All Budget Priced Coolers
Updated by Brandon F. on October 31, 2022
This is a listing of all budget-priced coolers that we have reviewed. “Budget” is defined as being coolers that are typically in the most affordable price tier in terms of dollars quart of storage volume. The reason we break the metric down into dollars per quart is to make it easier to compare the relative cost of one cooler to another.
For instance, a very large cooler would typically be more expensive than a small cooler, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting a better bang for your buck when it comes to storage size. For convenience, we have listed out our top-rated budget coolers.
Best Budget Coolers
In the case of budget-tier ice chests, many examples can be found for under one dollar per quart. Budget coolers come in all shapes and sizes, but will oftentimes be missing some of the unique features and accessories you might find in higher-end coolers.
Also, they will generally avoid using metal hardware and exotic fabrics to keep the price point low. While the overall cooling performance might not be as impressive as in the higher tiers, there are still plenty of examples that have acceptable ice life and overall build quality.
The primary target customer of these products are those who prioritize saving money over performance and features and will be looking for something that could potentially keep items chilled for a few hours to a couple of days in mostly non-extreme environments. Surprisingly, many of the larger cooler sizes are available in this price tier due to the relative cost per quart of storage volume.
Igloo Ice Cube
This is a great, simple cooler that does what it needs to do while remaining very affordable. For its size and price, the ice life is quite good. It is also very easy to use and transport. Also, there are many different attractive color options. This is a solid choice for those who don’t want to spend high dollars on a premium cooler.
Pros: Easy to transport, very durable, wheeled options available, many different color choices, great price
Cons: Not quite as long of a cooling time as advertised, the handle is somewhat prone to break
Arctic Zone Pro 30
A nice overall performer, the Pro 30 has the adequate cooling ability and it is very simple to access items inside. It also is much more attractive than most other soft-sided coolers we have reviewed. However, it does have some problems with fabric unraveling early. But for the price and features available, we are overall content.
Pros: Acceptable cool life, very easy to access items inside, looks great
Cons: Fabric falls apart too soon, the shoulder strap can be weak
C & H Lunch Cooler Bag
A simple and low-cost solution, the C & H Lunch Cooler Bag tries to meet the needs of those on a tight budget and after a short-term cooling product for their lunch needs. There aren’t a lot of features but the performance is good.
Pros: Extremely affordable, Lightweight, Good performance for a lunch cooler bag
Cons: Limited in sizes and color choices, Few additional features
The Igloo Backpack Cooler has undergone some changes that have improved its looks and ice performance. The result is a series of mobile coolers that we enjoy. Ice life will vary but can reach up to a half-day. And the features that are in place make this a very portable and reliable product.
Pros: Very reasonably-priced, Nice features, Good build quality, Plenty of choices
Cons: Limited colors, No extreme long-term ice solution
Indago8 Backpack Cooler
While it won’t break any ice retention records, the Indago8 Backpack Cooler delivers acceptable ice life and quality considering its very reasonable asking price. You will also enjoy quite a bit of storage volume.
Pros: Very affordable, Plenty of storage space
Cons: Only one color option, Potential issue with stitching on straps
Sacko Insulated Cooler Bag
A simple bag that performs quite well compared to what else is out there. And when you consider the attractive price, the results are even more impressive. The success comes from the quality insulation used and the optimized design that isn’t too big or too small. We also like notable features such as the quick-access top latch.
Pros: Great price, high-quality insulation, large enough for most applications, quick-access Velcro hatch
Cons: Wish it was a little bit tougher
Rubbermaid Gott Marine
The Gott Marine manages to check most of the boxes while maintaining a competitive asking price. With up to a week of potential ice life, it can hang with much more expensive coolers. We also like the ergonomic grips and built-in ice packs for an extra boost. The only minor issue we have is that the lid can be a little difficult to work with and you won’t find quite as high of hardware as in ultra-premium ice chests.
Pros: Fantastic insulation, very tough, good grips, great price
Cons: Lid can be a little stubborn, quite bulky
Igloo Marine Ultra
This is one of Igloo’s most proven coolers and it is specially designed for boat outings. The selection size is massive so everybody, no matter their storage needs, can likely find a model that works for them. The insulation is adequate (even in the sun) and there are wheeled options for added mobility. That being said, they can be on the bulky side and prices tend to fluctuate quite a bit depending on where you shop.
Pros: Overall good to very good insulation, many wheeled options, stainless steel hardware, looks very professional
Cons: Bland styling, need to shop around to find a good deal
This is one of the more unique coolers that we have tested. It is specially designed to be painted on. While its overall ice retention and list of features aren’t anything special, its specialized purpose and the great asking price will still make it successful, in our opinion.
Pros: Able to paint directly on it, Very affordable
Cons: Only one size, Limited ice life, Results will depend on artistic talent
This is a water-friendly ice chest that has thick enough insulation to last for a long weekend. With the available sizes, you can also enjoy plenty of storage space. And the price is more than reasonable as well. But there are some notable quality issues related to the plastic hardware and the list of additional features and aesthetic modifications is severely lacking. Still, it is simple and effective for those on a tight budget.
Pros: Very good insulation, thick durable plastic, good price
Cons: Plastic hardware can break, quite bulky, very boring design
Igloo Super Tough STX
This is a tough-looking cooler that combines good ice life with durable construction. And it can do this while maintaining an acceptable asking price. The major weak point lies with the fasteners and latches which don’t always close correctly. But overall, it is still a solid choice.
Pros: Very well-insulated, tough outer shell, looks awesome, acceptable price
Cons: Fasteners don’t always close tightly, very heavy
Rubbermaid DuraChill Wheeled
This cooler gains some much-appreciated mobility with its wheeled setup and, combined with acceptable insulation, results in a solid product. It is also available at a very affordable price and looks much nicer than it costs. But there are some pretty notable leak paths for water and it can also suffer from weak hinges.
Pros: Nice insulation, solid construction, impressive looks, good price
Cons: Too many leak paths, hinges are a bit too weak
Overall this is a simple, modular, and relatively effective cooler that can be had for a reasonable price. It won’t win any beauty contests but its effective design and helpful key features make it a buy for anybody looking for a space-saving and simple cooling solution for a small outing.
Pros: Quite good cooling ability, very mobile, lid converts to tray and cup holder, great price
Cons: Handle can be a little weak, very boring styling
The Contour is a small but potent cooler that can handle ice for a weekend excursion. It is an adequate size to fit most items a small group would need and is designed to take up minimum storage space. This also makes it much easier to carry. Finally, the asking price is very reasonable.
Pros: Very mobile, comfortable to carry, nice grip on handles, affordable
Cons: Cooling ability could be a little better, no cup holders
Thermos Raya Lunch Tote
This lunch tote is quite large and has enough storage space for an entire group’s afternoon needs. And surprisingly, the semi-insulated walls do an OK job of keeping items cool for a few hours. But beyond that, there isn’t much to it. This includes a lack of external pockets or other helpful features. But it certainly is affordable.
Pros: Affordable, plenty of storage space, good cooling qualities
Cons: Very bare, no external pockets
Igloo MaxCold Duffel
While this duffel looks great and is built with high-quality materials, its biggest limitation is its cooling ability and also its storage size. If you can make do with its limited storage space, it is quite mobile and won’t be too big of a hit on your pocketbook.
Pros: Easy to carry around, decent build quality, looks awesome, reasonably-priced
Cons: Limited insulated volume space, intense heat can easily overwhelm it
One of the most popular Rubbermaid coolers out there, this product takes a very simple and cost-effective approach. For the size, you will enjoy nice ice retention and the lid (a common weak point on budget coolers) is quite robust. But the design is very bland and there simply aren’t enough features to get us excited. Plus, the common weak handle problem that plagues some other Rubbermaid models exists here as well. But the great asking price makes those issues easier to swallow.
Pros: Good ice life for the size, strong lid, decent price
Cons: Weak handles, pretty plain design
We always appreciate coolers that focus on mobility and there is no exception here. With the inclusion of wheels and an extended handle, this cooler is easily moved from place to place. Plus, the recent facelift makes it stand out from the crowd. But there are some issues with the lid not properly sealing and the plastic components tend to fall apart prematurely through rusting and simply snapping in two.
Pros: Wheels assist in mobility greatly, attractive look
Cons: Issues with lid sealing, handle rusts easily
The Playmate is one of the best-selling Igloo coolers and this is thanks to its simple design, easy mobility, and great asking price. But it does suffer from short ice life and has very few features that other modern coolers are bringing to the table.
Pros: Body is strong enough, classic design, affordable
Cons: Short ice life, flimsy lid, not very many features
A simple, effective approach that gets the job done. It has long enough ice life for a day’s outing and comes with solid and proven construction. Our only issue is that the lid doesn’t like to stay open but for the attractive price, it is easy to deal with.
Pros: Built tough, strong handles, great price
Cons: Underwhelming ice life, lid won’t stay open, plain design
Igloo MaxCold Tote
The combination of decent short-term cooling ability, simplicity in use, and competitive asking price makes this a good buy. It is well-constructed and lightweight enough to easily be carried on your shoulder. We do wish that there were some more size options but this is a minor complaint.
Pros: Keeps items cold for a while, very lightweight and mobile, well-priced, nice construction
Cons: No varying size options, not as rigid as most coolers
We love the mobility of the All-Terrain cooler thanks to its massive wheels. The cooling is good enough and the asking price is very competitive. We do wish that Igloo would improve the hinges and also add some more color choices to the mix, though.
Pros: Decent job at cooling, great mobility, looks aggressive, good price
Cons: Weak hinges, no other color options
A very user-friendly and cheap backpack that retains most of the mobility of a traditional backpack. It has an adequate amount of storage space for a small excursion but don’t expect this to hold ice for very long. Also, the quality is surprisingly good given the price point.
Pros: Very affordable, Extremely mobile, Multiple storage areas
Cons: May not be enough space, very limited ice life
You will enjoy a bump up in ice life and toughness with this cooler but it also comes with a bump up in the asking price. Plus, for the size, it is quite mobile thanks to the side handle and attached wheels. The only weak point comes with the handles and hinges potentially coming too loose over time. Also, it isn’t going to win any beautify contests.
Pros: Good price for what you are getting, decent insulation, has wheels for easy transport
Cons: Weak handles, hinges can come loose, fairly plain-looking
Igloo MaxCold Gripper
This Gripper is a bit larger than some of the other Grippers that Igloo offers and the added storage space are most welcome. And it is still sized in a way that makes it easy to store. Combine that with solid construction and a reasonable asking price, and you have a true contender. But it does come with some issues, including weak zippers and a smaller-than-desired top access point.
Pros: Strong fabric, plenty of storage space for being a gripper, good price, easily stored
Cons: Zippers are a little weak, looks a little cheaper than the hard-top version, can have access difficulty during transport
As its name suggests, the Max Cold is quite good at keeping ice for its price point. While it won’t hang with the “big boys”, it will hold its own against most other coolers at its price point. There are also plenty of sizes to choose from including wheeled options. However, it does come with some concerns. They include having rather weak handles and hinges as well as needing a bit of a styling update.
Pros: Very good ice life, easy access to items, a huge selection of sizes, many wheeled choices
Cons: Weak handles, pretty modest styling
Ozark Trail Soft
This is a solid competitor that finds a happy medium between cost and performance. We encourage you to try to stick to the premium models as they have a nice bump up in ice life and overall build quality. But the (more affordable) entry-level can coolers will work for short-term solutions as well.
Pros: Very attractive price, Acceptable performance, Plenty of sizes to choose from
Cons: A little lacking in colors, A few quality issues
Igloo Hard Liner
This product has good cooling performance and we recommend using ice packs instead of ice for it. The size is at a happy medium that allows for adequate storage space while still being very mobile and easy to store. Also, there are plenty of color choices. Our only issues are that it is a little too thin and we wish that they would update the carrying method.
Pros: Acceptable ice life (especially with ice pack usage), easy to store and transport, a lot of choices in color
Cons: No handle for carrying, a little too flimsy
OAGear Cooler Sports Pack
For a low-cost cooler backpack, the cooling performance isn’t half-bad. It is also well-designed and allows for plenty of storage space while being quite mobile. There are also some very attractive color designs to choose from. Our main issues are with the shoulder straps (that are prone to tearing) as well as wishing that there were more sizes to choose from.
Pros: Plenty of color schemes, very mobile, multiple storage areas, great price
Cons: Weak shoulder straps, only one size
Picnic at Ascot Cooler Tote
This is a rather large tote and, as such, can store a lot of items. The build quality is also pretty good. Combine that with the many color options and you have a stylish and functional product. But there is essentially no insulation so don’t expect it to keep items cool for very long. There is also little in the way of additional features.
Pros: Plenty of storage space, decent build quality, many color and pattern choices, affordable
Cons: Very little insulation, not a lot of external features, can be a bit bulky to carry
This is a large chest that can have a decent cooling ability if you get a well-assembled one. The major weak point is in the hardware. The weak hinges and handles can be a huge headache and we wish that Igloo would have upgraded these items even if it resulted in a small premium on the final product’s price. However, the price is great which makes it still a neutral to soft buy in our book.
Pros: Great price, the potential for nice cooling life
Cons: A lot of variance in seal quality, weak hinges and handles, very boring appearance
Yens Fantasybag Lunch Bag
The main selling point with these popular lunch bags is their great asking price and ease to use. They are lightweight, portable, and come in many different color options. But as is typical of these tiny lunch bags, you won’t be able to use them for much more than a simple lunch.
Pros: Great price, very mobile, additional external storage, a lot of color choices
Cons: May have trouble fitting everything, plain design
This is one of the smallest hard-sided plastic coolers you can purchase so mobility is quite good. But the mobility and lightweight attributes do come at a price: very limited ice life. If you only need a few hours of ice performance it can work. Plus we love the internal cup holders.
Pros: Extremely mobile, great implementation of cup holders, affordable
Cons: Short ice life, very limited carrying space, not a lot of color choices
Igloo Marine Breeze
This is a good all-around ice chest that doesn’t have any major flaws. The ice life is acceptable and the construction is, for the most part, up to par. All of this is available for a reasonable asking price as well. Our main issues are with the lid being a bit too tight and a lack of color choices or features that would help to make it stand out.
Pros: Good ice life, well-constructed, good price
Cons: Lid can be pretty tight, not a lot of additional features or color choices
Dalix Cooler and Lunch Bag
For a simple and low-cost lunch bag, this will suffice. While it does have thin walls, the cooling life isn’t that bad considering the price. There are also quite a few places to store additional items. But there are some quality issues and don’t store anything fragile in the top compartment: it can be easily crushed.
Pros: Good cooling performance for the price, multiple storage areas, affordable
Cons: Quite large for a lunch bag, the strap is somewhat weak, items in the top compartment can crush ones in the bottom compartment
Igloo Island Breeze
This cooler recently went through an update which resulted in a more modern appearance and slight improvements to build quality. We also like the mobility thanks to the wheels and extending carrying handle. However, it is a bit limited in how well it cools and the lid can be a little finicky.
Pros: Quite durable, wheeled options for mobility, modern look, decent price
Cons: Low cooling ability, the lid can be stubborn
Coleman Party Stacker
The design and convenience of the Party Stacker are fantastic as you can easily stack them on top of each other to take up hardly any space. But for this convenience, you have to deal with poor insulation and very lackluster ice life. It doesn’t fare well in the sun for very long but it is very reasonably priced.
Pros: Extremely mobile, stackable, good price
Cons: Insulation could be a lot better, hard to get a good grip, not a lot of extra features
Igloo Quick and Cool
The best thing that the Quick and Cool Cooler has going for it is its ample storage space and attractive pricing. Unfortunately, the cooling performance just isn’t there for coolers of this size. It also needs a major update on its carrying handle situation. Finally, it is simply a “boring” looking cooler. For those on a tight budget, you may be able to overlook these things but there are much better choices out there for slightly more money.
Pros: Great price, lots of storage space, the quick-access hatch is helpful
Cons: Disappointing ice life, very difficult to carry, boring styling
EasyLunchboxes Insulated Lunch Box Cooler Bag
This is an extremely lightweight and mobile product and the build quality isn’t all that bad. But the tiny size and very thin walls mean that you won’t be able to store much and what you do store won’t stay cool for long. Also, it could use a bit of a facelift in the design department.
Pros: Very light, decent build quality
Cons: Poor cooling ability, too small of storage volume, boring design
Yens Fantasybag Cooler Bag
While these are certainly affordable, you are reminded of this with the durability. The insulation, zipper quality, and fabric thickness are all lackluster and this can significantly reduce the life you will get out of it. It does come in many different color choices but plan on replacing it sooner than you might have hoped.
Pros: Affordable, very light, many different color choices
Cons: Not great insulation, easily tears, the shoulder strap is too short, modest design
Yens Fantasybag Drawstring Cooler Backpack
A lightweight and affordable backpack there is more backpack than cooler. But the lack of insulation, shoddy construction, and small storage size doesn’t make it very versatile for most applications.
Pros: Incredibly affordable, very lightweight
Cons: Poor cooling ability, fragile construction, limited storage size, very plain looking
Dalix Cooler Tote Bag
This is more of a tote than a cooler and the large carrying area will support that. Also, the simple design results in a very affordable price. But the cooling performance is downright bad and we recommend avoiding the use of ice altogether. The simple approach could but it needs a few additional tweaks first.
Pros: Plenty of storage area, great price
Cons: Struggles with cooling, not waterproof at all, very plain looking, few additional features
Dalix Cooler Bag
The best thing that this Cooler Bag has going for it is its multiple places to carry items. Also, it doesn’t have too big of a sticker shock. However, the construction quality is sub-par (particularly around the strap) and the cooling ability isn’t great.
Pros: Multiple carrying options, additional front storage pockets, decent price
Cons: Cooling ability could be better, the strap is very weak, only two color choices