If you are an avid camper and loves to go on fishing, hiking or many other outdoor trips, than you are going to need a cooler. In modern life you can’t imagine such outdoor activities without having a cooler. With a cooler you can keep your favorite beverages cold for a longer time. Therefore, you can also keep your foods fresh during the trip. But finding the best cooler for the money is quiet difficult for both new and experienced buyers because there’s a huge number of coolers available to choose from. And every cooler comes with different shapes, sizes, features and prices.
Here in BestCoolersInfo we’ve reviewed a huge number of coolers available on market. There are hundreds of cooler brands available from where you can pick your ice chest. You can whether go for a premium brand like YETI, or cheaper brand like RTIC. Even you can go for traditional and cheapest Coleman coolers. But what matters most when purchasing a cooler is the quality. In this post we are going to introduce you the top 10 best coolers for the money. We tried to pick the best options from world famous cooler brands and present them for you. We hope that this post will help both the new and experienced buyers to pick the best cooler that will fulfill most of their needs.
Top 10 Best Coolers
YETI, the most popular cooler brand, has manufactured a complete range of coolers for every outdoorsmen. The Tundra series coolers are incredibly renowned among all other available coolers in the market.
If you are looking for the best quality cooler, then there is no alternative to YETI. The Tundra coolers comes with extremely durable build quality and excellent cooling features. Tundra series is designed for everyone who needs a cooler for their outings. The sizes ranging from small 35 quart to giant 350 quart. There are several color options available to fulfill your needs.
The Tundra cooler comes with roto-molded construction. There’s three inches thick of insulation and extra thick FatWall design. Unlike ordinary coolers YETI feature a full frame freezer quality gasket that seals around the entire lid to minimize air exchange. YETI coolers are great in terms of ice retention. Though it depends on the way you pack the cooler and use it, you can expect 4-5 days of ice retention from YETI coolers.
YETI coolers have non-slip pads on the bottom which is great for like fisherman and people out on boats. It’s not going to slide around. You don’t see that on a lot of cheaper coolers. Another interesting feature about YETI Tundra is it has tie-down spots on the side. So, you don’t have to have the cooler open in order to access.
The carrying option of YETI Tundra is great. There are actual strap handles on both side to pick the cooler easily and comfortably. The straps are made with military-grade polyester rope for extra durability. These are really sturdy and slip resistant and they will never break. There’s a vortex draining plug on the bottom for easy and quick draining. This is perfect for when you have ice that melts to drain, the unit drains the liquid from out of it. So, you don’t have to pick it up and pour everything out.
All tundra coolers comes with a dry goods basket which you can use to keep your foods separate. YETI is offering 5 years warranty. If you have the budget of purchasing top quality premium cooler, I must recommend you to pick one from YETI Tundra series. It will be a lifetime investment for you.
- Build with premium quality materials
- Up to 7 days ice retention capacity
- Certified Bear-Resistant cooler
- 5 years warranty
- Heavy weight
02. ORCA Extra Heavy Duty Cooler – Best Cooler for the Money
ORCA is yet another popular cooler brand. They made the best quality cooler that you can buy. If you’re looking at the key features to an ORCA cooler the first one that you will definitely love is the cargo net. This is great when you’re out. You can keep your keys, wallet and everything that you need to keep dry. That’s the best place to put your stuff and not get it lost.
The next is the cool little whale tail latches. Everybody seems to love the whale tail because it’s unique. Another key feature is the easy flow drain plug. It will help you to clean the cooler easily. The flex grip handles are helpful for carrying the cooler by yourself.
ORCA has the best-in-class ice retention capacity. Their cooler has the capacity of holding ice for up to 10 days or 200+ hours. The lid gasket is unique to ORCA and it has been a clear identifier that it holds ice longer than the rest of the competitors. Like other top rated cooler, this is also bear resistant.
ORCA coolers are made in the USA. All of their products are made in two plants – Nashville Tennessee and Streets in Ohio. They offer a lifetime warranty. And lifetime meaning no matter what goes wrong they will replace it or repair it.
The best part about an orca cooler is the value. The value is based on true quart size. They measure their coolers on the interior size. If you look at an orca cooler 20 quarts, 26 quarts, 40 quarts, 58 quarts, 75 quarts and 140 quarts they’re actually that quart dimension on the interior. ORCA coolers are comes with a very lower price than other competitive top brands like YETI and Pelican. ORCA put a lot of work into their American-made coolers. So you can get a lot of fun out of them.
- Made in the USA.
- Best-in-class ice retention.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Handle doesn’t fit well.
03. Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler
If you need a heavy duty cooler then this product from Pelican is might be something that you’d be interested in. Pelican has been around for years. They’ve recently ventured into the cooler industry with their elite cooler line. They are making some fantastic claims on these coolers.
Pelican has both hard and soft coolers that come in a range of sizes. The hard cooler comes in many different sizes ranging from 20 quarts to 250 quarts. Personally I like the white, gray and the black combination. But if you want something more colorful there are a lot of other options to choose from. The cooler comes with freezer grade gasket and 2 inches of polyurethane insulation. Pelican is claiming 7 to 10 days of ice retention on their ProGear coolers. If you can pack the cooler perfectly with proper ice to content ratio, you can be able to get more than 7 days of ice retention.
There are dual handle system – molded-in and hinged handle which make the cooler really easy for two people to carry. It has press-and-pull latches which are designed to open the cooler easily. There’s a molded-in tie down which is really a clever feature. On the bottom of the cooler there’s non-skid and non-marking raised feet which is perfect for the boats. It’s not going to slide around on the boat deck and it’s also raised up so water will slosh underneath the cooler rather than smacking up against the cooler.
The cooler has molded-in lock hasp with a stainless steel plate for traveling. You can lock this thing down. Another smart feature of these coolers is the sloped drain. You may know that after the ice starts to melt or has melted you literally have to pick it up at 45-degree angle to drain the water. The Pelican ProGear designed perfectly for quick draining. The coolers are sloped. So, the water will drain while the cooler is sitting flat. All the hardware used in these coolers are made in stainless steel. So, it’s going to resist corrosion. The lid has a fish measurement on it which is nice.
Pelican ProGear is guaranteed for life. They are guarantying all the materials for life. If there’s any downside to the cooler it’s going to be the price. But the features definitely worth the price.
- Heavy duty cooler
- Great ice retention
- Guaranteed for life
- Very Expensive
04. Engel High Performance Roto-molded Cooler
Engel specializes in high-performance roto-molded coolers that can be used in all kinds of outdoor adventures like – fishing, hunting, camping etc. They uses all the best quality materials in making their coolers in order to keep up with the challenging demand and uniqueness in the market. If you are looking for a premium cooler that will last for years, then we recommend you to check out Engel coolers.
The coolers are very tough and made with rotationally-molded construction. This is exactly the same build technology that is used in whitewater kayaks. The coolers have the ability to withstand for years of abuse. There’s a non-marking feet under the cooler which is a great addition and very helpful for keeping the cooler in place specially when riding in the boat. Other special features like – UV-Resistant construction, marine grade compression latches and silicone airtight gaskets are really good addition to these coolers. There are rope handles in the side of on each cooler for easy carrying.
Engel has made a wide range of roto-molded coolers for almost all kinds of people to use. You will find the smallest 25 quart size to largest 320 quart size cooler on their store. The coolers are very stylish in design and comes with six different colors to choose from. All the coolers are IGBC certified bear resistant and perfect for regular use on any outdoor trip.
Engel coolers have impressive cooling feature. There is a two inches of polyurethane insulation round the cooler which ensures best in class ice retention capacity. Engel advertise that their cooler can hold ice for up to 10 days. But it won’t hold ice for that much time. You will be able to get up to 4-5 days of ice retention by packing the cooler perfectly. So, it is great for any multiple day trip.
Finally, Engel coolers are comes with all the best materials and Engel is offering 10 years warranty. The price of these coolers are luckily cheaper than the top brand YETI though Engel features almost same quality as YETI coolers.
- Extremely durable build quality
- IGBC certified bear resistant cooler
- 10 years warranty
- The bottom insulation seems thicker
Meet the Top Cooler Brands
There are a lot of cooler brands available on market. Determining the best cooler brand among all of the available brands is very difficult for some people. Most of the company claims their cooler to be the best one in the market. All have different features and price. We picked top cooler brands after researching almost all available brands. Let’s talk about the top cooler brands:
YETI is world’s most popular premium cooler brand. They manufacture world’s best quality cooler. YETI is the perfect choice for people who love premium products. They have the complete range of coolers in both hard and soft line. The soft coolers are comes in Hopper series and hard coolers are comes in Tundra series. In addition, YETI made a small size personal cooler Roadie 20. YETI coolers are made with the best quality materials and last for life. Their Tundra coolers are manufactured in the USA and the Hopper coolers are manufactured in China. Check our YETI cooler review.
Outdoor Recreation Company of America (ORCA) prides themselves as one of the paramount manufacturer of coolers and various outdoor gears. This is an America company. All of the products are made in America. ORCA uses the top-end materials on their products. They have a wide range of coolers with various size and color options. They provide the best cooler for the money. If you want to learn more about this company, feel free to check our ORCA cooler review.
Pelican is known as a global leader in the design and manufacture of top quality protective cases. If you are looking for extremely durable cooler then Pelican is a perfect choice for you. They manufacture both hard and soft coolers. All the products are made in America. The only downside about these coolers is the high price. To learn more about their cooler check our pelican cooler review.
Engel is another direct competitor to YETI. They manufacture best quality cooler at premium price. Both their soft and hard coolers are popular on market. With impressive ice retention and 10 years of warranty, Engel cooler comes to the list of the best coolers.
Driftsun comes to the market in 2014. It is an American brand. They are best known as a manufacturer of water sports gear and equipment. They have some great quality coolers that you can purchase for your upcoming trip. They always works for ensuring the best value and quality of their products.
Grizzly is best known as a manufacturer of hunting cooler, fishing cooler and ice chest. Their roto-molded coolers are IGBC certified bear resistant and provide impressive ice retention. If you are looking for long lasting cooler at your budget, Grizzly will be a good choice for you.
RTIC manufactures hard cooler, soft cooler, day cooler, tumbler, bottles, drinkware, food container, backpack cooler, cooler accessories and a lot more products. RTIC coolers are another great alternative to YETI coolers. In order you give you the best quality at the lowest price, their coolers are made in china.
What is a Cooler?
According to Wikipedia, a cooler or portable ice chest is an insulated box that is used to keep foods and drinks cold. It was first invented by Richard C. Laramy on February 24, 1951. The Coleman Company make the cooler popular by offering galvanized cooler in 1954. After three years, the company developed a process to make plastic liner for the coolers.
This is a little history about cooler. But modern coolers are very effective and comes with a lot of advanced features. The main purpose of using a cooler is to keep items cold during any long trip.
Types of Cooler
Typically there are two major types of coolers available on market – hard cooler and soft cooler. Let’s talk about these two types of coolers:
This is a kind of cooler that comes first to our mind when we think about a cooler. These type of cooler comes with hard plastic material and foam insulation implicated between the interior and exterior plastic. Hard coolers are known as the best cooler that money can buy. These are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colors, features and prices.
When you are looking for the best hard cooler there are two main categories:
- Regular Cooler: These are the coolers that comes from no-name brands. These coolers are made with normal plastic materials and can’t hold ice longer than 2 or 3 days.
- Roto-molded Cooler: Roto-molded coolers were first introduced in 2006. These coolers are made with strong rationally molded plastic and features super thick insulation and extremely durable exterior. These are the coolers that we’ve reviewed in our listing of best coolers. Roto-molded coolers can hold ice for 7-10 days which is really great.
Soft coolers are usually smaller in size and made of durable canvas. These are not so much durable like hard coolers. But you can carry them very easily by yourself. You will find soft-sided cooler and backpack cooler in market.
Why you Need a Cooler?
Coolers are one of the must-have outdoor accessory for every outdoors-men. Taking foods and drinks on any kind of outdoor trip is a must. And it’s very important to keep these foods fresh during the trip.
Without a freezer you can’t keep your food fresh. Portable coolers are great invention that helps you to store foods safely for a longer time even without a freezer or power outage.
This is exactly why you need a cooler in your outdoor trip. You will be able to keep your favorite drinks and foods cold for a longer time using a portable cooler. The best cooler will always give you the maximum ice retention so that you can enjoy your trip.
Cooler Buying Guide – How to Choose the Best Ice Chest?
A portable cooler is an important outdoor gear for many people. This is an essential element for any kind of outdoor activities like camping, hiking, long day trip or other outdoor trip.
There are so many coolers available on different sizes, shapes, functions, designs and costs. So, it’s very easy to get confused on choosing the best cooler among all available coolers.
Coolers are not so cheap instead they comes with a big price tag. You will never want to purchase a cooler frequently. So, it is very necessary to pick the best ice chest.
In order to pick the right cooler to fulfill your needs, you have to be clear about the following things:
- What is your purpose of buying a cooler?
- What features you really want?
- What is your budget for the cooler?
This is very important to figure out the purpose for why you are going to purchase a cooler. This will help you determine what kind of cooler is required for you. According to your purpose you will be able to find out whether you need a hard cooler, soft cooler, backpack cooler, small cooler, medium cooler, large cooler or even giant cooler. Followings are some of our recommendation that will help you to know what kind of cooler you really need:
- If you are a worker and take your launch in your workplace every day, you are going to need a personal cooler. Here, soft coolers are the best option. You can pick a small size soft cooler for this kind of purpose.
- If you love fishing, camping, hiking or other outing you must need a hard cooler. Here, according to the size of your group you can pick either small or large size cooler.
Every cooler comes with tons of features and functionality. You have to determine what features you need to meet your demand.
And finally you have to fix your budget range. There are a lot of cooler available ranging from $50 to $500. According to your needs and demands you can easily determine whether you should choose a cheap cooler or expensive cooler.
There’s a lot of variables that need to consider before buying a cooler. If you really want to pick the best cooler for your next outing you have to consider the following variables:
The size and the capacity most often end up being the main factor of choosing a cooler. Cooler size impacts people on choosing one cooler over another cooler. Storage space on a cooler is really a big factor because you are going to pack your foods and drinks on it. Everyone wants to have large storage capacity with possible smaller size.
The storage capacity can easily be identified by the quart size of a cooler. Most often the entire space of a cooler is measured by its quart size. There’s a wide range of quart size available to choose from – 20, 30, 35, 45, 50, 65, 75, 95, 110, 150, 250, 350 and even larger than these. This quart size depends on the brands. Top cooler brand – YETI, ORCA, PELICAN offers almost every sizes of coolers.
20 to 35 quart is ideal size of small portable cooler. These coolers are perfect for individual use. These are the most portable cooler and anyone can carry these cooler easily.
45 to 75 quarts are basically known as medium size cooler. These are perfect for camping, fishing, hunting, tailgating or any other outdoor trip. These can be the best choice for family trip. If you have a group of 5-6 people and going on any outing, this kind of coolers are great fit for you.
If you have a larger number of people in your group, then you need larger cooler. You can pick a larger cooler from the range of 95 quart to 350 quart.
Design is another important factor that most people look on a cooler before purchasing. Coolers are comes with different designs and colors. The most common color of cooler is simple white. But there’s a lot more color options available to choose from. Though color and design doesn’t impact much on choosing the best cooler, some people loves to have a great looking cooler. So, this can also be considered when choosing a cooler.
Some have external storage option some have not. Some cooler have several handle system some have simple traditional handle. You will get some cooler having built-in bottle opener or fish scale on the body.
Most of the cooler comes with a brand logo of the manufactured company on the body. But there’s an option you will find on some cooler that are offering custom logo or any text on your cooler. You just need to order and send your logo or any text to them. They will design your cooler with your own logo.
This is probably the most important factor that make every cooler different from other. Premium coolers are made with high-end materials. Quality materials make a cooler last long. Therefore, this increases the ice retention time and give you the best outdoor experience with your favorite soft drinks.
Ice Retention Capacity
The main purpose of choosing a cooler is to keep things cold for as long as you can. A good cooler must have longer ice retention capacity.
Soft sided coolers are very portable and easy to carry. But these are not appropriate for multiple day trip. You can hold ice for up to 24 hours on a soft cooler. So, if you are purchasing a cooler for daytrip you can go for soft cooler.
But if you need multiple day ice retention, you must have to choose a hard cooler. Hard coolers can hold ice up to 10 days. The best cooler always comes with longer ice retention capacity.
Though the ice retention depends on how you pack and use a cooler during your trip, you can still expect more than 3-4 days of insulation on each of our above listed coolers.
Most of the people wants to have a durable cooler. This is because purchasing a cooler is really a big investment. And people don’t want to waste money on less lasting coolers.
Durability of a cooler depends on the build quality of a cooler. Premium coolers are incredibly durable and made for last long. If you have enough budget to purchase a premium cooler, you should buy any one of them.
Portability means hoe easily you can carry your cooler to your trip. Small coolers are extremely portable and anyone can carry them. But large cooler is not so easy to carry by one person.
Coolers are comes with several types of handle system so that you can carry it easily. Some coolers have traditional pulling handle, some have rope handle. Some coolers have small hole to tie down the cooler in the back of your car.
Whatever the carrying option, you should pick a light weight cooler. Some coolers are very heavy becomes more heavy after packing with your items. So, you should try to avoid these cooler. Smaller and lighter coolers are great for portability.
You will be happy to hear that most of the top rated coolers are now comes with certified bear resistant features. Once you lock your cooler with the padlocks the coolers will keep out bears.
If you are in a bear area, you should specially check look for this features on cooler before purchasing. Luckily, in our listing of the best coolers, all are certified bear resistant. So, you can pick any one of them and keep your foods stay away from bears.
Cleaning and Maintenance
You have to clean your cooler every time you go on a trip. So, the cleaning and maintenance system of a cooler should be very easy.
Unfortunately, soft coolers doesn’t have a good cleaning system. What you have to do is turn over the cooler and pull out the melted water. After that put the cooler under the sun until it becomes dry.
In most of the hard cooler comes with a built in drainage system. There’s a drain plug on the cooler which automatically pull out the melted water once you open it. So it’s very easy cleaning.
When you are in a market of cooler, you will notice a wide range of prices. Coolers are comes with cheaper $50 to premium $500. Premium coolers are expensive but offers the best features and insulation. Cheap coolers are good if you don’t need longer ice retention. Some cooler like ORCA and RTIC provides premium features at very reasonable price. Depending on your budget you have to determine whether to go for a cheap cooler or a good quality cooler.
Warranty plays an important role on determining the best cooler among all available coolers. If you are looking for a very few features on a cooler you should look on the warranty. Some cooler brand like YETI is offering 3-5 years of warranty when some brand like RTIC offering 7-10 years. Therefore you will get a lifetime warranty on ORCA cooler. Product warranty is really an important factor on choosing any product. The more warranty represents more safety of your money.
Some cooler offers some additional accessories like dry basket. YETI offers a dry basket on their hard coolers. This is used to keep the dry items cold and separate inside the cooler.
Finally, customer review is another important factor to consider before buying a cooler. We always recommend you to check out real customer reviews of a cooler before taking your decision. This will help you to understand the exact quality of a cooler.
We reviewed a lot of coolers before to help you find the best cooler for the money. You can check our cooler review here.
Where to Buy Portable Cooler?
You can purchase a portable cooler directly from the manufacturer’s website. There’s a lot of local dealer selling various types of coolers. You can buy a cooler from them.
The best place to purchase a cooler is Amazon. You will find almost all the coolers available at the best price on Amazon.
How Much you Should Pay for a Cooler?
Coolers are available is a variety of price options. The price typically depends on the size of a cooler and the materials used to make it. Followings are the price range of each types of coolers:
- Very small, portable cooler costs mostly $20.
- Small size soft cooler usually ranging in price from $20 to $100.
- Traditional hard cooler cost around $50 to $150.
- Roto-molded coolers usually range from $$100 to $500.
How to Pack a Cooler for longer Ice Retention?
Whether you’re going out on camping or fishing for several days or just go on a day single trip, there’s some useful tips that you can use to keep the items of your cooler colder longer.
The first and most important thing is to find a cooler with a maximum amount of insulation capacity. This is one of the best thing that will help you to keep the ice cold for longer. We already listed the best coolers that have amazing amount of insulation. So, if you pick the right cooler you will definitely get good ice retention during your trip.
In most cases, ice retention depends on how you pack your cooler with your items and how often you open it in a day. If you know the exact way of packing a cooler and how to use the cooler perfectly, you will be able to maximize the ice retention capacity.
Let’s start out how to pack a cooler for maximum ice retention:
- First, before packing your cooler fill it full with sacrificial ice for several hours or overnight and then toss that ice before packing with your trip ice.
- The second step is to prepare the foods and drinks you are going to put on your cooler. You have to ensure that all the items you are going to pack on your cooler are cold. If not, put them into the refrigerator overnight whether it’s water, soda, beer or any other food. Pre-cooling the items before packing helps ice stay longer.
- So, your cooler and contents both are ready to be packed. First, put either block ice which last longer or ice cubes which are not as bulky in the bottom of the cooler.
- Then, layer the foods that needs to stay super cool and that you probably won’t need for a while.
- After that, layer more ice on top and put foods that you may use in a day or two. You may wrap the meats and cheeses in a double plastic bags to keep them dry.
- Layer more ice around these items.
- If your cooler has a tray or a wire basket feature use those to keep your dry foods like sandwiches or anything that you don’t want to get migrate to the cold watery depths of the cooler.
- Finally, after putting all the necessary foods and drinks, you have to ensure that there is no empty space. If there’s any empty space, fill it with ice and lock the cooler.
A combination of drinks and your favorite snacks will make you smile when you open your smartly organized cooler. If you able to pack your cooler perfectly you will surely get better ice retention than before. But there’s something more that will increase the insulation even more.
- Keep the cooler closed and locked perfectly.
- Close the drain plug and don’t drain the water out.
- Don’t store the cooler under the hot sun. Try to keep it on a cool place.
- Try not to open the cooler frequently.
Hope this tips will help you to get the maximum ice retention from your cooler.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a cooler made out of?
A. According to Wikipedia, hard coolers are made with plastic shell in both interior and exterior with having with a hard foam between them.
Q. How long a cooler can keep foods and drinks cold?
A. It depends on how you pack and use your cooler. The weather also impacts a lot on it. But you can expect at least 3-4 days if you are able to pick the best cooler from the market.
Q. Which cooler can keep ice longer?
A. In our test, YETI and ORCA coolers are the best in keeping ice longer. These coolers can hold ice up to 7 days. Pelican is another good competitor and they can also hold ice for longer time.
Q. What is the best cooler to buy?
A. We reviewed a lot of coolers and found that the Tundra series cooler from YETI are the best hard coolers in terms of durability and ice retention capacity.
Q. Which one is the best portable cooler?
A. YETI Roadie 20 is the best portable cooler you will find on market.
Q. Which one is the best soft cooler?
A. Engel Soft pack Cooler is the best soft cooler for the money.
Q. Which one if the best backpack cooler?
A. Polar Bear Nylon Series cooler is the best backpack cooler in terms of quality and money.
Q. What brand of cooler is the best?
A. In our opinion YETI is the best brand of cooler. But there are some good competitor like – ORCA, Pelican, Engel and RTIC who are manufacturing good quality coolers.
While you are in the market of a cooler you should always keep the thing in your mind that the best cooler is not always the expensive one. Similarly, the cheap coolers are not the worst coolers.
Since there’s a lot of cooler brand offering different types of coolers at different price, you have to consider the features and quality before taking your decision. The premium brands are always great in terms of quality, insulation durability and portability.
Here in BestCoolersInfo we’ve reviewed a lot of coolers and manufactures. The coolers that we’ve listed above are a summary of all the best of our reviewed coolers. We listed all the best ice chest that can meet your outdoor needs.
If you don’t have enough time to check all the customer reviews, don’t worry, go and pick any one among our listed top rated coolers. We hope that you will be able to find out the best cooler from our list to fulfill your needs.