The Best Camping Coolers of 2024

Maximize your long-term provision storage with one of these top coolers
A stack of the best camp coolers on a dock.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More

If you’re heading off grid for a few days or a few weeks, a quality camping cooler is an essential addition to your gear list. Whereas a styrofoam imposter will leave your food soaked in a lukewarm puddle in short order, forcing a return to town or even the end of your trip, a quality cooler will keep your perishables properly chilled for days on end. To help you find the best camping coolers for any camping adventure, I called in the latest models from the top manufacturers to see which would come out on top in a series of tests. 

How I Tested the Best Camping Coolers

The basis for my test of the top camp coolers was ice retention. To ensure as level a playing field as possible, I put one bag of store-bought ice into each of the seven coolers at the same time and then kept them in the same room. Whenever I checked the ice in one cooler to see if it had melted, I checked it in all of them. Next, I checked how watertight each camping cooler was, including at the drainage port and around the lid, by filling the cooler with water and then tipping it in a variety of directions. I also screwed and unscrewed the drainage ports multiple times to get a feel for how waterproof (or lack thereof) each was. (Unloading your car only to find a puddle underneath your tent or sleeping bags is not an experience anyone wants.) Finally, I looked at how difficult each latching system was to operate. 

Camping CoolersPriceWarrantyCapacityWeightLatching MechanismTime to Melt a Bag of Ice
Brumate Brutank 35-Quart Rolling Cooler$3255 years35 quart31 lbsGood77 hours
Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme Hard Cooler with Wheels$651 year50 quart13 lbsNone40 hours
Dometic Patrol$2805 years55 quart33 lbsGood48 hours
Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore Icebox 45-QT$2001 year45 quart30 lbsExcellent73 hours
ORCA$360Lifetime58 quart36 lbsPoor58 hours
RovR RollR 45$3501 year45 quart37 lbsPoor69 hours
RovR RollR 60$4001 year60 quart50 lbsFair71 hours
RTIC Hard Cooler$2505 years65 quart36 lbsGood55 hours
RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler$2003 years52 quart21 lbsGreat55 hours
Stanley Adventure Cold for Days$1653 years30 quart14 lbsGood64 hours
Yeti Wheeled Roadie$4005 years48 quart28 lbsGreat62 hours

I also considered the accessories provided with each cooler, how easy it was to transport or move, and the overall cost. Recommendations also took into account the size of each cooler, how easy they were to open and close, and how easy each cooler would be to fit inside of a typical car camping (not overlanding or RV) vehicle.

Read Next: Best Ice Packs for Coolers

A second test with coolers from my test of the best coolers with wheels occurred a year after the initial test. The Yeti Wheeled Roadie was included in both tests as the control and the ice-bag melt test was weighted accordingly.

The Best Camping Coolers: Reviews & Recommendations

Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore Icebox 45-QT

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 30 pounds
  • Capacity: 45 quarts
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Second longest ice retention in my test
  • Excellent haul handles
  • Easy to use latches that open on both sides
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • Limited warranty

While the wheels of the Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore Icebox 45-QT are not as impressive as others that I looked at, as a camping cooler it excels. Despite being half the price of other better-known name brands, it held a single bag of ice for over three days. It had excellent haul handles, which made it fairly easy to carry down stairs or haul it up into my SUV. The latching mechanisms were easy to use and, unusually, were on both sides of the cooler so you could open it from either direction. This is really a great camping cooler. 

Author drags Magellan by handle.
In the end, the non-telescoping haul handle on the Magellan Outdoors Pro was too short, which made it surprisingly difficult to haul across everything from muddy fields to sandy beaches. 

Laura Lancaster

My only complaint really is that the wheels and haul handle were not comfortable enough or rugged enough to use on challenging surfaces. If you know that you’ll only be pulling this cooler a short distance across a parking lot or other paved surface, it’ll work just fine. But if you’re looking for a camping cooler that can handle being dragged across more rugged terrain then check out my best upgrade and best wheeled picks.

Best Upgrade: YETI Wheeled Roadie

Best Features

YETI Wheeled Roadie

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 25.8 pounds
  • Capacity: 48 quarts (20-quart and 60-quart capacity also available)
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Good ice retention
  • Easy to move around
  • Excellent latching mechanism and drainage ports

Cons

  • Expensive

One of the biggest drags of any high quality cooler is having to move it around. No matter how advanced your technique (lift from the legs, not from the back), it’s still awkward and uncomfortable. The YETI Wheeled Roadie at first glance looks more like a roller-bag than a typical cooler, and fortunately for you, it’s maneuverability is much more akin to the former. A telescopic handle pops up from the top of the cooler and lifts up to an impressive 3.5 feet — high enough for even the tallest campers to grab comfortably. Shorter users have the option to adjust the height down to a more comfortable level. One upgrade here is that the wheels on the YETI Roadie are (thankfully) significantly larger and more durable than those on your suitcase. While checking ice retention, leaks and functionality, this was one of the few coolers that this 5-foot 5-inch tester didn’t dread having to maneuver around. 

This cooler held a single bag of ice for over two days (and would have obviously lasted a lot longer if I had filled it to the brim with ice). Also notable was its simple snap-latch design, which was significantly easier to use than the rubber latches I tested on the other coolers. The drainage port is also waterproof and requires very little torque to operate. 

The YETI comes with a basket that sits up top (for your butter, cheese, and other goods that are prone to waterlogging), but can accommodate a second one as well as a divider—useful for storing food at different temperatures. YETI also has a helpful guide on how to pack your ice chest for peak efficiency. If your number one priority in your camping cooler is ease of use, then this is the choice for you.  

Best Value: Stanley Adventure Cold for Days

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 13.6 pounds
  • Capacity: 30 quarts 
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Streamlined design works well for smaller cars

Cons

  • May not have enough storage space for longer adventures

For campers (like me) that have a sedan as their primary vehicle, a three-foot long cooler capable of storing enough of the best camping meals for a family of six for a week is frankly overkill. A family of four would find the Stanley Adventure Cold for Days is the perfect size for a weekend trip with plenty of room to stash snacks for the kids and adult beverages for the parents. Two people would have plenty of room for a longer getaway. 

This cooler held its own during the ice retention test, impressive as the Stanley Adventure for Days Cooler is one of the few in my test that isn’t rotomolded (considered by many to be an industry standard in the best camping coolers). In addition, it had several features that I appreciated, including a fairly simple click latching system (no difficulty in managing the rubber latches here). I also liked that the drainage port cap was connected to the rest of the cooler, making it harder for forgetful campers (i.e., me) to lose it over the long haul. 

But perhaps the biggest draw of this camping cooler is its significantly lower price point, a third the cost of the highest-priced cooler in my test. If you’re just getting started camping with your friends or significant other, then this is an excellent choice that will last you for years. 

Best Wheeled: RovR RollR

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 49.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 60 quarts (claimed), 52 (measured); 45-quart and 80-quart capacity also available
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Best-in-class ice retention
  • Wheels make it easily portable
  • Excellent drainage
  • IGBC-certified (bear-proof locks sold separately) 

Cons

  • Expensive compared to others in our test
  • Poor interior volume to exterior volume ratio; interior volume does not match manufacturer-provided measurements of the interior

The RovR RollR was easily the flashiest cooler in my original test of the best camping coolers, with bulky 9-inch wheels, a roller handle, and a convenient pop-top storage bin. But don’t let all the extras fool you: This cooler performed exceptionally in my ice retention test. It took almost two days for a single bag of ice to melt. When I rested the 45-quart version for my test of the best wheeled coolers, its wheels were so obviously superior to the likes of Yeti or RTIC that there was really no contest. I also liked that the sitting pad on top of the cooler can also be converted to a stash bin for all the extras you want to transport to your destination. For campers heading farther afield, there’s even an attachment (sold separately) to attach the cooler to your bike.

One unique feature of this cooler is the interior design: The wheels create a step-down shelf on the far side. At first glance, you might think the odd dimensions would make it difficult to pack food efficiently, but its utility becomes clear as the ice starts to melt: the meltwater drips down into the pocket, where it’s easily siphoned off using the drainage port. This helps to keep your food from getting soggy in a pool of melted ice water. A handy vertical basket (provided with the cooler) can be used to store food on the drainage end of the cooler without immersing your perishables, and helps to create a barrier to stop the rest of your food from sliding over. Though unusual, it’s a well-thought-out design. 

The biggest drawback to the RovR RollR is the price. It was one of the most expensive options at the time of testing, which was especially noticeable since its volume when measured out was less than the claimed 60 quarts. Some users may also find the rubber latches somewhat difficult to manage — it took some elbow grease for me to pull them down and up while checking the ice during testing. The drainage similarly caused some issues at first, with ice water leaking out onto the floor, but once I cranked it down the leakage stopped — my takeaway is that straight out of the box the drainage port simply isn’t closed all the way. 

All in all, if you’re willing to spend extra to upgrade your camping experience, this is an excellent choice. 

Best Lightweight: RTIC 52-QT Ultra-Light Cooler 

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Capacity: 52 quarts
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Very lightweight for its size and performance

Cons

  • Not as good ice retention as other things I looked at

Test enough rotomolded coolers and one thing becomes clear: These suckers are heavy. So I was pleasantly surprised when I first lifted the RTIC Ultralight. Despite a fairly large capacity for a camping cooler, it was surprisingly light. 

The Rtic has mesh on the underside of the lid.
A mesh pouch under the lid was a nice touch on the Rtic 52-QT Ultralight.

Laura Lancaster

While the Rtic Ultralight Cooler was easier to pull across my wheeled-cooler testing circuit than the Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore (which also has a haul handle) it, unfortunately, did not do as well in the ice retention test. If you need to keep your items cool for a long period of time, this could mean that you need more ice than with other coolers.

Brumate Brutank 35-Quart Rolling Cooler

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 31 pounds
  • Capacity: 35 quarts
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Best ice retention in my test
  • Built-in drink tank and tap

Cons

  • Low interior volume to weight ratio
  • Telescoping handle can be pretty sticky

The best camping coolers should have great ice retention, and that is where the Brumate Brutank shines. It took 77 hours for a 7-pound bag of ice to fully melt, which was the best result in my tests to date. One caveat to this is that, despite being one of the heavier coolers I looked at, it had less interior volume than anything else. 

The inside of the Brutank is the least spacious.
The Brumate Brutank had excellent ice retention, but limited interior space.

Laura Lancaster

For the first half of testing, I was convinced that the Brumate Brutank had only a half size telescoping handle. As hard as I tried to pull on it, it just wouldn’t pull out further than a foot and a half or so. This made it surprisingly awkward to lug. But when I went to try and force the cooler up over a curb, the rest of the telescoping handle popped out. Now it’s easy to pack away and pull out again, but it’s worth noting that this model has an exceptionally sticky handle to start.

RTIC Hard Cooler

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 36 pounds
  • Capacity: 65 quarts (45-quart capacity also available)
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Large volume works well for larger groups
  • Best interior volume to exterior volume in my test

Cons

  • No tray insert
  • Wide size makes it difficult for one person to move

If all you’re looking for is a giant box to keep your provisions chilled — no bells, whistles, or wheels — then the RTIC Hard Cooler is a great choice. It’s a classic rectangular design, which maximizes interior space and uses a simple pair of rubber T-latches with rope and foam handles to haul to your preferred camping location. The longer length of this camping cooler (almost 3 feet), means that this one will be difficult to haul by yourself, so plan to ask your partner or a friend for help. Like most hard coolers in this category, the RTIC 65 QT Hard Cooler is rotomolded.

While I wish this cooler came with a bin to store the softer provisions you want to keep out of cooler water, RTIC does sell cooler baskets separately on their website (at the time of this review, however, the 65 quart size was not available). They also have dividers (useful if you are bringing food on a trip that you’d rather not have exposed directly to the ice) and a seat cushion for those that like to use their cooler as an impromptu bench. 

While the RTIC Hard Cooler performed in the bottom half of testing, it still held ice for an impressive amount of time, long enough for all but the gnarliest camping trips in the hottest climates. I was also impressed by its interior volume to exterior volume ratio, the highest in my test, which helps to make up for some of the loss of insulation. If getting a large cooler at a great price is your top priority, then this cooler is an excellent value.

ORCA Cooler

Best Water Resistance

ORCA Cooler

See It

Key Features

  • Capacity: 58 quarts; 20-quart, 26-quart, 40-quart, and 140-quart capacity also available
  • Weight: 36 pounds
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Pros

  • Great warranty
  • Extremely water-resistant
  • Widest variety of sizes available of any cooler in my test
  • IGBC-certified (locks sold separately) 

Cons

  • Difficult to open

When I first unboxed the ORCA Hard Cooler, I thought there was something wrong with it. No matter how hard I pried at the lid after unhooking the two rubber latches, I couldn’t get it open. Was I going to have to leave this camping cooler out of my test due to lack of upper body strength? As a last ditch effort, I unscrewed the drainage port: there was an immediate hiss of air, followed by the popping sound of the cooler walls releasing. To say that the amount of pressure this cooler is capable of holding is impressive is an understatement.  

Even when filled with room temperature water, this cooler is quite water resistant. During my test for waterproofness, the sides and the back held the water completely in, and only a small dribble escaped the front. However, when the cooler is filled with ice (and hasn’t been opened in a while), the cooler becomes entirely waterproof. The pressure inside the cooler creates a seal similar (if, fortunately, less intense) to when I first unboxed the cooler.

The only downside to this extremely effective water-resistance is that the latches are surprisingly difficult to use, requiring more than some effort to secure. If you’re camping with children (who might not have the strength or patience to operate this cooler correctly), then another choice might be better. However, if you plan to use your cooler on a boat in addition to camping, then this one is a no-brainer, in addition to these coolers for fishing

Dometic Patrol

Best Budget

Dometic Patrol

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 33 pounds
  • Capacity: 55 quarts (20-quart, 35-quart, and 105-quart capacity also available)
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Great value
  • Easy to use latch

Cons

  • No wheels
  • Less impressive ice retention than other coolers I’ve looked at

The Dometic Patrol shared many of the qualities of the RTIC Hard Cooler: a simple design paired with effective ice retention. But while the exterior-to-interior size ratio was not quite as impressive with this cooler as it was with the RTIC, I was impressed at what it accomplished at its price point, almost half of the most expensive coolers in my test. Given Dometic’s earned reputation for producing high-end and high-tech overlanding gear, the affordability and simplicity of this quality camping cooler was a pleasant surprise. 

The basket provided by the Dometic was also one of the largest in my test, capable of holding all your sensitive perishables and then some above the inevitable melting slurry. If you’re looking to upgrade your cooler without spending your entire camping budget on one piece of gear then this is a smart pick. 

Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme Hard Cooler with Wheels

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Capacity: 50 quarts
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Good capacity for its size
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Worst ice retention in my test
  • Wheels are less robust than other options
  • Difficult to open lid

While the RTIC 52-Quart was impressively lightweight for a rotomolded cooler, nothing in my test was as light weight, or less expensive, than the Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme. I could easily pick up this cooler with wheels with one hand. Because it was so light, it handled better than I expected in my portability circuit. If you fully loaded this cooler up, however, you might start to see problems due to the fact that it only has half wheels. 

The Coleman Xtreme only has half wheels.
A look at the wheels on the Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme

Laura Lancaster

This was the only cooler in my test that didn’t have a latching mechanism but it was still one of the most difficult to open, even when there wasn’t a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the cooler. It was also notable for having the worst ice retention performance in my test, lasting less than two days. But, if you are only planning to use your camping cooler for the occasional picnic or beach outing, what this cooler does offer at this price point makes it absolutely worth it. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Camping Coolers

Size of the Best Camping Coolers

During testing, very little correlation was noted between the size of a cooler and the amount of time it took for a bag of ice to melt: at this level of performance, it was all about the quality of the cooler itself. So if space is not an issue for you, choose the largest cooler that you think you’ll need. If space can be an issue when you travel, it may make sense to pair a larger camping cooler with one of the best small coolers on the market, to maximize their versatility. 

IGBC Certification for the Best Camping Coolers

If you plan to leave your cooler outside your car in either black bear or grizzly bear country, it’s essential that you choose a cooler that has been certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC). The committee works in coordination with the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center to test bear canisters, coolers, and trash cans using live bears to certify those that are bear resistant. If you plan to leave an IGBC-certified cooler outdoors, either overnight or while you are off on a day hike, it’s essential that you lock the cooler — the rubber latches are not designed to hold off a bear alone. 

Latching System of the Best Camping Coolers

I was surprised at the amount of variation in the latching systems among the coolers that I tested. Some, like the OtterBox Venture, were a breeze to use, while others needed a surprising amount of muscle to get into place. A difficult-to-use latching mechanism is unlikely to make a difference to any unwanted diners (like bears) breaking into your food stash (you’ll need a set of bear locks for that). Plus, I couldn’t see any correlation between a trickier latching system and better ice retention. Instead, the best camping coolers have an easy-to-use latching system that ensures you consistently and properly close your cooler. That results in optimal chilling.

FAQs

Q: How much do camping coolers cost?

While the styrofoam coolers from the store only cost a couple dollars, a high-end camping cooler that will last for years (and cause a heck of a lot less damage to the environment) typically ranges from $200 to $500. 

Q: How do I know what size cooler I need?

For a quality camping cooler, including those tested in this roundup, it’s better to go too big than too small. A larger size will still hold even a single bag of ice for a long time — you don’t need to pack it in to maximize the amount of time it will last (unless you are planning to store perishables for, say, a two week stretch). The main limitation will be the size of your vehicle. In those instances, I recommend going with the best cooler for small cars: the Stanley Adventure Cold for Days. 

Q: How long do camping coolers stay cold?

There are three factors that affect how long a camping cooler will stay cold: the amount of ice (or cooler packs) stored inside of it, the quality of its insulation, and the ambient temperature outside of the cooler. Any of the coolers in this test will keep your perishables cold for a long weekend, while the RovR RollR and the YETI Wheeled Roadie have both the quart capacity and insulation bonafides to keep your goods chilled for a week or more given sufficient ice.

Final Thoughts on the Best Camping Coolers

After testing the best camping coolers from the most respected brands, I’m confident that the RovR RollR is the best choice for adventurous families. The Stanley Adventure Cold for Days is an excellent low-cost pick that will serve couples well, and the RTIC cooler provides excellent value for anyone who wants to maximize their cooler space. When choosing a cooler, consider what size you are likely to need, the importance of long-term ice retention, and the relative importance of a top-notch cooler in your overall camping budget. 

Share
Laura Lancaster Avatar

Laura Lancaster

Staff Writer

Laura Lancaster is Outdoor Life's gear staff writer where she focuses on in-depth testing of backpacking and camping gear, with a particular interest in lightweight and ultralight gear. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter.

WHY YOU CAN TRUST OUTDOOR LIFE