When heading out for camping with family and friends, it’s always our top priority to include in our baggage all sorts of equipment and accessories.
Despite the varying nature of camping tours and expeditions, coolers tend to come out as essential appurtenances for anyone and everyone going out.
Due to variations in the nature of outdoor safaris, different camping enthusiasts select camping coolers depending on circumstantial needs as well as the size of groups tagging along.
Similarly, the duration of camping affects the choice of cooler. A bunch of travelers staying out in the wild for a week would require a larger cooler. Individuals go for smaller designs.
However, smaller groups or not, one clear question sticking at the back of our minds whenever we’re preparing for outdoor tenting is still the same, which is the best cooler for any camping experience?
A precise answer to the question would lead you to one of our main areas of focus: What aspects should I look at when choosing a camping cooler? Should I find a cooler that is durable and resistant to any weather, or one that keeps food colder for long? Or both?
In consideration of these questions, we avail to you a prime list of coolers to have at your disposal any time you’re planning for a wholesome bivouacking experience. We got you covered.
Top Coolers for Camping
|① Engel -TOP PICK|
|② Yeti Tundra|
|③ Grizzly 400|
|④ Grizzly 45|
|⑤ Pelican Elite|
This 50 quart cooler is our best pick, mainly because it features adequate storage space and accessories suitable for both larger and smaller camping groups. Unlike most coolers which tend to be wide, Engel is taller. The extra height gives you more storage space.
Besides, the ice chest won’t take a lot of space at the back of a truck or RV when gearing up for camping. It’s well insulated to minimize heat loss. It’s walls are two inches thick.
It’s because of this extra thickness that the model holds ice for long, precisely 8 to 10 days. It’s ice retention capability is one of the longest and unrivaled as well.
The outstanding feature of the ice box that makes it unique is the redesigned floor. It’s pitched to ensure water drains completely. You don’t need to lift the cooler to empty melted ice.
- Engel has an IGBC certification. The cooler was tested and found to be safe for grizzly bears. It keeps them unharmed and the cooler contents safe.
- It’s feet are non-skid and made of durable rubber.
- The cooler’s floor is pitched to drain melted ice automatically.
- Engel takes less storage space. It’s taller and will fit easily at the back of a van or truck.
- The latch system has adopted the compression mechanism, a feature that is more secure and efficient.
- For some campers, the cooler is expensive.
② Yeti Tundra
Yeti is a well known brand when it comes to the world of coolers. Most of the assets designed by the brand are durable and resistant to different weather conditions.
One major reason why you should pick the Yeti cooler is the variety of accessories that come with the model. All the items you’ll find attached are useful to the camping experience in more than one way.
The rack holds dry items, the handles are rope-made; to give you an easy time as you carry it around, and the feet are non-slip. They are made of rubber too. Many campers love the Yeti cooler. They trust the brand for its consistency.
- The cooler is certified by the IGBC. It keeps cooler contents safe and grizzly bears free from harm, even when they attempt to break into the ice chest.
- It’s resistant to UV rays. It’s also insulated and large enough to hold around 26 canned drinks.
- Different accessories including a drying rack, rope-handles, and rubber-made non-slip feet have been included.
- The cooler is heavier to lift when it’s packed to the brim.
③ Grizzly 400
The massive design of the Grizzly 400 makes it the perfect choice for large groups and parties that plan on going out for a week or so. If you are also planning on hunting large prizes such as deer during the experience, being in possession of such a model would be great way to start.
This chest was awarded an approval badge from the IGBC, certifying that it’s in good shape to keep foods safe and grizzlies away from injury. Safety was a huge consideration during the making of this model, not only for the bears but also the campers.
- The latches used are strong and unique. They’ve been reinforced with 2 chained locks. There’s no way a bear or wild animal would get into the chest.
- It’s perfect for large groups going out on camping for days or a week.
- It’s suitable for storing large prizes such as deer.
- The Grizzly 400 is quite heavy. It weighs close to 90 lbs..
- It’s probably the most expensive cooler today.
④ Grizzly 45
The 45 quart Grizzly cooler is convenient for anyone going out on a small camping expedition. It’s perfect for one or a couple going out on a one-day tour. The cooler is designed in the USA. Quality of the build is assured.
Some new features including the ruler on the lid has made the cooler perfect for outdoor fishing. The integrated design gives the line more accuracy.
Despite it’s small size, the Grizzly 45 holds ice for 5 days. All you need to do is stock ice to the brim whenever you’re packing chilled contents and minimize the rate at which you open the cooler.
It’s small size makes it the preferred choice for sole campers. Likewise, it’s affordable and won’t cost you a lot during maintenance and camping. The manufacturers have included a variation in terms of colors. You can choose from the variety that’s offered.
- The cooler is a perfect choice for small camping groups.
- It has a longer ice retention ability. It holds ice for as long as 5 days.
- It is cheap. The model is designed in the USA and is available in different colors.
- The ruler on the lid makes the cooler a good option for outdoor fishing.
- The ice melts easily when the lid is opened frequently.
⑤ Pelican Elite
Pelican Elite IM has one of the longest ice retention capabilities. The ice in the chest can go up to 10 days without melting. However, this benefit comes with some precautionary measures to keep in mind.
For the ice to remain intact for long, external factors such as temperature and how frequently the coolers are closed and opened should be taken into account.
One remarkable feature that’s interested a good number of customers has been the warranty offer. With this guarantee, you get exactly what you need, a window for reinstatement or reimbursement in case of a shortcoming in terms of product performance.
The aspect that is quite different from most coolers is the latch system. It features a press and push latch mechanism.
- The Pelican Elite IM cooler is at the top of the game, a preference for most, thanks to the 10-day ice retention ability.
- The warranty offer is a security against sub-standard products. In case of any defects with the model, returning it to the manufacturer would guarantee replacement or repair, all in alignment with the terms and conditions highlighted.
- Frequently opening or closing the cooler may reduce the ice lifespan.
What features should you look for in a good camping cooler?
Coolers are designed in different ways. Some designs are built specifically for keeping medical equipment, storing essentials for soldiers and the army at large during war, and then there are chests designed exclusively for camping.
All these differentiations are brought about as a result of demand, nature of the environment, outdoor temperatures, group sizes and contents to be included. One distinguishable factor is size. In the same way, size affects and is affected by the camping period.
All this is confusing, right? Regardless, this common factor should be noted; the resistance of a cooler to changes in weather. Camping trips may take days and some weeks, the latter achievable with refills staged in between.
In the course of this while, coolers are subjected to all kinds of abuse. Sometimes the chests are left out and hailstones make merry on them. Grizzly bears and other wild animals knock them over and toss them regularly.
Despite any preventative measures, keeping the ice boxes out of reach of harm or physical damage is unavoidable. The only wise thing to do is purchasing a durable cooler that won’t break, even at the scorch of a wildfire or the mercy of a grizzly’s bare hands.
Generally, a cooler is designed to be moved around, either by pushing, pulling or lifting. The portability factor. How portable is your cooler? Do you have enough manpower in your crew to manage regular movements with the model?
In case you are camping alone, it’s recommended that you find a small or medium-sized cooler that won’t be much of a problem whenever you are traveling or relocating.
Carrying around a bulky container can be quite tiring. It also ruins the nature of a camping trip. Getting fatigued at no cost is usually not one good way to start a camp out experience. Get something that would be easier for you to move around with.
A bear-proof cooler
It’s common for campers to come across grizzly bears whenever they are doing outdoor bivouacking. Sometimes, when you are away from camp, bears find their way to campsites and the first thing they do is rummage through any item containing foods or drinks.
Contrary to common misconception, the latch system isn’t the ultimate securing asset, or assurance, that a bear wouldn’t tear apart and break into any cooler.
In order to keep the cooler contents safe throughout the campsite period, it’s mandatory that you shut the cooler completely. Bear-proof coolers are designed with remarkable strength and structure.
This construction protocol protects cooler stuffing from ferocious animals such as the grizzly bear. Correspondingly, the models will not harm the bears in any way. The designs ensure their safety.
Consequently, the coolers don’t pose any health risks to bears. The only hazardous elements would be the contents of the cooler. If a bear finds its way into a cooler, it becomes more than necessary to consider any unlikely eventuality of the animal consuming the contents.
Such a probability brought up a need for intervention by an international organization, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, an entity whose sole aim has been to maintain the population of grizzly bears across the world and prevent their extinction.
Any cooler with an IGBC certification has been tested repeatedly, with the basic intention to keep foods safe and stray animals attempting to break the chests for whatever’s inside unharmed. This way, camping remains a win-win situation for all.
The size of a cooler matters a lot whenever a camper is preparing for expedition. Some people love going out on their own while some love the company of many. Either way, you’ll need food in good condition and a number of essentials.
The number of essentials or chilled foods you’ll carry with you will depend on the size of the cooler you picked. A large cooler stores more food for many people, but is harder to carry when you’re on your own.
On the other hand, a smaller cooler is perfect for one person or a couple. It’s a lot easier to carry, but won’t do you much good if you are tagging along a huge party.
Essentially, there are three basic sizes to look at:
- The small designs
These are usually 25 quarts in terms of holding capacity. A small cooler is suitable for one person or a couple. This would last a camper a day or two. It is easier to carry and portable in every way.
- Medium-sized coolers
A medium sized ice box has a holding capacity ranging between 25 and 45 quarts. A camping group of two or three would appreciate sustainability of the ice tank. It keeps a group of three in the wilderness fully stocked for three to four days.
- Large coolers
These usually hold 45 to 70 quarts of contents and can last a group for as long as a week. Ice retention in such models is higher. It’s also a good choice for a family planning to hang out over the weekend.
Tips to consider
When choosing a cooler, remember that size is a matter of personal preference and essential circumstance. Before you set out for tenting, ask yourself, how many people are tagging along?
Which foods am I planning to stock the cooler with? Will they sustain the varying temperatures?
If, at any point, it crosses your mind that you would actually need extra space for all essentials, consider picking a bigger model with a higher ice retention ability. This need for space matters a lot, especially when you’re already in the camping arena.
Will the cooler retain ice for long?
For those campers who love going off-grid for sometime, it’s occasionally a major concern when coolers run out of ice and you have none ready to stock around.
The ice retention capability will depend on a number of factors such as outdoor temperatures, size and whole lot other more.
To determine how long a cooler could hold ice without melting, we made the effort to test different factors that affected the same. In the course of study, size emerged as the major factor.
A large cooler can hold ice for long without melting. Smaller ones barely hold ice for long. The basic determining process involved filling coolers to the brim, and including chilled beverages in the containers.
Tip to consider
It’s advisable that you use ice-packs when storing your beverages or foods. The packs improve ice lifespan. Furthermore, for effectiveness, ensure the packs are stocked together with ordinary ice. This helps with the retention as well.
Additional factors to look at
Despite the simple nature of coolers (one that is characterized by similarity in structure and functionality), modernization has witnessed the emergence of many manufacturers, each coming up newer designs to the models created hitherto.
This is done with the primary objective of gaining more appeal to customers who are constantly looking out for any asset that satisfies their needs. Some of the advanced specifications include rulers on lids, chopping boards and wheels.
Wheels have recently become the features to look out for. Different modern coolers have been designed with wheels. These come in handy, especially when traversing difficult terrain.
Similarly, it’s hard to lift or carry around a large cooler packed to the top. They are heavier this way and are obviously easier to move around with wheels attached to the bottom.
The design of the wheel will depend on the manufacturer. The wheels vary in shape. Some are roller-bladed, while others are larger with better grips.
Large wheels tend to be a preference for many because of how easily they maneuver along difficult terrain, especially where dirt and rocks are involved.
The affordability factor calls for the keen evaluation of camping coolers before making a choice on which to purchase. Pricey models are worth purchasing.
An expensive model will cost you the extra coin. Nevertheless, consider this an investment. Quality is usually accorded to high-priced coolers, basically because they’ve been built with care and additional accessories that would add value and convenience to your camping experience.
Tips to consider
As you go out for camping in remote areas, take note of how you prepare and handle foods. Different animals are attracted to different food smells. The grizzly bear is one such animal.
A warranty would give you the assurance that the manufacturer intends to provide customers with a fulfilling and up to date service, during and after the course of purchase.
Few manufacturers provide warranty stipulations aimed at fulfilling customer needs.
However, some sellers create their own terms and in one way or another, fail to disclose full details to you during acquisition, making it hard for you to claim for reinstatement in case of defectiveness.
Its important that you read all the terms and conditions provided to avoid such problems.
The ice retention ability of a camping cooler is dependent on the thickness of the walls enclosing its contents. Thicker walls provide better insulation as compared to thinner ones.
A two-inch thick wall would provide maximum insulation against heat loss, especially in areas where outdoor temperatures are extremely high.
In the course of acquisition, most people ignore the lid and its closure system. It should be noted, the lid contributes as much as 15% toward heat retention or loss of the ice cooler.
Lids that have been built with thick rubber padding on inner surfaces work very good at minimizing heat loss. The paddings ensure that the edges are sealed tightly to prevent cold air from escaping the cooler. This way, the contents stay chilled and safe for long.
In a nutshell, your choice of the best camping cooler is a decision that solely rests on you as the camper or head of the camping crew heading out for expedition. Everything, ranging from size to the duration or period to be spent out in the wild will affect your choice.
All the same, factors such as the ice retention ability of the cooler, durability, IGBC certification and insulation would require evaluation. Examining these gives you an upper hand at getting superior assets.
Our best pick was the Engel 50 quart cooler. It’s medium size makes it suitable for large and small groups which are out for camping. It also takes less space at the back of your vehicle when traveling with it wherever you’re heading.
I personally love the cooler mainly because of the nature of its floor. It’s pitched design makes it easier for melted ice to drain completely without forcing you to tilt or lift in the process.
It’s essentially one of the few models that can hold ice for as long as 10 days. The feet are non-skid and made of pure rubber. The IGBC approval indicates the honest efforts of the manufacturer toward keeping grizzly bears safe in our forests.