Best Coolers Review: A Guide for Buyers

By Camille Waugh


Coolers are a staple of American life for outdoor fun and entertainment. Growing up you probably had the standard, rectangular box cooler that lasted for many years while also holding many fond memories of all the outdoor fun. It was most likely made of a hard metal and very heavy!

Your family toted it around on long road trips, to the beach, out on fishing trips, and that yearly (or bi-yearly) camping trip. Coolers remain very nostalgic to this day.

Thankfully, coolers have come a long way since you were a youngster. What was once just a thinly insulated box, now has become feature-rich with many options. There are now many styles, designs, sizes, and uses for that are available because of new manufacturing technology.

Prices ranges from very inexpensive, to well over $1,000 for a top-of-the line cooler from the top cooler brands. So given that there are so many choices in coolers available on the market, we’ve created this buying guide to help you pick the best cooler for you.

As you are reading this guide, think about the main purposes that you need or want an ice chest for. Here you will find all types of coolers and their features – as well as the top brands of the best coolers on the market. We also feature a full listing of the top rated coolers to help you quickly pick the cooler that is right for you.

See our top coolers comparison table below.

10 Best Coolers Comparison Table:

Image Model Hard/Soft Capacity Price Rating
Yeti Tundra Series Coolers Hard 20 – 65 quarts $$$ 4.5
Pelican-Products-ProGear-Elite Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler Hard 35 quarts $$$ 5
ENGEL-USA-DeepBlue-Series ENGEL USA DeepBlue Series High Performance Cooler Hard 25 quarts $$$ 4.5
Coleman-100-Quart-Xtreme-5 Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler Hard 100 quarts $$ 4.5
Driftsun-40-Quart-Insulated-Heavy-Duty-Ice-Chest-Cooler Driftsun 40 Quart Insulated Heavy Duty Ice Chest Cooler Hard 40 quarts $$$ 5
YETI-Tank-Cooler Yeti Tank 85 Cooler Hard 85 quarts $$$ 5
Coleman-Steel-Cooler Coleman Steel Cooler Hard 54 quarts $$ 4.5
Igloo-Maxcold-Ultra-Roller-Cooler Igloo Maxcold Ultra Roller Cooler Hard 50 quarts $$ 4.5
Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Cooler Soft 24 cans $$ 4.5
Igloos-Iceless-Thermoelectric-Cooler Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler Hard 28 quarts $$ 4.5

Different Types of Coolers

There are many styles and types of coolers available to pick from. Ice chests come in many different sizes, range in price, can be either hard or soft-sided, keeps cold for short or long durations, and may have wheels for easy transportation. Perhaps a cooler for the beach is what you need. There are even bag shaped coolers that are very functional.

Knowing what features you want will help to narrow down the best cooler that will work for you. These features include: size, durability, and price.

Cooler Sizes

Let me start by stating, there are many different sizes of coolers available! That being said, this is probably the most important factor to consider for your selection. Think about the ways you plan to use a cooler. Will you simply keep it in your backyard so that you won’t have to take it anywhere? How about it bringing with you to a tailgate party, the beach or camping?

If you do plan on traveling with it, especially for camping, how long will you need it to keep your food and drinks cold? Maybe you just need it for solo activities and you really want to make sure your food and drinks stay nice and chilled. Also consider where you can store our new cooler if you decide to buy a large cooler. Can your garage handle it?best-coolers

Let’s start with the larger size ice coolers. Most folks want to take a large one with them on camping trips because they have the capacity for multi-day use for multiple people. There are lots of great camping coolers in a wide range of sizes.

For a great weekend trip – look for a cooler between 70 and 100 quarts. This size will hold lots of ice, drinks and food for several people. Not only does a cooler of this size work for camping, but you’ll see these at tail-gate parties, in the backyard, or on a fishing boat. If you need a large cooler – consider a cooler with wheels.

Need a cooler for a day-long hike or a weekend away with someone special? In these situations, coolers ranging in size from 9 to 20 quarts are a great choice. A 9-quart cooler can carry up to 12 cans of beverage and some ice along with it.

Selecting a 20-quart cooler will give you basically twice the capacity of the 9-quart, while also being taller to allow for tall bottles.

If you feel you need a little more space, you’ll also find coolers that come in 28-quart size. These coolers can hold drinks and food for a group of four people, or 36 cans of your favorite cold one.

Of course you’ll find even smaller coolers that are portable coolers and those that are great for packing your lunch into for work or school. There are so many sizes, it would be difficult to list them here because there are no standards for sizing. Know that your typical lunch cooler should at least be able to carry a sandwich-sized entrée, drink, and something extra.


Next, let’s consider the durability you require. The material for the exterior of the cooler will determine if it can handle bumps and drops. If the cooler has a metal exterior, it’s likely to get dinged over time and may impact the interior insulation.

Consider if that matters to you. A plastic exterior will likely resist dents and dings by absorbing bumps and knocks. The interior of plastic coolers will most likely be able to avoid being damaged.

Also, look to see the type of insulation built into the cooler and how long the manufacturer estimates it can keep ice and your food cold. Do you need your ice to stay ice just for a few for hours or over a span of days?


Considering the features above, the price will reflect a combination of the size and durability built into the cooler. You can spend very little on a large size cooler, under $100, if your budget is tight or your just don’t want to spend that much – there are great coolers for a limited budget. Or, you can spend over $1,200 for a top of the line Yeti Tundra 350 cooler! That’s an investment that you’ll carefully want to weigh for a cooler.

You’ll find there is a very wide range of prices for coolers. Again, think about what you need your cooler mostly for to help you determine what your maximum cost is.

Ice Chest Reviews

Yeti Tundra Series Coolers

Yeti-coolerYeti is one of the top manufacturers of coolers on the market. The Yeti Tundra Series Cooler line is one of the top rate coolers that you can buy.

This cooler is extremely rugged and very durable with an exterior made of polyethylene material. The Tundra Series line comes in sizes from small to large and are great for camping.

The construction is roto-molded into one piece. Its lid and hinges are specially designed for an extra-tight seal to lock in the cold and keep the heat out. It comes with footings that are non-slip to keep it put on the ground next to you. The side handles have textured gripping, and can easily be carried by one or two people.

Its interior design is unlike any other with its Permafrost Insulation that is pressure-injected. So whatever you keep in this top of the line cooler, it will stay cold longer than with most other coolers. The drainage system is gasketed to allow for easy drainage while also being leak-proof. Once you own a Yeti Tundra Series cooler – you’ll sure to be a fan for life.


Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler

Pelican-Products-ProGear-EliteHow would you like your cooler to have up to 10 days of ice retention? If that appeals to you, the Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler may be the one for you. This is not your ordinary cooler. The interior is built with a 2-inch thick polyurethane layer for superior insulation.

Its capacity size is 35 quarts and is very deep. The interior also has a sloped drain with a tethered threaded plug.

The exterior is extremely durable and has hinged and molded-in side handles for easy carrying. The handles are built to allow a strong grip.

It also has molded-in tie-downs so that the ice chest can be safely secured while you are transporting it around.

The feet of the cooler are non-marking and non-skid helping to keep your Pelican in place.


ENGEL USA DeepBlue Series High Performance Coolers

ENGEL-USA-DeepBlue-SeriesAnother popular one of the best cooler on the market is the ENGEL USA DeepBlue Series High Performance Coolers. The interior is made with 2-inches of polyurethane insulation and will hold ice between 8 and 10 days, which makes it highest in its class for ice retention.

The ranges in size for this series of ice chest is 25 to 80 quarts.

You can also select from three different color choices: tan body with a camouflage lid, tan, or white. This cooler’s exterior is very durable with seamless rotationally-molded construction.

It also labeled as a bear resistant container – as certified by IGBC. Perfect for hunting trips!


Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler

Coleman-100-Quart-Xtreme-5How about a cooler, with wheels that can hold over six cases of beverages (160 cans)? The Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler has this and more. You can store ice for up to 5 days with its Thermozone insulation built into both the lid and the casing. It is rustproof with a channel drain that is made for easy draining and leak-resistant.

The lid of the cooler has built-in beverage holders and hinges. It can be easily carried with the two-way handles on the sides of the chest. The two large wheels, along with the tow handle, makes the cooler easy to pull to where ever you need to go.

Given the large size, duration of ice retention, and the wheels for easy towing – this cooler by Coleman is excellent choice.


Driftsun 40 Quart Insulated Heavy Duty Ice Chest Cooler

Driftsun-40-Quart-Insulated-Heavy-Duty-Ice-Chest-CoolerThis product by Driftsun is especially built to be an ultimate ice chest. It has a 40 quart capacity, giving you a great amount of interior space to hold your food, beverages, and ice in. This cooler has 2 inches of Permafrost insulation to keep your supplies chilled the way you like.

The outdoor heat is locked out and the interior cold locked in by the ColdLock Gasket to provide an extra tight seal.

The exterior material has a unique design to stop condensation from occurring on the outside and keeping it dry. The lid has four built-in cup holders so you can place your drink in as you relax or barbeque. Also, the side handles are made with military-grade nylon ropes for a strong grip and durability.

Built to beat the high temps in the summer, you’ll find Driftsun Insulated Heavy Duty Ice Chest Cooler is a champion of coolers.


Other Brands of Coolers

Most of the brands in the cooler reviews above included Yeti, Coleman, Pelican, and ENGEL USA. Each of these brands are well respected and make quality, long-lasting coolers. Top rates coolers are also available from other brands such as: Bison Coolers, Esky, and Icey-Tek.

Bison Coolers

Bison is another well-known and highly regarded cooler manufacturer. They build premium ice chest coolers that they claim are the best 5 day coolers available. They use dense plastic walls for long lasting ice retention.

You can get a Bison cooler in one of the many sizes available: 25 quarts through 150 quarts. The coolers also feature one-piece construction that is seamless so you don’t have to worry about your cooler breaking part. Bison also makes soft-sided coolers in two sizes to hold 12 or 24 cans of your favorite beverages.


Esky is part of the Coleman Company. Esky coolers are designed to handle any rough environment and have innovative features built in. Features include antimicrobial protection, and integrated cutting board, dual drains, and rubber latches that are catch-free.

Esky coolers are very durable with thick insulation and the lids have a multiple seal technology for days of ice retention. The Esky Series coolers are available in white or khaki and in three sizes: 55, 85, and 135 quarts.


Icey-Tek offers a largest selection of sizes and colors of high-performance, innovative coolers available on the market today, while also being affordable. Their coolers are made for superior ice retention by using polyurethane insulation that is injected under high pressure within the walls and lid of the coolers.

They claim that you will get up to 12 days of cooling from a single block of ice. The commercial-grade coolers come with an amazon 2 year warranty!


Deciding on a new cooler can be tough! There is such a wide selection of top-quality and feature rich products and companies to pick from. You can at least help narrow down your choices by reading reviews from product owners.

Remember to start your selection by figuring out how you’ll most likely use a cooler, and what feature are must-haves. From there read customer reviews – and you’ll find the best one to satisfy you.

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