Be cool (and keep your drinks even colder) with these coolers made for backyard hangouts, weekend camping trips, and fall football tailgates.
A good cooler might be the best investment you can make, and one you can have for the long haul. Think about your parents and grandparents who are still toting along their trusty beverage bin from decades ago! Thankfully, now there are top-brand coolers with insulation that is even better than before, and you will probably have them for life.
Here are the top-rated coolers for carting along your favorite wine, beer, and tailgate food, plus the best cooler accessories and care tips so you can enjoy your cooler for years to come …
THE BEST COOLERS TO BUY IN 2022
RTIC 20 QT Hard Cooler: When it comes to the big names in the cooler business, Yeti and RTIC are the top dogs, and their hard coolers beat out most of the competition. This 20 QT cooler by RTIC can fit an upright bottle of wine, up to 24 cans of beer, and a lot of ice. It’s slightly less expensive than Yeti, but you can’t go wrong with either cooler brand. Measure out the size you want before purchasing, so the cooler works for your outings.
Hydro Flask Insulated Tote: Elevate your beach style with this over-the-shoulder purse/cooler combo. It’s the tote that everyone’s raving about, because it looks good but also keeps drinks and food cold for a good amount of time. If an all-day excursion is in the books, the 4-hour cold temp window might feel short. But if you’re going to happy hour at a friend’s house, looking to wear something to the farmer’s market, or carrying food and beverages from the grocery store, this might be the best choice for you.
The Yeti Tundra Haul: It’s the famous cooler brand… on wheels! If there’s one thing we know, it’s that Yeti coolers are high quality, and heavy. If you have an older relative looking for a cooler to cart around, this could be the best option for them. Or maybe you’re bringing oranges to the kids’ soccer game, whatever it is, we don’t judge. Wheels are awesome, and this design by Yeti is by far the best choice for a cooler on wheels.
The Summer Cooler Pack: It’s almost too good to be true! For a limited-time you can snag a soft-shell Kanga pouch cooler with a pack of summer wine. This compact cooler comes with White Wine with Bubbles and Rosé with Bubbles from our very own Graham + Fisk website. It’s a cooler with serious style, and ideal for all of your on-the-go wine drinking adventures, from the beach to the backyard BBQ. Bonus: It’s easy to carry around!
Retro Picnic Cooler: IGLOO went all-in with this 90’s inspired picnic basket cooler. If a bold statement is your cooler style, you’ll love all of these bright color options (Jade is calling our name). Plus, the price point is just about perfect if you’re looking for a cooler to take down to the apartment complex pool or bring along on a fun picnic date night.
Be prepared at all times, and arm your cooler with these useful accessories. Some coolers come with handy hardware hanging off the strap like bottle and wine openers, keychains, etc. … but if yours doesn’t, you can still get your cooler ready for a long season of outdoor beverage enjoyment. A bottle opener, wine opener, and a handful of koozies will last you the whole season, and are always ready to go when you keep them in a side pocket of your soft cooler. These cooler accessories take your outdoor adventures and tailgate parties to a whole new level. And don’t forget the ice packs!
You can now attach your bottle opener to anything and attach anything to your bottle opener — this one is designed like a climbing carabiner! Keys, water bottles, lights, and other items hang off this bottle opener with ease, making it a great cooler companion.
We prefer our wine in cans, but more often than not, someone brings a bottle. If it’s a screw cap, great! If not, you can still be prepared. Grab a pack of wine openers so you have one available at all times! This 4-pack includes wine openers in multiple colors.
It doesn’t matter how far in advance you got the car ready for the tailgate, inevitably someone always forgets their koozie. Stuff a few in the side pocket of a soft cooler or toss a couple sturdy koozies in your cooler so it doesn’t matter if they get wet from ice.
There’s one problem with real ice, it takes up a lot of room! If your drinks are already cold, consider forgoing the real stuff, and toss in a couple of quality ice packs. These reusable (and inexpensive) packs found on Amazon keep perishables cold for 48 hours.
Do you enjoy late-night campfires, fishing excursions, or just want to be prepared no matter where the day takes you? A cooler light might be your favorite cooler accessory. Like a fridge, it’s triggered by the hinge, so it only lights up when you need it.
Cooler Tie Down Kit
If you own a boat (lucky you), a cooler tie down kit is your new best friend. It holds the cooler down and sturdy, whether you place your hard cooler in a truck, boat, or on a dock. The best part? It works across almost all cooler brands.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR COOLER
Maybe you spilled a can of wine and it got the cooler sticky, or that subtle smell is starting to get stronger and stronger. Regardless of the reason, it’s best to clean your cooler a few times a year, especially if it gets a lot of use. Before cleaning, always make sure to review the care instructions so as to not ruin the color or lining of your cooler. Most are hardy enough to handle a good wash, but some soft cooler shells might get ruined if they aren’t treated properly.
And remember! You can prevent a major sanitary scrub session by emptying out your cooler (including ice) right when you get home. After removing the contents and bringing any leftover cans to the fridge, open up the top of the cooler so it has time to dry out completely before the next use.
But if it’s too late for that, or you want to get the cooler prepped for a weekend of good times, here’s what you should do …
What You’ll Need:
- Warm water
- Sponge or dishcloth
- Dish soap
- Baking powder
- Mild bleach and water mixture
Soft coolers are great for a lot of reasons, but the lining makes them particularly vulnerable to that “lunch bag” smell. Luckily, small, soft-shell coolers are easy to clean because they can usually fit into the kitchen sink for a quick scrub. If your cooler can be submerged in water, you might even consider filling up the sink with a soap and water solution, and sponging it off inside and out. Once clean, set it outside with the top open to air-dry completely.
For a moldy or really smelly lining, grab a spray bottle and use a mild bleach and water mixture to spray off the inside. Then, wipe it down and keep the top open to guarantee a dry interior. No bleach in the house? You can make a paste out of baking soda and water and cover the inside or mold spots with the concoction. Once the paste completely dries, simply wipe it off. The paste should release easily and will take any funky odors with it, without harming the fabric of the cooler interior.
Hard CoolersYour hard cooler probably can’t fit in the kitchen sink … but it can be hosed off outside! Unlike soft coolers, quality hard coolers rarely absorb food odors, and any mold or spills can easily be cleaned out. A simple mixture of dish soap and warm water usually does the trick, but if the stain is stubborn, Yeti recommends a 6:1 ratio of water and bleach. Spray it down and wipe it out, then let it air dry until there’s no remaining moisture.
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.