Best cooler for road trips

Travel Essentials

Around 40 to 50 million coolers are used each year.

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What is the best cooler for road trips? 

Road trips take a while to plan, making convenient storage important. The last thing travelers want to worry about while on an adventure is finding space to fit important items. The more you can fit into an organized space, the easier it will be to access the items that you need. Choosing a high-quality cooler will prevent your food and beverages spoiling while on your road trip.

When choosing a cooler for your next road trip, consider the weight, size, style and how the cooler will close. If you are looking for a compact cooler with extreme isolation and the best accessories for carrying, the Coleman 28 Quart Cooler is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy a cooler for road trips

SIZE

The size of your cooler should be directly related to how much space you have and how much space you want to save. If you plan on packing limited food items or are traveling for a short time, consider purchasing a small, lightweight cooler that doesn’t take up a lot of space. If you plan to pack food and beverage items that require insulation for a lengthy road trip, consider purchasing a large durable cooler that still fits comfortably in the car. Bigger is not always better, as the size will vary depending on how much space you have in your car and where you place the cooler for the most convenient access. The contents of a cooler are measured in quarts and will be sized as such in the product description.

Closure 

A good cooler for a road trip will feature a tight, secure lid. This feature is vital to keep items cool for the longest amount of time. The quicker the ice melts in the cooler, the more time will be spent on buying ice and refilling the cooler while on your trip. Purchasing a cooler with a secure lid will not only save you time on your road trip but will keep contents that require refrigeration safer to eat. If an item is not properly cooled, it could spoil. Larger coolers will feature a hinged lid with a strong latch to keep content secure and fresh. No matter the size of the cooler, make sure the lid is designed with an airtight seal.

Material 

The material used to make a cooler can determine the insulation, durability and weight of the cooler. A fabric cooler is made of canvas material and is typically insulated with foam. These coolers hold the smallest amount of contents while being lightweight and moderately insualtive. Plastic coolers can also be lightweight and are insulated with foam. These are the easiest to clean and are convenient to carry. Metal coolers are the heaviest of the bunch and provide the best insulation. Though they are heavy, they can be easily dented, so they are not the most durable option. This style of cooler is the most expensive. 

The best material for the cooler will depend on how long you will be traveling and what will be carried in the cooler. For more information, take a look at the full coolers buying guide from BestReviews.

What to look for in a quality cooler for road trips 

Handles 

If you are looking for a portable cooler to take on your next roadtrip, consider one that has a handle. Small coolers will typically feature a small, central handle. This is necessary when dumping out ice or transporting the cooler from one location to the next while traveling. If the cooler is heavy, it may feature two gripped handles on either size for safety when carrying. These are the most comfortable coolers to hold, but buyers should also consider heavier coolers with a shoulder strap for added leverage of weight and comfort when carrying. 

Drainage  

A good cooler for road trips will feature a bottom drain feature to help get rid of melted ice. Rather than having to empty the contents of the cooler and dump out all of the ice, a cooler that features a drain requires less work and saves time. This feature makes it easier to empty unwanted contents, as well as easier to clean when you are finished using the product. 

How much you can expect to spend on a cooler for road trips

A cooler for road trips will be priced anywhere from $25-$150, depending on size, material and accessories. Smaller coolers can be purchased for $25-$40, while high-end coolers with all the best features will cost upwards of $65. 

Cooler for road trips FAQ

How do I clean my cooler for a road trip? 

A. Regardless of the material, mix water and mild dish soap around in the cooler. Scrub gently and rinse out the cooler to remove residue. Users can either leave the product to air dry or pat the inside dry with a towel. 

How long can you keep cold items in a cooler? 

A. Items in a cooler will stay cold longer if the cooler is made with quality insulation, has less items and is rarely opened. You can extend the time that items stay cool by adding fresh ice every couple of days or when needed. 

What’s the best cooler to buy for road trips?

Top cooler for road trips

Coleman 28 Quart Cooler

Coleman 28 Quart Cooler

What you need to know: This is a high-quality cooler with extra insulation. 

What you’ll love: This cooler keeps food and beverages cold for an extended period of time with added insulation and space. This item features comfort grip handles and holds up to 48 cans. Users are able to sit on the lid and put their drink in the provided cup holder on the outside. This item is easy to clean and uses low Co2 insulation to reduce carbon emissions. 

What you should consider: Many users note ice melting inside the cooler within 2 hours. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Top cooler for road trips for the money

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless HardBody Cooler

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless HardBody Cooler

What you need to know: This hardbody, leak-proof cooler reflects the heat. 

What you’ll love: This cooler is designed with a heat barrier and an insulated front pocket that allows for quick access to food and drink. It features a leak proof interior lining and a shoulder strap with a pad for comfort and convenience when taking the item on the go. The product is stain resistant and will not crack overtime. 

What you should consider: The ice melts quicker than what is stated in the product description.  

Where to buy: Amazon

Worth checking out

Rubbermaid Durachill Wheeled 75 Quart Cooler

Rubbermaid Durachill Wheeled 75 Quart Cooler

What you need to know: This is a rolling cooler with extra-thick insulation.

What you’ll love: This portable cooler keeps ice frozen in temperatures up to 90 degrees. It can carry up to 130 cans and features a drain for convenience, built-in cup holders, handles with grips and wheels for convenient portability.

What you should consider: The wheels can drag and the ice melts within 3 days. 

Where to buy: Amazon

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Logan DeLoye writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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