The Best Car Camping Coolers: Reviews, Recommendations, and Tips

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When it comes to car camping, having the best cooler is essential. Whether you prefer a hard cooler with wheels and other convenient features or an electric cooler that eliminates the need for ice, there are plenty of options to choose from. In this article, we will provide you with reviews and recommendations for the best coolers for camping, so you can keep your food and drinks cold and fresh on your outdoor adventures. From budget-friendly options to roomy soft coolers with leakproof seals, we've got you covered. So, let's dive in and find the perfect camping cooler for your next trip!

The Top Coolers for Camping: Reviews and Recommendations

Camping has recently undergone a resurgence in popularity, driven in part by the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and our collective desire to spend time in the great outdoors while avoiding large crowds. As outdoor trips became one of the few safe summertime activities, people began investing in camping gear, with a particular focus on tents and water filters. More and more people are discovering or rediscovering the benefits of spending time in nature, which has been referred to as "nature therapy" in some circles. While there are many high-tech camping gadgets available, camping coolers remain intentionally low-tech in most cases. Manufacturers have dedicated significant effort to developing materials that provide extended insulation for food and beverages without adding excessive weight or bulk. There is inevitably a tradeoff between size and capacity versus portability, so it is important to find the right balance for your specific needs. Many of the camping coolers featured below are available in multiple sizes, offering options to cater to various situations.

Best Overall: RTIC Ultra-Light Quart Hard Cooler

RTIC Ultra-Light Quart Hard Cooler Specifications

  • Size: 27.01 x 17.28 x 16.54 inches
  • Weight: 13.4 pounds
  • Capacity: 54 quarts
  • Style: Hardshell
  • Materials: Closed-cell foam
  • Price: $219.99
  • Excellent weight-to-capacity ratio
  • Three inches of insulation
  • Affordable price
  • No separate built-in compartments
If we were to recommend just one camping cooler to meet the needs of all campers, the RTIC Ultra-Light Quart Hard Cooler would be our top choice. This cooler is a result of meticulous engineering and consideration of every aspect. It stands out as one of the best outdoor gear options available across all categories.

With a capacity of 52 quarts, this cooler can accommodate up to 60 pounds of ice or 70 cans without ice, making it more than sufficient for a two-day camping trip. Despite its large size, RTIC has managed to make it one of the lightest camping coolers on the market, thanks to their innovative design and use of three inches of closed-cell foam insulation. This lighter weight makes a significant difference when transporting the cooler to and from your campsite.

In addition to its impressive insulation capabilities, the RTIC Ultra-Light Quart Hard Cooler boasts features such as T-latches for secure closure, non-skid rubber feet, marine-grade nylon rope handles, and the option to purchase a separate divider to segregate food and drinks. The cooler is also available in six different colors, providing some personalization options. The only minor downside is the absence of the divider in the package, which can be purchased separately for just .

If you are in need of a large, lightweight, and relatively affordable camping cooler for activities such as camping, boating, or tailgating, the RTIC Ultra-Light Quart Hard Cooler is an excellent choice.

Best Electric: GOSun Chill Cooler

GOSun Chill Cooler Specifications

  • Size: 23.5 x 16 x 19 inches
  • Weight: 30 pounds
  • Capacity: 42 quarts
  • Style: Hardshell
  • Materials: Close cell polyurethane foam
  • Price: 9
  • Built-in compressor keeps items cool without ice
  • Solar power compatibility
  • Separate compartments for fridge and freezer items
  • Requires charging
  • Expensive
The GOSun Chill Cooler is the most technologically advanced option on our list, and although it comes with a higher price tag, its efficiency justifies the cost. This cooler features a built-in refrigeration system that continuously maintains the interior temperature between -4 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit without the need for ice. It achieves this through a touch panel on top, which also provides USB-A ports and a DC cigarette lighter for charging devices on the go.

The greatest strength of the Chill Cooler lies in its ability to keep its contents consistently cool. However, its high-tech design does require regular charging. GOsun provides options to connect the cooler to an external battery pack or to use their Outdoor Solar Table for off-the-grid charging during sunny summer days. With careful management of the cooling features, the cooler should have no trouble maintaining power throughout your camping trip.

While electric coolers are not as numerous as their non-electric counterparts, the GOSun Chill Cooler stands out due to its innovative design and reliable performance.

Best with Wheels: YETI Roadie 60

YETI Roadie 60 Specifications

  • Size: 23.7 x 19.9 x 20.5 inches
  • Weight: 29 pounds
  • Capacity: 63 quarts
  • Style: Hardshell
  • Materials: Polyurethane
  • Price: $500
  • Exceptional durability
  • Highly portable design
  • Retractable handle for easy maneuverability

YETI is undoubtedly one of the most well-known premium cooler brands, and they have successfully translated the design excellence of their stationary coolers into their wheeled models. The YETI Roadie 60 is the largest capacity camping cooler we are recommending, making it the priciest non-electric option. However, the quality and features it offers make it well worth the investment.

The primary advantage of a YETI cooler lies in its exceptional durability. Thanks to its premium insulation and well-made latches, YETI coolers are designed to be bear-proof. This cooler is also equipped with single-piece tires that can withstand rough terrains, ensuring that the wheels hold up in challenging outdoor conditions.

Portability is a key consideration when choosing a wheeled cooler, and the YETI Roadie 60 meets this requirement with flying colors. Despite its large capacity, its squat yet deep design allows for optimal portability. The telescoping handle reaches a comfortable height for rolling the cooler and easily retracts when not in use.

While the YETI Roadie 60 comes at a higher price point, it is the perfect choice for those seeking a top-quality wheeled camping cooler that guarantees exceptional performance.

Best Large: Driftsun 75 Quart Insulated Cooler

Driftsun 75 Quart Insulated Cooler Specifications

  • Size: 33.5 x 18.5 x 18 inches
  • Weight: 32 pounds
  • Capacity: 75 quarts
  • Style: Hardshell
  • Materials: Rotomolded thermoplastic
  • Price: $249.99
  • Exceptional ice retention
  • Large capacity
  • Built-in bottle opener
  • Large size results in increased weight
If you require a high-capacity camping cooler, look no further than the Driftsun 75 Quart Insulated Cooler. This ultra-large cooler offers excellent insulation and an affordable price. With a capacity of 75 quarts, it can comfortably accommodate a large number of cans along with ice. Driftsun prides itself on the insulation of this cooler, claiming that it can keep ice solid for up to ten days. This longevity is made possible by the cooler's locking latches, which ensure a tight seal.

Although the Driftsun Insulated Cooler is the largest recommendation on our list, it is not the heaviest among non-electric models. Portability was a significant consideration in our selection process, as no one wants to struggle with a heavy cooler. While other coolers in this guide have capacities ranging from 50 to 60 quarts, the 75-quart option allows you to carry the same number of cans with ice on longer trips. Driftsun has also included convenient features such as a built-in bottle opener to enhance the overall user experience.

For extended camping trips or gatherings with a large number of people, the Driftsun 75 Quart Insulated Cooler offers ample space without sacrificing performance. Its reasonable price is an added bonus.

Best Soft Cooler: Hydro Flask 26L Day Escape Soft Cooler

Hydro Flask 26L Day Escape Soft Cooler Specifications

  • Size: 14.5 x 14.5 x 10.3 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Capacity: 27 quarts
  • Style: Softshell
  • Materials: Polyester
  • Price: $179.95
  • Lightweight
  • Relatively high capacity
  • Features straps and handles for easy carrying
  • Limited storage compared to hardshell coolers
If your camping trips typically involve a one-night stay with just a few people, there is little need for a large hardshell cooler. The Hydro Flask 26L Day Escape Soft Cooler is a perfect fit for such occasions. This lightweight cooler offers an impressive insulation that keeps its contents cold for up to 27 hours, as claimed by the company.

Given its relatively small size, this cooler is likely to be filled to its maximum capacity. Hydro Flask has taken this into account and included side handles in addition to a carrying strap. These features make it easier to transport the cooler, especially when two people are involved. The Day Escape cooler's strap can be adjusted and reattached to enable cross-body carrying.

In past experiences with Hydro Flask's soft coolers, we have consistently been impressed by the quality of their zippers. This is essential for a soft cooler, as a faulty zipper can compromise insulation or cause leaks. Hydro Flask's zippers have proven to be reliable, ensuring the cooler performs as intended. If you anticipate short and pleasant camping trips and desire unencumbered exploration of nature, the Hydro Flask 26L Day Escape Soft Cooler is the ideal choice.

Best Budget: Coleman Xtreme Portable Cooler

Coleman Xtreme Portable Cooler Specifications

  • Size: 28.25 x 15.75 x 18.25 inches
  • Weight: 12.3 pounds
  • Capacity: 70 quarts
  • Style: Hardshell
  • Materials: Plastic (with Xtreme® technology)
  • Price: .99
  • Large capacity
  • Equipped with cup holders and seating functionality
  • Affordable price
  • No latches to secure the lid
The Coleman Xtreme Portable Cooler may not have the fancy features of other models, but it offers unmatched value for a full-sized hard cooler. With a capacity of 70 quarts, this cooler is incredibly lightweight, weighing in at just under 12.5 pounds. Its favorable capacity-to-weight ratio is complemented by its affordable price and overall performance. While Coleman claims that this cooler can keep its contents cold for up to five days, we recommend managing expectations due to the absence of latches to secure the lid.

The Xtreme Portable Cooler also offers additional features, such as four cup holders on top and the ability to function as a seat or work surface with a weight limit of 250 pounds. These practical uses enhance the overall experience, although the cup holders do compromise the insulation at four points on top of the cooler. Nonetheless, these minor drawbacks are easily forgivable given the cooler's price, making it an excellent choice for novice campers who may not embark on frequent camping trips.

Discover the Best Coolers for Car Camping

If you are in a rush, here are our top recommendations for coolers for car camping:

A hard cooler with convenient features for easy transportation

The Coleman 316 Series Wheeled Hard Cooler, equipped with various practical features, is considered one of the top choices for car camping enthusiasts.Amazon

Coleman 316 Series Wheeled Hard Cooler


  • Equipped with wheels and a tow handle for easy transportation
  • Features a convenient drain spout
  • Functions as a table with cup holders and a seat as well


  • Limited color options available
  • Lid does not have a locking mechanism

This classic hard cooler combines the convenience of a tow handle and wheels, making it incredibly easy to transport to your campsite. Coleman claims that it can keep ice for up to five days, making it an ideal choice for longer camping trips. The bottom of the cooler features a drain spout, simplifying the process of draining water as the ice melts. Additionally, the lid of the cooler has cup holders that can accommodate up to 30-ounce tumblers, and it can also be used as a seat.

One reviewer wrote: "Went camping for 3 days and it kept most of the ice to where I didn't need to add more. Food was kept nice and cold. The trick is to always drain the water as the ice melts. Works better than expected, also had a YETI cooler with us and for the price difference the Coleman kept up pretty well. I would buy again."

Cooler type: Hard cooler | Available sizes: 62 quarts, 65 quarts, 100 quarts | Weight: Not specified (62-quart), 12.3 pounds (65-quart), 20.4 pounds (100-quart) | Exterior dimensions: 28 x 16 x 18 inches, 22 x 17 x 21 inches, 37 x 17 x 18 inches (length x width x height) | Colors: 2 | Wheels: Yes | Handles: Yes

An electric cooler that operates without the need for ice

The Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler eliminates the need for ice, making it a popular choice among car camping enthusiasts.Amazon

Igloo Versatemp Cooler



  • Does not require the use of ice
  • Keeps food items dry
  • No time limit on keeping items cool as long as there is a power source


  • Cannot be converted for use with ice
  • Not all sizes come with wheels
  • AC adapter is not included

The electric cooler from Igloo is equipped with a fan that can cool the interior up to 36 degrees below the outside temperature (in Fahrenheit). This cooler is also available in a version that can both cool and heat. It features an 8-foot cord that can be plugged into a 12V outlet. By eliminating the need for ice, more space is available inside the cooler, allowing for potentially downsizing to a smaller size. However, it is important to have a power source to maintain the desired temperature over time. (Consider purchasing a 12V adapter if you plan to use it at a campsite with power instead of in your car.)

One reviewer wrote: "Works great! Used it for a 2-month tent camping trip at a KOA type campground where I had electricity at my site. Love it! Saved a lot of money by not having to buy ice every few days and did not have [to] deal with soggy food from melting ice!"

Cooler type: Hard-powered cooler | Available sizes: 28 quarts, 35 quarts, 40 quarts | Weight: 10 pounds (18-quart), 11.9 pounds (35-quart), 18.8 pounds (40-quart) | Exterior dimensions: 18.2 inches x 12.9 inches x 16.7 inches, 23 x 13 x 16 inches, 22 x 15 x 17 inches (length x width x height) | Colors: 1 | Wheels: Yes, on the 35-quart size | Handles: Yes

A cost-effective hard cooler

The Igloo Commercial Grade Insulated Hardside Cooler offers affordability without compromising functionality, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious car camping enthusiasts.Amazon

Igloo Commercial Grade Insulated Hardside Cooler



  • Affordably priced under $55
  • Lightweight design for easy handling


  • No lid lock or drain spout
  • Not as durable as other options

This Igloo cooler is an excellent choice for budget-conscious buyers. Priced at under $55, this red 50-quart cooler offers all the necessary functions of a basic hard cooler. It is a suitable size for weekend car camping trips, but it is also available in other colors and sizes, including smaller options such as the 28-quart and 30-quart sizes.

One reviewer wrote: "Cool as can be! [...] Liked this so much we have given one to special friends! Great for carrying chilled wine upright and keeps cool for a long time."

Cooler type: Hard cooler | Available sizes: 28 quarts, 30 quarts, 50 quarts | Weight: 5.6 pounds | Exterior dimensions: 25 x 15 x 15 inches (length x width x height) | Colors: 4 | Wheels: No | Handles: Yes

A spacious and reliable soft cooler with a leakproof seal

This YETI Hopper is one of the best soft coolers for car camping.


YETI Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler



  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Magnets and zipper create a tight seal
  • Waterproof exterior


  • Higher price and smaller capacity compared to some other options
  • No drainage

If you are considering a portable soft cooler for your trip, the YETI Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler is an excellent choice. It features a leakproof seal with a combination of magnets and a zipper closure, allowing you to use it with ice directly in the bag. The closed-cell foam insulation keeps your items cold, and the cooler has multiple loops for attaching additional items with carabiners. The YETI Hopper M30 is the largest soft cooler offered by YETI, making it a great size for weekend trips. However, if you prefer a smaller option, there are smaller sizes available as well.

One reviewer wrote:

“Absolutely fantastic! Went deep sea fishing in the Florida Keys! Everything was dry, dry, dry! The Yeti Hopper M30 is so wonderful. Everything I hoped for! Also great for camping!”

Cooler type: Soft cooler | Available sizes: 30 quarts (more available here) | Weight: 7 pounds | Exterior dimensions: 25 x 12 x 18 inches (length x width x height) | Colors: 8 | Wheels: No | Handles: Yes

A versatile powered cooler with a warming function

This Ivation option is one of the best power coolers for car camping with a warming function.


Ivation Electric Cooler & Warmer



  • Does not require ice
  • Can also keep food warm
  • Comes with two types of power cables


  • Needs to be plugged in to cool or warm contents
  • Limited sizing and color options

If you need a cooling solution for your car camping trips, the Ivation Electric Cooler & Warmer is a versatile choice. It can cool food down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or warm food up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It eliminates the need for ice and includes a divider to keep your items organized. Additionally, it comes with an AC adapter, allowing you to plug it into a traditional outlet if necessary. One thing to note is that the cooler must be plugged in to cool or warm its contents and does not have a drainage spout.

One reviewer wrote:

“We needed something that would keep things cold while camping. This model had the best capacity we could find and worked perfectly! Since the initial purchase, we have used it for camping, tailgating, a couple of baseball games, and a football practice or 2. Remember to load cold items as it cannot cool like your fridge, but keeping everything cold was no problem. Quiet and compact. Perfect for us.”

Cooler type: Hard powered cooler | Available sizes: 48 quarts | Weight: 17 pounds | Exterior dimensions: 22.1 x 15.4 x 16.4 inches (length x width x height) | Colors: 1 | Wheels: Yes | Handles: Yes

An extra-large cooler for extended camping trips

This Igloo Polar model is the best large cooler for long car camping trips.


Igloo Polar Cooler



  • Available in three sizes up to 150 quarts
  • Includes securing latches
  • Features a drain and hose hookup


  • Heavy and can be difficult to move around
  • No wheels

If you are embarking on longer camping trips or planning for a larger group, the Igloo Polar Cooler is an ideal choice. It offers ample storage space for food and drinks, and Igloo claims that it can keep ice frozen for up to seven days in temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The latches ensure a secure closure, and the cooler includes a drainage spout and hose hookup for easy emptying and cleaning. Please note that the cooler does not come with wheels, and it can be quite heavy.

One reviewer wrote:

“Used this cooler for a 2-day camping trip, and it did a wonderful job of holding ice and keeping the food cold. On the second day, I thought I may have needed to buy more bags of ice. Not at all. When I opened the cooler, there was still ice from when we left for our trip. Make sure to freeze what foods you can to help prolong this. Works out great. I’ve always been a fan of Igloo coolers. Oh, and for those wondering, the cooler sat outdoors the whole trip. We only moved it into the shade to keep it out of the sun.”

Cooler type: Hard cooler | Available sizes: 120 quarts, 150 quarts | Weight: 18.2 pounds (120-quart), unspecified (150-quart) | Exterior dimensions: 39 x 17 x 18 inches, 42 x 19 x 21 inches (length x width x height) | Colors: 2 | Wheels: No | Handles: Yes

Best Coolers For Camping: Our Top Picks

Best Camping Coolers

Best Mid-Size Camping Coolers:

Best Electric Coolers (Portable Refrigerators & Freezers)

Best Day Trip & Hiking Coolers

YETI – Tundra 65

yeti tundra 65

Cooler Type: Hard-sided | Weight: 27 lbs | Capacity (L): 57.6 | Materials: Rotomolded polyethylene

YETI has established itself as a leader in the cooler industry. The Tundra 65 is a high-end model that delivers exceptional performance and durability.

I was immediately impressed by the wide range of colors available for this model. Whether you prefer ice blue, river green, seafoam, white, or desert tan, you can find a color that suits your style and preferences.

The insulation of this YETI cooler is top-notch. It features three inches of PermaFrost insulation, a unique material that effectively keeps heat out. Additionally, it is designed to be bear-resistant, ensuring that your supplies are safe from any unwanted visitors.

One of the standout features of this cooler is its exceptional durability. It is built to withstand even the toughest conditions, and it would take a lot to damage it.

The heavy-duty rubber latches on this cooler not only add to its durability but also provide resistance to weather conditions, ensuring that they won't break during your outdoor adventures.


  • A wide variety of color options to choose from
  • Superior insulation to keep your food fresh and cold
  • Bear-resistant design for added security
  • Exceptionally durable construction
  • Heavy-duty rubber latches for longevity and weather resistance
  • Higher price point compared to other coolers, but worth it in my opinion
Best for: Campers who want a top-quality cooler that will last for a long time.

Buy Direct from YETI

 Check Price On REI

BougeRV 12V 30 Quart Portable Refrigerator

Cooler Type: Electric hard-sided | Weight: 22.8 lbs | Capacity (L): 28 | Materials: Various

After using the BougeRV 30 Quart Portable Refrigerator during a two-day wilderness trip, I can confidently say that I won't go camping without it again.

With the use of a powerful portable battery, the BougeRV can operate for several days using its energy-efficient ECO Mode, which consumes only 45W.

In terms of storage, this cooler can hold up to 40 cans of soda. During our trip, we were able to store enough food for two full days in the 28-liter cooler, and it stayed just as cold, if not colder, than our home fridge.

While traveling, the BougeRV Fridge easily plugs into your car's 12v power supply. Once we arrived at our campsite, we switched to using our portable battery station for power.

This cooler is incredibly durable and built to last. Considering its price point of $299, it's a great investment for any camper.

For a more detailed review, you can watch our full video review here.


  • Shockproof design allows for reliable use on rough forest roads
  • Extremely energy-efficient, with ECO Mode consuming less than 45W
  • Operates quietly at 40-45 dB, almost unnoticeable outdoors
  • Rapid cooling, reaching 32 degrees within 16 minutes
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty, upgradeable to 3 years
  • Slightly less capacity compared to other coolers of similar size
Best for:  Anywhere you have access to power or need to bring it along.

Buy Direct from BougeRV

Check Price on Amazon

Pelican 45 Quart Elite Wheeled Cooler

Cooler Type: Hard-sided, Wheeled | Weight: 37.5 lbs | Capacity (L): 42.6 | Materials: ‎Polyurethane, stainless steel

The Pelican 45 Quart Elite Wheeled Cooler stands out as a rugged and reliable option for camping.

Pelican is renowned for their durable and high-performance protective cases and gear, and this cooler lives up to those expectations. It is nearly bearproof and built to withstand the toughest conditions.

Featuring a durable rotomolded construction, this cooler has received a bear-resistant certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. It offers exceptional ice retention with its thick insulation and freezer-grade gasket.

Transportation is made easy with its built-in wheels and retractable handle. The molded-in tie-downs and corrosion-resistant stainless steel hardware add extra security during transport.

The leak-proof drain plug and easy-to-use latches contribute to the convenience and user-friendliness of this cooler.

Unique features of this cooler include a built-in bottle opener, an integrated fish scale on the lid, and press-and-pull latches.

Pelican also offers other sizes in their Elite Coolers line, including 20, 35, 45, and 65-quart options, as well as larger sizes for parties and commercial purposes.

For a more detailed review, you can watch our full video review here.


  • Bear-resistant certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee
  • Built-in wheels and retractable handle for easy transportation
  • Durable rotomolded construction from a trusted brand
  • Exceptional ice retention
  • Made in the USA
  • Comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Relatively heavy at 37.25 lbs
Best for:  Campers in bear country looking for a reliable and durable cooler.

Check Price at Pelican

Check Price On Amazon

Igloo BMX


Cooler Type: Hard-sided | Weight: 16 lbs | Capacity (L): 49.2 | Materials: Polyurethane

The Igloo BMX cooler is a sturdy and reliable option that offers great value for its price. Its steel leg plate provides added protection and durability.

Despite its heavy-duty construction, this cooler weighs only 16 pounds, making it easy to transport even when you have to park far away from your campsite.

With a capacity of 52 quarts, this cooler can hold enough food for a five-day family trip, provided you avoid using bulky food packaging.

This cooler is available in six different colors, allowing you to choose one that matches your other camping equipment.


  • Sturdy construction with skid pads and a leg plate
  • Can keep groceries cool for up to five days
  • 52-quart capacity can hold 83 cans of beer
  • The lid features a molded-in fish ruler for easy measurements
  • Affordable price for a high-quality hard cooler
  • Rubber latches may catch against clothing
Best for: Campers looking for a premium-quality cooler at an affordable price.

Check Price On Amazon

Check Price at Cabela's

Coleman – Steel-Belted Cooler

Coleman - Steel-Belted CoolerCooler Type: Hard-sided | Weight: 18.38 lbs | Capacity (L): 51.1 | Materials: Steel

The Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler is a budget-friendly option that doesn't compromise on quality. It offers ample storage space at an affordable price point.

Similar to the Tundra 65, this cooler comes in a variety of colors, including green, red, turquoise, stainless steel, and matte black.

With a total capacity of 54 quarts, this cooler can accommodate up to 85 cans. The insulation is designed to keep your ice intact for up to four days in temperatures of up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The construction of this Coleman cooler is solid and reliable. Its stainless steel hardware and ergonomic handle contribute to its durability and ease of use.

If you're in search of an affordable cooler that still delivers on performance, this unit is an excellent choice.


  • Wide variety of colors to choose from
  • More affordable than a YETI cooler, with comparable performance
  • Generous 54-quart capacity
  • Keeps ice intact for up to four days
  • Stainless steel construction is durable and easy to clean
  • Ergonomic handle for comfortable transportation
  • Not as durable as the Tundra 65
Best for: Campers looking for an affordable and reliable cooler for their next trip.

Check Price On Amazon

Check Price at Cabela's

GoSun Chill 40L Electric No Ice Cooler

Cooler Type: Electric, Hard-sided | Weight: 28 lbs | Capacity (L): 40 | Materials: R-10, Closed cell polyurethane foam

The GoSun Chill 40L Cooler is a revolutionary option for campers who want to eliminate the need for ice. It offers a sustainable and eco-friendly solution for keeping your food cold throughout your trip.

Powered by its included PowerBank 144 battery pack, AC, or DC power, this cooler eliminates the hassle of dealing with melting ice.

By adding GoSun's solar charging SolarTable, you can ensure continuous power to the cooler even in remote areas.


  • No need for ice to keep your food cold
  • Multiple power options: battery, AC, or DC
  • Comes with the PowerBank 144, eliminating the need for an additional power bank
  • Competitive price considering the inclusion of power banks and premium features
  • Slightly less capacity compared to other coolers of similar size
Best for: Those looking for a sustainable and eco-friendly solution to keep food cold during any length of trip.

Buy Direct from GoSun

Check Price at REI

YETI Roadie 24

Cooler Type: Hard-sided | Weight: 13.1 lbs | Capacity (L): 22.7 | Materials: Rotomolded polyethylene

The YETI Roadie 24 Cooler is a compact yet spacious option for campers who prioritize portability without sacrificing performance.

With a capacity of 24 quarts, this cooler can hold up to 33 cans, 26 lbs of ice, or 8 wine bottles.

Constructed with YETI's renowned rotomolded polyethylene, this cooler is incredibly durable and built to withstand any outdoor adventure.

The No Sweat Design keeps the exterior dry and free from condensation, allowing for a hassle-free handling experience.

The PermaFrost insulation ensures exceptional ice retention, keeping your contents cold for up to 5 days in optimal conditions.

Despite my initial concerns about the handle's ruggedness, it has proven to be sturdy and reliable over time.

The cooler's height of 17.5 inches allows it to double as a seat, further adding to its versatility.


  • Compact design with a generous capacity
  • Exceptional durability and construction
  • No Sweat Design keeps the exterior dry
  • Superior ice retention for up to 5 days
  • Made with high-quality rotomolded polyethylene
  • Ergonomic handle for easy transportation
  • Relatively lighter weight may affect overall durability compared to larger models
Best for: Campers seeking a portable and durable cooler with ample storage capacity.

Buy Direct from YETI

Types Of Coolers

There are four categories of camping coolers: soft coolers, hard coolers, electric coolers, and styrofoam coolers.

Here is a detailed explanation of each type:

Soft Coolers

IceMule Pro Cooler Large 23L

Soft coolers are essentially insulated, stiff bags. They are lighter in weight and can be carried over the shoulder, by hand, or even as a backpack. Due to their smaller size and shorter temperature retention, soft coolers are suitable for day hikes, picnics, and fishing trips. These coolers typically utilize ice packs or small ice blocks to keep the contents cold.

Hard Coolers

YETI Roadie 24 CoolerYETI Roadie 24 Cooler (Hard Cooler)

Hard shell coolers, made of plastic or fiberglass and steel, are the most commonly used camping coolers. While fiberglass and steel coolers offer more durability, they are also heavier than plastic ones. Hard coolers, compared to soft coolers, have better insulation capabilities but are heavier and less convenient to carry. They can keep food cold for approximately four to five days, provided they are kept in the shade and not frequently opened.

Electric Coolers

BougeRV Electric CoolerBougeRV (Electric Cooler)

Electric coolers function as portable mini-fridges. They require a power source such as a car's DC outlet, a portable power station, or a generator. Electric coolers are more expensive than their hard and soft counterparts but can keep food chilled for an unlimited duration as long as there is power available. Since they do not rely on ice, they have maximum capacity for storage. It is highly recommended to invest in an electric cooler if you have access to a power source, as it eliminates the need to worry about ice melting and food spoiling during camping trips.

Styrofoam Coolers

Styrofoam coolers are the most basic type of coolers. They utilize styrofoam for insulation, making them lightweight and easily portable. However, they do not have the same temperature retention capabilities as other types of coolers. Styrofoam coolers are suitable for single-day trips, making them ideal for family barbecues, birthday parties, and sporting events.

What size cooler do you need?

Coolers come in various sizes, and selecting the appropriate size depends on several factors:

  • Duration of the trip
  • Available storage space in your vehicle
  • Compatibility with specific vehicles, such as boats, kayaks, or RVs

Coolers are typically categorized into the following sizes:

  • Mini/Personal Coolers (4 to 10 quart)
  • Small Portable Sized Coolers (10 to 20 quart)
  • Medium Sized Coolers (20 to 30 quart)
  • Large Coolers (30 to 55 quart)
  • X-Large “Party” Coolers (55 to 88 quart)
  • Giant Coolers (100 quart)

In my personal experience, having two medium-sized coolers, such as the YETI Roadie 24 and the BougeRV 30 QT, is sufficient for 2-3 day camping trips for my family of four. One cooler is used for food storage, while the other is dedicated to beverages.

Segmenting food and beverages into separate coolers allows easy access to drinks without disrupting perishable items like meat and cheese. The size of the cooler needed will depend on the size of your group and the amount of food required. For larger groups, a bigger cooler, such as the YETI Tundra, with its extra-large capacity, may be preferred due to its durability and quality.

Choosing The Right Cooler For Camping Trips

people grabbing cold drinks from a cooler

Selecting the right cooler for your camping trip involves considering various factors beyond simply the type of cooler. Insulation, seal quality, drain functionality, and the handle design are all important aspects to evaluate.


When choosing a cooler, it is crucial to assess its insulation capabilities. Different coolers utilize various types of insulation materials. Although the material is a minor factor, the thickness of the foam insulation plays a vital role in performance. Thicker foam insulation generally offers better cooling efficiency.


An effective seal is essential for a cooler's performance. Insulation becomes futile if warm air can easily enter the cooler. Look for coolers with reliable seals, particularly ones with well-made lid gaskets. To check the quality of the seal, you can attach an air compressor to the drain of the cooler and observe for any escaping air. However, in most cases, a visual inspection should suffice.


The drain of a cooler is another important feature to consider. As ice melts and generates water inside the cooler, a reliable drain is necessary to remove excess liquid. Opt for a cooler with a secure interior drain that won't detach easily upon impact. Make sure the drain is sturdy and watertight to prevent any leakage that could potentially damage your vehicle.


Although often overlooked, the handle of a cooler is a practical aspect to evaluate. A comfortable and durable handle is crucial when transporting a cooler filled with ice, food, and beverages. Ensure the handle is ergonomic and capable of withstanding the weight of the filled cooler. Additionally, look for a handle that can be conveniently folded or stored flush when the cooler is not in use.

Cooler Tips & Tricks (How To Get The Best Use Out Of Your Cooler)

Cooler Tips & Tricks (How To Get The Best Use Out Of Your Cooler)

To maximize the efficiency of your cooler, there are several tips and tricks you can employ:

- Pre-chill your cooler a few hours before packing it with food and drinks. Fill it with ice to lower its internal temperature.

- Freeze steaks, poultry, and water bottles before packing them in the cooler. This helps lower the overall temperature inside the cooler.

- Opt for larger ice blocks instead of standard ice cubes as they melt at a slower rate.

- Remember to always seal your cooler tightly after using it to prevent hot air from entering. This reduces the risk of food spoilage and potential food poisoning.

- Properly draining excess water from the cooler helps conserve the remaining ice. Choose a cooler with an interior drain that is securely attached.

Utilizing these tips and tricks will ensure that your cooler performs at its best, keeping your food and drinks fresh for an extended period.

REI Co-op Cool Haul 18 Soft Cooler

Road trips often come with limited space, making it challenging to accommodate a bulky cooler in your camping setup. The REI Co-op Cool Haul 18 Soft Cooler is a highly convenient option that can be easily stored when not in use. It also doubles as a tote when the cooling box is removed. This lightweight and compact cooler can be comfortably carried and conveniently accessed from behind the seat. It even features practical additions like an integrated bottle opener and a front pocket for small items. While this cooler may not be suitable for extended periods of freezing items, it is ideal for keeping drinks and snacks chilled during short road trips.

  • Weight: 3 lbs
  • Dimensions: 11 x 13 x 15 inches
  • Capacity: 23 quarts (22 liters)


  • Very lightweight
  • Front pocket for storage
  • Integrated bottle opener
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Easy to clean with removable cooling box


  • Cooling performance not comparable to hard shell models
  • Occasional leaks reported by users, despite being leak-proof

Grey Engel cooler

Engel HD30 32 Quart Heavy-Duty Soft-Sided Cooler Bag

For maximum storage and convenience, the Engel HD30 32 Quart heavy-duty soft-sided cooler bag is an excellent choice. Despite being pricier, this cooler offers exceptional performance. It features vacuum valve technology, providing an additional insulation layer that keeps contents cold for extended periods. Leave it unopened, and it will maintain cold temperatures for over three days. The bag is entirely waterproof, preventing any liquid from seeping in or out. It includes a waterproof front pocket to secure your phone and an integrated bottle opener. With comfortable carrying straps, this cooler is perfect for an enjoyable road trip. The Engel HD30 also comes in a 22-quart option, ideal for solo travelers or shorter weekend getaways.

  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 9.5 x 17 inches
  • Capacity: 32 quarts (30 liters)


  • Vacuum technology for enhanced insulation
  • Waterproof design
  • Integrated bottle opener
  • Convenient waterproof front pocket
  • Comfortable straps and handles


  • Zipper can be difficult to open
  • Relatively expensive

Hydroflask green day cooler

Hydro Flask 26 L Day Escape Soft Cooler

Hydro Flask Day Escape coolers are stylish and highly portable soft shell coolers. The 26 L size is designed with a tapered shape, making it easy to fit behind most front seats while providing ample space for cans, snacks, and ice. It promises up to 36 hours of cold retention through specialized cold-retaining technology, delivering excellent performance. Although the zipper can be tough to open with one hand, the Yeti Roadie 24 serves as a stationary cooler within the car during road trips, allowing for easy one-handed access while driving.

  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
  • Dimensions: 23.9 x 10.4 x 14.97 inches
  • Capacity: 26 liters


  • Waterproof zipper and seams
  • Lightweight
  • Collapsible for easy storage when empty
  • Removable shoulder and cross-body straps
  • Compatible with Hydro Flask dry storage pouch through gear attachment loops


  • Zipper can be difficult to open
  • The top does not hold its shape

Yeti Roadie white cooler

Yeti Roadie 24

The Yeti Roadie 24 is an outstanding small cooler for road trips, especially for individuals seeking convenience and reliability. This version of the Yeti Roadie can accommodate a full bottle of wine in an upright position, along with cans, snacks, and ice. The compact design fits behind car seats, although the exact fit depends on the type of vehicle and the position of the front seat. The Roadie 24 features a soft handle for comfortable carrying and does not occupy extra space. Its innovative one-handed access allows for easy retrieval of items from the cooler, making it ideal for front-seat access. While it may not match the cooling performance of larger rotomolded coolers, the Roadie 24 proves its worth through its compact size and functional design.

  • Weight: 13 lbs
  • Dimensions: 17 x 16 x 14 inches
  • Capacity: 24 quarts (23 liters)


  • One-handed access
  • Compact size fits behind car seats
  • Comfortable soft handle for carrying
  • Available in various colors


  • Small size better suited for short trips or individuals
  • Cooling performance not as strong as larger models
  • Relatively expensive considering its size

Igloo Cooler

Igloo Heavy-Duty 25 Qt BMX

The Igloo Heavy-Duty 25 Qt BMX is an excellent budget-friendly alternative for those looking for a reliable cooler at a lower price point. Despite its small size, this cooler is built with heavy-duty materials, including stainless steel components, oversized screws, and skid corners for insulation protection. However, the handle is often considered a weak point and prone to breaking over time. Fortunately, Igloo provides a warranty, ensuring you can get a replacement if any issues arise. This cooler is an excellent choice for road trips due to its compact size and unbeatable value.

  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 15.6 inches
  • Capacity: 25 quarts (23 liters)


  • More affordable price
  • Heavy-duty construction for durability
  • Comes with a warranty


  • No easy drain plug
  • Handle screws may be prone to failure
  • Bulky handle design

White and blue Dometic cooler

Dometic CFX3 35 Powered Cooler

The Dometic CFX3 35 Powered Cooler is an ideal companion for road trips, especially if you need an electric cooler for two people that consumes minimal power and operates quietly when plugged in. This cooler is exceptionally durable, constructed with high-quality materials that justify its higher price point. It also has the capability to deep freeze items to temperatures as low as -7°F, but it requires a connection to an electricity source. Thankfully, the dynamic battery protection feature prevents your car battery from draining, giving you peace of mind if you forget to unplug the cooler. Additionally, the Dometic CFX3 comes equipped with a convenient app that allows you to monitor its temperature and performance using your smartphone.

  • Weight: 37 lbs
  • Dimensions: 27.3 x 16 x 15.7 inches
  • Capacity: 38 quarts (36 liters)
  • 3-stage dynamic battery protection to prevent car battery drainage
  • Ability to deep freeze items
  • Ability to connect to your smartphone via an app
  • Considered one of the quieter electric coolers in the market

White Alpicool cooler with coke inside

Camping Cooler Buying Advice

group campingTo narrow down your options and find the best camping cooler, consider the following factors:

  • Type of Camping – The type of camping you plan on doing, whether it's family camping, solo camping, walk-in camping, car camping, kayak camping, or others, will determine the kind of cooler you need.
  • Number of Users – Larger groups may require a larger cooler or multiple smaller coolers. For smaller groups, a large cooler might be unnecessary and less efficient at keeping food cold.
  • Trip Duration – Longer trips without opportunities to restock on ice call for a larger cooler compared to shorter trips or camping road trips where ice can be purchased every few days.
  • Expected Weather – In extremely hot weather, even the best-insulated coolers can struggle. Models with thicker insulation and freezer-style gaskets tend to perform better under these conditions.
  • Type of Food – The type of camping meals you plan on preparing matters. Items like meat, dairy products, and eggs require more cooling power than fruits, vegetables, and beverages.
  • Wildlife Encounters – If camping in bear country, a bear-resistant cooler is essential. However, it's crucial to follow all camping food storage best practices. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee maintains a list of bear-resistant products, including camping coolers.
Use your answers to these questions to assess and prioritize your needs while considering the most important features when choosing a camping cooler.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Cooler

9 Best Coolers for Camping in 2023 1Recommendations for the best cooler for camping can be challenging because the cooler's performance depends on how it is used. For example, even the most well-insulated cooler can struggle in extremely hot weather, especially when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. Other factors, such as the ratio of ice to food and beverages, can also affect ice life.

However, there are several key strategies to maximize the performance of any camping cooler and prolong ice life:

  • Pre-Chill Cooler – A cold cooler is more effective than a warm one. Cool your cooler by placing an extra bag of ice inside the night before your trip.
  • Pre-Chill Contents – If possible, do your shopping in advance. This allows you to refrigerate items before placing them in the pre-chilled cooler.
  • Pre-Chill Ice – When using store-bought ice, it is beneficial to freeze the ice bags in your home freezer to make them colder than freezing temperature. Colder ice lasts longer.
  • Twice the Ice – A good rule of thumb is to use twice the amount of ice compared to the contents of the cooler. Filling up the cooler with ice improves its performance.
  • Mix Blocks and Cubes – Combining cubed ice and block ice provides both immediate cooling power and extended ice life. Using both types together is advantageous.
  • Don't Empty Water – As ice melts, it turns into cold water. Do not empty the water until the end of your trip, as it helps to keep the cooler colder for longer.
  • Shade is Your Friend – If possible, store your cooler in a shady spot away from direct sunlight. This alone can significantly increase ice life.
  • Limit Access – Open the cooler as infrequently and for as little time as possible. Opening the cooler allows warmer air to replace the colder air inside, reducing its efficiency.
By following these tips for ice retention and pairing them with a high-quality camping cooler, you can maximize ice life. However, even with a budget cooler, proper packing, the right amount of ice, and careful use can still yield satisfactory results.

In conclusion, finding the best car camping cooler can greatly enhance your outdoor experience. Whether you prefer a hard cooler with wheels for easy transportation or an electric cooler that eliminates the need for ice, there are plenty of options to suit your needs. From budget-friendly choices to extra-large coolers for longer trips, there is a cooler for every camper. So, don't settle for warm drinks or a leaky cooler - invest in a high-quality camping cooler and enjoy the convenience and satisfaction it brings. Happy camping!

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