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Best Small Cooler

Best Small Cooler

Heading out for a picnic with friends and family? Are you excruciatingly thinking of a suitable alternative for your ten-year old son’s flaky lunchbox to school?

Well, no matter the circumstance, there is no need to panic as we got you covered. We avail to you the best miniature coolers for any camping or outdoor activity.

Consider adding the small ice cooler or coolers, depending on the size and number of people you are accommodating, to your traveling accessories.

Most at times living far from home and occasionally on the road comes with a great deal of unforeseeable challenges. 90 percent of these troubles are always related to the basic necessities of man, food, shelter and clothing. In the wild, it’s mostly food and shelter.

Keeping essentials such as foods and drinks fresh is often disquieting. However, with an effective cooler in your possession, living benignly becomes no different from your day to day routine back at home.

A handy cooler ensures you enjoy your camping adventure or daily job, just like you would at the comfort of your dwelling.

Our main objective is to facilitate a salubrious experience, not only whenever you go out for your daily job, camping experience or take your child to school, but also when traveling for longer distances.

We reviewed the crème models from the best manufacturers, and it’s time we highlighted prime miniature coolers for you to select from.

Top Personal Sized Coolers

Engel -TOP PICK5 out of 5 stars
RTIC4.9 out of 5 stars
YETI4.7 out of 5 stars
Pelican4.6 out of 5 stars
Arctic Zone4.5 out of 5 stars



The face of Engel in the miniature category is the 13 Quarts cooler. Regardless, Engel has provided a variety of  four other slightly larger sizes you can always choose from in case you need the extra space.

The cooler is available in shades of silver, blue, white, tan and pink colors. One convenient accessory you’ll definitely like is the tray which works as a board for laying all your essentials when accessorizing the chest.

It’s hard to come across a cooler with a solid build like Engel. The durable outer shell makes it one of a kind and consequently a model to rely on. Each part of the chest is well sealed to prevent any kind of leaks. It’s airtight and watertight.


  • A gasket made of EVA is added onto the lid to improve it’s ice retention.
  • The shoulder strap allows you to carry the tank easily. It can also be adjusted to suit your preferences.
  • It has safety latches that are made of stainless steel.
  • It comes with a 5 year warranty from the day of purchase.


  • There are purchasers who claimed the model is too expensive.
  • Some parts of the chest may contain harmful chemicals that aren’t good for your health.



Despite it’s small size, the RTIC cooler has beaten all odds to prove it’s a rare gem in the cooler industry. RTIC can hold as many as 20 cans of beverage and still keep them chilled for as long as you may need them.

The bag doesn’t leak at all. Neither does it get punctured easily. In addition to its outstanding durability, the cooler has been designed with the antimicrobial lining that has improved it’s resistance to mildew and other harmful chemical elements.

It’s so convenient that you can carry it any day you decide to go for camping or hunting. The strong build of the cooler makes it the perfect choice for any sole hunting or camping adventure.


  • The RTIC cooler retains ice for 5 whole days.
  • It’s tough. The hard construction makes it extremely durable.
  • The antimicrobial lining gives the cooler more resistance to mildew.
  • Exterior pouches have been included. You can keep other essentials such as clothes and mobile gadgets in these pockets.
  • It’s affordable and still great in quality. It doesn’t tear easily.


  • Some buyers have complained of defective parts.
  • There are users who have experienced problems with zippers.



One major factor buyers look at before purchasing coolers is the safety of their stored contents. Yeti has been designed with a quality zipper, one that is leak proof. In case melted ice accumulates, there is no way it would leak and cause sogginess to your bag at any point.

The brand has built quite a reputation in relation to ice retention. It has passed many tests related to the same, and has achieved a remarkable 48-hour record of keeping cooler contents cold without melted ice in the picture.

The model is portable. Being a lightweight cooler by design, Yeti is easy to transport.

You can have it with you whenever and wherever, in the course of camping. Apart from being lightweight, it’s durable and spacious. You can easily fit 6 cans in it without much of a fuss.


  • Yeti is easy to use. It’s always ready to strap and go. It’s also easy to access cooler contents.
  • Cleaning this cooler is rather easy. You can use a soft or hard brush on the exterior, depending on the accessories at hand.
  • It’s waterproof. Mildew won’t get between safe storage and healthy living. Antimicrobial agents keep them at bay.
  • The zipper is leak proof and the cooler retains ice for long.


  • It’s expensive.
  • Yeti is a small cooler but sometimes too small for a sole camping trip.



Pelican can hold 24 beverage cans and still manage to keep them chilled and safe for two days. It’s ice retention is really high. It’s a top performing cooler in the industry, and this gives it an edge over most brands in the market.

Every element of a perfect cooler is notable with this model; it’s lightweight, so portable that it’s easier to carry to any place you are heading. Similarly, accessing your foods or drinks won’t be a problem, the lid can be flipped with ease.

The straps will help you when carrying the bag. Pelican has a rugged design to ensure it withstands any environmental hazards, especially extreme weather conditions as well as abuse.


  • This cooler is built in the USA.
  • It’s leak proof. No harm will come to the model as a result of sogginess. It stays dry.
  • The buckle system is made of a double lock securing system that facilitates the safety of contents.
  • Pelican comes with a warranty of 3 years.


  • The zipper sometimes breaks easily or is hard to open.
  • It’s an expensive cooler for some consumers.

Arctic Zone


This is one of the most affordable but still reputable designs. It can hold 16 cans, many small coolers can barely hold 10. Another added advantage of the Arctic Zone is the zipper-less lid which allows you to access contents easily. All you’ll need to do is flip the lid.

The Smart Shelf liner is a feature unique to this ice chest. This feature allows for the separation of hard items from soft ones, for example, meat from soda. This way, dry items stay dry, and nothing interferes with the cooling process.

The strap that facilitates carriage is adjustable. On the shoulder strap, an anti-slip pad has been added to prevent the occasional falling off of the bag.


  • The base of the cooler is triple-layered. This makes it leak-proof and absolutely effective in keeping contents safe.
  • It can be cleaned easily.
  • Accessing contents is easy, thanks to the zipper-less lid that can be flipped any time.
  • Anti-slip padding has been added to the shoulder strap. The bag won’t fall off.
  • It’s an affordable and high quality cooler.


  • Some parts of the cooler aren’t durable. The liner breaks easily.

What factors should you consider when looking for the perfect small cooler?

For a long time, campers have held on to the traditional belief that the ultimate bivouacking adventure is exclusively attainable with any cooler in your possession.

On the contrary, this is not the case. Camping calls for a wholesome inclusivity, hence the need to keep all your essentials close.

Unlike large coolers that are hard to move around with, small coolers do the right job in getting your everything you need, anywhere you are. You carry it with you. This way, any vital items such as medication and water that keeps you hydrated stay close.

You can also eat in the middle of the jungle without experiencing any hindrances to your adventure.

The small cooler is an important asset, it’s critical that you find one which is adequately accessorized with all the features you may need to make the camping experience complete.

Would you prefer a particular brand? Is the chest’s ice retention time longer than others? What about the size and weight?

All these questions point us to one direction, the need to carefully evaluate the factors that affect performance of small-sized coolers.


The perfect mini-sized cooler will hold a high number of cans throughout the trip while keeping  them chilled and safe for use.

The biggest distinction between small models and large ones is size. When choosing a miniature model, go for one that isn’t necessarily too big. You should be able to comfortably carry it without feeling exhausted.

Large coolers automatically hold more. However, the dimensions of each cooler vary immensely from brand to brand.

That’s why it’s vital that you take note of the outer and inner measurements of your preferred design to know exactly if it will hold all you need and still keep the contents insulated for long.

Size affects the holding capacity of coolers. Another reason you should know your cooler’s measurements is because you would also need to account for the space used to hold ice.

Cooler size is a major factor. A cooler whose size is proportional to the storage design works better than the one whose purpose hasn’t been identified or made known to purchasers. Size should equal the intended purpose.


Small coolers are the most portable in markets. Straps have been added to most designs to make it easier to keep your hands free and workable.

Oftentimes we get tired of carrying the bags on our shoulders. Some manufacturers covered this niche by inventing models with wheels. The addition of wheels on small coolers has been a creative and rewarding invention.

However, due to the rugged nature of outdoor terrain, wheels sometimes break easily, especially with consistent use. In case you need a cooler with wheels, choose one with durable models that won’t get stuck.

Generally, both strapped and wheeled coolers are pretty good alternatives to consider. Nevertheless, remember to look for a heavily built model, one that is lightweight, portable, a cooler that won’t compromise your tour or trip by falling apart.

Ice retention time

For any cooler to work optimally, it’s necessary that the ice keeping the contents cold stays in it’s solid shape for the longest time possible, without melting.

The longer the ice goes without melting, the better the chances that your foods and drinks stay chilled.

Ice retention times are affected by the nature of ice packs you use and the time frames of their packaging before setting out for camp. Ensure that you’ve minimized frequent opening of the chest when readying it for use, to ensure the ice packs aren’t exposed much to hot air.

Maintaining your cooler

Keeping the cooler in perfect working condition requires that you thoroughly clean it before and after use. The only prerequisite to this maintenance practice is determining the exact nature of your cooler; does it have anti-microbial properties?

Treating coolers with antimicrobial agents minimizes exposure to chemicals that may potentially pose as health hazards to you or anyone sharing cooler contents.

Additionally, coolers with antimicrobial properties are easier to sanitize. They won’t cause any contamination to your foods or drinks.

Waterproof or leak-proof?

Waterproof coolers keep dry items safe, even in extreme conditions such as rain or when the bags are dipped into water sources and muddy grounds. A waterproof design has been built to ensure that no harm from the outside comes to your food or drinks.

Leak-proof models on the other hand, are equally vital. When this feature is reinforced to a cooler, the chances that melted ice or spilled content finds its way to other parts of your bag are minimal. Murkiness is avoided and safety achieved as well.

As you explore the market for a safe cooler, ensure that you have both features in the design you pick. It’s a safety precaution whose benefits come to light in the most extreme circumstances.

Material used

Rugged designs are usually the best coolers to consider for camping. These can withstand abuse and harsh conditions without wearing out or indicating any sign of breaking down.

Essentially, small coolers are designed in two major ways, the first is with soft materials and the latter hard shells.

Both designs come with advantages as well as disadvantages. It’s always up to you to take note of your needs and intended objective for your cooler, to know exactly which one to consider.

Soft designs are easily portable. They are designed with shoulder straps, softer fabric. These can’t be used for gruesome outdoor camping. Grizzlies on the run won’t spare your essentials with this design out in the wild.

Hard models are the most durable, the perfect designs for exclusive outdoor camping, fishing and hunting.

They are safe, made of hard shells and virtually impenetrable. These work alternatively as seats or tables for crews camping in forests.

Knowing exactly how you intend to use the cooler will help you pick the right model for the experience: In case you are a doctor heading for office, a soft cooler would be appropriate. Campers would require the hard-built models.


A well insulated cooler will keep contents cold for long. Depending on the intended purpose, it’s advisable that you go for a model that perfectly suits the type of activity you’ll be engaging in.

Basic lunchbox designs should last for 7 to 8 hours while the advanced models for camping or hunting should hold ice for a day or two.


This factor influences workability of the model. A durable model shouldn’t create a constant need for replacement. It should maintain it’s design and shape and still fulfill it’s intended purpose.

That’s why lunchboxes are soft models that aren’t thrown around as much. Camping requires you to acquire a more durable design that would withstand frequent attacks from grizzlies.

Tougher shells made of hard plastic are the best picks for outdoor camping.

Compactness and its benefits

Large coolers are good because you can stuff all the items you need into them. However, you can’t carry a huge cooler to and from work on a daily basis, can you?

Small coolers are here to offer you convenience. Compact models allow you to carry all essentials, including foods, medication, drinks, cosmetics and even snacks, without experiencing any hassles or inconveniencing any person as you do so.

You get to access everything you need from the convenience of one small bag.

To top it all, the foodstuffs and chilled drinks are still kept cold and fresh throughout the day. Similarly, carrying them with you when going for hiking or other short adventures keeps you fully stocked, even when in inaccessible locations.

How do I know the compact cooler is right for me?

As much as you need to base your decision on common factors such as cooler size, portability, durability and insulation properties, it’s fairly important that you give your needs an even chance before making a conclusive pick.

Different coolers are designed to serve different purposes. When purchasing a compact model, you need to ask yourself the question, how do I intend to use this cooler?

Is it for my day to day job, my school going son, a beach visit, or for my camping trip? After knowing the intended purpose for the design, check out the available models to see if any matches and suits your kind of experience.

Models that are to be used for a day or two should have sides that are well insulated. Those that serve as lunchboxes only require 7 or 8 hours to run. All in all, ensure that your cooler is made of quality material, and nothing overrides it’s performance.

The cleaning process

Earlier, we looked at how antimicrobial elements help in eliminating bacteria, particularly mildew that creates a harmful chemical accumulation within coolers.

Besides acquiring a cooler with such properties, it’s evenly critical that you develop a consistent routine where you can clean the model, either before or after use.

The most recommendable item to use would be a moist cloth. This is specifically for the interior parts of the cooler.

Cleaning the exterior may require more sophisticated equipment. You can either use a brush or a machine, depending on the instructions provided and whether the manufacturer allows it.

Always check for instruction manuals or guides on tags attached to the cooler to ensure you’ve followed the right steps.


With the rising preference for healthy living, it’s notable that compact coolers are gradually becoming recommendable options for not only nurturing nutritional diets around the globe but also facilitating camping experiences that are rewarding and easier to long for.

In the past, travelers and campers usually experienced difficulties relocating to their camping stations. Some could get lost and go for up to three days without food or water, just because of the bulkiness of large coolers and the mobility constraints that came with the same.

Small coolers have brought with them convenience.

Everyone can participate in the camping experience with little worry of running short of essentials. Medication, clothing, snacks, drinks, all these can be nearly stacked in a small model and easily carried on your back as you enjoy the gifts of nature.

The Engel 13 Quart is our best pick. The design alone is an assurance that your contents are safe and nothing can come between you and your stuffed essentials, not even a grizzly.

The secure latches are built of stainless steel. The cooler is leak proof and airtight. The contents stay cold and melted ice doesn’t float to soak your foods and drinks wet. Dry stays dry.

The added gasket on the lid minimizes loss of cold air and improves ice retention. The shoulder straps that have been provided for carriage are adjustable. There’s also a 5 year warranty with the purchase of this cooler. It’s definitely one of a kind and a model to consider.

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