Have you ever wondered what the best cooler for camping is? After all, you don’t want to take just any cooler on the road with you. When you decide to go camping, you need one that’s going to be capable of standing up to the elements, keeping things cool, and not falling apart the first time you try to use it.
Like most products, all coolers are definitely not made equally, so it’s important to do your homework before you decide to spend your money on one. That’s precisely what this article is going to address. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll know which products you should be focusing on and you’ll be able to choose the one that works best for your needs, based on genuine information and not some type of advertisement that merely pits one product against another. That way, you’ll be able to make a decision based on useful information. In other words, it gives you the opportunity to make an educated choice about the cooler you want to take camping with you instead of just guessing and hoping that you choose the right one.
Below is a list of ten different coolers as well as the features of each one. After you finish reading through the list, there is some additional information that you will find useful, regardless of the specific cooler that you choose.
1) Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded 45 Quart Cooler-
The thing that sets this product apart more than anything else is the fact that it’s molded from a single piece of material, making it far more durable then other coolers that don’t feature this type construction. It’s also designed with heavy duty hinges and latches, meaning that you won’t have to worry about something breaking the first few times you use it. Those latches are also designed to make it safe for you to put the cooler in your vehicle without causing a problem. The cooler also has urethane insulation that’s designed to keep ice in the cooler for five or more days, even when the temperatures start to skyrocket. One of the best things about it is that it has four rubberized feet. That’s right, no more chasing your cooler from one end of the pickup bed to the other. This one stays put wherever you decide to place it.
2) Pelican Products Progear Elite Wheeled Cooler-
This cooler seems to have it all, including giant wheels on the back and a heavy duty bar on the front that allows you to pull it over rough terrain, even when fully loaded. It’s got double urethane insulation, and is capable of keeping ice inside for ten days, sometimes even longer. The gasket that seals the lid is also the same exact type of gasket that is used on large freezers, so you know that you’re not going to have to worry about any type of issues with the seal. If you think those things are enough to make you want to buy this cooler, wait until you see the rest of the features. It’s got a built-in bottle opener as well as a fish scale on the lid. That’s right, when you’re out there catching fish you can lay them in the specially designated area on the lid and weigh them right then and there. It doesn’t really get any easier than that. By the way, it’s also capable of an 80 quart capacity.
3) Engel Coolers High Performance ENG65 Roto-Molded Cooler-
Like many of the other coolers on this list, this one is molded from a single piece of material and surrounded in urethane insulation. It has an approximately 40 quart capacity and it’s capable of holding ice inside for up to ten days. It too has a freezer grade gasket along with rubberized feet, hinges and latches. It’s been tested with bears and proven to be virtually indestructible, making it the perfect companion for you to take along on camping trips. It gives you the chance to put anything you need to keep cold inside and rest assured that when it’s properly latched, you don’t have to worry about animals getting into it and creating a problem. It’s definitely made to stand the test of time, and as such, it comes complete with a full 10 year warranty. If anything happens to it during that time, the company will replace it at no extra charge to the consumer.
4) Coleman 70 Quart Xtreme 5-Day Heavy-Duty Cooler-
These days, it’s easy to get wrapped up in some of the newer models of coolers that are on the market, and they are very good so it’s easy to understand why people love them so much. That being said, Coleman has been around for years and years and they definitely know how to do the job right. This particular cooler features a whopping 70 quart capacity, meaning that it can hold about 100 cans at a time. It’s also designed to keep ice inside for up to five days, even when temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s designed to be resistant to leaks and it even has a 250 pound capacity that allows you to sit on the lid without causing damage to the cooler. In other words, it’s good to take on a camping trip because its rugged, it gets the job done, you can use it as an additional seat, and when you’re finished, it’s easy to clean out.
5) Grizzly 75 Quart Cooler-
This cooler isn’t quite as large as some of the others on this list, but it does come close. It’s also capable of handling a lot of abuse on one camping trip after another without showing any signs of wear. It has a high quality gasket that seals the lid and for the most part, you can keep ice in the cooler or five or more days, keeping more than 80 cans of beverages cold at one time. It’s designed like many of the more modern coolers that you see for sale, complete with the non skid rubberized feet, as well as the latch and hinges that are designed not to damage anything they come in contact with. It also has a double latch on the lid, giving you that added sense of security when you want to make sure that whatever you put inside stays there until you’re ready to take it out.
6) Engel Coolers High Performance ENG35 Roto-Molded Cooler-
This is the second cooler that you seen on this list from Engel, and that alone should tell you that the company knows what it’s doing when it comes to making high-quality coolers. It too has a double latching system, which comes complete with a molded cooler and urethane insulation. Like virtually every cooler on this list, it has a gasket that seals the lid tight, the same type of gasket that you find in freezers. It’s capable of carrying approximately 100 cans and it keeps ice inside for ten days. It’s been rated as keeping items cold as long as any cooler on the market and it’s also been tested to be safe when used around bears. When you’re using this cooler, you basically get everything you could ever hope for. Of course, it also features the rubberized feet so you’re not constantly worrying about it sliding off a slick surface or bouncing around in your car every time you make a turn on your way to the campsite.
7) RTIC 45 Cooler-
This cooler has a 45 quart capacity and is capable of keeping ice inside for ten days. It also has a few features that are just a little bit different from any of the other coolers that you’ve already seen on this list. It is certified as being safe to use around bears and it has a double latching system, but those latches come in the form of T-handles. Many people agree that these types of handles are easier to use, especially when you’ve been out in the field camping for several days at a time. In addition, it has rubberized feet so it stays put but it also has an extra feature that none of the other coolers discussed thus far have had. It’s designed with galvanized tie-downs so that you can secure it anywhere you want it. True, the rubberized feet are a great option, but it’s always better to make sure that your cooler isn’t going anywhere unless you want it to. This one allows you to do exactly that.
8) Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler-
This cooler looks quite a bit different from everything else that’s been listed and it performs very well in its own rite. It does have a 50 quart capacity, complete with a freezer grade gasket and a full two inches of urethane insulation on all sides, as well as in the lid. It’s also got handles on each side that are molded into it, making it easier to carry, right along with a double latching system that also has a secondary lock for each latch. This effectively makes sure that the lid will never find its way open accidentally. This cooler also has tie-downs molded into the main body to make sure it stays put, along with the stainless steel bottle opener. Rubberized feet that keep it from sliding and four cup holders built into the lid that are self-draining round out its features.
9) YETI Tundra 65 Quart Cooler-
This cooler not only has a 65 quart capacity, but a separate section inside that allows you to hold things you would prefer to keep cold but dry. It’s equally good at holding cans of beverages or the fish you caught yesterday. It’s manufactured to have a double reinforced locking system on the lid, a gasket that’s the same quality as those used on commercial freezers, and a full three inches of urethane insulation on all sides of the cooler, as well as the top and bottom. It can keep anything you want cold for as long as most people care to go camping, all the way up to ten days. Even when you’re in summer temperatures close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you don’t have to worry about anything going bad as long as it’s in your cooler. Like most of the other coolers on this list, it’s designed to stay where you put it, thanks to the rubberized feet. It also features the same material on the latches.
10) Outdoor Recreational Company of America Cooler with Lid and Bottom-
This cooler offers an approximate 55 quart capacity, along with two inches of urethane insulation and a specially designed lid and bottom that each have additional insulation. There is a dual heavy-duty gasket system that keeps anything stored in there cool for five to ten days, depending on the temperature outside. It’s definitely rugged enough to stand up to practically anything you could throw at it, thanks in large part to its rugged construction. Like almost all of the other items on this list, if features rubberized latches and feet.
How to Choose Your Cooler
Obviously, there are certain things that you need to look at when it comes to choosing a cooler that will work well for your needs. There are actually a number of things that you want to consider, including things like durability, ice retention, size and insulation. It’s also important to think about how easy it is to transport the cooler from place to place, which has a direct impact on its portability. All of these things will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
How long do you plan on camping in the first place? If you’re only going on a camping trip that’s going to last for three or four days, you may not need one of the coolers that is capable of handling a 10-day trip. On the other hand, if you live in one of the southern states that routinely sees temperatures well in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, then it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and get one of the coolers that’s rated for ten days even if you don’t plan on being out there that long.
Easy to Move
This is where you have to think about the number of people that you have with you on that camping trip. Obviously, a cooler that has a 75 quart capacity is going to be extremely heavy. Therefore, you might want to choose one of the smaller options if you only have one other person with you. That being said, any cooler that has handles molded into the body makes it a lot easier to carry, even when there are only two people to get the job done. By the same token, coolers that have wheels can make all the difference in the world when you’re trying to move it by yourself.
Of course, you don’t want to purchase a cooler that’s going to fall apart on you the first time you use it. These coolers are a far cry from the old plastic ones that used to crack every time somebody set one down too hard. Most of the coolers on this list are rated for a 10 year warranty. They are all designed to take a lot of abuse and come back for more.
Storage Capacity and External Size
Don’t let yourself be fooled when you see a cooler that looks really big on the outside because they’re not always that big on the inside. Look to see what the storage capacity of each cooler is. Do you need one that’s capable of handling 80 quarts or will one half that size work for you? Keep in mind, they’re always larger on the outside because of all the insulation so it’s important to decide how much capacity you need as opposed to merely looking at the outside of the cooler.
Again, it all comes back to how easy it is to move the cooler. Virtually all of these coolers have rubberized feet on the bottom, making it easier to ensure that they don’t move around too much unless you’re trying to move them. Many of them have a method of tying them down so that you make sure they don’t go anywhere. All of that comes into play with ease of movement when you’re looking at portability.
Cooler Insulation Explained
If you remember the old plastic coolers that didn’t really have any insulation, you’ll also remember that they didn’t keep anything cold for more than an hour or two at best. These coolers are much different. They have special urethane insulation which basically allows them to function as a portable freezer. That’s why there are two or three inches of the insulating material that encompass the entire cooler, in conjunction with the commercial grade gasket on the lid. It’s basically like carrying a freezer around with you for however many days you’re on your camping trip.
How Do You Pack a Cooler for Camping?
The first thing you need to do is figure out how much stuff you want to carry in your cooler. If it’s all beverages, you need to put some ice in there first and then start adding in your drinks. Make sure that you have a little ice on top, but don’t make the mistake of putting all of your drinks on the bottom and then adding so much ice that you can’t get to them. If your cooler has a dry goods basket included, you’ll add that stuff in last. That way you can put those items in the basket and place them above the rest of the contents.
What Size Cooler Do You Need?
Again, it will all depend on a number of factors. First and foremost, how many people do you have in your party and how many coolers is everyone bringing? Next, think about how long you plan on being out there. Make sure that you take a cooler that’s large enough to accommodate you for the number of days you plan on camping, plus a reserve that’s got enough for an extra two or three days. That way, just in case you end up staying longer, you’re not scrambling to get additional supplies. Typically, most coolers that have a 65 to 70 quart capacity can handle about 80 to 100 cans, so you can use that information to figure out what you need from there.
To Wheel or Not to Wheel?
Sometimes it’s easy to choose the coolers that have wheels on them because you think that’s going to be easier to deal with. In some cases, it is. A lot of it comes down to personal preference and the rest is depending on the type of terrain that you plan on spending your camping trip in. Obviously, if you’re camping in rocky or mountainous terrain, those wheels aren’t going to do anything but get in your way. In a situation like that, it’s better to use a cooler that doesn’t have wheels because you’re not dealing with the extra weight or space that’s required to have them. On the other hand, if you’re going on a camping trip at the local lake, those wheels can come in very handy, indeed.
Tips for Keeping Your Food Cool
What should you do if you want to keep your food cool? This is obviously something that you are concerned about or you wouldn’t have a cooler in the first place. First and foremost, it’s important to choose the best possible cooler for the job. If you’re trying to get by cheap by purchasing something that is incapable of getting the job done, you run the risk of having all of the food that you have in that cooler ruined. If you think it’s bad when you have to drink sodas that seem like they’ve come directly out of the oven, it’s even worse when your food is ruined. Aside from that, make sure that you include enough ice to get the job done in the first place, which will be directly proportionate to the size of the cooler.
Typically, it’s a good idea to include anywhere between three and five bags of ice, depending on the size of the cooler and the number of items you have in there. Aside from that, it’s important to make sure that you keep the cooler closed and latched whenever you’re not actually using it. When you are using it, open the lid, get what you need, and then close it and latch it completely. This will help keep everything in there cold. It’s also a good idea to keep the cooler itself in a shady spot as opposed to placing it in direct sunlight if at all possible.
For the most part, any questions that you might be able to think of have been covered here and most of them have been covered in more than one section. However, there is one looming question that hasn’t yet been discussed, and that is whether or not you’re actually getting a good deal for your money when you purchase one of the more expensive coolers. If that’s what you’re wondering, it all goes back to what you plan on using the cooler for and how frequently you plan to use it.
If you go camping on a regular basis, that cooler that seems expensive when you buy it can easily pay for itself again and again by keeping your food and drinks cold and safe to consume.
Best Cooler Brands
Chances are, you’ve already heard of the best brands available. They include YETI, Pelican, Engel, and RTIC. If you’re looking to decide which of the brands out of these four is the absolute best, you can ask four different people and you’ll get four different opinions. Some people won’t use anything but YETI and other people feel the same way about each of the brands discussed herein. Again, a lot of it comes down to a matter of personal preference.
It also depends on how much punishment you end up putting that cooler through. Suffice it to say, any of the four aforementioned brands are capable of handling more than their fair share of punishment and they do an excellent job of keeping the food and beverages cool as well.
It’s always a good idea to make sure that you’re getting the best value for your money. Choose a cooler that works well for your needs, not for someone else’s. If you go camping a lot, spend your time out there with large groups of people, or plan on camping for several days at a time, you will need a larger cooler capable of keeping food cold for ten days or more.