Wooden Ice Chest!? Best Rustic Wooden Coolers for that Vintage Look

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In this day and age, we would certainly forgive you if you’d never heard of a wooden ice chest or wooden cooler before.

After all, all coolers are made out of plastic or metal, right?


In this latest article on our cooler blog, we’ll talk about the best wooden ice chests, rustic coolers, and wooden ice boxes currently on the market — unless you’re a fan of some of those popular home makeover TV shows, you’ve likely you’ve never seen or heard of these before, but we’re here to tell you that rustic country coolers are set to be one of the hottest new outdoor patio furniture trends for this summer.

So delve on in and treat yourself to one of the newest, funnest, and most stylish cooler designs to hit the market in decades!

Best Wooden Cooler on the Market: Our TOP Picks

54 qt Rustic Cooler by Leigh Country Coolers

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This large, 54-quart cooler just screams ‘cowboy’ – with the weathered, grey-wash finish, the Texas star and horseshoe, and the powder coated hardware, not only does this thing look phenomenal in a rustic patio decor, it stands up to brutal outdoor abuse as well.

The cooler liner is fully insulated and made of 100% galvanized steel, and is fitted with an easy drain plug at the bottom for quick cleanup after a long afternoon BBQ’ing.

Most folks say that the cooler has no problem holding ice from early afternoon until late in the evening – even on the hottest of summer days. Kept in the patio shade and out of direct sunlight, it’ll easily keep ice for a couple of days.

Why we like it 

  • Rustic powder coating hardware, including an integrated bottle opener
  • Makes all of our neighbors jealous
  • Stands solid as a rock, and is pretty easy to put together

Merry Garden Wooden Ice Chest / Patio Cooler

This louvered wooden patio cooler from Merry Garden has a bit more of an elegant, sophisticated look than the rustic, farm-style Leigh Country cooler, but don’t let the sleek aesthetics fool you – this is an outdoor patio cooler through and through that has been built to withstand the elements for years on end.

With a beautiful oil-stain finish and an exterior made of exotic eucalyptus hardwood, the cooler more than holds its own in terms of style and design, even alongside the finest, most prestigious of outdoor decors — certainly the classiest wooden ice box on our list.

At almost 24” long and 20” high, it’s not a large cooler by any means, so don’t expect it to take up half of your outdoor deck area. For size reference though, it’s designed to hold 18 12-ounce cans or bottles, ice included.

Why we like it

  • Classy design and the eucalyptus hardwood is a guaranteed conversation-starter
  • Fitted with easy drain plug
  • Steel handles for easy transport
  • Works great as an outdoor bench/foot rest too – you’d never know it was a cooler
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Cambridge Casual: Weathered Wooden Cooler Ice Chest

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This one is actually very similar in style to the Merry Garden cooler above, albeit with a more rugged, rustic look, and made out of solid mahogany hardwood instead of eucalyptus.

It’s the same exact size and has the same flip-up lid, and classy-looking brass side handles for easy transport/moving around. One thing that we do like a little more about this one is it seems to have a slightly better gasket – expect it to keep cool and hold ice just a little longer than the eucalyptus cooler.

Again, one of the things that folks like best about this cooler is that it doubles as a nice piece of patio furniture, until you actually need to use it as an ice chest.

In fact, most people that we know end up buying two or three of these, as they’re fine accents to your patio decor, and are super handy when hosting those summertime BBQ’s and outdoor get togethers.

Cedar Cooler – Gronomics Western Red Cedar Ice Chest (w/ cover)

In terms of quality and craftsmanship, this solid western red cedar cooler is definitely the finest on our list – it is 100% handcrafted in the USA, and is a true conversation piece for any garden, cabin, or outdoor patio/deck area.

In terms of a charming, elegant, classy wooden cooler, you certainly will not find anything nicer or better made.

It is a bit on the heavy side, but you know what they say – heavy is a sign of reliability and quality craftsmanship. Just don’t expect to be moving it all over your deck or backyard a whole let.

Why we like it

  • 100% handcrafted in the USA of western red cedar – what more is there to say?
  • Comes with a really quality, heavyweight canvas cover for enhanced protection (especially during the winter months)
  • Will hold a full case of 24 cans or bottles, plus about 20 lbs of ice
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Rustic Cooler and All-in-One BBQ Grilling Prep Set

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Now this one is the whole shebang —  if you’re looking for the perfect country cooler, outdoor BBQ set, and/or vintage ice chest all in one, this is absolutely your pick.

This is a big unit, and will no doubt be the centerpiece of your patio decor; it includes two handcrafted wooden cooler storage areas that come with insulated, flush-fitting Coleman coolers, a BBQ grill prep cart, a folding side shelf, wine bottle rack, two roll-out drawers on the bottom, a cutting board, knife stand, ice tray, towel rack, and locking wheel casters for easy moving — are you kidding me!?

Seriously, this has got to be the ultimate rustic, wooden ice chest that’s the absolute king of the bunch in terms of getting the most out of your summertime outdoor festivities.

The only thing it’s missing is, well, the grill itself!

Wooden Cooler Stand by Backyard Discovery

This is one of our favorite rustic ice chest designs, due in large part to the fully functional, old-timey cast iron wheels it sports.

Cast iron is just about unheard of anymore in terms of home furniture or home appliances, and it’s a darn shame – there’s just nothing that screams vintage quality moreso than a rough, heavy-duty hunk of metal.

Along with the ring-style towel holder, iron handles, built-in bottle opener, and stain-washed finish, this is another great aesthetic piece that fits in perfectly with the rustic, country-style patio decor.

The cooler itself is fully insulated and sealed with a 360-degree gasket, so you can expect to get some quality ice retention out of it – at least 24 hours worth before your ice starts melting like Frosty the Snowman on a summer afternoon.

Size-wise, a lot of folks have said that it’s just about the perfect volume for medium to large-size outdoor get togethers, as it measures almost 4 ft tall and 29” across, easily able to hold about three cases (48 cans/bottles) of beverages.

Why we like it

  • Larger design that’s made to host big summertime get togethers
  • Good price and 5-year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Love the cast iron wheels, ring towel holder, and iron hardware
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Shopping for a Wooden Ice Chest: What You Need to Know

Let’s be perfectly clear about something – chances are, you’re not buying or shopping for a wooden cooler because of their superior ice retention.

If it’s ice retention and maximum performance that you’re looking for, you’re much better off checking out the premium rotomolded designs from YETI, Pelican, or a similar high-end cooler brands.

wooden coolerRustic wooden ice chests are all about aesthetics – if you’re into exterior design or have even a slight concern for your outdoor furniture or patio decoration, nothing is more off-putting than a cheap, gaudy plastic cooler sitting right in the middle of your vintage, rustic-style decor – especially to tasteful guests that you’ve invited over for that perfect summertime BBQ.

That being said, you can still expect all of these wooden coolers that we’ve included on our list to perform well. They won’t hold ice for a week straight or survive a fall out of an airplane, but for a full afternoon/evening’s worth of outdoor festivities, they’ll hold ice just fine all day long.

Another thing that you’ll want to consider when checking out the perfect wooden cooler, is distinguishing between real wood and fake wood. More often than not this is as simple as reading over a product description, but if you end up buying a quality real wood ice chest, keep in mind that you might have to maintain it.

Every product we’ve chosen on here has been pre-treated and stained for maintenance-free outdoor use, but never every one that you’ll come across will be able to say the same. Just before that you read all labels carefully, and know what you’re getting into before you buy – you certainly wouldn’t want a brand new, high-dollar wooden ice chest to go bad after a single season, just because you didn’t treat it properly.

wooden ice chest - made in us

Of course, price will probably be the single best determining factor to help you realize what kind of quality you’re dealing with; a several hundred dollar cooler will almost certainly be handcrafted in the USA and made of a solid hardwood, while cheaper products will likely be imported and constructed of cheap, imitation woods (chipboard, MDF, veneered particle board, etc.)

And lastly, make sure to consider what size you need. How many people do you plan on having over? How many cans/bottles are you going to want to stash inside? What about cleanup? Does it have a drain plug? Fully-sealed lid? What are people saying in the reviews?

These are all things to take into consideration as you’re shopping for that perfect wooden ice chest to set up on your backyard patio this summer.

Wooden Ice Chests: The Bottom Line

All in all, wooden ice chest are an awesome way to spice up your patio decor and liven things up with a vintage, rustic-style look.

In a world where super high-end, several hundred dollar plastic ice chests seem to get all the attention, recognition, and marketing consideration, perhaps it’s time to take a step back in time, drift away from the crowd, and set your own style with a new, unique, country-style wooden ice chest!

Last update on 2024-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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Greg’s a co-founder of bestcooler.reviews and author of 100+ product reviews and comparisons on this website. When not at work, Greg’s an avid sportsman who enjoys running marathons, loves snowboarding, hiking and discovering new single tracks on his bike.

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