A Review Of The Best Coolers For Your Summer Fun

Do you need the best cooler for a camping trip? BBQ? Music festival? Something that suits you and your lifestyle, but can also be versatile?

What you don’t want to is to lug around a cooler that will leak, or be strenuous on your back and shoulders when taking it around place to place. Whether you need one that is lightweight and compact, or heavy duty and durable, you’ll need only the best cooler for the job. Ideally, the top cooler will be something that won’t leak or stain, while still being able to keep its contents cool, and being easy to transport.

There are countless varieties of coolers out there, each one coming in different shapes, sizes, and colors, making it difficult to know which is the perfect cooler for you. With all of these different factors to consider, it’s not an easy task! To ease your mind, we’ve compared the top coolers for you, so you don’t have to!

Best Coolers 2016 Comparison Table

CoolerFeaturesTypeIce RetentionOur Rating

Coleman Soft Cooler W/Hard Liner
● Daypack Cooler
● Plastic Liner
PORTABLE24 Hours4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Coleman Stainless Steel Cooler
● Reasonable Price
● Steel Hinges
● A Classic, Retro Design
RETRO48 Hours4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Polar Bear Coolers Soft Cooler
● Heavy Duty
● Max Insulation
● Light And Tough
TOUGH 3 Days5 Stars (5 / 5)

Igloo MaxCold Ultra Roller Cooler
● Easiest To Move
● Light Yet Large
● Best Cooler on Wheels
WHEELS5 Days4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Sukesha Maximum

Coleman 54 qt. Stainless Steel Belted Cooler
● Built To Last
● Thick Insulation
● Strongest Steel Cooler
SOLID4.75 Days4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Types Of Coolers

Coolers are diverse, and made to fit you, depending on your primary use for them. From lunch bags, to food and beverage storage for a weekend getaway, you need to know that you have exactly the type of cooler you need, with complete ease of mind knowing that it won’t let you down. Even if you only have a vague idea of what you need, the below list will serve as a guide to get you prepared for your purchase. So what makes a great cooler ever? The first thing to know is that there are four main types of coolers: sport, soft, wheeled, and steel. Next, you need to have an idea of what these individual coolers are best suited for. Each cooler is designed for a multitude of purposes, highlighting the importance of basing your decision on functionality. A lot of coolers are multi purpose to easily be used for an array of occasions, should just one style not suffice.


Best Sport (Backpack) Coolers

Sport (Backpack) Coolers

Sport coolers (also known as backpack coolers) are ideal for an active lifestyle. They are designed to look like a backpack (hence, the name), with two straps for easy carrying and manoeuvring, optimal comfort, and ideal storage. For those looking to hike, or move around a lot with their backpack cooler, look for one that has that third centre strap for added support when mobile, to ensure the weight of the cooler’s contents are evenly distributed. These backpack coolers have a compact look, and won’t take up much space when in storage, which means that the average one won’t take too much space in your closet or storage when not in use. They are ideal for those with an active lifestyle, and who don’t need more than a couple bottles of water and snacks in their cooler, or those who want to save money at a sporting arena by bringing in your own food in your backpack. The only thing you’ll need to watch for is how much you pack into it because, at the end of the day, the weight of the bag is on your shoulders!


Best Soft Coolers

Picnic Time Turismo Cooler

Soft coolers are perfect for work and school lunches, or day trips, where the items inside are only needed to be cooled for a day or so without refilling the ice. They come in a larger size variety than the sport coolers, which allow them to be more versatile than them too. Generally single strapped, the soft coolers are great for beach days, or as lunch bags, as they are easy to transport, and are very durable. The best soft cooler will keep its contents quite cool for at least a couple days with no ice replacement needed, so for those longer work hours, or late night drives back home, there should be no reason to worry about melted ice in your cooler!. Whether or not a specific soft cooler comes with a removable liner, it will very likely be super easy to clean, as they are small enough to fit in the average sink. The best part is that these coolers are a great way to carry your food or drinks in a convenient bag, instead of the bulk of a hard plastic cooler.


Best Wheeled Coolers

These are the coolers you need for any type of extended trip, or event, with more than a couple people. From family get-togethers at the park, to Yogi Bear type pic-i-nics, these are the coolers that most of us grew up with. They’re the perfect size for storing whatever you need (along with whatever you think you might need), and the good ones can even double as a table or stool! Their discerning features are the wheels (either rubber or plastic), and a handle (preferably extendable) to pull your cooler behind you for ease. For camping trips, where sturdy wheels are required to go through rough or muddy ground, rubber wheels are the better choice. However, there are hard plastic wheels available on coolers that will perform just as well as the rubber ones, but at half the cost.Though mobile, wheeled coolers can be tough to take long distances with, as the bulk combined with the weight of the contents inside, may be difficult to drag behind. If looking at these coolers, it might be wise to buy a size larger than what you anticipate needing, to ensure that you don’t overpack a small cooler, which may end up causing you strain.


Best Steel Coolers

Steel Coolers

These are the coolers you need for any type of extended trip, or event, with more than a couple people. From family get-togethers at the park, to Yogi Bear type pic-i-nics, these are the coolers that most of us grew up with. They’re the perfect size for storing whatever you need (along with whatever you think you might need), and the good ones can even double as a table or stool! Their discerning features are the wheels (either rubber or plastic), and a handle (preferably extendable) to pull your cooler behind you for ease. For camping trips, where sturdy wheels are required to go through rough or muddy ground, rubber wheels are the better choice. However, there are hard plastic wheels available on coolers that will perform just as well as the rubber ones, but at half the cost.Though mobile, wheeled coolers can be tough to take long distances with, as the bulk combined with the weight of the contents inside, may be difficult to drag behind. If looking at these coolers, it might be wise to buy a size larger than what you anticipate needing, to ensure that you don’t overpack a small cooler, which may end up causing you strain.

What To Look For In A Cooler

Now that we know each different type of cooler, we need to go through what is needed to be considered when buying a cooler. Whether the best option for you is something small and versatile, or larger with enough room for half-time refreshments, the basic criteria for cooler buying is universal. After all, the function of the cooler remains the same, no matter what the container looks like! In order to know which will be the best ever cooler for you, it will have to be leak proof, easy to clean, retain temperature well, have great storage capacity, and will be easy to transport. Without these basic criteria met, you may end up with a fantastic, eye-catching cooler, that looks better than it performs.

Leak Proof

Let’s face it, you’re probably going to have a lot of ice in your cooler. At the very least, you’ll keep everything cold with a convenient blue ice pack, or frozen water bottles. Either way, the last thing you want is for that ice to leak through your cooler, and make a bigger mess than you need. A good cooler will lock in all of that moisture so it keeps your food and beverages cold -and the exterior of your cooler dry! These are especially important for sport and soft coolers, where the leaks will likely end up on your clothing, or even your valuables!

Retain Temperature

Another obvious one, but this one is difficult to monitor without some research. If you are buying a cooler to last you a weekend, and the ice melts and warms up within a day, you know you’ve bought the wrong cooler. Some will advertise longer cooling times, but with a tiny bit of added research, you find that they’ve embellished slightly. Once again, finding a good cooler, and buying a good one for its price is something that is important, so ensuring that you have one that will remain cool for as long as you need it to is just as important.

Cleaning

Another seemingly obvious one, but still equally important. A cooler that’s easy to clean, is a cooler you are going to want to invest in. Undoubtedly, the ultimate cooler will be self cleaning, but unfortunately, that’s not yet been invented. Until then, settle for a cooler with an easy to clean interior for those extra bits of dirt and sand that tend to hitch a ride back home with you. Some will come with a removable lining, but others will be made for you to clean without worry. All of our favourites will be easy to clean, and will not make you regret your purchase.

Storage Capacity

Whether it’s in cans, or quarts, the storage capacity of your cooler is something that you need to ensure is right for your needs. From hiking solo, to a ten person music festival, you need your cooler to hold all of the essentials. Though the capacity size of a cooler is all personal preference, the ability to hold that amount, and hold it comfortably, is important. Ensuring that you have the greatest cooler you need, with the added storage necessities from side pockets, to a sturdy top lid is a really important factor to consider. You also want to make sure that you’re not buying one cooler for a singular purpose. If you know that you are going on a hike one day, but a sporting event the next week, opt for the slightly larger size so you can make the most of your cooler!

Ease of Transport

Another important factor needed from the ideal cooler is transport. 

    If you know you will be lugging the cooler for twenty minutes before reaching your end goal, you’re going to want one that will be able to withstand the distance (and any conditions thrown its way), without causing strain on your back and shoulders. Whether you want one with wheels, straps, or handles, you need to make sure that you’re buying what’s right, and comfortable, for you. If the cooler has straps, they need to sit well on your shoulders. For wheels, you need to know if they are durable, and the lid is secure. As for the handles? You need to know if they are protected so your hands don’t tire. Without these, you may have cold food and drinks, but that’s about it!

    Top 5 Coolers Reviews


    OA Gear -Cooler Sports Pack

    Overview:

    • Leak Proof - Yes
    • Easy to Clean - No
    • Temperature Retention - Approximately 12 hours
    • Storage Space -Approximately 20 cans
    • Easy to Transport -Yes
    OA Gear -Cooler Sports Pack

    Perfect for your on-the-go lifestyle, this heat sealed, no leak, polyester cooler is what you need if you want to carry your necessities while keeping your hands free. Its backpack shape means that this cooler is not only easy to wear, but it can be easily stored in any compact location! It has two zippered mesh side pockets for convenient water bottle, key, or any small items to store. The lightweight material is designed to keep your food and drinks cold, but keep the cooler dry, and easy to carry. For convenience, and comfort, this is the a great choice.

    Though an ideal size for a sport cooler, there is no chest strap for hiking or biking, to ensure that the bag is tightly secured around you. The stitching can tend to be a bit loose around the zippers, so execute caution when zipping, to prevent catching on the zipper. Overall, this is a perfectly sized backpack cooler, and will hold a perfect amount needed for whatever you may need it for.

    Our Rating: 4.5/5

    ProsCons
    Heat Sealed, No-Leak LinerNo Chest Strap For Hiking
    CompactStitching Tends To Be Loose
    Mesh Side PocketsNo Room For Extra Storage
    Comfortable WearNot Easy to Clean

    Best Used For

    • Biking
    • Hiking
    • Sporting Events

    Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler With Hard Liner

    Overview:

    • Leak Proof - Yes
    • Easy to Clean -Yes
    • Temperature Retention -Approximately 7 hours
    • Storage Space -Approximately 16 cans
    • Easy to Transport -Yes
    Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler With Hard Liner

    Whether you’re off to the races, or hanging out with friends, this fabric cooler can hold up to 16 cans of whatever you’re drinking, and has extra front, side, and interior mesh pockets for holding in any other items securely. It comes with the added bonus of bungees in the inner lid, should you pack anything tall! For what it offers, this is the finest cooler for your money. The strap is adjustable, the seams are heat welded for added insulation, and the lid is domed for an added fill. The Coleman also has an FDA approved PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate) hard plastic liner to keep your food in one piece, which is removable for an easy clean, and allows for antimicrobial protection for mould, mildew, and odour resistance, easily allowing it to be the top cooler of its kind.

    Our Rating: 4.5/5

    ProsCons
    Adjustable Shoulder StrapThe 16-Can Advertised Fit Is Without Ice, With Ice Is Approximately 8-12 Cans
    Heat Welded SeamsToo Small For Multi-Person Use
    Well Insulated
    FDA Standard For Food Contact
    Domed Lid

    Best Used For

    • Camping
    • Lunches
    • Sporting Events

    Igloo MaxCold Ultra Roller Cooler

    Overview:

    • Leak Proof - Yes
    • Easy to Clean -Yes
    • Temperature Retention -Approximately 5 days
    • Storage Space -Approximately 40 quarts
    • Easy to Transport -Yes
    Igloo MaxCold Ultra Roller Cooler

    The MaxCold Ultra offers extra insulation for an added heat barrier, to keep everything inside fresh, and cold, but unfortunately lacks a plastic drain plug for easy outflow.The interior is stain and odour free, however, which will allow for a quick and painless clean! This ideal cooler is the perfect size to fit conveniently in the backseat of your car, won’t be a hassle to roll behind you, and yet, is large enough to store everything you might need. Its wide, swing up handle, and sturdy wheels allow for anyone to roll the cooler behind them! Unfortunately, though advertised at keeping a 5 day cooling time, this cooler will likely last about 3 days, which means that any extended road trips may need a couple pit stops for ice along the way. On the plus side, there is a one year manufacturer’s warranty with Igloo for this, so should anything go wrong, or the product not live up to its name, there is time to return or exchange the cooler.

    Our Rating: 4.5/5

    ProsCons
    Extra InsulationHinges Are Flimsy And Tend To Wear Down
    Stain And Odour Resistant -Allows For Easy CleanThough 5 Day Coolness Advertised, Average Is Approximately 3 Days
    One Year Manufacturer’s WarrantyThough Wheels Are Durable, They Are Plastic, Not Rubber
    Comfort Grip HandlesNo Drain Plug
    Wide Swing Up Tow Is Retractable

    Best Used For

    • BBQ's
    • Camping
    • Pool Party
    • Beach Trips
    • Picnics
    • Road Trips

    Rubbermaid Ice Chest 60-Quart Wheeled Cooler

    Overview:

    • Leak Proof -Yes
    • Easy to Clean -Yes
    • Temperature Retention -Approximately 1 day
    • Storage Space -Approximately 60 quarts
    • Easy to Transport -Yes
    Rubbermaid Ice Chest -60-Quart Wheeled Cooler

    The Ice Chest is best for its thermal retention for keeping food and drinks chilled, with an easy to clean polyethylene liner that is stain and odour resistant. The Ice Chest is the best on this list with regards to storage capacity (and its added cup holders in the lid make it the most versatile too!), as well as one of the best for the price. It includes all of the necessities, and added bonuses, for a comparable price to others in its category. The front drain allows for the cooler to be emptied quickly, and stress free. As an added bonus, the insulation allows for already cold food to remain cold for up to 24 hours without added ice, or ice packs.

    Our Rating: 4.5/5

    ProsCons
    Excellent Thermal RetentionLid Doesn’t Lock Tight
    Stain And Odour ResistantAs It Only Keeps Cool For 1 Day, Not Ideal For Longer Trips
    Tall Height With Flat Surface For Table Use
    Can Fit 6 Pack Of Bottles Upright

    Best Used For

    • BBQ's
    • Camping
    • Pool Party
    • Beach Trips
    • Picnics
    • Road Trips

    Coleman 54-Quart Stainless Steel Belted Cooler

    Overview:

    • Leak Proof -Yes
    • Easy to Clean -Yes
    • Temperature Retention -Approximately 4        days
    • Storage Space -Approximately 54 quarts
    Coleman 54-Quart Stainless Steel Belted Cooler
    • Easy to Transport -Yes

    The Coleman Stainless Steel Belted Cooler is obviously the priciest on this list, but is worth the money if this is the type of cooler you need. Though it is not a wheeled cooler, and not a soft shell, if you’re up for it, you can definitely take this one for a spin.The stainless steel handles have a rubber grip for your comfort, and a steel latched lid for your food and drinks, making it the top cooler ever in its rank. It also includes a rust proof and leak resistant channel drain, so you no longer have to tilt your cooler to empty the excess water.

     Our Rating: 4.8/5

    ProsCons
    Rust And Leak ProofNo Interior Tray
    Steel Latch LidHeavy Once Filled
    Rubber Grips On Handles
    Can Fit Up To 85 Cans

    Best Used For

    • Pool Party
    • Fishing Trips
    • Pool Parties

    The Cool Down

    Just like with most things in life, the cooler you need is completely based on your needs. Once you figure out what that might be,and based on the given criteria, it will be a simple task to find you the best cooler. Whether you need the top soft cooler, best value, or simply the greatest cooler ever, the absolute finest coolers can be found, and they can be yours!