Don't Waste Your Money is supported by our readers. When you purchase an item through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Small Hard Cooler

Last updated on April 9, 2020

We looked at the top 10 Small Hard Coolers and dug through the reviews from 105 of the most popular review sites including Camping & Camping, Merch Dope, The Cooler Zone, Listderful, Coolers Junkie, Baseball Mom Stuff and more. The result is a ranking of the best Small Hard Coolers.

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM 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 Small Hard Coolers

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall
  The Best Value

Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts

Coleman

Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts

Overall Take

Best for PicnicsThe flip lid on the Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts makes it perfect for outings like picnics, with the lid providing a handy tray or table.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus CTOP Reviews, The Lake And Stars, Globo Turf, Camping & Camping, Notting Hill Carnival, Coolers On Sale and 6 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" It is just the ideal personal cooler for a perfect picnic. You can even use it to compliment a larger cooler and match the current trend among campers."
Cons
"This 5-quart Coleman cooler may not be able to pack an entire family’s food for a picnic or BBQ."

Stanley Hard Cooler, 16 Quart

Stanley

Hard Cooler, 16 Quart

Overall Take

Best for Camping TripsWith its ability to keep items cool for up to 27 hours, the Stanley Cooler, 16 Quart is ideal for longer outings like camping trips.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus SOutdoors, Globo Turf, The Cooler Zone, Portable Beasts, Relevant Rankings, The Lake And Stars and 16 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The Adventure Cooler has dual gaskets that are leak-resistant and keep the cold in. The latches and hinges provide for extra durability."
Cons
"Plastic hardware, Lid can be a bit stubborn, Limited Sizes."

Klein Tools Work Cooler, 17 Quart

Klein Tools

Work Cooler, 17 Quart

Overall Take

Best for Job SitesFor those who take lunch to job sites, the Klein Tools Work Cooler, 17 Quart provides a lid that doubles as a seat, giving you a handy place to eat.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus A Top Daily, Lunch Box Report, Dotbeasts, Infestis, Top Best Spec, Best Daily Reviews and 14 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" It is capable of keeping your drinks or any foods inside it cool with maximum of 30 hours. Its lid could stay opening at 90˚ that gives you an easiness to take things out without interruptions."
Cons
"Doesn’t have a divider inside."

Igloo Cooler, 16 Quart

Igloo

Cooler, 16 Quart

Overall Take

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Top Best Spec, BestReviews, Trustorereview, Idea Hacks, ATV Parts Shop. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart, Highby Outdoors and Igloo Coolers.
Pros
" The lunch cooler features a convenient bail handle that folds flat into the liner for simple storage and stacking."
Cons
"Not waterproof; water can easily leak into the cooler. Some reports of this cooler arriving damaged."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the small hard coolers available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

105

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Camping & Camping, Merch Dope, The Cooler Zone, Listderful, Coolers Junkie.

25,054

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Igloo Coolers, Target, Highby Outdoors and 8 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Small Hard Coolers and also dug through the reviews from 105 of the most popular review sites including Camping & Camping, Merch Dope, The Cooler Zone, Listderful, Coolers Junkie, Baseball Mom Stuff and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Small Hard Coolers.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

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

The Best Overall

Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts

Our Expert Score
8.8
12 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.0
996 user reviews
Our Take

For shorter outings like picnics, consider the Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts, which can keep ice frozen for six to seven hours. The lid flips around to provide indented cupholders for your canned beverages and a tray or table for setting food. The capacity is small, holding only up to six cans of soda, but it's big enough to hold lunch or snacks for a couple of people.

What other experts liked
It’s a small, portable cooler that helps keep food and drinks cold.
- ReasonBuy
It is just the ideal personal cooler for a perfect picnic. You can even use it to compliment a larger cooler and match the current trend among campers.
- CTOP Reviews
It is big enough to hold up to 6-cans of pop or maybe one person’s lunch. It’s big enough to bring just a few food items and isn’t bulky like many of the larger coolers. It also has a flip...
- The Lake And Stars
It can hold up to 6 cans cool, and the hard exterior allows you to use the cooler as a small picnic table, reading surface and so on. You can also use it around the house as a small wine...
- Globo Turf
September 22, 2019 | Full review
Provides better insulation than most fabric lunch boxes. Easier to wash and dry. Offers longer lifespan compared to fabric lunch boxes.
- Camping & Camping
January 23, 2019 | Full review
The flip lid is easy to wipe. It can contain about six bottles of drinks. The flip lid can be used as a table for drinking and eating. There's a bottle holder on the flip lid.
- Notting Hill Carnival
August 3, 2019 | Full review
The FlipLid top though is what truly sets it apart from other coolers. The lid itself is reversible so that it can be used as a serving tray, which also includes molded can holders so that when it is time...
- Coolers On Sale
Quality cooler that is made in the United States and makes your adventures fun.
- Home N Outdoors
It is just the right size to hold a six-pack and some ice. Customers appreciate the craftsmanship of this cooler, specifically that when you fully open the lid, it stays solidly open, revealing cup holders and a space that can...
- Ice Maker Pro
August 29, 2019 | Full review
It’s the best one-person hard cooler to use for camping trips. It holds plenty of storage capacity in its durable exterior.
- Jen Reviews
This cooler features the heavy duty Pebax hinges that last up to 8 times longer than the standard plastic hinges.
- Portable Beasts
The FlipLid has a beverage holder built molded into it to provide a stable surface for drinks. Once done eating, close it up and get ready to move on. The top is easy to clean and wipe away any mess...
- SOutdoors
August 30, 2019 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
But because it’s so small, there are also some complaints about its size.
- ReasonBuy
This 5-quart Coleman cooler may not be able to pack an entire family’s food for a picnic or BBQ.
- The Lake And Stars
May not an ideal choice for Tupperware. The lid can’t be locked. Insulation is not that impressive.
- Camping & Camping
January 23, 2019 | Full review
Some customers complained about the handle and lid, lack of insulation, and the fact that it is cheap.
- Notting Hill Carnival
August 3, 2019 | Full review
Lack of insulation. Lid and handle of questionable durability
- SOutdoors
August 30, 2019 | Full review

Overall Product Rankings

Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts

1. Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 17

Stanley Hard Cooler, 16 Quart

2. Stanley Hard Cooler, 16 Quart

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 26

Klein Tools Work Cooler, 17 Quart

3. Klein Tools Work Cooler, 17 Quart

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 22

Igloo Cooler, 16 Quart

4. Igloo Cooler, 16 Quart

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 11

Igloo Cooler, 12 Quart

5. Igloo Cooler, 12 Quart

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 13

Igloo Personal Sized Cooler, 7 Quart

6. Igloo Personal Sized Cooler, 7 Quart

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 6

Igloo Cooler, 25 Quart

7. Igloo Cooler, 25 Quart

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 17

Igloo Mini Cooler, 4 Quart

8. Igloo Mini Cooler, 4 Quart

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 5

Coleman Wheeled Cooler, 50-Quart

9. Coleman Wheeled Cooler, 50-Quart

Overall Score: 7.8
Reviews Included: 27

Coleman Cooler, 18 Quart

10. Coleman Cooler, 18 Quart

Overall Score: 7.5
Reviews Included: 4

Our Small Hard Cooler Findings

Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts

What We Liked: For shorter outings like picnics, consider the Coleman Flip Lid Cooler, 5 Quarts, which can keep ice frozen for six to seven hours. The lid flips around to provide indented cupholders for your canned beverages and a tray or table for setting food. The capacity is small, holding only up to six cans of soda, but it’s big enough to hold lunch or snacks for a couple of people.

Simplemost Media

Igloo Personal Sized Cooler, 7 Quart

What We Liked: Although the Igloo Personal Sized Cooler, 7 Quart has a short ice life, it provides plenty of insulation to keep your food or beverages cool in an indoor environment. The hinged lid means you can easily open it to retrieve items, quickly snapping it shut again. The reasonable price makes it a great fit for the average budget.

Simplemost Media

Stanley Hard Cooler, 16 Quart

What We Liked: If you’re packing items for a long road trip or camping weekend, the Stanley Cooler, 16 Quart has you covered. The lid is leakproof to enhance the insulated walls, providing up to 27 hours of cooling for your food or beverages. It also has a large capacity, holding up to 21 cans.

Simplemost Media

Klein Tools Work Cooler, 17 Quart

What We Liked: The Klein Tools Work Cooler, 17 Quart 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.

Simplemost Media

Coleman Wheeled Cooler, 50-Quart

What We Liked: Whether you have a big family or you like to get together with big groups of friends, the Coleman Wheeled Cooler, 50 Quart is a great option. Wheels make it easy to transport when full, so it won’t matter how many items you pack in. The ice retention rating is a whopping five days, so you could even take it on longer trips.

Our Small Hard Cooler Buying Guide

Whether you’re heading out to the beach or going to work at a job site, a small cooler can keep you stocked in cool beverages, snacks and even lunch until you return home. But small coolers vary dramatically in build and features, so it’s important to research the many options before you buy.

Simplemost Media

One big variation between coolers is capacity. You’ll want a cooler that’s small enough to be portable while also being able to hold everything you plan to take along for your outing. Some coolers will only hold a six-pack, while others have the capacity for long-neck bottles, cases of canned beverages and snacks for a large group.

If you regularly need higher capacity, make sure your cooler has wheels and that the locations you’ll be visiting don’t include stairs or other difficult-to-navigate surfaces. For smaller coolers, a hinged lid can come in handy, as you’ll only need to open it partway to reach inside and retrieve items stored there.

Simplemost Media

Many hard coolers also have lids that serve multiple purposes. Some will flip over and become tables, for instance, making them perfect for picnics. Lid indentations can come in handy for setting your drinks in between sips. Others have features that serve as storage for items like your thermos or a couple of bottles of water.

Small coolers aren’t limited to lunches and snacks. In fact, a new trend has campers taking a set of coolers along with them on their excursions, similar to a set of luggage. You can find a small cooler that matches your much larger one and tote all of it along with you to your campsite, beach towel or picnic table.

Simplemost Media

Although many features are important, none are as vital as the cooling capacity of your chosen cooler. The build of the cooler itself influences this. Many of today’s coolers are built with insulated walls to keep outside temperatures out and ensure the inside retains its temperature for as long as possible. The lid of your cooler can be a leak hazard, though, so make sure you choose one that seals tightly.

Simplemost Media

DWYM Fun Fact

The key to success with today’s coolers is something called “rotational molding,” which is simply the process of molding plastics to take on a specific shape. This eliminates the need to bolt multiple pieces together, creating seams that can easily leak. When buying a cooler, you’ll likely find it’s one big, seamless unit, with the lid being the only separate piece. To create a roto-mold, manufacturers fill a mold with hot plastic, then rotate that mold until the plastic is evenly distributed. This rotating process creates consistent thickness throughout the entire cooler’s build, reducing the risk of leaks.

The Small Hard Cooler Tips and Advice

  • Perhaps the biggest differentiator between coolers as a whole is size. If you’re looking for one that’s portable, make sure you choose a cooler that has a smaller build. Bulky coolers can be tough to tote around and store, especially if you’re using them for work.
  • There are a couple of features that can make a cooler easier to carry. One is the handle that you’ll use to tote it around. Some coolers feature molded handles to keep your hands comfortable even when they’re loaded down. Another useful feature, though, is a shoulder strap, which will help balance the weight across more of your body, rather than relying solely on your hands to transport it. As coolers get larger, they often include wheels that make even a big, heavy cooler portable.
  • You may want to invest in a few ice packs for a mess-free way to keep your items cool. Without them, you’ll be relying on ice, which can cause leaks and saturate items you want to keep dry, like sandwiches and chips.
  • As handy as a small, lightweight build can be, you may find that you sacrifice capacity. A cooler that will only hold a few cans won’t help if you’re trying to pack for a picnic or camping weekend. Still, in some cases, you may just need a small cooler to carry a few items around. Consider this when shopping and try to find a cooler that will fit your own lifestyle best.
  • As you’re shopping, take a close look at the lid. Some coolers come with lids that flip around so that you can use them as trays. If they have molded cupholders, you can even rest your drink. Other lids have a weight capacity that allows you to sit on them once you’ve retrieved your items, providing extra seating for your next adventure. You’ll also find coolers that include storage for keeping cutlery, napkins, thermoses or water bottles.
  • The big-name, vacuum-insulated coolers that have become popular have shown just how much consumers are willing to pay for a good cooler. But competitors have put similar insulating technology to use to keep your food and beverages ice cold without forcing you to shell out half your paycheck. Some well-known name brands have decades of history in the cooler market and have constantly tweaked their technology to provide the best cooling power available today at an affordable price.
  • Cooler manufacturers strive to outlast the competition when it comes to cooling power. Although you’ll find plenty of coolers that keep your items cold throughout the workday, there are still others that can go 24 hours or longer. Even if you’re only out for the day, though, these longer-enduring coolers may still be the better choice, as they can protect internal contents against extreme temperatures.
  • When you’re finished using your cooler, make sure cleanup is easy. With smaller coolers, this isn’t as much an issue as with larger ones. If you can’t easily tip your cooler and pour out the water, look for a drain plug that will let the water out from the bottom.

About The Author

Avatar
Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and professional writer. She lives in a beautiful one-acre home in the suburbs on the outskirts of Nashville. Her home and garden work has appeared on popular home sites. She's a true homebody and loves looking at new houses for sale for inspiration on her own home remodeling projects.