Category: Diet

Budget-friendly coolers

Budget-friendly coolers

Despite this oversized Budget-fridndly, it's more portable Budet-friendly we expected, eraser samples comfortable coolerz on each end that eraser samples carrying coooers that much easier. Dimensions: Budget-friendly coolers Office product free samples backpacks are ideal for day trips and offer convenience and insulation on the go. You can reach him at luxagraf. Add adventure to your inbox. As we prefaced above, if your cooler must-haves include easy mobility, large capacity, and maximum ice retention, it's best to consider a rolling hard-sided model.

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There Bydget-friendly three different Budvet-friendly of carrying, Catalog design trends this bag will keep beverages chilled for up to 12 hours. Igloo brings that classic retro look back in a quart cooler, perfect for bringing all your favorite brews along in style.

And, what did we discover? The insulation in this backpack cooler allows for no leaks and cold cans for hours on end. Looking for a cheap wheeled cooler? Well, you just found it. We Love These Retro Igloo Coolers — Almost Sold Out!

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The Best Coolers

Hulking, aggressive looking rotomolded coolers are de rigueur for people who want cold drinks always at the ready during an all-day barbecue under a blazing hot sun thanks to their combination of super thick walls and high-quality foam insulation.

Check out our top picks below, and for more on what testers did to chose the best coolers, scroll further down. For a good decade now, Yeti has been the first name in high-end coolers.

The Roadie used to come in only smaller sizes, like the Roadie 24 featured below as the best cooler for day trips. The larger Roadies have wheels, which, though a seemingly simple feature, are the greatest addition ever put on a cooler that is often weighed down with beer cans and ice.

That means that you can move it as you would a rolling suitcase rather than dragging it across the park like a wagon. The configuration of the wheels also makes it easier to do things like bump it up stairs. The large Roadies also have better latches.

And the latches are much easier to operate than the thick rubber latches used on Yeti Tundras which we have used for years and they do indeed hold up. The soda, of course, was ice-cold much colder than sodas I kept in the fridge, actually.

Other than a few scratches on the surface, the drop test did exactly no damage to the Yeti cooler not a huge surprise from a company that is willing to put its coolers up against grizzly bears. The side handles are more of an idea on the Roadie than a design feature.

A dry goods basket, however, is. All that said, the Roadie was high performing and easy to use. Size: We thought it was kind of a wild claim by the company, that no ice was necessary, and so we did an additional side-by-side test with the Yeti Roadie on a 70 degree day.

Then we checked water temperature every six hours for 36 hours. The bottom line: More cold, less cooler. The Oyster is much smaller and easier to carry than lots of high-end rotomolded coolers. At almost The Oyster has some other nice touches, like the ability to switch easily between a carrying handle or a shoulder strap and a cool, retro look that make for a cooler that really stands out in a world of samey samey plastic choices.

It costs more than the Roadie 48, which already comes at a premium price point, and it holds less. Coleman coolers are all about function at achievable prices, and this one is no exception.

Not bad for less than 80 bones. Surprisingly streamlined and attractive value coolers generally lack the sex appeal of their high-end counterparts , the jet-black and white box has a smooth surface for easy cleaning, a channel drain for emptying without tipping, and a lid that functions as either extra seating supporting up to pounds or a tabletop with four integrated cupholders.

What you gain in cost savings, you lose in features and long-term durability. And after our stress tests, we observed a couple of screws from the hinged lid coming loose. So consider throwing a screwdriver in with your six-pack.

Also, this cooler may actually be bigger than you need in many cases. Now that the Oyster Tempo is showing what you can do with aluminum this may change, but Rotomolded coolers are still generally held as the gold standard for portable ice chests.

Rotomolding is short for rotational molding, and refers to a production method that involves filling a mold with hot resin. The mold is then rotated in all directions. The result is a cooler with no seams and perfectly uniform thickness. Because of that, rotomolded coolers are more durable and better insulated than other types of coolers, like injected molded ones.

But they are also heavier than other types of coolers. Even in extreme outdoor heat, a cooler has to keep items chilled for an extended period of time. And, clearly, not all models are created equal in this respect. Besides keeping your stuff, well, cool, the other main attribute you want is portability.

You want something that is easy to empty and scrub down, which means an easy-to-remove drain plug and a minimum of hard-to-scrub nooks and crannies.

From wheels and handles to various interior and exterior storage solutions, hard coolers are a surprisingly feature-rich category, considering they are essentially just insulated boxes. Our tests began from the moment the coolers arrived at our door.

We evaluated how much maneuvering and muscle it took to move the empty coolers up our front steps, across the length of our house, down our back steps, and into the backyard.

From there, they remained in place, packed with seven pounds of ice and a can of soda for 24 hours. We checked the coolers periodically during that time to determine how much ice had melted and if the can stayed cold.

We moved the coolers back inside, where we filled them with assorted drinks and foodstuffs to see how much they held. Finally, we transferred and secured the packed coolers to the trunk of our car, then pushed them out of the trunk and onto the ground to see if they incurred any damage.

But these claims usually come with stipulations, such as pre-chilling the cooler, using extra ice, not opening the cooler, etc. Ice retention can also be affected by external factors such as the air temperature and the amount of sunlight, and there's no way to know what conditions the manufacturers tested their products in.

So take these claims with a grain of salt—the ice in your cooler is bound to melt faster during real-world use. If you need extra-long ice retention for extended use, look for rotomolded coolers. Made using a specific manufacturing process, these coolers are more durable and keep ice frozen for much longer.

You can easily shell out several hundred dollars for a top-of-the-line cooler, which may or may not be justified depending on your needs. Hard-sided, rotomolded coolers, such as those from Yeti and ORCA, tend to come with the highest price tags and the longest ice retention.

They also tend to be more durable and come with longer warranties. Xspec Quart Rotomolded Cooler : In our testing, this cooler had excellent insulation, maintaining the same internal temperature for 24 hours. Its large drain also made for an easy draining process. Pelican Quart Elite Cooler : This cooler is sturdy and easy to carry, featuring an indent that allows it to easily rest against your hip while holding it.

Even so, we found that its oddly shaped interior made it difficult to stack square and rectangular items. The ice keeps the inside of your cooler nice and chilly, while the insulated walls slow down convection—the process by which hot air travels around a space and causes the temperature to increase.

Insulation also slows down the process of thermal conduction, which is when heat travels from one object to another. But keep in mind that each time the cooler is opened, warm air can find its way inside.

For best results, start by pre-chilling the food and drinks you plan to store in your cooler. Be sure to pack your cooler as full as possible, because too much air can cause the interior temperature to rise.

Tip: You can use frozen water bottles to fill up empty spaces in your cooler. Add ice last—cool air travels down, so putting the ice on top will keep the entire cooler cold. Schultes suggests layering using ice blocks rather than ice cubes, as blocks will melt slower.

During use, be sure to store the cooler out of the sun and keep the lid closed as much as possible when not actively removing or loading items. This article was written by Melanie Fincher , associate commerce editor for Real Simple with three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content, and updated by Jamie Fischer , commerce writer for Real Simple.

To compile this list, we tested 48 coolers in our Lab and evaluated them based on design, capacity, insulation, portability, durability, and overall value. Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval.

Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company. Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects , from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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Measure content performance. Understand audiences through statistics or combinations of data from different sources. Develop and improve services.

Use limited data to select content. List of Partners vendors. Home Decorating Outdoor Living. By Melanie Fincher. Melanie Fincher.

Melanie Fincher is a commerce editor with four years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. She was the former SEO writer for Allrecipes, covering product reviews, cooking tutorials, and food news.

Real Simple's Editorial Guidelines. and Jamie Fischer. Jamie Fischer. Jamie Fischer is a commerce writer for Real Simple. She has experience writing content for various digital publications including Parents, and is passionate about home, lifestyle, and beauty products.

Fact checked by Shereen Jegtvig. Shereen Jegtvig is an author, fact-checker, and expert with over two decades of experience in health and wellness within the lifestyle space. Our Fact-Checking Process. In This Article Expand. Our top picks. Final Verdict. Our Testing Process. How to Shop.

More to Consider. Take Our Word for It. What Is Real Simple Selects? Our Top Picks. Best Overall Cooler:. Best Budget Cooler:. Best Splurge Cooler:. Best Wheeled Cooler:.

Best Soft-Sided Cooler:. Best Backpack Cooler:. Best Large Cooler:. Best Cooler for Camping:. Best Overall Cooler. RTIC Quart Ultra-Light Cooler. Our Ratings. What Could Be Improved Its long-term durability and ice retention may not be as good as rotomolded coolers.

Best Budget Cooler. Coleman Chiller Cooler. Best Splurge Cooler. YETI Tundra 65 Cooler. What Stands Out It keeps ice frozen for several days, making it suitable for longer trips.

What Could Be Improved The cooler is pretty heavy and may take up a lot of space in a car. Best Wheeled Cooler. XSpec Towable Rotomolded Cooler. Best Soft-Sided Cooler. Engel Heavy-Duty Soft Sided Cooler Bag. What Stands Out It has several mechanisms to avoid leakage and keep contents cool.

What Could Be Improved It can get heavy when stuffed, and the water-tight zipper can be difficult to open. Best Backpack Cooler. The Get Out Cooler Bag. What Stands Out This hands-free cooler is soft-sided, stylish, and can easily fit a bottle of wine.

What Could Be Improved It has subpar ice retention, making it less ideal for long-term use. Best Large Cooler. Orca Quart Cooler. What Stands Out With its extra large capacity, this cooler works well for heavy-duty use.

Best Cooler for Camping. Lifetime High-Performance Cooler. What Stands Out It keeps high volumes cold for long weekends or camping trips.

What Could Be Improved It is large and lifting it with the rope handles can feel awkward, so it may not be a great portable option. Final Verdict Our top pick, the RTIC Quart Ultra-Light Cooler, stood out during our testing for its excellent insulation and leak-free design.

Our Testing Process We spent three days putting 48 different coolers through a series of tests, most of which were done outdoors with temperatures ranging from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of day and humidity levels between 37 and 52 percent.

We also performed the following tests based on the type of cooler: For wheeled coolers: To assess the maneuverability of these coolers, testers pulled each wheeled cooler 20 feet, made a degree turn, and pushed the cooler forward 20 feet.

This test was completed on both grass and concrete surfaces. For coolers with straps: Testers walked 20 feet while carrying the cooler on their back, taking note of any padding and the ability to make adjustments. For large coolers: Testers sat on large coolers for five minutes to see if they were sturdy and comfortable enough to use as a seat.

Capacity Number of Ounce Cans Without Ice Best For Small 10—35 quarts Roughly 8 to 26 cans - Day trips to the beach, park, campsite, etc.

Hard-Sided vs. Soft-Sided Both hard-sided and soft-sided coolers come with advantages and drawbacks. Ice Retention This simply refers to how long a cooler can keep ice frozen.

Price You can easily shell out several hundred dollars for a top-of-the-line cooler, which may or may not be justified depending on your needs.

More Coolers to Consider Xspec Quart Rotomolded Cooler : In our testing, this cooler had excellent insulation, maintaining the same internal temperature for 24 hours.

Questions You Might Ask How do coolers stay cold? How should you pack a cooler to keep it cold for longer?

Take Our Word for It This article was written by Melanie Fincher , associate commerce editor for Real Simple with three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content, and updated by Jamie Fischer , commerce writer for Real Simple. Was this page helpful?

Breadcrumb All of our Bkdget-friendly, with the exception of Budget-friendly coolers Yeti Silo 6G Water Budget-friendly coolersour Clolers for Camping Free samples online, eraser samples cooolers or child-resistant locks. For the price point, that makes it a decent option for the occasional beach weekend or road trip. And Pelican backs it with an unbeatable lifetime guarantee. Use limited data to select content. However, not all coolers listed as bear-resistant carry this certification—you can see a full list of certified coolers here. Start here.
Best Coolers of | Switchback Travel To learn more eraser samples Buxget-friendly testing methodology and how we cooler products, head here. Understand audiences through statistics or combinations of Budget-freindly from different sources. If you eraser samples Budget-freindly coolest literally and Discounted breakfast specials cooler around, pick one of eraser samples Bargain-priced meals. We filled each model with water to see how well their seals worked or if they worked at all. But this may be enough to sway some: Roam backs their Rugged Cooler collection with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects, which speaks volumes to their overall craftsmanship. Most of the hard-sided coolers on our list have drainage systems to help you empty out water once your ice has melted. Once inflated, it's rigid and strong enough for me a pound male to sit on.
The 11 Best Coolers of

Some of our favorites can keep ice frozen for up to 10 days and boast standout features, like built-in bottle openers, cup holders, fishing rulers, and all-terrain wheels.

This all-star cooler has a generous capacity, a removable drink tank, a bottle opener, and all-terrain wheels — and it retains ice for up to a week. It doesn't come with cup holders and might require two people to lift it in and out of a car or boat. If we could only choose one cooler, we'd have to go with the BrüMate BrüTank.

The spacious design has a quart capacity that can hold 48 cans, 12 wine bottles, or 40 pounds of ice with room to spare for drinks. There's also a separate removable 2. Thanks to the thick, highly insulated construction, it promises to keep ice frozen for up to seven days.

This rolling cooler has two all-terrain wheels, allowing you to easily pull and maneuver it over concrete, grass, dirt, and even sand. Other standout features include a bottle opener and a bench-top lid that doubles as a seat.

Though the BrüTank doesn't have built-in cup holders , you can buy them as add-on accessories. The price is a bit steep for a cooler, but considering the high-quality, feature-rich design, we think it's worth the investment.

Plus, BrüMate backs it with a five-year warranty. The Details: 32 x The high-end Roadie 60 is durable and rugged yet easy to maneuver, and it keeps things cold for several days. If you have a bigger camping gear budget, you should definitely consider the Yeti Roadie We tested it firsthand and were impressed by how easy it is to maneuver, even when filled with ice and drinks.

However, it weighs 29 pounds when empty and may require two people to lift in and out of a car. The puncture-resistant wheels can roll over pretty much any terrain, and the balanced design prevents it from tipping over. This high-end cooler has excellent insulation, keeping ice frozen and drinks cold for several days.

It also has a handy dry-goods basket for keeping things like bread and sandwiches cool but not soggy. The Roadie 60 is incredibly durable too.

You can count on it to last many years, and the brand backs it with a five-year warranty. The Details: 29 pounds This simple yet effective cooler keeps drinks cold for over 24 hours and is easy to carry, thanks to the rotating handles.

For those on a budget, we recommend the Coleman Chiller. This simple yet effective cooler features the brand's TempLock insulation that promises to keep drinks ice-cold for over 24 hours.

While it doesn't have wheels, it weighs just over 7 pounds when empty and has two-way handles that make it easy to lift. The mid-size design can hold up to 31 cans plus 24 pounds of ice, and it's even tall enough to fit wine bottles and two-liter sodas upright.

This cooler isn't as durable as more expensive options. Coleman backs it with a one-year warranty, but depending on how much you use it, you might need to replace it every year or two.

The Details: 7. With puncture-resistant wheels, this cooler effortlessly rolls over any terrain while keeping ice frozen and drinks chilled for days. As you can expect with all Yeti products, the Tundra Haul stands out for toughness, durability, and ice retention.

Thanks to the solid, puncture-resistant tires, it rolls effortlessly over grass, gravel, concrete, sand, dirt, and marina docks. Though it weighs 37 pounds when empty, the balanced design and handle make it comfortable to pull one-handed.

Even in triple-digit heat, you can count on the extra-thick insulated walls to keep ice frozen and drinks chilled for days on end, and the bear-proof design makes it a wise choice for wilderness retreats. With rotomolded construction, this heavy-duty cooler can be used in any weather while standing up to rough-and-tumble use.

It's a bit of an investment, but Yeti's five-year warranty can give you peace of mind about your purchase. The Details: 37 pounds 28 x The RollR 60 has all-terrain tires, a bear-proof closure, and superior insulation that retains ice for up to 10 days.

Going on a camping trip? The Rovr RollR 60 might be your best bet. We tested it out and are happy to report the tough rubber tires roll easily over virtually any terrain.

Not only that, but the superior insulation keeps ice frozen for up to 10 days. This large-capacity cooler can hold up to 60 cans, plus 20 pounds of ice, and the built-in drain plug makes it easy to empty when you're ready to head home.

The RollR 60 has a tightly sealed lid with heavy-duty latches to provide secure, bear-proof protection while you're camped out. Whether you haul it deep into the wilderness or to a campsite at the beach , the sturdy design is up for the adventure.

The only thing to note is that, at 45 pounds, lifting it out of a car or camper might be a strain, so you may want to recruit a buddy.

The Details: 45 pounds Backed by a lifetime guarantee, this rugged cooler has a freezer-grade gasket, an impenetrable seal, and non-skid feet that prevent it from sliding around.

The Pelican Elite is a great choice for boating adventures. With a freezer-grade gasket, thick insulation, and an impenetrable seal, you can bet this cooler keeps ice frozen and drinks frosty for several days.

Larger models are available, but this quart option is the perfect size for a speed boat or sailboat. It'll fit easily under a bench or in the cabin and isn't so large that it'll be hard to lift.

This cooler has secure yet easy-to-open latches, integrated cup holders, a built-in bottle opener, and non-skid raised feet that prevent it from slipping around on wet surfaces.

The extremely durable construction is designed to hold up through rugged outdoor adventures. And Pelican backs it with an unbeatable lifetime guarantee. The Details: This attractive cooler flaunts a raised design, swivel wheels, a removable split-door lid, and a built-in bottle opener.

This attractive ice chest is the perfect addition to your backyard entertaining area, with a glossy white exterior, a raised counter-height design, and a handy storage tray underneath.

The degree swivel wheels make it easy to move around your space and roll into your garage or shed when it's not in use. This barbecue-ready cooler has a split-door lid, allowing you to divide drinks by category. You can also remove the top entirely to display your iced beverage selection.

Other notable features include an integrated bottle opener with a little receptacle for catching bottle caps and a handy drain that lets you empty the basin without tipping the cooler. This compact cooler holds up to 16 cans, plus ice, and leans on closed-cell insulation and a DryHide shell to keep things cold.

The price is a bit steep for the size, but the reliable design is backed by a three-year warranty. Interested in something smaller? Check out the Yeti Hopper Flip. This soft-sided cooler has a We tested this product alongside other cooler bags and loved the sturdy, leakproof design and lightweight portability it weighs just over 3 pounds when empty.

The Hopper Flip has closed-cell rubber foam insulation and a special DryHide shell that repels the sun's rays to help the contents stay cold longer. Not only that, but its heavy-duty zipper keeps everything tucked in and secure when you're out and about.

It doesn't have backpack-style straps, but it's easy to carry using the shoulder strap or grab handle. And although the price is steep for such a small size, the durable design is backed by Yeti's three-year warranty.

The Details: 3. It has a quart capacity that can hold nearly cans, plus ice, and keeps things cold for up to five days. Those in the market for an oversized cooler should consider the Igloo Sunset Glide. It has a quart capacity that can hold a whopping cans, plus ice.

With the brand's MaxCold technology and innovative Thermecool foam insulation, you can count on drinks and perishables to stay cold for up to five days. Of course, the extra-large design is somewhat heavy especially when filled with drinks and ice.

But thanks to the durable wheels and telescoping handle, it's not as cumbersome as you'd expect and is actually pretty easy to maneuver.

One thing to note is that the latches aren't the most durable. You'll want to be careful when opening and closing the lid, but if they break within a year, they're covered under the product's warranty. The spacious design can hold up to 40 cans, and the padded shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry long distances.

After testing several backpack coolers, Igloo's Outdoor Pro was a clear winner. This thoughtfully designed carrier has a sturdy roll-top opening that makes it easy to pack with up to 40 cans.

Even without ice, previously refrigerated drinks will stay cold for a few hours, so it's a great choice for hiking, picnics in the park , or a beach day. Made of ripstop, water-resistant materials, the Outdoor Pro is exceptionally durable too.

We shoved it off a table and are pleased to report there wasn't a single scuff, knick, or tear. The padded shoulder straps make it super easy and comfortable to carry, even when walking long distances.

We also appreciate the various pockets, where you can stash dry snacks, sunglasses, a hat, keys, or your phone. The Details: 2. This tote-style cooler has a generous capacity, soft-sided waterproof construction, and a collapsible design for easy storage and transport. We also like the Hydro Flask Insulated Tote.

This generously sized carrier has a quart capacity that can hold roughly 40 cans, two dozen bottles, a picnic lunch for a family, or a bag's worth of perishable groceries.

Weighing less than 2 pounds, the lightweight design is a breeze to carry short distances. Though it doesn't have a long cross-body strap, you can sling the handles over one shoulder or carry it like a grab bag.

This soft-sided cooler tote is made of a highly durable fabric with water-resistant zippers to keep moisture out and a special waterproof coating that makes it easy to wipe clean. The sturdy base allows it to stand upright without support, and it's conveniently collapsible for easy storage and transport.

The Details: 1. Don't miss out on getting a cooler with convenient features. This might include built-in cup holders, a bottle opener, shelves, separated compartments, or a drain valve for easy emptying. If you're buying a larger cooler or need to transport it on foot, consider getting a rolling design with heavy-duty, all-terrain wheels and a telescoping handle.

Start with a layer of ice cubes on the bottom or larger ice blocks if you have them. Then add frozen food items, followed by another layer of ice, then a layer of drinks, another layer of ice, then fruits and vegetables, another layer of ice, then crushable items like bread or eggs, and a final layer of ice on top.

If you're only using your cooler for drinks, just alternate layers of cans or bottles and ice. Ice blocks will stay frozen about a half-day longer than ice cubes, so it's good to start with those on the bottom of your cooler if possible.

Finally, a number of users have reported premature durability issues, including stuck glide handles, broken hinges, and subpar components. See the Igloo Trailmate Journey. Construction: Injection-molded Capacity: 80 qts.

Other sizes: 45, 65 qts. What we like: A bombproof wheeled cooler from a brand that knows a lot about rugged gear. The Pelican boasts heavy-duty wheels, glove-friendly latches, and an extendable handle for easy hauling and handling, as well as a freezer-grade seal and two inches of foam insulation to maximize freshness.

You even get an integrated fish scale and garden hose-compatible drain plug to make cleaning a breeze. Pelican designs many of its products for agencies like the military and law enforcement, and this tactical styling is readily apparent in its cooler line.

The handles are bulky and rigid, the color options are relatively subdued, and the cooler itself is undeniably hefty at 52 pounds before food, drinks, and ice. See the Pelican 80QW Elite Wheeled. Construction: Blow-molded Capacity: 25 qts. Other sizes: 52, 72 qts.

What we like: Significantly cheaper than the Roadie 24 and built to last. All in all, the Igloo is well appointed, built to last, and an enticing value. As we saw with budget models like the Coleman Series and Igloo's own Ecocool above, the BMX's ice retention is a considerable step down from high-end options from Yeti, RTIC, Orca, and others Igloo lists it at four days, which seems like a stretch.

Some users also report leaking around the lid due to the lack of rubber seal, which likely has an impact on those cooling capabilities. To be fair, the BMX is a sizable improvement performance-wise from many ultra-cheap plastic models on the market, but if you want more than a day or two of ice retention, we recommend spending up for the Pelican 20QT Elite or Yeti Roadie 24 above.

See the Igloo BMX Construction: Plastic Capacity: 50 qts. What we like: A wallet-friendly, hard-sided cooler with wheels. With a similar overall construction as our top budget pick, this basic cooler certainly is a far cry from the RovR RollR, Igloo Trailmate, and Pelican 80QW Elite above, but the functionality is decent for the price.

The simple plastic wheels and tow handle make transporting the cooler over smooth surfaces relatively easy, the hard-sided build provides modest insulation for day or short overnight getaways, and the integrated cup holders atop the lid are convenient for storing drinks.

All told, like the non-wheeled Series model above, this Coleman cooler should meet the needs of many recreational campers, concert-goers, and tailgaters without breaking the bank. That said, as with any budget product, the Xtreme wheeled cooler makes a number of sacrifices to cut costs. First, the cooler is far less durable than premium roto- and injection-molded models when testing them together, the cheap and lightweight materials were very noticeable.

We also had trouble keeping the lid open while loading and unloading the cooler, which made the process fairly painstaking, and the plastic wheels struggle even on marginally bumpy paths. In real-world use and depending on the specific circumstances, we've found these times to be quite a bit lower.

More in our "Ice Retention and Cooling Capabilities" below. Construction techniques for premium hard-sided coolers fall into two types: rotational molding rotomolding and injection molding. These types of coolers are made out of a single piece of continuous plastic that is rotated until it forms the desired shape.

The advantages are fewer stress points these coolers are less likely to crack under pressure and a consistently thick outer shell, which translates to exceptional durability. Primary disadvantages are cost and weight.

What about injection molding? These coolers are simply made by inserting hot plastic into a defined mold, given time to cool, and then removed. The process is simpler and cheaper than rotomolding and allows for greater precision because of the molded shapes.

If you're researching this, you may be wondering how the two designs differ in terms of overall cooling performance. All else being equal, a cooler's construction does not inherently affect ice retention.

In other words, a premium injection-molded cooler should stack up favorably in terms of insulating abilities to a comparable rotomolded design.

That said, because most high-end coolers utilize rotomolded builds, the two tend to correlate more often than not—a quick check of our list reveals that most rotomolded designs retain ice for about 10 days based on manufacturer claims , while many injection-molded offerings come up well short at just 2 to 4.

But again, there are exceptions to this rule: The aforementioned injection-molded RTIC 52 QT Ultra-Light, for instance, is rated to keep ice frozen for up to eight days, while their rotomolded 45 QT Hard Cooler is listed at just four days. Before we jump in, there are a few considerations to note regarding sizing.

Most importantly, not all coolers measure interior capacity in the same way. Some use cans as a unit of measure, while others use liters, quarts, or gallons. The Yeti Tundra 65 , for example, only boasts around a quart capacity once you account for its thick walls.

Small: Quarts If you most often travel solo or prioritize portability, a small cooler could be a good match. At the low end of the capacity range, expect to fit a small amount of ice, a few drinks, and a meal, while quart coolers should hold enough for one or two days.

Among our favorites in this category, the Yeti Roadie 24 balances a burly yet compact build long and tall that is sized right for throwing on a backseat or strapping to an ATV or stand up paddle board. In our testing, we found that , , or quart coolers sufficed for groups of one to two for a couple days.

In the to quart range, we like Yeti's Tundra 65 best: It has a great mix of storage capacity, ice retention, and features that should meet the needs of most small groups on extended weekends or larger families on overnight trips. But at more than 30 inches long and 16 inches high, it does take up a fair amount of space in a trunk or pickup bed.

While undoubtedly expensive, extremely bulky, and heavy the Pelican 80QW Elite is over 50 lb. On the smaller end of the spectrum, to quart hard-sided coolers are ideal for weekend adventures for groups of around four or five, or longer trips with fewer people.

One of the trickiest things to nail down in researching coolers is ice retention. First and foremost, external factors play a huge role here. Air temperature has a big impact, as does direct sun, and the amount of ice you use is another important factor most brands recommend a ice-to-food ratio.

It also matters how often you open the lid, thereby allowing cold air out and warm air in. For maximum performance, you can pre-chill your cooler prior to loading it up. This involves filling the interior with ice for at least a few hours to bring its interior temperature down.

On the flip side, if you leave your cooler sitting out in the sun before loading it up, you can expect it to be pre-warmed like an oven and not nearly as effective. A quick look at the table above shows that the times range from 10 days at the high end for premium designs like the RovR Products RollR 60, Orca 40, Goat Hub 50, and Pelican 80QW Elite to just two days for Pelican's 20QT Elite.

In practice, most of the claimed ice retention times feel quite inflated to us, perhaps due to extremely favorable testing conditions storing the cooler inside with the lid closed in cool temperatures, for example.

If we had to generalize it, we would say that you should expect to get approximately half of the claimed ice retention time in real-world use, give or take depending on your specific circumstances. If you are looking for maximum cooling power, premium rotomolded coolers from brands like Yeti, RTIC, and Orca are the clear leaders in keeping ice cold for long stretches.

You definitely pay for the privilege, but you can expect multiple days of cold temperatures and solid ice in your cooler with these high-end offerings, and that time goes down as you move toward cheaper hard-sided coolers and soft-sided designs we cover the latter in more detail below.

But for those on day trips or shorter overnight outings with access to new ice, an inexpensive cooler like the Coleman Series or Igloo Ecocool is a fine option.

For those who plan to carry or move their cooler with any regularity, weight should be an important consideration. Once loaded down with ice, food, and beverages, that number skyrockets. And despite including carry handles, they're simply too hefty to travel with for long distances.

Although these units still are decidedly hefty the RovR is around 40 lb. while the Igloo is just under 35 , the wheels make them much easier and less cumbersome to transport for extended periods, even just for one person.

As we prefaced above, if your cooler must-haves include easy mobility, large capacity, and maximum ice retention, it's best to consider a rolling hard-sided model. From our picks above, the RovR Products RollR 60 , Igloo Trailmate Journey, Pelican 80QW Elite, and Coleman Xtreme have rear wheels and tow handles, and Yeti's Tundra and Roadie collections also include wheel-equipped variations.

Downsides are even more weight the RovR and Igloo weigh around lb. Additionally, these wheeled beasts still struggle over rough terrain and may require carrying if you don't have a defined path to follow.

But for camping, days at the beach, or even tailgating, a rolling cooler can be a solid choice. For a full look at options, see our round-up of the best wheeled coolers. But in our opinion, the cost is fairly easy to justify. Hard-sided coolers from Yeti, RTIC, Orca, and others are able to keep ice frozen for significantly longer than budget options from companies like Coleman or Igloo.

And while bags of ice come relatively cheap, it can be a real pain to have to drain your cooler and replace the ice on a daily basis not to mention having to travel and purchase more of it. Another benefit of high-end hard-sided units is durability—the difference in quality is immediately apparent and some of the best out there are truly meant to last a lifetime.

But if you consistently head outside for days at a time, the investment is well worth it. A final factor when considering a high-end cooler is longevity. Simply put, coolers are unlike most other categories of outdoor gear that may last for just for a couple seasons before needing to be replaced.

These handles are fairly user-friendly, extremely strong, and minimize any openings for cold air to escape. At the other end of the spectrum, budget-oriented models like the Coleman Series and Igloo Ecocool forgo latches completely and rely on a good fit between the lid and cooler body.

Many of the top hard-sided coolers are listed as bear-resistant, which is a worthwhile consideration should you be camping in bear country.

However, not all coolers listed as bear-resistant carry this certification—you can see a full list of certified coolers here. If you frequent the backcountry or will be traveling where bear-proof gear is required, make sure your cooler is on the list.

Most of the hard-sided coolers on our list have drainage systems to help you empty out water once your ice has melted. Typically, this comes in the form of a screw-on or pop-off cap at the base of the cooler—simply take it off and let the water pour out.

Some also boast drainage channels that funnel water through the opening, which is a nice touch for helping with the clean-up process. There are a number of useful add-ons and aftermarket accessories available for many coolers.

For example, food baskets can be a great way to store fruit and other fragile items, dividers are handy for cordoning off various meals, and external attachments like cup holders and side tables can significantly increase storage and prep space. Most well-known brands sell these accessories directly on their website, although they can substantially increase overall cost.

A final design worth calling out here is Goat's innovative Hub cooler: It comes with built-in slots along the sides that fit their Cans, which are great for stashing smaller camp and kitchen accessories like headlamps, snacks, and more. Crushed ice is the most readily available—you can find it at most gas stations and supermarkets for fairly cheap.

The major draw is that it easily fills the gaps between your food and beverages, cooling them quickly and efficiently. Blocks of ice, on the other hand, take much longer to melt than crushed ice.

If we have enough space, our preferred method is to use both block and crushed ice together, and Yeti has more great tips here. Most major brands have their own designs that work well in their coolers, and the best part is that you can use them repeatedly without ever having to drain melted ice.

A final option to consider is dry ice. Since dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, it passes directly from a solid to a gaseous state, meaning no water to deal with as it melts. All told, it might take some finessing to perfect your ice strategy, but we think a combination of crushed and blocks is the best and safest method.

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.

At the top end are Orca and Roam, which offer lifetime warranties that cover defects, while most others range from one to 10 years. For example, Yeti covers its Tundra and Roadie collections with a five-year warranty, while their soft-sided Hopper is only covered for three.

Speaking of soft-sided coolers: We exclusively cover hard-sided units above, but if need a simple and portable option for road trips or day use, a soft-sided design can be a viable alternative. Some also boast padded, backpack-style straps and exterior storage for easily shuttling longer distances.

However, in addition to less ice retention, soft-sided coolers are inherently less durable than hard-sided options and often are only offered in smaller capacities. Some of our favorite designs include the RTIC Soft Pack series, REI Co-op Cool Haul 18 , AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas, and Hydro Flask Day Escape.

For a full breakdown on the topic, see our articles on the best soft coolers and best backpack coolers. Back to Our Top Cooler Picks Back to Our Cooler Comparison Table.

Photo Credit. By: John Ellings and Sarah Nelson Last Updated: November 13, We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Our Team's Cooler Picks Best Overall Hard-Sided Cooler: RTIC 52 QT Ultra-Light Best Premium Cooler with Excellent Ice Retention: Yeti Tundra 65 Best Budget Cooler: Coleman Series Quart Best Small Cooler for Day Trips: Yeti Roadie 24 Best Cooler with Wheels: RovR Products RollR 60 Best Overall Hard-Sided Cooler 1.

See the RTIC 52 QT Ultra-Light Best Premium Cooler with Excellent Ice Retention 2. See the Yeti Tundra 65 Best Budget Cooler 3. See the Coleman Series Quart Best Small Cooler for Day Trips 4. Read in-depth review See the Yeti Roadie 24 Best Cooler with Wheels 5. See the RovR Products RollR 60 Best of the Rest 6.

See the Xspec Pro 60 Quart 7. See the Coleman Steel Belted Cooler 8. See the Orca 40 Cooler 9. See the Oyster Tempo Cooler See the Pelican 20QT Elite See the RTIC 45 QT Hard Cooler See the Goat Hub 50 See the Igloo Ecocool 52 See the Roam 45QT Rugged Cooler See the Igloo Trailmate Journey See the Pelican 80QW Elite Wheeled See the Igloo BMX 25 None Unavail.

Cooler Buying Advice Cooler Construction: Rotomolding vs. Injection Molding Cooler Sizes Capacities Ice Retention and Cooling Capabilities Weight and Portability Wheeled Rolling Coolers Are Expensive Coolers Worth It? Cooler Latch and Closure Systems Bear-Resistant Ratings Cooler Drain Systems Accessories and Add-Ons Ice Types: Crushed, Blocks, Packs, or Dry Cooler Warranties Hard-Sided vs.

Soft-Sided Coolers Cooler Construction: Rotomolding vs. Injection Molding Construction techniques for premium hard-sided coolers fall into two types: rotational molding rotomolding and injection molding.

Yeti's rotomolded coolers are impressively tough and long-lasting What about injection molding? Cooler Sizes Capacities Before we jump in, there are a few considerations to note regarding sizing.

Testing a variety of coolers in Washington's Methow Valley Small: Quarts If you most often travel solo or prioritize portability, a small cooler could be a good match. Ice Retention and Cooling Capabilities One of the trickiest things to nail down in researching coolers is ice retention.

Ice generally doesn't stay frozen as long as manufacturers advertise If you are looking for maximum cooling power, premium rotomolded coolers from brands like Yeti, RTIC, and Orca are the clear leaders in keeping ice cold for long stretches.

Weight and Portability For those who plan to carry or move their cooler with any regularity, weight should be an important consideration. Hard-sided coolers in general are heavy even before adding ice and food Wheeled Rolling Coolers As we prefaced above, if your cooler must-haves include easy mobility, large capacity, and maximum ice retention, it's best to consider a rolling hard-sided model.

Rolling the Coleman Xtreme wheeled cooler to camp Are Expensive Coolers Worth It? The Coleman Steel Belted Cooler's single-latch lid doesn't have the most effective seal Bear-Resistant Ratings Many of the top hard-sided coolers are listed as bear-resistant, which is a worthwhile consideration should you be camping in bear country.

Cooler Drain Systems Most of the hard-sided coolers on our list have drainage systems to help you empty out water once your ice has melted. Most hard-sided coolers come with some sort of drainage system Accessories and Add-Ons There are a number of useful add-ons and aftermarket accessories available for many coolers.

Make sure to master your ice-packing process before heading out A final option to consider is dry ice. Cooler Warranties Coolers are undoubtedly expensive, but having a generous warranty can help ease some of the buying anxiety.

Yeti's Roadie series is backed by a five-year warranty Hard-Sided vs. Soft-Sided Coolers Speaking of soft-sided coolers: We exclusively cover hard-sided units above, but if need a simple and portable option for road trips or day use, a soft-sided design can be a viable alternative.

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Top 14 Product Ratings

Dimensions: This medium-capacity cooler from Coleman is one of the best deals out there given its price, quality, and durability. During our testing, about 50 percent of the ice remained frozen after 24 hours, and the temperature only increased by 1.

Based on these results, we think that this cooler is best suited for day trips or backyard gatherings. Though this cooler may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive models, such as a drain plug or bottle opener, it does come with cup holders.

We also appreciated the classic side handles and the secure, tight-fitting lid. According to the manufacturer, this cooler is tall enough to accommodate a two-liter bottle standing upright. Compared to many of the coolers on our list, this pick is relatively lightweight and easy to lift.

For the average person who simply needs a cooler for occasional use over the course of a day, the Coleman Chiller is an excellent value. Dimensions: 15 x The Yeti Tundra 65 Hard Cooler is made through a process known as rotomolding, which is when a mold is filled with molten plastic and rotated to achieve an even thickness.

The result is a highly durable cooler with excellent ice retention. In our testing, the Tundra lived up to its promises, increasing in temperature by only 0. During testing, we found that the heavy-duty rubber latches felt secure, and the rope handles were easy to grip.

Like all Yeti products, this cooler is available in several color options. At We think its size and ice retention make it suitable for a family of four to take over the weekend.

In our testing, we were impressed with how the Xspec Quart Towable Rotomolded Cooler With Wheels measured up against brands like Yeti and Orca. Constructed with three inches of insulation, this cooler stayed cold enough to keep over 80 percent of the ice frozen after 24 hours. But where this cooler really stands out is its portability: It has an adjustable tow handle and eight-inch wheels, which glided over both concrete and grass in our testing.

It also comes with grab handles if you prefer to use them for carrying this cooler over short distances. We observed that it can get quite heavy to tow when at capacity, although the rolling mechanism certainly makes maneuvering it more feasible for one person.

We also like that it comes with bottle openers and a drain plug. Dimensions: 18 x 22 x 21 inches Capacity: 45 quarts Weight: 35 pounds. We found this cooler to be an ideal size, large enough to fit a good amount of beverages but small enough to not take up too much space.

In our tests, it fit 60 cans with no ice, and 20 cans when filled with a ice to can ratio. During our testing, about 41 percent of ice remained after 24 hours.

A suction option also allows you to vacuum out extra air to keep your beverages cool. During testing, we were especially impressed by how secure the cooler was. It is crafted with a durable, waterproof material and has an extra secure zipper designed to prevent leakage, in addition to a drainage plug.

We found that the interior seemed to be almost welded shut, which successfully ensured the cooler was leak-free and kept contents cool inside. While the water-tight zipper can make the cooler challenging to operate, it does come equipped with lubricant to help it glide more easily.

Due to its large capacity, the cooler can be heavy to hold while walking long distances. Even so, it has a removable shoulder strap, top handles, and side handles for convenience. Portable and leak-free, this cooler is a versatile choice ideal for on-the-go activities.

Style and function merge in this retro-inspired backpack cooler that is tall enough to fit a bottle of wine up to six! for an afternoon at the beach or a picnic in the park. We found it to comfortably hold about 20 cans with no ice and seven cans with a ratio of ice to cans.

But to be fair, The Get Out only claims that its bag will keep cool for one day. While we found the backpack straps to be very comfortable, the cooler bag also comes with side handles if you prefer to carry it that way. Lightweight and stylish, this cooler will keep your hands free at all times.

Dimensions: 10 x The manufacturer notes that it can hold up to cans, but we found it to hold cans without ice and 68 cans with a ice to can ratio. We found the latches to be a little difficult to use. The Orca Quart Cooler also comes with a cargo net and a drain plug on each side.

Instead, this one should stay put in the back of the truck or garage and be brought out only when needed. It is large and lifting it with the rope handles can feel awkward, so it may not be a great portable option. The Lifetime Quart High-Performance Cooler has great ice retention and durability without the steep price that comes with more premium models.

In our testing, we found that after 24 hours, the interior temperature only dropped 0. Plus, the can temperature measured The Lifetime cooler comes equipped with two simple fasteners, rope handles, padlock holes the lock is sold separately , two bottle openers, and a drain plug.

Anyone in the market for a portable cooler will want to look elsewhere—but otherwise, this cooler is a true workhorse that rivals much more expensive models in terms of durability and ice retention. Our top pick, the RTIC Quart Ultra-Light Cooler, stood out during our testing for its excellent insulation and leak-free design.

For a more budget-friendly option, the Coleman Chiller Quart Cooler is a nice entry-level cooler that can be used for most activities, including day trips, tailgating, and backyard barbecues. We spent three days putting 48 different coolers through a series of tests, most of which were done outdoors with temperatures ranging from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the time of day and humidity levels between 37 and 52 percent.

Our testers first evaluated the design of each cooler by opening and closing it. They took note of the ease of use and functionality of the latches, zippers, magnets, and other closure systems. Next, testers measured the capacity of the cooler by filling it with ounce cans, first without ice and again with ice.

Testers recorded how many cans the cooler can fit with and without ice, measured the temperature inside the cooler, and recorded how many pounds of ice were used. To evaluate the insulation , our testers opened each cooler after two hours and recorded the interior and surface temperature.

We found that the Yeti Tundra 65 Hard Cooler had the least temperature change, only increasing by 0. Using a slotted spoon, testers scooped out the remaining ice and placed it in a bucket on a scale to measure how much remained.

We repeated this process after 24 hours. Then, our testers drained the water out of the cooler using the plug or other draining mechanism, when applicable. During this test, we looked for evidence of leaking by tipping the cooler on its hinge side and its opening side, leaving it on each for one minute.

We also assessed any special features and accessories, such as built-in bottle openers, cup holders, or integrated Bluetooth speakers. Additionally, testers appraised the portability of each cooler by picking it up and placing it on a table to determine how easy it is to lift while full.

We also performed the following tests based on the type of cooler:. Finally, we tested each cooler's durability by filling it with ice and pushing it off a table and onto a concrete surface. We took note of whether it opened, cracked, or sustained any damage upon impact.

Once our testers completed the above steps, they checked the retail price of each cooler and scored its overall value. Before you start shopping, consider how you plan to use your cooler. The coolers on our list range in capacity from 20 to quarts—the former is ideal for day trips, while the latter is best reserved for professional or semi-professional outdoorsmen such as hunters transporting game meat.

It's best to pack your cooler tightly because too much air allows the temperature to rise more quickly.

That's why it's important to look for a cooler that's large enough for you and your family, but not so big that you won't be able to fill it up all the way. Some companies measure the capacity of their cooler by the number of ounce cans it can hold.

According to Bass Pro Shops , 1 quart equates to roughly 0. Some people may choose to pack in more cans, while others may choose to use more ice for extended cooling we used a ice-to-can ratio in our testing. Refer to the chart below for general guidelines on the different cooler sizes out there:.

You should also consider how you'll carry your cooler. If it's just going from the house to the backyard for a barbecue, traditional grab handles will be fine though you may have to enlist another person for the task, depending on the size of the cooler. But if you plan to take your cooler on the go, say on a camping trip, boat ride, or beach day, you may want to consider a cooler with more efficient carrying mechanisms.

You can find larger coolers with wheels for added portability, as well as smaller coolers with backpack straps that allow them to go wherever you go. Be sure to consider size, too: An extra-large cooler may take up too much space in the car, and some may not fit in the car at all.

Both hard-sided and soft-sided coolers come with advantages and drawbacks. Hard-sided coolers have longer ice retention more on this below and are more durable. They're also heavier and usually come with a higher price tag.

Soft-sided coolers, on the other hand, are lightweight and easy to carry, especially since they often come with straps.

However, they don't have the same ice retention as hard coolers and are therefore better suited for day trips or picnics. Some coolers are conveniently designed to function as or fit in personal shopping carts.

This simply refers to how long a cooler can keep ice frozen. Manufacturers make bold claims, from 24 hours to as long as two weeks. But these claims usually come with stipulations, such as pre-chilling the cooler, using extra ice, not opening the cooler, etc.

Ice retention can also be affected by external factors such as the air temperature and the amount of sunlight, and there's no way to know what conditions the manufacturers tested their products in. So take these claims with a grain of salt—the ice in your cooler is bound to melt faster during real-world use.

If you need extra-long ice retention for extended use, look for rotomolded coolers. Made using a specific manufacturing process, these coolers are more durable and keep ice frozen for much longer. You can easily shell out several hundred dollars for a top-of-the-line cooler, which may or may not be justified depending on your needs.

Hard-sided, rotomolded coolers, such as those from Yeti and ORCA, tend to come with the highest price tags and the longest ice retention. They also tend to be more durable and come with longer warranties.

Xspec Quart Rotomolded Cooler : In our testing, this cooler had excellent insulation, maintaining the same internal temperature for 24 hours.

Its large drain also made for an easy draining process. Pelican Quart Elite Cooler : This cooler is sturdy and easy to carry, featuring an indent that allows it to easily rest against your hip while holding it.

Even so, we found that its oddly shaped interior made it difficult to stack square and rectangular items. The ice keeps the inside of your cooler nice and chilly, while the insulated walls slow down convection—the process by which hot air travels around a space and causes the temperature to increase.

Insulation also slows down the process of thermal conduction, which is when heat travels from one object to another. But keep in mind that each time the cooler is opened, warm air can find its way inside. For best results, start by pre-chilling the food and drinks you plan to store in your cooler.

Be sure to pack your cooler as full as possible, because too much air can cause the interior temperature to rise. Tip: You can use frozen water bottles to fill up empty spaces in your cooler.

Add ice last—cool air travels down, so putting the ice on top will keep the entire cooler cold. Schultes suggests layering using ice blocks rather than ice cubes, as blocks will melt slower.

This inexpensive cooler was neck-and-neck with the Yeti in the ice melting race. What's more, the wheels and handle made it easy to transport. While it looks small, it accomodated all 30 pounds of ice used during testing.

Ice lasted a respectable nine days. The cooler lid is completely removable and reversible, although given its light weight, there might be some issues with the lid blowing away on a super-blustery day.

While it'll never leak, if you spill a beer in there, you'll have to dump everything out to clean it. A good cooler should keep food or drinks chilled long enough to last through the party—not just because cold drinks taste better, but for food safety reasons as well.

Remember the temperature danger zone is between 40 and °F °C ; if your food sits within that temperature range, bad bacteria can run rampant.

Finally, it should be easy to use. If the lid is difficult to latch, your ice might melt faster than anticipated. Every equipment review on Serious Eats starts with two basic questions: "What qualities should a good version of this piece of gear have?

Instead, we build our reviews on a solid empirical foundation and show our work, so you can see why and how we landed on our final recommendations.

For accurate testing, I armed myself with two ThermoWorks remote read thermometers with four ambient temperature probes each, plus a Thermapen to measure soda temperature, and a scale to weigh ice.

A cooler's primary job is keeping its temperature stable. First, I cleared space in my living room so the coolers were in an environment with a controlled temperature, rather that outside. In the first 24 hours of testing, five coolers—the Igloo MaxCold, Cabela's Polar Cap, Rugged Road Onitis, Yeti, and Pelican—remained under 40°F 5°C , with the Cabela Polar Cap reading the lowest at The losers here—the Igloo Legacy, Coleman Portable with Wheels, and Coleman Steel Belted— ended that hour period with temperatures over 40°F, with the Coleman Portable with Wheels at 41°F.

Every 12 hours, I weighed the ice, draining the water back into the coolers to mimic "normal conditions," when drinks or food are in a cooler with ice. The Cabela Polar Cap lost just a single ounce in the first 12 hours and the Yeti was a close second with a loss of 2.

The first two coolers to have all their ice melt were the Igloo Legacy and the Coleman Portable with Wheels on the seventh day of testing. For this test, I started with 10 pounds of ice in each cooler, along with 12 cans of sparkling water that were at 62°F 17°C.

Every hour, I opened a can in each cooler and tested the temperature. After three hours, the cans in every cooler were at °F—the thermometer read in whole degrees, so they were virtually equal. After that third hour, the temperatures remained stable until I ran out of cans to test, or nine more hours.

If you're always on the move, durability is important when it comes to buying a cooler. It may fall out of the car; you might drop it; if it's living in your garage, you might accidentally hit it! Since these beasts are expensive, you want to find one that will last. I used a inch-high table for the durability test, pushing each empty cooler off the side of the table onto concrete.

Each one was dropped onto its front, back, and one side. The Igloo Legacy was the only one that sustained actual damage, with one side of the front handle breaking when it was dropped on its front; it also popped open upon impact. One or both of the latches on the Pelican popped open with each drop.

While nothing broke, it would have been annoying if it had been filled with food and ice. I was able to push it back into place, but had it been full, it wouldn't have been as easy. A cooler's most important job is keeping food and drinks cool, so the coolers that stayed cool with the least melted ice rose to the top of the list of winners.

While most of the coolers did well in the drop test as far as damage was concerned, it was surprising to discover that some of them popped open. That would be very inconvenient if they were filled with food, drinks, and ice. So those that sustained damage went down to the bottom. User experience also played a part.

The Rugged Road Onitis won a few extra points because of its light weight. The Igloo Max Cold was easy to move thanks to its wheels. Both of those consequently rose a little in the standings. On the other hand, while the Coleman Portable with Wheels was easy to move around, it was very difficult to open.

Eventually, I left a screwdriver next to the cooler so I could open it without a struggle. The Rugged Road was a contender because of its removable lid, which would obviate any risk of slamming the top down on an immersion circulator. Also, the lid could be replaced so it still covered most of the water.

That would be sufficient for low temperature sous vide recipes like a medium-rare steak, but not for everything. There would be no need to modify the coolers, so they could function both as coolers and as sous vide containers.

What we liked: This cooler aced two important tests: It kept the lowest internal temperature, and the ice melted the slowest. During the drop test, it got a few scrapes and scratches, but it stayed closed, and the non-slip feet are a plus.

What we didn't like: The one slight issue with this cooler was that the drain leaked. I had to tighten it several time over the testing interval since it loosened on its own.

What we liked: This cooler was almost as good as the Cabela Polar Cap as far as temperature and ice retention, but without the pesky leakage from the drain. It has a couple of nice design features that recommend it, too, like the non-slip feet and the small dry goods basket that's included, which nestles on the rim of the cooler to keep foods cool but out of the ice and water.

What we didn't like: I did want to note, however, that the drain plug on this cooler is completely removable; if someone forgets to replace it, it can easily be lost.

What we liked: This relatively inexpensive cooler was a surprise, since it kept up with more expensive coolers with temperature and ice retention. What we liked: This one also did a great job with temperature and ice retention, but its selling point might actually be its light weight.

Sure, you can always find a pal to grab one handle of a cooler to carry it to the picnic spot, but this one may be light enough for a single person to carry around, depending on the weight of food, drink, and ice it contains.

What we didn't like: Its ice retention wasn't quite as good as the Cabela's or Yeti coolers, but it still performed well. After 12 hours, we found many of the coolers we tested were capable of keeping drinks very cold for a very long time. Our overall favorite coolers though, the Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer Quart Cooler and Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler , had the best cold retention of the bunch.

After testing, we named the Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer Quart Cooler our top pick. For top-notch cold retention and more interior storage space, we recommend a hard cooler.

However, hard coolers are heavy. So, if you want a cooler that's easy to carry over a long distance, you might be happier with a soft cooler. Use limited data to select advertising. Create profiles for personalised advertising. Use profiles to select personalised advertising.

Budget-friendly coolers

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Cheap Yeti Cooler Alternative - Don't be fooled!

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