What’s better than a cool drink on a hot day at the beach? You can completely transform your experience in the sun with a beach cooler.
These summer essentials allow you to enjoy chilled snacks and cold drinks wherever you go. Beach coolers offer a practical solution to picnics on the sand and keeping your food fresh. They are also a great accompaniment to a beach bag and beach blanket.
There are some important considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best beach cooler. We will explore your best options in our guide below to help you find your perfect companion for a hot day under the sun.
What is a Beach Cooler?
A beach cooler is a portable ice chest or cool box, that is used to keep your food and drinks cold. They use special layers of insulation and ice to lock in the cold for a long period of time, even if left directly under the sun.
This allows you to keep your drinks ice-cold, your popsicles frozen, and your food crisp and fresh. Beach coolers can be used for day trips, or even taking along on camping trips as a substitute for a fridge.
While cool boxes come in many different forms, the best beach coolers should have a few practical features. Besides keeping cold, it should be portable and lightweight enough to carry around on the beach. It should also be able to resist sand and water. You can choose between soft or hard body coolers - both have their pros and cons.
What to Look Out for When Buying a Beach Cooler
Not all beach coolers are made equal. When choosing the right product for your needs, here are some essential things to consider:
Of course, the cooler needs to be big enough for your needs. Too small and you won’t be able to hold enough food and drinks, too big and you will just be carrying around unnecessary weight. Cooler sizes are measured in quarts, liters, or cans (the size of an average beer can). Know how much space you need before choosing a cooler.
How easy the cooler is to carry will make a massive impact on your experience with it. You can get beach coolers with wheels, carry straps, different handles, or even backpack versions. Of course, this is also impacted by the size o the cooler. The best option is something that is lightweight and easy to carry around over the sand.
Soft vs Hard Shell
Coolers can either have a soft or hard shell. Soft-shell coolers are lighter and easier to manage. However, they are not as durable or well insulated as hard-shell coolers. While hard shell coolers work really well for staying cold, they can also be a hassle to carry around and store.
A great beach cooler needs to be well insulated to lock in the cold air. Basically, the thicker the insulation walls, the better. Make sure that the cooler closes to a tight seal, and has no areas where the cold can escape. If properly sealed, a cooler should be able to keep cold for three days.
The Best Beach Cooler: Our Top Picks
From our experience of many days spent on the sand and sea, we have been able to choose a few of the absolute best beach coolers available. Take a look at our top product picks below that are suitable for all kinds of beachgoers.
Earth Pak Heavy Duty Waterproof Soft Cooler
- A soft cooler made with high-density NBR foam
- Comfortable to carry
- Stays ice-cold for up to 72 hours
- Has a 20 can capacity
Earth Pak has created the ultimate beach cooler with this product. The cooler is lightweight, and comfortable to carry around with its padded shoulder strap or carry handles.
The bag features a wide-mouth top opening that is easy to load up and grab things out of. This is a soft cooler made from durable nylon, but it maintains a firm shape thanks to the high-density NBR foam used.
Just because it is made from material, it doesn’t mean that this cooler is not as durable. The material is reinforced with strong 500D TPU which makes it UV, puncture, and chemical resistant. The abrasion-resistant finish allows you to drag this cooler through the sand or park it on rocks with no problem.
Coleman Portable Cooler With Wheels
- A wheeled, hard body cooler box
- Telescoping handle and large, heavy-duty wheels
- 50-quart capacity (can hold 84 cans)
- Provides 5 full days of ice retention
This is a serious beach cooler for families, parties, or large groups. The Coleman portable cooler is a big model with a 50-quart capacity. This makes it a good choice for family day trips, or it can be taken along on camping trips or getaways to act as a fridge. The fully insulated lid and walls allow you to enjoy 5 full days of ice retention at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although the cooler is big and heavy when full, it is still classified as a portable product. This is thanks to its all-terrain wheels and comfortable telescoping handle. You can pull this cooler around wherever you go over all types of rough terrain.
Snowball Rotomolded Insulation Ice Chest
- A 26-quart capacity cooler
- Hardbody durable design
- Silicone seal rings lock in the cold
- 2-inch PU foam to reduce heat conduction
The Snowball Rotomolded Insulation Ice Chest is a really tough model for heavy outdoor use. This cooler may be a little bit heavier to carry around, but it is built for long-lasting efficiency. The thick insulated walls and silicone seal rings effectively lock in the icy cold even in the hottest weather.
The clever design features bottle openers on the heavy-duty rubber T-latches. The finish is UV-resistant and fade-proof. The rope handles make carrying comfortable, and the non-leak drain plug allows you to easily empty out any water.
Yeti Charcoal Hopper Flip Cooler
- A lightweight and portable cooler
- Offers superior ice retention
- 100% leak-proof hydrolock zipper
- Waterproof and seriously resistant outer shell
When looking for the best beach cooler, Yeti should always be a name to consider. This brand is well-respected for producing some of the absolute best outdoor coolers and this model is no exception.
The Yeti Charcoal Hopper Flip Cooler is small enough to easily carry around the beach slung over your shoulder. It features a unique DryHide shell that is completely waterproof and resistant to punctures and abrasions which makes it a tough choice for outdoor picnics.
Tourit Soft Beach Cooler
- A portable soft cooler
- Uses triple layer insulation
- 100% leak-proof and impact resistant
- Offers three easy ways to carry
Many people prioritize a lightweight design and easy carrying features in a beach cooler. If this is the case, then you should absolutely consider this soft cooler by Tourit. The cooler offers three different easy carrying systems to make it comfortable to transport.
The insulation system uses three unique layers to help keep your food and drinks cold for up to three days. The inner layer is fully leak-proof, the middle layer is a high-density foam, and the outer layer is a durable waterproof cover. All materials used are BPA-free and made with a superior level of quality.
Coleman 28-Quart Cooler
- A classic hardshell cooler
- Can stay cold for up to three days
- A 48 can, or 28-quart capacity
- Durable plastic design
When you picture a beach cooler, this is probably the product you have in mind, The Coleman 28-quart cooler is a classic product for beach days, camping, fishing trips, or barbecues. This hard-shell cooler offers a high-level of durability and insulation.
You can use the cooler as a seat, enjoy the cup holders on its lid, and carry it around fairly easily with the top handle. The plastic body is easy to wipe down after each use and keep in good condition.
Although it is a simple product, this plastic cooler is one of the best options out there for a practical cooler solution. It can keep your food cold for up to three days, it is durable, UV resistant, and can be dragged around in the sand without any issues.
Tourit Leak-Proof Soft-Sided Cooler Backpack
- An innovative soft-shell cooler backpack
- Made from leak-resistant durable fabric
- The backpack has a 36 can capacity
- Includes multiple pockets for more storage
One of the biggest issues that people face with beach coolers is carrying them around. Many people are turned off bringing a cooler to the beach because they don’t want the hassle of lugging around a heavy, bulky box.
Well, Tourit has come up with the ultimate solution to this through their innovative soft-shell cooler backpack. Yes, this is a high-quality cooler in the form of a backpack for easy portability. It can be taken on hikes, day trips, camping, and so on.
The cooler is made using durable leak-resistant fabric. It also features multiple compartments for added storage and accessories. You can fit 36 can plus ice into this cooler which is an excellent capacity for day trips or overnight hikes. The cooler has superior insulation and should keep your food cold for up to three days.
Igloo Quantum 12 Quart Cooler
- A 12-quart capacity hard-shell cooler
- Features a unique dry storage compartment in the lid
- Lockable lid
- Two self-draining cup holders
Igloo is another top name when it comes to beach coolers. This model is simple, but it offers everything you would want from a cooler box. The hard body is tough and offers a superior level of protection.
The cooler is well-insulated and will keep the interior cold regardless of the outside temperature. It also features an ergonomically curved backside that is easier to carry.
This cooler has the handy features of a dry storage compartment in the lid. This allows you to stash away things like car keys, sunglasses, and phones while on the beach. The cooler has a convenient 12-quart capacity and is a very carry-friendly size for a day out.
Orca Blaze Orange Beach Cooler
- 20-quart capacity cooler
- Durable, hard shell outdoor cooler
- Lid gasket for a perfect seal
- Single flex-grip stainless steel handle
You can’t miss this bright orange cooler by Orca. This is another great hard-shell option for all kinds of outdoor use. The cooler is completely weather-resistant and locks in the cold with its lid gasket for a perfect seal.
Something that really sets this model apart is its single flex-grip stainless steel handle. This makes carrying the beach cooler much more comfortable. The 20-quart storage capacity is just the right size for all types of occasions.
Where Can You Buy a Beach Cooler?
Beach coolers can be found pretty easily in camping, outdoor, or regular department stores. In order to choose the right product, we recommend shopping online. This allows you to choose from the biggest selection of beach coolers in order to find one that best suits your needs.
No day in the sun should be complete without cool drinks and fresh snacks. You will need a beach cooler in order to make this happen. Beach coolers are available in all kinds of shapes and sizes to perfectly match your requirements. Follow our guide above, and you will definitely be happy with any one of the high-quality coolers listed.
Is it Better to Leave Water in a Cooler?
As long as you are using the cooler you should leave the water inside. This helps to insulate and maintain the cold temperature in the cooler. Only drain the cooler once you have finished using it, or are topping it up again with fresh ice.
How Long do Beach Coolers Stay Cold?
This depends on the product you choose and the type of insulation it offers. The best beach coolers should stay cold for around 2 – 3 days. However, this differs between models.
Should You Put Ice on the Top or Bottom of the Cooler?
It’s best to put ice on the top of the cooler as cold air sinks. This will leave you with the best, longest-lasting results.