7 Different Types of Coolers Available Today

When it comes to keeping beverages cool and food fresh during outdoor picnics, trips, or even everyday use, coolers are a lifesaver. But not all coolers are created equal—there is a multitude of different types of coolers, each with unique features and use cases. From compact and portable soft-sided coolers to robust and high-capacity hard-shell coolers, there’s a cooler for every need and every occasion.

In this guide, we will explore seven types of coolers, with an emphasis on helping you understand which could be the best choice for your specific needs. Whether you’re looking for the best types of coolers for camping trips, picnics, or simply to keep your drinks cool at home, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover all types of coolers, including the impressive 72 oz variants, and make an informed decision on your next purchase.

Types of Coolers Quick Guide

Let’s take a look at the different types of coolers available, and what makes them unique.

  1. Soft-Sided Coolers – Soft-sided coolers are lightweight, portable, and generally the most affordable type of cooler.
  2. Hard-Sided Coolers – Hard-sided coolers are generally better insulated than soft-sided coolers, and they come in a variety of sizes.
  3. Backpack Coolers – Insulated backpacks are great for keeping food and drinks cold on the go.
  4. Patio Coolers – Patio coolers are large, stationary coolers that are perfect for keeping drinks cold while entertaining.
  5. Fishing and Camping Coolers – Fishing and camping coolers are designed to keep food and drinks cold for long periods of time in extreme temperatures.
  6. Travel Coolers – Travel coolers are designed to keep food and drinks cold while you’re on the move.
  7. Beach Coolers – Beach coolers are designed to keep your food and drinks cold while you’re enjoying a day at the beach.

Types of Coolers Explained

After exploring the various types of coolers available, let’s dive deeper into each type.

Soft-Sided Coolers

Fabric coolers, known for their collapsible design, are convenient to store when not in use. These lightweight and portable coolers are ideal for short outings like picnics or trips to the beach.

Soft-sided coolers come with various features such as wheels, telescoping handles, padded grips, exterior bungee cords, and mesh pockets for small items. Additionally, there are stylish cooler bags that resemble handbags or tote bags for those who prefer a fashionable option. Wine enthusiasts can find cooler bags tailored to their needs, complete with wine glasses, space for bottles, a cheese board, and even a blanket.

The best soft cooler models are crafted from durable materials like nylon, cotton-twill, heavy-duty vinyl, or canvas, ensuring longevity with proper care. Opt for a soft cooler or cooler bag with a removable liner and stain-resistant exterior for easy cleaning. Also, prioritize leak-resistant options equipped with a reliable zipper to prevent any unwanted spills.

Hard-Sided Coolers

Types of coolers

Plastic is the material of choice for some of the finest hard-sided coolers, offering exceptional strength and durability. Among the top contenders in the market, rotomolded coolers reign supreme as the epitome of ice chests.

Depending on the manufacturer, rotomolded coolers, also known as rotationally molded coolers, can keep ice cold for days, and in some cases, even up to a week or more. For specific details, consult the manufacturer’s label.

These coolers are built to last, and equipped with heavy-duty latches and hinges to deter animals and withstand rigorous use. UV-treated plastic models excel at keeping ice and perishables cold, even when exposed to the relentless sun.

Admittedly, rotomolded coolers tend to be heavier compared to other types. Some feature hinged handles for easier lifting, while others sport molded handles that remain fixed.

For a more budget-friendly alternative, consider hard-sided coolers with thick insulation in their walls and lids. Some are equipped with convenient lid latches, while others offer recessed hand-holds for easy access.

Backpack Coolers

Types of coolers

If you’re looking to take your cooler with you on the go, then a backpack cooler is an ideal option. These all-in-one coolers feature adjustable shoulder straps and a large capacity for food and drinks. Many come with mesh side compartments, as well as exterior pockets that provide plenty of extra storage space for snacks, keys, phones, and other items.

Most backpack coolers are made of waterproof materials for extra protection against the elements. The back panels generally have thick insulation to help keep food and drinks cold for hours, while the padded straps provide comfortable carrying without leaving marks on your shoulders.

Certain coolers come equipped with built-in drain plugs, while others require being turned upside down or on their side to empty. Additionally, models that feature dry storage compartments offer convenient space for storing picnic essentials like paper plates and utensils.

Patio Coolers

If you’re looking for a cooler specifically for your backyard, consider a stationary or wheeled patio cooler. These coolers are designed with convenience in mind. They feature a raised design, making it easy to access food, ice, and drinks.

You’ll find them available in a variety of attractive colors and styles, with some even equipped with locking casters to keep them in place. Additionally, there are buffet-style coolers that offer even more functionality. These coolers typically come with a built-in cooler area, one or two cabinets for storing glasses, napkins, and other essentials, and a countertop for mixing and serving drinks.

Fishing and Camping Coolers

Cooler storage nets

When it comes to camping, having the right cooler is key. The best coolers for camping not only offer the features you desire but also provide the storage capacity you need. If you prefer a wheeled cooler, opt for one with oversized, heavy-duty rubber wheels that can effortlessly navigate rough terrain.

For added security against wildlife, look for heavy-duty latches, hinges, and a lockable lid to keep those hungry bears at bay. And if you’re in need of an extra seat around the campfire, consider a hard-sided or rotomolded cooler that’s sturdy enough to double as a seat.

Of course, your camp cooler should also be weather-resistant and have sufficient insulation to keep your ice and other perishables cold for the duration of your outing. Take a look at the manufacturer’s label to determine how long you can expect your cooler to keep things chilled.

If you’re planning on fishing from a boat, a portable cooler may not be the best choice. Instead, opt for a hard-top model without wheels. Some fishing coolers even come with rulers built into the lid, making it easy to measure your catch on the spot.

Travel Coolers

Some travel coolers boast weather-resistant compartments specifically designed to safeguard your cell phones, laptops, and tablets. Other models go above and beyond, offering a plethora of additional features.

Certain travel coolers are equipped with SD and USB digital music players, as well as inputs for microphones and auxiliary jacks. While some travel models come with convenient wheels, others feature comfortable carrying handles or padded shoulder straps.

  • For excursions, beverage jugs, also known as beverage coolers, prove to be indispensable companions. Whether you need to hydrate during soccer practice or enjoy a refreshing drink at a picnic, a beverage jug is the perfect solution. Some even argue that the best cooler for a beach outing is in fact a beverage jug that is spacious enough to accommodate ice and cans, surpassing the need for water or any other beverage.
  • If style is of utmost importance, consider a cooler bag. The ideal cooler bag for you might be a soft-sided model that exudes the elegance of a fashionable handbag.
  • For ultimate convenience, thermoelectric coolers that eliminate the need for ice are the way to go. Powered by 12-volt systems, these coolers can be effortlessly plugged into your vehicle to keep your drinks and snacks refreshingly cold.

Beach Coolers

When choosing a cooler, it’s important to find one that aligns with your lifestyle and budget. Whether you’re carrying baby bottles or beer bottles, consider what works best for you. If you’re planning a trip to the shore, a beach cooler with wheels that can easily roll over the sand is a great choice.

Alternatively, a lightweight waterproof cooler with comfortable shoulder straps or carrying handles is also a good option. Stability is key, so look for a beach cooler that won’t tip over when you set it down.

Having extra dry storage space is a nice feature, allowing you to safely store your sunscreen, keys, and a book. If you’re planning to bring a towel, consider a beach cooler with a bungee cord or mesh compartment. This way, you can roll up your wet towel and keep it separate from everything else.

Common Questions About Types of Coolers

What size cooler should you choose?

When considering the ideal cooler size, keep in mind that a significant portion of the space will be occupied by ice. Opt for a tightly packed cooler to maximize coldness and duration, avoiding the purchase of an unnecessarily large one. Select a cooler that you find comfortable to carry. If additional space is required, contemplate acquiring two coolers to distribute the load evenly.

How can you pre-chill your cooler?

To maximize the longevity of coldness for your ice, drinks, and food, consider pre-chilling your cooler. A helpful tip is to add ice packs or bags of ice to your cooler the night before using it. Also, ensure that your drinks and food are already cold before placing them inside. Even if the bagged ice begins to melt, it will effectively lower the internal temperature, aiding in keeping everything perfectly chilled.

What to think about before choosing among types of coolers?

  • Before making a purchase, take a moment to consider how you will utilize the cooler. The ideal cooler is one that aligns with your specific requirements and budget. For instance, if you plan on grilling burgers in your backyard and keeping a few canned beverages within reach, it may be worth considering a compact, soft-sided cooler from the lower price range.
  • If you’re planning on camping, boating, or hunting, or if you’ll be away for days or even weeks, consider investing in a spacious and durable hard-sided cooler, also known as a chest cooler. These coolers provide ample room for ice, drinks, and food.
  • Coolers are crafted from various materials such as foam, plastic, metal, or fabric. Among them, stainless steel coolers and other metal variants are renowned for their robust build. Furthermore, coolers are available in a plethora of shapes and sizes. If you find yourself indecisive between two sizes, it’s advisable to opt for the larger one.
  • The storage capacity of a cooler is typically indicated in quarts, but it’s important to note that a 40-quart cooler may not offer a full 40 quarts of cold storage. Some of that space might be dedicated to keeping items dry and away from melted water.

How to choose a tailgating cooler?

If you only need to keep items cold for a day, there are a few options to consider. You can choose from a chest cooler, a soft-sided cooler, or a beverage jug cooler. It’s important to think about how much you’ll need to move it.

While wheels may not be necessary, ensure that the handles or straps are sturdy enough to handle the weight. Additionally, think about the convenience of an easy-access lid or a cooler with a lid-within-a-lid, as this will help to maintain the cold temperature of your air and ice.

Video Cooler Showdown 2024 | ORCA vs. Yeti vs. Canyon vs. GATR – Which cooler is the best???

Now that you identified what types of coolers you need, it is time to find out which brand and model is the best. In the following video, you’ll hear about a variety of features that make ORCA, Yeti, Canyon, and GATR suitable for different purposes.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the type of cooler you choose to purchase should be based on your unique needs and lifestyle. From stylish cooler bags, and convenient thermoelectric coolers, to spacious and durable hard-sided coolers, there is a wide range of options available. Remember to consider factors such as the cooler’s capacity, material, size, and additional features when making your decision.

By doing so, you ensure that you select the best cooler that will serve you well, whether you’re planning a beach outing, a camping trip, or just a simple family picnic. Remember, the perfect cooler is not only about keeping your food and drinks cold but also about enhancing your overall outdoor experience.


Photo of author
Hey there, I'm Chris. I love hitting the road for some adventure on the weekends. I believe in buying the absolute best, which led me to a quest for the perfect cooler. Frustrated with the lack of reliable info, I started reviewing coolers myself. At OKCoolers.com, I dive into the nitty-gritty details so you know exactly what you're getting. So stick around, get the facts, and let's stay cool together.
Photo of author
Hey there, I'm Chris. I love hitting the road for some adventure on the weekends. I believe in buying the absolute best, which led me to a quest for the perfect cooler. Frustrated with the lack of reliable info, I started reviewing coolers myself. At OKCoolers.com, I dive into the nitty-gritty details so you know exactly what you're getting. So stick around, get the facts, and let's stay cool together.