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Top Picks

How we choose: The best coolers highlighted here were selected based on 10 reviews of 9 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a cooler that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Orca Walker 20 Cooler

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

The Orca Walker 20 soft-sided cooler is an easy-to-carry cooler that is built to withstand the wear-and-tear of summer trips and actually keeps contents cold for a whole day.

Reasons to Buy

  • Sturdy
  • Various carrying options
  • Non-slip bottom
  • No visible weakness points

Reasons to Avoid

  • Takes up a lot of space for its capacity
  • Zipper requires some muscle
  • Molle straps/attachment points seem a bit excessive (nice to have though, just too many IMO)

Conditions: For two-and-a-half months in the spring and summer, I’ve used the Orca Walker 20 Cooler for a variety of occasions, including car camping, road tripping, fishing trips, beer runs, and even buying groceries. It's been rained on, sat in the sun, tossed in the sand, and rode many miles in the back of the car.  An ideal picnic-sized cooler   Ease of Use:  A cooler is a pretty straight-forward piece of to access food/drink, close to keep things cold...that’s about it.

Read more: Orca Walker 20 Cooler review (1)

Kelty Folding Cooler

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Well insulated for a collapsible cooler, packs down flat for transportation. Setting up / packing down isn't too difficult. Good handles, nice having cup holders on the top.

Reasons to Buy

  • Packs flat
  • Well insulated for collapsible cooler
  • Good handles
  • Cup holders
  • Doesn't leak

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not as well insulated as a hard-side cooler
  • Can't be used as seat

This is a great cooler if you want something that packs down and only need to keep food cool for a day or two. If you need to keep things cool beyond that, you're better off with a better insulated hard-sided cooler.  The zippers are good quality, and the cloth handles on the side make carrying easy. Can't use it as a seat when camping like a hard-side cooler, but it does have cupholder indentations on the top so at least you can use it for that.  Unpacking it involves folding out the inner liner and velcro-ing it to the top of the sides.

Read more: Kelty Folding Cooler review (1)

REI Pack-Away 12 Soft Cooler

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

It does what it says it will do, but...

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to pack for travel
  • Does keep food cold
  • Roomy enough for a few groceries
  • Saves money

Reasons to Avoid

  • Requires a lot of ice
  • Timeline includes the time it takes the ice to melt and warm
  • Condensation on the outside

Filled with 8.5 lbs. of ice, the Pack-Away 12 will keep 12 cans below 40°F for up to 32 hrs. This is the first line in the product description at REI. It is accurate but it does include the hours the cold water keeps things cool. Once the ice melts, you're keeping stuff in a bucket of water but if you've anything in the cooler besides drinks, it can get messy unless those containers are 100% water tight. Ziplocs won't do it, as we found out. We bought this for a 3-week trip in New Zealand.

Read more: REI Pack-Away 12 Soft Cooler review (1)

Icey-Tek 40 Quart Cooler

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A high end cooler as good as much more expensive brands for the right price. Available in a variety of colors and sizes to fit your needs.

Reasons to Buy

  • Color availability
  • Price
  • Durability

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy
  • Expensive accessories

I received this cooler as a gift from my husband. He knew I was tired of having to use his smelly fishing coolers and wanted one of my own for camping. To ensure they would never get mixed up, he got me a pink one! They're available in many more colors not made by other companies. He also purchased the additional padded seat top.  These coolers are similar to some much more expensive high-end brands, but are not an unreasonably priced. They have two drainage plugs on either side which seem like they would be easy to lose since they aren't attached to the cooler in any way.

Read more: Icey-Tek 40 Quart Cooler review (1)

LITN 20QT Ice Chest Box RotoMolded Cooler

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Great cooler for the $$$$$

Reasons to Buy

  • Sturdy
  • Good construction

Reasons to Avoid

  • Didn't hold ice as long as I'd hoped

A description from the seller's eBay info: This cooler is a high performance cooler with a nice, portable and strong structured design, it is very good for camping, hunting, fishing, boating, picnic or daily work. Color: White  Capacity: 20L (21QT) Can capacity: 30 cans+ Material: Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) ice box and cover, PU insulation, 304 stainless steel handle Net/ Gross Weight: 7.5kg/ 8.3 kg (or 16.5lb/18.3lb) Product Outer Size: L51 x W35.7 x H38cm (20” x 14” x 15”) Product Inner Size: 37 x 24 x 27 cm (141/2” x 91/2” x 105/8”) Carton Size: 53 x 38 x 41 cm Features: Sturdy construction The roto-molded technique, LLDPE interior and exterior make it a very sturdy construction, it can stand up to the rigors...

Read more: LITN 20QT Ice Chest Box RotoMolded Cooler review (1)

Fishpond Drifter Boat Cooler

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

This is a good quality semi-soft cooler that is large enough to fit enough food and drinks for a weekend kayak or canoe trip. The molded bottom is rigid enough to give the cooler form and prevent leakage into and out of the bottom of the cooler but also flexible so that the cooler can be crammed into a kayak hatch.

Reasons to Buy

  • Molded semi-hard bottom
  • Durable materials
  • Lid has a zippered pocket on top

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not as effeicient at cooling as a hard-sided cooler

The Fishpond Drifter Boat Cooler is a good quality semi-soft cooler that is large enough to fit enough food and drinks for a weekend. I purchased it because it was short and rectangular in size, so that it just fits inside the back hatch of my kayak. It also easily slides into an open canoe. Because it has a semi-rigid bottom (which prevents seepage into and out of the cooler), I do have to contort it slightly to fit into the hatch. With a hard-sided cooler, this would be impossible, so I find it is a good blend between this and completely soft cooler that tends to leak.

Read more: Fishpond Drifter Boat Cooler review (1)

LITN 26QT/25L Ice Chest Box RotoMolded Cooler

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Sturdy build

Reasons to Buy

  • Sturdy build

Reasons to Avoid

  • Holds ice for 2 days

From the LiTN eBay store: LITN 26QT (25L) COOLER This is a high performance roto-molded Cooler with a nice, portable and strong structured design is very good for camping, hunting, fishing, boating, picnic or daily work. Features: Sturdy construction Use the roto-molded technique, food graded LLDPE materials Thick PU insulation With 1.5-inch thick PU insulation layer, putting a capacity with recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio can hold ice for 3-5 days in around 90℉ (or 32o­­C) use environment.

Read more: LITN 26QT/25L Ice Chest Box RotoMolded Cooler review (1)

More Reviews of Coolers

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