Last Updated on September 9, 2021
Ice chests share the same adventuresome spirits as individuals who bring them for camping. They are submerged, beaten, dropped, and sometimes attacked by roaming animals in the wild while still keeping the contents cool and intact for days. This definitive review contains valuable information about the best ice chest for camping, cookouts, fishing, hunting, and any other indoor or outdoor activity that needs a portable cooler.
Here we do a comprehensive analysis of the best 7 ice chests on the market, discussing important features such as weight, durability, volume, ice retention capacity, and extra features that will help you settle for the best ice chest that best suits your camping needs.
- 1 Best ice chest for camping for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons
- 2 Best ice chest for camping: Buying Guide
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4 Conclusion
Best ice chest for camping for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons
After reading thousands of customer reviews and trying some of these ice chests ourselves, we have picked the 7 best ice chest for camping out of the bunch. The table below contains a quick overview of our top picks and some of their standout features.
1. ORCA BW058ORCORCA Cooler
- Convenient drain spout
- Roto-molded construction
- Cargo net for storage
The ORCA BW058ORCORCA Cooler is a rotomolded cooler perfect for a large group of people. During unboxing, what we first noticed was the tall and narrow design. We love the shape from first sight because it is designed to occupy less storage space, although a bit encumbering to dig through.
This ice chest boasts durable construction and excellent insulation. According to the manufacturer, it will keep stored items chilled for up to 10 days. We didn’t store items for that long, but our food and drinks were chilled in six days of use.
We love the additional features in this cooling box: built-in tie-downs, sturdy rope handles, thick rubber latches, integrated hinges, and a rubber sealing gasket that guarantee premium insulation in the interior parts. Another feature that might excite you is the netted pocket fitted to the back of the ice chest. Unfortunately, for all the premium extras, this cooler does not come with a dry storage container.
Plus, it is expensive. Considering the array of premium features and top-quality insulation, this is expected. This cooling box has an empty weight of 34 Pounds.
- This ice chest is bear-resistant rated.
- It comes with additional premium features like sturdy rope handles, thick rubber latches, integrated hinges to keep your food items chilled.
- It comes in a tall narrow design that won’t take up a lot of storage space.
- The ORCA chest is heavyweight and has an empty weight of 34 pounds.
2. YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
This is a pretty expensive ice chest, albeit a highly functional one. And you will surely get value for your money if you regularly visit the outdoor world.
Yeti is a renowned manufacturer of high-quality coolers. Its entire product line is known for unsurpassed durability and superior insulation. A layer of thick polyurethane foam ensures your ice will stay active for 7 days or more. While the cooler’s durable rotomolded construction translates to many decades of useful life. In addition, the YETI Tundra 45 Cooler is rated bear-resistant by the IGBC and safe for use in bear country.
We were able to comfortably store 28 cans of soda in the YETI Tundra 45 Cooler. Although it does not have ample storage space like the ORCA BW058ORCORCA Cooler, it more than makes up for the shortfall in functionalities. It has premium features like tie-down points, flexible rubber latches, a freezer-grade sealing gasket, and no-slip feet. And have a basket for suspending stored items above the defrosting ice.
There is no doubt that Yeti has become the status symbol in fishing, camping, and many other outdoor expeditions. This lofty standard is maintained by excellent performance and aesthetics in all Yeti product lines. Apart from the empty weight of 23 pounds, the price is the only drawback with this ice chest.
- This ice chest has unparalleled durability and insulative ability.
- It is bear-resistant rated by IGBC.
- It comes with plenty of additional features for ease of use.
- This ice chest is pricey.
3. Klein Tools 55600 Work Cooler
- Inside storage compartment
- Shoulder strap
- 300 Pounds seat
Our best value, the Klein Tools 55600 Work Cooler, is better suited to work than outdoor activities. It is a personal lunch box that doubles as a seat.
This mini-ice chest has a 1 liter (17-Quart) capacity large enough to store and chill one full-course meal, juice, snacks, and fruits. It also comes with an additional storage compartment to hold your phone, medicine, keys, utensils, napkins, and many more.
The Klein Tools 55600 Work Cooler is specially designed to be durable in order to withstand falls in construction sites, manufacturing places and jungles. The cooler can also double as a temporary seat while eating. In the sitting position, this cooling box can carry 300 pounds of weight.
We love the polyurethane foam insulation in this colling box that allows it to store food and drinks for about 30 hours. This means refilling the box with ice daily for cooling effectiveness. In addition, it has a lockable latch, meaning there is no need to worry about unauthorized access to your meal. It comes with two compartments, the main opens at 180 degrees and the interior at 90 degrees. It is super-easy storing items and taking them out of the cooler.
- It comes with a shoulder strap making this cooler easy to carry.
- This ice chest can double as a seat having a carrying capacity of 300 pounds.
- It is inexpensive.
- It comes with a lockable hatch.
- This cooler does not come with a drain plug.
4. Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler
- Comfort-grip handles
- Have-a-seat lid
- Built-In Cup Holders
Coleman is one of the world-renowned manufacturers of high-quality outdoor gear. The Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler is no different. This ice chest is well-insulated and perfect for any camping, tailgating, and barbeque activity.
One of the prominent features we noticed about this cooler is the channel drain splash-free plug that is super-easy to remove. So the bulk of the water you want to expel will come out with ease. But to completely drain the water from the box, you may need to tilt it slightly to one side.
This cooler conveniently accommodated 100 cans of refreshing soda. And comes with a built-in cup holder to hold your drink while you sit and gist with your friends. In addition, the cooler can be conveniently lifted using its unique no-pinch handle grips fitted on either side of the box. However, you will need to use your two hands to open the lid when it is empty.
This ice chest will last longer than many conventional coolers. Although the hinges are crafted from plastic material, it is very tough. They will withstand the many opening and closing actions it will face for many years. In addition, the Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler has sturdier and more rigid walls than its predecessors and is rated bear-resistant.
- This ice chest is portable and lightweight.
- It comes with a splash-free drain plug and a cup holder.
- The closed lid can double as a seat supporting up to 250 lb of weight.
- It comes in a dark color hue that is not the most suitable for insulation.
5. YETI Hopper Cooler
- Cold cell insulation
- Dry hide shell
- Hitch point grid
Yeti is a popular premium brand known for portability, durability, and performance characterized by a high price. The YETI Hopper Cooler is an upgrade on the well-loved Yeti hooper product line. It is available in six colors of aquifer blue, charcoal, coral, Tahoe blue, Navy, and sagebrush green.
We noticed some differences between the YETI Hopper Cooler and the original version in these main areas: inclusion of a front-facing leak proof zipper, a tapered body, an additional handle close to the top of the cooler, and top-quality construction, making for a premium quality product.
Yeti boasts that its coolers are over-engineered; this is especially true in the YETI Hopper Cooler. It is made from long-lasting outer shell material found in whitewater rafts. This ice chest is puncture-proof, well-insulated, and leakproof.
It is easy to store items in this cooler with the modified front-facing zipper than in the older models. Thanks to a top handle, side handles, and a soft adjustable shoulder strap, handling and transporting is easy. It is also worth saying that the inner liner is FDA approved for storing food-grade materials. In addition, it is not only antimicrobial but also mildew resistant.
- This cooling box has many carrying points.
- It is incredibly durable and rugged.
- It has excellent ice retention and great insulation.
- Like most Yeti coolers, this one is also on the pricier side.
6. Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest
- GorillaGrip Non-Slip Feet
- No-Sweat Exterior
- Pressure Release Valve
- Built-In Bottle Openers
Coming in Grey and Tan color, the Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest has many exciting features that will interest you. From the construction to the components and extra accessories that make this ice chest simple to use.
First, it comes in a rotomolded thermoplastic construction that highlights this cooling box’s longevity, rigidity, and insulative powers. It is fascinating that despite the heavy-duty construction, and high capacity, the ice chest is lightweight and easy to move around
The Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest comes with many premium features to ensure the insulative property is ironclad. For example, the lid is fitted with a quick-clip latch, full-length hinge, and a freezer-grade gasket seal to lock cold air in and hot air out and make it very easy to open the ice chest. In addition to 3” inches of commercial-grade insulation that will preserve your ice for the longest time possible.
The Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest also comes with military-grade nylon rope handles, molded tie-down slots with non-slip feet, and lock plates to eliminate any form of jerking or sliding during transport. These cool and useful features make this ergonomic ice chest stand out from many on the market today and wins it a spot on this list.
- This ice chest has a no-sweat exterior casing.
- It is crafted from high-quality rotomolded thermoplastic material.
- It has molded tie-down slots that prevent jerking or sliding during transport.
- The non-skid feed means you can’t slide this ice chest off your car trunk.
7. Igloo Quart MaxCold Cooler
- Reinforced swing-up handles
- Ultratherm insulation
- Durable wheels and tow handle
Embellished with ice blue and jet carbon hues, the Igloo Quart MaxCold Cooler has a minimalistic design. Maybe this is intentionally done to divert attention from aesthetic features to its excellent performance.
When we first saw this ice chest, it came off as a regular cooler fitted with wheels for mobility – having pulling and swing-up handles for easy transport. In terms of portability, you can carry, lift or just pull this cooling box along. It comes with an extended arm for pulling, durable wheels, and swing-up handles if you favor the lifting option.
According to customer reviews, the wheeled feature is especially appealing for many customers as it also helps when trying to drain meltwater in the box.
The Igloo Quart MaxCold Cooler has a pocket-friendly price and is suitable for short family weekends. Although it lacks some premium features found in some of the high-end ice chests on this list, it makes up for it with portability and pricing.
- This ice chest comes with a three-way transport option.
- It is easy to use and maintain and is inexpensive.
- It has Ultratherm insulation in the lid and body that keeps food items super cold.
- The Igloo chest does not come with a drain plug.
- Ice retention is about 1 to 3 days compared to other premium options on this list.
Best ice chest for camping: Buying Guide
We hope you have found the best ice chest for camping that catches your fancy. However, before bringing one home, take the following factors into consideration.
Cooling and ice retention
Ice retention rate is a difficult feature to determine when researching ice chests. First, external factors significantly influence the ice retention rate. Direct sun, as well as air temperature, also plays a part. The quantity of ice in the ice chest is another vital factor. Finally, the frequency at which you open the cooler also plays a role.
For optimal performance, prechill your ice chest before loading it. This means placing some ice in the cooling box for some hours to lower the interior temperature. When it’s time to set out to camp, replace the spent ice with fresh ones and your food and drinks. Do not leave your ice chest under the sun prior to loading with food and drinks. Doing that means prewarming your cooler, which will seriously impact its ability to cool your items effectively.
The ice chests in this review have premium cooling powers. You can’t go wrong with any one of these products. They will keep your items chilled for a long period.
It is important to note that all coolers do not measure the internal storing capacity the same way. There are brands whose measurements are in gallons, quartz, and even liters. Having said that, quartz is more widespread than other forms of measurement. Therefore, in this review, we included the quartz capacity of all products when available. In general, the best ice chest for camping is divided into the following sizes:
This measures 11-35 Quarts. Are you a solo traveler? Or needs portability and convenience when setting out for the outdoor world. Then, a small ice chest is perfect for you. Because of the limited storage space, expect this ice chest to hold a small quantity of ice, a meal, and few drinks. Most top-rated 35 quart ice chest will keep your stuff chilled for 24 to 48 hours. YETI Hopper Cooler is a good example of a small size ice chest.
This measures 36-55 Quarts. These ice chests are a multipurpose model. They are designed to comfortably fit into a truck bed or car trunk. However, they are still portable enough to be carried around by one person. YETI Tundra 45 Cooler with 45-quart capacity is an excellent medium-sized ice chest. It does not occupy plenty of space and is perfect for a 3-man expedition. For extended trips involving a large group, consider the size below.
This measures 56-75 Quarts. Are you heading for a trip with a large group of people for multiple days? You should go for a large ice chest like the Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest. While it is true that you will need a helping hand to transport this cooling box around, it contains ample storage space to hold enough food and drinks for everyone.
Weight and portability
If you plan to move your ice chest around regularly, the weight of the cooling box becomes a crucial consideration. When empty, a hard-sided ice chest can weigh anything from 12 to 18 Lbs for small capacity coolers and about 51+ Lbs for premium coolers of 75+ quarts coolers. When you add food, drinks, and ice, this number increases. While some models like the Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest have carry handles, they are just too heavy to transport over a long distance. As such, if you need portability, go for a backpack or soft-sided coolers instead.
You will find many top-rated ice chests rated bear-resistant. This is an essential consideration if you are camping in bear territory. Specifically, go for products having Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) rating. This rating means the product has gone through extensive testing and passed safe for use in bear country. ORCA BW058ORCORCA Cooler, YETI Tundra 45 Cooler and Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler are all rated bear-resistant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are expensive ice chests worth it?
Many top-rated ice chests are expensive, have thick walls and high-quality insulation for preserving ice for days. Short on time and need to get your drink cold faster? Create an ice slurry and sprinkle salt on it.
Why is Yeti expensive?
Branding is the main reason why Yeti is expensive. They are so expensive because campers are willing to pay more for a desirable brand. Yeti has thousands of positive reviews for their rotomolded coolers. This also holds true for Yeti’s high-end ice chest.
Does ice chest lose their cooling effectiveness?
Like all things in life, ice chests cannot last forever. Even the expensive Engel and Yeti coolers will eventually expire. But if you misuse your ice chest without proper maintenance and care, expect the shelf life to be shorter.
How long should an ice chest last?
On average, an ice chest should last for about 2-4 days when adequately arranged and maintained. However, if you buy a top-quality ice chest and stack it properly, the ice may last for 6 days or more.
The best ice chest for camping will make your visit to the outdoor world enjoyable and much fun. Whether you need a portable ice chest or something with chilling power that will preserve ice for days, check out our above-reviewed products. Then, pick the ice chest that will best meet your needs and become one step closer to a memorable and fun-filled trip.