Best cooler bags of 2021
There’s nothing better than a cold one — water, beer, soda, whatever does it for you — during a long day of fun with friends and family. This means having a cooler in your arsenal of outdoor gear is a must. Whether you’re looking to invest in one that’s top of the line or just want something that’s dependable and affordable, we found the best, most customer-loved coolers that have something for everyone.
Read on for comprehensive suggestions of coolers to take to the beach, coolers to pack up enough for everyone to eat for a week at the cabin and easy-to-carry totes that reviewers love — and we’ll tell you why.
Ozark Trail 24-Can Soft-Sided Cooler ($39.97; walmart.com)
Ozark Trail 24-Can Soft-Sided Cooler
In terms of soft-sided cooler bags, what you really want to look for is leakproof designs with lots of pockets and compartments, and possibly a strap so it’s easy to carry. And this one really has it all.
Not only is it soft-sided so you can fold it up in storage, but it has a removable hard liner and shelf that can allow you to store easily smushed items, as well as hold things like cans and ice at the top. And because they pop right out, they’re actually easy to clean.
The reviewers of this bag speak particularly highly of its size and cooling action, with one writing, “It fits plenty of cans and also still has room for our sandwiches and snacks. It is amazing at how cold our drinks stay and how long the ice lasts.”
More specifically, it can fit a whopping 24 cans at a time and features a waterproof exterior and water-repellent zippers.
RTIC Soft Pack Cooler (starting at $69.99; rticoutdoors.com)
RTIC Soft Pack Cooler
A leading competitor in the cooler market, RTIC coolers are adored by people for their durability, style and smart designs. This soft pack cooler ticks all the boxes a portable cooler should, with a water-resistant nylon shell, antimicrobial liner, impressive closed-cell insulation and lightweight construction.
The fact that it comes in sizes ranging from a lunch box-sized 8-can to a family-size 40-can, and is available in so many cute colors, is just the icing on the cake.
If you need further convincing, just check out this review: “I work as a UPS driver here in Dallas, Texas, and with summers being extremely hot I needed a cooler that would keep my drinks and food cold for 12 hours every day. I use cold packs and then fill it up with 10 pounds of ice for the day and I seriously kid you not the ice hardly melted after 12 hours. My drinks were still ice cold and this cooler saved my life out here in this Texas heat.”
Lifewit 24-Liter Collapsible Cooler Bag ($32.99; amazon.com)
Lifewit 24-Liter Collapsible Cooler Bag
For something a little more lightweight, reviewers loved this collapsible cooler bag, with one explaining, “This is the perfect size cooler to pack a lunch/drinks for the beach or park! There are two mesh pockets on the side and a zip pocket in the front to keep phones and keys safe and dry. We are very happy with this cooler!”
To break down the features a bit more, this one keeps cool for around four hours, according to reviewers, and can hold about 12 cans at a time with ice, making this smaller than the Ozark. The exterior fabric is water-resistant and padded with specialty foam that makes it have plenty of thermal resistance too. The exterior zippered and mesh pockets mean plenty of space for things like keys and water bottles, and the handle and shoulder strap offer multiple carrying styles. Because it’s collapsible, it can be stored flat too.
Built Large Welded Soft Portable Cooler ($126.09, originally $179.99; amazon.com)
Built Large Welded Soft Portable Cooler
With a padded shoulder strap and wide opening, you can carry and pack a whole lot into this little cooler, say reviewers, making it ideal for larger families or parties.
“We bought this cooler for a beach trip. Much easier to tote and manage when walking in sand! We were on the beach for six hours. Our beverages stayed ice cold and still had plenty of ice,” raves one 5-star reviewer.
It can hold up to 30 pounds, which calculates to about 18 cans plus 10 pounds of ice, and has thick 1-inch insulation on the sides. The smartest feature, however, is probably the built-in bottle opener.
Igloo Heritage Hard Liner 9-Quart Cooler ($29.99; target.com)
Igloo Heritage Hard Liner 9-Quart Cooler
One of the chicer-looking coolers we found, this bag’s exterior is made from a unique polyester fiber created from recycled postconsumer plastic bottles. Not only that, but it most importantly holds a ton: 24 cans, in fact. The main compartment has an easy-access hatch lid with an additional zipper around the top to keep things cold. The inner leak-resistant compartment itself is hard, meaning it’s great for items you don’t want smushed, but it’s also removable, so it’s easy to clean.
You can store small accessories (like a phone charger or bottle opener) in that front pocket, and what we love most is that adjustable, padded strap that makes carrying the thing a breeze.
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler (starting at $27.99; amazon.com)
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler
Available in styles that can hold either nine, 16, 30 or 48 cans at a time, this beloved cooler really has it all: deep-freeze insulation that actually reflects heat rather than absorbs it, a zipperless lid so you just have to flip it open for access to your drinks, a leakproof interior lining, a hard inner compartment to make sure your sandwiches don’t get smushed, a water- and stain-resistant exterior and a shoulder strap for maximum portability.
The fact that it comes in a whole array of colors just makes it a real no-brainer.
Igloo ‘90s Retro Collection Fanny Pack Portable Cooler ($28.99; amazon.com)
Igloo ’90s Retro Collection Fanny Pack Portable Cooler
For a portable option you may forget you’re even carrying, strap on this adorable throwback fanny pack that holds three cans of soda or beer, making it ideal for solo or small group travels.
The big draw here, according to reviewers, is convenience. “Keeps my drinks cold. Works great while bicycling,” writes one, with another sharing, “Took it to the beach and it was a huge hit!” If you want to bring a few drinks or a sandwich somewhere without using your hands, this is it.
Sun Squad 14.4-Quart Backpack Cooler Pineapple ($20; target.com)
Sun Squad 14.4-Quart Backpack Cooler Pineapple
Once you get over how adorable this backpack is, you’ll be happy to learn this cooler is surprisingly roomy with a storage capability of 14.4 quarts, which means you can carry a whopping 20 cans at a time with this bag. What that really means for us, though, is that it seems like you can pack the perfect picnic with it.
You also have both a top carry and shoulder strap so you can carry it two ways, and according to reviewers, it keeps the items inside icy too, with one reviewer remarking that after a seven-hour trip their bags of ice were still fully frozen.
Fulton Bag Co. 9-Quart Hardbody Cooler With Removable Hard Liner ($32.99; target.com)
Fulton Bag Co. 9-Quart Hardbody Cooler With Removable Hard Liner
Able to hold a whopping 24 cans (plus ice), this particular cooler is designed to fit more ergonomically on your back, with ample padding and adjustable lengths on the shoulder straps. Other major features include it being leakproof, having high-density thermal insulation (meaning that it can keep your items cool for hours on end) and lots of pockets inside and out to store all of your necessities.
Writes one reviewer, “This bag is amazing! No leaks, comfortable to carry and well made. The front pocket is very useful for keeping dry snacks, charger cables, etc.”
Yeti Hopper Backflip 24 Soft-Sided Cooler/Backpack ($299.98; amazon.com)
Yeti Hopper Backflip 24 Soft-Sided Cooler/Backpack
It wouldn’t be a best coolers list without the beloved and trusted Yeti brand. If you’re shocked at that price, let us break down the many aspects that make this bag worth it: an ultra-tough, completely waterproof and leakproof zipper around the top; plenty of carrying straps and ultra-padded backpack straps for easy, comfortable carrying; cold-cell insulation that keeps your drinks and snacks cold for easily 12 hours; a fabric shell that’s waterproof, resistant to punctures and even UV rays; and, to top it all off, it can hold 20 cans plus lots of ice.
In other words, you’ll be using this cooler for years. Some smart reviewers have even used it as their travel carry-on and then a cooler once they arrived at their destination.
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Premium Ice Chest Roto Cooler With Microban Protection ($245; amazon.com)
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Premium Ice Chest Roto Cooler With Microban Protection
This is an absolutely fantastic cooler to haul with the family on big trips. We’ve had one for over a year, and it’s been packed with everything we needed to keep cool for a week’s worth of making meals for the crew — frozen meats on the bottom and condiments and treats on top. This is a large (55-quart) heavy-duty cooler you can use as seating or a side table while camping, and it’s fabricated with a thick polyurethane insulation that keeps food and drinks cold.
Igloo 52-Quart BMX Cooler (starting at $96.34; amazon.com)
Igloo 52 Qt BMX Cooler
This large cooler is built tough for big family fun, and will keep ice cool — with maybe a little melt — for a whopping five days, with one reviewer explaining, “Yes, this was with regular use and we kept all our food and drinks in this cooler and opened the lid 25+ times a day.”
This particular cooler is all about durability and sturdiness, with reinforced handles, oversized hinges, a stainless steel kick plate and protective corners. Much like the other large-capacity coolers, this one makes for a great seat while camping, and because of the materials used inside and out, it’s incredibly easy to clean.
Coleman Rolling Cooler 50-Quart Xtreme 5-Day Cooler With Wheels ($66.29, originally $87; amazon.com)
Coleman Rolling Cooler 50-Quart Xtreme 5-Day Cooler With Wheels
This wheeled cooler offers a ton at an incredibly low price compared to others in the same size range, which was a big selling point for us. “Took a chance with this, and it paid off. Weekend after weekend, this cooler keeps everything cold the entire time,” writes one reviewer. However, this cooler is best for shorter trips.
As one review notes, “If you need a cooler to keep things seven to 10 days or more, then sure, spend hundreds. But, if you’re like me, and the majority of everyone, three to five days is plenty. Save your money, buy this cooler.”
Igloo Ice Cube 60-Quart Roller Cooler ($53.50, originally $64.99; amazon.com)
Igloo Ice Cube 60-Quart Roller Cooler
For longer trips, consider this one from Igloo. Key features include a huge 60-quart capacity, durable wheels that can handle the park or the beach, a drain plug for easy cleaning, a luggage-style handle that adjusts height and enough space to hold 90 cans plus ice. Given that, it can handle everything from a tailgate to a daylong party. We love that it has built-in cup holders on top too.
Need further reassurance? Just check out this review: “Put the ice in the Igloo along with frozen stuff in the lower box along with milk, cream, eggs early Wednesday a.m. and drove to Colorado, about 360 miles in September heat (90 to 95 degrees), camped on the river in bright sunshine and chilly thunderstorms and did not completely melt the ice until Sunday morning. The stuff in the Igloo was still acceptably cool and stayed that way until we got home to Arizona. To say that I am happy with this cooler is grossly understating my satisfaction.”
IceMule 1602-SG Traveler Large ($299.95, originally $395.99; target.com)
IceMule 1602-SG Traveler Large
Reviewers love the wide-mouth design and stability of this family-size cooler that carries like a duffel bag or a backpack. “Keeps everything cold and holds everything we need. Best part is the way it sits perfectly stable in the boat and opens from the top,” writes one reviewer.
And because of the backpack silhouette, that means less time getting sandy, but rest assured the exterior itself is incredibly easy to brush off and clean. More important features for beachgoing include the fact that it’s leakproof, buoyant (it can literally float down a river with you) and waterproof. And for storage, it rolls right up to fit into tight spaces (like in between all those beach chairs in your trunk).
OdyseaCo Mesh Beach Bag Tote With Insulated Cooler (starting at $26.99; amazon.com)
OdyseaCo Mesh Beach Bag Tote With Insulated Cooler
Perfect for a quick trip, this waterproof beach tote bag can carry towels, sunnies, books and really all your beach day essentials up top, plus there’s a special cooler pouch on the bottom. The mesh means that it’s easy to get all the sand out at the end of your trip, and while the cooler size may seem much smaller than others, it can actually pack a ton.
Writes one reviewer, “The insulated bottom fit much more then I expected it to. I think I got like six cans of beer, four juice boxes and four sandwiches and some grapes and ice too!”