Budget-Friendly Coolers for Every Outdoor Adventure: Discover the Best Affordable Options of 2023
Looking for the perfect cooler to keep your drinks icy cold and your snacks fresh on your next adventure? Look no further! We've scoured the market to bring you the top budget-friendly cooler options of 2023. Whether you're heading out for a day at the beach, planning a picnic in the park, or embarking on a camping trip, we've got you covered. From the OAGear Backpack 20 Can Cooler to the Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler, these coolers are not only affordable but also packed with features to make your outdoor experience even cooler. Get ready to chill out and discover the best coolers that won't break the bank!
Best Coolers of 2023
In my previous list of coolers, Cabela's 60-quart version of this cooler was listed as the best large cooler. However, the title is now held by a Magellan Outdoors model. But overall, if you want your items to stay cold, you can't beat Cabela's Polar Cap option. During testing, it had the coldest internal temperature and it held that low temperature for about 20% longer than the next best contender.
The prices for the 60-, 80-, and 100-quart models range from $300 to $400, and you're paying for the excellent performance. While this unit doesn't have many fancy features, it does have built-in bottle openers, a pressure relief valve, and rubber padded feet to reduce heat transfer. Plus, it's bear-resistant.
The performance of Magellan's largest cooler was very close to Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer. The temperature difference between the two was less than a degree. If your main priority is keeping things cold, then the question is whether paying another hundred bucks for 0.9 degrees colder is worth it. Personally, I'd rather save the cash and use it to stock my cooler. Additionally, the Magellan coolers have a convenient double-sided hinge latch and wheels for easy transport.
Yeti is already known for better performance and higher prices. And when it comes to coolers, they consistently perform at the top. The Tundra Haul is no different. While it didn't reach the lowest overall temperature, it did hold its lowest temperature longer than its competitors. The Haul comes with rugged "Neverflat" wheels, allowing you to go further and tackle more rugged terrains. It's also easy to transport and offers maximum cooling duration.
Yes, I know. Another Magellan cooler. But the results speak for themselves. Just look at the graphs. The performance difference between this cooler and its competitors was significant enough that I couldn't name another winner even if I wanted to. The competitors had thin walls, which don't provide good insulation. However, if you prefer cheaper options or backpack-style coolers, they are available.
In the past, the Coleman Stacker held the title for the cheapest cooler we've tested. However, the RTIC unit has taken over. It has impressively low temperatures and performs just as well as the larger coolers. At $220, it's currently the cheapest cooler in both the midsize and large cooler categories, except for the Igloo BMX 52qt Cooler, which performed poorly in our tests. So if you want great performance at a friendlier price, the RTIC is a safe choice.
The performance data between this newcomer and the previous titleholder, the Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler, was nearly identical. The Yeti got slightly colder, but the Magellan held its temperature longer. The deciding factor here is the price. At $120, the Magellan Outdoors unit is less than half the cost of the Yeti. Plus, it offers additional features like dual-side latches, bottle openers, a metal reinforced lock area, and a drain plug.
Read our Magellan Outdoors Dual Open 20qt Cooler review.
Top 8 Affordable Coolers
1. Lifetime Coolers
The Lifetime lineup of coolers offers the best value for the price. We tested all available sizes, including the 28-quart, 55-quart, and 77-quart models, and they all performed exceptionally well. In fact, the 77-quart Lifetime cooler held ice longer than many roto molded coolers. For a cooler that costs less than $160ish, this level of ice retention is truly impressive. The 28- and 77-quart models come with new and improved lids, addressing any previous lid issues. Overall, if you don't need a roto molded cooler or a cooler with wheels, it's hard to argue against buying the Lifetime cooler.
2. Igloo Quantum
The Igloo Quantum is the best cooler for ice retention under $100. Priced at roughly , this wheeled cooler held ice for 7.75 days. It also has a robust lid and comes with rod holders and cup holders, making it suitable for fishing, beach days, or using as a marine cooler. The wheels are capable of handling various terrains, including asphalt, grass, and sand.
3. Igloo BMX
The Igloo BMX coolers are highly recommended by our subscribers. Both the BMX 25 and BMX 52 performed well in terms of ice retention, with the BMX 52 ranking just behind the Quantum and MaxCold coolers. The BMX coolers are also known for their durability. We accidentally dropped the smaller 25-quart cooler off the back of a golf cart, resulting in only scratches. The BMX coolers have a high-end look and feel, and the 52-quart model held ice for 7 days while the 25-quart model held ice for 6.5 days. The 25-quart model is a budget-friendly option and both models come with a metal reinforced lock area and a drain plug.
4. Igloo MaxCold
The Igloo MaxCold cooler is one of the cheapest coolers on our list. While it may not have the same build quality as the BMX, it still performed well in terms of ice retention, lasting just over 7 days. It's a rolling cooler with handles for easy transport, and while the wheels are slightly smaller compared to other coolers, they handle various terrains with ease.
5. Igloo Island Breeze
The Island Breeze cooler is not the best for ice retention or durability, but it's an affordable option for those on a budget. You can usually find this style of cooler at big box retailers during the spring and summer months. It's popular due to its low price and the ability to hold ice for up to 5 days. The Island Breeze comes in multiple color schemes, allowing you to choose one that fits your style.
6. Igloo Latitude 60 Rolling Cooler
The Igloo Latitude cooler offers style along with respectable ice retention. It comes in multiple colors and provides roughly 5.5 days of ice retention. While the lid is not as sturdy as the Quantum, it can still withstand some weight. The Latitude cooler is a stylish choice for those looking to make a statement.
7. Coleman Wheeled Cooler
The Coleman Wheeled Cooler is a no-frills option that gets the job done. While it held ice for roughly 5.5 days, which is impressive, it was on the shorter end compared to other coolers. However, it's a popular choice due to its affordability and widespread availability. If you're looking for a cheap cooler that still performs well, this is the one to go for.
8. Igloo Latitude 50
The Igloo Latitude 50 is a fan favorite with its stylish design. It may have dropped out of the ice retention challenge sooner than other coolers, but it still held ice for 4.5 days, which is respectable considering its low price. While it doesn't have a drain plug, it does come in multiple color schemes to suit your style.
OAGear Backpack 20 Can Cooler
We tested the OAGear Backpack a few months back while looking for the best cooler backpack. And guess what? The OAGear Backpack is one of the best cooler backpacks out there. It can hold up to 20 cans and costs just $23. The insulation in this backpack keeps cans cold for hours without any leaks. On the exterior, there are pockets for dry items, two side mesh pockets, and a front bungee for additional storage.
Igloo Retro Picnic Basket 25-Quart Cooler
Igloo brings back that classic retro look with a 25-quart cooler, perfect for bringing your favorite brews along in style. This ’90s cooler can hold about 36 cans, providing plenty of space for all your drinks. It features molded-in side handles, Thermecool foam, and eco-friendly insulation. And right now, it's on sale for just $35, making it one of the most affordable coolers that can hold a large quantity of cans.
Tourit Cooler Bag
The Tourit Cooler Bag is a brand we have previously tested and can confirm its powerful insulation capabilities. This bag is 100% leakproof and made of a high-density Oxford cloth that is nearly impenetrable. It offers three different carrying options and can keep beverages chilled for up to 12 hours. Additionally, it features a front pocket for storing dry goods and comes at a price of just under $20, making it the perfect companion for tailgating.
best cheap cooler, TOURIT Cooler Bag
Best Inflatable Cooler
The AirSkirts Inflatable Cooler is an excellent choice for individuals living in small spaces or those who prefer not to store a large cooler that they only use sporadically. The Airskirts can be easily packed into a small carrying bag and inflated within minutes. Once inflated, it becomes rigid and strong enough to support the weight of a 165-pound adult. Made of PVC fabric, the trapped air inside the walls provides effective insulation. Even when exposed to direct sunlight, it was able to maintain a bag of cube ice for a whole day. While it may not be inexpensive, the convenience and portability it offers make it worth the price.
Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler
Are you searching for an affordable wheeled cooler? Look no further. The Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler is currently available at a 25% discount for just over $40 on Amazon. This price is exceptionally rare for a wheeled cooler, so it's a deal you don't want to miss. Plus, with the trustworthiness of the Coleman brand, you can expect reliable performance.
best cheap cooler, Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler
More Top Deals from SPY
Best of SPY
In conclusion, when it comes to finding budget-friendly cooler options, these top picks for 2023 are surely worth considering. From the OAGear Backpack 20 Can Cooler, offering convenience on-the-go, to the stylish and retro Igloo Retro Picnic Basket 25-Quart Cooler, there is something for everyone. For those looking for a versatile and lightweight option, the Tourit Cooler Bag is a great choice, while the Best Inflatable Cooler provides a unique and space-saving solution. Lastly, the Coleman 40-Quart Wheeled Cooler offers ample storage capacity and easy portability. No matter your needs or budget, these coolers are sure to keep your snacks and drinks cold, without breaking the bank.
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