Nothing beats an ice-cold beverage while relaxing on the beach. Nothing is worse than reaching for an icy drink and finding your cans swimming. Coolers are essential for family days on the sand. A good modern cooler will keep food and drinks fresh for days. In addition to beverages, fishermen rely coolers to keep bait fresh, and hopefully the catch of the day. Walk onto any beach or pier in North or South Carolina and you’ll see a plethora of cooler models and sizes. Cooler technology has advanced rapidly in modern years. Top-end hard-sided coolers can keep ice frozen for a week. Soft coolers are easier for one person to carry onto a beach, but can still keep food cool for days. Cooler materials and price points vary wildly, so we put together this guide with our recommendations for your coastal vacation.

We were not provided with free or discounted products to review. These recommendations were not influenced by manufacturers. We did, however, heavily consider customer reviews at retail websites when deciding which products to feature. We like these products, but we took care to make sure other vacationers agree. Some of the product links include affiliate codes. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Prices listed are updated regularly, but subject to change at any time.

Best High-End Hard-Sided Cooler:

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler, Chartreuse

Yeti Tundra


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

Yeti built its empire by offering best-of-class products for years. The Yeti Tundra offers 2 inches of polyurethane foam insulation in the walls and lid and a freezer gasket seal. Yeti coolers are extremely durable, and tubs are constructed in one piece utilizing food-grade materials. Yeti also included non-slip rubber feet, recessed leak-proof drain plug, a dry goods rack (great feature!), and a locking top. Heavy-duty T-latches fasten the lid securely closed. Strong rope handles make carrying the Tundra easy, and locking this cooler to a deck or boat is quick with tie-down slots. Finally, boaters will appreciate that the outer dimensions of the various Tundra models match many popular marine coolers, making it easy for you to upgrade your old marine cooler. Yetis are big, heavy, provide top-level performance and are priced accordingly. You can’t go wrong with a Yeti Tundra.

Best Mid Range Hard-Sided Coolers

RTIC Ultra-Light 32 Quart Hard Cooler Insulated Portable Ice Chest Box for Drink, Beverage, Beach, Camping, Picnic, Fishing, Boat, Barbecue, 30% Lighter Than Rotomolded Coolers, Patriot

RTIC Ultra-Light 32qt Cooler


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

The RTIC Ultralight 32QT Hard Insulated Cooler is a high-performance, durable cooler designed for outdoor enthusiasts who prioritize both efficiency and ease of transport. Weighing in at ~13lbs., this 32-quart cooler offers ample space, perfect for camping trips, picnics, or beach outings, while ensuring that your food and drinks remain chilled for extended periods. The 32qt can hold ~48 cans and ~30lbs. of ice.

Coleman Reunion Premium Insulated Portable Cooler, Leak-Resistant 54qt Steel Belted Cooler with Heavy-Duty Latch, Handles, Drain & Bottle Opener, Great for Camping, Tailgating, Beach, Picnic, & More

Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

You likely remember your parents Coleman cooler. Today’s steel-belted cooler from Coleman is just like the one you remember, but adds modern touches. These coolers offer great retro style in a number of colors. They’ve got space to put 2-liter bottles upright, or hold 85 cans, enough for even the largest family beach outing. With the lid closed, these coolers serve as seats. The leak-resistant drain doesn’t require tipping to drain. The latch and hardware are stainless. Some models come with retro-style bottle openers on the front. Coleman offers a 6 year warranty on the steel belted cooler.

Of course, with a lower price point comes some compromises. Handles are advertised as “comfort”, but we find them to be very basic. While the insulation is good enough to keep drinks cold all day, you’ll need to add ice more frequently than Yeti and Cabela’s models. If you can live with those trade-offs, you’ll have plenty left over for food, drinks or bait. Nevertheless, these are solid coolers from a company with decades of experience. Check out color options and great reviews for the Coleman Steel Belted Cooler.

Best Budget Hard-Sided Cooler

Coleman 316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler with Heavy Duty Latches, Leak-Proof Outdoor High Capacity Hard Cooler, Keeps Ice for up to 5 Days

Coleman 316 Series Coolers


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

The Coleman 316 Series Insulated Coolers offer top-notch cooling performance perfect for a day at the beach. These coolers come in various sizes to suit different needs, including 52qt, 70qt, 120qt, giant 150qt.

Constructed with high-quality insulation, the Coleman 316 series maintains ice for up to 3 days in temps as high as 90F, ensuring your items stay chilled even in Summer temperatures. The robust design is not only durable but also features a leak-resistant channel drain for easy draining of excess water without tilting the cooler.

Each cooler in this series is equipped with convenient features such as comfortable handles for easy carrying and a Have-A-Seat lid that supports up to 250 lbs, providing additional seating space. These coolers also come with cup holders molded into the lid, keeping your drinks secure and within reach.

Best Soft Coolers

YETI Hopper M12 Backpack Soft Sided Cooler with MagShield Access, Navy

Yeti Hopper Soft Backpack Cooler


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

Yeti knocked it out of the park with the Hopper. We love the lighter weight (6-8lbs.) and portability with minimal performance loss vs. hard sided coolers. Don’t worry about insulation, the Hopper will keep ice solid for days. It is often easier to sling the hopper over your sholder and keep your hands available for other gear at the beach. The Hopper is leak-proof, and available in 15qt (18 cans), 30qt (24 cans) sizes. The outer shell is a tough Dryhide Shell fused with RF welded seams. The large, high-performance signature wide-mouth opening has been re-engineered to stay open with ease and close tight with a gentle push. D-ring tie-down points help anchor the cooler to anything. The bottom is a heavy foam platform which makes the cooler sit upright without propping. Carry straps are reinforced and double-stitched. A side attachment system allows you to add Yeti accessories for your application. Yeti offers a substantial warranty on the Hopper. Some owners use the Hopper as a dry bag, a camera bag, or a carry-on. We love packing it with drinks, fruit and lunch.

RTIC Soft Cooler 12 Can, Insulated Bag Portable Ice Chest Box for Lunch, Beach, Drink, Beverage, Travel, Camping, Picnic, Car, Trips, Floating Cooler Leak-Proof with Zipper, Cardinal

RTIC Soft Cooler


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

The RTIC Soft Pack is leakproof, puncture-resistant, and mildew-resistant. Like the Yeti Hopper, it comes in 12 can, 20 can, 30 can, and (large!) 40 can sizes. It’ll keep ice cold for 24 hours with thick, closed-cell foam insulation. RTIC’s soft cooler floats and the zippers are waterproof. We prefer the fully-accessable top of the RTIC to the Yeti Hopper. The front pocket is a nice feature, but the only thing we’ve used it for is a bottle opener. Straps are heavy and well made, and we really like the bright color offerings.

Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Original Soft Cooler Silver

Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Series

*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

A backpack cooler? Yes please! The Polar Bear name is quickly gaining recognition for good reason. This reasonably-priced design hits all the important features. Polar Bear makes 12 can, 24 can, and big 48 can versions, but our personal favorite is the backpack for easy of carry onto the beach. Features include high density open-cell foam insulation that keeps ice cold for up to 3 days in 90 degree heat, genuine YKK #10 zippers, bottle openers, stainless tie downs, and a durable shoulder strap and handle system. Polar Bear coolers are waterproof, and utilize FDA-approved food grade interior liners. Like the RTIC, this top opens wide and access is easy. The exterior is rugged 1000 denier nylon, available in a number of colors. And if you’re into custom, Polar Bear will embroider your logo on the cooler. These coolers come with a limited lifetime warranty. Multiple colors and camo patterns are available. And, Polar Bear makes an upgraded leakproof, sweatproof and waterproof H2O Cooler version with even more insulation!

Coleman Ocean Blue 18-Liter Soft Cooler with 4-Way Stretch Mesh Pockets, Padded Handles, and Durable Protective Base

Coleman Soft Cooler


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

Coleman continues its legacy of well made, affordable coolers with the 16-can soft cooler with hard liner. It’s hard to beat the value this basic soft cooler offers. The inner hard liner prevents food from being crushed, and is removable for flexibility. An adjustable shoulder strap allows hands-free carrying. The small size and light weight make for an easy haul. There is a front pocket, bungees on the lid and FDA food grade antimicrobial interior liner. Heat welded construction helps prevent liner leaks. This cooler won’t keep food or drinks cold as long as the high-end models listed above, but it’s perfect for a day on the beach, and a great value. More than 1,000 customers agree.

CleverMade Tahoe Collapsible Cooler Bag, 50 Can - Structured, Leakproof Coolers for Travel with Built-In Bottle Opener - Soft-Sided, Insulated Camping Cooler: Heathered Charcoal / Black

Clevermade Tahoe Collapsible Cooler Bag


*Prices are updated regularly but subject to change

A collapsible cooler at a fantastic price. When taking a road trip to the beach, space in the car is always at a premium. CleverMade solves a problem with their 30 liter insulated cooler tote. This bag collapses down flat for your trip, and quickly expands with enough cold space for a family. CleverMade interiors are leak resistant, and designed to keep ice cold for up to 36 hours. The exteriors feature tough rip-stop fabric. Basic, sturdy handles are stitched all the way down the side for durability. Other features include an integrated bottle opener, front zipper pocket, and multiple fun, beachy color combos. Just like the Coleman, The CleverMade SnapBasket gets great reviews for value and performance.

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