Best Road Trip Coolers

Best Cooler for Road Trip

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Embarking on a road trip can be an exciting adventure, but keeping your food and drinks fresh and cool can be a challenge, especially during the hot summer months. That’s where a good cooler comes in.

Whether you’re camping in the woods or driving cross-country, having a reliable cooler can make a huge difference in the success of your trip.

With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the best coolers for road trips and explore the key factors to consider when making your selection.

Top Picks for the Best Cooler for Road Trips

🚗 Best Cooler for Day Trips: The Takeout Cooler Bag

🗺 Best Cooler for Weekend Getaways: Artic Zone Titan

🚙 Best Cooler for long road trips: Coleman 50 qt. Hard Sided

Best Cooler for beach vacations: Igloo BMX52

Types of Coolers

There are several types of coolers available on the market, each with its own unique features and benefits. Each type of cooler has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to consider your needs and the type of trip you’re taking when choosing the best cooler for your road trip.

Hard-sided coolers

Hard-sided coolers have been a staple in the cooler market for a long time, and they come with a range of benefits and drawbacks.

One of the biggest advantages of hard-sided coolers is their insulation, as they typically provide the best cooling performance compared to other cooler types. They’re also generally more durable than other types of coolers and can withstand harsh outdoor environments.

The Igloo BMX 52 is a slightly more affordable hard sized cooler perfect for road trips.

However, hard-sided coolers can be quite bulky and heavy, making them less portable and more challenging to transport. They’re also often more expensive than other types of coolers, which may not be feasible for everyone’s budget. Additionally, they can be challenging to clean due to their hard exterior and may require more maintenance than other cooler types.

We use hard-sided coolers for longer road trips thanks to their durability and excellent cooling performance.

👉 The one that continually gets top reviews is the RTIC 65 QT, however, it’s really pricey, so if that’s out of your range (and I know I have a hard time spending that much on a cooler) another excellent option is the slightly smaller (but much less expensive) Igloo BMX52

Soft-sided coolers

Soft-sided coolers are lightweight and more portable, making them ideal for day trips or picnics.

One of the most significant advantages of soft-sided coolers is their portability, as they’re often designed to be carried with a shoulder strap or backpack straps, making them easy to take on the go.

They’re also more affordable than hard-sided coolers and often come in a range of colors and designs.

The Titan Deep Freeze is one of the best soft-sided road trip coolers.

However, soft-sided coolers don’t provide as much insulation as hard-sided coolers, and they’re often not as durable, particularly in extreme weather conditions.

They’re also typically smaller in size, which means you’ll need to pack them strategically to make the most of the space available. Finally, they may not be suitable for long trips or situations where you need to keep food and drinks cold for an extended period.

I typically use our soft-sided cooler when we travel as most of our trips are weekend getaways and for this use it is perfect.

👉 My original one was from Costco and it lasted for years but finally gave out last year, so I ordered the Artic Zone Titan from Amazon and have been super impressed! It has excellent reviews and I can attest that it works GREAT for our weekend getaways around the Midwest.

Lunch sized coolers

Lunch-sized coolers are small, portable coolers that are designed to hold a single meal or a few snacks. These coolers are perfect for day trips, work lunches, or a quick outing with friends or family.

They’re typically soft-sided and come in a range of sizes, from small lunchbox-style coolers to larger backpack coolers that can hold a full day’s worth of food and drinks.

One of the biggest advantages of lunch-sized coolers is their portability, as they’re often designed to be carried like a handbag or over the shoulder, making them easy to take on the go.

A small cooler is perfect if you don't need to take more than a few drinks and snacks.

They’re also often more affordable than larger coolers, making them a budget-friendly option for those who don’t need to carry a lot of food or drinks.

However, because of their small size, they don’t provide as much insulation as larger coolers, and they may not be suitable for long trips or situations where you need to keep food and drinks cold for an extended period.

The Takeout is a great small size road trip cooler

I almost always throw at least a smaller cooler like this in the car when we are headed off for a day trip – it’s nice to bring along a few drinks, and it’s perfect for leftovers or if we buy something fun at a farmer’s market.

I have two I tend to use, the first one I’ve had for years, and it’s also my “pool” cooler as I’ll take it down to the pool with drinks when we are driving on vacation, and the second is my Mountainsmith takeout cooler bag.

👉 My second small cooler always shows up on the “best of” lists for smaller coolers and I couldn’t agree more. The Takeout Cooler Bag (Mountainsmith) has everything you’ll need for a small-sized cooler!

Top Coolers for Road Trips

Top hard-sided coolers

When it comes to hard-sided coolers for road trips, several models stand out as the best options.

The YETI Roadie series are some of the most popular and well-known hard-sided coolers on the market, offering excellent insulation, durability, and a range of sizes to fit different needs. However, they can be really expensive.

Yeti Roadie Hard-sided cooler

The Igloo BMX52 is a more budget-friendly option, with excellent ratings for durability, and I really like the darker colors – I think it will look nice for much longer than a lighter-colored cooler, yet it’s not too dark so that it attracts the sun.

Finally, the RTIC 65 qt Cooler offers excellent insulation and durability and is top-rated year after year, and its pricing falls between the Yeti and the Igloo.

All of these hard-sided coolers are top-quality options that can keep your food and drinks cold for days on end, making them perfect for extended road trips.

Top soft-sided coolers for road trips

If you are looking for a more portable option, soft-sided coolers are an excellent choice for road trips – especially shorter ones or weekend getaways.

The YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 is a top-rated soft-sided cooler that offers excellent insulation and is incredibly durable. It features a backpack design that makes it easy to carry, and it can hold up to 20 cans.

Igloo Ringleader is one of the best coolers for road trips.

The Igloo Ringleader is another great option, offering ample space for food and drinks, and as a bonus, it comes in really fun colors!

My favorite pick (and the one I use) is the Artic Zone Titan – it is a nice size, comes in fun colors, and does a fantastic job of keeping food cold for a day or two. I also really like the optional top rack for keeping things that don’t need deep freezing cool and away from the other items.

Inside of the Artic Zone Titan cooler

Overall, any of these soft-sided coolers will offer excellent portability and insulation, making them ideal for road trips, camping, and other outdoor activities.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cooler

When looking to buy a cooler for a road trip, there are several factors to consider to ensure you choose the right one for your needs.

  • Capacity – one of the most crucial factors, as it determines how much food and drinks you can carry.
  • Insulation – Insulation is also essential, as it affects how long your cooler can keep your items cold.
  • Durability – Durability is important, particularly for those who plan to use their cooler frequently or for more extended periods.
  • Portability – it determines how easy it is to transport the cooler from one location to another
  • Price – Price is a factor, as coolers can range from budget-friendly to quite expensive, and you’ll want to choose one that fits within your budget.

Conclusion: Best Cooler for Road Trip

Choosing the right cooler for your road trip can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your food and drinks cold and fresh. Whether you prefer a hard-sided cooler for its durability and insulation or a soft-sided cooler for its portability and ease of transport, there are plenty of excellent options available to fit your needs and budget.

Ultimately, the best cooler for road trips will depend on your specific preferences, such as size, capacity, and insulation. By considering the factors we’ve discussed in this post, such as durability, portability, and cooling performance, you can make an informed decision and choose a cooler that will keep your food and drinks cold and refreshing throughout your journey.

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With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the best coolers for road trips and explore the key factors to consider when making your selection.
With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the best coolers for road trips and explore the key factors to consider when making your selection.