The Best Small Hard Cooler: Greatest Buying Guide In 2022

Hailey Abbott By, Hailey Abbott
Updated
Coleman 9 Quart Excursion Cooler, Red
Image credit: Amazon.com

The Rundown

1. Best Overall: Coleman 9 Quart Excursion Cooler, Red

The Coleman 9 Quart Red Excursion Cooler is a durable, lightweight cooler with a 9-quart capacity. The integrated lid hinges are designed to withstand repeated opening and closing, while the one-piece design and durable construction make this cooler perfect for outdoor use. Read Review

2. Runner Up: Igloo 12-16 Qt Profile Hardsided Insulated Lunch Cooler

Igloo Lunch Coolers are built to keep your lunch cool and fresh. The bail handle folds flat into the liner for easy stacking and storage and the Cool Riser Technology elevates away from hot surfaces so you can enjoy your meal without interruption. Read Review

3. Best Leak Proof: YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, Charcoal

Go from day to night on the go and keep your food, drinks and gear ice cold with the YETI Roadie 24 Cooler. This cooler has been optimized for a tall build so it can accommodate a standard bottle of wine upright. It's also got a better fit behind the driver's or passenger's seat of a car for easy transport. Read Review

4. Best For Traveling: Pelican 14 Quart Personal Cooler (White/Grey)

The Pelican 14 Quart Personal Cooler offers a watertight storage for your drinks and food with a built-in drain plug. This cooler is made to last and handles nearly any environment. The lid also has a unique no-leak valve that locks in freshness so you can stay refreshed on your next adventure. Read Review

Hard-sided coolers are one of the most versatile kitchen appliances to have in your home. They’re capable of holding a wide variety of foods, making it easy to store leftovers and keep perishable goods fresh. However, having a hard cooler isn’t just about storing different types of food.

It’s also about finding the best small hard cooler that offers the right features at the right price. This is why we put together this buying guide to help you find the perfect hard cooler for your needs.

You can count on our team of experts who have spent over 18 hours conducting surveys through 61,204 real customer reviews. Because of this, we came to the conclusion that the best-reviewed product is Coleman 9 Quart Excursion Cooler, Red. And Igloo 12-16 Qt Profile Hardsided Insulated Lunch Cooler is another choice for you while keeping the product's quality and functionality.

Our Top Picks

TOP Choice #1 Coleman 9 Quart Excursion Cooler, Red
Our Score:
9.8
Coleman
  • Portable beverage cooler with 9-quart capacity
  • Large enough to hold 9 cans or a full meal
  • Durable integrated lid hinges withstand repeated opening and closing
  • Convenient bail handle folds flat into liner for easy stacking and storage
  • Media slot molded into lid holds cell phone or notebook upright for hands-free viewing
  • Bail handle folds flat into liner for easy stacking and storage
TOP Choice #3 YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, Charcoal
Our Score:
9.6
YETI
  • The Roadie 24 is 10% lighter in weight and holds 20% more than a Roadie 20, it even performs 30% better thermally
  • It's got a taller build than its predecessor, so it now accommodates a standard bottle of wine (or 2 liter bottle) upright, and is a better fit behind the driver's or passenger's seat of a car
  • The Roadie 24 holds 18 cans with a 2:1 ice-to-can ratio or 24 lbs of just ice. It measures 16 1/2” L × 14 1/2”W × 17 1/2” H
  • MADE TO LAST: 3 year warranty
  • DRY BOX: Built in dry storage compartment features a push button latch and tablet/phone easel slot
  • INCLUDES: Inner try for non-perishables to stay cool and dry, and a snap-in, flexible lid organizer
  • Leak-resistant gasket
  • Rugged latches + handle
  • Cup holders: Molded into the lid to keep drinks close and prevent spilling
  • Xtreme Technology; Insulated lid and extra wall insulation keep ice up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90°F
  • High capacity: Holds up to 84 cans
  • STAIN-RESISTANT LINER: For easy cleanup; leakproof channel drain plug
  • FULLY INSULATED: Lid and body Keeps the Ice up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90°F; logo color on cooler may vary
  • EASY TO OPEN: Recessed lip for easier access to contents
  • Mobile And Multifaceted: Use the heavy-duty rope handles to take the 65 anywhere and when you need an extra hand—this cooler doubles as a step stool, tabletop, or cutting board.
  • A Sidekick For Every Adventure: Rotomolded construction makes this cooler tough enough to handle every excursion—from off-roading in Moab to the peak of any mountain.
  • Temperature Retentive: The 3-inch foam insulated walls plus the cool-lift design feature will make worrying about your ice melting a thing of the past.
  • STAYS COLD FOR DAYS: When big adventure calls, don't rely on lunch boxes! When precooled, the foam in Cordova's Basecamp Class Hard Cooler keeps refreshments chill for days. With up to a 19.5-pound or 28-can capacity, you can pack this cooler size light or heavy.
  • PACK LIKE ITS PERSONAL: The top loading latches help you fill this camping cooler to the last inch with supplies while keeping them accessible. We added a bottle opener to help you toast the rugged life and a bear-resistant, lockable lid to keep your snacks safe.
  • HEAVY-DUTY & USA-MADE: Our ice cooler is handcrafted in the USA, and the rotomold cooler creation process makes it ready to reuse. Empty excess water with the drain plug to prep the cooler for another day or the next family camping or beach trip.
  • 【Multiple Scenarios】Oarlike Hard Cooler is ideal for Camping, Hiking, Picnic, BBQs, Fishing, Traveling, Tailgating Outdoor Activities,If there is any question. Please feel free to contact us. We would like to provide you a pleasing solution within 24 hours.
  • 【Large Capability】The external size is 23.4” x 14.2” x 15”.The internal size is 18.1” x 9.6” x 10.4”. With 35QT capability,the hard cooler can hold all the refrigerated food you need for the outdoor activity.
  • 【Humanized Design】Design with the 2 built in cup holder,which is convenient for Camping, Picnic, BBQs, Fishing, Traveling,The fish rule on the lip is designed for the angler.There is a drain outlet with plug as well.You can remove water without turning the cooler upside down
Product Images, Product Titles, Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Are the Key Factors for Customers to Follow to Pick best small hard cooler?

A range of influences contributes to the best small hard cooler. Depending on the product, there are several ways to study it. As a result, we've come to lend a hand, offer advice, and offer answers to these issues.

A thorough search of trustworthy websites should be conducted using as many resources as feasible. Our experts use high-tech tools and a well-tuned product listing system to provide a sort of service.

It'd also be fascinating to go more into the development and analysis of these aspects. Consider the following tips in mind:

Cooler Sizes (Capacities)

A few things to consider before we get started: Size. Importantly, coolers do not measure the interior capacity of all models. Some coolers use cans to measure interior capacity, others use liters or quarts. However, most manufacturers use quarts as a unit of measure. We've used that measurement in this article when it was possible. A final point: Don't let the product name fool you.

Wheeled (Rolling) Coolers

We mentioned above that if you have cooler needs such as mobility and large capacity or maximum ice retention it is a good idea to look into a hard-sided rolling model. These wheeled monsters can still be difficult to maneuver on uneven terrain, and will need assistance if there is no clear path. A rolling cooler is a good choice for camping, tailgating or days at the beach.

Bear-Resistant Ratings

Many top-rated hard-sided coolers can be listed as being bear-resistant. This is an important consideration if you are camping in bear territory. You should specifically look out for IGBC ratings. This indicates that a cooler has been tested and is in compliance with their regulations. You should ensure your cooler is included if you plan to travel in bear-proof gear or frequent backcountry areas.

Ice Retention And Cooling Capabilities

Ice retention is one of the most difficult things to determine when researching coolers. This is largely due to external factors. The temperature of the air and direct sunlight have a significant impact. Ice quantity is also important. Most brands suggest a ratio of 2:1. You should also open the lid as often as possible to let warm and cold air into your cooler. Pre-chilling your cooler before loading it is a good idea to ensure maximum efficiency. To reduce the cooler's interior temperature, you should fill it with ice at least for a couple of hours. Once you are ready to go, add fresh ice in the right ratio. You can also expect your cooler to become pre-warmed if it is left out in the sunlight before you load it up.

Weight And Portability

Weighing your cooler is an important factor for those who will be carrying it or moving it around regularly. For models with less capacity, they can weigh as little as 10-15 pounds and up to 50+ for those that have 75+ quarts storage. This number goes up dramatically when you load it down with food and drinks. Even though the handles are made of rope, some are plastic and others are nylon. They are too heavy to be carried for extended distances. We recommend wheels if portability is important. They are easier to carry for longer periods of time and more convenient for one person, so they're less burdensome.

Cooler Construction

There are two main types of construction techniques used to make premium hard-sided coolers: injection molding and rotational molding. Yeti popularized rotomolding (even though they weren't technically the first company to do so) and is the dominant market at the top end. This type of cooler is made from a single, continuous piece of plastic which is then rotated to form the desired shape. These coolers have fewer stress points, so they are more likely to break under pressure. They also feature a thicker outer shell that ensures exceptional durability. Cost and weight are the main drawbacks.

Cooler Drain Systems

Many of our hard-sided coolers have drainage systems that allow you to drain the water out once the ice is melted. This is usually a pop-off or screw-on cap located at the bottom of cooler. Simply remove it and let the water flow out.

Cooler Latch And Closure Systems

The cooler's closure or latch is a key feature of premium models and will play a major role in cooling performance. Two rubber T-handles are a common feature on high-end, hard-sided coolers. They keep the lid in place and prevent it from opening. They are extremely sturdy and user-friendly.

FAQs

Can I Use Dry Ice In A Cooler?

Most times, the answer is yes. Some coolers can be damaged by dry ice, but the majority should work fine. However, you will need to cover dry ice with blankets or other insulators. A cooler designed for dry ice is best if you plan to use it every day. You won't have to do any special tasks because the cooler has compartments to store dry ice.

How Does A Portable Cooler Work?

Combining the insulation of the cooler with the ice you put inside, either ice cubes, ice packs, or foam, slows down warm air circulation and helps keep things cool.

What Is The Best Hard Cooler?

There are many coolers. It really doesn't matter which cooler you choose. A cooler that is more resistant to damage will be the most suitable if you intend on using it every week.

Does Food Stay Cool In A Portable Cooler Without Ice?

But it will take longer than if you put ice inside the cooler. Insulation in the cooler stops food from heating up faster than if left out. The temperature of the cooler and how chilled the food were at the beginning will determine the time it takes to cool down. Even frozen foods will heat up faster if they are kept cool in a trunk compartment of a vehicle.

How Do I Clean My Cooler?

Warm water and dish soap will generally clean your cooler. You can also use warm water and bleach to remove stubborn stains or odors.

How Long Does A Cooler Stay Cold?

It all depends on how efficient the cooler is at insulation. This includes the temperature outside, initial temperature of food and its stacking. Food can be kept cold for up to 4 days with ice (the best), in ideal conditions. A high-end cooler may even keep it chilled for as long as 10 days.

How Much Do Coolers Cost?

Consider what your cooler will be used for. If you need it to store food or drinks for several days or at extreme temperatures then more money is an investment in food safety. A cooler that is cheap and cheerful may suffice if you just need to chill a handful of drinks for an afternoon barbecue.

Which Size Cooler Do I Need?

Although you might feel compelled to buy a large cooler, make sure it fits in the car. Smaller coolers can be lifted without the need for assistance. However, coolers with larger capacities can hold more ice and so tend to stay cool longer than smaller models.
Higher coolers can store bottles more upright. Models with recessed lids are better for loading items higher, but they may become warmer.

We decide facts since we are product consulting professionals with extensive expertise. Even so, we maintain and update the list of best small hard cooler so the information is correct and up to date.

After reading this article, you should discover that selecting a best small hard cooler that is both handy and economical to you is not difficult. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you require assistance.


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About Hailey Abbott

Hailey Abbott
Hailey Abbott is an outdoor enthusiast and freelance writer for CampfireUSA. She has a passion for hunting and fishing, which she often enjoys with her family and friends. Hailey also enjoys staying active through sports such as golf, basketball, and softball. Hailey has worked as an editor for several years, providing content that is both accurate and engaging. She has also had the opportunity to interview numerous experts in various fields. This wealth of experience gives her a unique perspective when writing about the outdoors and other topics.

Read Hailey's full bio