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Camping is a treasured American pastime. Each year, approximately 40 million people pack up their camping gear and head out in search of outdoor adventure. While camping may be the perfect way to get away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it does require some preparation.
One of the most important pieces of camping gear is the best coolers for camping. Not only do you need a cooler that will keep your food and drinks frosty, but you also need one that can stand up to rugged outdoor use. If you’re looking for the best coolers for camping for your next outdoor getaway, here are our top picks.
Our Best Choice
YETI Tundra 65
The YETI brand is synonymous with durable, high-quality coolers. This one is virtually indestructible and thoroughly capable of keeping your drinks cold for days at a time.
The Top Camping Coolers in the Market
Top 6 Camping Coolers - Keeping It Cool
1. YETI Tundra 65 - Best Overall Camping Cooler
YETI boasts their Tundra 65 is certified bear resistant. While we don’t have any bears around to specifically test that claim, it is easy to tell this thing is crazy durable. With a Rotomolded construction, the YETI Tundra 65 is armored to the core and virtually indestructible.
This sturdy camping cooler features T-Rex lid latches with rubber, tensioning clips to securely seal the lid. It also has three inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an extra thick FatWall design that ensures your ice stays ice longer.
The YETI Tundra 65 has enough room to store up to 39 cans along with the ice to keep them cold. However, the exterior dimensions are pretty substantial.
YETI definitely sacrificed interior capacity to deliver insulation capacity.
The YETI Tundra 65 also weighs a hefty 29 pounds without the ice and beer, so this isn’t a model you’ll be hauling deep into the woods. However, if you want a durable, highly-insulated way to keep your drinks frosty cold, this cooler is perfect for your base camp.
Unfortunately, you’re going to pay for this level of insulation and durability. The YETI Tundra 65 comes with an expensive price tag, but we believe the YETI Tundra 65 gives you your money’s worth.
2. MILEE Heavy Duty Wheeled Cooler - Best Cooler On Wheels
On top of the mobility offered by the MILEE Heavy-Duty Wheeled Cooler, this thing also does an excellent job of keeping its contents ice-cold. It features Rotomolded walls filled with a thick layer of insulation, a freezer-grade gasket, and thick rubber T-latches that give the gasket plenty of squeeze.
This cooler also features rugged rubber wheels and military-grade nylon rope handles to help you get this cooler where you want to go.
Since this portable cooler is built for rugged outdoor use, MILEE uses built-in ultraviolet light resistance to help prevent discoloring and plastic breakdown due to excessive sun exposure.
MILEE also goes above and beyond by including metal bottle openers on the front corners of the cooler.
The cooler also comes with a plastic cutting board that doubles as an interior divider, a dry goods' basket that mounts above the ice, and an external cup holder.
If we have anything to complain about, it’s that MILEE is relatively unheard-of when it comes to quality coolers. They have no website and no customer service contact information. If something goes wrong with your MILEE cooler, there aren’t many options other than outright replacing it.
3. RTIC 30 Soft Pack - Best Soft Pack Cooler
If you need a lightweight and highly portable cooler for your outdoor adventure, the RTIC 30 Soft Pack is perfect. It’s soft exterior makes it easy to carry around, but it is still large enough to hold 18 cans and a ten-pound bag of ice.
This soft pack cooler features two inches of closed-cell foam insulation, the same kind commonly used in wet suits to both insulate and resist water. On the outside, the RTIC soft pack features a puncture and tear-resistant heavy-duty nylon shell.
For a soft pack cooler, this thing offers some serious durability and manages to keep ice for up to five days!
Unfortunately, we’d like to see a more durable zipper on this soft pack. Some customers have complained about the zipper mechanism malfunctioning over time. Once the zipper comes off track, this soft pack becomes basically useless.
4. Pelican Elite 30 Quart Cooler - Best Camping Cooler for Bear Country
If you’ll be spending any time camping in bear country, you’re going to want a bear-proof cooler. Gone are the days of Yogi stealing picnic baskets. Now, you need a cooler tough enough to keep out wandering grizzlies.
Although there are many companies that claim their coolers are “bear-proof,” Pelican actually threw their Elite 30 Quart Cooler in the ring with one. Although the grizzly clawed it, rolled it around, and even jumped on it, the Pelican cooler didn’t break or even open!
There are plenty of other reasons to love this cooler, too. It comes with thick, insulated walls and a freezer-grade gasket that provides ice retention for a week or longer.
Tough, solid, and much cheaper than some other “bear-proof” coolers on the market, the Pelican Elite keeps your food cold and bears out.
5. Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler - Best Cooler for Campground Use
The attractive, retro design of the Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler is sure turn heads at any local campground. Although the shiny stainless-steel components will make you the envy of fellow campers, they also make this cooler incredibly durable and impressively weather-resistant.
The rust-resistant stainless-steel latch makes the lid easy to open and close, even for young campers. You simply push the lever to open it up and the lid locks in place when you close it. This prevents the kids from accidentally leaving the top open and spoiling all the hotdogs inside.
While this handsome ice chest can’t compete with the insulating capabilities or the durability of more rugged, high-end models, it's perfect for short campground stays. It has a 54-quart capacity and keeps ice-cold for up to 4 days, even in 90 degree summer weather.
The Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler does scratch pretty easily. If you’re headed for rugged outdoor destinations, this cooler is best left back at the campground where everyone can appreciate how pretty it looks.
6. Coleman Coastal Xtreme - Best Large Capacity Camping Cooler
While you won’t be hauling this monster over mountainous terrain, it is great for keeping things cold for days at base camp. The 120-quart capacity holds up to 204 cans and the ice to keep them cold.
Also great for hunting and fishing trips, this large capacity cooler can hold a limit of red drum or pounds of fresh game.
The sturdy lid of the Coleman Coastal XTreme also supports up to 250 pounds, making it the perfect seating arrangement for late night campfires.
The Coleman Coastal XTreme is easy to clean, leak resistant, and keeps your drinks and ice-cold for up to 5 days.
However, you’ll want to make sure the lid is solidly closed. These big coolers don’t always hold a tight seal, which could compromise the inside temperature.
The Final Word
Although the YETI Tundra 65 comes with a pretty hefty price tag, you totally get what you’re paying for. It’s sturdy enough to handle rough outdoor conditions and keep all your drinks ice-cold while doing it. This thing is virtually indestructible, and the company claims it is built to keep bears out.
YETI Tundra 65
You just can’t find this level of rugged performance in a budget camping cooler. The YETI Tundra 65 definitely earns a rightful place in your camping gear.
For more of our reviews, check this out too.