Hitting the beach is one of the most enjoyable summer activities. Lay in the sand, soak up the sun, and do some fun water activities. But if there’s one thing that you don’t need at the beach, it’s hot food & drinks. A beach day without a proper cooler detracts so much from the experience, and that’s what we’re focused on in this article. We’ll give you our picks for the best coolers for your next day at the beach.
Let’s get right into it. Here are our reviews for our favorite beach coolers. We filled this list with variety, so that you may pick the cooler that best suits your needs, preferences, and price range. Read through our options to find the best cooler for your next day at the beach!
Our top pick is also a classic. Coleman has been making trusted coolers for decades. In their opinion, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. This is a classic cooler design. It’s big, well-insulated, and keeps things cold. We chose it as our top overall pick because it’s the perfect mix of size and functionality.
First off, this thing is big. It holds 70-quarts. Coleman claims this is enough for 100 cans, but you’ll likely want to bring a mix of food and drink for a beach day. It even has built-in cupholders on the top! It does have carrying handles, but it might get a bit heavy if it’s fully stocked up.
This cooler is so well insulated that Coleman claims it can keep ice for up to 5 days! Of course, this likely means not opening the cooler for 5 days, but it’s more than enough for a beach day. It also has a channel drain so you can drain any melted ice without tilting the cooler.
And this cooler doubles as a seat! It can support up to 250 lbs. on the top.
Overall, a solid, classic choice at a great price! Our top pick proves that you don’t need to get fancy to buy a quality cooler.
Big cooler – holds 70 quarts (100 cans)
Keeps ice for up to 5 days at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
In stark contrast to the classic cooler design, let’s take a look at the new wave of cooler design.
Modern coolers are quite impressive in terms of their insulation levels. They focus on extreme durability and insulation. This trend was basically started by Yeti Coolers, and they still make some of the best coolers on the market.
Simply put, you won’t find coolers that are much more functional than the Yeti. You definitely pay a premium for it, but these things work. They use Yeti’s Fatwall Design with polyurethane foam to keep contents cold almost indefinitely. If the cooler’s shut, almost no cold air escapes.
This cooler holds 45 litres (or 28 cans). We think it’s a perfect size for a day at the beach. Big enough for all your food and drink, but not too big that it’s too heavy to carry.
Yeti coolers are also extremely durable. The rotomolded construction means they will stand up to almost any regular wear and tear. They’re built for fishing and camping, so they’ll be fine for any day at the beach.
Yetis also sport comfort-grip handles, interlocking lids, a Vortex drain system, and anything else you’d expect from a premium cooler. Yetis represent the forefront of cooler technology, but expect the price tag to represent this!
Extremely insulated (Fatwall technology with polyurethane foam).
Extremely durable (armored walls).
Perfect size for beach day.
Seals tight with T-rex latches.
Fatwalls make storage compartments deceptively small.
Here’s another solid option from Yeti. This is their “soft” cooler design, but it’s incredibly insulated for a soft cooler. It features cold-cell foam-lining in each wall, which offers superior cold-holding. Additionally, the Hydro-Lok zipper protects the area where air generally escapes.
This one is a bit smaller than many coolers on our list (only holds 8 cans), but it might be perfect if you only plan to bring drinks for your beach day. It’s highly portable, and even has a handy carrying strap.
This is a mini-cooler that features many of Yeti’s trademark superior design. It does come in bigger sizes if you’re interested in the design.
Extremely insulated for a soft cooler.
Convenient carrying strap.
Hydro-Lok zipper keeps cooler waterproof and insulated.
Very expensive (as with all Yeti products)
Might be a bit small (depends what you bring to a beach day).
Our best budget choice is another one from Coleman. This is their classic cooler design. It’s simple, functional, and highly affordable.
There isn’t really anything fancy about this cooler. It’s a big cooler, it has convenient carrying handles, and tilt-free drain, and it’s well insulated.
It has a 48-quart capacity, which is more than enough for all your beach day food and drinks. It even has added height for standing up 2L bottles. It’s not as insulated as a Yeti, but if you pack it with ice it will be perfectly fine for a beach day.
Aside from that, there’s not much to say. It’s a classic cooler for an extremely affordable price.
This is the 65-liter version of the Yeti Tundra we looked at above. Since size is such an important consideration with coolers, this one warranted its own section.
If you have a big family, or you’re packing your cooler for lunch and dinner, then you might want to consider a 65-liter. It has space for 48 cans, which leaves you ample space for food & drink.
Aside from that, there’s not much we can say that we didn’t say above about the Tundra 45. These are extremely durable, extremely insulated coolers, and there’s a reason Yeti is the most prominent name among luxury coolers.
Big cooler, ideal for big families or large groups.
Extremely insulated (Fatwall design with polyurethane foam).
The Nurxiovo Heavy Duty is one cooler in a long line of “Yeti knockoffs”. But don’t think of this as a bad thing! All it means is that it offers similar functionality to a Yeti cooler, at a fraction of the price.
This is still a highly capable cooler. It has over 2-inch thick PU insulation and they claim it keeps ice for 7 days! We think this claim is a bit bold, but it definitely has more than enough insulation for a day at the beach, or even a short camping trip.
It’s also very durable, with Rotomolded hard plastic walls that can stand up to the wear and tear of multiple outdoors trips.
Design-wise, it’s similar to a Yeti. The latches and carrying straps are functional, albeit not as high-quality and secure feeling. They still work fine, but you don’t get the same feeling you would from a Yeti.
Overall, a capable Yeti imitation, and the price tag is certainly much more appealing than the name brand.
Highly insulated walls with PU foam.
Durable rotomolded construction.
Convenient latches and straps.
Cupholders on roof of cooler.
Thick walls mean deceptively small storage compartment.
Not as capable as a Yeti, but that’s to be expected from the price.
The Earth Pak waterproof cooler features a unique design that we really like. It’s a convenient soft-cooler design, that features the best of both worlds – portability and functionality!
Insulation-wise, it’s quite capable. Thick NBR foam walls keeps food and drinks ice cold for up to 72 hours. Not as long as a hard cooler, but more than enough for a day at the beach!
It’s not the biggest cooler, but it’s a good size for the beach. It has a 20 can capacity, which should leave you enough space for a good amount of food & drink. It’s also highly portable, with convenient straps, handles, and even a top-pocket for your valuables!
Another cool feature is that there is an interior mesh tote bag. This allows you to lift out the interior contents, and tilt the cooler to pour out any melted ice. Draining is easy and intuitive!
Another one from our favourite classic cooler brand – Coleman.
This is a big cooler with one important feature for extra portability – wheels! If you’re looking for a cooler that you won’t have to carry around all day, these wheels provide some much-needed relief. The wheels are large and grippy, and will even work on a sandy beach.
And you’ll be happy you have the wheels, because this is a big cooler at 62-quarts. Plenty of room for loads of food and drinks, which means it can get quite heavy.
Aside from that, it’s a standard Coleman cooler design. It’s well-insulated, highly functional, and very useable. It’s easy to open and close, and even has handy cupholders on the roof. And if you don’t want to use the wheels, it still has handles so you can lug it the traditional way.
Big capacity – 62 quarts.
Cupholders on roof.
Made in the USA.
Leak resistant drain for easy emptying.
Not as insulated as other brands.
Wheels aren’t as durable as they could be.
Beach Cooler Buyer’s Guide
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to coolers. As is the case with many products, you might find yourself overwhelmed by choice. If you’re stumped, consider these factors to make your decision.
Size might be your biggest consideration! Most coolers list their sizes in quarts, or liters (which are close enough to a 1:1 conversion).
Of course, the main trade-off with size is that, the more storage you get, the heavier the cooler also gets. So you want a good mix of capacity with portability. Your best bet is to evaluate the size of your group, and be sure you have enough space in the cooler to pack for everyone. Anything over a 40-quart should get the job done for a beach day, but they can get a lot bigger than that!
A cooler’s primary purpose is to insulate your food & drinks, so insulation is always going to be a top consideration.
Typically, the insulation is the primary determinant of price. Yeti coolers have unquestionably superior insulation, with their thick PU walls and Fatwall technology, but this drives the price up rather significantly.
With insulation, you really just need to consider what you will be using the cooler for (ie. how long you need to keep stuff cold). A Coleman cooler with lesser insulation will be fine for a beach day, but if you want to keep stuff cold for longer trips, you’ll want to upgrade to a cooler with more extensive insulation (like the Yeti).
Drainage is a feature that people often don’t think about with cooler design. Having an easy way to drain melted ice goes a long way to keeping your cooler light as possible, and keeping the interior dry.
Look for a cooler that has a leak-proof drainage cap, that is also insulated to prevent cold-loss.
Interior compartments might also be a consideration worth giving some thought. Some coolers have handy interiors for dividing different foods, or separating food and drinks. Many other coolers have removeable inserts, which act as “racks” for separating food.
But do keep in mind that built-in compartments also tend to decrease the amount of space in the cooler itself.
Portability is a feature of a cooler which is determined by many things. The size of the cooler itself, combined with the heaviness of the materials, combined with design features that make the cooler easier to haul/transport.
Generally, the smaller the cooler, the more portable. But you also need to consider a cooler’s weight. And remember, the weight of a cooler is its weight empty, so also factor in how much you intend to pack.
Many coolers also sport neat features for added portability. Most coolers are designed to be carried with straps, and not all straps are created equal. For example, Yeti coolers have durable, padded rope straps that extend above the top of the cooler. Other coolers might have shoulders straps, or even wheels.
Price is a major consideration, but there’s a reason we saved it for last. Price is better considered in terms of price vs. quality. First evaluate the factors above, and then decide whether the advantages of the cooler are enough to justify the price tag.
Keep the Lid Closed: The most obvious piece of advice, but we had mention it!
Bring a Beach Umbrella: For a beach day, bring an umbrella so you can keep the cooler out of the sun.
Freeze the bottled water: A handy way to add more ice that you can drink later!
Put the ice in last: This ensures good coverage of all your supplies.
Pack food at the top: Not only so it doesn’t get crushed, but so you can reach it easily, and the cooler won’t be open too long!
Conclusion and Top Pick
Thanks for reading our guide to the best beach coolers! We tried to give you all the information to pick the best cooler for your personal needs.
Our personal favorite is the Coleman Heavy Duty. It simply provides the best mix of functionality without the exorbitant price tag. And while not as well-insulated as a premium cooler like the Yeti, it’s more than enough for a day at the beach! It also comes in a variety of sizes for you to choose from.