Chill Out: The 10 Best Coolers

Oct 1, 2016

Category: Gear

Now that Memorial Day has come, we can officially say that summer has begun. For those who live in the parts of the country that experience long and serious winters, now is the time of year to get out and enjoy the outdoors in all the ways you wish you could have while you were cooked up with the heater on full blast. Now, for those of you who live in the west and southwest, it’s time to pretend like it hasn’t been this nice all year anyway.

Wherever you are in the country or the world, one thing is an absolute constant for this time of year; folks spending as much time outside as they can. Hiking, camping, barbecues, ball games, tailgating, and days on the beach are all great ways to take advantage of the long days and warm weather, and every one of them is made that much better with a solid cooler where you can keep your favorite foods and drinks nice and cool. With such a wide variety of coolers on the market, however, it can be tough to get an idea of which one you should get your hands on. Some are great for short trips, others better for keeping a bunch of beers and meat in for a long day at a campsite or while running a backyard grill session. Whatever your need, we have a good solution here with our list of 10 best coolers.

Stanley Cooler

Stanley Adventure Cooler

It is hard to get more classic than one of these coolers from Stanley. Made with a BPA free plastic and coming equipped with an intuitive flip top handle for easy transportation, you can use these for keeping a cool lunch on a worksite, or for keeping a few cold ones while out fishing or camping. For keeping mugs secure and close by, these coolers come with an adjustable tie down portion on the lid while the lid can clips down securely to ensure no leaks or spills. With more 2.5 times more foam than your average cooler on the market, these will keep contents cold up to 36% longer so you won’t have to worry about food going bad when you need it most. To top it all off, this guy comes with a lifetime warranty so you know you can rely on it to preform.

Purchase: $50

Polar Bear Coolers

Polar Bear 24-Pack Soft Cooler

Usually what comes to mind when someone says ‘cooler’ is something much more rigid, maybe a foam or plastic, but new insulated materials have made cold packs just as capable as your largest and sturdiest cooler. Doubt that at all? Just take a look at what this one has to offer. Large enough to fit a 24 pack of soda or beer along with ice, this thing will not leak or sweat thanks to a rugged design meant to withstand just about anything. Thanks to a 1000 denier cordura nylon outer and high density open cell foam interior, this pack is both malleable and sturdy, making it easy to store after long trips through the woods. To make grabbing a brew easy, this soft cooler comes with an ultra wide zippered mouth so you won’t have to freeze your hand off fishing around in it. Who could want anything more?

Purchase: $80

Coleman Steel Cooler

Coleman Steel Cooler

If you have a serious party coming up or just a bunch of friends headed to the beach, you can be the hero with this 85 can cooler from the old school outdoor essentials supplier. Coleman started back in the early 20th century by making great gas lamps, and began expanded their line of products when the owner realized that soldiers were fighting in Europe without adequate field stoves. Now, over 100 years later the company is still making great products right here in the U.S. like this 54 quart cooler. With a rustproof and leak-proof air-tight construction, you can be sure that all your suds and grub will be kept chilly as soon as you click that solid steel latch closed. For when you are done, all you have to do is pop open the no-tilt drainage channel to clear out all that melted ice water. With an iconic look and four different colors, it is hard to go wrong with this piece tailgating essential.

Purchase: $92

Bison Cooler 12 can

Bison 12 Can Softpack

Hard shelled coolers are great, but you’ll never see a shoulder strap on one. Want to know why? Just feel an edge on that thing and see if you’d like that rubbing against your hip or side. This 12 can pack from Bison not only keep things chilly, but is supremely easy to lug around thanks to a tough strap and a soft body that is much more forgiving than other coolers on the market. With an exterior constructed from a 1000 denier vinyl shell that is rated to carry up to 375 pounds of pull, you won’t have to worry about tears or rips while out on the trail. More than just a tough exterior, this pack has been tested to keep ice for a full 24 hours in constant 120 degree heat so you can count on it even on the hottest days this summer. To top it all off, Bison’s cooler comes with MOLLE webbing for keeping tools close, and a UV protected shell so the colors won’t fade.

Purchase: $100

Igloo Trailmate

Igloo Trailmate Trailmate Cooler

What good is a cooler if you can’t take it where you want to go? What good is a beach if you can’t spend the whole day there? Igloo’s extremely popular Trailmate makes rolling a days worth of food and drinks out to your own spot in the sand a cinch thanks to its large wheels, easy pull handle, and rails. Insulated enough to keep ice for up to four days, and large enough to carry 112 cans of beer you won’t have to worry about capacity or temperature while you hang out. A butler’s tray makes for a great foot prep station, while the built in bottle opener, tie down loops for hauling towels, and umbrella stand serve as perfect top off to a great cooler.

Purchase: $250

Orca Cooler

Orca Extra Heavy Duty Cooler

Some of the best products in the world are also the most straight forward. For instance, these coolers from the highly regarded brand Orca don’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, just an extremely well insulated cooler, a cargo net attachment for keeping a bottle opener or knife, and some rope handles for easy transportation with a friend. Even in the warmest temperatures, this cooler can retain ice for up to four days making it idea for bringing along on fishing trips, tailgating outings, or on those long haul car trips. Proudly made right here in the U.S., these 20 quart coolers are large enough to carry up to 24 12 ounce cans with ice, so when you are cracking your beer back at camp after a long day of hiking you can enjoy it that much more.

Purchase: $270

Yeti Hopper 20

Yeti Hopper 20

Built for the land, water, and everything in-between, these coolers just dare you to try and call them soft. Built with materials sourced from survival suits and high performance white water rafts, they can go anywhere you’re willing to take them while keeping the contents of the bag ice cold thanks to an inch of its proprietary Coldcell insulation. Even if you are looking to go into some heavily wooded areas, you can bring this guy along with you thanks to the puncture resistant Dryhide shell that wraps around pack. To keep unwanted stuff from growing in your wet and cool bag, the team behind the Hopper lined the inside with a mildew-proof anti-microbial liner. Usually insulation and size are where most folks stop paying attention, but Yeti upped the bar by including a Hydrolok zipper – the type used in waders – for more leak-proof insulation. Whether you are looking to carry a lunch out into the desert, or a few beers out onto a boat, this ultra portable and ultra tough pack is up for the job.

Purchase: $300


Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler

If you are looking for serious ice retention and cooling even on the hottest days and throughout long trips whether in the wilderness or in a car – this has to be a cooler to consider. Made by Pelican, a 40 year veteran of the cooler industry, this 65 quart elite cooler is large enough to carry all the beer a guy could want, and keep it ice cold for up to ten days thanks to its two inch thick polyurethane insulation. On top of the great temperature regulation, this thing is literally certified to be bear-proof by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Yeah, you read that right, the Polyethylene body and ‘Press and Pull’ latches on this thing are tough enough to withstand extended periods with real grizzly bears without breaking open. If that isn’t enough for you, the cooler also comes with a dual handle system for moving, and non-skid feet for protecting your floors when you are putting it away after your trip out into the woods.

Purchase: $375

Kysek Cooler

50L Kysek Cooler

Certain products just speak for themselves, and this cooler from Kysek is no exception. With an insane 4 inches of polyurethane insulation around the entire cooler, this will keep a huge amount of food and drink cool for a long period of time, even while the sun beats down on it. Perfect for taking out fishing and throwing your catches in for gutting while back on dry land, this container comes equipped with HeavyHauler wheels for easy transportation, and no skid bottoms so you won’t be leaving scuff marks wherever you go. For cutting up your meals or catch, the top of this thing can double as a cutting board, while the corners serve as both Bear Claw bottle openers and steel lock plates for keeping your grub away from prying hands. Once you’re done for the day, the cooler can drain quickly and easily thanks to a large 2 inch, internally tethered drain plug.

Purchase: $369

Orion Coolers

Orion 65 Cooler

We usually talk about coolers in terms of hanging out by a fire or on a beach drinking beers, and why not? That is definitely the way we most often use these things anyway. When you get to a certain level of cooler though, what you can do with them really expands. This Orion for instance, is just as good at keeping your recently killed game fresh on long drive back from the woods as it is at keeping your kids sandwiches and sodas cool at the little league game during the summer ( you might want to clean them in between, though). Not only is this cooler that versatile, but it is well insulated enough, and at 65 quarts most definitely large enough, to store all of your refrigerated food during days long power outages. With a polyethylene exterior, padlockable latches, and a meaty two inch insulation – you can really count on this cooler no matter what you are going to end up needing it for.

Purchase: $375

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