The Best Coolers for Camping, From Hardcore Chests to Lightweight Totes

Our favorite camping coolers keep refreshments frosty for days, no matter how much temperatures rise.

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Best Coolers for Camping

Travel + Leisure / Marcus Millan

The camping season is upon us, with nights spent cooking by the fire and sipping drinks under the stars just around the corner. Instead of limiting yourself to basic meals, warm beverages, and lugging a cumbersome icebox around, choose one of our favorite camping coolers for superb outdoor insulation and easy transport.

A top-notch cooler will tremendously enhance your camping experience. Factors like portability, insulation, capacity, and durability should be carefully considered when choosing yours. Extra features like built-in bottle openers, rugged wheels, and cup holders are options in some models as well; whatever your camping trip holds in store, the perfect cooler for you is out there.

Best Overall

Yeti Roadie 60 Wheeled Cooler

Yeti Roadie 60


Why We Love It
  • Despite a cavernous capacity, this graceful giant is easy to maneuver over rough terrain.

What to Consider
  • It’s leak-resistant, not leakproof.

We love how mobile the Yeti Roadie 60 cooler is. despite having a rock-solid build and the ability to hold up to 53 cans with ice. With the same ice-retention abilities as Yeti’s famous Tundra but with enhanced maneuverability to handle backcountry terrain, the Roadie 60 is the best of both worlds. Puncture-resistant wheels make rolling this sizable cooler to your campsite a much easier feat with a balanced feel, and the retractable handle puts the comfort level over the top.  As a major bonus, it’s plenty deep enough to accommodate bottles of wine.

The cooler excels in durability, exactly what you want when venturing to your favorite campsites and dealing with unpredictable weather. Superior insulation keeps your items cold for days so you’re not limited to just an overnight camping trip. The included dry goods basket is perfect for keeping the moisture away from where it doesn’t belong; no one likes soggy bread after all. There's no fumbling to drain this large cooler post-trip either: Simply unplug the drain to clear it out.

Price at time of publish: $500

The Details: 23.7 x 20.5 x 19.9 inches | 29 pounds | 60 Quarts

Best Electric

Dometic CFX3 55IM Powered Cooler + Icemaker

Dometic CFX3 55IM Powered Cooler + Icemaker


Why We Love It
  • There’s no need to use ice.

What to Consider
  • It’s heavy and doesn’t have wheels.

Leave the ice behind when using the Dometic CFX3 55IM Powered Cooler + Icemaker. Without needing to save room for ice, you’ll have a lot more space for food and beverages. Best suited for car, campervan, and RV camping, this electric cooler acts as a portable refrigerator and freezer combination with the ability to make ice in just a few hours. Control the temperature and get a look at the energy usage in real-time via the app, even when you’re not at your campsite. Run on the battery for up to seven days and charge through solar, AC, or DC power. This electric cooler also runs very quietly, so you won’t have to listen to it continuously while driving or sleeping. 

Price at time of publish: $1,080

The Details: 28.3 x 18.9 x 17.9 inches | 47 pounds | 56 Quarts 

Best Wheels

Rovr RollR 60 Cooler

Rovr RollR 60 Cooler


Why We Love It
  • The all-terrain wheels make it easy to move around sites.

What to Consider
  • It’s heavy to lift in and out of vehicles and boats.

We love the wheelin’ and dealin’ Rovr RollR 60 Cooler and its ability to roll over almost any terrain with ease thanks to tough rubber tires. With up to 10 days of ice retention, it doesn’t limit you to shorter camping trips either. It’s bear resistant so you can feel secure with your food tightly sealed up and protected with the help of BullsEye latches too. With the capacity to hold up to 60 cans and 20 pounds of ice, this is a fantastic option for group camping trips. You can organize your items using the two included dry bins, and water draining is a breeze with the built-in drain plug. Whether you wheel this hardy cooler on the beach or to a wilderness campsite over roots and rocks, the Rovr RollR 60 can hack it due to its hardcore design. Oh, and your beer will be cold once you get there too.

Price at time of publish: $450

The Details: 19.8 x 26.5 x 20.8 inches | 45 pounds | 63 Quarts | 7-10 days of ice retention

Best Budget

Lanedo 34-can Soft-sided Cooler

Lanedo 34-can Soft-sided Cooler


Why We Love It
  • Water and leakproof zippers stop spills.

What to Consider
  • Ice retention is only about 24 hours.

The Lanedo 34-can Soft-sided Cooler is our top pick for a functional camping cooler that won’t break the bank. With the ability to keep things cold overnight, this ice chest is a great choice for shorter camping trips. Its easy-open latch and waterproof design mean it was made for water-based adventures like kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The soft sides make it flexible to fit in tight trunk spaces with a little give for storage, and when it is not in use, it folds up nicely. It’s also incredibly lightweight. Exterior bungee cords help to secure the cooler for transport. Two large exterior pockets provide additional storage and the handy shoulder strap is comfortable for carrying, even when filled with some of your favorite camp snacks and drinks.

Price at time of publish: $45

The Details: 18 x 13 x 8.5 inches | 2.4 pounds | 34 cans | Approximately 24 hours of ice retention

Best Mid-Size

Laka Coolers Laka 30

Laka Coolers Laka 30


Why We Love It
  • It has puncture-resistant rubber wheels.

What to Consider
  • It’s a bit heavy for one person to lift when filled to capacity.

We love that the Laka 30 cooler comes in a spectrum of gorgeous hues, but it’s much more than just a good-looking ice chest. This mid-size cooler also performs well, with a tough and durable design and thick, insulative walls for keeping things cold. The rugged wheels make transport easy and smooth, whatever the terrain. With space for up to 24 cans with a 2:1 ice-to-can ratio, it’s versatile for solo or small-group camping trips. The non-slip feet make it perfect for boating excursions and the thermal barrier keeps cold in so you don’t have to drink warm beer. Other thoughtful designs that we appreciate include the telescoping handle with a molded grip for comfortable toting, cup holders, and a built-in bottle opener. When your camping adventure is coming to a close, the drain gets ice melt out quickly too. 

Price at time of publish: $240

The Details: 21 x 17 x 19.25 inches | 21.5 pounds | 32 quarts 

Best Soft

Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Insulated Personal Cooler

Why We Love It
  • It’s compact but spacious.

What to Consider
  • The zipper can be stiff to use at first; it’s recommended to use the zipper lube before taking it out on an adventure.

We love the packable size and lightweight feel of the Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler. Features like its leakproof zippers as well as the UV and puncture-resistant design are exceptionally convenient. Despite being a soft cooler, it’s very sturdy and has a wide-mouth opening for easy loading and unloading. Thanks to a removable shoulder strap and multiple handles, there’s more than one way to carry it. Ideal for smaller groups on a multi-day trip or a large group on a day or overnight trip, this sturdy but soft and flexible ice chest can hold up to 30 cans without ice or 20 cans with 20 pounds of ice. The closed-cell rubber foam means the insulation keeps your items cold for days too.

Price at time of publish: $300

The Details: 17.7 x 11.5 x 12.8 inches | 4.5 pounds | 19 Quarts

Best Backpack

Igloo Outdoor Pro Snapdown 42-can Backpack

Igloo 36-42 Can Soft Sided Outdoor Pro Water Repellant Bags


Why We Love It
  • It can be carried as a backpack or a tote.

What to Consider
  • The top zipper is not waterproof.

We love that the Igloo Outdoor Pro Snapdown 42-can Backpack cooler is loaded with features like zipper pockets and a bottle opener. Is it a backpack? Is it a tote? It’s both. The coated ripstop material used on the exterior is water-repellent, so moisture stays in and out, and it’s easy to wipe down when needed. Padded shoulder straps are comfortable for transporting, but if you’d prefer to give your shoulders a break, the top handles transform it into a tote. The spacious interior can handle wine bottles standing upright and the insulated liner is leakproof, keeping potential spills inside the main compartment. The snap-down sides make it even more compact for transport, a key factor when camping.

Price at time of publish: $140

The Details: 13 x 7 x 17.5 inches | 2.8 pounds | 42 cans | Approximately 2 days of ice retention

Best Small

Cotopaxi Del Dia Hielo 12L Cooler Bag

Cotopaxi Del Dia Hielo 12L Cooler Bag


Why We Love It
  • It’s extremely portable and comfortable to carry.

What to Consider
  • It lacks a separate spot for dry items.

We love the vibrant colors of the portable Cotopaxi Del Dia Hielo 12L Cooler Bag and its ability to collapse down to a smaller size if needed. Perfect for solo or duo adventures as well as camping trips where you need to pack light, this cooler will ensure your snacks and beverages will stay chilled due to the repurposed foam insulation. Deceptively spacious, the interior can fit up to two six-packs with room for an additional drink if stored in the side pocket. The waterproof liner will keep leaks from getting out and water from getting in if you encounter unfavorable weather conditions. The zipper and roll-top closure with buckle keep things secure in transit as well. The wide mouth opening makes it easy to load up before heading out on your trip, whether it’s a backcountry picnic and camping excursion or an island campsite that requires a scenic paddle. 

Price at time of publish: $105

The Details: 18 x 14 x 5.5 inches | 1.5 pounds | 12.6 Quarts

Best Features

RTIC 32 Qt Ultra-light Cooler

RTIC 32 Qt Ultra-light Cooler


Why We Love It
  • It’s 30 percent lighter than most coolers of the same size.

What to Consider
  • It also comes in a 52-quart size.

We love and appreciate all of the thoughtful details that the RTIC 32 Qt Ultra-light Cooler offers as well as the fact that it’s compact and lightweight. Non-skid feet provide excellent traction, a non-rust bottle opener is built right in, and marine-grade nylon rope handles make it more comfortable to carry. Tie-down slots make attaching the cooler to the bed of your truck or boat a breeze with confidence knowing it’s secure. When your camping trip or other outdoor adventures come to an end, you can easily drain the cooler using the dual drainage holes. Hardcore T-latches and foam insulation with an O-ring gasket make sure that the lid closes tightly and cold can’t escape, keeping your goods cool much, much longer. Speaking of which, it holds up to 48 cans (no ice) and up to 30 pounds of ice. This ice chest is a fantastic choice for a weekend camping trip, multi-day boating venture, and much more. 

Price at time of publish: $160

The Details: 14.5 x 23  x 15.5 inches | 13.4 pounds | 32 quarts | 6 days of ice retention

Best Disposable

Igloo 16 Qt Eco-friendly Recool Compostable Cooler

Igloo 16 Qt Eco-Friendly Recool Compostable Cooler


Why We Love It
  • It’s made out of compostable and biodegradable materials.

What to Consider
  • It has a shorter ice-retention ability than regular coolers.

We love that the Igloo 16 Quart Eco-friendly Recool Compostable Cooler puts Mother Earth first, crafted from biodegradable, compressed recycled paper. Although it’s disposable, it’s possible to reuse this cooler, and that makes it, well, even cooler. Simply empty it out and let it dry until the next time you need a cooler. The fact that it won’t squeak like styrofoam is a major bonus as well. Features such as cup holders and easy-grab handles make it enjoyable to use for a one-off, shorter camping trip. Though it may not be the most durable cooler, it’s not at all flimsy and fairly spacious inside, holding up to 20 cans.

Price at time of publish: $10

The Details: 15 x 11 x 11.38 inches | 1.6 pounds | 16 quarts | 12 hours of ice retention

Tips for Buying a Cooler for Camping 

Invest in quality insulation

Maximum ice retention and keeping your goods nice and cold are mostly attributed to quality insulation. The thickness of the foam and plastic paired with the type of seal the cooler has will determine how well-insulated it is. High-quality insulation can be found in rotomolded coolers with freeze-grade gasket seals, though they tend to be a bit heavier. Models like the RTIC 32 Qt  Ultra-light Cooler use an injection molded construction that offers fantastic insulation without the heft from rotomolded insulation. Generally, the better the insulation, the higher the price point, but it’ll be well worth the investment if you embark on camping trips regularly and like to spend more than one night. 

Factor in outside temperatures

Ice retention isn’t just about high-quality insulation, but also the conditions you’ll be using your camp cooler in and how often it’s opened. If you’re spending a scorching summer weekend in the wilderness, you’ll want to purchase a cooler with fantastic ice retention to keep things cool for a longer period of time. If you typically camp in cooler temperatures, it’s not as big of a deal. Keeping your ice chest in the shade and trying not to open it every five minutes can help the longevity on those hot days. 

Don’t forget about protection from wildlife

While spending a night, or a few, in the wild, it’s crucial to have a bear-proof container to keep your food, you, and wildlife safe. Certain hard-sided coolers can double as this and some are even IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee)-certified as being bear-resistant. If the cooler you’re interested in purchasing isn’t on their list, just make sure to look for a model that has a durable, hard-sided build and tight locking lids. 

Plan your meals before picking a cooler

Since your camp cooler is for food and not just beverages, it’s wise to plan out your meals before deciding what size to bring along. You’ll need to know how much space everything is going to take up and don’t want to have to make hard decisions an hour before leaving for your trip because you misjudged the amount of space.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What size cooler should I get?

    The cooler size you need will be determined by how long you plan to camp as well as the size of your group of campers. A mid-size camping cooler (25-45 quarts) is typically sufficient for two people on a weekend-long camping trip and a large cooler (45-70 quarts) is generally a solid choice for a larger group or family on a similar length trip. Of course, this all depends on your food to drink ratios and how involved your meals will be that require ingredients to stay cold. 

  • What kind of ice should I use?

    Keeping the interior nice and cold requires ice for your camping cooler, and there are several options. There are ice packs, regular cubes, blocks of ice, and even dry ice that can all be used in your ice chest. Dry ice, though the most expensive option, is the most lightweight and effective for longer camping trips. Special care needs to be taken when using dry ice, so it’s important to research how to handle it. 

    Regular ice cubes can work well for shorter trips, but you will undoubtedly have to deal with a cooler filled with water at the end, so purchasing a cooler with a drainage plug is best. Similarly, an ice block is a great option for multi-day trips as it will take much longer to melt; up to seven days, in fact. Hard ice packs can work well also, the bonuses being that they won’t leave you with a small pond in your cooler and they are reusable. However, they are typically limited to staying cold for just a couple of days. Using a combination of ice methods such as block ice with regular cube ice can help you get the best results.

  • How do coolers work?

    Coolers work with a combination of ice and insulation, involving convection and conduction. A cooler’s insulation slows convection down, which is the process of heat traveling through air or water. As your cooler starts to warm up inside over the time spent on your camping trip, conduction will also naturally occur. This is the process of heat spreading from one object to another, so if the eggs are getting warm next to the cheese, the cheese will also be getting warm soon after. The dynamic duo of ice and insulation slows both of these processes down, though you need to help out a bit by keeping the lid closed and minimizing how often the cooler is opened.

  • What’s the best way to pack a cooler for camping?

    There are a few tips and tricks you can do in your prep for camping that will give you the best results with your camp cooler. Pre-chill your cooler by keeping it out of the sun in a cooler space like your garage, house, or basement. Take it a step further and cool it down with a bag of ice before you empty it and pack up for your actual trip. This will extend your ice retention. Prep your food items by reducing the amount of packaging to save room in your cooler, preferably by storing them in reusable containers. If there are items that can be frozen, like hamburger patties, this will keep them cold longer as well. Start packing with a layer of ice, ice packs, or an ice block at the bottom and then layer your items in the cooler by when you will be using them, with the things you plan to grab first located at the top. Then, fill in the gaps with ice cubes between items, and if you have a dry item section with a divider or basket, load that last. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

A travel and camping enthusiast herself, Lauren Breedlove used her personal experience with finding the right cooler for all types of adventures and campsites in order to curate this list. She also scoured the internet, researching and selecting the best coolers for camping based on durability, insulation, portability, and ease of use.

Related: The 12 Best Coolers With Wheels for 2023

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