Best camping cooler 2021: Keep drinks and snacks fresh and cold in the heat

These top camping coolboxes, including Yeti coolers and Igloo coolers, are also ideal for festivals and hot summer days at the beach

Best camping cooler
(Image credit: Yeti)

There's nothing more refreshing on a hot summer's day than an ice cold drink taken straight from your own coolbox or coolbag, and our pick of the best camping coolers are versatile enough to be used in a variety of outdoors scenarios.

This makes them a great investment for summer, and a must for keeping food and drink cold and fresh when camping at any time of the year. Get a wheeled camping cooler, or one you can carry via a shoulder strap, and it's ready for the beach, park and festivals too.

Pull-along camping coolers are among some of the more popular types, along with smaller coolbags designed with comfy carry handles. You’ll find both of those and more listed below. And if you're in the process of improving your food setup, don't forget to check out our guide to the best camping stoves and the best camping cookware sets. In a rush and want to know our top pick? Here you go…

Best camping cooler: our expert pick

  • The best camping cooler offers plenty of storage for your needs, which is dictated by your group size. It should also be easy to transport and offer fantastic insulation, and that's exactly what the Coleman 50QT Extreme Wheeled Cooler does. Pack it with freezer blocks and this stylish camping cooler will keep your food fresh and chilled for up to two days.
  • We also love its wheeled design, making it an absolute doddle to pull over various terrain from campsite gravel path to grassy park. Even if your car camping and pulling up next to your pitch, you may decide to hit the beach or park later. When you do, you'll be glad that you bought a wheeled camping cooler.

Choosing the best camping cooler for you

When picking a camping cooler to suit your needs, it helps to keep in mind the types of situations you'll be using it in and how you will be transporting it. If you're car camping and going on an extended holiday, you can afford to carry a bigger and heavier coolbox that has plenty of storage for holding more food and drink.

Some of these heay duty camping coolers can be mains powered for unlimited chilling action. You'll find that these types of coolers offer different sections for keeping various types of food, drinks and ice separate from one another. If you are a serial camper, or holiday outdoors for very long stretches at a time, you'd do well to invest in one of these.

If you don't drive and will be heading to the campsite, park or beach on foot or via public transport, you'll want a camping cooler that's lightweight, weatherproof (in case it rains) and easy to carry. In that case, look for a coolbox on wheels, with a pull-along handle, or a coolbag that can be slung over your shoulder or worn like a backpack.

The best camping coolers to buy now

best camping cooler: Coleman 50QT Xtreme Wheeled Cooler

(Image credit: Coleman)

1. Coleman 50QT Xtreme Wheeled Cooler

Our best camping cooler overall keeps food cold and fresh for 5 days

Capacity: 47L
Cold performance: 5 days
Weight: 5.6kg
Reasons to buy
+Keeps food cool for 5 days+Doubles up as a camping seat

This 47-litre coolbox on wheels is designed to keep food and drink fresh and cold for up to five days, making it an excellent choice for longer camping trips. So it goes without saying that it’ll easily handle your park barbecue day or beach outing.

Coleman’s durable and weatherproof design is our pick of the best camping coolers because it’s so rugged, with all-terrain wheels to take you from campsite to park or beach, and easy to pull-along; a telescopic steel handle takes the strain, or grab it by both handles when taking it out of the car.

The lid features PU foam insulation, taking care of the cooling, and four cup holders for housing your bottles and cans, though they don’t have a self-draining design like our next camping cooler does. Coleman’s rugged coolbox also doubles as a make-shift camping seat, holding up to 113kg in weight.

Best camping cooler: Yeti Tundra 35

(Image credit: Yeti)

2. Yeti Tundra Cooler 35 Quart Cooler

A legendary camping cooler that will last you years

Capacity: 33L
Cold performance: varies
Weight: 10.9kg
Reasons to buy
+Super-rugged+Non-slip feet+Keeps items hot or cool

If it wasn’t for the sky-high price, we’d buy a Tundra cooler in every single colour. This stunning and super-rugged portable cool box is just the ticket for keeping beers and food chilled outdoors, ensuring the beating sun doesn’t get to them. 

The Tundra comes in different sizes, but this is one of the more portable options, making it a good choice for big groups chilling out on the beach or at the park. It’ll also see you right on the campsite. 

Thick rotomolded walls, dubbed the Yeti ‘Fatwall’, and PermaFrost insulation are responsible for the chilling. That same rotomolded construction makes this timeless ice chest nigh-on indestructible, so it’ll withstand the rough and tumble of camping life.

Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler 28QT

3. Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler 28QT

This glam camping cooler is tough enough for all types of weather

Capacity: 31L
Cold performance: 2 days
Weight: 4kg
Reasons to buy
+Heavily insulated+Drainage for melted ice

Going on a weekend camping break? As well as making sure your sleeping is on point with a comfy camping mat and sleeping bag duo, keep your fridgeable snacks and drinks cold for two days with the Igloo Marine Ultra. It features an insulated lid to provide extended ice retention, and a triple-snap drain plug for melted ice to quickly filter out. 

A pull-along handle and rugged, all-terrain wheels means you’ll be able to pull it over various types of terrain, so it’ll happily go with you to the park as well as the campsite. It’s also rust-proof, boasts UV protection and is waterproof too.

In the lid you’ll find four self-draining cup holders (excess water simply drains down the side of the closed cooler), and the lockable lid can be further secured with zip ties. Size-wise, the Marine Ultra Camping Cooler goes all the way from a cute 25-quart capacity up to a generous 128-quart chest.

Best camping cooler: Icemule Backpack Cooler

(Image credit: Icemule)

4. Icemule Backpack Cooler Classic 15L

Just sling it over your shoulders and go

Capacity: 15L
Cold performance: 24 hours
Weight: 907g
Reasons to buy
+Keeps ice solid for 24 hours+Holds 12 cans plus ice+Perfect for festivals and day trips

Sometimes you want a camping cooler that's not a huge wheel-along ice chest, but something smaller and lighter than you can carry or wear. If that's the case, you'll love the IceMule Cooler Classic. Depending on which size you get, this wearable cooler can be slung over one shoulder or worn just like a backpack. 

The Cooler Classic keeps ice solid for up to 24 hours, even in baking heat. It does this thanks to a dual-layer construction that utilises IceMule's PolarLayer insulation foam. And if you suddenly find yourself caught in a heat wave, an integrated air valve enables you to add a bit more insulation to keep your drinks and snacks cooler.

The best part about the IceMule Cooler Classic is that it floats, so you could hang it over the side of your boat or kayak if fishing (you'll still need to tether it to your vessel), and it'll bob quite happily in the water. 

We've used the 15L medium size at festivals as it can house up to 12 x 330ml cans plus ice and a few small snacks jammed in. But if you want a bigger or smaller option, you're in luck as the IceMule also sells a Classic Cooler 10L version and a Classic Cooler 20L version, which you wear like a backpack

Best camping cooler: Klarstein Big Picknicker in blue

(Image credit: Klarstein)

5. Klarstein Big Picknicker

A retro-style car camping cooler that also has a heating mode

Capacity: 24L
Cold performance: constant when powered
Weight: 3kg
Reasons to buy
+Keeps items hot or cold+Cool retro style

You’ll turn heads when you pitch up at the campsite, park or beach with the Big Picknicker: we know because we’ve done it. This beautiful camping cooler has a distinct retro style, but there’s nothing outdated about the tech it uses to keep your beers and food ice cold even when it’s sweltering hot outside.

A must for car campers too, the Big Picknicker 24L thermo-cool box plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter socket so that it continuously keeps its contents cold or warm. Yep, it actually has two operating modes: Cool and Heating. 

There’s plenty of room inside the cooler for glasses as well as tupperware, bottles and cans, so you’ll be able to take everything you need for a sumptuous picnic. Or you can remove the dishwasher-safe insert and have maximum storage space for more food and drinks.

Best camping cooler: Kampa Chilly Bin in black

(Image credit: Kampa)

6. Kampa Chilly Bin

The best camping cooler for short breaks and beach days

Capacity: 25L
Cold performance: 4 days
Weight: 2.84kg
Reasons to buy
+Ideal for the beach or park+Holds food and drinks for two

If there’s a cuter camping cooler than the 25L Chilly Bin, we’ve yet to find it. Kampa’s wipe-clean passive cooler also uses PU foam for insulation, and comes in a range of sizes: 25L, 42L, 50L and 60L. 

The smallest version (pictured above) features an easy-grip handle and a tough lid designed with a built-in elasticated retaining clip. This is handy because you can use it to keep other small items – think suncream or your beach towel – secured to the top of the cooler. 

Simple to use, just throw in your freezer blocks or line it with ice cubes, add in your drinks and snacks and the Chilly Bin will keep it all deliciously chilled and fresh for over four days.

Best camping cooler: Igloo Wheelie Cool 38L Coolbox

(Image credit: Igloo)

7. Igloo Wheelie Cool 38L Coolbox

A budget-friendly coolbox that looks like a kids’ sit-and-ride toy

Capacity: 36L
Cold performance: 3 days
Weight: 5.9kg
Reasons to buy
+Decent cold performance+Reinforced tow handle

Ok so it looks basic, and yes it resembles a child’s ride-along toy rather than a coolbox, but it’s in our best camping coolers buyer’s guide for a few reasons. The first is the not-too-shabby 36L capacity, ensuring you have plenty of storage space (for approx 60 330ml drinks cans). 

The second is the Ultratherm insulation tech in the body and lid, which keeps ice frozen for up to three days. That’s more than enough for use at barbecues, festivals, or weekend camping trips. Just throw your pre-chilled goodies inside then close the lid.

The reinforced tow handle and rugged wheels team up to ensure its easy to pull-along, or you could lift and carry it over short distances via the sturdy side handles. 

Best camping cooler: Tourit Insulated Leakproof Cool Bag 22L

(Image credit: Tourit)

8. Tourit Insulated Leakproof Cool Bag 22L

Sling this over your shoulder for beach days and hiking

Capacity: 22L
Cold performance: 16 hours
Weight: 590g
Reasons to buy
+Easy to carry+Perfect for day adventures

Not every product in our best camping coolers guide features wheels, as Tourit’s design shows: this one is more a record bag-style cooler, with a thick and comfy handle for slinging over your shoulder. Bonus: it also comes with a bottle opener.

It’s robustly built too, with an insulated and leak-proof lining to ensure your snacks and drinks remain cool for up to 16 hours if you draft in a couple of freezer blocks. You can stuff roughly 22L of treats into this cooler bag, with dedicated pockets and zips for all of your picnic gear (bottle openers, cutlery and so on) or your phone, keys and wallet.

The Tourit Cool Bag is also water-resistant, tear-resistant and easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth, so don’t worry about it getting it covered in mud or other outdoors stains if you’re taking it on an extended country walk.

Best camping cooler: Outwell Deep Cool 50L Coolbox

(Image credit: Outwell)

9. Outwell Deep Cool 50L Coolbox

The best camping cooler for heavy duty use

Reasons to buy
+Ideal for car camping+Heavy duty cooler+Fresh food basket

What a beast! If you want a super-rugged, long lasting camping cooler that doesn’t mess around, Outwell will see you right with its Deep Cool 50L Coolbox for proper campervan holidays and car camping. In other words, don’t even think of lugging this behemoth to the park for the day. 

This compressor cooler plugs into your car’s lighter socket and can be used with either 12V or 230V adaptors (the latter is included for EU/UK plugs). It cools to -18 and warms to +10, so, like the Klarstein, it can also keep food and drinks warm. 

There’s a removable basket for storing ice or fresh food, with plenty of space for other goodies. The rugged plastic lid pings back easily, and you can grasp the entire cooler by the spring-loaded handles to wrestle it into place.

DC/AC Electric 24 L Coolbox

10. DC/AC Electric 24 L Coolbox

For a continuous cold supply, hook this coolbox up to your car battery or pitch electric supply

Capacity: 24L
Cold performance: Without power - 5 hours
Weight: 5.9kg
Reasons to buy
+Hook up to mains or car battery+Reliable cooling

With both a car battery and electric hook up adapter, you can ensure that your precious bacon rashers, sausages and beers remain cool for the entire length of your trip. 

While the capacity may be on the small side compared to other camping coolers in the list and it’s the heaviest, if you require a reliable means to keep your food cool you can’t really go wrong. 

If you’re looking to hook it up to your car battery intermittently throughout your trip, you may want to make sure your car is up to the job first - a jump start exit from the campsite probably won’t be your finest hour.  

About the author...

Claire Davies is Senior Content Editor at T3 and routinely tests camping gear, and walking and hiking tech for the Outdoors channel.