Beach days are the best days!
The sun high overhead, sand between your toes, a good read, ocean surf just waiting to be splashed in, and maybe a little nap in the sun- simply everything that unwinds and relaxes.
What could make that any better?
In my experience, food and drinks can make any beach day go from good to better to best.
Personally, I love to complete my beach experience with some hard-boiled eggs, celery sticks, sandwiches, Granola mixture, and of course, my favorite drink, Margarita.
That said, it’s all fun and games until you attempt to address your growling stomach only to find soggy sandwiches, lukewarm drinks, and questionably warm egg salad.
It’s usually a disappointment for me, but for my kids, it sends them from hangry to straight-up red, ready to stomp on their sandcastles, or even react to the simplest questions with a kind of vitriol I only see on the Real Housewives reunion special.
And this is why I decided to squash that frustration by getting my family a beach cooler.
The best beach cooler will help avoid a less-than-desirable lunch and ensure a party foul doesn’t ruin your fun.
And the good thing is there’re various options in the market to suit your every packing needs.
Table of Contents
The Best Beach Coolers For The Money
#1 YETI Hopper Two Portable Cooler - EDITOR'S CHOICE
I saw the Yeti Hopper on a flash sale on Amazon and couldn’t resist buying it.
I’m glad I did it because it’s all that I was hoping for in a beach cooler.
Sure, it’s damn expensive, but like divorce, for some, it’s worth every penny.
It keeps my stuff cold longer than any other beach cooler and is a practical solution for camping, day trips, beach days and longer travel.
And that’s not all; here’re some of the reasons you should consider the Yeti Hopper.
Features and Benefits
I love this beach cooler bag because it can hold ice for days without melting, even in my hot black car. That’s a win in my books.
See, on our first outing, I used the beach bag for a camping trip to the Rocky Mountains. It was a primitive camp, with zero power, and during the summer.
We packed a frozen jug of water and had several frozen items in the beach cooler.
From the first day to the third, our food, veggies, and meat were ice cold. I even had to thaw the meat to cook it.
And this was all while the cooler baked in the bear box in the summer sun.
Like any other Yeti product, the Hopper is top-shelf throughout and is built tough and with quality craftsmanship.
To give you an idea of the Hopper’s strength, we’ve used ours for a couple of seasons now, and it doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear.
The high-density DryHide Shell on the beach cooler will stand up to abuse, including frequent exposure to the sun and elements.
I’ve also tossed mine at the trunk of my boot, without any care, and so far, it looks as if it’s new.
Portability is the name of the game with Yeti Hopper.
I chose it because I wanted a beach cooler that I could haul, even when backpacking.
Fortunately, the Hopper beach cooler bag comes complete with padded shoulder straps to help me lug it around.
And the good thing is, unlike other straps that dig into my skin, this one is comfortable, and I can use it for extended periods without feeling numbness or unproportioned fatigue.
On top of that, this soft cooler comes with a tapered body, which generally makes hauling easier and more comfortable.
For such a portable cooler backpack, you might think it’s small.
Well, it’s not.
I had a smaller beach cooler and wanted a larger size to carry more beverages.
The Hopper beach bag seems just right.
Coming at 40 liters, so it’s big enough to carry a large run of frozen food or a bunch of beverages.
Personally, I used it to hold two growlers for my friends during the trip.
The only quibble I had with the space was the shape. It’s oblong and not very flexible due to wall insulation thickness.
Otherwise, I’ve used it primarily to keep foods warm for beach parties or paddle boarding, and it does a great job.
YETI Sidekick Dry
Using the Hopper Backpack cooler is as convenient as it can get with any best beach cooler.
For one, it has a wide mouth, so it’s easy to access your items.
Secondly, it comes with a nifty creation, the Sidekick Dry.
It’s a pocket created to keep the most important things secure, accessible, and 100% dry.
I use mine to carry my keys, wallets, and phone on the beach.
And the good thing with this compartment is that it’s waterproof and doesn’t leak water through the zipper.
#2 YETI Tundra 45 Beach Cooler – Premium Pick
Okay, do you really need a $300 cooler?
I mean, really?
I guess you could also ask whether one needs a Mercedes when a Volkswagen can get you from one point to the other.
See, I’ve been a long-time fan of Yeti, but I could never wrap my head around spending that much for a beach cooler.
But after disappointment from the cheaply-made coolers, I bit the bullet and decided to go for it.
I’m glad I did.
This monster outperforms every other brand out there, and after owning one, I’m convinced.
The design is simple, ice retention is incredible, and I couldn’t be happier.
Features and Benefits
Ice Retention- Great Chill Effect
For my previous beach cooler, I only enjoyed my food and drinks for a few hours. After that, it was canned food and warm soda.
That is different from the Tundra.
Ice stays for five days, and my drinks remain chilled for long.
Of course, not as cold as when I packed, but the 3” Permafrost, ColdLock gasket, and extra-thick wall ensure your ice is well-kept and intact for quite a duration of time.
Overall, the Tundra is one of my best beach coolers, and I couldn’t be happier with this purchase.
Tundra isn’t your run-of-the-mill beach cooler.
It’s something that will get passed down from generation to generation.
The rotomolded construction makes it virtually indestructible. It will stand up to the rigors of the journey.
It’s also advertised as bear-proof, and I’m completely convinced.
Hefting it around, it feels like I can toss it down a cliff face, climb on it up and down and crack an ice-cold on it. In comparison, it’s much superior to my previous Pelican, which feels like it would pop a hinge if I glanced at it😊
Simply put, get the Tundra if you appreciate quality and want a cooler that does the job better than anything else in the market. Also, get it if you don’t want to replace your cooler now and then.
When picking the Tundra hard shell cooler, I was torn between Yeti 35,45, 65, and Haul.
The 35 is small and essentially a drink beach cooler. The Haul is a monster large cooler, and while the 65 should have been great, it didn’t meet the footprint I needed.
Tundra 45 seems like a great choice for many.
It’s compact enough to fit in my Subaru without cramping space yet large enough for a multi-day camping trip.
It can hold up to 26 cans, which is enough for my family of four for a 2-day camping trip.
Also, if you need an ice chest to keep your food fresh for a week and the alternative is canned beans and hot sodas, this one’s for you.
Like the best beach coolers, Tundra is designed for convenient portability.
It sports LipGrip handles, and this makes carrying the beach cooler easy and enjoyable.
On top of that, it’s fitted with anchor point tie-down slots and non-skid rubber feet for a secure tie on the bed of a truck, trailer, or boat.
#3 Icemule Backpack Beach Cooler - Portable Beach Cooler
Icemule isn’t only among the most portable beach coolers but also a classic insulated backpack-style cooler.
It’s a high-performance soft-shell, coming in a variety of sizes and colors.
More importantly, it worked well and exceeded our expectations with keeping our items at a cold temperature.
Features and Benefits
Incredible Ice Retention
Icemule is the perfect cooler for my summer beach time needs.
I’m pretty sure it’ll also come in handy for camping trips and a fishing day in the boat.
Sure, it doesn’t have the longest cold retention time, but it can retain ice packs for over 24 hours.
The Ultra-tough Muleskin Exterior holds a full bag of ice all day, and into the night, so you can trust it to keep your lunch fresh and drinks cold during the long-day hikes, tailgating, and hanging out at the beach.
For the best performance, I found out that using cured ice from a beach cooler is better than the wet ice from the dispenser. Yes, you may pay 50 cents more, but it makes a huge difference.
Now, before we move to the next point, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you how Icemule retains ice packs.
Along with the Ultra-tough Muleskin Exterior, the cooler uses an Interior plus PolarLayer Insulation.
It’s simply a bag of air surrounding your food pack. It leaves the inner bag containing food hanging mid-air; not even the bottom touches the ground.
The benefit of this design is if the sun were to hit the cooler directly, a pocket of air separates the ice from the outer shell.
It’s an amazing design that extends the life of your items considerably, and my only hope is they better have a patent on this system because it’s a genius idea.
Icemule’s soft cooler construction measures up, and both the interior and exterior seem to be very tough.
It’s sturdy-made, and everything on it, including the straps, buckles, and seams, seem like they’re made to last.
I’ve used mine for several seasons now, and it’s still like the day I bought it.
The firm and waterproof mule skin doesn’t fail.
It doesn’t get “cut” even when using it on boats with lots of sharp edges and pointy spots than my previous beach coolers.
On top of that, the closure system is designed without zippers and welded seams, so no messy leaks.
Icemule Cooler Bag holds a lot with some room to spare.
The classic medium option has space for over 10 pounds of ice, snacks, six cans, or four liters beverage bottles.
It’s my favorite beach cooler bag for nearly any adventure, whether at the beach, hitting the water, or the trails.
Easy Transportation and Storage
Another nice benefit of this purchase is that it’s light and feels like carrying a backpack with ice and drinks.
It’s not a heavy cooler, and I carry mine crossbody, and it does just fine.
Alternatively, I can strap it comfortably on my back, leaving my hands and arms free to carry additional luggage.
And if that was not enough, this bad body collapses and folds down to about the same size as my pair of rolled-up jeans.
When deflated, it’s smaller than a folded sweater. How cool is that?
This helps a bunch when hauling stuff back to my car.
I love this cooler because it lacks a zipper.
Instead, it has a unique roll-top design with many benefits, including a wide opening for easy access, more storage, and buoyancy.
On top of that, it’s leak proof.
I’ve packed this reliable beach cooler bag with hotel ice several times and packed it all the way home on the plane, without a single leak even when I turned the cooler upside down.
#4 Coleman Portable Cooler with Wheels – Value Purchase
Coleman Coolers are classic for a reason: they work well and are not super pricey.
The Coleman Portable Cooler with Wheels is a testimony.
Of course, it’s a value purchase, so don’t expect the frills and fray we saw earlier on the Yeti.
But that doesn’t really matter if you’re simply looking for a portable cooler to use for the occasional beach day.
Features and Benefits
Coleman cooler is the best beach cooler for budget, and I can’t believe I got it for such an insanely low amount.
See, I live in Florida, and here temperatures can go as high as the depths of hell.
Surprisingly, this wheeled beach cooler kept ice going for several days in 80-90 extreme heat.
I didn’t add any ice, and I’m just floored, to be honest.
While the Coleman beach cooler with wheels doesn’t clock the five days as advertised by the manufacturer, it stays cold much longer than other coolers within its range.
If you want it to work better and longer, you should keep it inside in the AC for a day before using it. Also, you can put a bag of ice in it for 24 hours beforehand so that it’s already nice and cool.
Coleman is a robust ice cooler that will take on anything you throw at it.
I can sit on this cooler as it doesn’t have a hollow lid and doesn’t break down.
It also doubles up as a tabletop on my beach outing, and I can use it to put the plates and cups for my meal.
Simply put, Coleman beach cooler with wheels is a great cooler and as sturdy as it can get. It can take a beating without breaking.
We love this beach cooler with wheels, particularly the 50 qt; it’s a good size.
Not too big to cause issues when hauling, but big enough to hold all the things we need to keep cool.
The 50-quart version can hold up to 84 cans, which is more than we need for a multi-day beach vacation with my family of four. It leaves space for more.
It will also easily fit in most SUVs.
Ease of Transport
Portability is also on point on this beach cooler with wheels.
The big, wide, and large wheels are good for pulling over rough ground or the sand on the beach. The oversized wheels can roll over virtually any obstacle.
On the other hand, the telescopic handle allows for reliable transport almost across any terrain.
And the good thing with the handle is that it has two positions. The first one is approximately 11” high and the second one about 22/23” high.
I’m 5’6,” and I feel comfortable rolling this beach cooler with wheels.
The handle locks down in place and isn’t going anywhere unless you pull it on.
Though Coleman beach cooler with wheels is a budget purchase, a few extras make it worth the purchase.
There’re four cup holders, conveniently molded into the lid to keep drinks handy and avoid spills.
The only flaw I found with the Coleman purchase is the lid of the cooler is somewhat difficult to open.
My suggestion was Coleman should have provided more of a lip on the front edge to give grip. The current design requires a lot of finger strength.
But if you look from a broader perspective, you can see that the tight lid is a good thing, actually, It provides an air-tight seal, and the precision fit allows for a sustained period of keeping your items cool.
#5 Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler – Best Hybrid Cooler
Our last pick in our review of the best beach cooler is an option for those torn between getting a soft-sided cooler and a hard-sided cooler.
The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler is a hybrid version, benefiting both styles of beach coolers.
We love it for its amazing performance, ease of use, and incredible ice retention/insulation.
Features and Benefits
The ice retention of this model is incredible, and I love that I can visit the beach or go for multi-day camping without having to put up with soggy food or stale veggies.
It’s quoted at three days, though from experience, it manages two days. This is still a decent time, especially considering how small the cooler is.
And maybe, with calculated usages, such as not opening it up frequently and topping it up with ice cubes, it can extend the insulation life.
Overall, it’s a perfect beach cooler if you need an ice cooler that will last you a day or two.
The Arctic Zone Deep Freeze seems pretty legit.
I really like the appearance, and it feels great to use.
Both the exterior and interior feel amazing, and I no longer have to worry about going to the park and getting muddy or sand from the beach because I simply wipe it off. This includes any type of KoolAid spills.
And when it comes to construction, this cooler is classified as a soft-sided cooler, though it contains a removable hardliner.
The neat design comes with a removable storage tray (SmartShelf) for use with the hardliner, and this is necessary for separating my soft foods from the heavier drink bottles.
It’s also useful for when the ice starts to melt, and you want to keep your food from getting soggy.
And the good thing is if you want the entire liner, the SmartShelf removes easily to provide one large compartment.
Arctic Titan is one sturdy beach cooler.
We’ve used ours for several seasons now, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to give in.
And unlike other zippers that always have a problem with the zipper, Arctic has a zipperless opening, and we don’t seem like we’ll need to replace it anytime soon.
However, you still need to care for it because there’s no extra padding between the outside fabric and the inner hard-plastic shell- so it may be susceptible to gouging.
Arctic Titan is available in different sizes and dimensions.
The 30-can option is the most popular model because it balances performance and ease of use.
It has enough storage to hold a capacity for multi-day hiking, and it remains light enough to carry, even for long distances.
The 48 can model is bigger, and therefore, less easy to carry, while the smaller ones only can serve as lunch coolers.
For such a small-size beach cooler, we didn’t expect it to come with many features.
But surprisingly, it has a host of useful features, including mesh pockets for the smaller items, two front zipper pockets, and a top elastic strap.
Another neat feature is a stainless steel bottle opener attached to the side of the cooler, just in case you leave it at home.
Best Beach Coolers Buying Guide
I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best beach cooler in the buying section below.
But first, let’s look at the different types of top-rated beach coolers.
Types of Beach Coolers
Generally, beach coolers are categorized into two:
1) Soft-sided coolers
2) Hard-sided coolers
Soft beach coolers use fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and vinyl.
They’re more like your regular backpack and most optimized for portability and ease o use.
For the most part, the soft-sided bags weigh only as much as what is inside of them.
These best coolers are easy to bring with you to the beach and easy to stash on a shelf in the garage.
While each soft-sided cooler is different, they’re generally smaller and have “less ice retention.”
But they’re also comparatively more affordable.
The hard-sided beach coolers are usually made out of plastic.
They’re typically larger, more invincible, and insulate food better.
These hard options are also optimized for durability, capacity, and better overall ice retention.
Plus, they’re so sturdy that you can use them as a seat or table.
Most of the hard-shelled coolers are made using the rotational molding (rotomolding) process.
But the cheaper hard-shelled coolers are made with injection molding. Therefore, they don’t keep items cold for long.
Features to Consider When Selecting the Best Beach Cooler
With a huge variety of beach coolers in the market, selecting the right one for you is nerve-wracking.
However, once you assess your needs well, it’s easy to filter the best beach cooler fulfilling your requirements.
Now, while our review of the best beach coolers may have helped you narrow to the best two or three coolers, our guide below will further help you decide the best beach cooler for your specific purpose.
It includes the important factors to consider when buying the best cooler.
Your purpose of buying a cooler determines the size, and the cooler size depends on its storage capacity.
For example, if you plan to spend a day in the sand alone, a cooler with a capacity of 5-10 cans is good enough.
However, if you plan to go out with family and friends for multiple days, you should go for a large size cooler, which can hold more than 25 cans.
There’re two main aspects to consider for the material: insulation and strength.
1) Quality of Insulation
If you want to keep your items cool for a longer duration, you should opt for hard coolers.
On the other hand, for a shorter temperature retention time, soft beach coolers are more useful.
Also, metal-made cold-storage boxes conduct heat and don’t perform well in warmer months. The plastic-made coolers work best as all-around portable ice chests.
The top-rated beach coolers are uniquely made to handle the abrasive stress of the sand, exposure to sand water, and direct hit from the sun.
These elements would otherwise wear down on the weak joints and give your cooling box a short run.
Generally, the hard coolers are more durable than their softer counterparts. Of course, the difference lies in the types of fabric used.
The strong and rugged material used in making hard coolers keeps them protected from external shocks, making them durable.
So, if you plan to use your beach cooler for an extended period, spending a few bucks more or a hard cooler wouldn’t be a bad idea.
You would obviously want a beach cooler that is easy to move from one spot to the other.
The soft-shell coolers are generally easier to move since most of them even come with carrying straps.
Now, if you’ve to go with a hard-sided cooler, pick an option with wheels.
The best rolling cooler will allow beachgoers to navigate their cooler for longer distances and through multiple terrains.
While the traditional non-wheeled options may still work, you want to choose one with sturdy handles. One on each side allows you to partner up and carry it to your preferred location.
Users will continuously open the cooler at the beach to grab a drink and bite to eat frequently.
So, it means your portable ice chest should come with a lid that is big enough to give easy access to contents. Section and mini-access covers are also preferable.
The whole point of the lid is to limit the amount of time the lid is open, which in turn reduces the amount of cold air let out.
Cleaning and maintenance may not seem like a huge concern but may prove to be challenging if you pick the wrong cooler.
Soft-sided coolers are generally easier to clean through machine washing. But in some cases, this may reduce the product life.
On the other hand, hard coolers simply require you to wipe every component with a damp cloth. Coolers with certain inner and intricate structures and lining may make the cleaning process challenging.
So, choose the best beach coolers with a design that will make your job easier.
Some beach coolers are only good to use at the beach, while the best beach coolers can be used for different purposes.
A versatile cooler will allow you to use it on multiple occasions, and it enhances the utility of the cooler.
For example, some can be used as boat coolers; others can be used for carrying grocery items, while others can double up as hiking/camping/concert coolers.
Along with the essential elements that any good beach cooler must come with, some high-end models include a few subtle features.
This includes things like cup holders, raised legs, ceramic cutleries, and bottle openers.
Other extras include two handles, a drain plug (drain excess water), and an insulated lid seal. These are crucial elements that will make a huge difference when handling your cooler.
After going through our list of best beach cooler reviews and buying guides, the last task for the right selection will be deciding which one works for your budget.
Generally, hard-shelled coolers come at a higher cost than a soft-sided or backpack beach cooler.
Now, while the high-priced products may seem more suitable, keeping a focus on the basic requirements is important.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the value of money.
Best Beach Coolers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How long do coolers keep food and drinks cold?
A: Affordable beach coolers can keep your items for a few hours due to their thinner and less-efficient construction.
On the other hand, the luxurious and high-end hard-sided tops can keep your items cool for several days.
O course, the cooling duration is also dependent on the ambient temperature.
Q: How do I clean a beach cooler?
A: The cleaning process is dependent on the design and structure of the cooler.
For example, if your hardtop has a complex design, many dust and debris accumulations may be beyond your reach.
In such cases, use fine brushes to wipe out the dirt settled in the inner lining.
But if your cooler has a smooth lining, you simply use a damp cloth to wipe it off.
Q: What’s the benefit of wheeled beach coolers?
A: Wheeled beach coolers are right for different reasons.
One is they’re easier to move, especially when your cooler is filled to the brim.
Secondly, it doesn’t require much effort as you don’t engage both hands. You can use the other hand for carrying other items.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
We’re through with our list of the best beach coolers, and our winner for today is Yeti Hopper.
Yes, the Yeti cooler is an expensive purchase, but every description I can think of is superlative.
It’s a nice pick, and if you want a cooler that is utterly bombproof and will keep your items cold for a long time, bite the bullet and get the Hopper.
It’s the best beach cooler!