The 13 Best Coolers Of 2024 Maintain Their Chill in the Great Outdoors

Looking for a lightweight, easy-carry cooler you can use for picnics in the park or quick daytrips? Then reach for Hydro Flask’s soft-side cooler. We recommend loading it up with ice packs, as it’s definitely not leakproof. Still, we liked the padded shoulder strap, color options, and durable exterior fabric.


BrüTank Rolling Cooler

Brümate is a fairly new cooler and drinkware company, and its latest product is this beast of a cooler, the BrüTank. Its 55-quart capacity can hold up to 48 cans with 40 pounds of ice, and it’ll keep all that chilled for seven days. There’s also a built-in drink dispenser and an included dry goods rack so you can keep items like food away from the ice.

What to Look for in a Cooler

Obviously you need your cooler to keep things cold, right? So, what else do you need to keep in mind to pick the right cooler for your next adventure?

Capacity: If all you’re looking for is something to take on a cute little picnic date, something small, like a personal-sized soft-side cooler will do the trick. But if you have a huge summer rager coming up? You’ll need something with a larger capacity to make sure everyone stays properly hydrated (read: buzzed) at your shindig. Some cooler brands use quarts and others liters to describe capacity, so we recommend checking to see how many cans a cooler holds. A 45-quart cooler that can hold 50+ more cans is a good starting point for a party cooler.

Insulation: All brands seem to have their own proprietary insulation to make sure the interior of its cooler retains the chill and doesn’t get affected by the outside temperature. Premium coolers like the Yeti Tundra will also have a gusset around the lid to further protect from loss of temperature, while some coolers will only have a zipper, which isn’t so great at keeping things inside cold for as long. For soft coolers, look for air-tight zippers, which at least provide a secure seal.

Portability: An unfilled cooler might be light and easy to carry, but once you throw in pounds of ice and a football team’s worth of Gatorade, then you’re just asking for a trip to the chiropractor. Some of the best portable coolers come on wheels, which make it easy to haul a hundred pound’s worth of ice, food, and drink. You can also opt for cooler backpacks or tote bags, both of which free your hands, essentially turning you into a pack mule for the refreshments.

How We Tested

In pervious versions of this guide, we recommended a mix of coolers from brands like Yeti, RTIC, Igloo, and Coleman. For our latest update to this piece, we tested the Yeti Tundra 45, RTIC Soft Pack Cooler, Hydro Flask Day Escape, Hydro Flask Carry Out Cooler, and the CamelBak Chillbak. We also got some first-hand experience with the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler. These coolers were tested with an assist from the beaches of Charleston, South Carolina and hot, humid days.

When reviewing these coolers, we checked to see how convenient they were to lug around, how easily they packed up and held ice, and whether they leaked or showed other red flags. As a final test, we filled each of these coolers with ice, food, and drinks and used a laser temperature gun to see how well they held their temperature over a period of 24 hours. Some, like the Yeti Tundra 45, displayed an almost miraculous ability to keep their cool and keep ice from melting. We noted which coolers aced our ice test, and which struggled.

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