A cooler is a cooler, right? That´s what I thought, so when some buddies invited me out for a weekend camping trip, I passed by Walmart and picked up the cheapest cooler I could find.
I was in charge of dinner and drinks, so I stopped at the last gas station at the edge of town, picked up some beer and sub sandwiches, and bought a bag of ice to keep everything fresh for that evening.
Imagine the disappointment of my buddies when, once the campfire was roaring and the camp chairs set up, I opened the cooler and all I could offer was soggy sandwiches and lukewarm beer. Without a doubt, not all coolers are made alike.
Finding the best cooler for the money, which will also keep your food fresh, and beer cold takes a bit more time and research than simply making a pit stop at Walmart.
Below, we offer a concise review and complete guide of the best coolers on the market that combine a good price with great performance.
Our Top Picks At A Glance:
- Rubbermaid Extreme 5-Day Wheeled Ice Chest Rolling Cooler
- Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler
- ENGEL DeepBlue Performance Cooler
- Igloo Trailmate Journey Cooler
- Driftsun Arctik Series 60 Quart Ice Chest
Extremely Affordable: Rubbermaid Extreme 5-Day Wheeled Ice Chest Rolling Cooler
Pegged at only $60.70, this highly affordable yet top performer unit is the best cheap cooler in the market. It has very thick insulation that can keep ice frozen for no less than five days. Plus, it is big enough to carry about a hundred and thirty drink cans and ice.
Since it is wheeled, it is also not too difficult to move around, whether you are using it at a party, a camping or picnic trip, and others. The portable construction also allows for tailgating without fuss. There is also durable metal, extended tow handles, and functional drain as additional features that make it a real steal.
Since there is nothing worse than trying to balance a cold drink on the uneven, rocky ground where you are camping, this great and affordable cooler also comes equipped with built-in cup holders that easily hold both 12 ounce and 20 ounce cans. Depending on how long you are planning on being away from home, this cooler comes in both 45 quart and 75 quart sizes.
If you are planning on camping in the dog days of summer, opening up your cooler for even a couple of seconds might cause significant loss of coldness and lead to melted ice. The hinged, split lid on this cooler allows you to minimize the amount of surface area exposed to the elements when opening your cooler thus helping to keep the contents of your cooler fresh and cool for a longer amount of time.
Good Value Design: Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler
Coleman products have built a solid reputation with customers around the world. The blend of quality of affordability has made them one of the most trusted names in the camping and outdoor industry.
The Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler easily holds upwards of 85 cans. Unless your family is addicted to soft drinks, the ample space in this cooler will give you more than enough space to include plenty of drinks and other food supplies that will make for a memorable camping adventure. Also, the rust resistant hinges will make sure that the top won´t pop off even after extended use.
With top-of-the-line leak resistance feature, the Coleman Belted Cooler is poised for some great outdoor fun. It is big enough to carry a good amount of goods with a 54-quart capacity yet it is easy to carry with stainless steel handless that are well supported by rubber grips.
This is the classic steel cooler inked in your memory as a kid, only, it was painted to look more “now” and updated with advanced features to serve you better. The rust-resistant construction plus the solid steel latch for a secure seal make it a top choice that could give the rest, even those that cost hundreds to a thousand, a run for the money.
The Top Performer: ENGEL DeepBlue Performance Cooler
Engel DeepBlue is a known brand for delivering high performance coolers that are sought by professionals such as Fire Rescue teams. The manufacturer did not disappoint with this number, offering a rugged, durable, and tough demeanor with lots of amazing features making it perfect company for fishing, tailgating, camping, hunting, and off-road adventures.
The performance cooler has two-inch insulation on all sides and all-silicon gaskets to create no room for mistake, keeping your goods preserved for up to 10 days. This is indeed, the best value cooler. Apart from being durable and utterly functional, it is also easy to clean because the exterior is made of food grade plastic that is stain-resistant.
The Engel DeepBlue also can claim to be one of the only coolers that as received IGBC Certification as a bear-resistant cooler. While you might need to protect your foodstuffs from a bear during a tailgating party, during camping trips (especially in areas where bears are present), there is an extra sense of comfort in knowing that your food supply is protected from a group of hungry grizzlies. For folks who are not necessarily interested in heading out to the back country, it sure makes you look tough when you carry around a cooler that has a bear-resistance certification molded on to the backside of the cooler.
Lastly, this cooler also comes with a full ten year warranty. There is nothing worse than spending a good deal of money on a product that breaks down after a couple of years. In this day and age of planned obsolescence, finding products that will last a lifetime while not forcing you to take out a second mortgage on the house are not easy to find. The Engel DeepBlue certainly fits the description of a durable yet affordable product.
Best for All-Terrain Expeditions: Igloo Trailmate Journey Cooler
If there was ever a great name for a cooler brand, Igloo fits the bill. Not only does this cooler offer amazing functionality, it also comes with a whole host of different features and extras.
Everything is amazing about this Igloo Trailmate Journey Cooler. It is spacious, with 70 quarts capacity; portable, with oversized wheels that can tackle even the toughest terrains including sand; functional, with a four-day ice retention capability; and purposeful, with various extra features to keep your needs and demands met with efficiency.
Some of the interesting features of this great value cooler include a media-docking slot that allows you to enjoy ebooks and media files hands-free, the pocketsize storage that is water-resistant, and the butler tray that keeps food and drinks within reach. It also has a tie-down loop that you can use for hauling your towels, foldable chairs, and more, plus, bottle openers that you can have ready anytime.
On a performance level, this cooler comes with an Igloo Ultra Herm insulated body and lid, which provide four full days of ice retention. Unless you are planning on a week-long cross country road trip, four days of ice will give you more than enough time to enjoy a cold drink and fresh sandwiches. Also, this cooler includes accessory holders that are capable of supporting beach umbrellas and fishing rods. Not only will this cooler refresh you with cold drinks, but it can also keep your protected from the hot sun during a day at the beach.
Affordable Quality: Driftsun Arctik Series 60 Quart Ice Chest
Those who are looking for affordable quality can find a great option in this Driftsun Arctik Series. It is huge, it is unique, it is functional, and best of all, it is currently on sale. You can get this heavy duty cooler for below $200 and enjoy all the amazing features all right.
This brand is the first to offer a non-sweat design, preventing condensation to form on the exterior. It is also powered by a Thermalock Freezer Style Gasket, which helps lock out heat from the outside while sealing in cold from the inside. Having said that, expect to keep your food and drinks well preserved for long within the two-inch commercial grade insulation.
The 60-quart ice chest includes a full two inches of insulation around the entire body and lid, offering maximum protection from the heat outside. The Rotomolded Thermoplastic construction of the cooler has four built-in cup holders. Additionally, the military grade nylon rope handles are nearly indestructible no matter how much weight you are packing into your cooler.
At only 24 pounds, this cooler does not represent an over bulky weight, making it easy to carry with you wherever you travel. If you are planning on heading to the mountains where terrain is anything but level, the non-slip gorilla feet on the cooler will keep your food and drinks in place so that you don´t have to worry about having to chase them down the mountain.
While you could opt for investing in a thousand dollar cooler which will endure conditions from the freezing Antarctica weather to the steamy tropical jungles, most of us are probably never going to head to these climatic extremes. Fortunately, there are dozens of different quality coolers out there that can offer you quality performance while not bankrupting you.
Have you finally found the best affordable cooler to last you many memorable outdoor expeditions? With the amazing choices we just laid out, you should have. In the end, all you really need to do is to decide which unit serves your purpose best for a price that you can afford. Always aim for value for your hard earned dollars and you will never go wrong.
Need more? Check out our guide about the best cooler on the market today!