The Best coolers of 2021

The Best coolers of 2021

Whether you’re headed to the beach, tailgating before your favorite sporting event, or camping in the wild, keeping your food and drinks cold is absolutely key. Thankfully, the market is packed with high-quality coolers that excel at everything from solo day trips to week-long adventures. If you want frosty drinks on hand for outdoor gatherings, you'll need a reliable cooler to hold the cold. Here are our top picks.

1. Yeti Tundra 45

Most really good coolers are pretty rugged, but if you’re the type of outdoorsman who is unusually rough on your things, then the Yeti Tundra might be the ultimate vessel for keeping your drinks, meat, fish, and whatever else ice-cold and protected. The Tundra’s rotomolded walls are several inches thick and filled with PermaFrost insulation for days’ worth of ice retention, and the lid bolts down with Yeti’s rubber T-Rex latches for a bear-proof, airtight seal. The 45-quart Yeti Tundra is a bit pricey at $300, but if you don’t mind the “buy once, cry once” price tag, this might be what you’re looking for.
The Tundra 45 is our favorite cooler for everything from car camping to road-tripping and long days on the water.

2. Maxcold 50-Quart Cooler

If you want a dependable cooler that won’t break the bank, we recommend the Igloo MaxCold 50 Qt. Within the 1 1/2-inch thick walls, it claims to hold up to 32 cans with ice for up to five days and only weighs 11 pounds. The latches are sturdy and easy to use and the reinforced swing-up handles double as tie-down slots. Our testers liked the light blue lid that reflects heat. The threaded drain plug fits a standard hose to drain water without having to move the cooler.

3. Pelican 45QW

Pelican has long been synonymous with the world’s best coolers. They’re often pricey, but their near-bulletproof durability and week-plus ice retention are why the U.S. military often relies on them. Pelican’s Elite collection is its flagship consumer cooler line with capacities ranging from 20 quarts to 150 quarts. The 45QW Elite Wheeled Cooler is the perfect compromise. It’s small enough to be portable, especially with the integrated wheels. But, it’s large enough for a long weekend camping or at the beach house. Wheeled coolers are the way to go.
Thoughtful features like a built-in fish scale, bottle opener, molded-in tie-downs, and a sloped drain with a tethered threaded plug (for use with a garden hose) make it infinitely more usable. It works great as a portable beverage cooler.

4. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 55Q

If the premium price tag for a Yeti or Pelican cooler is too rich for your budget, Arctic Zone’s Titan Deep Freeze Ice Chest collection is a reliable alternative. The 55-quart model boasts enough capacity for just about any fishing, camping, or tailgating event. Its uni-body rotomolded construction, along with thick polyurethane insulation, a 360-degree rubber gasket, and a tight, corrosion-resistant seal all work to maximize ice retention for more than a week. It’s also certified bear-resistant, so it works well as a safe space for your campsite snacks.

5. Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler 54 Quart

Hit the outdoors in style with the retro Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler 54 Quart. The classic metal exterior gives it a timeless look and provides reliable old-school durability. The Steel-Belted Cooler is the “goldilocks” size for weekend trips too; it has plenty of interior space for a generous amount of ice, food, and drinks without being overly bulky or difficult to haul. Overall, it’s an excellent value for the money and a charming choice for your camping adventures.

6. REI Co-op Cool Trail Split

We have to give props to REI Co-op for the unique design of their Trail Split cooler/backpack. With many of the “backpack” coolers above, the design is almost all cooler with no or just a few small gear pockets on the outside. But REI created a true hybrid with the Trail Split. On the bottom, you get a 13.6-quart removable cooler insert, and the top portion offers an 8 x 12-inch pocket to store an extra layer and other small items. And with many other features found only on actual hiking daypacks—including a top lid with a zippered pocket—the Trail Split is both functional and a good value at $80.
What are the limitations of the REI Co-op Cool Trail Split? First, the cooler component is quite small and just over half the size of the Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 above. This means it’s okay for short hikes and walks from the car to the beach or river, but it won’t be able to handle food or drinks for more than one or two people. Second, no backpack cooler is as comfortable as a true hiking daypack, so we don’t recommend the Trail Split for lengthy jaunts into the backcountry. But for beach trips, other short adventures, and even as a commuter pack with your lunch inside, it’s a fun option.

Before pulling the trigger on a new cooler, the first thing to consider is size, which directly affects how portable your foodstuffs will be. (You also don’t want to purchase something that’s too bulky for your body type.) You’ll need to decide between a soft or hard cooler: the former is usually more comfortable to carry around, but for higher storage capacities, you’ll want the latter.
If you have a little more coin to spend, look for coolers with special features in the fine print: exterior storage compartments, cup holders, cutting boards, bottle openers, umbrella holders, and bike attachments can be found on the higher-end models.

  • YETI Cooler Reviews & Coupons

    Yeti specializes in high-performance coolers, drinkware, and other outdoor accessories.Yeti products are featured in prominent publications including Business Insider, Fast Company, Men’s Health, Gear Junkie, and the New York Times. The brand also has an impressive following of 1.5 million people. This Yeti cooler review provides an overview of their top-selling products to help you decide if these goods are worth a travel mug, water bottle, or cooler upgrade.

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