During summer, a cooler is certainly essential for an outdoor trip such as camping, boating, or hiking. Anyone who has to carry or move a cooler regularly knows how tough it can be. This is especially true when the cooler is packed with several items.
Picking or carrying such a cooler even from your car to the picnic spot or camping site can be tiresome. This experience is more wearisome when there is an uneven hilly terrain to cross or if there are stairs to climb.
While one of the solutions is to have two or more people for carrying the cooler, it is still going to be tiresome. Another solution, for smooth trips in the future, is to decide not to take that cooler anywhere and invest in a new one. This is because you simply cannot stay cool without a cooler.
Well, this is where you will think of the best wheeled cooler, a cooler on wheels, as it is the best type of cooler for your requirements. Here, your requirement is to ease the transport or carrying process regardless of the empty or filled cooler weight. It is obvious that a cooler on wheels is made to fulfill this requirement.
Most coolers for outdoor activities are a bit bulky and become weighty when filled with food items and cans containing drinks. This itself indicates the significant effort required for moving or dragging the cooler on the terrain. This involves a risk of not only damaging the unit but also injuring yourself.
However, with wheeled coolers, this risk is no longer there. They truly make your life easier, as they are portable. Just as a conventional cooler, a wheeled model usually has a telescoping handle and heavy-duty wheels, a mix that makes maneuvering effortless, comfortable, and safe on both bumpy and even terrains.
All you need to do is just pull the handle up and roll the unit until you reach the destined place, regardless of the empty or packed weight. Although differing in terms of structure, wheeled coolers have some common features seen on standard coolers, such as an opener, cup holders, and a drain spout.
However, not all wheeled units have these features. A few may have all of them, while some may have just one of them. Thus, in this way, there are dozens of wheeled models in the market with some similarities. This can make choosing the right roller cooler a bit off-putting.
This post is thus dedicated to making the selection process smooth for you. It shares the reviews of top 5 wheeled coolers and describes the buying factors that tend to influence your selection.
2021’s 5 Best Wheeled Cooler Reviews
Coleman 42-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner & Wheels
Consider this sturdy, portable, and maneuverable cooler if your group for the trip is small or/and you are looking for a unit on wheels that is soft yet durable. As the name suggests, the cooler’s capacity is up to 42 cans that suffice for small groups.
Still, you can enjoy extra storage space due to the chest’s design. This design comes boasts side mesh pockets, dry punches, lid bungees, and a zippered pocket in the front. You can use them for storing smaller items that you would need to access quite often.
Unlike other coolers on wheels, this one comes with hard and hygienic liners. The soft PEVA liner is flexible for ease of cleaning as well as is strong. Here, the heat-welded seams keep leakages away.
The lining also features antimicrobial properties due to which the cooler is resistant to odors, mildew, and mold. There is also a removable hard liner, which with this liner, adheres to the FDA standards for safe food. You enjoy the advantages of both the removable hard liner and the soft cooler, of which the former ensures flexibility in carrying.
The main compartment with the zipper keeps items cold for almost two days due to foam insulation. If packing with ice, it is advisable to use the liner of hard plastic. The wheels are of medium size and durable, as they are designed using sturdy plastic materials. As a result, they can hold up well when the cooler is fully packed.
The much-wanted mix of wheels and a telescopic handle makes it easy as well as fast to carry the cooler. The handle is adjustable for people of all heights. Further, there are side handles for giving you more transport options, making this cooler flexible and versatile.
- Very light
- Resistance to mold, mildew, and odors
- Removable and washable liner inside
- Support for ice substitutes
- Adjustable handle
- Sturdy wheels
- More storage in pockets
- Available in two colors
- Highly affordable
- No smooth pulling on sand
Igloo Island Breeze 28 Qt. Roller Cooler
Igloo is one of the esteemed brands in the world of coolers. This roller cooler simply increases its popularity and value and is among the best roller coolers on Amazon at present. It has the typical white and blue look that has no adornments but one unique built feature, which is the vertical shape.
This perhaps is one of the reasons why bottles can remain straight and stay cool for a long time, up to three-five days depending on temperature and amount of ice kept inside. The cooler features a telescopic handle that comes into action through a push locking system.
You can position the handle at one of the three carry points. There are also scoop handles at both sides for carrying with two hands. At the bottom, a pair of sports wheels suitable for a soft ride exists to handle many types of surfaces, except for the rough one.
The wheels are not that big but are manageable to get the job done. Due to their small size, they take up less space when not in use. The cooler boasts a curved back due to which transporting or carrying it becomes a breeze.
The bottom of the cooler is raised from the ground surface. This is a boon, as it has minimal contact with the ground and consequently keeps damage from a hot surface at bay. This also improves the overall cooling ability.
The Island Breeze cooler can accommodate around 29 quarts of drinks as well as food, which equals to 37 cans and 12 drinks of 20 oz each or six straight bottles each of two liters each. Well, this is a lot of space to have!
- Good capacity
- Comfortable carrying due to the curved rear
- Minimal ground contact due to raised bottom
- Wheels with soft edges
- Side handles
- Telescopic handles adjustable up to three points
- Very affordable
- No drain plug
- Wheels not for rough terrains
Igloo Glide PRO Cooler (110-Quart, White)
This is an ideal cooler on wheels to consider if you are looking for a spacious model. With the whopping 110-quart capacity, there is no need to handle more than one cooler on your trip. This big cooler features a rugged style, a durable build, a highly functional design, and an attractive look.
The rugged body is made up of strong polyethylene plastic but that is not all that adds to the durability. Even the reinforced and nearly unbreakable hinges that add to durability. These hinges, unlike a few other coolers, are not flimsy. They are made using a zinc plated material due to which they are almost indestructible. These substantial hinges together with big latches definitely help in maintaining the desired cool temperature inside.
The sport rally wheels are jumbo in size and are made up of plastic that can roll well on almost any terrain. This too adds to the durability and rugged design.
A unique but helpful aspect of this cooler is its telescopic handle. Unlike most other coolers, it slides horizontally and is lockable when pushed. This provides a handy amount of leverage and alleviates the lifting strain.
The handle does not seem flimsy but quite rigid and solid, making transportation quite safe and convenient. The quality of both handle and wheels makes it possible to take this big cooler around the tight corners, on the beach, or even while mounting. So now, with this cooler, there is no need to look for the easiest route.
Coming to the insulation, the cooler comes with the expected ultratherm technology in the lid as well as the body. Due to this, at 90 degrees, the cooler is capable of retaining ice for up to five days.
Thus, this cooler is reliable for use in parties and a long weekend trip to the hills. It can store enough food items and drinks, which is equal to the capacity of two 50-quart coolers.
- Rugged construction
- Light in weight
- All-terrain friendly due to oversized wheels
- Large capacity
- Easier to load and unload than other coolers due to slide and lock handle
- A bit expensive although less costly than YETI
- Not highly durable
Vibe Element Rotomolded Hard Shell 70-quart Cooler with Bottle Opener
Vibe is a new brand in the arena of coolers on wheels. Despite its relative startup, the brand is already admired for its high-quality coolers meant particularly for outdoor enthusiasts. The 70-quart capacity is ideal for holding 55 cans comfortably.
This wheeled cooler is just a comfortable and rugged addition to this collection for making it easier to haul the cooler. Made for chilling a group on an adventurous outing for a week, this Vibe cooler on wheels is a rotomolded unit that seems to reflect ultra-durability for all types of abuses.
Designed for camping, hiking, and even snacking, this cooler’s insulated walls up to three inches and one-piece plastic exterior retain ice for more than five days. Along with this sturdy construction and long insulation, the combination of heavy-duty wheels and a carrying handle at a side makes this unit truly easy to carry.
The wheels are durable enough to make transporting a breeze. A special, as well as a much-admired feature, is its pressure release valve, which most coolers do not have. When it is hot outside, the ice needs to stay cold inside.
For this, the contribution of this valve is significant. It generates a pressure vacuum due to which it is tough to open the lid. To open easily, you need to press the valve to free the vacuum seal.
Some more highlighted features of this cooler are its drain spout from where the melted ice water moves out quickly, heavy-duty handle with padding for comfortable handling, and non-skid rubber feet to maintain the unit away from a hot surface. Some more bells and whistles include a metal lock plate and a bottle opener.
- Sturdy build to keep chipping or fading away
- Strong rubber wheels to work even on rocky and uneven surfaces
- Durable hinges
- Convenient handles
- Affordable than YETI to which it is comparable (most customers have done it)
- A bit heavy
- No telescopic handle
Pelican Products ProGear Elite 45-Quart Wheeled Cooler
The best wheeled cooler should be ideally built to last. So, if you are looking for durability on priority so that the invested asset continues to function for years, an unbreakable design and ice retention functionality lasting for years are your major requirements.
In that case, you should consider the Pelican ProGear Elite. Yes, it is heavier and costlier than other wheeled coolers but it is worthy of your investment. However, it is not for the casual outdoor people who are unsure of how often the cooler would be used. For them, a more affordable unit would be ideal.
The Pelican makers have come up with the toughest model in the world of mobile cold storage. What makes this cooler truly elite is its construction. It is made using stainless steel and ABS plastic, both of high quality to sustain itself on any surface or in any environment.
The stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and rust due to which the ProGear unit can endure the forces of nature. The plastic shell that is resistant to the UV rays and the locks, handles, and clasps ensure that the items inside are secure.
The items remain cold and edible due to the polyurethane insulation of two inches, which functions well even in 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to this coupled with freezer-grade gasket, the cargo remains cool inside for almost 7-10 days.
Additionally, this Pelican cooler is resistant to bears too. This makes this cooler ideal for camping in the wild. The certification comes from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. A safety feature of this Elite model is the presence of a set of press and pull latches that ensure secured closure to keep spilling at bay.
You can easily release them to open the lid and latch again to keep the food edible and cool inside. A molded hasp and lock ensure that the lid stays secured firmly for tight closure.
Coming to the wheels, they are made up of heavy-duty materials that keep damages and impact away if you use them as instructed. The cooler also has non-skid feet elevated to defend the floors. While there is no telescopic handle, you get versatile transport options in the form molded-in handles and a trolley handle adjustable for pulling. The former handles lifting quite easy.
Well, this is not all. The cooler also comes with an integrated bottle opener, cup holders on the lid, a flat top for sitting or preparing for a meal, molded tie-down slots, and a threaded drain plug.
- Build to last for a lifetime
- Big ABS wheels suitable even for a rugged terrain
- Thick handle
- Resistance to rust, UV, and corrosion
- Gasket lining of freezer grade
- Easy to drain and clean
- Great ice retention period (10 days)
- No telescopic handle
- Heavy even if empty
- Ice retention for 3 days only if not kept under shade
How to Choose the Best Wheeled Cooler
There are several wheeled coolers to consider for ensuring easy transportation on different terrains. However, not all of them are the same. In other words, each cooler on wheels differs in terms of dimensions, use cases, insulation level, durability, and other features or specifications.
Thus, no single wheeled cooler is ideal for all. For example, if your friend has a wheeled cooler ideal for camping, it does not mean that the same unit will be the best one for you too.
This is because your requirements are likely to vary, such as higher capacity due to a big camping group and more ice retention time for keeping more cans cold for more days.
Thus, for choosing the best wheeled cooler, it is important to find out your own requirements and then match them with the provisions of the most promising wheeled coolers. These provisions make up the buying factors that you must assess before investing your money.
Wheeled coolers are an asset and it is vital to bring home the right one in the first go. While they are available in different sizes and styles, you want the best unit that is available within your preset budget.
The best is the one that closely meets your requirements without compromising convenience. Here are the features or factors to consider in the form of answers to most commonly asked questions.
What type of wheels should I look for while buying the best wheeled cooler?
For choosing the right type of wheels, it is vital to consider their size and build material along with the terrain on which you will be towing it. The size makes a big difference. For example, small wheels will seriously be futile on a rough surface. Then, the suitcase-style wheels seen on more affordable coolers are ideal only for use on even surfaces and sidewalks.
If you wish for a wheeled cooler whose wheels can go anywhere, consider huge wheels with super stride for grass, sand, dirt, and just anything else. In simple words, go for a large wheel and plastic/rubber build to pull your unit on rocks, gravel, or uneven terrain. Small wheels are ideal only on even surfaces.
How long should be the wheeled cooler’s handle for easy transport?
The handle’s height is another critical factor to consider although it does not seem to be a great deal for most buyers. However, it is important to choose the right handle height. If you are taller than the average height, you can end up facing an irritating situation bringing you pain in neck and shoulders.
This is something you will avoid at all cost. Apart from the height, you also need to consider the towing distance. If it is only for a couple of minutes, the handle height hardly matters. However, if you are ascending a hill for a few hours, then it matters.
For wheeled coolers, one of the common and most convenient handles is a telescopic one. It indicates that it is possible to adjust its height to make it convenient for users of different heights. For a tall person, the handle is adjusted to be extra-long to prevent stooping while pulling.
How do I choose the best cooler insulation?
Insulation has a vital role to play in the performance of your cooler. After all, it decides how long the ice will stay frozen inside to keep your eatables and drinks cool for hours. To choose the best insulation, you need to focus on its two types:
- Polystyrene: Is perhaps the best insulation for a wheeled cooler for the money. As it is a plastic material, it is quite light in weight, affordable, durable, and does not transfer heat well. The thicker its walls in the cooler are, better is the insulation to keep items cool inside. Several portable wheeled coolers are usually made using this plastic.
- Foam: Is mostly seen in soft-sided units that are less costly. It features a foam lining that functions well to keep items cold for a few hours or for one day. It is less effective than polystyrene at retaining ice. However, with more than sufficient thickness of this insulator, the items can stay cool and edible for a longer time.
Apart from the insulating material, you also need to focus on the seal type. Without a tight seal, insulation is truly nothing. It is advisable to go with a unit that has good latches having a powerful bite to seal tightly. There are some that take things even further and can provide you with freezer-grade latches that essentially seal out any warm air, so you can keep your items chilled for over a week.
What should be the storage capacity of my cooler on wheels?
Well, the answer to this query depends on your requirements, which include the number of people on the trip, the number of cans and snacks, and the trip’s duration. Considering that you need to consider these aspects, storage capacity should perhaps be the first factor to narrow the cooler on wheels options.
If you are looking for a portable and roiling cooler for the whole family, it is obvious to choose a model with a bigger capacity than the one holding only 10-20 cans and some sandwiches for a beach trip.
It is vital for you to know that the storage size volume is likely to include both insulated and a non-insulated region of the cooler. Thus, if the storage capacity is 70 quarts, it does not mean that the whole storage is for cooled items.
So, it is wise to check for the number of cans and amount of ice the chosen cooler can accommodate. This is usually given in the product description or manual.
Another aspect to check out is the layout. Several soft coolers tend to have separate compartments for non-cold and cold items. It is good to have both if you need them. However, if you only need for cool items, consider a cooler that dedicates its full capacity to this requirement.
What should be the size of my wheeled cooler?
This question is much interrelated with the capacity. However, it is vital to understand that both the size and capacity are different aspects. For determining the right size, you first need to find out how much space your new cooler will be consuming.
A few models can be truly massive due to which they are tough to fit into the car’s back or on a garage’s shelf when not in use. Such models are also somewhat tough to transport despite having wheels. These are generally hard coolers. Soft coolers truly win, as they are supple and tend to fit into more spaces, particularly when empty.
You need to focus on interior and exterior dimensions. When it comes to interior dimensions, it is vital to think about how big the interior needs to be. Just keep in mind that what works for one buyer may not work for you or someone else.
Typically, the inside area should be large enough to accommodate the required quantity of beverages and food items. Similarly, you need to find the space where you will be keeping your cooler while on the go. It can be the car’s rear or backseat.
In that case, it makes sense to measure the space. This will give you an idea of how large or small your cooler should be. Further, for choosing the right exterior dimensions, do add space for accessories such as wheels and handles that will project from the unit.
Which is the best wheeled cooler material?
The build material is perhaps a vital role player in how a cooler performs. It adds to its durability and power to endure tough weather conditions. If you need an ultra-durable wheeled cooler, rotomolded construction is simply inevitable.
This type of construction is found in high-end coolers in which plastic is a single piece instead of many pieces molded together. It indicates that the model will have no weak points, seams, or corners to give you a super sturdy build. Plastic is actually light yet tough and a great insulator.
Another construction material common amongst wheeled coolers is fabric and is seen more in soft models. Depending on the type of fabric, its strength is likely to differ. Fabric is usually not waterproof, which its coolers will be able to face only a few weather conditions. Further, the fabric is not the right material for the beach terrain, as it can become wet easily and drip towards the interior.
The fabric models are not as robust as rotomolded plastic. So, if durability is the top priority, the rotomolded plastic is ideal.
Is it possible to have wheels for my existing cooler?
Yes, it is possible depending on the brand, model, and make. You can add wheels to a non-wheeled cooler after choosing the right pair of wheels. For this, you need to do a bit of research on Google by searching ‘wheels for <model>’.
Let’s assume that you have a Yeti that has no wheels. There is no need of buying a Yeti cooler on wheels to simply end up spending lavishly. Rather, it is wise to explore the big collection of third-party wheels, which are available for the coolers of different brands.
You can easily find wheels for most Yeti models that fit easily in the form of big tires. A few wheels come with straps and the other hardware required for attaching them to the cooler.
Your requirements and budget will always determine the right cooler on wheels for you. Avoid running behind the most popular wheeled coolers, as they may not be truly the best for you.
Consider for what you need a cooler and what it should for you to get the right track of finding the best rolling cooler. Even your budget will play a vital role in determining the cooler’s size, capacity, and insulation.
To get started with a cooler on wheels for a small group on a trip, we highly recommend the Coleman 42-Can Soft Cooler. This is because it is not only extremely affordable but also portable, durable, and maneuverable cooler on wheels.
If you are okay to spend more for better insulation, highly durable build, and extra convenience features, we recommend trying the rough and tough Vibe Element 70 Quart Rotomolded Cooler.