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Best Cooler for the Money

Ice coolers are a critical part of any number of summer activity. This makes it important to be sure to find the best budget coolers to fit your needs. The best cooler for the money must have superior ice retention. It must help keep you refreshed when you're exhausted after any outdoor activity. These coolers are available in different types, sizes, and prices. They range
from a soft durable coolers to backpack coolers. Not all expensive coolers are efficient in keeping your snacks ice cold. Conversely, there are many inexpensive coolers reasonably priced with great ice retention. But how do you choose the best cooler for your requirements? You can choose the best cooler for the money by considering few features. Before going shopping you should decide on what exactly you are looking in a cooler. Features that will help you find the best coolers are size, price and capacity.

Finding the Best Cooler

Deciding on a cooler size is of primary importance as it should fit in the space in your vehicle. Look for different types of coolers available that fit in the space available in your vehicle. If you are looking for heavy coolers for a trip then look for a cooler with wheels. Wheeled coolers will free from worries of lifting heavy-weight. Narrow coolers comfortably fit in the smaller spaces. Tall coolers help in keeping bottles upright and need the extra room. The kind of cooling you are looking for is another feature to consider. Coolers with thicker walls provide better insulation. They are also ideal for chilled beers and storing other stuff that needs ice cold temperatures.

Today market is flooded with the variety of coolers making the selection a daunting task. Finding the best cooler at a great price that perfectly suits your requirements can be tricky. Our step-by-step guidance helps you find right cooler for your next picnic. Below is the buying advice for you to buy the best cooler at great prices.

The best budget coolers keep perishable food and drinks cold below the certain temperature for more than a day. Ice coolers are ideal for long journeys especially during beach days or places with the warm climate. The best ice coolers are handy where you need storage capacity for items for a longer period of time. There are many features, apart from price, that you need to evaluate to find the best cooler. These features include type, size, insulation, capacity, durability, and portability.

Type of coolers

Before deciding on a cooler size you need to consider various types of coolers available in the market. Many coolers come with foam insulation sandwiched between plastic shells where the lids attaches with the screws on hinges. This design indicates coolers that are inexpensive but known for high performance. These can be the economical choice for most people. These models can maintain the cooling for 5 days due to the structural integrity. There are also expensive high-end models known for their insulating capacity and durability. These high-end models are available in competitive designs for you to choose depending on your taste and requirements. There are also specialty coolers exclusively designed for keeping specific foods and beverages chilled below the certain temperature. Lastly, there are ice coolers that can work on electric charging mechanism. These are chargeable with cigarette lighters or by plugging into wall sockets for charging.

Best Soft Sided Coolers for the money

A Soft Sided cooler is build for its portability and less for it's ice retention.  These Soft coolers are best for a short trip or to throw on your back.  Be careful when picking a soft sided cooler as some of the lower quality coolers can leak easily.  Below is a chart for some of the best soft coolers.






AO Soft Cooler
lifetime 28 quart cooler

12-48 cans

1.5 lbs

Yeti Hopper
Lifetime 55 quart

20 Cans

5 lbs

Igloo Playmate Cooler
91oEGFWVOpL. AC SL1500

22 cans

1.1 lbs

RTIC soft pack Cooler bag
41sog4+zLCS. AC

20 - 40 cabs

3.65 lbs

How much should a soft cooler cost?

The cost of a soft cooler can vary depending on the brand, size, and features of the cooler. Generally, you can find soft coolers ranging in price from around $20 to over $300.

The cheaper options typically have a smaller capacity and fewer features, while more expensive ones may have larger capacity, better insulation, and additional features like built-in speakers or charging ports.

Ultimately, the cost of a soft cooler will depend on your specific needs and budget. If you're only using it for short trips or picnics, a more affordable option may be suitable. However, if you plan on using it frequently or for longer periods, investing in a higher-end model with better insulation and features may be worth the extra cost.

AO Soft Cooler

AO Soft Cooler

The AO Soft Cooler is a popular and high-quality cooler. It is well-regarded for its durability and insulation capabilities. It is made from rugged, high-density nylon material that is both tear-resistant and easy to clean.

The cooler also features closed-cell foam insulation. IT boasts ice retention up to 24 hours in 120-degree heat. This makes it perfect for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and fishing. It is available in a range of sizes. The smallest is12-can ranging up to 48-can capacity. The AO Soft cooler also boasts multiple exterior pockets for extra storage.

In addition to its practical features, the AO Soft Cooler is stylish. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns to suit different tastes. It is also relatively affordable, with prices ranging from around $50 to $100 depending on the size and features. The AO Soft Cooler is a reliable and high-quality option for anyone looking for a durable cooler for their outdoor activities.

Yeti Hopper

Yeti Hopper Backflip

The Yeti Hopper Backflip 24 is a popular and high-end backpack cooler. It is well-known for its durability, insulation capabilities, and ease of use. It is designed to be both comfortable and functional. This makes it an excellent choice for outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, or tailgating.

The cooler is constructed with a DryHide shell. This is a high-density fabric that is resistant to punctures, abrasions, and UV rays. The liner of the cooler is made from a food-grade material. It is anti-microbial, which helps prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

The Hopper Backflip 24 also features closed-cell foam insulation. This makes it capable of keeping ice frozen for days, making it perfect for long outdoor excursions. It has a 24-can capacity. It has enough room for ice and other accessories. There a range of exterior pockets for additional storage.

One of the unique features of the Hopper Backflip 24 is its backpack-style design. This allows you to easily carry the cooler on your back while keeping your hands free. It has ergonomic shoulder straps and a ventilated back panel. This helps to prevent sweat and discomfort during extended wear.

Overall, the Yeti Hopper Backflip 24 is an excellent choice. While it is a bit more expensive than some other options, its durable construction, insulation capabilities, and convenient design make it well worth the investment.

Igloo playmate Cooler

Igloo playmate gripper

The Igloo Playmate Cooler is a classic and popular cooler. IT has been around for many years. It is well-regarded for its durability, affordability, and portability. This makes it an excellent choice for outdoor activities such as picnics, camping, or tailgating.

The Playmate Cooler features a classic tent-shaped design that is both simple and effective. The Igloo playmate cooler has a 14-can capacity. It is made from a sturdy and durable material that is resistant to scratches and impacts. The cooler also has an easy-to-use push-button lid that opens and closes with a single touch. This means it's easy to access your items.

One of the main advantages of the Playmate Cooler is portability. It has a top swing handle that makes it easy to carry, and its compact size makes it convenient to transport. It is available in a range of colors and designs.

The Playmate Cooler uses a foam insulated body and lid that provides decent ice retention for a few hours. However, it may not keep contents as cold as some of the more high-end coolers on the market.

The Igloo Playmate Cooler is a great choice for anyone who wants an affordable cooler for the outdoors. It may not have the insulation of more expensive models, it's a reliable option for short excursions.

Best Backpack Cooler for the money

Backpack coolers are a type of soft sided cooler that is made for portability.  As the name implies they work like a backpack with straps to go over you shoulders.  These can range in price from $40 all the way up to $170.  The capacity and ice retention of these coolers cannot compare to hard sided coolers but can be a great option if you are only need the cooler to keep items cold for a few hours. 

How much should a backpack cooler cost

The cost the best backpack ice box can vary depending on several factors, such as the size, brand, material, and features. Generally, a basic one can cost around $30 to $50, while a high-end model with more advanced features and larger capacity can cost $100 or more. It's important to consider your needs and budget when choosing a one to ensure you get the best value for your money.






Tourit Backpack
lifetime 28 quart cooler

30 cans

1.1 lbs

Everlasting Comfort


Lifetime 55 quart


2 lbs

81K16giCqcL. AC SL1500

18 cans

4 lbs

Tourit backpack Cooler

Tourit backpack cooler

The TOURIT backpack cooler is a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts who want to keep their food and drink cold on the go. Overall, it is a great value for the money, as it offers excellent features and durability at a relatively affordable price point.

One of the standout features of the TOURIT pack is its impressive insulation. It uses high-density insulation to keep contents cold for up to 3 days, making it ideal for extended camping trips or long days on the beach. The backpack also has a leakproof design, which prevents any water or ice from leaking out of the cooler and soaking your belongings.

In terms of storage capacity, the TOURIT backpack cooler can hold up to 28 cans, along with ice packs and other accessories. The backpack is also lightweight and comfortable to wear, with adjustable straps and a padded back panel for added support.

One potential downside to the TOURIT backpack is that it may not be as durable as some higher-end models. However, for its price point, it offers solid construction and should hold up well with proper care.

Overall, if you're looking for a reliable pack that won't break the bank, the TOURIT backpack cooler is a great choice. Its insulation, storage capacity, and comfortable design make it an excellent value for the money.

Everlasting Comfort backpack cooler

Everlasting Comfort Cooler

The Everlasting Comfort backpack cooler is made to keep beverages cold for hours, making it a great choice for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and picnicking. The backpack is made from high-quality materials and features a durable and leak-proof inner lining that can hold up to 18 cans or several food containers.

One of the standout features of this basic cooler is its comfortable design. The backpack straps are padded and adjustable, making it easy to carry even when fully loaded. The backpack also features a chest strap and waist strap to help distribute the weight evenly and reduce strain on your back and shoulders.

The Everlasting Comfort backpack cooler is also reasonably priced, making it a good value for the money. Compared to other backpack coolers on the market, the Everlasting Comfort offers similar features and quality at a lower price point.

Overall, if you're looking for a cooler line that is comfortable, durable, and reasonably priced, the Everlasting Comfort is definitely worth considering.

ICEMULE Backpack Cooler

IceMule backpack cooler

The Icemule packis a great option for those looking for an affordable and versatile cooler that can be easily carried on your back. Here are some of its features and benefits:

  • Insulation: Made with PolarLayer insulation, which helps to keep your drink and food cold for up to 24 hours.
  • Capacity: Comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from the 10L to the 36L. The 10L can hold up to 6 cans plus ice, while the 36L can hold up to 24 cans plus ice.
  • Portability: The pack design allows you to carry the cooler hands-free, making it great for hiking, biking, or any other outdoor activity.
  • Durability: The Icemule is made with tough, waterproof materials that can withstand rugged use.
  • Easy to Use: The roll-top design makes it easy to load and unload the cooler, while the air valve lets you adjust the insulation level to meet your needs.

Overall, the Icemule Backpack Cooler is a great value for the money. It's durable, versatile, and easy to use, making it a perfect choice for anyone who wants to keep their drink and food cold while on the go.

Beset Hard Cooler for the money

How much should a hard cooler cost?

The cost of a rotomolded cooler can vary widely depending on several factors, including the brand, size, materials, and features. Generally, a basic hard cooler that can hold a few cans and some ice can cost around $20-$30. However, larger and more feature-packed models can cost several hundred dollars.

Some popular brands of hard coolers include Yeti, Pelican, and Igloo. Yeti is known for producing high-quality, durable coolers with a premium price tag, ranging from $200-$1,300 depending on size and features. Pelican coolers are also known for their durability and range in price from $150-$700. Igloo coolers are generally more affordable, with prices ranging from $20-$300 depending on size and features.

Ultimately, the price you should pay for a hard cooler depends on your needs and budget. Consider what you will be using the cooler for, how often you will be using it, and what features are important to you before making a purchase.

A Hard Sided cooler is typically larger and have better ice retention.  Keeping Ice frozen is a critical job for any cooler and most hard sided coolers do this extremely well. There are several hard coolers available in the market that offer great value for their price. Here are some of the best hard coolers for the money

Igloo MaxCold Cooler

Igloo Max Cold Cooler

Igloo is a well-known brand in the cooler industry, and the MaxCold Cooler is one of their most popular models. It has thick insulation that can keep your drinks and food cold for up to five days, and it is available in several sizes, ranging from 40 to 100 quarts. It is also very affordable, with prices starting at around $70.

Coleman Steel Belted Cooler

Coleman steel belted cooler

Coleman is another reputable brand in the cooler market, and the Steel Belted Cooler is a classic design that has been around for decades. It is made with durable steel construction and has thick insulation to keep your drinks and food cold for up to four days. The cooler is available in several sizes, ranging from 54 to 84 quarts, and it is priced at around $150.  Check out our in depth review of the Coleman metal cooler.

Rubbermaid Durachill Cooler

The Rubbermaid Durachill Cooler is a great option for those on a budget. It has a sleek design and is available in several sizes, ranging from 20 to 75 quarts. The cooler has thick insulation that can keep your drinks and food cold for up to four days, and it is priced at around $50.

Artic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler

Arctic zone deep freeze

The Arctic Zone Deep Freeze Cooler is a highly regarded cooler that combines impressive insulation capabilities with a range of practical features. With its durable construction and excellent ice retention, it has gained popularity among outdoor enthusiasts and campers.

One of the standout features of the Arctic Zone Deep Freeze Cooler is its exceptional insulation. It utilizes a combination of multiple layers of high-density foam and Therma-Flect radiant barrier to provide superior cold retention. This insulation technology helps to keep the contents of the cooler cold for an extended period, even in hot weather conditions. Users have reported that ice can last for several days, making it ideal for longer camping trips or outdoor events.

The cooler's construction is robust and built to last. It features a durable exterior with reinforced corners and a rugged base, ensuring it can withstand rough handling and various outdoor environments. The leak-proof and easy-to-clean lining add to its practicality, making maintenance a breeze.

The Arctic Zone Deep Freeze Cooler offers ample storage space, with different size options available to suit various needs. The cooler is designed with multiple compartments and pockets, providing organization options for different types of food and drinks. The zippered pockets on the exterior are useful for storing utensils, napkins, or other small items.

Portability is made convenient with the cooler's integrated handles and adjustable shoulder straps. This allows for easy transportation, whether you're carrying it by hand or wearing it as a backpack-style cooler. The adjustable straps provide added comfort and make it easier to carry the cooler over longer distances.

Another notable feature is the inclusion of removable and adjustable SmartShelf dividers. These dividers allow for customizable storage options, enabling you to separate items and organize them efficiently. The SmartShelf dividers can be easily adjusted or removed as needed to accommodate larger items or create more space.

Best Wheeled Cooler for the money

Coleman Chiller Series 60 quart Wheeled Cooler

Coleman wheeled cooler

The Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Cooler is a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts looking for a reliable and affordable wheeled cooler. With its spacious capacity and convenient wheels, it offers a great balance of functionality and value for money.

One of the standout features of the Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Cooler is its ample storage space. With a capacity of 60 quarts (approximately 57 liters), this cooler provides enough room to hold a significant amount of food, drinks, and ice. It can easily accommodate large gatherings, camping trips, or tailgate parties, making it ideal for outdoor events.

The cooler is equipped with sturdy wheels, which make transportation a breeze. The wheels are designed to handle various terrains, including grass, sand, and uneven surfaces. This is particularly useful for those who frequently camp or engage in outdoor activities where mobility is essential. The telescoping handle further enhances maneuverability, allowing you to effortlessly pull the cooler along without straining your back.

When it comes to insulation, the Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Cooler performs admirably. It features high-quality insulation that helps keep your contents cold for an extended period. While the exact duration of ice retention may vary depending on factors like outside temperature and usage patterns, many users have reported satisfactory results in terms of keeping their items chilled.

The cooler also boasts a range of practical features that add to its appeal. The hinged lid with four cup holders provides a convenient surface for placing beverages or snacks, while the leak-resistant drain allows for hassle-free cleaning and emptying of melted ice. The lid itself is strong and can support additional weight, serving as an extra seat or surface when needed.

Durability is another area where the Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Cooler excels. It is constructed from robust materials that can withstand rough handling and outdoor conditions. The cooler's sturdy build ensures that it can endure frequent use without showing signs of wear and tear.

In terms of affordability, the Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Cooler offers excellent value for its price point. It provides many of the features found in more expensive coolers without breaking the bank. This makes it an attractive option for budget-conscious individuals or those who prioritize functionality over brand names.

While the Coleman Chiller Series 60qt Wheeled Cooler is generally highly regarded, it's worth noting that some users have reported occasional issues with the durability of the wheels or the effectiveness of the latch mechanism. However, these complaints appear to be in the minority, and overall customer satisfaction remains high.

What to look to get value from your ice box

Cooler Size

When you decide on the type of cooler then the next thing consider is the cooler size. What you want to store should determine cooler size. However, the size affects portability and cooling performance to a great extent. The size range of 58-75 quarts is more popular. This size can meet the cool storage requirements of a family for multiple days. This range of coolers is easily movable from one place to another by two people when loaded in full.

Quarts is the unit of measure when referring to an ice cooler’s capacity. Smaller units generally come with 25 quart capacity. This is enough to carry drinks for few people or multiple items for a single person for an overnight picnic. Mid-Size Coolers typically have a capacity around 40 quart. This range helps store food for single person for multiple days or 2 days for couple. 70 quarts capacity unit is ideal for a family of four. This size is good enough for storing food and drinks for camping or family trips for multiple days. There are also extra-large coolers available on the market. These coolers are very large and used only for stationary purposes and are not very mobile.

External dimensions of a cooler are also a factor when it comes to size. The insulation and the kind of material used will increase the exterior cooler dimension. In other words, small coolers may take up more space than expected. It’s imperative to consider the cooler’s external size and space available in your vehicle to take an informed decision.

An ice cooler’s size effects the cooling to a great extent. Small coolers will not hold ice for a longer time when compared to larger ones. The coolers that are fully loaded will not lose any amount of cooling due to the absence of air spaces. Therefore, choose a size that will be fully loaded at the beginning of a trip.

Insulation Performance

The main purpose of a cooler is to keep things cool at or below a specific temperature. This makes the insulation performance a major feature to take under consideration. Although traditional models maintain cold temperatures for 5 days, there are superior models that can maintain the cold temperature for more than 5 days. Traditional models feature thin insulation material compressed between plastic sheets which can hold temperature up to 5 days. High-end models come with thick insulation. These superior models, however, are little pricey when compared to traditional models. A high-end model proves to be a worthwhile investment if your trips stretch beyond 5 days. High-end models are ideal for fishing and hunting trips when you want to store freshly caught fish. The traditional models hold ice below 40°F for 2 to 3 days. This makes them ideal for weekend trips. If you are planning a trip beyond 10 days then dry ice will stay cold for a longer time. However high-end models need no dry ice to maintain the cold temperature which saves you money. Frequent users of ice coolers benefit from high-end models and save money on ice in the long run.


Cooler durability depends on the amount of usage. For Frequent use, the best cooler would be a high-end model. These high end models are highly durable compared to traditional models. Traditional models can withstand occasional use that too in less demanding circumstances. These are less durable compared to high-end models. High-end models feature pin style hinges and advanced external latching mechanism. These features prevent loss of cooling. High end coolers also come with many other features. These include large handles, rubber seals, UV resistant body and screw drain plugs. It’s better to buy one high-end cooler than buying three to four low-end coolers. Regardless, always buy a cooler which comes with resistance certifications and complies with food storage regulations.


Portability is another important factor to consider when buying a cooler. A fully loaded unit will be the heaviest thing to move on the camping trips. Smaller coolers are easy to move from one place to another. If a small cooler is not an option then be sure to look for one with wheels.

When considering large models of 70 quarts or above, plan how you will be carrying it on your trip. Some of the best large coolers come with convenient features such as handles and wheels to increase the portability. The handles on either sides of the cooler make it easy for two people to carry. However, it’s not possible for a single person to carry a fully loaded cooler which is quite heavy.

Most traditional ice cooler models come with a set of handles easily used by a single person or two people. The best budget cooler with good to great storage capacity include wheels to increase the mobility. Cooler wheels result in increased mobility. Wheeled models include a handle on one end. The wheels will be on the opposite end. This allows for easy transport over flat areas. Heavy coolers with 70 quarts or more are not easily movable as they are quite heavy when fully loaded. Such heavy duty coolers should only be used on trips where not much of moving is required.

Additional Features

There are also small features of note that make the use of ice cooler a convenient one throughout your tour. Ease of use is another aspect that needs to consider when buying a cooler. The food and drinks stored should be accessed easily which depends on the opening and closing mechanism. The water from the melted ice should not be a problem with a good drain plug. With the best coolers draining should be an easy process, whereas with lessor coolers it can be messy. Models with higher draining holes require more manual effort than those models with lower draining holes. High-end models come with big sized holes at the bottom which drains the water in a flash.

Cleaning is another aspect that needs to consider when buying an ice cooler. Generally, white textured coolers are difficult to maintain and clean. Flush mounted drains are easy to clean and maintain as these kind do not trap dirt. Read the instructions carefully when using dry ice for coolers as it can sometimes damage the liner. The latches and lids of the best budget coolers are easy to operate. Ideally these latches can open by using a single hand.