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A camping cooler is a must-have piece of gear if you’re looking to keep your food and drink cold on your next outdoor adventure. 

But, finding the right cooler isn’t as easy as it might seem. With so many great options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.

So, we’ve reviewed 5 of the best camping coolers on the market today so you can spend more time enjoying your time outside.

The Yeti Hopper Flip is a soft cooler with a revolutionary leak-proof design. It’s built using Yeti’s DryHide shell technology, which combines a high-density waterproof fabric with an FDA-approved food-grade liner.

In between its outer shell and inner liner, Yeti packed this cooler full of their proprietary ColdCell rubber foam insulation. This insulation is much more effective than the open cell foam found in most soft coolers.

Additionally, this cooler features a Hydrolok zipper. These zippers provide a waterproof, leakproof, and ultra-tough closure system to prevent melted ice from seeping out.

The Hopper Flip comes in 3 different sizes so you can find the one that’s right for your needs. It’s also compatible with Yeti’s ice pack system that eliminates the need to buy ice during a trip.

pros
  • Leak-proof design with waterproof zipper
  • FDA-approved food-grade liner
  • Three different size options available
  • High-quality insulation to keep ice cold
cons
  • Heavy for a soft cooler
  • Expensive

Yeti’s flagship cooler, the Tundra 45, is a fan-favorite amongst campers, thanks to its impressive insulating abilities. Featuring the company’s “Fatwall” design, this cooler contains 2 inches (5.1cm) of pressure-injected polyurethane foam insulation to keep your ice cold.

It’s also one of the most durable options on the market, due to its Rotomolded construction and thick plastic shell. For added durability, it also has a “NeverFail” hinge system that uses an interlocking design to prevent the lid from breaking off, even after years of frequent use.

For added convenience, Yeti designed this cooler with two different handles (molded LipGrip handles and military-grade polyester rope handles). That way, you can more easily tote it from your car to the campsite.

pros
  • Super durable design with thick plastic and NeverFail hinges
  • 2 inches (5.1cm) of pressure-injected polyurethane foam insulation
  • Multiple handle options for carrying it to and from the car
cons
  • Heavy – weighs 23lbs (10.4kg) empty
  • Bulky shape but can fit only 28 cans of beer or 34lbs (15.4kg) of ice

Sporting a retro look and modern technology, the Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler is a classic hard-sided camping option for family adventures.

This model has a full-steel construction for added durability and has a simple design with a wide-opening lid. The lid also latches shut with a metal bolt that helps ensure that it won’t pop open in transport to and from the campground.

Portability-wise, this cooler is among the lightest in our review, especially for a hard-sided cooler. Weighing in at just 9.1lbs (4.1kg), it’s significantly lighter than many of its plastic counterparts. 

That being said, the Steel-Belted Cooler prioritizes interior space more than insulation. So, while you can fit more ice, food, and drink inside this cooler, it won’t stay cold as long as it might in a slightly bulkier alternative.

pros
  • Lots of interior storage space
  • Sleek design with retro aesthetics
  • Lightweight for a hard-sided cooler
cons
  • Poor selection of handles for carrying

Combining all the great features of their Hopper Flip with a set of nifty backpack straps, the Yeti Hopper Backflip is a highly portable cooler for adventures that are a bit further afield.

This cooler uses Yeti’s proprietary DryHide Shell, which is both waterproof, food-safe, and completely leak-proof. It also uses the company’s ColdCell rubber foam insulation to provide more chilling power on hot days.

What sets this cooler apart is its unique backpack design. This model comes with ergonomic shoulder straps so you can more easily carry your food and drink on longer trips away from camp. It also includes a removable chest strap and hip belt so you can get added support when carrying particularly heavy loads.

This added portability makes the Hopper Backflip a particularly good choice for anglers that also need a cooler to store their catch while camping. The cooler can easily tag along on a trip to the river and keep your fish cold until you get back to camp.

pros
  • Highly portable thanks to its backpack-style design
  • Fully waterproof and leak-proof
  • Can carry up to 25lbs (11.3kg) of ice
cons
  • Very expensive for a soft cooler

Igloo’s BMX Family Cooler is a budget-friendly option for campers that don’t want to compromise on durability. It’s made from a heavy-duty blow-molded plastic that’s bolstered with diamond metal plates for added ruggedness in harsh conditions.

As far as insulation goes, this cooler has extra-thick foam walls and an insulated lid. Thanks to this insulation, it can keep ice cold for up to 4 days in a row, even when the temperatures outside are around 90ºF (32ºC).

For easy carrying and transport to and from the car, Igloo crafted this cooler with a large triple point grab handle. The handle is also reinforced with stainless steel to increase durability while a rubber overlay provides a non-slip grip as you walk.

pros
  • Budget-friendly option with good carrying capacity
  • Highly durable design
  • Can keep ice cold for up to 4 days
cons
  • No side handles for transportation

The Verdict

A quality camping cooler is a must for any outdoor adventure, particularly in the summer months. Generally speaking, choosing a cooler comes down to balancing affordability, durability, interior carrying capacity, and insulating ability. So, keep these four factors in mind when shopping for your next camping companion.

John Zahra