The 14 finest coolers for tenting 2022: Yeti, Coleman, Igloo, Hydroflask and extra


When you’re camping, it’s essential to store your food and drink for the duration of your trip. This is where the best coolers for camping come in. Along with having a protected shelter with a good camping tent, keeping your hearty camping meals and drinks ice cold can make or break your camping trip. That’s why a high-quality cooler should be at the top of your list of camping gear. It will get you through long days of hiking and keep you hydrated and fueled throughout the day. No one likes returning to their campsite to find sparkling warm water and soggy food submerged in melted ice.

How to choose a cooler for camping?

If you’re looking for a cooler for your next camping trip, you’ll find plenty of great options on the market, from high-end coolers with tons of features to budget-friendly Coleman options. Here are some considerations before buying your next cooler:

  • Intended use: When buying a cooler, it’s important to ask yourself how you intend to use it. Then you can decide what quality you need and your budget. For example, if you’re packing drinks for a casual camping trip, you probably don’t need as much ice retention as if you’re going on a week-long fishing trip. Also, if you enjoy cooking while camping and want to keep food cool, you may want to invest more money and buy a high-performance cooler from brands such as Yeti Where RTIC.
  • Cut: You should also consider the capacity of the cooler and the size of your vehicle. Coolers come with a stated pint capacity, and then brands usually break that number down into how many cans the cooler can hold. If you’re only bringing a few basics for the weekend, a 26-quart cooler might be fine. But if you’re stocking up on tents, camping chairs, and plenty of food and drink, you should go for a 65-quart or higher. Remember that you’ll need to leave plenty of room for ice or ice packs (a 2:1 ice to food ratio is standard), so your cooler will fill up quicker than expected! Point: If you are often short on space on your camping trips, it may be best to bring both a small hard cooler for food and a soft cooler for drinks. Bonus Tip: Freeze some of your water bottles to save space.
  • Equipment: Coolers come in two basic varieties: hard-sided and soft-sided. Hard-sided coolers are more durable and prevent ice from melting more effectively, but they are also heavier and more expensive. Most high-end hard-sided coolers are rotomolded, a style of plastic construction known for its durability and optimal insulation. Soft-sided coolers are less efficient but much more portable. Overall, they’re better for packing drinks and snacks for a day trip, while hard-sided coolers are a sturdier and more versatile option for car camping.
  • Bear-Resistance: If you’re traveling to bear country like Yellowstone or Yosemite, it’s important to have a certified bear-resistant cooler. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has established specific criteria that products must meet to qualify. Most bear-resistant coolers include tight seals, effective rubber latches, and the ability to lock. They rigorously test all products before granting certification, so you can camp with confidence that your food is safe. However, you should always follow camp bear safety protocol!

This list of the best camping coolers features products you can find at outdoor stores like REI and Backcountry, or from retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart. Whether you’re looking for a Yeti, Coleman, Igloo, ORCA or another brand, we’ve rounded up some of the best products available to keep ice, drinks and food cold for days or weeks.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you purchase something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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