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Best Small Cooler: Buying Guide and Our Top Picks (Review 2021)

When it comes to coolers it can feel like you’re faced with enormous bulky boxes which don’t fit your requirements. However, there are plenty of small coolers out there that suit multiple purposes. You might be looking for something small enough to keep your lunch in, or a cooler that would be suitable for a solo camping trip. Whatever you need it for there will be a small cooler out there that is perfect for you. Let’s take a look at some of the considerations you need to make before purchasing the best small cooler and delve into some reviews of our favorite picks around.

Our Top Picks

#1 Best Small Ice Chest Cooler: Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler with Cool Riser Technology

For a cooler that is super portable, durable, and designed for long days camping out in the wild, this cooler will keep your goods cold for days at a time.

#2 Best Small Cooler with Wheels: Coleman’s Rolling Hard Cooler

For a cooler on wheels that offers 5 days ice retention and room for up to 84 cans, this portable cooler gives you more bang for your buck than most coolers on the market.

#3 Best Small Cooler for the Money: Coleman’s 30-Can Soft Cooler

For a great looking cooler with space for up to 30 cans, this cheap but cheerful soft cooler will keep ice as ice for up to 24 hours.

#4 Best Soft Small Cooler: Yeti’s Hopper Two Portable Cooler

For the cream of the crop, this cooler truly rises to the top when it comes to the world of soft coolers. Designed for long-haul trips, this soft cooler keeps ice intact for days at a time and is 100% leak-proof.

#5 Best Hard Sided Small Cooler: Yeti’s Tundra Hall Portable Hard Cooler on Wheels

For a small hard-sided cooler that stands out from the crowd when it comes to portability and ice retention, this is the best small cooler box for people with a big budget.

What can a small cooler be used for?

Once you’ve got a small cooler you will begin to wonder how you lived without it as they come in handy in so many situations. Ever thought about keeping a cooler in your car? Many find the best small cooler for car to be incredibly useful, be it to keep your lunch fresh on a long journey or for use in transporting perishable goods from the grocery store. Some mums swear by small coolers for transporting expressed breast milk, to ensure the milk is kept fresh using the best small cooler for breast milk. Another great use for a small cooler is for camping, especially if you want to enjoy a cold beer at the end of the day. Check out our reviews below to find the best small cooler for camping.

 

Buying Guide: What to look out for when purchasing a small cooler

#1 Size

Obviously, if you’re reading this article you want your cooler to be small. However, there are subtle variances in what ‘small’ constitutes when it comes to a cooler. Make sure you check out the dimensions when selecting your small cooler as you don’t want to end up with something much bigger than you expected when all you wanted was a small bag to take your lunch to work in.

#2 Portability

A small cooler, of course, needs to be portable. But some small coolers are more portable than others in terms of how they can be carried. Check out the handles on the small cooler to see how easy it will be to transport. It might be that the best small cooler backpack is the perfect option for you if you’re planning on carrying the cooler a long way.

#3 Soft vs Hard Cooler

When perusing small coolers you’re likely to come across both soft and hard coolers. These descriptions are pretty self-explanatory, a small cooler has a soft outer layer whereas a hard cooler has a hard outer case. The type you need will depend on what you’re using it for and how far you’re going to need to carry it. A soft cooler will be lighter so better in terms of portability, however, a hard cooler will be able to withstand more rigorous activities so a better choice if you’re going somewhere adventurous.

#4 Insulation

The main purpose of your small cooler is to keep things cool and fresh so the insulation needs to be top-notch. To find the best insulated small cooler look at the number of hours the cooler promises to keep food and drinks cool for. Small coolers that are used for keeping lunch fresh should be able to last for between 6-8 hours. Whereas, if you’re looking for a small cooler to take on a camping trip look for one that promises at least 24 hours of insulation.

#5 Durable

In a world where we are increasingly needing to make things last rather than replacing them frequently, purchasing a durable small cooler is better for both your pocket and the environment. This is why it is a good idea to not always go for the cheapest option, and check out some reviews of your chosen small cooler to see how long it can be expected to last for. Some users of a small cooler do not require it to withstand much hardship (such as lunch coolers), however, if you’re planning on carrying your small cooler up a mountain it’s likely you will need one that can cope with this terrain. Ensure you choose a cooler to suit your requirements and that it has the durability to match.

#6 Waterproof and Leak-proof

When transporting food and drink around the last thing you want is a leak. Look for small coolers that promise to be leak-proof to prevent any unwanted accidents. Equally, you also don’t want any water getting in and ruining your carefully prepared dinner. For this reason, look for a small cooler that can also protect the goods inside from the elements and promises to be waterproof.

Best Small Cooler: Our Top Picks

If you’re looking for the best rated small cooler you’ve come to the right place. In this next section, we take a look at some of the best portable small coolers around so that you will soon be enjoying fresh homemade food wherever the mood takes you.

#1 Best Small Ice Chest Cooler: Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler with Cool Riser Technology

If you’re looking for the best cooler ice box that is compact and portable then check out this top product from Igloo. It is rated one of the best small coolers for ice retention thanks to its ability to retain ice for 4-5 days. A great choice if you’re planning a short camping trip and want something that can keep your perishable items fresh during that time.
This ice chest cooler is also the best small cooler to keep things frozen when a few ice packs are added. The design of this small ice chest can be described as ‘heavy-duty’ thanks to its robust blow-molded construction and reinforced base. Despite its heavy-duty exterior, this ice chest is also lightweight so it is not too cumbersome to carry on short trips. This is a smart purchase that is great value for money.
#Igloo #Frozen #Ice_Chest #Ice_Box #Ice_Retention #Camping

#2 Best Small Cooler for the Money: Coleman’s 30-Can Soft Cooler

If you are after a cooler with a decent amount of space but only have a small budget, then this cheap and cheerful cooler will tick every box. Suitable for up to 30 cans, the decent ice retention of this cooler will keep your ice from melting for a good 24 hours even in high temperatures. The handy strap can be adjusted to fit anyone’s size making it comfortable to carry even when full to the brim. For an affordable cooler with space, this product is hard to beat.
Other benefits of this cooler are that: it has a flexible liner that is easy to clean and resists things like mold and fungus forming when in storage; the wide open top grants you easy access whether you keep it on your shoulder or have set it up at your camp or party; it has heat-welded seams that make it leak-proof even once the ice melts, and; it has a range of handy pockets to store dry goods in too. The downside of this cooler is that it does just have one strap which some people struggle on longer journeys with.
#Small_Cooler #Small_Soft_Cooler  #Small_Colemans_Cooler #Portable_Cooler #Value_Cooler

#3 Best Small Cooler with Wheels: Coleman’s Rolling Hard Cooler

If you’re looking for a cooler on wheels that offers excellent ice retention and is not too bulky, then this great value product is worth checking out. Perhaps not technically that small, offering up to an impressive 84 cans worth of space, this device still manages to be handy and portable. You can drag your beer cans all the way to the party and share them with everybody with this impressive cooler designed for long parties.
Other pros of this cooler are that: it offers up to 5 days of ice retention even in temperatures reaching as high as 95 Degrees Fahrenheit; the wheels are durably designed making this cooler portable and capable of dealing with bumpy terrain; it has 4 handy cup holders in the lid making it perfect for sharing drinks with friends; the lid is also strong enough to be used as a seat. The downside of this cooler is that is it not that small and the handle can get a bit sticky and jam open.
#Cooler_On_Wheels #Colemans_Cooler #Wheelie_Cooler #Ice_Retention_Cooler #Party_Cooler

#4 Best Soft Small Cooler: Yeti’s Hopper Two Portable Cooler

If you’re looking for the best soft cooler money can buy, then Yeti is the best brand for coolers by a long shot. This cooler is their top of the range soft cooler offering waterproof protection to your goods alongside days and days of ice-cold freshness. Whilst only offering a single strap carrying hold, the tapered design of the bag itself makes this more comfortable to carry in this way than other single strap coolers. If you have the budget, this soft cooler won’t let you down.
Other great things about this cooler are that: it is 100% leak-proof so won’t leak out from within; it has space for 24 cans and up to 30lbs in weight; it has a HydroLok Zipper which ensures maximum ice retention is maintained, leaks are prevented, and you still have easy access to your cooler’s contents, and it has a durable design that will ensure this cooler lasts for years and years offering the same quality. The downside of this cooler is the incredible price tag that it comes with.
#Yeti #Small_Yeti_Cooler #Best_Yeti_Soft_Cooler #Best_Cooler #Travel_Cooler

#5 Best Hard Sided Small Cooler: Yeti’s Tundra Hall Portable Hard Cooler on Wheels

If you know you’re going to be out in the wild for some time, then hard sided coolers are definitely the road you should go down as they offer ice retention for days or even a week at a time. Whether you plan on a long fishing trip at sea, or a few days camping in a national park, this hard sided cooler is a great choice if you have the budget. The built-in indestructible wheels and casing ensure your goods stay safe from bumps, outside water, and even bears!
Other things to like about this hard sided cooler form Yeti are that: it has space for 45 cans; it has permafrost insulation that ensures your ice stays as ice for up to 12 days; the rotomolded construction means it is completely indestructible; the handle is comfortable and doesn’t suffer from sticking as is common on cheaper models, and; the built-in wheels will never go flat and deal well with the toughest of terrains. The downside of this cooler is the cost and the fact it weighs 37lbs when empty.
#Hard_Sided_Cooler #Small_Hard_Sided_Cooler #Permafrost_Cooler #Yeti_Cooler #Yeti

Conclusion

When buying a cooler, you need to think about budget, size, portability, ice retention, and whether you want it to be hard or soft-sided. These days, soft-sided coolers do a great job and some even go past 24 hours of full ice retention. The coolers above are our favorites for people with different needs and budgets to help you find the right cooler to match your needs.

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