Best Ice Chests – Top 11 Picks

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A great ice chest is an insulated, usually portable container that will keep items cold (or hot) for lengthy periods of time. People most interested in buying the best ice chest available include people in the medical profession as well as families and workers in all other careers and trades. Really, anyone can enjoy an ice chest that does a great job of keeping food, drinks, and other items cold.

Common Questions about the Best Ice Chests

1. What Makes for the Best Ice Chest?

The best ice chests are insulated containers capable of keeping items cold as long as you need them to be kept cold. Usually, the best ice chests are well insulated, but some boost the cooling power with the addition of compartments designed to be packed with ice, dry ice or ice packs with gel. (Note: Always wear safety gloves if you use dry ice.)

The best ice chest, which many call a cooler, will be the one you find that best suits your planned uses and specific needs. Whether you plan to use a soft, foldable cooler for your sandwiches or bring a larger ice chest to preserve your catch of the day while fishing, you'll find that the best ice chest is one that allows you the freedom to go on a variety of excursions while eating and living well along the way.

2. What Do the Best Ice Chests Do?

Of course, the number-one requirement of the best ice chests is that they must keep items cold. That means they must have ample insulation and an outer-shell build that can make all the difference in keeping things cool up to a few days, as opposed to just a few hours. With some high-end models on the market today, you won’t even need to add much ice, but instead, simply let the insulation do most of the work.

3. How Does an Ice Chest Work?

An ice chest's construction and the materials used in its build should be top considerations when trying to decide which one to buy. Plastic is the favored material for manufacturing ice chests, but you should be careful because not all plastics are created equal. In your selection of a plastic ice chest, you will want to focus on those with roto-molded construction, meaning the plastic framework is created in a single piece. This provides strength and durability in the build while preventing any weak points. Roto-molded coolers perform well.

Another consideration when you are shopping for an ice chest is to check whether it has metal or plastic hardware. After all, plastic hinges will deteriorate or break faster than metal hinges. Metal is another material used in the construction of some of the best ice chests, but an all-metal ice chest is a little hard to find these days because roto-molded plastic has been proven superior. You will find metal still used for top-of-the-line coolers' hardware, hinges, handles, and zippers.

Rubber is another key material used in the manufacture of some of the best ice chests. It is used sparingly but is often a key component in such areas as the ice chest's seal. Rubber helps create a more air-tight barrier between the lid and the box, which is something you will really want to have if you are after one of the best ice chests on the market.

4. Where Can I Buy the Best Ice Chest?

Fortunately, there are many places you can buy one of the best ice chests available. Sporting goods stores are a good source. So are online retailers like Amazon. For your convenience, each of our recommendations among the best ice chests is accompanied by a link to more information and a purchase option.

5. What Are the Best Features?

Aside from what materials the ice chest is made of, we found that the number-one feature consumers were most concerned with in their choice of an ice chest was its method of transport. We discovered in our research that side handles are the most common way to carry an ice chest.

Some ice chests have a single handle on the cooler lid for single-person carrying. This is a handy feature for simple, compact coolers, like the kind you'll use to carry your lunch or snacks. These smaller coolers, which are often made of fabric, also typically come with a shoulder strap.

Another feature of larger ice chests favored by consumers is the inclusion of wheels. Attached wheels make transporting a heavily loaded ice chest so much easier. No one has to break their back or struggle on his own because it's possible to pull up the handle and roll the full ice chest where you need it to go. Wheels are great any time the terrain is suitable.

How We Reviewed

Our review team evaluated some of the most popular and best ice chests on the market. We reviewed them based on their features, such as good latches, strong hinges, handle positions, and the inclusion of wheels. We also looked at the performance of each cooler. By comparing those features, along with prices and warranties, we came up with a list of 11 ice chests we feel comfortable recommending to you.

Overall Price Range for the Best Ice Chests

The coolers we reviewed on our top 11 best ice chests list came in such a wide range of prices that there's surely something to suit every budget. The products reviewed below range in price from about $25 up to $750 or more.

Overall Price Range for the Best Ice Chests

What We Reviewed

Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler
Engel Coolers ENG35 Cooler
Igloo MaxCold Roller Cooler
YETI Tundra 35 Cooler
ORCA ORCG058 Cooler
Igloo Glide PRO Cooler
Pelican Products Progear Elite Cooler
Grizzly 40-Quart
K2 Coolers Summit 50 Team Color Cooler
Rubbermaid DuraChill Wheeled 5-Day Cooler
Igloo 14.8 Quart Playmate Cooler

Comparison Table

Coleman Steel-Belted Portable Cooler, 54 Quart, Olive Green -...
  • High-capacity, heavy-duty cooler features a charming retro design
  • 54-quart capacity accommodates up to 85 cans
  • Keeps the Ice! insulation offers 4-day ice retention in temperatures as high as 90 degrees...
  • Built to deliver years of performance with rust-resistant stainless steel hardware
  • Comfort-grip steel handles allow for easy, controlled lifting and carrying

Features

This Coleman cooler is retro in design and comes in a variety of colors to suit your style. It has a fantastic capacity that can accommodate up to 85 cans. This cooler is build to keep items cool for up to four days, even in 90-degree weather. It has rust-resistant, stainless-steel hardware and comfort-grip handles.

Price

We found this Coleman cooler on Amazon for around $100.

Warranty

Coleman offers a 6-year limited warranty on all its products.

Pros
  • Stainless-steel features
  • Large capacity
  • Easy to carry
Cons
  • Latch may be difficult to operate for some
  • Not widely available

Engel 35 High Performance Durable Roto Molded Airtight Ice Cooler,...
  • 35-quart, 42-can capacity cooler perfect for keeping food and drinks cold while camping,...
  • Constructed with quality rotationally-molded plastic

  • Airtight silicone gasket seal keeps the cold inside the cooler

  • Compact and lightweight feel makes transporting this cooler easy

  • Equipped with 2 carry handles for easy transportation


Features

This Engel cooler has an awesome ice retention level: it's rated to keep ice solid for up to 10 days. If you love the outdoors, then you will love this cooler. It's certified bear-resistant and includes two locks. One ideal way to secure an airtight seal is to use silicone, and that is exactly what Engel did here, adding UV-resistant construction as well.

Price

This product is available on Amazon for around $200.

Warranty

Engel Coolers offers a 10-year warranty on this product.

Pros
  • 10-year manufacturer's warranty
  • Preserves ice up to 10 days
  • Airtight silicone seal
Cons
  • Plastic construction with warp potential
  • Only one color

Igloo MaxCold Roller Cooler, Jet Carbon/Ice Blue/White, 40 Quart
  • Igloo max cold cooler offer the ultimate in cold retention with ultratherm insulated lid...
  • Durable wheels and tow handle for easy transport to and from the event
  • Ultratherm insulation in body and lid helps keep things cold
  • Reinforced swing-up handles with tie-down loop
  • 40 qt. Capacity and can hold up to 56 cans

Features

This Igloo cooler has a unique way to insulate your precious cold items. The maker calls its technology Ultratherm. This special method of construction ensures the chest will offer great-quality cold retention. We found that the wheels were our favorite feature on this entry in our list of the best ice chests.

Price

The Igloo MaxCold roller cooler can be purchased on Amazon for around $45.

Warranty

Igloo manufacturer offers a 1-year limited warranty from the original purchase date.

Pros
  • Ultratherm construction
  • 40-quart capacity
  • Wheels
Cons
  • No drain hole
  • Limited capacity

YETI Tundra 35 Cooler (Ice Blue)
  • The YETI Tundra 35 is portable enough for one person to haul while still having an...
  • Ice stays ice thanks to up to 3 inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an extra thick FatWall...
  • The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra armored to the core and virtually...
  • All Tundra coolers feature T-Rex Lid Latches constructed of heavy-duty rubber so you'll...
  • The Tundra 35 dimensions are 20 in long x 16 1/8 in wide x 15 1/4 in high with an empty...

Features

The YETI Tundra 35 is a great chest for one person who needs to tote a nice load of cans and food to any outing. The roto-molded construction makes this Yeti product virtually indestructible. The lid has special construction, too, with heavy-duty rubber latches that withstand wear and tear. Each cooler also comes with a handy dry-goods basket.

Price

This high-end ice chest is available on Amazon for around $250.

Warranty

YETI offers a five-year warranty.

Pros
  • Roto-molded construction
  • Heavy-duty rubber latches
  • Drain hole
  • Various colors available
Cons
  • No wheels
  • Limited capacity
  • Expensive compared to alternatives

ORCA ORCW058 Cooler with Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable...
  • 58 quart storage capacity
  • Durable, roto-molded construction
  • Lid gasket to ensure a perfect seal
  • Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable SOLO or Tandem portage
  • Cargo net attachment for added storage

Features

The Orca ORCG line offers a variety of cooler sizes for your specific needs. The 40-quart storage capacity cooler is durable because it is made with the roto-molded construction method. The integrated insulation makes it easy for you to maintain cold temperatures and keep your items fresh. The extra effort put into this cooler's perfect seal is greatly appreciated. We love the handy cargo net attachment for added storage, too.

Price

This ORCA cooler is available on Amazon for around $250.

Warranty

ORCA provides a 5-year warranty against manufacturers defects in material or workmanship under normal use and service for the stainless steel body. ORCA Coolers shall either repair the product or component or provide you with a replacement product or component if it provides defective under the terms of this warranty.

Pros
  • Multiple sizes available
  • Offered in various colors
  • Drain hole
Cons
  • No wheels
  • Not available at many retailers
  • Expensive compared to other ice chests

Igloo Glide PRO Cooler (110-Quart, White) - 45184
  • Unique horizontal Slide-and-Lock telescoping handle provides maximum leverage and lightens...
  • Ultratherm insulated body and lid keep ice for 5 days at 90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Virtually indestructible zinc-plated metal hinges
  • Oversized sport rally wheels. Material : Plastic
  • Attractive, yet rugged styling

Features

The Igloo Glide Pro cooler offers one feature our team of reviewers loved: a slide-and-lock telescoping handle. That beautiful handle and this cooler's over-sized wheels really helped ease our loads as we moved this cooler from the truck to the campsite. It kept items cold for up to five days even when temperatures are hot outside.

Price

This product is available on Amazon for around $110.

Warranty

The manufacturer provides a 1-year limited warranty from the original purchase date.

Pros
  • Zinc-plated metal hinges
  • Oversized wheels
  • 5 days of cold temperatures inside, even in the face of 90-degree weather
Cons
  • Not recommended for long trips
  • Latches not ideal

Pelican ProGear Cooler 45QT Tan Cooler
  • Guaranteed for life
  • Up to 10 days ice retention, freezer grade gasket, 2-Inch polyurethane insulation
  • Dual Handle System (Molded-in & Hinged Handles)
  • Non-Skid & Non-Marking Raised Feet
  • Corrosion Resistant Stainless Steel Hardware

Features

This Pelican Progear cooler has a lifetime guarantee. We are starting with that because we think it is a big deal. This cooler keeps your items cool and fresh on long trips because it has a 10-day ice retention rating. That rating is due, in part, to its freezer-grade gasket.

Price

This high-end cooler from Pelican Products can be purchased on Amazon for around $750.

Warranty

Pelican Products, Inc., guarantees that its coolers will be free of defects in materials and workmanship for one year from the date of invoice. This warranty applies only to the original purchaser and is not transferable.

Pros
  • Up to 10 days of ice retention
  • Freezer-grade gasket
  • Non-skid, raised feet
Cons
  • Most expensive chest on our list
  • Heavy, so challenging to transport

Grizzly 40 Quart Sea Foam Green Cooler
  • Large 2 inch drain
  • Non-skid rubber feet
  • Rubber gasket in lid
  • Holds 56 - 12 oz. Cans
  • Made in USA

Features

This Grizzly 40-quart cooler has a large, convenient two-inch drain that makes cleaning it a breeze. We also appreciated the rubber gasket lid.

Price

This cooler is available on Amazon for around $250.

Warranty

Pelican Products, Inc., guarantees that its coolers will be free of defects in materials and workmanship for one year from the date of invoice. This warranty applies only to the original purchaser and is not transferable.

Pros
  • 2-inch drain makes cleaning easy
  • Non-skid rubber feet
  • Large capacity
Cons
  • Limited ice and cold retention
  • No wheels

K2 Coolers Summit 50 Cooler, Duck Boat Green
  • One piece roto-molded polyethylene construction for extreme durability
  • Extra thick insulation for maximum ice retention
  • Premium features such as ICE vault lid gasket, POSITRAC latches
  • 7 Year Warranty
  • Professional Grade - Engineered to make the outdoors great!

Features

The K2 Cooler Summit 50 made our list of the best ice chests in part because it is built with our preferred method of construction: roto-molded polyethylene. As a direct result, this ice chest offers outstanding cold retention.

Price

This product is available on Amazon for around $250.

Warranty

K2 Coolers are backed by a 7-year warranty.

Pros
  • Insulation thicker than most for maximum cold retention
  • Premium seal and latches
  • 7-year warranty
  • Professional-grade materials
Cons
  • Heavy
  • No wheels, so limited in portability
  • Expensive compared to alternatives

Rubbermaid DuraChill Wheeled 5-Day Cooler, 75 Quarts, Blue 1836574
  • This rolling cooler has extra thick insulation that keeps ice frozen up to 5 days even in...
  • Large size accommodates up to 130 cans plus ice; The rugged wheels make maneuvering this...
  • Portable cooler is great for camping, picnics, tailgating, or any party
  • Durable metal and plastic extended tow handle, drain for easy draining of liquids; Side...
  • Built-in cup holders fit both 12-ounce cans and 20-ounce bottles

Features

This Rubbermaid cooler comes with some great, extra-thick insulation that allows you to keep ice up to five days, even in 90-degree weather conditions.

Price

This Rubbermaid cooler model is available on Amazon for around $60.

Warranty

Rubbermaid does not offer a warranty for this product.

Pros
  • Various sizes available
  • Split-hinged lid
  • Wheels for portability
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Affordable
  • Tight seal is hard to open

Igloo 14.8 Quart Playmate Cooler with Industrial Diamond Plate...
  • 1 selling cooler in its category
  • Patented tent shaped locking lid helps prevent spills
  • Diamond plate exterior is constructed of impact-resistant plastic with a rugged texture...
  • Lid swings open to either side for easy access
  • Sure grip molded in easy carry handle

Features

This is the number-one seller in this size range for Igloo, a leader in this category. We found that its superb construction and an ingenious lid that swings open are two strong reasons for its favored status among consumers.

Price

This compact cooler is available on Amazon for around $25.

Warranty

Igloo offers a 1-year limited manufacturer's warranty from original purchase date.

Pros
  • Locking, tent-shaped lid helps prevent spills
  • Swinging lid allows easy access to contents
  • Easy-carry handle has a sure-grip finish
  • Exterior is diamond-plated for impact resistance
Cons
  • Limited capacity
  • Better for shorter excursions

The Verdict

Our top pick among the best ice chests on today's market is the Rubbermaid DuraChill wheeled 5-Day cooler. We love its affordable price of around $60, which gets you excellent durability and great features like this model's split-top lid. This one tops our list of cooler recommendations for shorter excursions.

If you can afford to spend a little more, then we think the top pick among the best ice chests is the Engel Coolers ENG35. It keeps your items cold for up to 10 days, which is as long as the Pelican Product Progear Elite unit, but for a fraction of the cost.

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