Best Beach Cooler
Updated by Brandon F. on June 16, 2019
One of the most popular summer activities is spending the day at the beach and there is no single item that can be more important than a proper beach cooler. But what is the best beach cooler? There are a lot of options to choose from. Enjoying time out in the sun and warm water can be a lot of fun but it can also leave you quite thirsty. Whether your drink of choice is water or an adult beverage, having a proper cooler is very important.
In this article, we break down what we think beach coolers should comprise of and what we feel is the best beach cooler. It is important to outline what sort of features and performance a beach cooler should have. While there will be some variance, we feel a lot of these are common wants and needs that most people would seek when shopping for a beach cooler. But before we break down the details, we will list out what we believe are the best beach coolers.
Best Beach Coolers
|Igloo Ice Cube||Rubbermaid DuraChill Wheeled||Coleman Xtreme|
|Price by Volume (Amazon)||$||$||$|
|Ice Life||2-3 days||4-5 days||2-3 days|
|Our Full Review||Link||Link||Link|
What to Consider in a Beach Cooler
Beach coolers will obviously be out in the sun, oftentimes for several hours, and could be accessed quite frequently. Because of this, having proper cooling performance is quite important. That being said, some of the more extreme coolers that offer a week or more of ice life might be overkill if you simply plan on spending the afternoon at the beach, but the combination of hot sun and constantly being opened means that a short-term cooler might be depleted of its ice much too quickly.
For example, Florida (a popular beach destination) can have average summer temperatures that can go above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, we recommend looking for coolers that have a middle cooling ability. These coolers will typically have ice life of 2 to 3 days.
It is always better to have extra ice than no ice at all, so even if you only plan on using the cooler for a few hours a 2 to 3 day advertised ice life should work best. If your beach excursion is more of a weekend type event then you may consider jumping to one of the premium coolers that offer multi-day ice life in any condition.
This is a common error many people make when buying a beach cooler. They oftentimes will only consider what items they will store and not how much volume the items plus the necessary ice will take up. In this case, there will commonly be food as well as beverages to consider along with ice, so it is always recommended going a size larger than what you think you need.
Obviously, the size of the cooler will be heavily based on how many people you have. For a typical family of 5, we recommend going with around a 60-quart cooler to be on the safe side. This size gives ample room for food, drinks, and ice while still being relatively mobile. There will of course be some variance in this and it is by no means meant as an absolute. Some groups will have a lot more food and drink items than others while another particular group might pack especially light.
Getting to the beach often requires a pretty good journey from your home or vehicle. In addition, this journey is oftentimes through sand or some other medium that might not be very wheel-friendly. Because of this, having a comfortable and effective carrying method can be extremely important.
For larger, full beach coolers we recommend purchasing a product with rotating side handles and partnering up to carry the heavy load. If you do insist on going the wheeled route be sure to get a cooler with rugged terrain wheels as conventional wheels might get stuck or become jammed from sand getting in them.
Coolers that are primarily used for the beach will go through unique environmental tests that not all products will be able to handle. This can include immense amounts of sun exposure since oftentimes there is not a tree or building protection on the beach, exposure to abrasive sand, and exposure to beach water.
All of these can wear down weak points of a cooler over time so purchasing a higher-end product that uses premium materials and construction is definitely recommended if you plan on using it for several seasons. It is also recommended that you keep an eye on the moving parts of your cooler and properly clean them after being exposed to sand. Sand can get stuck in the hinge and latch mechanisms and potentially affect their seal integrity.
We have noticed that beach coolers are typically opened more often than just about every other type of cooler application. This is because people are constantly grabbing drinks either for staying hydrated or an adult beverage as well as various snacks and items that are being cooked on a grill. A cooler with a deep cavity but a narrow lid can mean that you spend time digging under items trying to find something you are looking for.
This is a double negative: first, because you are wasting precious time at the beach searching through a cooler and second because whenever the lid is open you are losing precious cold air to the outside world. Coolers with wide lids, categorized sections, and mini-access lids are definitely preferable.
Various Other Features
Many coolers will have subtle features that can really stand out while at the beach. These can include things such as built-in cup holders on the lid, easy-access drain plug, built-in bottle opener, waterproof lid seal, UV-protected paint, raised legs, and much more.
While some of these might be essential features for some they may be nothing more than gimmicky additions to others, so make a mental list of what other things you are looking for in your next beach cooler besides its ability to keep items cold and transport them. Be sure to read about the specific features a given cooler has and see if they are things that might benefit you on your next beach excursion.
So what is the Best Beach Cooler?
As you might have suspected, there really isn’t a “best”. There are too many variables and some features that appeal to one person or group might not appeal to another. That being said, we did create a list of our choices for beach coolers that we best fill the requirements and have a nice combination of cooling ability, toughness, mobility, item accessibility, other helpful features and finally we also considered the asking price for them.
Igloo Ice Cube
A great portable beach-friendly cooler that is ergonomic and has good enough ice performance to last a long day on the beach. The easy-access lid means that you can get to your items without opening the entire top. The construction is also quite good and should handle what any beach can throw at it.
Rubbermaid DuraChill Wheeled
There are a lot of great beach-friendly features on this include the built-in lid cup holders and dual-access lid doors. Carrying can be done via side swivel handles or adjustable back handle and the wheels are tough enough to handle marginal amounts of sand without issue. The insulation is also quite good.
This is a great budget cooler for someone looking for a product that will last a solid day out in the sun. The wheels are quite rugged and combined with the rotating front handle makes transporting this through the sand a breeze. The overhead cupholders are also quite helpful while lounging on the beach.
Our Rating: While a bit overkill for many beach applications, if you are wanting a premium-level cooler that can handle everything you can throw it at then we recommend giving Grizzly a try. The side rope handles are actually quite easy to use and provide adequate grip and the storage space is quite larger for its size and will keep your items cold all day even with constant opening of the lid.