Best Coolers for Camping: Our Top 6 Picks of 2021

Looking for the best camping cooler for your summer camping trips? In this guide, you're sure to find the perfect cooler for your needs, whether that be a lightweight cooler for backcountry camping or a high-capacity cooler for campground trips with your family and friends.

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Editors Pick

Canyon Cooler Outfitter 55qt

CANYON COOLERS Outfitter 55qt White Marble

Our choice for the best cooler for camping is the Canyon Cooler Outfitter. While the 55-quart capacity is not as large as a few other camping coolers, the durability and performance of the Outfitter is impressive. 

Boasting one of the best ice retention capabilities, of up to 14 days, the Outfitter will still have ice in it long after you have emptied the cooler of its other contents. 

While this cooler is plastic, it is heavy-duty, rotomolded construction and squared off to ensure not only the tightest seal possible but also that it will be light and not take up as much space as many other high-end coolers. The Outfitter is shaped like a construction-grade toolbox than a cooler, making it easy to pack into tight quarters.

While the Canyon Cooler Outfitter is a great cooler for its class, where it shines is in the price department. Other top-end coolers can match its ice retention and durability. There are a few coolers that can hold more than the Outfitter, but for what are minor advantages over it, other coolers are usually more expensive. 

Bottom Line: The Canyon Cooler Outfitter performs well across the board and yet is still cheaper than most other coolers tested making it our top pick.

The Top Coolers for Camping Adventures

Looking for the best cooler for camping?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • Why you need a camping ice chest
    • What to look for in good coolers for camping
    • A selection of the top-rated coolers for camping in 2021
    • Our unbiased recommendation on the #1 cooler for camping

There is nothing that compares to the taste of a cold beverage by the campfire after a day of hiking on that last night of your family camping trip.

But this is not the kind of task that can be left to the average run-of-the-mill cooler; this requires one of the best camping coolers on the market.

This article will introduce you to the best camping coolers on the market in 2021 and also includes a detailed guide to help you choose the best cooler for your needs. From large camping coolers to portable models for backcountry camping, our list has something for all kinds of outdoor adventures! 

  • Engel Deep Blue 65
  • Orca Quart 58
  • Yeti Tundra 65
  • Igloo Yukon Cold Locker
  • Canyon Cooler Outfitter 55 Quart
  • Grizzly Cooler 70 Quart

What To Look For In The Best Ice Chest for Camping

Any soft-sided cooler can keep things cold for an afternoon picnic or a Labor Day cookout. But if you want to keep your eats and drinks fresh for several days into a camping trip or want to bring back fish or meat from a hunting or fishing trip, you are going to need something that keeps it cool for longer.

It takes a higher quality, better-insulated hard cooler to keep foodstuffs and drink cold for several days. And even though the outlay for an elite cooler can appear significant, the value lies in not needing to run to pick up more ice or having it lose its cool.

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Insulation

Since you want an ice chest to keep your food and drinks cold, the most important feature is going to obviously be the quality of its insulation. The better this is, the better a model can be expected to retain its ice and therefore, its cooling capabilities. 

While more insulating power would at first blush seem better, there will, of course, be a trade-off between this, weight, and capacity.

The best camping coolers improve their ability to retain cold not only with rigid sides and foam insulation inside their walls, but also by having lids that form airtight seals, locking in cold and keeping any heat outside the cooler.

Capacity

Almost as important as how well it keeps in the cold is how much stuff your camping cooler holds. Striking that balance between size and weight can easily be determined from how long (and for what purpose) you want to use your ice chest for.

If you are planning a short camping weekend by yourself, then a model up to around 25 quarts will most likely see you through. A camping cooler in the 25-50 quart range is the perfect size for a long weekend or for two people over a weekend trip.

Camping coolers in the 50-75 quart range will see you and a partner through a long weekend camping trip or for nearly a week on your own. Alternatively, if you are planning on keeping meat or fish fresh on coming back from a hunting or fishing trip, then likely you’ll want to plump for the bigger sized ice chests, no matter the duration you’ll be out.

Durability

Another important factor in choosing the best cooler is finding one that is durable. Not only do you want it to handle the jostling that comes from sitting in your vehicle while on or off road, but another factor is to protect it from animals, especially bears or raccoons.

Lids need to lock tight and potentially have a second locking system to ensure the security of your cooler’s contents. 

An excellent camping cooler will have steel walls that can take a beating as well as the ability to fasten its lid tightly and to prevent animals from stealing your food. These same protections from animals can also prevent foraging from other hungry campers too if the need arises!

Added Features

Many coolers come with a handful of handy extra features that aren’t dealmakers or breakers but may be nice to have. These include built-in bottle openers, cup holders in the lid, and interior storage compartments that help you to organize your eats and drinks.

Camping Cooler Preparation

On top of their well-designed seals, insulating capability, and other features meant to help coolers retain cold temperatures long, all of these coolers recommend that time is spent preparing the cooler for usage at home before you go out in the wilds. 

The manufacturers suggest you fill the coolers with ice and let it sit in the cooler for twelve hours to a full day to work the temperature of the interior and the insulation as close to freezing as possible in preparation for loading for actual usage.

This is actually where another important factor can come into play; namely, how easy it is to clean and drain your camping cooler. A well-placed drainage plug can be drained quickly and refilled without the interior and insulation warming up too much, ensuring that the preparation work you did does not go for little or nothing. 

Much of the key to a relaxing camping, fishing or hunting trip is diligently preparation; your ice chest is no different than any of the other equipment you will take.

The Best Camp Cooler Reviews

Engel Deep Blue 65

Best Car-Camping Cooler

Engel ENG65 High Performance Cooler - White

The Engel Deep Blue 65-quart cooler is a superbly robust, practical option for extended stays at camp with all the family or a group of friends. 

This cooler includes several interesting features that are beneficial but not often considered by many buyers. One issue that plastic coolers can have over time if out in the sun frequently is degradation of the plastic from ultraviolet radiation. Engel has extended the life of what’s already a durable cooler by treating its heavy-duty plastic shell to withstand the harsh effects of UV light.

Adding to the durability of this model is the quality of its seals. The Deep Blue has maritime-grade, silicone gaskets forming the seal around the lid and the drain spout, ensuring, along with its two inches of polyurethane insulation, that if the lid is closed very little cold air can escape. We’ve found that this camping cooler can keep ice frozen for up to 8-9 days.

There are some minor drawbacks to the Deep Blue, though. That plastic shell, high capacity, and thick insulation leads to a heavy product. Also, because of its shape, the Deep Blue is difficult to fit into some vehicles or boats. In addition, we would like to see the drainage plug physically attached to the cooler to prevent losing it accidentally.

Key Features

  • Can keep ice frozen for up to eight to ten days
  • The latches are made from a durable, marine-grade material and has a dual-locking, bear-resistant lid
  • Stain- and odor-resistant interior
  • Features two inches of insulating foam and has a simple one-twist drain plug
  • Engel Deep Blue 65 measures 31 x 18 x 19 inches, weighs 26.1 pounds (empty) and holds up to 53 quarts.

Engel Cooler Review

  • PROs

    • It is built with high-quality materials that will last for decades
    • The seal is airtight to ensure that the ice stays cold for up to 10 days
    • Easy to drain and clean 
    • Fully secured from critters when it is closed with latches and locks (bear proof certified)
  • CONs

    • Even though there are a few color options, the overall aesthetic is plain
    • More ergonomic handles would make it easier to transport
    • The drain plug can be lost easily because it is not attached

Bottom-Line: While a heavy and bulky cooler, the Deep Blue’s roomy dimensions and air-tight seal make it a winner for warm-weather campers.

Orca Quart 58

Most Portable High-Capacity Cooler

Orca ORCT040 40qt Tan Cooler

The Orca is a highly practical product that is clearly designed and made by people who understand what you need from a camping ice box. 

Where this cooler shines is when it is being moved. The Orca’s flex-grip handles make this model easy and comfortable to move whether alone or with a chum. Also, the Orca has a cargo net attached for extra storage space, which can be helpful in terms of saved trips from car to campsite.

While the ability to be moved easily is nice, the Orca 58 only seems capable of keeping ice for multiple days as opposed to the ten or more days of the leader coolers in this review. But if you are only planning on camping trips that go a week at most, or expect to need to return to civilization to restock after a few days, this cooler is a great choice.

Key Features

  • Thick insulated walls, lid, and bottom made from a heavy-duty, roto-molded construction
  • Flexible handles make it easy to carry and attached cargo net will help save trips to and fro
  • Four colors to choose from
  • 58-quart capacity and measures 18.5″ x 12.3″ x 13.375″
  • Tight-fitting lid gasket and easy drainage spout make it well insulated and easy to drain.
  • Lifetime warranty

Orca 58 qt Cooler Review

  • PROs

    • Probably the best insulation in the business
    • Can easily be carried by one person
    • Heavy-duty and durable; can stand up to lots of abuse
    • Bear proof
  • CONs

    • The lid closes on you when you least expect it!
    • A little more expensive than similarly sized competitors

Yeti Tundra 65

Best Insulator

YETI Tundra 65 Cooler, Desert Tan

The Yeti Tundra 65-quart’s most impressive feature is that, even with its three-inch thick insulation, it still weighs a little less than 30 pounds when empty. This, of course, makes it ideal for buyers who want to carry plenty of edibles without paying a heavy price in terms of portability.

While light, the Yeti’s Fat Wall design is made to withstand whatever beating is unleashed upon it. It’s heavy-duty rubber T-Rex latches are also guaranteed not to break no matter how many times you open and close the lid over its lifetime.

One of the top performers in terms of insulation, this bad boy can keep food cold for 5-6 days at a time, and will even maintain a fairly chilly interior for a couple of days beyond that.

And the downsides?

Well, while it generally performs well across the board, the rope-wrapped plastic handles are pretty darn uncomfortable when toting a full load.

Key Features

  • Has around 61 quarts of internal storage, weighs 27 pounds, and is 30.5 x 17.4 x 16 inches in size
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction gives the cooler a pretty much indestructible exterior
  • Walls are extra thick and contain PermaFrost™ pressure-injected insulation to keep temperatures cool inside, no matter what is happening outside.
  • YETI coolers are designed to handle extremely low temperatures and are compatible with dry ice; dry ice provides about 3 times the cooling power of regular ice
  • Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has certified the Tundra 65 as a bear-resistant food container
  • Haul rope handles on the ends are designed to make it comfortable to carry for 2 people; textured grips are secured with marine-grade nylon rope
  • PROs

    • One of the top performers when it comes to insulating capabilities
    • Tough and durable
    • Non-slip feet prevent sliding in your flat-bed or on your boat
    • Cooler comes with a three-year warranty
    • High-quality hinges and latches
  • CONs

    • The handles aren’t pleasant to grip if hauling the Tundra when full
    • Draining the Tundra is messy (partly due to the handle placement)

Bottom-Line: A superbly well-designed cooler that’s a little tricky to carry but oozes quality from every inch. Hard-wall coolers like this are built to last a lifetime!

Igloo Yukon Cold Locker

Best Bear-Resistant Cooler

Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 70-Quart)

The Igloo Yukon Cold Locker cooler keeps multiple pounds of ice frozen for between seven to fourteen days and, with a 70-quart capacity, holds more than other similarly priced coolers.

The Yukon has hinges made of more durable stainless steel, as opposed to the aluminum hinges used on many other coolers. Both will resist rusting, but stainless steel is less prone to bending or breaking. Also, the polyethylene plastic body resists not only dings and punctures better than most other plastic coolers, but also scratching.

Unfortunately, the Cold Locker is pretty pricey compared to its peers. However, if you want a robust, bomb-proof cooler that’s big enough to feed a family of bears but tough enough to keep them out, this is the cooler for you!

Key Features

  • Three-inch thick polyurethane insulation and Cool-Riser-Technology will keep ice frozen for days on end
  • Extremely durable and certified bear resistant (IGBC)
  • Integrated fish measuring tool on lid
  • Holds 67 quarts( roughly 14 days of ice!), weighs 33.6 lbs (empty) with exterior dimensions of 35.5″ L x 17.19″ W x 20.38″ D
  • Oversized tethered drainage plug
  • Anti-skid feet prevent slippage during transport

Igloo Yukon Cold Locker 70 Review

  • PROs

    • Large enough for week-long trips with all the family
    • Extremely durable 
    • Oversized drainage plug means it’s easy to empty
    • Steady wide-grip handle for better heavy handling
    • Burly rubber latches
    • All Igloo coolers come with a one-year warranty
  • CONs

    • Bulky exterior build and heavy weight
    • At a higher price point than similar products tested from competitors

Bottom-Line: One of the best hard coolers out there for buyers who plan on venturing into bear country. 

Canyon Cooler Outfitter 55 Quart

Best Camping Cooler for the Money

CANYON COOLERS Outfitter 55qt White Marble

The Outfitter may not be the largest cooler in its class, but in exchange for a few quarts of capacity, you get a product that is nicely compact and a leader in ice retention. 

Everything about this cooler is focused on it being as unobtrusive as possible. The body is tapered and squared off (it looks similar to a tool box) so it can be fit into a tighter space than many heavy-duty coolers. Also, the insulation is thinner in places to maximize capacity while keeping the overall dimensions as small as possible.

All of this makes for a product that is efficient not only as regards temperature control but also in minimizing the space it takes up in your boat, vehicle, or campsite.

What we like most about the Outfitter is that it offers all of the above and is still one of the more affordable coolers in its class. While the search for quality should carry no cost objective, we do love a bit of a bargain! That said, price tags aside, this model performs better than almost any other product in its class. 

While the capacity is a touch lower than you might desire and the handles are a little tight, you’ll be hard pressed to find a cooler better than the Canyon Cooler Outfitter 55 at this price.

Key Features

  • Weighs 24 lbs; measures 28 x 15.5 x 16.25 inches; 54-quart capacity
  • Has an ice-retention time of 5 to 14 days
  • 100% recessed marine grade EZCAM latches and integrated bullet-proof, marine-grade hinge
  • Tough PE RotoMolded shell that holds IGBC Certification #3769
  • All-purpose; hunting, fishing, tailgating, and camping. 
  • Can be easily carried by one person but is big enough for multi-day trips
  • No-lose drainage plug – screw-in gasket assembly with a tethered center plug to allows for quick-and-easy drainage without removing the entire plug
  • Lifetime warranty
  • PROs

    • Superb insulation
    • Durable and bear resistant
    • Easy for one person to carry
    • Simple to drain and clean
  • CONs

    • None

Bottom-Line: Short of buying a wheeled cooler, this is the most portable cooler around and, pleasingly, also one of the most affordable high-volume options out there.

Grizzly Cooler 75 Quart

Most Durable Cooler

Grizzly 60 Cooler, Gray, G60, 60 QT

The Grizzly Hunting 75-quart has the durability and aesthetics you will want when hunting or fishing, as well as a few fishing-specific features like an on-lid ruler for measuring your catches.

As with most of the top-notch coolers in this review, the Grizzly is durable and, of course, especially designed to keep out bears. It’s a reasonable performer when it comes to insulation, keeping your food below safe-to-eat temperatures for around four days. 

While the handle design and its drainage plug leave a little to be desired, this oversized tank of a cooler is still a great option for buyers looking for a food-storage solution that will be with them for the rest of their days.

Key Features

  • RotoTough rotationally molded construction with pressure injected insulation
  • BearClaw™ Latches require no hardware and keep a secure grip
  • Rope Handle with nylon-sleeved rubber handle
  • Dual 2” drainage plug for easy, quick draining
  • Embossed 30” ruler on lid
  • Lifetime warranty 
  • Made in the USA
  • PROs

    • At or close to being the most durable product in our test
    • Built-in ruler on lid
    • 75 quarts – big enough for week-long trips
  • CONs

    • Sketchy handle design
    • Poor insulator compared to competitors

Bottom-Line: An extra-large cooler that’s a little short on insulation but nevertheless ideal for short backcountry trips with all the family, all your friends, or even a small to medium-sized platoon of hungry soldiers.

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Last update on 2021-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness (or at least that's how it seemed to a ten year old Brian).

After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology (primarily so he could spend his time outside rather than in a classroom). He's now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents (still need to bag Antartica) & 30 of the US states.