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The Best Small Coolers - 2021

Last updated on November 15, 2021

We looked at the top 6 Small Coolers and dug through the reviews from 26 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Small Coolers.

Best Small Coolers

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Our Picks For The Top Small Coolers

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  Top Pick

Arctic Zone Titan Rigid Leakproof Small Cooler

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Arctic Zone

Titan Rigid Leakproof Small Cooler

Overall Take

Reflects HeatThis cooler has a radiant heat barrier that reflects warmth away from your food.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus L’Academie, Good Housekeeping, The Cooler Zone, Balding Beards, Outdoor Gear Lab, Globo Turf and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Target.
Pros
" Comes with an adjustable shoulder strap to guarantee ease of carriage. Triple-layer ColdBlock base can provide better insulation. The side mesh pockets will allow you to bring large water bottles with you. Quite durable and sturdy."
Cons
"Struggles with cooling life."
  Runner Up

Venture Pal Waterproof Interior Small Cooler

Venture Pal

Waterproof Interior Small Cooler

Overall Take

Versatile ChoiceThis cooler has an adjustable shoulder strap so you can carry it in multiple ways.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus L’Academie, Experienced Mommy, Globo Turf. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Comes with a convenient carry handle. The product’s polyester lining allows you to clean it with relative ease. Thanks to its adjustable and removable shoulder strap, you can easily carry the bag around. Lightweight and compact in design."
  Strong Contender

Coleman FlipLid Built-In Tray Table Small Cooler

Coleman

FlipLid Built-In Tray Table Small Cooler

Overall Take

Multi-Functional OptionThe lid on this hard-sided 5-quart cooler can be turned into a tray table.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Good Housekeeping, BestReviews, The Cooler Zone, Spy, Globo Turf. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Best Views Reviews, Walmart and Home Depot.
Pros
" Weighs in less than two pounds and it can keep six cans with ice cold for over one day. It features a sliding lid that doubles as a serving tray with two cupholders when flipped over and a pail-style plastic..."
Cons
"The cooler is very small - can fit only about four drink cans with ice."
  We Also Like

Igloo Playmate Push-Button Lid Small Cooler

Igloo

Playmate Push-Button Lid Small Cooler

Overall Take

Sturdy ConstructionThis small but tough hard-sided cooler is engineered for performance.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, House Grail. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Igloo Coolers and Walmart.
Pros
" Features easy one-hand opening. Durable, with Ultratherm insulation. Locking lid, and molded-in handle. Resists odors. Lid swings open to either side."
Cons
"Locking mechanism faulty. Poor customer service."
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.
13

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the small coolers available to purchase.
6

Products Analyzed

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

View All Product Rankings

26

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: The Spruce Eats, Balding Beards, Heavy, Globo Turf, Spy.

353,805

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 6 Small Coolers and also dug through the reviews from 26 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Small 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.

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The Best Overall

Arctic Zone Titan Rigid Leakproof Small Cooler


Our Expert Score

7.5
7 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.2
32,214 user reviews

Our Take

Keep your food cold with this hard-bodied cooler that has a radiant heat barrier to reflect warmth instead of absorbing it. It features an easy-access zipperless design and is both stain-resistant and durable.

What other experts liked

Comes with an adjustable shoulder strap to guarantee ease of carriage. Triple-layer ColdBlock base can provide better insulation. The side mesh pockets will allow you to bring large water bottles with you. Quite durable and sturdy.
- L'Academie
Weighs only about two pounds and it claims to hold up to 16 cans with ice for about two days. It's lined with hard plastic for durability and additional insulation. The shoulder strap has a non-slip rubber pad that makes...
- Good Housekeeping
Very convenient lid, Smartshelf technology is a nice touch, looks awesome.
- The Cooler Zone
Features an adjustable, padded shoulder strap that reduces stress when carrying it. An additional mesh front zipper pocket makes it easy to carry things like water bottles, napkins, and utensils. Its FDA compliant and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that...
- Balding Beards
Lightweight, lots of features, inexpensive.
- Outdoor Gear Lab
With the ability to retain ice for two days, the Arctic Zone Titan insulated lunch box keeps food cold the longest and outperforms all other cooler lunch bags on the market. The interior of this cooler is really an arctic...
- Globo Turf
Its exterior is covered in Rhino-Tech, making it water and stain-resistant, easily wiped clean, and is abrasion- and puncture-resistant. It has an Ultra Safe Leakproof Liner, and an insulated front pocket for additional storage. Add to that its Back Saver...
- House Grail

What other experts didn't like

The box is rather small.
- L'Academie
Struggles with cooling life.
- The Cooler Zone
There’s no top handle for an additional carrying option.
- Balding Beards
Not rugged, not spillproof, noticeably inexpensive.
- Outdoor Gear Lab
Ice melts quickly. Cheap plastic inlay. Low-quality features.
- House Grail

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Coleman FlipLid Built-In Tray Table Small Cooler

Our Expert Score

7.0
5 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.2
12,474 user reviews

Our Take

This small hard-sized cooler has a flip lid with reversible hinges so you can turn it into a tray table. The easy-clean cooler is small enough for one-handed carrying and is large enough to hold up to six soda pop cans.

What other experts liked

Weighs in less than two pounds and it can keep six cans with ice cold for over one day. It features a sliding lid that doubles as a serving tray with two cupholders when flipped over and a pail-style plastic handle that makes it easy to carry. Our testers found...
- Good Housekeeping
Fits a nice amount of food for a meal and does a good job of keeping it cool for a long time. Works well as a lunch cooler. Lid can double as a little table. Comfortable handle. Can survive a lot of use and abuse.
- BestReviews
Extremely mobile, great implementation of cup holders, affordable.
- The Cooler Zone
Whether you only need to keep your lunch cold or you want to carry drinks for you and a couple friends, the Coleman FlipLid Personal Cooler will do the trick. This five-quart capacity device can hold up to six cans yet measures only eight by seven by 10 inches. Features...
- Spy
With its hard and robust exterior and a spacious interior with a 5-quart capacity to carry up to 6 canned drinks as well as a hearty meal, the Coleman FlipLid Personal Cooler is one of the most efficient small coolers on our list.
- Globo Turf

What other experts didn't like

The cooler is very small - can fit only about four drink cans with ice.
- BestReviews
Short ice life, very limited carrying space, not a lot of color choices.
- The Cooler Zone

Overall Product Rankings

Arctic Zone Titan Rigid Leakproof Small Cooler

1. Arctic Zone Titan Rigid Leakproof Small Cooler

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 10

Venture Pal Waterproof Interior Small Cooler

2. Venture Pal Waterproof Interior Small Cooler

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 4

Coleman FlipLid Built-In Tray Table Small Cooler

3. Coleman FlipLid Built-In Tray Table Small Cooler

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 9

Igloo Playmate Push-Button Lid Small Cooler

4. Igloo Playmate Push-Button Lid Small Cooler

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 6

Lifewit Leakproof PEVA Foil Lined Small Cooler

5. Lifewit Leakproof PEVA Foil Lined Small Cooler

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 5

Carhartt Soft-Sided Triple-Needle Stitching Small Cooler

6. Carhartt Soft-Sided Triple-Needle Stitching Small Cooler

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 10

Our Small Cooler Findings


Arctic Zone Titan Rigid Leakproof Small Cooler

What We Liked: Keep your food cold with this hard-bodied cooler that has a radiant heat barrier to reflect warmth instead of absorbing it. It features an easy-access zipperless design and is both stain-resistant and durable.


Venture Pal Waterproof Interior Small Cooler

What We Liked: Carry this small cooler in multiple ways thanks to an adjustable and detachable shoulder strap. This is basically a large-capacity insulated lunch box with front and back pockets. It has a modern, lightweight design.


Coleman FlipLid Built-In Tray Table Small Cooler

What We Liked: This small hard-sized cooler has a flip lid with reversible hinges so you can turn it into a tray table. The easy-clean cooler is small enough for one-handed carrying and is large enough to hold up to six soda pop cans.


Igloo Playmate Push-Button Lid Small Cooler

What We Liked: This U.S.-made hard-sided cooler with a push-button swivel lid is sturdy and engineered for high-quality performance. It is leakproof and provides excellent cooling for 16 quarts’ worth of food or drink.


Lifewit Leakproof PEVA Foil Lined Small Cooler

What We Liked: This water-resistant cooler has foam and a premium lining made from PEVA foil, which also keeps hot items warm. It provides long-term insulation for over 5 hours. The cooler has a large capacity and can hold 24 cans.

Our Small Cooler Buying Guide

Whether you’re heading to a tailgate with friends or want to make sure your refrigerated grocery items stay cool on the way home from the store, having a small cooler on hand is a great idea. A small cooler will not only keep your food safe, it’s easy to carry around with you anywhere.

Start by figuring out what size you need. Think about the number of food items you need to keep cool most often. For example, if you’re just going to be carrying your lunch back and forth from the office, then a small cooler works well. If you frequently go out to spend the day at the beach with the family, you may want a slightly larger cooler so you can bring along a supply of drinks and snacks.

The size of the cooler is typically shown in quarts. Note that coolers can have different lengths and widths, so keep those dimensions in mind when looking at quart volume.

Keep in mind that hard-sided coolers will not be flexible if you’ve got a couple of extra items, but tend to have a larger capacity overall. Most hard-sided coolers are made from plastic, which is a durable, cost-effective and sturdy option. Opt for coolers that have roto-molded construction, which means that the plastic is all one piece, rather than multiple pieces attached together. This way, you can eliminate any weak points in its construction, which results in better insulation.

Soft-sided coolers are typically made from a tough fabric on the outside and a plastic lining on the inside along with closed-cell insulation. They tend to be more portable and lighter with convenient carrying straps. However, they’ll also be smaller, harder to clean, and less durable. Quality will vary widely, so you’ll have to be extra careful when shopping for a soft-sided cooler. 

DWYM Fun Fact

Before refrigerators, people often kept their food cool by storing it underground. By the end of the 19th century, however, most people had iceboxes in their houses. These wooden cabinets were often lined with tin or zinc and utilized 25- to 100-pound blocks of ice (depending on the preferences of the homeowner), delivered by icemen, to keep food cold. Basically, they were built-in coolers.

In the early 1900s, manufacturers experimented with cooling devices for food storage. The General Electric Monitor top refrigerator was the first to become widely popular in about 1927, just in time for the Great Depression; the refrigerator became vital for maximizing resources in hard times. In 1935, loans provided by the New Deal encouraged even more households to switch over.

Other ways of preserving food exist, of course, such as canning, salting and drying. However, keeping food cold became the preferred method because it keeps food fresh and allows prepared meals to be saved, which was something new.

The Small Cooler Tips and Advice

  • Small coolers are meant to be portable, but how easy they are to carry will depend on their design. With hard-sided coolers, opt for ones that have handles on the sides and top, so you have different options for holding and carrying. Soft-sided coolers should have a shoulder-carry strap as well as a shorter handle you can use when you have your hands free. If the cooler is on the heavier side, check to see if it has wheels. This can make moving it significantly easier.
  • The amount of insulation you should have will depend on your needs. For example, if you are using the cooler for lunch, you probably only need your cooler to work for a few hours. If you plan to take the cooler camping with you for a week, then you’ll want one that can last as long as possible.
  • If you’re thinking about getting a soft-sided cooler, check that it is made from waterproof material. This way, if the ice melts inside or the outside is exposed to water, the cooler will still be usable and effective. Most hard-sided coolers are waterproof.
  • You might want to consider a small cooler with external storage pockets. You can use these for cutlery, napkins and plates.
  • Optimize your cooler usage by thoroughly cleaning your small cooler on the outside and inside, especially if it has been in storage. Then, pre-chill the cooler by placing cold water or ice packs inside the cooler for a few hours. If the cooler is small enough, you can even place it in the fridge. Remove the ice and water from the cooler just before you’re ready to pack it, dry it thoroughly, and then place a new ice pack at the bottom.
  • Pack as efficiently as possible: Put all the food you want to take with you in water-tight containers and remove any excess packaging to save space. Pile your food containers in tightly, and add in loose ice to fill up any gaps.

About The Author

Anam Ahmed 

Anam Ahmed is a professional copywriter and essayist based in Toronto. She has been writing on technology, travel, parenting and business for over 10 years. As a homeowner and avid gardener, she values finding the best products to make people's lives easier. Anam earned a master's degree from the University of Toronto and a bachelor's degree from Queen's University.