Did you know that the first cooler was invented in 1951 by Richard C. Laramy? Since then, coolers have evolved to meet the needs of campers, picnickers, canoers, tailgaters, and families with innovative designs and increased cooling duration.
Most coolers are typically made of a double layer of plastic with hard foam in between to provide insulation. Most high-grade coolers of this type are rotationally molded (roto-molded).
The best coolers are manufactured through a process of adding the softened material to a continuously rotating mold over a layer of insulation. The finished product has no seals and is more durable than traditional coolers.
Some portable coolers are thermoelectric. They use the Peltier effect with an external fan to remove heat. This type of cooler can also be used to keep meals hot with a flick of the switch.
These are designed to plug into the cigarette lighter socket of your vehicle which is both a plus and a drawback since thermoelectric coolers use a lot of power and can drain your battery. Some models have AC/DC adapters as well.
Some coolers are soft and flexible rather than made from rigid plastic. Most have handles or shoulder straps for carrying. Several even can be worn like a backpack. Keep the carrying options in mind when considering your next cooler purchase.
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How We Chose Our Ratings
When we chose the best coolers for any refreshing beverage we considered:
- Cooling ability
- Storage capacity
- Additional features
- Overall customer satisfaction.
The cooling ability is how much time a cooler can keep things fresh before adding more ice. In the case of thermoelectric coolers, it’s the time the cooler takes to reach its maximum cooling temperature.
Storage capacity is also an important consideration. You want to have room to store all your drinks and snacks without it becoming cumbersome, which leads us to portability.
If you are heading to the beach for the day, maybe a cooler with wheels and a handle is just what you need. However, if you plan on hiking up the mountain trail, a wheeled cooler might not be the most portable design.
Think about where you will most likely be using your cooler to determine how portable you need it to be.
No matter where you take it, you certainly want your cooler to be up to regular use. Durability includes basic construction and materials that make up a particular cooler. Some coolers we looked at are bullet or bear-proof. Talk about tough!
There are all sorts of additional features found on coolers these days. Some coolers can double as picnic tables, include speakers to rock out to your favorite tunes, and have parts that can be used as a cutting board.
More practical features would consist of transportation options and how easy or difficult it is to empty out when you are ready to store it.We also looked at customer reviews to find out which coolers were worth your consideration.
While cooler designs and sizes are personal, having a general idea of what components consumers liked or disliked is helpful in deciding which are the best coolers to keep any beverage cool and refreshing no matter what the temperature is outside.
Top 10 Best Coolers for Any Beverage
Let’s look at our picks for the top 10 best coolers for any beverage.
YETI Tundra 75-Quart Cooler
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The YETI Tundra 75-Quart Cooler is a rugged rotomolded cooler. It’s hefty weighing 34 pounds empty but has Lipgrip handles made from extra durable military-grade polyester rope to aid in carrying.
It also has molded tie-down slots to stay put on your truck, boat or trailer. The extra-thick sides contain 2 inches of pressure-injected commercial-grade polyurethane foam for insulation.
The sturdy lid is form-fitting with a freezer-quality gasket, keeping the temperature inside cool, and has rubber latches and interlocking hinge pins for super durability. Other features include a leak-proof drain system, wireframe basket, and non-slip feet.
The optional divider can be used as a cutting board. Ice stays frozen at least five days. As for storage capacity, the Tundra will hold fifty-seven 12-ounce cans and enough ice to keep them cold.
Seventy pounds of ice can fit into the cooler. It comes in your choice of white or tan.
Pelican 45-Quart Elite Wheeled Cooler
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Do you want to take a lot of stuff but can’t manage a huge cooler on your own? Then the Pelican 45-Quart Elite Wheeled Cooler,also one of the best coolers, is the cooler for you! It has heavy-duty wheels making hauling around the 35-pound cooler much simpler.
The built-in trolley handle and molded-in handles are extremely durable.The 2-inch thick high-density polyurethane insulation will keep ice for up to ten days. The locking lid has four cup holders and an integrated fish scale.
The cooler has molded-in tie downs to keep it in place while transporting and non-skid, non-marking raised feet to keep it in place while you are using it. Draining is easy with the sloped drain and tethered threaded plug that is also garden hose attachable.
It comes in white and tan and includes a built-in bottle opener. The Pelican Elite Wheeled Cooler also meets the requirements for a bear-resistant certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
Pelican offers a lifetime limited warranty for this product.
Orca 40-Quart Cooler
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If you are looking for something smaller, consider the Orca 40-Quart Cooler. The cooler weighs just twenty-four pounds. The insulation and durable roto-mold construction keep your items cool up to ten days and ice frozen for more than five days. The lid gasket provides a perfect seal.The flex-grip handles are extendable to allow you to carry the cooler yourself or with the assistance of another person. This cooler has an 8.3-gallon capacity and can easily hold up to forty-eight 12-ounce cans. The cargo net attachment on the back adds additional storage space. The easy-flow drainage spout makes for easy clean-up.The Orca 40-Quart Cooler is available in white, tan, seafoam, red, pink, navy, light blue, green, orange and black and comes with a 100% lifetime warranty.
Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer
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If you are looking for something with regulated temperature for beauty products, breast milk, insulin, medications, snacks, and drinks, then consider the Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer.
It has a storage capacity of four liters or six 12-ounce cans and can be used both indoors or outdoors. The shelf is removable allowing for the storage of four 16-ounce bottles or other items.
This ultra-quiet thermoelectric cooler includes AC/DC power cords and a USB cord to use on the go. A quick flip of the switch will convert this cooler to a warmer on an as-needed basis. Both interior and exterior are easy to wipe-down, and it has a handle for easy transport.
This little versatile cooler comes in white, blue, pink, fuschia, black, red and cow pattern. The interior temperature cools down 40° below ambient temperature or warms up 149° measured by its internal thermostat.
North Coyote Hiking Backpack Cooler Bag
You don’t have to leave your food stash behind as you wander about with the North Coyote Hiking Backpack Cooler Bag.
There is plenty of storage with a 17-liter collapsible insulated cooler, a 25-liter storage compartment with a drawstring closure and five pockets for all your stuff.It straps securely on with adjustable chest and waist straps. The shoulder straps are padded for comfort. Constructed with water-resistant 600D polyester. It’s the perfect hiking cooler.
The cooler holds twelve 12-ounce cans. The North Coyote Hiking Backpack Cooler bag is both versatile and affordable.
Polar Bear 24 Cooler
Soft coolers are more portable than any plastic or metal cooler. If you are looking for something more along the lines of a large lunch box, you will do well to consider the Polar Bear 24 cooler.
The durable antimicrobial FDA food grade TPU double-coated nylon inner lining and tear-proof 1000-denier luggage grade nylon exterior protect the one-inch thick 10-gauge high-density open-cell foam insulation.
The seams are anchor stitched and double hemmed for long-lasting quality. It’s even bulletproof. Ice will last 24-36 hours, and this particular model fits twenty-four 12-ounce cans or eighteen bottles plus ten pounds of ice.
It has a built-in bottle opener and a side zipper pocket. The YKK side release buckles allow you to use the padded shoulder strap for easy travel. It has four D-ring attachment points to keep your cooler firmly in place as well.
It weighs only three pounds when empty. The Polar Bear cooler comes in black, green, navy, orange and red.
Orion 25-Quart Rugged Multifunction Cooler
The Orion 25-Quart Rugged Multifunction Cooler, one of best coolers, is every mountain man’s dream! This rotomolded polyethylene cooler has two-inch thick insulation in both the walls and the lid keeping ice frozen for up to seven days.
It has a YakAttack RAM integration tracks on two sides. Four of the six tie-down points double as bottle openers.The non-stick rubber lid pad is a perfect place to cast off your fishing line.
The padlock ports are bear-proof as certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. It’s more manageable than other models weighing just 21.5 pounds. It has a large drain plug, low profile camming latches, and motorcycle grip handles.
Orion provides a ten-year limited lifetime warranty. Its compact design fits well in the rear tank well of most kayaks. It has a thirty-two 12-ounce capacity with forty pounds of ice. It comes in several unique colored designs.
CreekKooler 30-Quart Floating Cooler
If your outdoor excursion includes water travel, you should take a look at CreekKooler 30-Quart Floating Cooler. The CreekKooler holds up to thirty 12-ounce cans and twenty pounds of ice. Ice will stay frozen for up to 48 hours with two inches of insulation injected into the dual-wall blog molded hull and deck.
The watertight, locking lid with o-ring design has four built-in drink holders. You can tow it behind small watercraft like rafts and canoes, saving you space in the boat. It is tough enough to be dragged across the ground or snow too by its two towable handles.
It comes in beige, royal blue, white, yellow and red. It even has a mini-flag holder for easy location. You can also use this cooler to keep your gear dry while you paddle around in the water.
Another thermoelectric cooler that made the cut is the Wagan Cooler/Warmer. It has a 24-liter capacity which will fit wine bottles and up to four 2-liter soda bottles easily or twenty-seven 12-ounce cans.
This model cools down to 36°F / 20°C below ambient temperature in about thirty minutes. It heats up to 140°F (60°C). It has a hot/cold/off switch with indicator lights on the back for temperature control.
The lid is removable for easy clean-up. It also has an ergonomic folding handle for transport. The Wagan Cooler/Warmer has no CFCs or refrigerant making it environmentally friendly.
Instead, the cooler uses polyurethane foam for insulation. It has a built-in power cord storage compartment and 7.5 feet power cord. It requires 12V DC power to run. There is an optional AC adapter sold separately.
Ozark Trail 26-Quart High-Performance Cooler
The rotomolded Ozark Trail 26-Quart High-Performance Cooler is perfect for an overnight trip. The thick walls have a UV-resistant layer to protect against sun damage. This cooler has a thick rubber gasket with secure T-latches. All the metal components are made of stainless steel which reduces breakage and corrosion over the years.
All Ozark Trail Coolers have IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) seal of approval and is certified bear-resistant. The oversized, threaded drain is completely removable and anchored in place by a mounted chain.
Anti-skid feet keep the cooler in place. The stainless steel locking plate doubles as a bottle opener. The lid has a molded-in fish ruler and two drink holders. The overhead stainless steel handle with comfort grip allows you to get a handle on it. Ice will stay frozen between two and five days. This cooler is available in gray or white.
Deciding which is the best coolers for you is relatively personal. Are you a hiker or do you like to hunker down in the woods for days at a time? Do you plan on using your best coolers for a day at the beach or while kayaking down the river?
Whether you call it a cooler, portable ice chest, ice box, cool box, chilly bin or esky, you’ll want to consider the size and material before purchasing.
You should be able to move the fully loaded cooler without too much difficulty. Even though those 100-quart coolers seem like the best bang for your buck, if you plan on moving your campsite to follow the herd, you won’t want to be lugging that heavy box around.
Another thing to keep in mind is that fact that if you don’t fill your cooler with ice to the maximum capacity, the air space left will negatively impact how well your items stay cool. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to find the smallest cooler size that adequately meets your needs.
Some coolers are designed for 12-ounce can beverages. Others have more space which can hold wine bottles or 2-liter soda bottles. Then there are others are large enough to hold any size container. No matter what your choice of beverage, make sure the dimensions of your cooler will be able to accommodate it.
There are four types of materials used to make coolers, plastic, fabric, metal, and styrofoam. Styrofoam coolers are best for one-time use. They don’t hold up well and are damaged quite easily.
Fabric coolers are usually made from canvas or synthetic material and have flexible foam insulation. Fabric coolers work best for small quantities, like lunch on a day hike. They have the advantage of being lighter and thus more portable than other types of coolers as well as being less expensive.
Plastic and metal coolers are the most durable. Metal coolers are well insulated, heavy and expensive. Plastic coolers are more durable and lighter. Both do an excellent job of keeping your food from getting squashed during transport, provided they are packed correctly.
The plastic models we highlighted in our top 10 of the best coolers list are rotomolded, providing seamless shells for the best cooling conditions.
With these buying tips in mind, finding the best coolers for any refreshing beverage will be a walk in the park!