Your Ultimate Guide To Buying An Ice Cooler

If you find yourself wanting to have a nice cold drink while camping or on a day out, what kind of ice cooler would you want? Honestly, you would probably be happy to have ANY kind of ice cooler with you. But obviously since you are reading this, you are someone that plans ahead, and you don’t want just any old ice cooler, you want the best ice cooler possible to well, enjoy your favorite drink.

The interactive chart of ice coolers below and the analysis that follows will help you decide what the best ice cooler is for you.

We all have our personal preferences on what makes a good ice cooler to go for a day out on a boat, enjoy a week end camping  without having to drink a warm cocktail. However, for your favorite long week end trek, what you really want is the absolute best ice cooler possible, and so we’re here to help.

Ice Cooler – Ultimate Comparison Guide

The ice coolers included on the below chart actually only begin to scratch the surface. So many manufacturers and models exist that there is no way that we could have listed everything. However, many exceptional ice coolers are included at every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers.

Some of the ice coolers included are marine ice coolers which many feel is an essential criteria for choosing a proper best ice chest. However, you will indeed notice a couple of non marine coolers that also make good options.


Best Ice CoolersDimensions (external)weightPriceRatings (out of 5)
Moeller Ice Station Zero Marine Ice Chest
Moeller 125 Quart Ice-Station Zero Marine Ice Cooler
125 Quart
Length: 44.50"
Width: 19.50"
Height: 21.25"
38 lbs$447.495
Engel 35 Quart Deepblue Cooler
Engel Quart Deepblue Ice Cooler
35 Quart
Length: 25.4"
Width: 14.80"
Height: 15.1"
22 lbs$223.703.8
Yetie Roadie Ice Cooler
Yeti Roadie Ice Coolers
20 Quart
Length: 20"
Width: 13"3/8
Height: 14"3/8
16 lbs$239.994.6
Coleman Xtreme Wheeled Ice Cooler
Coleman Xtreme Ice Cooler
62 Quart
Length: 31.5"
Width: 17"
Height: 15.5"
17 lbs$88.044.3
Pelican ProGear Elite Marine Deluxe Cooler
Pelican Elite Ice Cooler
35 Quart
Length: 30"
Width: 22"
Height: 20"
30 lbs$207.634.5

Included in the above table are 5 columns:

  • Ice cooler pictures.
  • Ice cooler brand and name/model – (click to view more details or to purchase).
  • Dimensions – Volume in quart followed by the external size of the cooler.
  • Weight in pounds.
  • Price – These are approximate prices on Amazon.com. These change frequently based on availability, special promotions, and more. But the shown prices are generally right.
  • Rating – The average user rating on Amazon.com. This can be very helpful in deciding if people are satisfied with their purchase.

*Click on any of the columns to sort the data to help make your decision easier

What is a best ice cooler?

First let us differentiate between best ice coolers and best sellers ice coolers. The best sellers’ coolers are simply a list summarizing the ice coolers that have been most sold on a given website or shopping centre. This does not mean they are the best ice chests. On the other hand, the best ice coolers guide is a list that highlights some of the best coolers available on the market.

So, what differentiate a best ice cooler box to a standard one? Almost any good cooler used for shopping (like cooler bags) or a cooler for a day out can be qualified as a standard cooler. These allow you to somehow enjoy a good day at the beach without having your drinks and food perish or get hot during the day. They can also be used to go for shopping and for a day trip in a car visiting your relatives.

A best ice cooler is, on the other hand, the essential tool that you need if you want quality freezer type cold drink with you all day (and sometimes for more than 3 days. The cooler can be used on a long boat journey, a trekking trip or for a long week camping with your friends. If you have a best ice cooler with, you are surely going to impress your friend with the cold freezer type drinks.

The main difference between a standard cooler and a best one are that in the later, anything that is in the box last longer and the freshness of the food is just outstanding (providing you a deserved cool cold drink at the end of a long day).

Almost all coolers reduce the effect of the ambient heat by insulating the box using different type of materials. The best ice boxes have specific physical designs and advance materials to help block outside heat.

What makes an ice cooler

Simply put, a cooler is used to keep food and drinks cool so that they are safe for consumption. To do this, they use effective insulation materials, insulating the food and beverages from our ambient environment to the inner side of the cooler. The material for insulating and its thickness is what differentiate coolers. The better the insulating material, the better the cooler.

Coolers can be manufactured form synthetic fabric (the strong type) and / or from very hard plastic. Usually, you will put an ice pack inside the cooler to create a fridge type environment (a cool environment). The insulation will then sustain such cool environment temperature for as long as possible. The length of time for the food and beverages to keep cool depends on three main factors, the quantity of ice you have put inside the box, the type and thickness of the insulation and finally the temperature outside the ice cooler.

For the ones who have the luxury of travelling with a battery, genset or even a fuel cell, you can also buy a camping cooler that can be plugged into a 12/24Volt electric socket (car socket). This will keep the cooler contents cold without the use of ice.

The Different Types of Coolers

There are many types of coolers, but most of those falls into the below categories:

  • Metal Cooler
  • Plastic Cooler
  • The Electric Type Cooler
  • Styrofoam Cooler
  • Fabric Cooler

Metal Cooler

Metal coolers are mainly used by hunters and fishermen. Both need a long lasting, sturdy and very durable ice box. The use of metal is to protect the insulation from being damaged, which makes it a very good solution for keeping the inside cool for a long time. The downside of such coolers is that they are most of the time more expensive than the other types. They also tend to be much heavier, the metal weighing more than other types of material. Obviously a metal cooler is the best in durability, though many other materials are now catching up in comparison.

Plastic Cooler

Plastic coolers, as their names suggest, are manufactured using plastic. Special techniques are in most of the cases used to make these, namely plastic molded techniques. Also known as ice chests, they come in different sizes, are strong and hence have a long life shelf. These are highly suitable for large types of coolers, allowing you to store a substantial amount of food and beverages. They have nice handles and strong top lids, making them easy to handle and carry. In addition to these, many ice chests have wheels with some nice crafted retractable handles. This is definitely the ultimate cooler type for the people wishing to carry a lot of food and why not a large amount of …. drinks.

Electric Type Cooler

This is definitely a complete, but smaller, fridge replacement. Often called a cooler box with a plug, this cooler can be plugged to a car 12Volt socket. The main benefit is that it allows you to store your food at the right temperature for a long period of time (such as driving on the famous 66 road). It operates as a refrigerator, using the car electrical power system. These are the most expensive coolers. The good thing about them is that they offer the benefits of a standard cooler without the need to fill it with ice and then remove the melted ice when you finish with it. The problem is that you cannot really take them for a week long hiking and camping, unless you carry one of the solar, battery or even fuel cell fridge solution, making the fridge quite an expensive device to carry around. This may defeat the purpose of camping, but when it comes to a fresh drink, some of us may go the extra mile.

Styrofoam Cooler

A styrofoam box with a top lid is usually called a Styrofoam cooler. Their main feature is their lightweight. The downside is their softness compared to the plastic cooler types. They are really good when the weight is a premium. A Styrofoam cooler does not last long and they are not really used for hiking, boat trips etc. They are more for the day to day carry of food, frozen food, cold drink etc. They are much cheaper than the solid plastic ice cooler.

Fabric Cooler

This type of cooler is the upper version of Styrofoam cooler and is also known as collapsible cooler bag. Its main feature is to carry few items for a short distance. They are made of durable canvas-type synthetic materials. Inside this synthetic, you will find most of the time an insulating foam layer. Lightweight by nature, they are the preferred solution for carrying frozen food from house to house or from a shop to your home. They are also ideal for carrying around your small lunch pack and beverage. When you finish eating, you just need to fold the bag and on you go to finish your day trip.

How To Find a Cooler That Meets Your Needs

Above you will find an interactive comparison chart of many of top buy headphones on the market today. But before you start salivating over your next headphone companion, let’s take a look at what’s on this guide. Overall, rather than taking some guys advice on YouTube about what the best headphone is, look at the aforementioned options and criteria to help you make the appropriate buying decision.

Before buying a new cooler, you need to consider how you will use it, where you will take it and what you plan to put into your new cooler. In order to buy the right cooler, you should therefore make sure you have selected the cooler that is most suited for your use. For instance, one of the most common mistakes made is to buy an electric car cooler (also known as car refrigerator).  This is definitely not needed for a half-day hill walking trip. In this case, you may just need a lunch-bag type fabric cooler. This bag is however not suitable and definitely not practical for an overnight camping outing. So consider you needs carefully before making a final decision.

Practicality of a Cooler

Each cooler is different, and hence you need to decide early what you want to do with your cooler. For instance, if you want to carry drinks only, then you may want to purchase an ice cooler that is made specifically for this. In this particular case, you may even want to go for a highly insulated drink dispenser. This would be more practical than a standard ice cooler as it has an easy pour spout for drinking easiness. On top of this, they are really good at keeping your drink cool for many hours (almost all day) at some of the highest peak summer heat.

On the other hand, you may want a wheeled based cooler if you are on the road every week end enjoying the week end camping or going for big events. In essence, you want to make the most of your cooler in any situation. So identify the most likely situations you will use your cooler and buy the one that fits this situation. For example, purchase a large plastic cooler which can store few days worth of food and drinks when going on an easy to access camp, with no access to electricity. Though the cooler may be very heavy, it will not be difficult for you to transport as the site is easy to access, the only downside is availability of power.

A cooler that you use for a day’s hill walking to store your lunch should definitely be lightweight and easy to carry. In this case choose a collapsible fabric cooler. Do not forget to select one with nice and comfortable carrying straps, as once you finish your lunch, you can fold it down and store it easily in your backpack. Many brands manufacture backpack cooler bags. They are the same as standard backpack, but they feature insulated lining, thereby keeping contents cool.

Size of a Cooler

As with anything else, coolers come in many different sizes and colors. From collapsible six-pack coolers to 100 quart plastic coolers, and even larger, the cooler manufacturers have not stop innovating. Before purchasing your cooler, make sure that you carefully consider how much will store in the refrigerated box. Do not forget that you need to include ice cubes in the cool box, an easy error to make. As a rule of thumb, consider that about one quarter of the cooler inner space will be taken up with ice cubes.

Most of the time the internal size of a cooler is expresse in Quart. The Quart is simply a unit of liquid capacity. It is, as it names suggest, equal to a quarter of a gallon (or two pints). This is equivalent to approximately to approximately 1.13 liters (Britain measure).

Durability of a Cooler

The durability is always an important factor to consider as it is also a factor that defines the cost of your chosen chest. To give you an idea, the durability and longevity of the device depends on how you will use the cooler. So if you take care of your cooler, then your cooler will take care of you. For the once in a while picnic lunch at the hometown park, you would not need a highly durable cooler. But when you consider weeks long camping and that several times a year, then  you better go for the upper end of products. Again, the more durable and stronger the cooler, the more expensive it will be (be warned). In terms of weather conditions, if you go camping and leave your cooler outside in a raining and sometimes dry dusting environment, then you better go for a plastic type solution. You will not have to deal with rust of metal coolers and the plastic is easily cleanable from dust. These coolers also withstand the ever opening and closing of children for looking at their preferred drink. Be careful when looking for a plastic cooler, make sure you select one that has strong handles and do not forget to buy the one that has large wheels made of very tough plastic (large wheels are easier to handle). Finally, if you wish to buy the basic fabric cooler, then look for the ones that has durable materials with strong straps.

So, above you will find information on the different type of coolers and the Ultimate Best Ice Coolers Comparison Guide will help you find the perfect cooler for you.

Review of 5 Best Ice Coolers

Honestly, most of the coolers included above are excellent options; but there are a few that we just need to point out as our favorites.  Below you will find our top 5 picks for overall best ice coolers along with a more detailed review of each.  So, pull up your beach armchair, and let’s dig into these options. If you have other options, please do not hesitate to contact us for adding them to the list.

Pelican 35 Quart Elite Marine Coolers

Pelican Elite Ice CoolerWhatever you want to call the Pelican Marine Ice Cooler family… you can call them ice cooler, ice box, boat coolers or even marine coolers, marine chest, marine ice chest, can cooler, or whatever else, the Pelican Coolers are the in manufacturing the some of the best ice coolers available on the market. Whatever you need the cooler for, this is a definite best. If you are hiking, hunting, treking,  fishing, camping, boating, rafting, or having a family b0arbeque at the local park, it is a heavy duty, well insulated,  rugged cooler for any outdoor ice retention activities.

If you cannot stand hot drinks, then this Marine Cooler is definitely for you. It is perhaps one of the few  Ultimate Marine Coolers built specifically for an extreme coolness “comfort” for your drink. The Pelican Elite Marnine Cooler has a well designed and manufactured handles, strong locking system and delivers such a pure coolness experience for such a long time that we forget it is not a fridge.

Unfortunately the ice cooler is a little bit heavier than its couterpart (28 pounds), but who cares when the matter is the quality of food and beverages. The $250 price tag put it in the good books . Our thought is that it is worth the investment if you are after a true ice cooling experience for a long time. The Pelican Ice Cooler dimensions are 30 x 22 x 20 inches and you can find it in two main colors (white and tan). So if you are looking for a marine ice cooler experience, this ice chest will definitely do it for you! And if you want to check this futher, then look at the reviews (rating of 4.5 out of 4 with 40 reviewers).

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings and Reviews on Amazon.com for Pelican ProGear Elite Marine Deluxe Cooler with 2-Inch Insulation, White, 35-Quart


Coleman 62 qt. Xtreme Cooler – The perfect product for someone on a budget

Coleman Xtreme Ice Cooler When I started this guide, I thought I would not fall in love with a low cost ice cooler. I was proven wrong! If you have ever been a fan of Coleman Coolers, then you must have heard of the Xtreme coolers. These are just fabulous, with their nice wheel and powerful strong handle. Basically, they are made for everyone who is on a budget, but still wants a good quality product. The only drawback is its price, with about $83 (you can find them cheaper on the below link at 45$). At this price, this is a no brainer! The question we asked ourselves is, are the Coleman Xtreme Ice Cooler really good?

Well, with over 170 reviews on amazon (click here to read the Coleman 62 quart Xtreme Ice Cooler reviews) and a score of 4.3 out of a maximum of 5, it is clear that this is a good product. In terms of retention of cool, I have tested them and kept over 60 cans cold for 4 days at a very high temperature of 90 degrees F. Enough said, just enjoy it.

CClick Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com for the Coleman Xtreme Wheeled Ice Cooler  


Yeti Roadie Ice Coolers

Yeti Roadie Ice CoolersThe Yeti Roadie Cooler is one of the most popular best  ice cooler on the market today. With over 25 reviews on Amazon, this makes it not only well-tried, but also well reviewed.  (click here to read all of the reviews on the Yeti Roadie Coolers).

Looking at the ice cooler, you can see why people like it. Not only does it have a nice design, but it’s also built to last. With its premium method of manufacture , the cooler delivers nicely refrigerated drinks on demand for ultimate comfort. Made of precision design and the stylish metal handle will provide durability with quality experience. The YETI ReadyCoolers are built last and can take rugged abuse that can come with the way we hanlde them at camping sites.

Overall, you are getting a reliable companion cooler that will hold its own in any camping, hiking, travelling situation. The main difference between this superior cooler and the ordinary ones (mainly “disposable”) the YETI coolers are made to last!

But one reason it’s so popular is the price versus quality.  With the high quality design, strong make, appropriate size, and durability you would expect something on the higher end.  But for less than $240 you can pick up this great cooler.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com for the Yetie Roadie Ice Cooler

Engel 35 Quart Deepblue Cooler

Engel Quart Deepblue Ice CoolerThe Engel 35 Quart Deepblue Cooler is probably one of the best Engel Cooler when it comes to keeping food refrigerated. It is a little bit on the expensive side, but you can select a smaller or larger version (the larger the version of the Engel deepblue cooler, the more expensive it is). At around $230 on Amazon, this is a solid cooler that just about anyone could make use of during a camping trip. The good news is that it keeps the food cool for many days.

The perfect companion when you need the very best in cooler performance. This is the most favoured Engel cooler of its family range. Its external dimensions are 25.4″ x 14.8″ x 15.1″ with a good maximum interior dimensions of 19.5″ x 9.7″ x 11.1″ (LxWxH) and weigh about 25 pounds. The reason for it being so famous within the cooling community is that the Engel 35 Quart Deepblue Cooler is the perfect cooler for a weekend camping. If you are looking to keep ice for a full weekend, then this is the perfect cooler with one more fantastic option, the durability. The Engel quart Deepblue will last you for a long, long time.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com for the Engel 35 Quart Deepblue Cooler

Moeller Ice-Station Zero Marine Ice Chest

Moeller 125 Quart Ice-Station Zero Marine Ice CoolerBased on excellence in cold retention, large in size, and outstanding reputation of the maker, the Moeller 125 Quart Ice-Station Zero Marine Ice Cooler is one of the best purchases anyone could make. The Ice station with the Arctic technology provides a breakthrough in cooler design and manufacture. It is an ideal choice for hunting, fishing, trekking and any extended outdoor activity. If you need a strong, durable and long term solution, then the Moeller Ice station options if for you. Any sportsman and outdoor enthusiast will enjoy this high quality ice box, where you can be sure your food and beverages will be treated with respect.

With a double walled manufacture, you can definitely sit and stand on it. The ice chest can take brutal environment punishments. We purposely selected the large version for you to vary a bit for our other choices. The ice chest weigh about 40 pounds and 125-Quart, 44.5″ x 19.5″ x 21.25″ in dimensions.

This sturdy make is seaworthy. It has strong stainless steel hinges and T-nuts type fasteners that keep the lid well secured.

At a price of about $450USD, it’s on the higher end; but you get a quality product where you can store a lot of beverages and food. This is truly for a big family or group of sport enthusiasts.  If you are looking for a quality best cooler, don’t just take my word for it, try it for yourselves.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com for Moeller Ice-Station Zero Marine Ice Chest (125-Quart)

Your Turn

Now that you have seen the options and reviewed some of our top picks for the best ice coolers on the market, it is up to you to pick what meets your needs, is in your price range, and overall help you gear up for your adventures.

As you know, new ice coolers are being created all the time by new and old manufacturers. For that reason, the comparison chart above will be updated as new ice coolers need to be added to the list.  Or if you feel like we we missed a superior best ice cooler  that needs to be included on the list, let me know in the comments below!