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Regardless of whether it is too hot or not, coolers are seen with the majority of traveling groups. Right from the campsites to backyard get-togethers, it is difficult to enjoy a holiday trip for more than a day without using a cooler, especially if it is summer.
In many cases, a cooler that a consumer is seeking for keeping their food items and beverages cold while on a beach trip differs from the one that campers or hikers need. The former consumers need only an average cooler that is reliable for ice retention for a day or two.
However, the latter consumers are those who are on a longer trip of around five to six days during which a longer period of ice retention is ideal. Thus, it is unwise to invest in such coolers if you belong to the former category of consumers.
Coolers with longer retention periods are usually more popular and pricier. Many big brands and models such as YETI belong to this category. Thus, it is a common perception that keeping eatables and drinks cool is expensive. However, this is only applicable if you are looking for a high-end cooler.
It is true that YETI, arguably the most popular and esteemed brand, has established the technical and quality standards. However, this does not mean that one should choose only YETI coolers when it comes to getting an assurance of ice retention reliability and durability.
In reality, a YETI or any other popular model is not the best model for all. The best cooler differs from one person to another, as per the usage purpose and other requirements. Since YETI and several other brands have introduced themselves to compete with by providing comparable coolers usually at more reasonable prices.
These are the coolers for money! Even the YETI brand offers such coolers these days. Best coolers for money are capable of retaining ice for a few hours to a few days while being dropped, beaten, or dipped. They are suitable for different purposes, such as road trips, beach holidays, shopping, and camping.
Thus, it is irrational and unreal to think that not all families can afford to have an outdoor cooler, as it is usually not in their budget. These days, there is a cooler for any occasion as well as budget. All budget-related issues have now ended with the introduction of coolers for money.
As the coolers are now affordable, you only need to brainstorm to find out which cooler is ideal for you. After all, there are many such affordable coolers in the market. This post helps you in easing your selection task by sharing 5 best coolers for money along with reviews and buying guide.
2021’s 5 Best Coolers for Money
Coleman Xtreme Cooler
With 70-quartz capacity accommodating up to 100 cans and keeping them cold for up to 5 days, this cooler can be the best bet for your bucks. It is a portable cooler that is isolated well for keeping a variety of things cool while on a road trip, a campsite, or in a backyard for enjoying a barbecue party.
The insulated walls, as well as the lid, ensure ice retention for all five days at 90 degrees Fahrenheit due to the Extreme technology of insulation. Above all, this is a green cooler to invest in, as the insulation emits pretty low amounts of carbon dioxide. Carbon emissions are thus less from this foam model.ice
For holding the glasses of drinks to provide quick access, the lid has up to four cup holders that are built two inches deep, which is a bonus and not found in other coolers. Talking about the handle, it is of no-crush type and has a strong grip to facilitate controlled and convenient lifting as well as moving.
Even if you load this model with heavy cans of beverages, the handles with rubberized grips do not fail to offer sufficient friction as well as stability to move the heavy cooler up to a long distance. The overall construction seems quite sturdy.
While not as long as an RTIC or a YETI, this Coleman cooler is truly bigger than other budget coolers. So, go for it if you need a large size model within a tight budget. It is ideal for a beach holiday or a weekend getaway at a campsite.
Coleman is certainly one of the esteemed brands known for its sturdy coolers.
- Green model
- Sturdy build
- Ample of space
- Functional for a variety of food items and drinks
- Strong seal
- Cup holders on the lid
- Quick cleaning
- Very affordable considering the capacity
- Available in different colors
- Flimsy hinges
Igloo Playmate Elite 16 Qt. Personal Sized Cooler
Consider this cooler for money if you need a highly portable as well as a durable unit for packing a few drinks and a meal for two people planning to go on a beach. It is easy to carry even if you put inside baby bottles, bottled water, cokes, and cups.
You will love the fact that it is tall enough to accommodate baby bottles of 8 oz. in a straight way, unlike a few flat-topped models. Yes, this unit is sufficiently big to hold and keep three water bottles, a reasonably sized Tupperware container, blue ice packs, and yogurt cold for a few hours to a day’s time depending on the temperature.
The rugged Playmate® cooler is designed to hold over 16 cans along with ice and upkeep well even in tough conditions. It is truly easy to carry and features ultratherm insulation due to which things inside remain ice cold for more hours than expected.
A special mention goes to its locking lid that keeps spilling away and flips to either side for giving instant access to the items inside. It locks firmly and opens up effortlessly just by pressing a button on the handle’s side. Many customers love the release on the molded handle, as it is more convenient than the button on the side seen on the classic models.
- Good look
- Well-built body
- Plenty of space inside
- Small and portable
- Strong seal
- One-hand opening facility
- Convenient carrying
- Easy to clean
- Lasting for years
- Easy to clean
- Most affordable in this list
- Made in the U.S.
- A bit awkward to carry although less than other coolers
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler
This soft cooler is ideal for a day of lunch, beach holiday, and camping. It has the perfect size for road trips. Everything on the exterior is pretty cool and functional, including the zippered and mesh pouches, the comfortable shoulder strap, and the handy bottle opener.
The soft side, hardliner, and lid without the zipper keep all three meals cold inside for up to 12 hours or more depending upon the temperature. The hard insert indicates that it is possible to add ice from an ice machine without thinking of ice packs or even leaking.
This Titan bag features a durable exterior build due to which the cooler is stain-resistant and the easy-to-wipe exterior is resistant to pierces and abrasion. The body is made up of hard polyethylene due to which it holds ice in the frozen state longer than most traditional soft coolers.
A highly performing deep freeze insulation keeps the ice frozen. This along with the radiant heat barrier ensures the frozen temperature inside, as the latter keeps heat away by reflecting it instead of absorbing it.
The flip-open lid facilitates quick access to inside items. This design also results in improved sealing as compared to that of a zipper. Here, the recessed lid goes inside the cooler with pressure. Although this mechanism is not as ideal as that of a high-end rotomold, it is better than zippers that are infamous for leakage.
The shoulder strap is adjustable and convenient for carrying the cooler. A safe leakproof lining inside keeps all stains and bacterial odors at bay. This means that all eatables and drinks inside remain safe.
- Stylish and sturdy look
- Resistant to water, cracks, abrasion, puncture, and stains
- Resistance to stains, cracks, and water
- No leakage from the FDA-compliant liner
- Side opener
- Easy to lift with handles on sides
- Long strap
- Zippered pocket for accessories
- Easy to clean
- Different colors
- Very affordable
- Less top trap space
Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler (60-Quart, Ocean Blue)
If you are tired of dragging or having a typical long cooler, this one can give you a desirable relief without compromising price, performance, size, or quality. You will truly love its vertical design, which sets it apart from most other coolers.
With a big capacity of 60 quartz, it can accommodate up to 90 cans. Thus, it is ideal for storing and keeping eatables and drinks cold for weekend camping, barbeque parties, and beach holidays.
The insulation performance is truly satisfactory. It keeps everything cold for up to three-five days in 90+ degrees Fahrenheit due to the ultratherm technology integrated into its body.
Another notable and unique feature of this cooler is the retractable handle that is adjustable at different heights so that it becomes easier for you to carry it around. The telescopic handle is used easily with the help of a push lock mechanism.
The combination of tow handle and strong wheels make transporting this unit a breeze. There are also molded scoop handles on the sides, which makes lifting the cooler easy. In other words, it makes it easier for any adult to load and unload the cooler. The cube design also contributes to this benefit.
The classic blue and white design has a lid that features four inserts for holding cups or bottles. There is also a drainage spout at the unit’s bottom so that all remaining water left due to melting is pushed out of the cooler.
The cooler strikes a perfect balance between quality and price. You truly will not get disappointed with big capacity, good ice retention, and superb maneuverability.
- Super light
- Big capacity yet compact
- Sturdy build
- Convenient telescoping handle
- Great rolling maneuverability with strong pull wheels
- Built-in holders for cups
- Highly affordable
- A bit flimsy feel of the handle while extending it
Klein Tools 55600 Work Cooler, 17-Quart
Consider this model if you need a rugged, light, and yet heavy-duty cooler as your lunch box for a day. Klein Tools is one of the popular brands with many quality products in their portfolio. This cooler is just one more addition to it.
With the capacity of 17 quartz, this cooler can easily accommodate 18 cans at once that remain cold for up to 30 hours. The body is so tough and rugged such that it not only wraps the modern-day usage but endures a force of almost 300 lbs. on it. This tough unit also features a molded plastic bottom just as a pro backpack. There are also durable sides, which together with the hard bottom, upkeep the cooler’s overall shape.
The space inside is sufficient enough to store food items for completing a 12-hour work shift with the required energy. There are compartments in which you can store napkins, medicines, and even a few small utensils.
In the top (hidden) compartment of the lid, you can store snacks such as chips, while utensils tend to fit well in the front compartment. The side mesh pockets are just perfect for some extra water. The main compartment is spacious enough to hold some sandwiches.
Coming to the lid, it is durable as it is designed using stainless steel. This makes it rustproof as well. You can easily carry this cooler from one area to another without worrying about it being rust.
You can easily open it at a right angle to access products inside without any hassle and easily put 1-liter bottles inside. It is also possible to open it at full 180° for accessing the lid’s hidden compartments.
- Attractive look
- Strongly Chinese build with the top enduring up to 300 lbs.
- Plenty of room inside
- Convenient strap and handle
- Heavy-duty, lockable zippers
- Loop for adding a padlock
- A bit flimsy strap
- Cannot hold food containers of standard size
How to Choose the Best Cooler for Money
So, there is actually not a single model that is the best for everyone. If your aunt has a cooler for money that is ideal for camping, it does not mean that you too will be taking the same cooler for camping. Why so?
This is because your aunt’s cooler can hold up to 60 cans and you need a cooler that can hold up to 100 cans. Well, the requirements are different and so does the choice. Each one of us has different requirements as well as budget.
So, for investing in the best cooler for money, it is essential to know your requirements and then match them with the features of the most promising coolers. These features are simply the buying factors that you need to consider and analyze. So, let’s check out these features or factors in terms of answers to most commonly asked questions.
Which are the types of ice coolers?
Choosing the right type of cooler for money is indispensable. Thus, knowing the types is essential and makes cooler type an important buying factor. There are usually two types namely, soft and hard.
As the name implies, hard coolers are specially meant for heavy-duty use in which a rough and tough cooler is required. They have more storing capacity as well as ice retention time than the soft coolers.
Hard coolers are classical units made up of steel or hard plastic and are recommended for long-term uses such as during boating, hiking, or camping. They are also heavier than soft coolers due to which they usually have heavy-duty wheels and/or handles at sides.
Contrary to these coolers are soft coolers made chiefly for lighter uses and are more visually striking than their hard counterparts. They are perfect for those who can manage the ice retention time of one to three days.
Consider a soft cooler for short trips such as kayaking and hiking for which portability is more important than ice retention. Soft models usually have a comfortable shoulder strap due to which it is possible for one person in the group to carry it easily.
Coolers are also split into two groups as per their make, standard and rotomolded. The rotomolded ones are perhaps the best coolers in which hard plastic is given a shape of one piece for better insulation to retain ice frozen for longer than the soft models. They are also more durable as well as expensive.
What should be the cooling capacity?
The right answer to this question is reliant on a few factors such as the user who will be using the cooler and quantity of items to be stored inside the cooler as per the number of trip goers as well as trip duration. You should also take into consideration portability, maneuverability, and ease of use.
The unit of measurement indicating a cooler’s capacity is quarts. Approximately 945 milliliters is equal to one quart, which is around one liter. The sizes for coolers typically range from 7 to 400 quarts, of which the latter is applicable to the largest coolers.
A 70-quart unit is perhaps what most families buy. However, why you should also go for it depends on your trip time, the time until which the items should stay cold, and the number of items you want to pack.
Most brands make coolers such that the capacity is defined in the ratio of 2:1, which indicates two parts of ice for one can. Still, this is yet to become the benchmark. However, there are some general guidelines to follow, which are as follows:
- 20 quarts for 17 cans or 20 pounds of ice for one day of use
- 50 quarts for 37 cans or 43 pounds of ice for two individuals and short trips
- 75 quarts for 55 cans or 70 pounds of ice for weekly trips
If you are choosing a soft cooler for three people, 20 to 24 cans capacity is fine. It is vital to note that larger coolers are usually heavier once filled with drinks and eatables. If you truly need one such cooler, choose the one with wheels and/or retractable handle for smooth mobility.
How to find out the ice retention time of a cooler?
Ice retention time is another important factor to consider. This is because it is what that tells you the number of hours or days for which the items inside the cooler will remain cold and the ice will stay frozen.
The more the number of hours, the longer that cooler can retain ice. An easy way to know this time is to go through the specifications released by the maker. However, the probability of it being exaggerated is high. So, it is wise to read some reviews and get the precise ice retention time.
Do not go ahead and measure the retention time, as it is quite a subjective matter. There are some factors to consider for this calculation, which include the insulation material, making process such as rotomolded, wall’s thickness, frequency of lid opening, and pre-chilled time prior to use.
As these many factors affect the retention time, no standard way exists for measuring the retention time precisely. What the makers give you is the best possible time. Generally, hard coolers have a longer retention time than the soft ones. Usually, rotomolded coolers have more retention time due to better insulation than the normal ones.
Truly speaking, it is tough to assess which cooler has the greatest ice retention time. Further, there is no single cooler with the longest retention time.
How should the insulation ability of my cooler be?
Insulation is definitely a major buying factor apart from a performance metric. When it is the matter of insulation performance, you need to focus on two aspects namely, ice retention and sustaining friendly temperatures for food and drinks.
A rule of thumb for perishable foods is that a cooler’s internal temperature should not go beyond 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature in the area where the food is stored, which is over the ice.
How long the ice can be retained depends on the lid, make type, and insulation type. For example, the rotomolded build type, tightly sealed lid, and pressure-injected PermaFrost technology give the best insulation performance.
Most coolers are built of tough plastics so that they can provide sufficient or better insulation. So, plastic is the most common material used for insulation. As a tip, it is best to invest in non-toxic or BPA-free plastic because it is friendly to both health and the environment.
The selected plastic should also last for years to come. This you can find out by going through the customer reviews.
Overall, the quality of insulation needs to be satisfactory, as it directly governs the ice retention time. Thus, it is vital to choose the right brand and model whose combination gives the best level of insulation.
For best insulation, there should be thick insulating walls and a tight sealing mechanism. These aspects are present together in bigger coolers. Even, small coolers do have them to a satisfactory extent.
Which kind of handles should I select for my cooler?
Even here, the most suitable answer is dependent on your requirements. You should choose the handles that are comfortable to hold as well as carry. Further, they should be placed strongly on sides for the same and offer safe and wide grip.
Should I choose a cooler on wheels?
Yes, if portability and transportability are your top priorities. It is wise to choose a cooler on wheels if the cooler is heavy in weight even if it is empty. This will help you smoothly travel a long distance as well as move it on a tough surface.
The wheels should be made using sturdy plastics to ensure durability as well as reliable moves. To sum up, just focus on where and how you will be using the chosen cooler and you will able to select the friendliest wheels.
How to know whether a cooler is durable or not?
All coolers are often exposed to some abuse such as beating, hits while going through the bumpy roads and bouncing around. The good news is that the cooler brands design their models keeping this fact in mind. So, all coolers are durable up to some extent.
However, some coolers are more durable than the rest. This is evident in the form of a longer lifetime and different resistance powers. Practically, it is tough to quantify the durability of a cooler. Thus, the only way to know whether a cooler is truly durable or not is to check its reviews.
How do I check a cooler’s weight enduring capacity?
This is important to check if you wish to sit on your cooler and put some things on it. To check this, you have no option but to go through the online reviews of different customers. Some coolers are built so sturdily that they can endure a weight of up to 300 lbs.
Is it useful to choose a cooler with a drainage mechanism?
Yes! It is handy to have a cooler with a proper drainage mechanism, particularly if you are on a long trip for days. Such a mechanism will easily push out the water due to melted ice. However, it is not required if you will be using your cooler for just a day or two. This is because that melted water is still cold enough to keep your perishable food items edible
What all additional features should I look for in a cooler?
Today’s coolers are not just simple models accommodating drinks and snacks. They offer many more features such as cutting boards, picnic tables, latches, drain plug leash, pin-style hinges, cup holders, rulers, and bottle openers.
However, it is not necessary for you to choose a model having all these features. You should only choose a model having those that are essential for you. Most of these additional features simplify tasks such as transporting and serving or improve insulation.
Best coolers for money are truly not cheap in terms of performance or quality but are only affordable in terms of price. The main point of distinction between them and high-end coolers is in the insulation level, which is higher in the latter.
However, this does not mean that the former ones do not come with a satisfactory ice retention time. Some models such as YETI Roadie holding 14 cans cold for 4 days are also available at half of the price of high-end coolers. However, there are models having the same ice retention duration and holding more capacity, which are reviewed here.
A cooler is not only for keeping your food cold but is also for offering you convenience and comfort while moving and handling it. That said, it is important for you to consider different models and then choose the most promising one.
Ensure to go through different reputable brands for shrinking the list of choices. Obviously, the price tag has a big role to play in the selection process, especially if it is a product for the money. Considering this, we recommend going for the Coleman Xtreme cooler.
It is a green and light model, strongly built with ample space inside for different foods, and has a satisfactory ice retention period of up to five days. For convenience, it has cup holders on its lid and two molded handles.
Still, it is rational to compare all brands reviewed here and then select the best fit.