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The Best Hard Cooler

Last updated on May 22, 2023
Best Hard Cooler

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Hard Coolers

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Best Large Cooler

Igloo BMX Foam Insulated Large Hard Cooler, 52-Quart

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Igloo

BMX Foam Insulated Large Hard Cooler, 52-Quart

Thanks to this cooler's built-in tie down points, you can safely transport it in the back of your truck. The cooler has a heavy-duty blow-molded construction and rubberized T-grip latches to keep your drinks secure. Since the lid and body are well insulated, you'll also enjoy five days of ice retention, which makes this cooler a great choice for ca...

Overall Take

Multiple Color CombinationsYou'll find this cooler comes in a choice of aquamarine/black, sandstone/red and green/orange.

  The Best Value

Klein Tools Hinged Lid Work Small Hard Cooler

Klein Tools

Hinged Lid Work Small Hard Cooler

This hard cooler is designed to work as a lunchbox and includes a strap for easy carrying. The lid can handle up to 300 pounds, so you can set it down and use it as a seat wherever you are. It can keep items cool for up to 30 hours, even in 90-degree temperatures.

Overall Take

Best for Job SitesFor those who take lunch to job sites, this hard cooler provides a lid that doubles as a seat, giving you a handy place to eat.

 We Also Like

Coleman FlipLid Bail Handle Cooler, 5-Quart

Coleman

FlipLid Bail Handle Cooler, 5-Quart

We love how easy it is to grab this classic cooler and head out the door. The handle folds down for easy access to the goods inside and rugged exterior means it can handle whatever abuse you put it through.

Overall Take

Small and ConvenientThis classic cooler is a personal-sized cooler that is very well made.

 Strong Contender

Coleman Performance Cooler, 48-Quart

Coleman

Performance Cooler, 48-Quart

This cooler is able to keep ice intact for up to three days, even if the temperatures outside reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a large 63-can capacity and can accommodate taller 2-liter soda bottles. The entire cooler is made from a durable plastic that can be cleaned with a little dish soap and water.

Overall Take

Backyard BBQ ReadyIf you're planning a backyard barbecue, you'll want to consider this large-capacity cooler for all your drinks.

Buying Guide

Coolers are an essential item for trips to the beach, camping, fishing, sporting events, tailgates and other excursions. There are a wide variety of hard coolers on the market, so choosing one comes down to identifying your specific needs as well as taking into account some general considerations.

First, you’ll want to think about the size or capacity and insulation abilities of the cooler. With size, it’s important to look at both internal and external size, as well as what part of that volume is insulated. Insulation commonly takes up a fair amount of room between the external and internal walls of the cooler, so a cooler that’s medium-sized on the outside (making it easier to store and transport) might not have sufficient capacity on the inside for your needs.

The insulation itself needs to be evaluated on how long it will keep items cool and is usually measured in the number of days it can protect ice. This can be essential for longer trips, but maybe less important for tailgating or making sure your child’s sports team has cold drinks at the end of the game.

In addition, consider how heavy the cooler is, how it will be transported and additional features, such as dry storage or cupholders. To get the cooler where you need it to go, will you carry it with handles on either side, a central lid handle or shoulder strap? Does the cooler also have wheels?

Many coolers feature cupholders or can double as seating. There are even some coolers that have a built-in ruler for measuring fish.

What to Look For

  • When considering cooler size and capacity, don’t forget to take into account the shape or how it’s distributed. While a 6-quart cooler may sound sufficient for a bottle of wine, if it’s cube-shaped rather than rectangular or tall, it might not be able to accommodate a long object, either horizontally or vertically.
  • Materials that make up coolers can often be less than eco-friendly. However, more and more coolers on the market are being made from greener materials. If this is a priority for you, look for this to be called out in the cooler description.
  • Surprisingly, not all hard coolers are waterproof. Pay attention to the lid seals and drainage features, which are also helpful for cleaning your cooler.

More to Explore

The need for coolers — to preserve and transport perishable goods — has existed for much longer than the technology behind modern coolers.

The origin of coolers can be traced back to barrels used throughout history, then to an early prototype that caught the attention of Thomas Jefferson. Modern cooler technology originated around World War II, when Styrofoam was invented.

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