Summer days spent at the beach require a little extra equipment. You won't regret packing things like an umbrella to block the sun or, ideally, one of the best coolers for the beach to keep your snacks and drinks fresh.
But here's the thing: There are lots of portable cooler options out there, and looking for the perfect one can feel overwhelming. Do you go hard plastic over soft shell? How about wheels or no wheels? Are you willing to splurge a little or maintain a budget? Believe it or not, these are the types of cooler-related questions you should ask yourself during your search for the one that's right for you.
The good news is, I've compiled a list of versatile options as a quick and simple guide for you to shop, below. It doesn't matter if you're after a party-sized cooler or a personal-sized one for your own stash, there's something beach-ready here for you. Obviously, you don't need to explicitly use them for the beach, but they will look great with the rest of your Summer bag essentials — and some of them can even double as a tote with pockets for sunscreen and more. Just sayin'.
1. The Best Tote Bag Cooler
If you're on the hunt for a cooler that has all the functionality of a beach bag, then you'll want this aptly named, super flexible cooler from Wildhorn Tortuga. Featuring innovative specs like an insulated compartment with a welded liner that ensures freshness for up to 24 hours and two large mesh exterior compartments for maximum storage, it's ready to hold all your must-haves. To put its carrying capacity into perspective, you would be able to tote up to 24 cans plus 10 pounds of ice — comfortably, thanks to a padded shoulder strap. As for your valuables (aka your keys and wallet), it has a hidden pocket for those, too. One Amazon reviewer called it "the perfect cooler for the beach," writing: "This cooler is so big! I was kind of surprised when I received it. It’s sturdy and the strap is comfortable."
2. The Best Heavy Duty Cooler
Should you be planning a big beach soirée, you need a heavy duty, multifunctional cooler like this one from Coleman Xtreme. Its 120-quart capacity holds up to 204 cans without ice, but the chilling goodness doesn't stop there. This cooler's low CO2 insulation is made with Xtreme 5 technology capable of keeping ice frozen for up to five days in 90-degree heat. It has a UV-protected lid that's safe to sit on and comes with four, 2-inch cup holders built in. Plus, when the party's over, you don't need to do any tilting to drain the excess liquid — there's a valve and a threaded drain, making cleanup beyond easy. An Amazon customer put it to the beach test, and its cooling powers are the real deal. They noted, "Took it on a week long beach camping trip to coll [sic] the beer, meats and frozen foods. Used 6 ten pound ice blocks, still cold and had ice 7 days later."
3. The Best Cooler With Wheels
For an extra convenient beach cooler experience, go for one with wheels and a telescopic handle like the Igloo Ice Cube Roller Cooler. The hard plastic cooler has a limited one year warranty and holds up to 28 quarts of beach-ready food and drinks. But its handy soft ride wheels do more than just take the weight off your shoulders and back, they actually increase its cooling performance since the cooler has less contact with the hot ground. And should you absolutely need to pick it up, it has useful molded side scoop handles. Some Amazon reviewers actually recommend carrying it through dry sand, rather than pulling it, as its wheels can get clogged. Nevertheless, one customer confirmed that the wheels work better on wet sand, and the cooler itself "keeps products cold all day."
4. The Best Collapsible Cooler
If you don't have space to stash a larger cooler during the offseason, opt for something collapsible like The SnapBasket by CleverMade, which can be folded down to a mere 3 inches. Made of super durable and water-resistant nylon ripstop fabric, this sturdy cooler has a zippered front pocket, a back mesh pocket, and a completely leak-proof interior capable of storing more than 50 pounds of stuff. Its strap even has a built-in bottle opener! One happy Amazon customer raved, "Used my SnapBasket Cooler this past weekend at the beach and was very impressed. It insulates well and drinks stayed cold for the 5 or 6 hrs we were at the beach. I used the front pockets on the cooler for my car keys and the mesh back pocket for sunscreen."
5. The Best Mini Cooler
Sometimes you just want to keep a few items cool, and those times call for a mini beach cooler. This BPA-free, 5-quart one from Rubbermaid is compact yet able to hold up to six cans plus ice. It's double-walled with stain- and odor-resistant hard plastic and a secure lid, which keeps everything inside chilled AF and makes it a cinch to wipe clean. Even better, when you're not carrying this U.S.-made cooler around, its swing handle folds perfectly to the side, so you can easily access your snacks. Per an Amazon review, it's "a little smaller than I expected, but perfect to take to the beach or use as a small lunch box."
6. The Best Luxury Cooler
For a premium compact option, consider YETI's 2.8-pound Hopper Flip Portable Cooler that can stash up to six cans plus ice. Yes, its price point is way higher than its counterparts, but this personal-sized option has the ultra durable specs (seriously, YETI uses Hazmat-level materials) to back it up — from a ColdCell insulation with closed-cell foam to a waterproof and mildew-resistant DryHide Shell and a leak-proof Hydrolok Zipper. If the pictured gray-blue color isn't for you, it also comes in a tan-orange version. "As always, YETI lives up to it's name," wrote one satisfied Amazon customer. "Great cooler. Keeps ice as they say and zipper closes cooler tight!"
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