) from your cooler
- Evenly distribute ice and frozen items throughout your cooler, with the heaviest ones on the bottom
- Refrain from opening your cooler all the time; know what you want before you go to get it
When looking to choose a cooler for your camping adventures, it is important to consider how you will use it.
For those who mainly car camp for a night or two, there is no need to spend a great deal of money. For those who regularly camp for longer periods of time, it may be worth investing in a cooler that will retain ice for more than a few days.
You will also want to consider how far you will often be carrying your cooler and how much weight you are able to carry. Finally, cost is a consideration.
Please share your experiences with camping coolers. What cooler do you have and how do you feel about it?