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The 9 Best Travel Coolers for Your Next Epic Road Trip

Published: 5/4/2022 Author: PromoLeaf

Ready to get on the road and explore new places? The best way to get through a long road trip is by enjoying your favorite snacks and an ice cold drink. Which is why you’ll need to find a travel cooler that is the perfect fit for you. There are many things to consider before making a final decision, which is why we have done all the research for you! Read on to find the best travel coolers for road trips.

What to Consider When Buying a Cooler for Road Tripping

In order to find the perfect cooler for your road tripping needs, you’ll need to consider what features are deal breaker and a must have for you.

Portability

A big part of taking road trips involves going to and from different locations which is why getting a cooler that can be easily transported, is a must. Coolers come in all shapes and sizes, the most portable being backpack coolers and coolers with wheels. These types of coolers make it a breeze to go from place to place!

Capacity

Usually the storage space for coolers is measured on how many cans it can hold, but there are also the exterior dimensions that you need to keep in mind when trying to determine if you’ll have enough space in your car for storing specific coolers. Smaller coolers usually hold about 6-11 cans, medium coolers ranging from 12-32 cans and larger coolers 32 and up. Be sure to read the product information thoroughly before making your decision.

Insulation

Finding the right insulation for your needs is a very important step in determining what cooler is right for you. The best way to measure how good your insulation is, is by reading the product information to see how long the cooler will keep ice frozen, this is known as the ice retention. A top of the line cooler should have about a 10 day ice retention period, but not all coolers have that information available, which is why we recommend coolers that use polystyrene plastic for insulation. Foam coolers work well for a few hours at a time, while polystyrene keeps your food and drinks cold for days on end

Our Favorite Travel Coolers

Best Eco-Friendly Travel Cooler

Sidekick Cooler

For an eco-friendly travel cooler, this recycled cooler changes the game! Perfect for picnics, family outings or weekend trips, this cooler offers an elevated look with a main storage compartment, an additional pouch, and can carrier. Sustainable and practical all at once!

Products Specs:

  • Material: Recycled PET
  • Can Capacity: 6
  • Handles for carrying, removable shoulder strap

Best Hard Shell Travel Cooler

Pelican™ 45QT Cooler

By far our top choice for hard shell coolers, this Pelican brand cooler is highly recommended and rightly so. Offering up to 10 days of ice retention, heavy duty wheels, handles and a durable, hard shell exterior, this cooler is hard to beat!

Products Specs:

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Capacity: 45 QT
  • Handle and wheels for transporting

Best Soft Shell Travel Cooler

iCOOL® Xtreme Tucson 18-Can Capacity Backpack Cooler

This iCool backpack cooler is easily a top choice for soft shell coolers and mobility. Allowing you to easily carry it from place to place without it taking up too much space in your car or trailer. This cooler features a main storage compartment that fits up to 18 cans, padded shoulder straps, a bottle opener and two can holders on the top for when you want to sit back and enjoy your beverages.

Products Specs:

  • Material: Thermoplastic Polyurethane
  • Can Capacity: 18
  • Padded shoulder straps for carrying on your back

Best Durability

Otterbox® Venture® 25 Qt Cooler

No need to worry about your cooler breaking or cracking with this Otterbox brand cooler. We all know how tough Otterbox’s phone cases are and the same goes for their coolers, built with an extra durable exterior this cooler will last you years on end!

Products Specs:

  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Can Capacity: 25 QT
  • Integrated handles

Best Insulation

Pelican™ 50QT Cooler

Pelican is known for their top tier coolers which is why we choose this once as the best insulated cooler. With up to 10 days of ice retention, this cooler has the best insulation in the game!

Products Specs:

  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Can Capacity: 50 QT
  • Integrated handles

Best for Long Trips

Arctic Zone 64 Can Knockdown Cooler

With a large amount of storage capacity and great insulation this cooler is perfect for longer trips. And, the best part, it is collapsible and can easily be stored in your car without taking up a lot of space!

Products Specs:

  • Material: Ripstop Polyester
  • Can Capacity: 64
  • Handles for carrying

Best for Short Trips

Igloo® Seadrift™ Snap Down Cooler

Our most recommended cooler for short trips is this Igloo brand cooler. Offering plenty of storage space for weekend trips with space for up to 36 cans, great for mobility and incredible insulation, this cooler is sure to get the job done.

Products Specs:

  • Material: Polyester
  • Can Capacity: 36
  • Handles for carrying

Best Budget Travel Cooler

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 24 Can Cooler

For a cooler that is on the more inexpensive side this Arctic Zone cooler is a steal. You can fit up to 24 cans in here or two days worth of food and it has high performance insulation. It works great for road trips for two, but if you need a bit more room this cooler might not be the right fit for you.

Products Specs:

  • Material: Poly Micro Ripstop
  • Can Capacity: 24
  • One shoulder strap

Best Wheeled Travel Cooler

Coleman 60 Qt Wheeled Cooler

If you are looking for a wheeled travel cooler that is at a reasonable price point, this is your best bet! This cooler offers great insulation with wheels that make it easy to bring with you wherever you go and it has a large amount of storage space with four built-in beverage holders as well.

Products Specs:

  • Material: Plastic
  • Can Capacity: 95
  • Retractable handle and wheels for transporting

What to Pack for a Road Trip

Here are some essential items you’ll want to bring along with you on your road trip:

  • The Right Amount of Food: Depending on the length of your road trip, you’ll want to make sure that you pack enough food to last you for the duration of your trip. Packing extra meals might not be a bad idea as well. (Meal prepping makes packing the food for your trip ten times easier!)
  • Utensils & Napkins: These are a must for road trips since you more than likely won’t be near a grocery store that you can pick up these items from.
  • Snacks: Pack some great snacks like fruit snacks, granola bars, fruit and veggies, protein bars and even some of your favorite candy for an extra treat!
  • Smores: A great way to make a road trip even better is by making smores by the fire and telling campfire stories, so don’t forget to pack some graham crackers, marshmallows and your favorite chocolate! (Planning another camping trip? Browse our best camping coolers here.)
  • Water: Depending on where you are going on your road trip it might be smart to pack some plastic water bottles if you don’t think you will be around an area that will have clean drinking water. Even though plastic bottles aren’t good for the planet it is very important to stay hydrated during your trip so you’ll want to be sure you pack your own.
  • Other Beverages: Be sure to pack your friends and family’s favorite drinks whether that may be soda, energy drinks, beer and wine, whatever you know they will be thankful that you brought along.
  • Sunblock: Sunblock is a must when traveling on the road, you can still be sunburned even by just sitting in your car. When the sun's out make sure you and your crew stay protected!

There you have it, travelers! You are that much closer to your next adventure and with more knowledge of how you can find the best travel cooler to get the job done! If you are still a bit indecisive learn more about coolers in our ultimate custom coolers buying guide!

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