Best Ice Chest: Top 11 Picks

best ice chest

The best ice chest is an insulated, portable container that will keep items cold for lengthy periods. There are many uses for a portable cooler. They keep food at safe temperatures while also keeping beverages cold and satisfying. They allow you to preserve items, such as fish, while you are out on the lake, too. Anyone can enjoy an ice chest as long as it does a great job of keeping food, drinks, and other items cold.

Common Questions About the Best Ice Chest

1. What makes for the best ice chest?

An ice chest is an insulated container capable of keeping items cold as long as you need them to be kept cold. Usually, the best ones 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 chest or cooler is the one that suits your planned uses and specific needs. Whether you need a soft, foldable cooler for your sandwiches or a larger cooler to preserve your catch of the day while fishing, you'll find that the best one allows you the freedom to use in a variety of ways to meet your needs on any given day.

2. What should I look for when buying a chest?

Of course, the number-one requirement of a cooler is that it must keep items cold. That means it must have ample insulation and an outer-shell that provides additional insulating properties. The outer shell 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. Instead, the insulation does most of the work.

A cooler's construction and the materials 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. 

Another consideration when you are shopping for an ice chest is to check whether it has metal or plastic hardware. Plastic hinges will deteriorate or break faster than metal hinges. While metal is nice, an all-metal ice chest is a little hard to find 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, though.

Rubber is another key material used in the manufacturing of some of the best ice chest models. It is used sparingly but is often a key component in such areas as the seal. Rubber helps create a more air-tight barrier between the lid and the box.

3. Where can I buy a cooler?

Fortunately, there are many places you can buy one. Sporting goods stores are a good source as are online retailers, such as Amazon. For your convenience, each of our recommendations in our best ice chest list is accompanied by a link to more information and a purchase option.

4. 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 was its method of transport. We discovered in our research that side handles are the most desired option for larger chests. Smaller ones 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 coolers favored by consumers is the inclusion of wheels. Attached wheels make transporting a heavily loaded chest so much easier. No one has to break their back or struggle because it's possible to pull up the handle and roll it where you need it to go. 

How We Reviewed

Our review team evaluated some of the most popular and best ice chest options 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 that we feel comfortable recommending to you.

Overall Price Range 

The coolers we reviewed on our 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 to almost $800.

Top 11 Best Ice Chest Options

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[amazon link=”B0009PURKO” title=”Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B0009PURKO”]

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. It's built 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.

Warranty

Coleman offers a six-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

[amazon fields=”B0009PURKO” value=”button”]

[amazon link=”B07FXPXTKC” title=”Engel Coolers ENG35 Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B07FXPXTKC”]

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.

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

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[amazon link=”B010BFML4Q” title=”Igloo MaxCold Roller Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B010BFML4Q”]

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. The wheels were our favorite feature.

Warranty

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

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

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[amazon link=”B00DMKCOZO” title=”YETI Tundra 35 Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B00DMKCOZO”]

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.

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

[amazon fields=”B00DMKCOZO” value=”button”]

[amazon link=”B01EY7HPY8″ title=”ORCA ORCG058 Cooler” /]

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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.

Warranty

ORCA provides a five-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

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[amazon link=”B004XUNDX4″ title=”Igloo Glide PRO Cooler” /]

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Features

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

Warranty

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

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

[amazon fields=”B004XUNDX4″ value=”button”]

[amazon link=”B009QB0LVC” title=”Pelican Products Progear Elite Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B009QB0LVC”]

Features

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.

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

[amazon fields=”B009QB0LVC” value=”button”]

[amazon link=”B010QW7Z1S” title=”Grizzly 40-Quart” /]

[amazon box=”B010QW7Z1S”]

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.

Warranty

Grizzly cooler come with a lifetime warranty, which really sets this apart from the others on our list.

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

[amazon fields=”B010QW7Z1S” value=”button”]

[amazon link=”B00O5HMOJO” title=”K2 Coolers Summit 50 Team Color Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B00O5HMOJO”]

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, it offers outstanding cold retention.

Warranty

K2 Coolers are backed by a seven-year warranty.

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

[amazon fields=”B00O5HMOJO” value=”button”]

[amazon link=”B0052EBRC4″ title=”Rubbermaid DuraChill Wheeled 5-Day Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B0052EBRC4″]

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.

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

[amazon fields=”B0052EBRC4″ value=”button”]

[amazon link=”B003LZKRVI” title=”Igloo 14.8 Quart Playmate Cooler” /]

[amazon box=”B003LZKRVI”]

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.

Warranty

Igloo offers a one-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

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The Final Word on Choosing an Ice Chest

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

If you can afford to spend a little more, then we think the Engel Coolers ENG35 is an excellent choice. 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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