A vehicle cooler is a terrific purchase for your adventures on the move, whether you’re looking for one to make sure your groceries are chilled after a Costco haul, are going car camping for the weekend, or just want something to keep drinks cold in your SUV for a day trip. The sole issue? It’s more difficult than you might imagine to find the ideal car cooler for your needs.
This is due to the large number of options available, all of which differ in terms of the type of insulation used, the size, form, and price. To identify the finest portable vehicle cooler, I looked into and analyzed more than 30 various makes and types.
I scan hundreds of editorial evaluations written by boaters, campers, outdoor equipment specialists, and consumers to sort out the best from the rest. The products we suggest are the most comfortable to carry and offer the best insulation to keep your food and beverages colder for longer. Additionally, they are all small enough to fit in your car, as the name implies.
Brandon Carte Points to Bear in Mind
There are a few important considerations to address before you begin your search for the best vehicle cooler.
Here is a quick explanation of the most popular cooler types so you can determine which is best for your requirements.
Roto-molded coolers: These coolers are constructed from a single piece of plastic rather than from several sections attached together, making them more dependable and leak-proof. Roto-molded coolers are, however, frequently more expensive and heavier. However, roto-molded coolers, such as the popular Yeti Tundra model, do have a great appearance and are very durable. Furthermore, they maintain food and beverages’ coldest temperatures the longest.
Coolers with soft shells Nylon, robust vinyl, or canvas are often used to make soft coolers like the affordable Polar Bear 24-Pack. They retain cold less effectively than their hard-shelled counterparts because they are lighter and more portable. On the positive side, they frequently cost less and nevertheless maintain the coldness of your food and beverages for a long period.
Powered coolers: As might be expected, these coolers, made by companies like Dometic and ICECO, are plugged into a 100- to 240-volt AC outlet or the 12- to 24-volt accessory socket in your car. They have a compressor and essentially function as a mobile refrigerator or freezer, cooling your food and beverages instead of relying on ice. This implies that you can set them to a particular temperature in degrees.
Volume and Size
Bigger isn’t always better when looking for a car cooler, especially since they are sometimes associated with giving up cargo room. Small coolers often have capacities of less than 25 liters, while medium coolers have volumes between 35 and 45 liters. However, you can also choose a cooler with a volume of 65 to 100 liters or more.
Most families should acquire something between 30 and 45 liters, but if you want something portable and light enough to carry for a while, you might want to get something a bit smaller.
Inability to Cool
One of a soft or hard cooler’s most crucial features is unquestionably ice retention. However, a lot of automobile coolers contain compressors that connect into an outlet to keep them chilled. They frequently have accurate temperature control as well.
It’s important to note that some versions of electric coolers have multiple temperature zones, allowing you to bring both frozen and refrigerated meals.
Many automobile coolers utilize zippers to hold their lids closed, while others use hinges and latches, and even rely on magnets. Closure mechanisms may seem like a minor aspect of the product to criticize, but believe me when I say that often the simplest aspects are the most inconvenient. Therefore, we advise choosing your cooler’s closure mechanism before choosing one so you can quickly obtain a drink or a snack in an emergency.
Although preferences differ from person to person, hinged coolers provide for quick and easy access, which implies that if they aren’t locked, an animal or child might simply enter them as well. If you’re concerned that the cooler will spill and topple over, zippers can be useful. However, they are more difficult to open than magnetic coolers, which are less prone to leaks but require two hands to open.
Check out our top seven car coolers, which are ideal for your upcoming vacation wherever it takes you!
1 CFX3 portable refrigerator and freezer, 35-liters
superior in terms of quality than the competitors
internal LED lighting
temperature is reached after a few hours.
Tall objects cannot fit inside due to its size.
Costly (but worthwhile!)
35 liters in size
Weight: 37 lbs.
27.32 L x 15.67 W x 16.02 H inches in size
There’s a good reason why RVers, van lifers, and other people who lead more nomadic lives like Dometic coolers. Simply said, they are dependable, strong, and efficient. The only real drawback is how pricey they are; even the smallest and least expensive model will set you back about $700.
I suggest going with the 35-liter CFX3 model, which will keep your meals and beverages cool wherever you go. Temperatures as low as minus 7 degrees Fahrenheit can be reached with the automobile chiller. It is far better insulated than the competition, made to last longer, and has sturdy handles that make carrying it about simpler.
The cooler uses between 0.5 and 1 amp per hour and can be powered by either 110 or 12 volts (to maintain a temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.) You can store delicate food items like seafood or even medications with confidence thanks to its efficiency and accurate temperature control.
A complimentary smartphone app for the CFX3 gives consumers remote controls and a quick and simple way to check the temperature within the device. A Vancillary reviewer who has been using a Dometic cooler for more than three years termed it a “game-changer” and claimed it is well worth the expensive price.
2 Portable Car Refrigerator 35-Liter
Cup holders are on its lid.
Inside is an LED light.
Strong Key Specs
35 liters in size
Weight: 37 lbs.
27.17 L x 13.6 W x 15 H inches in size
Uncomfortably, the price range for electric car coolers is quite broad. Some even have a $1,500 price tag. With a median price of under $300, this choice from Euhomy is far more affordable than Dometic’s powered coolers. Since the Euhomy has two cooling zones, one can function as a refrigerator and the other as a freezer.
There are three sizes available for this choice, ranging from 35 to 55 liters. The least expensive model has storage for 36 drink cans. The cooler may be used in a hotel room, at home, or while traveling because it has adapters for both 110/240 volt AC and 12/24 volt DC power sources. Users of the Euhomy can regulate the device’s temperature anywhere between 4 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
For remote control, you can even sync it with your smartphone. The cooler is 30 pounds, which can be a bit much for some people. It does feature handles on its sides to make carrying it easier, but regrettably they are not as big as those on Dometic’s vehicle coolers.
3 Affordable 24-Pack Original Nylon Soft Coolers
simple to clean
Its diminutive stature can seem constricting.
A word about availability: This product may be in and out of stock at different times due to rising demand. As it becomes available once more, we’ll keep monitoring and refreshing the links. We also advise this soft cooler from AO if the Polar Bear is sold out.
10 liters in size
Weight: 4 lbs.
18 L x 12 W x 10 H inches in size
This reasonably priced, long-lasting soft cooler is narrow enough to fit on the floor mat behind your front seat and has space for 24 soda cans and 14 pounds of ice. Even in the summer, it has excellent insulation and keeps ice frozen for 24 hours. It has a useful shoulder strap and comes in a variety of colors.
The coolers from Polar Bear performed the best, even matching the performance of hard coolers, according to my colleagues at Best Products’ sister site, Good Housekeeping. Additionally, the tester noted that it was “extremely easy to clean.”
4 Easy to utilize Roadie 24 Cooler Latches
Could use a little bit longer strap
23 liters of capacity
Weight: 13 lbs.
17.5 L x 14 W x 16.5 H inches in size
Due to its taller and narrower dimensions, the Yeti Roadie 24 cooler is a fantastic choice for day excursions and is perfect for being stored in the backseat of your car. It has enough for 24 cans and a 10-pound bag of ice to be stacked. It is also tall enough to hold wine or 2-liter bottles because the interior height is 13 inches.
The Roadie 24 will not let you down in terms of insulation or ice retention. The cooler kept my drinks cold for three days when I pre-chilled it for a few hours before a weekend excursion during my tests.
It’s bigger and more simpler to get in and out of than Yeti’s soft coolers like the Hopper 18 because they don’t have zippers. This is due to the ease with which one hand can be used to unhook its locks. However, the zippers on Yetis are very difficult to open without two hands.
The cooler’s base has rubber feet, which I appreciate because they give some friction to keep it steady and prevent it from moving. One more wonderful benefit? When you need a seat while you’re out and about, the Roadie is the ideal height to serve as a stool.
For the less than ideal, I would have like a longer strap. The cooler swings around when loaded and can easily bang into your shin because it isn’t long enough to be carried on the shoulder.
Overall, the Roadie 24 is a compact yet reliable cooler that outperforms rival coolers in terms of ice retention. It’s a great option for a day at the beach or a trip for two because of its practical size and design.
5 JP60Pro 60-Liter portable refrigerators
Strong rotomolded construction Reliable compressor with a 5-year warranty
No interior lighting
Latches are hard and difficult to remove.
60 liters of capacity
Weight: 56 lbs.
29.3 L x 19.5 W x 18.8 H inches in size
One of the vehicle coolers with the most features available is the ICECO JP60Pro. The cooler has two rulers for measuring fish (one in inches and the other in centimeters), four cup holders on the top lid, and rubber-like latches to keep it shut.
For a family of four, this 60-Liter cooler has more than enough room, and it can easily hold 60 soda cans. I was pleased to learn that the cooler had two handles on each side given its size, which is large—it is around 30 inches long, 19 inches tall, and weighs 56 pounds. The other two are situated near the cooler’s rim, and one set has rope handles with comfortable grips.
Its base has a drain plug on the left side for dumping melting ice, and on the right side, close to the handle, is a handy bottle opener. With a control panel positioned on the side, users may simply set (and view) the temperature.
The ICECO is a very dependable cooler that fared “very well” at controlling its temperature, according to YouTuber Jasonoid. Fortunately, a DC to AC adapter is included even though the auto cooler can only be powered by DC power. Given its size, the fridge will typically draw 1.08 amp-hours every hour, which is impressive.
Last but not least, it’s important to point out that ICECO comes with a chopping board and a practical wire basket to keep food organized. It can also be purchased with a set of detachable 6.5-inch wheels, which makes moving it simpler.
6 Tundra Coolers 45
sufficient volume yet remaining compact enough to fit in most trunks
contains a dry basket
2L bottles of wine or soda cannot be uprighted because they are too short.
Dimensions: 35.6 liters
Weight: 23 lbs.
25.8 L x 16.1 W x 15.4 H inches are the measurements.
The Yeti Tundra 45 hard-shell cooler is the perfect travel companion for a long weekend getaway or camping trip because it is just a little bit bigger than a checked piece of luggage. Rope handles, a rubber seal around the top, a metal dry storage basket, and tie-down loops are all features of the rotomolded cooler.
This option has a 35-liter capacity as opposed to the Roadie 24’s 23-liter capacity, which is a 55% increase. Additionally, it has a drain system so you can conveniently remove any melted ice. It should be noted that the Tundra 45 weighs 23 pounds when empty, which is unusually substantial for a vehicle of its size. The biggest hard-shell Yeti cooler that a single person can easily hold is definitely this one.
Although the Yeti Tundra 45 is more expensive than the majority of coolers, it is incredibly tough, has a ton of interesting colors, and keeps ice longer than the competition to keep inside temperatures low. It even resists bears!
7 Portable Fridge Freezers VL75ProD 75-Liter
Lids can be removed entirely or opened both ways.
The handles are plastic.
Dimensions: 75 liters
Weight: 56 lbs.
38.3 L x 18.3 W x 18.1 H inch measurements
For large families, extended road trips, and people who desire a car cooler with two zones that can each be controlled independently of one another, the ICECO VL75ProD is the perfect choice. The cooler is effectively divided in half, with a different lid on each side. In this manner, one side can serve as a refrigerator, and the other as a freezer. Of course, if you only want to freeze or chill your stuff, you can choose the same temperature for each side.
The cooler has a steel casing and plastic bumpers, giving it a very sturdy construction. It contains a sealed control panel that is waterproof and has two USB connections for charging your devices. Additionally, it has two bins and bright LED lights on either side to keep things organized. If you choose to use ice and need to drain it after it melts, this option also includes two drains.
The ICECO’s lids are simpler to open than the Dometic CFX3 75, allowing you to access your items more quickly even if you’re in the front seat. The lids can actually open in either direction! Users of the ICECO and Dometic coolers can, if necessary, completely remove the lids. Additionally, users of the Dometic cooler are able to simultaneously plug it into 12- and 120-volt outlets. The coolers made by Dometic, however, are frequently several hundred dollars more expensive than those made by ICECO.
If you have room for it, this enormous cooler (which weighs a whopping 67 pounds) will provide more than enough space to keep your food and beverages cold and fresh. Although it typically costs over $1,000, which is hard to swallow, it is still less expensive than the competition and still has a trustworthy compressor and a sturdy build.
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