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Best cooler in 2021: Keep everything icy cold

We all know the best adventures require food and drink. Thankfully, 2021 features some of the best coolers to keep everything fresh during the summer months.

Summertime is quickly approaching. Some folks will head to the beach to soak up the sun, others will opt for a night spent in a tent, and many will gear up for summer tailgating. Let's take a look at some of the best coolers that 2021 has to offer.

Yeti Tundra Haul Hard cooler

Best for the beach-goer

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Specifications: Weight: 37lb empty | Can Capacity: 45lb (55lb ice only) | Size: 25.25 x 19.5 x 18.6in | 5-year warranty 


The Tundra Haul is worth mentioning because it's the first Yeti cooler on wheels, making it a great choice for beach-goers and campers who need a high-performance, portable cooler. 

 Features

  • Portability: Portability is not an issue for this cooler despite its larger-than-average size. The Tundra Haul features a set of solid, single-piece tires that are puncture- and impact-resistant. 
  • Tough design: The rotomolded construction of Yeti coolers makes them hold up to most outdoor elements. 
  • High-performance insulation: Yeti's insulation design, called Permafrost, uses pressure-insulated polyurethane foam walls, ensuring items stay cold for days at a time.
$399 at Yeti

Otterbox Venture 65 cooler

Best option for the serious camper

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Specifications: Weight: 32.95lb empty | Can Capacity: 36 - 12-ounce (75lb ice only) | Size: 40.01 x 18.76  x 18.83in | Limited Life-time warranty


The Otterbox Venture 65 is the ideal large-capacity cooler for the week-long camper or boat-goer. It's also a versatile option for tailgate parties.

 Features

  • Insulation system: The Venture 65 has a two-part insulation system with polypropylene shells inside and out. Silicone seals and latches keep items cool for up to sixteen days. 
  • Bear-tested: The Venture 65 is certified bear-resistant, making it one of the toughest coolers on the market. It is built for rugged use. 
  • Accessories: The accessories options on the Venture 65 are top-notch. The cooler features a dry storage tray and mounting system for additional accessories that can be purchased separately ­-- cutting boards, separators, and an all-terrain wheel attachment.
$315 at Amazon

REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack cooler

Best choice for the hiker

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Specifications: Weight: 2.2lb | Can Capacity: 12 cans with 6lb of ice | Gear Capacity: 1,770 cu. inches | Size: 22 x 15 x 8in


For hikers looking for a great soft-sided backpack cooler for those long treks in the woods, you can do no better than the REI Trail Split Pack Cooler. 

 Features

  • Compartment feature: The split compartment feature allows hikers to hold necessary gear in the top compartment while keeping drinks and food cool in the lower compartment. 
  • Removable insert: The Trail Split Pack features a leakproof, removable insert. This allows you to pack for volume if needed. 
  • Comfortable design: The Trail Split Pack Cooler is built for hikers. In addition to its lightweight construction, the padded shoulder straps and extra pockets make it ideal for hikers who want comfort on the trail without sacrificing gear space.
$79 at Rei

Magellan Outdoor IceBox dual-pen 20qt cooler

Best small cooler for the thrifty tailgater

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Specifications: Weight: 18.4lb empty | Can Capacity: 14 with 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio | Size: 14 x 14.5 x 22in


The Magellan Outdoor IceBox is a great, low-cost option for a small, portable cooler. It makes a perfect companion for keeping your drinks cold on the go.   

Features

  • Easy access: The dual-opening lid offers easy access to the contents inside while keeping things cool with dual-side latches and v-seal technology.
  • Ergonomic handles: The ergonomic grip of the buckle handles makes this cooler comfortable and portable, while the stainless steel locking system ensures the contents are secure in case it gets dropped.
  • Tailgate ready: This cooler features two built-in bottle openers, and its anti-skid feet make sure it stays in place on your tailgate. 
$95 at Academy

Igloo Polar 120qt cooler

Best low-cost option for serious capacity

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Specifications: Weight: 18.2lb empty | Can Capacity: 188 with 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio | Size: 38.31 x 17.38 x 17.75in


The Polar 120-quart cooler from Igloo is a great choice for those looking for serious capacity without breaking the bank. No flash, all utility.  

Features

  • Long-lasting: The insulation technology of the cooler body and lid, Ultratherm, holds ice for up to five days. 
  • Easy carry and loading: The Igloo Polar has reinforced swing-up handles that make it easy to carry, while the tie-down loops make loading simple and security easy for travel. 
  • Additional features: Dual snap-fit latches ensure contents are kept in place during travel. In addition, the threaded drain plug makes cleaning and draining easy.
$60 at Amazon

Igloo 28qt iceless thermoelectric cooler

Best thermoelectric option

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Specifications: Weight: 10lb empty | Can Capacity: 32+ | Size: 18.19 x 13.13 x 15.5in


Thermoelectric coolers make ice a thing of the past. This 28-quart option from Igloo is no different. It works great as a portable vehicle cooler or as a camping companion.  

Features

  • Efficient: Thermoelectric coolers are generally lighter than most typical hard-sided coolers. In addition, they are known for being an efficient alternative to ice-filled coolers. 
  • Portable: The Igloo thermoelectric cooler is great for portable use, as it has a 12-volt universal plug that fits into most 12-volt DC receptacle ports (e.g. cigarette lighter). 
  • No ice required: The biggest draw is the ability to keep items cool without ice. The polypropylene liner helps keep items cool -- 36 degrees below ambient temperature. 
$119 at Amazon

The CoolBox

Best cooler for entertainment

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Specifications: Weight: 19.7lb empty | Can Capacity: 22 or 22lb of ice | Size: 22 x 13 x 11.75in


The CoolBox lives up to its name. This cooler combines a 17.75-quart capacity with entertainment, making it a great choice for parties or tailgating.  

Features

  • Music included: This high-tech cooler allows you to play music through marine-grade speakers with wireless Bluetooth 4.0 capability or AUX port connectivity. 
  • Tough and portable: The commercial-grade polyurethane insulation keeps items cold while the music plays. It features heavy duty handles for carry, or you can roll with the telescoping handle for easy portability with the cooler wheels.
  • Other technology features include: Two USB ports for iPhone charging with internal battery charging (4-hour battery life), LED clock display, and a water resistant smartphone compartment. 
$159 at Cool Box

What should you consider when buying a cooler?

No one likes reaching into a cooler only to find cans floating in a tub of lukewarm water. Melted ice need not spoil your summer adventure -- here are some features to consider before you buy your next cooler:

Cooler uses

Not all coolers are created equal. Some are more travel-friendly and work best for the avid camper or the beach-goer who must maneuver around beach umbrellas in the soft sand. So where will you use it? Camping? Beach? Home office? 

Cooling performance, durability, and portability

How long do the contents of your cooler need to stay cool? Hours? Days? Determining which cooler is best for the length of time required for item storage will come down to material and insulation technology. A hard-sided rotomolded cooler may be best for the avid outdoors type due to its durable design and thick, foam-insulated walls. A hiker or day-tripper might opt for a soft-sided backpack cooler. These days there are numerous coolers to choose from: hard-sided, soft-sided, and even thermoelectric coolers. 

Capacity

Cooler capacity is another important factor to consider. Most cooler capacities are measured in quarts. Content capacity (drinks and food) and ice capacity vary depending on the design. 

Cost

Suffice it to say, cooler prices vary. Many low-budget options are out there, but sometimes a lower cost means sacrificing better quality materials. Generally, high-performance coolers carry a premium price tag. 

Which is the right cooler for you?

Of course, these are just a few features to consider before purchasing a cooler. Luckily, there are many coolers available in 2021 that fit the needs of nearly anyone -- from the day-trip hiker to the week-long camp goer.

The market is full of cooler options. It is safe to say that there is a cooler out there for just about everyone. Most coolers discussed above were for outdoor use. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to your needs. There is no shortage of options.