INSIDE: Roam the Gnome’s Camping Cooler Reviews – The Best Cooler for Camping.
We’ve gathered a list of the TOP RATED COOLERS FOR CAMPING, including:
- the best ice chests for camping
- the best large camping coolers
- the best plug in cooler and battery powered coolers for camping
- the best cooler for car camping
- the best soft cooler bags, the best hard side coolers and
- the best backpack cooler
If you’ve ever asked, “what is the best cooler?”, we’ve got you covered.
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you book a product or service after clicking on one of these links, we may receive a small commission at NO extra cost to you.
- 1 THE 7 BEST COOLERS FOR CAMPING
- 2 THE BEST COOLER FOR CAMPING COMPARISON CHART
- 3 SEARCH BY TYPES OF COOLERS
- 4 The Best Large Camping Cooler
- 5 The Best Ice Chest for Camping
- 6 The Best Extra Large Ice Chest
- 7 The Best Coolers with Wheels
- 8 The Best Backpack Cooler – Yeti Backpack Cooler
- 9 More Cool Bag Backpacks
- 10 The Best Plug In cooler
- 11 MORE OF THE BEST COOLERS FOR CAR CAMPING & HIKING
- 12 The Best Cooler for Car Camping
- 13 The Best Soft Side Cooler
- 14 The Best Hard Side Cooler
- 15 BONUS: The Best Floating cooler
- 16 The Best Cooler Brands in Australia
- 17 BEST ICE PACKS FOR COOLERS
- 18 HEALTHY CAMPING SNACKS
- 19 More Fun Camping Food
- 20 Want more of Roam the Gnome’s Best Travel Tips?
THE 7 BEST COOLERS FOR CAMPING
The best rated coolers for camping have one thing in common – the ability to keep food cold (or cool) for an extended period, so that food doesn’t spoil and become a risk factor for food-borne diseases.
The second most important consideration is how easy they are to clean.
There’s nothing worse than returning well rested after a camping trip, and then spending the next few hours having to scrub your cooler clean before you can pack it away for the next trip.
The third, how easy they are to transport to and from the car or van to the campsite.
We’ve considered these factors and more when compiling this great resource on buying the best cooler for camping by the best cooler brands.
THE BEST COOLER FOR CAMPING COMPARISON CHART
|Name||Image||Type||Verdict||Ease of cleaning||Toadstool rating (/5)|
|RTIC Cooler 65 quart||Large camping cooler||Best All-Round large cooler!||Easy. (Drain)||5/5|
|Pelican 50 Quart||Large camping cooler||Best rugged design.||Easy. (Drain)||5/5|
|RTIC 110 Quart Ice Chest in Seafoam Green (or alt. colors)||Ice chest||Popular choice.||Easy (Drain)||5/5|
|YETI Tundra 125 Quart||Extra large ice chest||Built like a tank.||Very easy. (2 drains)||4.5/5|
|Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler||Cooler with wheels||Best for festivals & events.||Easy. (Drain)||4/5|
|YETI Backpack Cooler||Backpack cooler||Most stylish backpack coolers.||Moderately easy.||4/5|
|Knox Electric Cooler for car||Plug in cooler||Good car fridge.||Wipe clean.||4/5|
|Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler||Plug in cooler||Great ergonomic design.||Wipe clean.||3.5/5|
|Coleman Everyday Cooler 28 quart||Hard side cooler||Best for budget.||Average.||5/5|
|Yeti Roadie Cooler||Hard side cooler||Pros: Indestructible. Stylish. Excellent color choices.|
Cons: Good for short trips only.
|Ozark Trail 26-Quart Cooler in Blue||Hard side cooler||Least favorite.||Average.||2.5/5|
SEARCH BY TYPES OF COOLERS
We’ve listed the best of the best from each category of camping coolers below.
- Large Coolers for camping
- Ice Chests for camping
- Best Cooler with Wheels
- Backpack Coolers
- Soft Side Coolers
- Best Hard Side Coolers for road trips & overnight stays
- Plug In Coolers for car camping
The Best Large Camping Cooler
The best large coolers for camping are ideal for marine expeditions, boating, hunting trips, and family camping vacations, and as extra refrigeration for parties at home!
You can use it as an extra bench to prep your dinner, a non-slip stool or as a table when you are ready to eat.
These coolers are still small enough for one strong person to carry.
RTIC Coolers 65 quart or 45 quart
The RTIC 65 quart cooler can hold 64 cans, or 70 pounds of ice, just to give you an idea of size.
- Rubber seals prevent water and air getting in or out
- Has a drain plug to aid cleaning
- Keeps ice for days (up to a week)
- Hot tip: pre-chill the cooler before you start and the ice will keep even longer
- You need to buy the basket separately
- Doesn’t come with tie down straps
- Heavy to lift
- No wheels but you can buy a wheel kit
Best of the lot!
Super popular, with lots of happy customers.
Buy in one of two sizes, either 65 quart (our pick) or if you prefer slightly smaller, buy the 45 quart.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: RTIC Cooler (RTIC 65 Blue)
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: RTIC Cooler (RTIC 45 Tan)
Pelican Ice Chest
This one is for the hard core road trip enthusiasts and campers who go off road. It’s SUPER tough and looks it.
Pelican seals are good quality, and proven to work to prevent leakage.
The fixed handles are a godsend when you have to carry it into camp. This feature alone is worth the bucks. The robust, rugged look and shape appeals to outdoorsy types.
Use a cable and lock when out and about to keep it safe, or take it indoors when you sleep.
- Comes in LOTS of colors including cactus green, canyon red, coyote tan, combos like the one pictured in tan & orange, and Americana – red, white and blue. It wins the Roam the Gnome award for best color names!
- Made in America, and has a lifetime guarantee!
- 100% waterproof, leakproof and will keep ice for up to 3 days
- Trusted brand
- Lid is not flat.
- Shaped like a big toolbox. No one wants to be reminded of work!
The thick shell makes it almost indestructible, and the rubber seal stops leakage.
There’s a drain plug, a helpful addition when cleaning it out.
Excellent buying for those who own large vehicles with trays to carry it. This is one of the top coolers for camping and outdoors when the outdoors is your life.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler
The Best Ice Chest for Camping
RTIC Ice Chest 110 Quart
This RTIC camping ice chest has a 110 quart capacity, meaning it can hold 110 cans, or 115 pounds of ice.
Even though it’s built like a tank, it’s designed NOT to sweat. It’s spacious, and can hold a weeks worth of food and drinks for the average family camping trip.
It’s built like a tank, with awesome insulation to keep ice for 7-10 days.
It also has a drain to help with easy cleaning.
This ice chest is a popular seller, and it’s no wonder. It’s the best camping cooler for the money.
- Comes in regular white or tan, but also these fab colors: Seafoam green (as pictured) or Blue.
- Rotomolded cooler with heavy duty T latches
- Has tie down spots
- Easy to handle
- Very heavy when full
- Doesn’t have wheels. (You can buy a cooler wheel kit from Sherpa Outdoor Products to convert it into a RTIC wheeled cooler)
The flat lid design allows this ice cooler chest to do double duty as an extra seat on a boat or at the campsite, a table for eating, a bench to work on, a play table for the kids, a spot to play board games – all while keeping food and drink cold!
That’s why it’s the best camper cooler for families.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: RTIC 110 Quart Ice Chest for Big Adventures (buy in your choice of color)
The Best Extra Large Ice Chest
Tundra Yeti Ice Chest
If you need a giant sized ice chest for super huge camping adventures, the Yeti Tundra cooler 125 is the pick of the bunch.
These outdoor coolers are built to withstand almost anything! (including bears)
Take it on your off road adventures, hunting trips, fishing expeditions, but use it at home for backyard BBQ’s too.
This is the best of the best coolers for keeping ice. Definitely worth the investment.
- Built for all kinds of weather
- Extra thick walls with up to 2 inches of insulation
- Super tough T-Rex Lid latches that won’t break
- Ice lasts at least a week, and maybe longer
- Has a sealed drain on either side
- Can’t lift this on your own
- You need to buy the wheels separately (then it’s the best camping cooler with wheels)
NOTHING compares to this Tundra cooler if you are a serious outdoor family, or love camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing adventures. It’s worth every cent.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: YETI Tundra 125 Cooler
The Best Coolers with Wheels
Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler with wheels
This hard side cooler is a good one if you want a portable cooler on wheels, and have room in the trunk or between the seats for it.
A hard side cooler is the best if you have the space in your vehicle, as they offer the best long term protection for food and drink, and stop the food from getting squashed.
This 60 quart Igloo camping cooler is a good medium sized cooler and the fact it has wheels adds bonus points for movability.
- Budget price for a wheeled cooler
- Trusted brand for mid range coolers
- Has a drain
- Holds four cup holders in the lid
- Has molded side scoop handles to help you lift it into your car or truck
- Use as a seat at your own risk. It’s not built to hold bodies!
- You need to be gentle with the telescopic handle. It’s not built for off road adventures.
This is an awesome cooler for day trips, picnics, opera in the park, festival camping, and short camping trips.
Older kids can help roll it to the campsite.
Our pick of the best wheeled coolers on the market for festivals, parties, gatherings and bbq’s. But they also make good coolers for camping food.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler
You can find more options below.
The Best Backpack Cooler – Yeti Backpack Cooler
The Yeti Hopper
The Yeti Backpack Cooler is very tall, and can carry a lot. Don’t let the pictures deceive you.
This portable backpack for drinks and food is the ideal cooler when you travel with kids, as it means you are hands-free when you get to your destination and can keep an eye on the little ones.
The quality is excellent, as you’d expect from YETI. It’s a comfortable carry too, with thick padded straps, and a solid backplate.
It’s also the MOST stylish cooler backpack around!
Hot tip: Cool the inside of the cooler BEFORE you load it, and it will keep ice cold for even longer.
To clean it, wipe it with a mild soap and water mixture. Dry it thoroughly with a towel and hang it on the line to air dry completely before storing.
This backpack ice chest is a perfect addition to your camping kit or hiking equipment list.
- Three year warranty
- Perfect size
- Liner is made from food grade material
- May lose its’ square shape after a few uses
- The zipper can be problematic
The BEST backpack cooler on the market, if we may say so.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: YETI Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Sided Backpack Cooler
Polar Bear Cooler Backpack
The ultimate cooler bag for corporate mums who are nursing and need to transport breast milk to and from the office.
This backpack cooler is discreet and practical.
It’s also a fab backpack for cyclers, for teachers to take on school excursions, rangers, gardeners and anyone who works outdoors, for camping treks, and as a hiking day pack with a difference.
- Stylish and professional look
- Carries 18 cans or 12 bottles, plus ice packs
- Insulation is an inch thick, so it’s not easy to compress for storage
- Will not fit under the seat on a plane. (Fits in overhead compartments)
The Polar Bear Cooler is a popular backpack cooler and it’s not hard to see why.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Polar Bear Backpack Cooler in Orange
More Cool Bag Backpacks
Here’s three more insulated backpack cooler bags to check out.
- Pelican Cooler Backpack – the Pelican Elite Backpack Cooler
- Coleman Backpack Cooler – Amazon’s Choice
- Igloo Marine Backpack in White & Navy
The Best Plug In cooler
Here are two of the best electric coolers for camping.
Knox Electric Cooler and Warmer for Car
Top of our list of the best plug in coolers for camping adventures because of the internal size.
It fits all the camping and road trip snacks.
This cooler chills food, or you can flick the switch and warm foods up.
If you are heading out camping for more than a weekend, and have food that you don’t want to spoil, take one of the camper coolers above and bags of ice too.
- Old school look and style
- Has two plugs – one for the wall, and one for the car
- Excellent size – 48 quart can hold 60 cans of soda or 6 two liter bottles & 15 cans
- Has a removable divider so you can sort your groceries
- Doesn’t need ice
- Has wheels, and two handles so you can pull or carry
- The fan is very quiet
- Need to plug in ahead of time to cool things down
- No great at heating up foods. Better used for keeping hot foods from the oven warm during transport.
If you are heading out and have access to a plug, this is a great fridge alternative that doesn’t need ice.
BUY NOW IN AMAZON: Knox Electric Cooler and Warmer 48 quart
Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
This is the best electric cooler for road trips, without doubt.
It’s small, sleek and stylish with enough room for all the healthy snacks that need refrigeration, such as yoghurt, custard, cheese, salami sticks, and milk.
It plugs into the cigarette lighter.
You can purchase an extra cord to use with regular power points.
- You don’t need to keep buying ice
- Ergonomic design so it’s easy to carry
- Quiet motor.
- Can sit on the floor behind the drivers seat, or on the passenger side if you travel alone.
- Wipe it out with a paper towel periodically to stop moisture
- Size is limited for what you can carry and store. Best used for day trips.
- Best to fill it with cold foods and drinks, not warm temperature if you want it to work the best.
A great little investment for road trips, and overnight adventures.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
MORE OF THE BEST COOLERS FOR CAR CAMPING & HIKING
The Best Cooler for Car Camping
Searching for the best car camping coolers?
The best car cooler for camping on a budget is definitely the Camping Fridge.
This is a mini fridge to keep your groceries cool during your adventure.
You can also use it to keep your food warm while you travel along.
- It comes with 2 built in cords, so you can use it with 120V house power sockets or a 12 V DC power outlet in the car.
- Lightweight and easy for one person to carry.
- Budget price
- Only 12 months warranty
Use this one, or either of the two plug in coolers above. All three will do the job.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Camping Fridge 26.4 quart mini fridge in blue
The Best Soft Side Cooler
A soft side cooler is not always the best choice for camping, unless it’s for a short weekend camping trip.
The advantage of a hard side cooler over soft side coolers is protection from the elements, from kids’ feet, and from wild creatures – the bugs, the birds, the bees, and the bears.
(Hopefully you don’t run into the bears!)
That said, soft coolers are fabulous for road trips, hiking,and also for car camping when you don’t have much room
We’ve written the complete guide to the BEST SOFT SIDE COOLERS.
The Best Hard Side Cooler
Hard side coolers are the best for camping as they provide good protection from bugs, birds and wild animals.
Here’s the best four hardside coolers to buy when you need food coolers for camping.
Coleman Everyday Cooler
Looking for a budget cooler for everyday road trips? This Coleman cooler in blue and white has a blue handle.
The Coleman camping cooler is the most popular road trip cooler on the market for family travel.
This one won’t break the bank.
- Holds 38 cans
- You can stand 1-liter bottles upright including milk
- If you start with cold drinks from the fridge, the ice lasts much longer
- Works well with small ice packs too
- Waterproof, wipes clean with a cloth or hose it out
- No drain
- Not sturdy enough to be used as a seat unless you are two
Excellent buying for road trips, or short weekend trips where you want something cheap, portable but sturdy.
Also fabulous on the back seat between kids to store all the kids snacks for road trips.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Coleman 28-quart cooler
The Yeti cooler is the most popular cooler brand. The Yeti Roadie has 2 inches of permafrost insulation, so your ice bricks (and ice) don’t melt.
The Yeti camping cooler is virtually indestructible, which is a handy attribute when you are traveling with kids!
Yeti hard coolers are made in a beautiful elegant range of colors including pink, river green, sea foam, ice blue, coral and reef blue, and also in white for the optimistic parent among us.
- Color range is outstanding!
- Rotomolded contruction so good for fishing, hunting trips AND family camping with kids!
- T-REX lid latches that don’t bust
- Holds 14 cans and enough ice to keep them cold
- Has a drain, which makes it easy clean
- Made in the USA
- May not fit behind the front seat unless the front seat is way forward.
- May need to travel in the boot, or tray, or on the back seat
- Not good enough at keeping ice and food cold for longer than 2 – 3 days
Great for short trips. But choose another cooler if you head out for longer than that on a regular basis.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Yeti Roadie Cooler
Ozark Trail 26-quart High Performance cooler
The Ozark cooler is another brand of
- The color is magnificent
- Has 2 drink holders on lid
- Certified bear resistant, by the Grizzly Bear Committee (It’s bear proof)
- Built in bottle opener
- Budget priced
- Stainless steel handle
- Not such a popular brand
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Ozark Trail High Performance Cooler in Blue
BONUS: The Best Floating cooler
If you are heading to the river or lake for camping with friends, you might need a floating cooler to hold your drinks while you swim or take turn boating.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON: Yamaha Inflatable Drink Holder Cooler for 6-12 cans
The Best Cooler Brands in Australia
- Esky on wheels
- Willow budget coolers
- Igloo esky coolers
BEST ICE PACKS FOR COOLERS
These are the best indestructible ice bricks on the market.
Save money with hardside refreezable ice packs that you can use again and again without fear of popping.
- Yeti Ice Refreezable Reusuable Cooler Ice Pack – 4 pack
- Long lasting Arctic Ice Tundra series ice brick
- Igloo Max Cold Extra Large freezer block
Need slim ice packs for your road trip cooler?
- Kona Large Ice packs for coolers – slim design, set of 2
Need small ice bricks to fit in amongst the food and drinks?
HEALTHY CAMPING SNACKS
About to head off camping? Don’t go without our list of the best camp food snacks! You’ve got to feed those hungry hoards, no matter where you go.
Get this Australian Square Waffle Iron to make jaffles over the campfire!
The best jaffle recipes for camping include:
- Ham, spinach, grated cheese, tomato
- Baked beans and cheese (Ham baked beans are the best)
- Pesto, cheese, salami
- Bacon, egg, tomato sauce
- Tuna, mayonnaise and cheese (Just like a Tuna Melt!)
Add a cup of real whole oats, a cup of milk (any kind), a dash of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of rice malt syrup into a jar.
If you want to, you can add a teaspoon of chopped dried fruit (apricots and mango is good) and/or chia seeds to the mix too.
Screw on the lid and chill overnight.
Fancy it up a little more in the morning with LSA, chopped cashews, blueberries, sliced banana, nutmeg, strawberries, or yoghurt.
Heat it up, or eat it cold straight from the jar/container.
DIY your own energy bars to bring along or buy your fave brand from the supermarket.
Beef jerky or biltong is a fabulous camping snack with a strong flavour.
A quick handy snack if you are hungry.
Make up a tupperware container full of your fave combination of these things and you’ll have an instant go-to camping snack.
- dried sultanas, cranberries, raisins
- dried apricot, apple, banana, pear
- cacao nibs, or chocolate chips
- peanuts, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds
- pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- shake of cinnamon or nutmeg
Fruits with a protective skins such bananas, oranges, and mandarins are portable camping snacks.
Apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, and nashi fruit are good too.
Take a whole watermelon, cantaloupe (rockmelon), honeydew melon and pineapple as well as a small knife and chopping board. Save these fruits for later in the week when you start to run out.
Vegetable Sticks & Dips
Don’t forget the ranch dressing! Or hommus, or pesto for dipping.
Homemade Fruit Muffins
Make your own banana or blueberry muffins and bring them along.
Corn Chips & Salsa
Grab a bag or three of corn chips, and jars of salsa for an instant snack.
Baked Potato & Baked Sweet Potato
Wrap up these tubers in foil, and throw them in the fire for a warm camping snack. Add butter, or sour cream and you’ll be going back for seconds.
More Fun Camping Food
Graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.
Take ice cream cones, fill them with your fave fruits, a marshmallow or two, M&M’s candy, and small pieces of chocolate then wrapbest lar in foil and pop in the fire. It’s my kids’ fave.
Nutella Banana Splits
Make a slice in the banana skin from top to bottom. Cut the banana into pieces while still inside the skin. Add a teaspoon of nutella (or a piece of chocolate or marshmallow) in between each slice.
Wrap in foil, and place carefully in the coals of the fire for about 5 minutes.
Carefully unwrap the foil, then use a spoon to eat the deliciousness!
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