Should you plan to head out camping or are just planning a day-trip we decided to test and rate some of our favorite outdoor hiking and camping coolers that will make your summer, fall or spring more enjoyable with new-tech outdoor coolers that keep food and drink cool, refreshing and ready for you.
The New Cooler Technology
Summer is in full swing: music playing on outside speakers, everyone is swimming, traffic is at its height—summer is here it’s official. If you plan to head out camping or are just planning a day-trip to a local state park or national forest, you’re probably going to need a cooler. The old foam ones just don’t cut it anymore—and they suck for the environment, duh. Today there are many choices out there for coolers that keep things inside cool for days.Cooler Tech has evolved since the days of the 400lb Coolman. Todays cooler is a combo of aerospace meets Venice Beach.
Types of camping and outdoor coolers
- Soft Coolers Basically this is an insulated bag that is as lightweight as it is portable and transportable. We recommend these for shorter use like an afternoon out at a picnic spot at your lake of choice, out on a Stand Up Paddle Board, or at a picnic site.
- Hard Coolers. Think old-school cooler: big, roomy, and solid. These can be heavy but they keep things cool and are quite durable.
- Powered Coolers Similar to a little college-sized mini fridge, these use power from your car’s plug outlet (DC power that is), or any power source to stay cool. These are more expensive than others but you don’t typically need ice!
According to Yeti Coolers website
“The rotational molding (also known as rotomold) process is a high-temperature, low-pressure plastic forming process that uses heat and biaxial rotation (i.e., rotation on two axes) to produce hollow, one-piece parts. The YETI cooler mold is loaded with polyethylene in powder form. The mold is then placed in a large oven while it rotates on two axes at different speeds, which helps prevent powder from accumulating in one spot. The polyethylene melts and adheres evenly to the wall of the mold. Once the polyethylene is melted, the molds are pulled out of the oven to cool. And once cool, the ice chest is then removed from the mold. It’s kind of like a huge, spinning Easy-Bake Oven that cranks out coolers instead of cakes.
The process has inherent design strengths, such as consistent wall thickness and strong outside corners that are virtually stress-free. The rotational molding process gives the coolers one-piece construction and unmatched durability.”
Here are our best-rated coolers for 2021 rated on value and technology
1. Orca Walker 20 Cooler
Our top choice for a portable soft cooler that is great for day trips.
We love this size so much. It’s our go-to for every trip. One really cool—no pun intended, feature is the magnetic handles that make really easy to carry compared to any other soft cooler on the market. We absolutely love this cooler!
The ORCA Walker 20 Softside cooler is here. The ORCA Walker Soft cooler is made for day hikes, short trips, and everywhere in between.
- Easy open Magnetic split handle.
- Maintains cold retention for days with proper ice packing.
- Outer textile: SPEC-OPS 840 Denier double TPU.
- FDA food grade, BPA-free and anti-microbial.
- Insulated inner walls: 28mm of tough Meta-Polymer.
- Zipper: Master Seal#10, water proof.
- Craftsmanship: Ultrasonic RF Welding as used in whitewater craft..
- Comfort padded shoulder strap.
- Designed in Nashville, sourced in China
- Length 14.5”, Width 11”, Height 13.25”
- Dry weight: 3.6 lbs
- Max load: 50 lbs
Keep It Cool
Holds Ice Over 24hrs for that quick day trip.
Holds an average of 20 cans of your favorite beverage with ice.
Holds up to 20-lbs of ice
Easy open and close split magnetic handle.
2. APEX 20QT COOLER
Our top choice for a portable totable cooler
Designed for use with or without the attachment, the one-piece rotomolded construction makes this one tough cooler. Pressure-injected insulation and sealed-tight lids keep contents ice cold or steaming hot. Our patented interlocking technology makes attaching cooler accessories a snap.When you’re flying solo or with a few tight-knit friends, our patented A20 is perfect with a 20-quart internal capacity and convenient grab-n-go handle. Designed for use without a rack, this one-piece rotomolded construction makes this one tough cooler, while pressure injected insulation and sealed-tight lids keep contents ice cold or steaming hot. Patented interlocking technology makes attaching cooler accessories a snap.
- The A20 can also be used to expand the capacity of your A75 through interlocking side channels. You get 2 connected coolers in one.
- Weight – 19 lbs.
- Internal Dimensions – 12⅛”H x 8⅝”W x 12⅞”L
- External Dimensions – 15½”H x 13⅞”W x 16¾”L
3. APEX 75QT COOLER
Our top choice for a rigid roomy cooler.
Our top pick for a rigid and roomy cooler. Designed for use with or without the attachment, the one-piece rotomolded construction makes this one tough cooler. Pressure-injected insulation and sealed-tight lids keep contents ice cold or steaming hot. Our patented interlocking technology makes attaching cooler accessories a snap.
Perfect for a heavy-duty haul or when you have a large crowd to keep happy, the A75 has a 75-quart internal capacity and durable side-carrying straps. One-piece rotomolded construction makes this one tough cooler, while pressure injected insulation and sealed-tight lids keep contents ice cold or steaming hot.
Patented interlocking technology makes integrating Attachments a snap.
Nesting with A45 quickly expands to 120 Qts of capacity
- Weight – 40 lbs.
- Internal Dimensions – 14″H x 11⅝”W x 29¼”L
- External Dimensions – 17¾”H x 18½”W x 34¼”L
Why Trust Us?
We totally get it: It is truly hard to go online and find researched, trustworthy gear advice. Becasue of the lack of good information out there for outdoor products we started Adventure Grind. Our passion is adventure, and we take your outdoor experience very seriously. Here are just a few reasons that you can trust us:
The choices we write abour are independent and based on personal experience.
We are professional athletes, coaches or avid outdoor inthuasiasts including guides.
We have and field test products we recommend, which is not typical for most review sites.
We attend outdoor industry trade shows to educate and learn about upcoming product innovations.
We treat our readers like close family.
We want to learn from your experiences in the outdoors as much as you learn from our websie, app, magazine or guidebooks.
We hope our guide helps you find the perfect gear for your outside needs and persuits. If you like Adventure Grind and you have questions or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest posts then visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation.
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Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!
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Rob Holzman is an accomplished backpacker, hiker, rock climber, and backcountry skiier. Rob contributes to Adventure Grind and reviews products such as the ones mentioned in this article.