Top Coolers for Endurance: Find the Best Cooler for Long Trips
Are you planning a long trip and worried about keeping your drinks and food cool and fresh along the way? Look no further! We have researched and compiled a list of the absolute best coolers for long trips. Whether you're heading to the beach, going camping, or hitting the road, these coolers will ensure your supplies stay chilled and ready to enjoy. From the REI Co-op Cool Haul 18 Soft Cooler with its innovative magnetic closure system, to the Alpicool K25 Portable Freezer, a 12 Volt Car Refrigerator, we've got you covered. So, read on and discover the ultimate coolers to make your long trip a breeze!
REI Co-op Cool Haul 18 Soft Cooler
When going on road trips, space is limited and a bulky cooler may not fit in your camping setup. The REI Co-op Cool Haul 18 Soft Cooler is a great solution as it can be easily stored away when not needed, and it can also be used as a tote by removing the cooling box inside. It is lightweight and compact, making it comfortable to carry and easily accessible when tucked away behind the seat. It comes with convenient features like an integrated bottle opener and a front pocket for keys or phone. While it may not be suitable for keeping frozen items for an extended period, it is perfect for keeping drinks and snacks chilled on shorter road trips.
- Weight: 3 lbs
- Dimensions: 11 x 13 x 15 inches
- Capacity: 23 quarts (22 liters)
- Very lightweight
- Front pocket for small items
- Comes with a bottle opener
- Made from recycled materials
- Removable insulation box for easy cleaning
- Cooling performance not as good as hard shell models
- Occasional leaks reported by users, despite being leak-proof
A Splurge-Worthy Tote Bag Cooler With A Magnetic Closure System
For those willing to splurge, the YETI Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler is one of the best travel coolers available. Although it is more expensive than other options, it is worth it due to its ultra-durable, puncture-resistant shell that keeps items cold for multiple days while remaining lightweight and flexible.
Unlike many other high-end soft-shell coolers, the YETI Hopper M30 features a magnetic closure system instead of a zipper. This sets it apart, as high-end coolers often have thick, rubbery zippers that can be difficult to close. The closure system ensures a secure seal, even when the cooler is tipped on its side. Additionally, the cooler has quick-release buckles for secure fastening and a UV-resistant, fully waterproof exterior. I recently purchased this cooler for summer and it has exceeded my expectations.
According to one reviewer, "Amazing for road trips. Fits behind the back seat perfectly. Really well made. The shoulder strap makes it really easy to carry when filled up."
Dimensions: 25 by 12 by 17.5 inches | Weight: 7 pounds | Capacity: 20 cans
Engel HD30 32 Quart Heavy-Duty Soft-Sided Cooler Bag
For maximum storage and convenience, consider the Engel HD30 32 Quart heavy-duty soft-sided cooler bag. While it may be costly, its performance speaks for itself. It features vacuum valve technology that provides extra insulation for longer-lasting coldness. When left unopened, it can keep drinks cold for over three days. The bag is completely waterproof, preventing any leaks. It also has a waterproof front pocket for safe storage of your phone, as well as an integrated bottle opener. With a comfortable carrying strap, this cooler is perfect for a fun road trip. An alternative option is the 22 Qt variant, which is ideal for solo travelers or shorter weekend trips.
- Weight: 7 lbs
- Dimensions: 20.5 x 9.5 x 17 inches
- Capacity: 32 quarts (30 liters)
- Vacuum technology
- Integrated bottle opener
- Waterproof front pocket
- Comfortable straps and handles
- Zipper can be difficult to open
Igloo Heavy-Duty 25 Qt BMX
If you're looking for a budget-friendly alternative, the Igloo Heavy-Duty 25 Qt BMX is an excellent choice. It is a compact cooler built with heavy-duty materials, including stainless steel elements, oversize screws, and skid corners for insulation protection. However, one potential drawback is that the handle can be a weak point and may break over time. Fortunately, Igloo provides a warranty for this cooler, ensuring replacement in case of any issues. Overall, this cooler is perfect for road trips, offering great value for its price.
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 15.6 inches
- Capacity: 25 quarts (23 liters)
- More affordable
- Heavy-duty and durable
- Comes with a warranty
- No easy drain plug
- Screws on the handle may fail
- Bulky handle
Dometic CFX3 35 Powered Cooler
For those seeking an electric cooler for two people that requires minimal power and operates quietly, the Dometic CFX3 35 Powered Cooler is the perfect companion for road trips. It is exceptionally durable with high-quality materials, justifying its higher price. It can reach temperatures as low as -7°F, but it needs to be connected to an electricity source. Thankfully, the dynamic battery protection prevents your car battery from being drained, eliminating any worries about unplugging the cooler. The Dometic CFX3 even includes an app that allows you to monitor the cooler's temperature and performance from your phone.
- Weight: 37 lbs
- Dimensions: 27.3 x 16 x 15.7 inches
- Capacity: 38 quarts (36 liters)
- 3-stage dynamic battery protection to avoid draining the car battery
- Ability to deep-freeze
- Connects to a phone via an app
- One of the quieter electric coolers available
Yeti Roadie 24
The Yeti Roadie 24 is an excellent choice for a small cooler on a road trip, particularly for solo travelers seeking convenience and reliability. This version of the Yeti Roadie can accommodate a whole bottle of wine in an upright position, along with plenty of space for cans, snacks, and ice. It is designed to fit behind the seat of a car (depending on the car and seat positioning) and features a soft handle, ensuring it doesn't take up additional space.
To fit it behind the passenger seat, I need to push the front passenger seat all the way forward in my Hyundai Santa Fe, which makes it inconvenient for another person to ride in the front passenger seat.
Every aspect of this cooler is well-designed, including the ability to open it with one hand. This feature is especially useful when sitting in the front seat and needing to retrieve something from the cooler, which is located behind you. The cooler's only downside is that, due to its smaller size, it can't match the cooling performance of larger rotomolded coolers.
- 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 easy carrying
- Available in fun colors
- Small size, suitable for short trips or one person
- Cooling performance inferior to larger models
- Expensive considering its size
Hydro Flask 26 L Day Escape Soft Cooler
The Hydro Flask Day Escape coolers are stylish and portable, featuring removable carry straps. The shape of the 26 L cooler tapers up, allowing it to easily fit behind most front seats. It can be conveniently packed down when empty. It boasts specialized cold-retaining technology, ensuring 36 hours of coldness. This cooler is perfect for beach or lake days when you need to transport it to and from the car. However, opening the zipper with one hand can be challenging, so I prefer using the Yeti Roadie 24 as my stationary cooler inside the car during road trips, allowing me to reach in with one hand for a cold drink while driving.
- Weight: 2.9 lbs
- Dimensions: 23.9 x 10.4 x 14.97 inches
- Capacity: 26 liters
- Waterproof zipper and seams
- Collapsible for easy storage
- Removable shoulder and cross-body straps
- Compatible with Hydro Flask dry storage pouch
- Challenging zipper operation with one hand
- The top doesn't hold its shape
Alpicool K25 Portable Freezer, 12 Volt Car Refrigerator
For a more affordable electric travel cooler option, consider the Alpicool K25 Portable Freezer. This cooler features battery protection and consumes minimal energy when closed in a cool place, keeping your items cold even when unplugged. It can reach temperatures as low as -4°F and is compatible with most car camping solar system setups. Another advantage is its ability to function as a power bank for charging your phone or other devices while on the road.
- Weight: 27.8 lbs
- Dimensions: 13.2 x 13.8 x 23.03 inches
- Capacity: 26 quarts (25 liters)
- 1-year warranty
- Can charge a phone
- Protects car battery from draining
- No batteries required
- The touch panel can be glitchy
- Requires a 12V outlet that remains on even when the ignition is off.
I hope this post helps you choose the right cooler for your needs! If you have a favorite cooler that is not on the list, feel free to share it in the comments below, and I'll be happy to add it.
During road trips, I often bring multiple coolers with me because there are so many great options for different uses. I try to avoid eating out, especially fast food, and having a cooler is a convenient way to keep fresh food chilled. Additionally, I usually get free ice at gas stations by asking them to fill up a gallon zip lock bag (sometimes only halfway), and the clerks often don't charge me. Occasionally, I'll purchase a large drink to show my appreciation, but either way, it's better than having to buy a whole 5lb bag of ice that I won't completely use.
When it comes to keeping your food and drinks chilled during long trips, having the best cooler is essential. Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from that cater to different needs and budgets. Whether you're looking for a splurge-worthy tote bag cooler like the REI Co-op Cool Haul 18 with its convenient magnetic closure system, or a heavy-duty soft-sided cooler like the Engel HD30 32 Quart, there's a cooler out there for everyone. If durability is your priority, the Igloo Heavy-Duty 25 Qt BMX is built to withstand any adventure. For those who want a powered cooler, the Dometic CFX3 35 is a top choice, while the Yeti Roadie 24 offers excellent insulation in a compact size. Looking for a soft cooler with a large capacity? The Hydro Flask 26 L Day Escape is perfect for those longer trips. And if you need a portable freezer for your car, the Alpicool K25 is just what you're looking for. So, no matter where your journey takes you, make sure you have the best cooler to keep your snacks and drinks cool and refreshing. Happy travels!
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