We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

Keep Drinks Cold in the Best Cooler

  1. Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler
  2. Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler
  3. Lifetime 28-Quart High-Performance Cooler
  4. Pure Outdoor Emperor Cooler
  5. Engel High Performance Cooler
  6. Coleman FlipLid 6 Personal Cooler
  7. Coleman 42-Can Wheeled Soft Cooler With Hard Liner
  8. Koolatron P-27 29-Quart Voyager Thermoelectric Cooler
  9. Polar Bear 48-pack Cooler
  10. Buyer's Guide

Coolers are among the handiest and most versatile pieces of equipment you can have in your gear collection. After all, having a portable cooling system allows you to take food, drinks and other perishable goods practically anywhere. They come in a huge array of shapes and sizes to meet practically any need you may have for them. Some are designed after the classic coolers of years gone by while others have become much more specialized to meet the demands of unique uses, conditions, and locations. This list examines the best cooler in 2022 options in numerous categories and will help simplify your search.

Comparing the Best Cooler for 2022

Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler - Best Cooler Overall

The Steel Belted Cooler is a fun yet functional blast from the past, considering the original appeared in the 1950s (the look hasn't changed much). It can hold up to 85 twelve-ounce cans, and includes a drainage channel as well as a steel latch to secure the contents of the cooler. This steel behemoth weighs over 20 pounds, and keeps items cool for a matter of hours rather than days, so it is best suited for car camping trips or backyard barbeques.

Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler - Runner Up

This cooler is built like a tank - so much so that it may very well be the last cooler you ever have to buy. It's definitely pricey, but perhaps less expensive than constantly replacing other inexpensive coolers due to broken parts or decreased functionality. The Roadie will keep ice for several days, and offers many keen attention-to-detail amenities such as padlock ports (to bear-proof the cooler), rubber feet to keep cooler elevated and in place, and an interlocking lid that virtually seals your cooler contents from the outside environment.

Lifetime 28-Quart High-Performance Cooler - Honorable Mention

The Lifetime 28 QT cooler is one of the best values within the cooler industry. Although it is not rotomolded like the premium-priced Yeti or Pure Outdoor options, it performed better than some that are. Lifetime also offers a 55 and 77 QT size, but we selected the 28 QT for a few key reasons. The main disadvantage of the 55 QT is that the freezer-grade seal is located on the bottom of the cooler as opposed to on the lid as with the 28 QT, which helps create a better seal and prevents water leakage. The 28 QT advertises 5 days of ice retention - perfect for a weekend road trip or day at the beach. The construction of the cooler is very sturdy and is even certified by the IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) to withstand a bear attempting to break into your cooler for 1 hour with padlocks put on - not bad at all. On testing the cooler, the 28 QT seemed to be leak-proof even when turning the cooler upside down. You can even stand on the lid without it indenting. Lifetime backs up its product with a 5-year limited warranty.

Pure Outdoor Emperor Cooler - Consider

The best value in the rotomolded category goes to Pure Outdoor by Monoprice. Monoprice is typically known for their speaker/TV cables and other electronic accessories but they do make one great cooler. The Emperor is offered in 4 sizes ranging from 25, 50, 80, and 160L and different colors from grey, tan, blue, and white. The Pure Outdoor Emperor cooler features tough-as-nails rotomolded construction, a drain plug, steel-reinforced padlock holes, tie-down slots, and a bottle opener so you never have to remember to bring one along with you. All coolers are priced below their Yeti counterparts; the icing on top is that the Emperor comes with a lifetime limited warranty while Yeti only offers 5 years.

Engel High Performance Cooler - Best Small Cooler

If your trips involve more rigorous land and sea adventures, this cooler is worthy of consideration. For starters, it just so happens to be air- and water-tight. If it tips over or falls into water up to three feet deep, nothing will go in or come out. This cooler also floats - a handy feature if it accidentally topples out of a boat. Stainless steel latches secure the lid, and the overall weight is only 3.5 pounds.

Coleman FlipLid 6 Personal Cooler - Best Value Small Cooler

The FlipLid 6 is compact, portable, inexpensive, and will keep your items cool for several hours. It also offers several convenient options such as beverage holders in the lid (which can also double as a serving tray) and a hard exterior to protect the items inside the cooler. The large handle is easy to grip, making this cooler simple to transport to and fro. Since the FlipLid 6 has a hard exterior, it is more bulky than its soft-sided counterparts and takes up more room during storage, but many users don't see this as a disadvantage.

Coleman 42-Can Wheeled Soft Cooler With Hard Liner - Best Rolling Cooler

This cooler is a great option if you are looking for a multipurpose, versatile cooler. It hauls just like a piece of carry-on luggage, telescoping handle and all. In fact, most users rave about the convenience this cooler offers while traveling. The inner plastic liner is removable, so you can choose to use the hard interior or opt for a soft-sided cooler to store your items (be sure to use ice substitutes if you chose not to use the hard liner). Side handles provide extra carrying options while the roomy zippered front pocket, mesh pockets, and bungees provide additional space to stow items.

Koolatron P-27 29-Quart Voyager Thermoelectric Cooler - Best Electric Cooler

The Koolatron Voyager Cooler earns top marks for its exceptional versatility and functionality. The unit plugs right into your vehicle's cigarette lighter, and a simple switch allows you to use it as either a heater or a cooler. It can stand vertically like a refrigerator or horizontally like a traditional cooler. Many users appreciate the large amount of space this cooler offers (enough to fit 48 twelve-ounce cans) and the sturdy, durable design. You can also purchase an AC adapter and use this cooler at home or in a hotel while traveling.

Polar Bear 48-pack Cooler - Best Camping Cooler

Polar Bear coolers offer excellent cooling performance in easily portable packages. These coolers are available in 6-pack, 12-pack, 24-pack, and 48-pack sizes (they even offer backpack coolers!). The nylon outer shell is durable, leak proof, and even sweat proof thanks to the highly efficient Dura-Temp liner. This liner does its job very well when it comes to keeping items hot or cold (not at the same time, of course) and is removable for easy cleaning. The main access zipper is extremely sturdy and even includes a handy dandy bottle opener. Use the side pocket for items that you want to keep separate, dry, and easily accessible.

Buyer's Guide

Meta description: Hunting for the best coolers in 2021? There are loads of aspects to consider before buying portable coolers. Check our detailed buying guide now!

When you're camping or taking a long road trip, you'll want to keep your sandwiches, soda, and water cool for as long as possible. The portable ice cooler is the ideal traveling companion for keeping your stuff nice and fresh. Most are tough and durable, so they can withstand being used on a variety of different types of terrain, including soil, water, and bumpy roads. If you're looking to buy a portable cooler, this information will come in handy. For your next adventure and keep your food and drinks cold, you'll need to know all this information before going to the market.

What are the different cooler capacity sizes available?

Before we get into the various capacities, it's important to note that not all ice cooler internal capacities are created equal. Some people measure in cans, while others use quarts, gallons, or liters. Quarts are a common unit of measurement among manufacturers. And we'll do some research on alternative cooler capacities with it, too.


There are 10 to 35 quarts in a container. This is a great option if you want something small and light when you're traveling alone. A dinner, some ice, and a few drinks are all easily accessible. Things should stay cold for at least two days with this system in place


It has a capacity of 35 to 55 quarts and can be used for a variety of things. The coolers are small and lightweight, making them easy to transport in the trunk of a car. It's easy to transport by one person and takes up little room on a boat or raft.

One or two days' worth of groceries can be stored in this cooler. In order to accommodate more people, you will need to expand your water storage capacity to 55 quarts or greater for the same period of time.


With two or more people, you'll need a large cooler with a volume of 55 to 75 quarts for a long journey. However, keep in mind that transporting to and from your vehicle will necessitate the assistance of a second person.

You'll have improved storage and ice retention as a result. It'll be ideal for overnight vacations and long weekends with the family. Because it'll be 30" wide and 16" tall, the cooler will require a lot of room in your truck bed or trunk.

Larger than normal

It has a capacity of up to 75 quarts and is ideal for regular travelers. It'll be big, heavy, and pricey, without a doubt!

This large-scale model can accommodate parties of four to five people, as well as sports like hunting and fishing that call for specialized equipment. When you use this, your food and beverages will stay cool longer.

Which features of portable coolers are worth considering?

Now, let's take a look at the most important element to consider while shopping for coolers:

Storage and cooling capability

Finding out how much ice can be retained in a cooler will be difficult. This is when the external aspect comes into play. The temperature of the air, the amount of direct sunshine, and the volume of ice used are all important considerations. The number of times you open the lids of the cooler matters since it allows cold air to escape and warm air to enter!.

The majority of manufacturers advocate a 2:1 ice-to-food ratio! You should consider pre-chilling your cooler to get the maximum performance. Once you're on the road, make sure to pack plenty of ice and a variety of snacks and beverages.

Weight and portability

Depending on the material, a hard-sided cooler might weigh anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds when empty. The weight will rise as soon as you factor in the food and drink. When shopping for a cooler, consider the weight and mobility as key considerations, as well as the available space in your vehicle.

Storage capacity

Before making a final purchase, make sure the refrigerator has enough space inside. A refrigerator's interior storage area shows how much food, bottles, and other items you can keep in there.

Don't forget to keep an eye on the number of individuals you're hosting and the duration of your stay. You'll know exactly how much room you need in your refrigerator if you do this.

Protection of the battery

There are refrigerators in the market intended to cut off the supply of the battery at high voltages in order to safeguard the battery. Levels vary; some refrigerators are programmed to turn off the supply when the voltage rises to at least 9.4 volts.

Battery shielded refrigerators considerably reduce the damage that these refrigerators can inflict to the battery, for example. Consider buying a refrigerator with a built-in battery charger.


Investigate the refrigerator's design and construction, including the materials utilized in its manufacture. In this manner, it’s easier to estimate your refrigerator’s lifespan.

The refrigerator must withstand a variety of environmental conditions, including hot weather and occasionally high temperatures. Get a durable, dependable product that can withstand any adverse conditions by making sure it's built well in the first place.

Draining system

A drainage system is typically included in coolers to help with melted ice removal. At the button, there will be a pop-off or screw-on drain cap. Just remove it and allow the water to drain.

How much do the best coolers cost?

Anywhere from $50 to $250 will get you a decent ice cooler. Larger capacity coolers can be more expensive. Cheaper kinds of coolers are still good investments because they last for years.

Choose a more flexible range of $50 to $80, depending on the firm and size, if you do not want a multiple-day ice retention option. Some large-capacity wheeled coolers are more expensive. They're lightweight and composed of high-quality materials that will hold up in the real world.

The Best Coolers FAQs

Q: How long can a portable cooler last?

A: Most portable refrigerators have a lifespan of 18 to 20 years. Coolers that operate on batteries and solar panels survive longer because of the availability of other power sources. The longer you use and maintain the product, the more useful and long-lasting it will be in the end.

Q: What's the best way to power a portable refrigerator?

A: If you're going camping, test your refrigerator on 240 volts at home before loading it into your car. You'd be able to use the most electricity at home if you did it this way. As a result, before connecting your cooler to a 12-volt power source, let it cool down on 240 volts first.

Q: Is it wise to invest in a portable cooler?

A: If you enjoy camping and staying away from home for days or weeks at a time, then portable refrigerators are well worth the investment. They assist you in preserving and chilling your food. Furthermore, portable refrigerators preserve freshness for a longer period of time.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Go to top