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This is a review of the best coolers for camping.
We are a family of four who has been camping for a long time – long enough to be able to provide you with all the most up-to-date camping knowledge and product reviews.
In this article, we are going to look at the best coolers for camping in 2021.
But before we do, let’s talk about our number one pick for the people who don’t have time to read the whole article.
Our first choice is the Igloo BMX Cooler. It’s lightweight, built like a tank, and can also be used as a seat. All these features make it the perfect addition to your next camping trip.
Not to mention it can also keep your food and drinks cool for up to 4 days!
However, we know this cooler may not be suitable for everyone. That’s why we’re going to take a look at 8 alternatives in this article.
Let’s get into it…
9 Best Coolers For Camping
Igloo BMX – Keeps Cool For 4 Days
Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler – Plug To Drain Excess Water
Igloo Polar Cooler Family – Deflects The Sunlight
FORICH Soft Cooler Backpack – Comfortable Shoulder Straps
CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag – Foldable And Compact Design
TOURIT Cooler Backpack – Includes A Bottle Opener
Coleman 48-Quart Performance Cooler – Weight To Size Ratio
Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler – Wheels For Easy Transportation
OlarHike Cooler Backpack – Compartments For Your Personal Belongings
1. Igloo BMX
The Igloo BMX Cooler is no joke; it can keep your food and drinks cool for up to 4 days in 80-degree weather. For this reason, we recommend it for long weekend camping trips.
When searching through the product reviews, we discovered that rather than using ice cubes, some customers were freezing small bottles of water and using them instead.
- STURDY LATCHES & ERGONOMIC HANDLE: The BMX cooler comes with a unique t-grip latch system.
- HEAVY-DUTY CONSTRUCTION: This insulated cooler was blow-molded for added durability.
- LIGHTWEIGHT & KEEPS ICE FROZEN: Externally, the cooler measures 32. 2 x 17. 3 x 16. 8 inches. On its own, the BMX 72 QT Cooler weighs about 18. 70 lbs. , which is about half the weight of other...
The reason this works so well is, because once all the ice has melted, you still have drinking water leftover.
This may not seem amazing, but try telling us that when the boiling hot sun is blaring down on you!
What’s more, this cooler is what we consider multi-dimensional. And no, we’re not talking about alternative dimensions.
We’re referring to the fact that it can also be used as a seat. It’s built like a tank and can withstand extreme pressure.
So how about the downsides?
We discovered that some customers would have liked to see a drain plug attached to the bottom of the cooler. Without a drain plug, it’s difficult to empty excess water from the ice.
Also, the lid isn’t sealed, so water is going to leak if it gets turned upside down; however, the chances of your cooler box getting turned upside down is pretty low.
Unless you’re driving over bumpy terrain.
- Keeps cool for up to 4 days in hot weather
- Doubles up as a seat
- It’s built like a tank
- Lightweight design
- Previous customers were complaining there wasn’t a drain plug
- The lid isn’t sealed, so water could leak if turned upside down
Best Feature: Keeps Cool For 4 Days
If you’ve been camping for a while, you’ve probably heard of Coleman by now. Their world-renowned camping products are loved by millions throughout America, and this cooler is no exception.
Compared to the Igloo BMX Cooler, this one doesn’t keep your food and drinks cooler for as long; however, it comes packed with several other great features that the Igloo doesn’t have.
- Xtreme Technology; Insulated lid and extra wall insulation keep ice up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90°F
- High Capacity: Holds Up to 100 Cans
- HAVE-A-SEAT LID: Closed lid supports up to 250 lb.
The first thing we noticed was this cooler has a plug, allowing you to drain water from the bottom when it’s time to replace the ice. This means you won’t have to empty the content and remove the water manually, which is a major bonus in our eyes.
What’s more, there is plenty of storage space for a long weekend away. To give you an idea of just how big this thing is, it fits 60 12oz cans inside.
So you’ll never be short on beer for your next camping trip!
Similar to the Igloo Cooler, it can also double up as a chair thanks to its sturdy and durable design.
When it comes to downsides, we discovered that previous customers were having difficulty transporting this cooler. The rubberized handles are located on the sides, which makes it difficult to carry for one person.
In future models, we’d love to see wheels added to this cooler.
What’s more, although the black color makes it stand out, it also absorbs more heat, which isn’t ideal when trying to keep your food and drinks cool.
- It has a drainage plug, so you don’t have to empty the water manually
- Can store 60 12oz cans inside
- The durable design means it can be used as a chair
- Made by a reputable camping brand
- The side handles make it difficult to transport for one person
- The black color absorbs more heat
Best Feature: Plug To Drain Excess Water
The first thing we noticed with this cooler was that it comes in a modern-looking white color. While it looks great, it also comes with a hidden benefit you may not have considered.
Unlike black, white doesn’t absorb the sun. This is great, as it will keep your food and drink cooler for longer.
- Ultratherm insulated body and lid keep ice for 5 days at 90 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reinforced swing-up handles with tie-down loop feature
- Dual snap-fit latches secure lid closure
Anyhow, we guess you’re wondering how this thing holds up in hot weather, right!?
After going through countless reviews and forums, we discovered that it can last between 2-7 days before needing more ice.
We know what you’re thinking, “How Can A Cooler Last 7 Days!”
Here’s what one customer had to say…
“Lasted 7 days before the ice was gone. Made this year’s deer hunt easier. I would recommend this to anybody wanting to do an extended stay in camp. I stayed a few weeks, so I drove into town as I needed more ice, but I didn’t go in for ice as often as I used to with my old smaller cooler.”
Of course, how cool your food and drink stays depends on the conditions you’re camping in. if you’re camping in colder weather, then it’s going to last longer, whereas in hotter weather it won’t last as long.
Similar to the Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler, this one also has a drainage system, so you can easily remove access water. Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with excess water, you can use frozen water bottles rather than ice cubes.
As with every product, there are always some things that can be improved.
Here are the downsides of the Igloo Polar Cooler…
Some customers found the latches to be cheaply made, and had difficulty securing the lid. This isn’t ideal, especially if you’re driving with the cooler in the back.
Also, there is a latch at the top, allowing you to grab food and drinks without having to open the cooler; however, it isn’t air-tight and lets some warm air inside.
- White color to help reflect the sun
- Some customers said it took 7 days for the ice to melt
- Comes with a convenient drainage system, saving you time and energy
- Modern-looking design that stands out
- Cheaply-made latches make it difficult to secure the lid
- The easy access latch isn’t airtight, causing hot air to enter
Best Feature: Deflects The Sunlight
You normally have to choose between a cooler or a backpack; however, Forich has made it possible to combine the two. The backpack aspect of this cooler makes it super easy to carry, unlike the Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler.
When you do find the occasional cooler backpack, they tend to leak after a while.
- LEAK PROOF INSULATED COOLER BACKPACK: Upgraded inner insulated thicken material and leak proof PEVA liner are work together to keep drinks/food cold or hot for many hours and anti-linking. The...
- ROOMY CAPACITY BACKPACK COOLER: 30 cans/30L, measures: 17" x 12" x 8". FORICH cooler backpack is large enough to organize all your necessities, such as drinks, beer, fruit, ice pack, meals, tall...
- MULTIPLE POCKETS: 1 main insulated leak proof storage compartment for drinks or food, 1 large zipper pocket in front for dry items and tableware, also it includes a mesh pocket and a zip pocket...
After going through numerous customer reviews, I found that this backpack cooler holds up and nobody seemed to experience any leaking, even after prolonged periods of use.
However, the most important thing is whether it keeps your food and drink cool.
So does it!?
Here’s what one customer had to say…
“It sat in the back of my black pick up truck all day in direct sun, about +/-80 degrees. Around 40% of the ice melted, but everything was ice cold. I didn’t put much ice in, to begin with, so I was fairly impressed.”
Don’t expect this backpack to hold up for multiple days like the previous options on this list. That being said, it’s great for short hikes and day trips.
What’s more, the shoulder straps and back padding are enough to keep you comfortable all day. You won’t have to deal with cans of beverages digging you in the back.
So what didn’t we like about it!?
In the product pictures, it appears as though it can stand up when fully packed; however, this isn’t the case. It isn’t freestanding and will fall over if placed on the ground.
- Combines a cooler and a backpack for easy transportation
- Perfect for short trips and day hikes
- Keeps your food and drinks cool all-day
- Sufficient back padding, so you won’t have to deal with objects poking you in the back
- It doesn’t stand up fully, like advertised in the product pictures
Best Feature: Comfortable Shoulder Straps
The CleverMade Collar looks more like a school bag than a cooler; however, don’t judge a book by its cover.
What separates this from a hard box cooler is the fact that it’s more compact and can be folded down when not in use. For this reason, we recommend using it for those camping trips that require a little extra space.
- Large capacity SnapBasket Tahoe Coolers can hold up to 50 cans of your favorite drinks plus ice; perfect for use at the beach, while camping or to load up full of snacks for youth sports games...
- Patented SnapHinges on both sides of the cooler bag offer structured support when the tote is open; to close the cooler, simply push the side hinges in, folding the compact bag down flat
- Versatile totes can be packed up for a daytime picnic and are small enough to place in the trunk of your SUV as an ice chest on road trips; collapesed down, the cooler can fit in your suitcase for...
But how long does it stay cold for!?
After looking at the customer reviews, we discovered that it varies depending on the weather; however, here is a review left by a customer that gives some insight…
“This is a great little cooler- we took it camping at the beach and it got pretty roughed up over a long weekend. It kept completely cold for about 12 hours, with only ice packs in hot weather. We got ice for the last couple of days, and it didn’t leak at all as the water melted, and it also kept things very cold. Needed to refill ice about once a day in 95-degree weather. “
Unlike the Coleman Xtreme 5, this cooler comes with multiple handles, allowing for effortless transportation. There are handles on either side, and a handle on the top.
In future models, it would be good to swap out the side handles for a shoulder strap. This would make it even easier to carry, as the weight would be more balanced.
You’ll also be disappointed to hear that it can’t be used as a chair.
Unless, of course, you like eating squashed sandwiches!
- Can be folded down and easily stored after use
- Keeps cool for up to 12 hours in hot weather
- Best for shorter camping trips or overnight stays
- Multiple handles make it super easy to transport
- It doesn’t have a shoulder strap
- It doesn’t double up as a chair
Best Feature: Foldable And Compact Design
The Tourit Cooler Backpack is primarily designed for hiking; however, it’s also great for camping trips. Similar to the Forich Soft Cooler, this one also doubles up as a backpack.
Not only does it make for easy transportation, but it also helps prevent back strain.
- Light yet Durable: Made of leak resistant, durable fabric, best lightweight backpack with cooler for picnics, road/ beach trips, hiking, camping, fishing, cycling, hunting, perfect gift for men women.
- Large Capacity Coolers: 13.0" x 7.5" x 15.8" / 33cm x 19cm x 40cm (L x W x H), Weight: 1.1 pounds / 500g, can hold up to 30 cans(330ml), own enough space for all your necessities.
- Leakproof Insulated Backpack: Insulation material and leak-proof liner inside of the cooler backpacks work together to make sure anti-leaking and keep food hot/ cold for 16 hours.
Attached to the side of the cooler is a bottle opener. This is a handy little accessory and goes a long way when you’ve just spent hours hiking and need a beer to refuel!
What’s more, if the main compartment is full, you can use the small storage pockets on the side for extra drinks. We recommend using the main compartment for sodas and beers, and the side pockets for drinking water.
This ensures you have easy access to water at all times.
Due to the longer shape, we recommend layer this backpack with ice packs and food. For example, rather than putting all the ice packs at the bottom, have a layer of ice packs and then your food, then another layer of ice packs.
Packing your cooler this way ensures everything stays coolers for longer!
So how about the downsides?
While most customers loved this bag, a very small percentage of people complained that the seam surrounding the insulation had started to rip; however, after doing our research, we discovered that this could be caused by beer bottle lids.
To prevent this from happening with your cooler, we recommend wrapping the top of your beer bottles in a soft material.
The bottom of the bag can also get a little damp. This isn’t caused by a leak, but by condensation.
- Easy transportation and less back strain
- Bottle opener attached to the side
- Side pockets for extra beverages
- Is designed like a backpack
- A very small percentage of people experienced ripped insulation
- The bottom gets a little damp due to condensation (not leaking)
Best Feature: Includes A Bottle Opener
If you’re looking for a traditional-looking cooler that packs a punch, the Coleman 48-Quart Cooler won’t let you down.
Coleman has said that it can keep cool for up to 3 days at 90 °F; however, the customer reviews tell a different story.
- Keeps the Ice: 3-day ice retention at temperatures up to 90 °F
- Holds 63 cans; Added height to hold 2-liter bottles upright to help prevent spills
- Leak-resistant drain lets you remove water without turning the cooler upside down
Here’s what one customer had to say…
“This cooler kept my food cold for 6 days in hot weather. I’m extremely impressed.
The weather was 85-90 degrees every day, and I was worried that my food wouldn’t stay cold for the 6-day trip. However, this cooler worked like a champ. There were still chunks of ice in there on day 5.
When I got home last night (day 6), there wasn’t any actual ice left, but the last of it must have melted very recently because the water was still ice cold. And the last of my food (in zip lock bags) was still nice and cold. I couldn’t be happier with this cooler.”
You will also get a drainage value included. This will save you time, and makes it a lot easier to get rid of access water when the ice needs refilling.
You’d think this is standard; however, we noticed that some other brands don’t offer this feature.
Many customers were also happy with how lightweight it is. While this may not make a difference for home use, for camping it’s a Godsend.
The only downside we found was that it doesn’t have wheels, so you need to carry it by hand. This isn’t ideal for people who suffer from back pain.
Also, some people were complaining about the handles being made of cheap plastic.
- Can last up to 6 days in hot weather
- Includes a drainage valve to drain excess water
- Very lightweight, which is great for camping
- It has a traditional look
- It doesn’t have any wheels, which isn’t ideal for people with back pain
- The carry handles are made from cheap plastic
Best Feature: Weight To Size Ratio
Unlike previous coolers on this list, this one comes with wheels, so you can move it easily without straining your back.
Considering it can hold 160 cans, this is a great feature that you can’t overlook.
- Keeps ice up to 5 days at temps up to 90°F thanks to an insulated lid and extra insulation in walls
- Heavy-Duty Wheels for Easy, Reliable Transport
- Holds 160 cans and has molded cup holders on top of lid to keep drinks close and prevent spilling
To give you an idea of how long it lasts, one customer took it on a 5-day trip where it was filled with meat. Without frequently opening the lid, there was still some ice left at the end of the trip.
The temperature was between 75 and 95 degrees.
This customer also went on to say how this cooler stays cool for longer than Yeti coolers, which are considered one of the best brands on the market.
What’s more, the lid is completely airtight, preventing hot air from entering; however, you will need to slam the lid shut for maximum effect.
This also makes it more difficult to open.
There is also a drain plug in place, ensuring you can get rid of excess water without having to empty the cooler.
While this is a well-made product, some customers had some complaints.
The most common being that the small handles on either side were breaking. To prevent this, we don’t recommend picking it up when it’s full. You can use the large towing handle on the side instead.
If you’re loading it into a car, we recommend lifting it from the bottom.
What’s more, the towing handle can be a little short for some people, making it more difficult to transport; however, it’s still easier than other models we’ve reviewed.
- Comes with wheels for easy transportation
- Previous customers said it can last up to 5 days
- The lid is completely airtight
- Comes with a drain plug to remove excess water
- The lid can be a little difficult to open
- Two side handles tend to break if it’s fully loaded
Best Feature: Wheels For Easy Transportation
This cooler has a backpack design, which is why we recommend it for camping and hiking. It makes it a lot easier than carrying a large cooler box around with you.
Because backpack coolers tend to be smaller in size than traditional coolers, we wanted to see how much it was capable of holding.
- 【Large Capacity】12.6”x 7.7”x 18.1” (L x W x H), OlarHike cooler backpack can hold up to 30 cans (330ml), Making it the ideal companion to Hiking,Camping,Picnics, Beach.
- 【Leakproof Cooler Backpack】OlarHike cooler backpack is designed with inner insulation thicken foam and leakproof peva liner for anti-leaking, durability and water resistance , without worrying...
- 【Longer Insulated Time-16 hours】Industry Standard Test- With 1/4 ice pack, our cooler backpack can keep food hot/cold for 16 hours below 77℉. You can drink cold beer and eat fresh snacks or...
We discovered that one customer said he used it to store two pints of ice cream, a T-bone steak, two Mexican entrees, and a 2-pound bag of vegetables.
As you can see, it’s pretty damn big!
What’s more, it stays in an upright position when placed on the floor. We like this because it makes it easier to pack and helps prevent food containers from getting knocked around and coming undone.
On either side is a mesh pocket, allowing you to store water bottles, which is exactly what you need when camping or hiking in hot weather.
There are numerous small compartments located on the outside of this backpack where you can store your small personal belongings such as keys and mobile phones.
Because keeping your mobile phone in your pocket when camping is a recipe for disaster, right!?
With so many benefits, you’re probably wondering if there are any downsides to this cooler?
None that we could find! Apart from the fact that it’s not as large as some of the others on this list.
- Lots of space for storing food and drinks
- A water bottle holder on either side
- Stays in an upright position when placed on the floor
- Small compartments for your personal belongings
- While it’s big for a cooler backpack, it’s not as big as a traditional cooler
Best Feature: Compartments For Your Personal Belongings
How To Choose The Best Cooler For Your Next Camping Trip
This list is based on our expertise and personal experience; however, our top pick may not be suitable for you. That’s why it’s important to do your research.
Here’s what to look out for…
Before you can begin splashing the cash on a new camping cooler, you need to determine how much your want to spend.
We don’t recommend going for the cheapest cooler you can find, as it’s more likely to break; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a high-quality cooler for a reasonable price.
If you go for a backpack cooler, It’s essential you choose one that has strong insulation. You want something that isn’t easy to rip and stands the test of time.
A lot of backpack coolers get bad reviews because of leaking; however, sometimes it’s the customer’s fault. A lot of people keep bottles of beer in their coolers without realizing that the sharp lids can rip the insulation.
And while the most practical answer would be not to store bottled beer in your cooler, we realize that isn’t an option.
Because who doesn’t like bottled beer around the campfire!?
To prevent the insulation from ripping, we recommend wrapping a soft fabric around the bottle lids, providing them with a layer of cushioning.
Because a cooler is meant to be reusable, you need something that can stand the test of time, especially when camping.
That being said, the most important thing is ensuring the lid is airtight and stays fully closed. We recommend looking for a cooler that has latches on either side, helping secure the lid to the base.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good cooler that doesn’t have latches.
A portable cooler is essential when camping. Try to look for one that has handles on either side, so it can be carried to and from your car or campsite.
Alternatively, you can choose one that has wheels; however, these are harder to come by nowadays.
The size of your cooler is going to determine how much it can carry. If you’re going on a week-long camping trip, we recommend getting something that is bigger.
On the flip side, if it’s just for a weekend, a smaller alternative will be sufficient.
Choosing the best cooler for camping isn’t as easy as looking on Amazon anymore. It’s important to take into consideration what previous customers have to say about certain products if you want to ensure your money is going to be well spent.
Luckily, we have done the hard work for you by spending countless hours comparing different products, while still taking into consideration what customers liked and disliked about each product.
To recap, our top pick is the Igloo BMX Cooler. It keeps your food and drinks cool for up to 4 days and is built like a tank, but still has a lightweight design.
What more could you ask for!?
If you would like to suggest a cooler for camping that isn’t already on this list, drop a comment below and we will get back to you.
Related Article: Best Cooler Ice Packs For Camping