Keeping your cool is easier than ever with these handy coolers.

By Laura Denby
August 04, 2020
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young friends on a beach with a cooler
Credit: wundervisuals/Getty Images

With summer in full swing, beach days, park picnics, and bike rides have become the saving grace for those who've spent the last few months stuck inside. Although this summer has been a bit different than anyone is used to, the collective emphasis on spending more time outdoors makes any outing feel like an adventure.

What pairs best with fun in the sun? A frosty cold beverage of course. From water to wine, nothing feels better than slugging back a cold one when everything else seems too hot to handle—but lugging a clunky cooler full of drinks and snacks supplies can be enough to make you want to turn around and go home. (Related: Healthy Canned Wines, Cocktails, and Spiked Seltzers to Bring Everywhere This Summer)

Whether you're hiking to a secret spot, lounging at the beach, or having a socially distant happy hour at the park, you'll need a good cooler. Here, the best portable, convenient, and cute coolers that will transform your next outdoor adventure.

Best Backpack Cooler: BUILT Welded Soft Cooler Backpack

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Credit: Amazon

Backpacks are always a convenient travel bag choice, but backpack coolers are even more efficient. This heavy-duty tough shelled pack is made to keep the cold in and the hot out. Despite its rugged exterior, this cooler is soft enough to carry on your back or pack in the trunk of your car without taking up too much space. It can hold up to 36 cans or 32 pounds of ice, all with a wide mouth opening that makes digging in for your favorite drink super easy.

In the reviews, one shopper says, "we are an active family that goes to the beach and hikes each weekend and this cooler is out on all of our adventures with us. We load it full for soccer days and lacrosse tournaments, too. It takes a beating in the back of our SUV, but still looks good!"

Best Disposable Cooler: Vericool Ohana

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Credit: Vericooler

Sometimes, the best cooler is one you can take with you when you need it and toss it when you're done. But what about all that waste? Not to worry, Vericoolers are the perfect solution. These coolers are 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable and can keep up to 20 cans ice cold for at least 18 hours. They're the same packaging that companies use to ship temperature-sensitive products for 24-96 hours—so you know it'll keep your drinks cool for one hot day at the beach. Now available in more than 2,000 retailers across the country, pick one up at your local Whole Foods or 7-11. (Related: What Is Plastic-Free July?)

Best Tote Bag Cooler: Hydro Flask Unbound Soft-Sided Cooler Tote

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Lightweight and durable are two keywords that come to mind when searching for the best cooler, and this one certainly fits the bill. Welded seams and a watertight zipper ensure that this beauty is totally leak-proof and can keep your goods cold for up to 48 hours, all while sporting a sleek design in an easy-to-carry tote. (P.S. If you want a fun color, Urban Outfitters sells orange-y gold and turquoise options—Buy It, $175, urbanoutfitters.com)

One reviewer wrote that this cooler is perfect for all their weekend trips around Texas, and that "it is VERY sturdy, flat on the bottom so it stands upright and zero leaks the whole two days. Everything stayed cold, and we didn't have to refill the ice. I also liked that it was less "drippy" than my other soft cooler. I really can't ever imagine that the zipper would break - it is really durable. For all of the sturdiness of this cooler, it isn't heavy and it is very easy to carry. I also like the pocket on the side as well. The shoulder strap is convenient and the handles are strong. This cooler will be around for a very long time!"

Best Bucket Cooler: ROVR Keepr

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Credit: Rovr

This bucket cooler is the modern-day version of a picnic basket, and it also doubles as a mobile bar. Sure, cans of beer and wine are totally refreshing on their own, but a freshly-made beachside cocktail sounds way more appealing. This open-top ROVR bag is a fantastic mobile caddy that makes storing ice, drinks, snacks, and tools super easy. The bag is made up of high-density foam with a rigid structure and moveable dividers that keep your goodies stored perfectly in their place. The best part? Right in the center of the is a stainless-steel, double-walled and vacuum-sealed ice bucket that keeps your drinks cold, your ice fresh, and your snacks dry.

Best Mini Cooler: Carhartt Dual Compartment Lunch Cooler Bag

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Credit: Amazon

Sometimes all you need for the perfect picnic is a sandwich and a cold drink. For that, mini coolers are a lifesaver. This mini cooler from Carhartt is like a grown-up lunch box; it's insulated, water repellent, and conveniently hook-able to any extra gear you might be lugging. With two compartments and a zippered pocket for utensils, this little pack is all you need for a romantic hike for two. (Want more lunch box options? Check out these best lunch boxes and bags for meal prepping.)

Best Super Compact Cooler: IceMule Classic Cooler

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Credit: Amazon

This cooler is ideal for backpacking, biking, or hiking when minimizing extra weight is crucial, but you want to keep your snacks and drinks cool. It's a roll-top style, meaning you fold the top over and roll it down to form a leakproof seal. When it's empty, it's fully collapsible and can be folded down or rolled up so you can stash it away. IceMule offers a few different sizes of the same model—mini (9L), small (10L), and large (20L)—so you can choose the right size for your needs. You can carry all three sizes backpack-style; the detachable, double-padded, and ventilated sling strap leaves both your arms free so you can carry other things, hold onto your pup, or scramble up rocks. Bonus: It's also buoyant and waterproof, making it perfect to float alongside your kayak or paddleboard, or toss in a boat worry-free.

Best Casual Cooler: Sea Bags Beverage Bucket

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Credit: Sperry

The perfect portable drink holder if you're boat- or beach-bound, Sea Bags Beverage Buckets are designed to effortlessly carry and cool down a six-pack of your favorite canned beverage. Made from the recycled cloth of an actual sail, these nautically themed bags are durable and collapsible for any kind of picnic. They even have a grommet hole in the bottom so when your ice melts it simply drips away rather than pooling in the bag.

Best Budget Wheeled Cooler: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Rolling Cooler

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Credit: Amazon

Sometimes a wheeled cooler is the only way to go, and this one is particularly perfect for taking on long walks to the beach. This cooler is it sturdy, but also collapsible, making it easy to store. It boasts high-performance insulation with a heat barrier that actually reflects heat rather than absorbing it, keeping your stuff cooler longer. It also has a leak-proof lining and is water- and stain-resistant, making it easier to clean between uses.

One reviewer noted that when they used it on a weekend camping trip, it "held a lot of food and didn’t leak, but you do need to keep it upright or it will leak around the easy access door on the top. The food stayed cold all weekend long with freezer packs and ice."

Best All-Terrain Rolling Cooler: ROVR High-Performance Cooler with Wheels

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Credit: The Grommet

If you know you'll need to haul a cooler over long stretches of sand, gravel roads, or rooty trails, you'll need a cooler with heavy-duty wheels. This 45-quart ROVR rolling cooler has two-inch foam insulation that allows for up to 10 days of ice retention (!!!) and 9-inch all-terrain wheels that can sail over any texture ground. (Note: They also offer 60- and 8-quart options of the same model.) It's also lockable and certified grizzly bear-proof, so you can take it camping without worry. Bonus: the brand offers a ROVR Bike Towing Kit (Buy It, $54, thegrommet.com) that you can use to hook up and tote the cooler behind your bike. When you need extra seating around your campsite, just fold-down the pop-up wagon bin, which doubles as a seat cushion. (While you're at it, grab one of these top-rated camping tents.)

Best Car Cooler: Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler

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Credit: Dick's Sporting Goods

This cooler is as close to having a refrigerator in your car as you can get. With the insulation power that Yeti is known for (ICYDK, they have incredible travel mugs and tumblers), this cooler has extra thick walls for added durability and quick latches that are flexible and built for one-handed cooler access. In fact, it's specifically designed to fit behind the front seat of a car. Sounds like the perfect road-trip companion!

One reviewer noted that the cooler "kept everything ice cold all day long. A day and a half later, and my ice was still frozen inside of the cooler when I went to empty it...Next up will be buying the pad to sit on the top of it and I will have a cooler that'll last decades."