The Best Camping Coolers

The Best Camping CoolersServing to keep your meat fresh and your beer cold, the cooler is a vital part of both overnight and extended camping trips. While it can be tempting to purchase the cheapest cooler you can find, it pays to consider coolers that offer varying additional features and/or scored well in tests.

Coleman Steel Cooler

This heavy-duty steel cooler earned a top ranking in a cooler showdown in "Slate Magazine," in which coolers were put through a variety of tests including beer cooling, ice cream and beach testing. The Coleman Steel Cooler kept the beer cold for a total of three days (by that time you should be making a beer run for another 24-pack). The reviewer also liked the old-fashioned, ice-chest design. Coleman's Steel Cooler is offered in a 54-quart size in several different models, including a stainless steel version.

Coleman Ultimate Xtreme

The Coleman Ultimate Xtreme cooler actually scored better for cooling than the Steel Cooler in the "Slate Magazine" test, earning itself a perfect 20-point rating. Additionally, the Wheeled Ultimate Xtreme earned a 4-star (out of 5) rating on REI after four reviews. Coleman claims that the insulation of its Ultimate Xtreme cooler is enough to keep ice frozen for six days in 90 degrees F. The cooler offers 50 quarts of storage and features a set of burly wheels, making it easier to roll to the campsite. It also features four cup holders on the lid and a channel drain for no-lift water draining.

REI Backpack Cooler

Even with wheels, a cooler can be difficult to lug to and from the car, especially if your campsite is far along the beaten path. REI's Backpack Cooler combines a daypack with insulation to provide a cooler you can carry on your back. This backpack is great for hikes, short camping trips and picnics alike. REI reviewers gave the backpack a 4-star rating (10 reviews), providing good marks for cooling and durability. The backpack features two internal compartments with removable linings for cooling and provides 22 liters of space.

Engel Fridge-Freezers

In very hot weather and on long camping trips, the standard cooler may not provide enough protection to keep your food and beverages cold. Engel provides a full line of fridge-freezers designed for car camping, boating and other outdoor sports. These coolers plug into your vehicle's 12V power supply, offering both electric cooling and freezing capabilities. Some Engel coolers can also provide heat in the winter to prevent against freezing. Sizes range from small 14-quart models to large 84-quart tubs.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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