Are you looking for the best beach coolers to take on a family trip to the beach or on a camping trip? If you want to enjoy chilled drinks hours after setting off, or you want chilled food to stay safe to eat, you need a good-quality cooler.
Our advisor, Richard Bartlett, looked at a wide range of different beach coolers, evaluating them based on their capacity, durability, sturdiness, value for money, and more. He chose the Maelstrom Soft Cooler Bag as the best beach cooler overall, for its high capacity, durability, and great value for money.
Our Expert’s Top 5 Beach Coolers
Here are the top picks from our home and family expert. Compare the ratings and key features of the different models.
|Editor’s Picks||Brand||Rating||Weight (Pounds)||Can Capacity||Foldable?|
|Best Overall||Maelstrom Soft Cooler Bag||1.65||75|
|Best Budget||Hap Tim Soft Cooler Bag||1.20||24|
|Best Value for Money||DAUSROOB Cooler Bag||1.70||50|
|Best for Weekend Trips||Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze (48 Cans)||4.30||48|
|Best Compact||OPUX Insulated Small Cooler Bag||1.15||16|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Buy a Beach Cooler
- Families planning a day trip – Whether you’re heading to the beach, exploring a national park, or taking a road trip, a beach cooler is a great way to keep your food and drinks cool for the whole day. Planning a family trip to the beach? Then check out our Family Beach Day Packing List for all the essentials.
- Long-haul drivers, plumbers – Or any workers who are away from their home and office all day. A compact cooler lets you take all the food and drink you need for the day.
- Friends enjoying a beach party or similar – If you want chilled cans of soda or beer to stay cold throughout your party, then you need a quality cooler.
Who Should Not Buy a Beach Cooler
- Long-distance walkers or hikers – Beach coolers aren’t designed to be carried for long periods. A suitable hiking backpack would be a better option for carrying the food and water you need.
- Anyone needing to keep food cold for an extended period – Even the best coolers won’t keep the contents cold for more than a couple of days.
Research Tips (from a Home & Family Expert)
When you’re choosing the best beach cooler for your needs, it’s important to consider carefully how often you’ll be using it and how much food and drink you’ll want to carry in it. Ask friends and family for their recommendations, too, and check out online reviews to find out about durability and ease of use. You should also:
- Consider the size before buying – Beach coolers vary a lot in size, from one-person coolers to coolers big enough to hold enough drinks for all your family and friends.
- Check how long the cooler will stay cold – Most will be fine for 6-12 hours, but some will stay cold for even longer.
- Look for additional features – Some coolers have a small “door” at the top so you can get food or drink out without opening the whole cooler. This helps maintain the temperature inside the cooler for longer.
- Make sure you get value for money – Look for a durable cooler that has the capacity you need. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but equally, don’t just go for the very cheapest option. It might not carry much or you could find that seams or zips rip easily.
How Much Do They Cost?
Between $20 and $80
Most beach coolers will cost somewhere between $20 and $80. In this price range, you can expect coolers to be durable, leak-proof, and capable of keeping food and drink cool for at least 6 hours. They’ll often also have additional features, such as mesh side pockets from the bottom end of the range upward. Nearer the top end of the range, you’ll get more advanced features like a quick access door, extra pockets, and more, as well as larger capacities.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Safe Smart Family
I considered a range of well-regarded beach coolers, looking at their durability, size, value for money, features, and how long they’d keep food and drink cold. I chose the 5 best beach coolers based on all these factors and by taking into account the cost per can of keeping drinks cold. – Richard J. Bartlett
The Best Beach Coolers: Full Reviews
The Maelstrom Soft Cooler Bag is an extra-large beach cooler that only weighs 1.65lb. It’s big enough for up to 75 cans, along with 2-4 ice packs to keep them cool for as long as possible. With a shoulder strap plus carrying handles, it’s also easy to carry around.
The top of the bag has a pull tab with velcro, so you can easily grab a can or your food without having to open the zipper around the whole top of the bag. You could use it for a large family picnic or even for delivering food. The Maelstrom is available in a range of different colors and designs.
- Large bag that can be easily folded for storage
- Only weighs 1.65lbs, so it’s not too heavy to carry even when full
- Shoulder straps and carry handles are reinforced
- There’s an integrated bottle opener: one less thing to remember!
- The Maelstrom is suitable for keeping food warm too
- Too large for individuals or smaller families
- A few reviewers found it flimsy as there’s no hard plastic insert
If you’re on a budget, the Hap Tim Soft Cooler Bag is a fantastic option. It comes in at a wallet-friendly $19.99, with enough space for 24 cans or 15 bottles. You could fit lunch for 3 or 4 people in there, making it a great option for couple or family day trips.
This cooler is easy to carry, with the option for a shoulder strap or carrying handles, and should keep your food and drink cool for about 6-12 hours. There’s also a 40-can sized option if you want a slightly larger (but still great value) beach cooler.
- Great value bag that still keeps food and drink cool effectively
- Light and easy to carry
- Folds up for easy storage when not in use
- Manufacturer offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Might struggle to keep food cool in direct sun for extended periods
- A small number of reviewers mentioned issues with leaking
Although it’s not quite so cheap as our best budget option, the DAUSROOB Cooler Bag is our “value for money” pick due to its large size, great price, and extra features. It holds up to 50 cans and has a small hatch for easy access to food and drink. The shoulder strap is removable if you’re not using it and the bag even includes a bottle opener.
There are also 2 mesh side pockets which you can use for utensils or other small essentials, plus a large zipped front pocket. Reviewers praised its durability and how well insulated it was.
- Fantastic range of features at this price point
- Easy to wipe clean and dry
- Durable and well made, at a very affordable price
- Sturdy and strong cooler that only weighs 1.7lbs
- Some reviewers found it a bit floppy
- May leak if you fill it with loose ice
If you’re going on a longer trip, the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze (48 Cans) is definitely up to the job. When filled with 50% ice and 50% food and drink, this cooler will retain the ice for around 1.5 days, meaning your food and drink should stay cool all weekend.
Unlike the other coolers we’ve listed, this Arctic Zone cooler has a removable hard liner with a shelf near the top. That means it’s obviously not fully collapsible and it’s quite a bit heavier to carry, but the hard liner does significantly increase how long your food will stay cool.
- Includes mesh side pockets and a bottle opener
- Hard liner keeps the bag cool for longer plus makes it much more rigid
- Can potentially be used without the hard insert if you prefer
- Great price for its quality
- Can’t be folded flat, due to the hard liner
- Heavier than other coolers at 4.3lbs
The OPUX Insulated Small Cooler Bag is a great option if you’re looking for something a little smaller than the other beach coolers on our list. It’s perfect for carrying a packed lunch plus drinks for the day, and it’s a good size for a picnic for a couple or small family.
You can carry it using either the adjustable shoulder strap or the carry handles. Although it’s small, the two side pockets and front zippered pocket let you squeeze in extra bottles, utensils, snacks, and more. There’s a range of color options available, too.
- Sturdy and durable bag
- Well waterproofed, so you can include loose ice
- Great option if you want a large lunchbox to take out for the day
- Includes an easy-access top flap
- Won’t keep food cold as effectively as a larger bag with thicker insulation
- Some reviewers said it seemed flimsy
Is a hard or soft cooler better?
How do I keep my beach cooler cold?
What do you need for a cooler at the beach?
Do you put ice on the top or bottom of the cooler?
Safe Smart Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Reid C. Soft sided vs. hard sided cooler—which is for you? Coolersworld.com. Published February 18, 2019. Accessed June 17, 2022.
- Jones M. How to keep a cooler cold while at the beach [updated 2022]. Seasideplanet.com. Updated January 6, 2022. Accessed June 17, 2022.
- How to pack a cooler like a pro. Freshoffthegrid.com. Published May 25, 2017. Updated July 27, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2022.