Best Cooler Reviews & Guide – Find The Best Ice Chest For Your Needs

best cooler reviews guide
Coolers, we all have them.  Look around your home and you’re bound to find at least one.  You may even have one that you use on a daily basis, though it may not be the best cooler, but hey that’s why you’re here, right?

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They come in many shapes, many sizes and many colors.  However, you can probably agree that they all aren’t equal when it comes to functionality. Some leak, some just can’t seem to keep contents cold and others seem to leave you refilling it with ice.

One thing is for sure though; at some point in time you’ll need a cooler or ice chest. Before you go and pick one, take a look on our best cooler comparison table, followed by reviews of our top picks. We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to.

Best Coolers – Comparison Table

 PictureProduct NameSize AvailableRoto-
molded
Ice Retention
(our score)
Price
.Yeti Tundra20 - 420 QTYes5 star$$$
.Pelican ProGear20 - 150 QTYes4 half star$$
.Grizzly Cooler15 - 400 QTYes5 star$$$
.Engel DeepBlue25 - 320 QT Yes4 half star$$
.Orca Heavy Duty20 - 140 QTYes5 star$$$
.Coleman Steel54 QTNo4 stars$
.Igloo Yukon50 - 150 QTYes5 star$$$
.Coolest Cooler55 QTNo4 stars$$
.K2 Summit20 - 120 QTYes4 half star$$

Note: As you can see above, most of our “best cooler” picks are rotationally molded coolers. This is because of the superior insulation the rotomolding technology provides. If you’re looking for the best cooler for keeping ice then don’t forget to read our best high end cooler guide.

Why To Opt For a Best Ice Cooler?

Of course there are many reasons why you may need a new cooler but we’d venture a guess that one of YOUR reasons may probably sound like this…

You work long hours with no access to a refrigerator and NEED a cooler to keep your lunch, breakfast, dinner or snacks chilled to take with you on the go at work.

Or this…

You need an ice chest to keep the drinks at an optimal temperature at your events, parties or gatherings.

Or even this…

You find that the power frequently goes out in your area, and you need a cooler for emergency purposes.

Did we guess right?

We are here to help you choose right. We know you can’t just pick up any old cooler.  What you need is the best one that will fill all of your needs.  With that in mind, we’ve scoured the internet, taken the hard work out of it and looked at some of the best on the market.

The result is what you have below – the best of the best when it comes to coolers.  Here’s our list of the best cooler reviews and our top picks:

Ice Chest Reviews – Our Top 5 Best Rated Coolers

YETI Tundra Series Coolers – The Best Cooler For So Many of You

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Click for more pictures (Amazon link)

With most users rating this at a five out of five stars, you can’t help but take a closer look at what one user called a “portable refrigerator when used PROPERLY.”

It’s also important to note that the YETI series comes in various sizes from 20 quarts to 65 quarts.

YETI’s PermaFrost Insulation will provide you with days of frozen ice.  While some of that will melt, many users have reported frozen ice even after several days of use.

YETI’s ColdLock Gasket will reduce and minimize the amount of unwanted air that will get in, which means heat stays out while cold stays in.

The ability to hold temperatures for long periods of time is what one user reported.  Which bears mentioning – if you only plan on using a cooler for a few hours at a time, then perhaps you may want to look at others.

However, if you will be trekking for long periods of time (think days), then this will serve your purposes well.

Some users mentioned that the ice did not stay frozen for long periods of time, but one user mentioned that this was probably due to improper use.  The user mentioned that the cooler should be packed and filled as much as possible, and should be pre-cooled before packing, which he accomplishes by simply placing a few frozen water bottles in the night before use.

The YETI is priced a bit higher, but one can agree that the price will be well worth it when you find your items still frozen after a few days out camping. That’s what makes it one of the best, if not the best cooler available on the market right now. But don’t just take our word, go here to check all customer reviews on the Amazon.

Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler – One Of The Best Coolers For Keeping Ice

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Click to read customer reviews on Amazon

Just as the sentence above states: the Pelican Cooler boasts a whopping seven to ten days of ice retention a.k.a. frozen ice.  While that may sound a bit exaggerated, many users have sworn that it keeps ice for extended periods of time AND in extreme temperatures.

One user wanted to give it a test run BEFORE taking it out camping.  After filling the cooler with just ice, without pre-cooling it, he left it in his garage.  The results: Garage temperatures in triple digits and frozen ice after four days.  The same user reported eight total days of ice in the cooler, which matches up to the manufacturer’s claims.  Not too bad.

The Pelican ProGear Cooler comes in different sizes and offers much in the way of functionality with stainless steel hardware, tie downs built in and a locking area so you can keep heat AND thieves out.

Some users mentioned having a few problems with this cooler, though they did mention receiving great customer service upon calling in to the manufacturer.  A few users also reported that the cooler leaked, but this seemed to be in the minority, rather than the majority throughout several hundred reviews on Amazon alone.

While this item is priced considerably less than the YETI, many mentioned that it is a great alternative to those looking for a durable cooler that is comparable to the YETI, yet are looking for a cost savings.  If you are looking for the best cooler for keeping ice, then this may be an option you might want to consider.

Engel USA DeepBlue Series High Performance Coolers

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Click for more color options (Amazon link)

What’s one of the main things you have to do AFTER using a cooler or replacing the ice?  If you said drain the existing water out then you’d be right.

If you have ever tried doing this yourself then you know what a PAIN it can be.  Engel’s DeepBlue coolers offer ease in this department with a pitched floor, which means that water will self drain completely.

But wait!  There’s more…

Coming in various sizes to meet all of your cooler needs, these coolers also offer two-inch walls of polyurethane insulation.

Boaters love this cooler, as one user mentioned that the non-marking feet help to keep the cooler in place, especially in rough water.

Again, some users mentioned that the ice would not hold and that they melted quickly, but these claims were quickly challenged by users mentioning the use of frozen ice on warm beverages.  They say ice will simply melt, as the cooler is not a refrigerator.

Users also reported proper preparation such as pre-cooling to get optimum use and frozen ice time using the DeepBlue coolers.

This cooler just may win the contest for best ice chest durability, as several users have mentioned the ability to stand on this cooler if it is properly tied down.  It may also win best ice cooler to do jumping jacks on, as a user reported being able to jump up and down on some of the parts without damaging them.

While you may not want to exercise on your DeepBlue cooler, this is a nice thing to keep note of if you plan on putting yours through some wear and tear.

If you’re interested, check out Engel DeepBlue’s product listing on Amazon to check out customer reviews and the latest price.

Coleman Steel Cooler – Best Cooler for The Money (Nostalgic Division)

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Click to see larger pictures (Amazon link)

Coleman is a brand that everyone has come to know and recognize, which is why it may win our “Nostalgic Division” prize, as well as our best cooler for the money prize.

All joking aside though, Coleman is a name synonymous with ice chests and ice coolers.  Many have grown up remembering family trips, parties or gatherings where sodas or other canned beverages were kept in a Coleman cooler.

This cooler only comes in one size measuring 25.5 inches by 17.6 inches by 17.4 inches, and boasts a capacity of 85 cans.  If you are looking to purchase a cooler with name brand recognition, then this may be a cooler that you want to take a closer look at.

You’ll find this cooler easy to carry with side handles and rubber grips.  While the appearance may give you the impression that it is completely stainless steel, please keep in mind that it is not.  Rather, it is steel belted which means it is a plastic cooler encased in steel.

Some users have reported problems with the latching mechanism, but these seemed to be in the minority of reviewers.  While it can be agreed that these are not built like their predecessors, they are still sturdy and can hold ice for up to a few days.

A few hacks that some users mentioned provided for longer ice retention times, things such as cooling items before placing into the cooler and sandwiching items with ice blocks in the bottom of the cooler and crushed ice on top.

If you want a cooler that will bring back some memories and provide you with ample space for your items, then you may want to have a closer look at the Coleman ice chests. If you’re looking to buy this particular Coleman Steel cooler then go here to see the latest price on Amazon.

Orca Extra Heavy Duty Cooler – Best Ice Cooler With Extra Storage

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Click for more details (Amazon link)

Need a cooler with some extra storage space?  If you do then you may want to have a look at the various sized coolers that Orca has to offer.  We are calling this one the best ice cooler with extra storage space.

Why?

It’s because the Orca comes with extra storage space.  Found on the back of the cooler is a cargo net attachment for you to store any extra items you may need to.  This is extremely useful if the items don’t necessarily need to be chilled, such as Ziploc bags or twist ties.

100% manufactured in the US, the Orca ice cooler, comes with flexible handgrips to make it easy while transporting and carrying.  The gasket found on the lid also gives you the best seal possible to extend the life of your ice.

One user decided to put this cooler through its paces as well, similar as to what was mentioned in the Pelican cooler overview above.  However, this time more than a visual test was done.  A four-day test was completed with an IR handheld thermometer.

Over the course of the four days, the outside temperatures neared triple digits, while the temperature inside the cooler stayed anywhere between 34 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit with ice still to be found.

Some users mentioned that it’s a bit smaller and heavier, but with results like the ones mentioned above, you can probably live with it.  These coolers come in various sizes and if you are on a budget you may want to consider these as a viable option to the others on this list. As for the price, you’ll find a good deal on Amazon – for your convenience here is a direct link to the Amazon listing.

Meet The Best Ice Chest Brands

With so many different coolers and ice chests to choose from, how do you decide?  Here’s a quick look at seven of them:

Yeti Coolers

Recognized as the industry standard when it comes to top of the line coolers, many often have debated when it comes to choosing between the Yeti vs. Pelican.  The Seiders brothers designed this cooler from a life spent hunting, fishing and spending much of their time outdoors.  They built them for the serious outdoor enthusiast.  While they may be a bit higher priced, you can get Yeti coolers on sale from some online retailers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgwejaTNZmI

Pelican Coolers

On the other side of the debate is the Pelican vs. Yeti discussion.  The early beginnings of the Pelican brand saw a line of protective cases being built.  After decades of producing such cases, they were able to build some of the industry’s most durable and functional coolers, with premium features such as locking latches and wide wheels for softer terrain.  Want to learn more about these top shelf coolers? Then check out our Pelican coolers on sale post.

Coleman Coolers

Chances are good that at some point in time, either you or someone you knew owned one of these coolers.  It can be said that W.C. Coleman was a visionary, though he had very poor eyesight.  Starting off with selling gas lamps in the early 1900’s, the company soon evolved and carried equipment that met outdoor adventures’ needs, and this included the necessities you’d need while camping or fishing.  Enter the Coleman cooler. With a variety to choose from, you can easily find the best Coleman cooler for your needs, and bring back some of those early memories.

Igloo Cooler

While the Coleman cooler is popular, much of the same can be said of Igloo.  Starting and originating the cooler industry in 1947, Igloo has been at the forefront of many homes in the US.  In fact, research has shown that three out of every four households in the US owns at least one Igloo cooler.  In the Igloo vs. Yeti discussion, you find the perfect battle of classic versus future when it comes to coolers.  While the jury is still out on this discussion, you can still find the best Igloo cooler for your needs.

Grizzly Coolers

Have you ever wondered who would win in a fight between a Grizzly vs. Yeti?  While this may sound like two large animals going at it, what we are talking about is the cooler variety kind.  You have already briefly seen what Yeti has to offer, Grizzly not to be outdone, has 30 years of experience in rotationally molded plastics, and manufacture their coolers to last with a lifetime warranty to back their products.  If you are more of a Grizzly person, then you can check out Grizzly coolers for sale.

Engel Coolers

With tons of outdoor equipment to offer the avid outdoorsman, Engel offers up a good challenge when it comes to Engel vs. Yeti. If earlier testing of products mentioned earlier didn’t impress you then this should.  Engel’s testing benchmarks include this – approval by getting past a hungry grizzly bear.  We can’t make this stuff up.  Want a bear approved cooler?  Then check out the Engel coolers for sale.

Orca Coolers

The running theme for cooler manufacturers seems to be naming them after large animals.  Once again Orca Coolers fits the bill.  Cliff Walker wanted to build a cooler that not only withstood the outdoors, but also a product that he could use for a greater good – building them with American hands by putting American back in the work force.  That, in and of itself, may have you pulling for the former in the Orca vs. Yeti battle, and if you are interested in seeing more, then see these Orca coolers for sale.

The Comprehensive Buyers’ Guide To Coolers & Ice Chests

How do you decide which is the best cooler for your needs?  Well, that is only an answer you can come up with.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get started:

What do you plan on using the cooler for?

If the cooler will be used on long trips, where you will be away from accommodations for a few days, BUT will be in an area with other campers, where you may want to keep your food items locked while unattended, then security may be of a concern.

Suggestion:  Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler

Why Pelican?  Pelican offers one of the best coolers on the market with a locking mechanism.  Users have reported the ability of this cooler to retain ice in even the hottest conditions making it an ideal choice.

Your turn:  What will you be using the cooler for?  Will it be used for day trips only or for storing small amounts of food?  If this is the case, then you may want to consider something smaller.

Tip: you may also want to read our post about choosing the best camping cooler or best small cooler.

What environment will the cooler be used in?

Will you need a cooler that will be tossed and turned as you go on your next adventure?  If you need a cooler that can stay in place, while you hit the waves (no, not on a surfboard, but in a boat), without it scratching the floors, then you may want to keep this type of cooler in mind.

Suggestion: Engel USA DeepBlue Series High Performance Cooler

Why Engel?  Boaters have mentioned the functionality of this cooler.  Users who are boaters have already put these through their paces in real life boating situations, and the DeepBlue series has held up.

Your turn:  Where will your next adventure take you?  Do you need something that will be sliding around and can take the punishment?  Is this not really a concern for you?  If it isn’t then take a look around and see what other coolers have to offer.

What is your price range?

Is price a concern for you?  Do you have a definite need for a heavy duty cooler but are on a budget?  If you know you need something more than what they have to offer at your local store, then you may want to have a closer look at the others on the list here.

Suggestion: Coleman Steel Cooler

Why Coleman?  It’s a name that many already recognize when it comes to coolers.  If you need a quality cooler at a lower price, from a company with a long-standing reputation in the cooler industry, then Coleman may be the best cooler for the money, your money that is.

Your turn:  Can you afford something a bit higher?  If your budget is slightly higher and you are looking for something a little more durable, then you may want to check out some of the other products here.  For instance, some of the coolers that Orca and Engel have to offer are a little more than Coleman’s prices, but can offer you a bit more.

What size cooler do you need?

Will you be the only one using the cooler or will you need to pack enough food or drinks for the entire family?  Will you need to pack food or drinks for multiple days or even a week?  Once you determine what you’re needs are when it comes to size, then you can determine which cooler to choose.

Suggestion:  Orca Heavy Duty Cooler

Why Orca?  The range of sizes goes from 20 quarts to 75 quarts, ensuring that you will be able to find the right size to fit your needs.  This cooler is also ideal for many as the attached cargo net provides extra storage space for items not needing refrigeration.

Your turn:  How many people are you packing for?  How many days will you need to pack for?  How much food and drinks will you need for everyone?  While you may try to find a cooler that will allow you to fit specific amounts of food and drinks, you may want to consider getting something slightly bigger to accommodate anything that may happen (think someone spilling food or accidentally throwing something out).

For instance, if you find that the 20 quarts is what you need, then you may want to opt for the next bigger size at 26 quarts to be on the safe side.  This also helps you to accommodate any last minute add-ons of individuals wanting to join you on your next camping trip, excursion or event.

Other Considerations

If you have found some coolers that fit your budget and your personal needs, and you still find that you are on the fence, there are other things to take into consideration.  Here are few of them:

Handles

Do you need something with wider grips or softer flexible grips?  Will you be the only one carrying and transporting the cooler?  Is the cooler too wide for you to carry by yourself?  How far will you need to carry the ice chest?

Answering these questions will help you to decide on the best cooler for your needs, as it will help to address the concerns brought up from carrying the actual cooler.  Many of the coolers listed here have different grips and handles, but hopefully you will be able to find one that fits your needs.

Wheels

If you have long distances to transport your cooler, or will be navigating difficult terrain, then you may want to consider getting a cooler with wider wheels or one made from sturdy materials.

Think about where and how you will be using your cooler once again, to help determine the type of build you will require of your ice chest.

Durability / Weight Bearing Capacity

Will your cooler allow you to be able to sit or stand on it?  Will you be piling other things on top of your cooler?  Your personal needs will determine the cooler you decide on.  Some coolers have sturdier hinges and are constructed from stronger material, which will help to make this decision easier.

Tip: you may also want to read our post about Best Backpack Cooler.

Final Thoughts

While you may be tempted to pick any cooler, you will need to keep in mind that the best cooler is not always necessarily the most expensive one and vice versa.

Every cooler provides unique things.  Take a closer look at the different options that each cooler has to offer to determine whether or not they fit your personal needs.

At the end of the day, if a cooler keeps its items cold then that’s all that matters. However, you may require specific functions from your cooler, which is where your due diligence will come into play.

Remember, don’t pick a cooler just to pick one, ask yourself the right questions and get the one that fits your needs the best.

>> Check out all top rated ice chests available on Amazon.

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