Ah, summer. He the beach, the lake, the river: wherever you can find water is the place to be. But while you’re fighting the heat by floating in an inner tube or standing on a stand-up paddle board, your drinks and food aren’t. They’re baking in the afternoon sun, because the shady spot from this morning has already evaporated, along with your ice.
When refrigeration companies claim that ice lasts for days, be skeptical. They’re not necessarily lying, but they’re testing under ideal conditions that will never exist in the real world. We’ve been testing coolers for over two years, storing them in the sun, in bike trailers, and in cars, all while trying to keep food and drinks fresh and edible. Below, you’ll find our top picks for each category (hard-sided, soft-sided, backpack-style, expensive, affordable, even disposable), as well as a few alternatives, plus general buying advice if none of these meet your needs. elegant.
For your other outdoor needs, be sure to check out our other buying guides like the best portable grills, best camping gear, best camping cookware, best tents, and best binoculars.
Updated May 2023: We’ve added several new Yeti coolers, the Airskirts Inflatable Cooler, and the Oyster Iceless Cooler, and we’ve updated our prices all the time.
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