Summer is here, and the humidity can be relentless. What better way to beat the heat than with a convenient, personal cooler to store cold drinks and ice? I’ve had the pleasure of trying out some of the best small coolers this summer, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
No matter what your plans are for enjoying the remaining summer days, I’ve got the perfect companion to fit your needs. Throughout this small cooler review, you will find only the best coolers. These little wonders are all well-made and nicely constructed. This ensures that you are investing in a cooler with high durability and long-lasting value.
Let’s start by taking a look at my favorite top-rated small cooler. This little guy is a cinch to pack along, sports a tough body, and best of all, it’s very affordable.
View all the 5 Best Small Coolers on the Market Below
1. Coleman FlipLid Personal Cooler – Best Budget Cooler
Now here’s an affordable little cooler that is great for all sorts of use. At only five quarts, don’t go expecting a lot of storage space. It’s perfectly-sized for one-day outings and the like. If you plan on camping and will be out for a couple of days, you definitely want to invest in something of larger size.
But for what you’re getting, this is the best small cooler for the price. It’s barely going to put a dent in your wallet, and it’s an absolute breeze to carry around. I have back problems, and I hardly even noticed the weight of this cooler! It is less than two pounds, making this a great fit for those looking for a lightweight and versatile little cooler.
It works really well as an ice chest, too, making the FlipLid a convenient cooler for all sorts of occasions. It is so handy to have around for ice and drinks. The size of the cooler adds to its user-friendly design. Coolers like this are perfect for having on hand for outings and cookouts.
As a matter of fact, I took the FlipLid with me to a couple of cookouts over the summer, and was thoroughly pleased with its performance and operation as a cooler. In my opinion, it’s the best small ice chest that money can buy. Use it as a cooler or ice chest; it’s perfectly built for both!
It’s easy to clean and has really good ice retention for its size. It was able to hold ice and ice packs for most of the duration of the cookouts I attended. Sure, it can’t hold ice as long as a bigger cooler. But that’s not what the FlipLid cooler was designed for.
As long as you understand its limitations, you will be pleased with the FlipLid cooler. It’s one of the best top-rated small coolers available, with a handy, high-quality design that will serve you well, and its size is just right for all kinds of occasions.
10 x 8 x 7 inches
- Good capacity
- Easy to clean
- No bottle opener
2. Igloo Profile – Best Value Cooler
Igloo provides one of the best coolers around with the Profile. For the number two spot, this 16-quart beauty maintains a smaller size, yet delivers excellent capacity for all of your cooling needs. In my opinion, it’s the best cooler size for the price that you’ll find in my small cooler reviews.
I appreciate the little touches and additions that Igloo thought to include. Heck, there’s a slot indented into the lid made specifically for holding a smartphone or tablet. What a great idea for camping trips! You also get the traditional cup holders molded into the lid, as well.
Thanks to the coolers thick, molded construction, this baby is stout and durable. You can sit or stand on it without fear of crushing it. It can hold 16 cans without breaking a sweat, making it an excellent investment for holding drinks and lots of ice.
And speaking of which, the Profile has excellent ice retention. It is able to hold ice and ice packs for well over 24 hours without melting.
During my time with the cooler, it kept ice packs cold for nearly three days, while drinks stay cool even longer. This is one of the best small coolers currently on the market. From its build-quality to its design, Igloo delivers a winner here.
As small coolers go, the Profile is one of the best. It makes a great little ice chest in a pinch, and it is built really well. It’s easy to carry, and it’s easy to keep clean. I wish it had a bottle opener, but it’s not a deal breaker. For the price, you’d be hard-pressed to do much better.
11 x 14.5 x 14.2 inches
- Easy to carry
- Long cooling
- Built tough
- Great size
- Rain can leak into the lid
3. Coleman Soft Cooler Bag
Coleman delivers one of the best small, soft sided coolers that is perfect for packing a lunch. It sports a handy shoulder strap for easy carrying, and its ice retention is surprisingly good, as far as a soft sided cooler goes. This coolers’ best feature is definitely its portability.
Its size is perfect for quick outings or for taking with you to work. For one thing, it boasts excellent craftsmanship and an attractive design. And two, it is incredibly light for such a high-capacity small cooler. Coleman opted to go the heavy-duty route in this soft sided coolers’ construction.
No part of it feels cheap or flimsy. It’s definitely the most high-end of any of the soft sided coolers I’ve ever tried. You can hold up to 30 cans in this little cooler, and its ice retention is equally impressive. I was able to keep ice and ice packs cold for a good 24 hours.
Coleman hits a home run with this soft cooler. Its zippered design and convenient storage pockets make it a handy companion to have with you.
12.2 x 13 x 9.4 inches
- 24-hour ice retention
- Excellent capacity
- Attractive design
- Easy to haul
- Velcro lid can be annoying
4. AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler
AO Coolers made the cooler reviews due to its incredible insulation and high-end, closed cell design. This soft sided cooler features the ability to keep ice cold for a full day. It can even withstand temperatures as high as 120 degrees! Now that’s nothing to sneeze at. If you want to invest in a winner, AO Coolers delivers where it matters most.
The ice retention in this cooler is most excellent. It has a great size to it, and the inclusion of a shoulder strap makes it a breeze to pack along with you wherever you go. Its capacity is most impressive, as well. I was able to put 16 cans into it three times. That’s 48 cans total! And its leak-proof construction ensures that you won’t have to deal with any messes.
I love the tough canvas material used in the Soft Cooler. You know you’re getting a cooler that will last. It is built for longevity and lots of use and abuse. During my time with the cooler, it was able to take a beating with ease. Yeah, it’s a little steep, but consider everything you’re getting.
It’s a great cooler that has some of the best ice retention for a cooler, best construction in a soft sided cooler, and some of the best capacity for a small cooler.
24-hour ice retention
21 x 13 x 13 inches
- Plenty of storage
- Easy to carry
- A bit pricey
5. Igloo BMX
If you’ve been looking for a roto molded cooler that will last for years, Igloo’s BMX is right up your alley. This is one of the toughest, most durable, and well-made little coolers I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. Igloo built this cooler to last, and that’s exactly what you can expect from it.
As smaller coolers go, I am thoroughly impressed with what Igloo was able to deliver here. Its 25-quart capacity allows you to carry plenty of drinks and ice. Its ice retention is absolutely stunning. It can hold ice and keep ice frozen for as much as five days! It doubles as an excellent little ice chest, too. If ice is usually hard for you to keep around, the BMX will solve your trouble with ease.
Igloo really went all out with the BMX. If you’re tired of going through coolers year after year, this is the definitive cooler to have. Its lid is tough and thick, allowing you to sit or stand on it without fear of causing damage to the cooler. It sports two thick hinges on the lid that keep it locked tightly in place.
And on the back of the lid, there are two stainless steel hinges that ensure longevity and durability. This is hands-down one of the toughest and roughest coolers I’ve used. If you need a cooler that will provide years of service, you will be pleased with the BMX.
I loved my time with the BMX cooler. It is one handy cooler to have around. It feels great, holds ice for days, looks cool, and is built to last. What more could you want from a cooler?
Roto molded construction
19.6 x 15.7 x 13.2 inches
- Excellent ice retention
- Stainless steel hinges
- Built like a tank
- Versatile size
- No bottle opener
Small Cooler Buyer’s Guide
As you can see, coolers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have special features that others don’t. To help ensure that you buy the best cooler for your needs, I’ve included a handy buyer’s guide directly below. Here, you’ll find important factors you should consider before investing in a small cooler.
Let’s start with the features and factors that go into making a small cooler. This will help you narrow down the right cooler for your needs. Remember to take into account what you want out of a cooler. If you need one for camping, for example, you might want to consider coolers of larger size to ensure that you have plenty of room for storing drinks, food, and ice.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider is the size of the cooler. This is important, as it provides the right amount of storage for your particular needs. If you just need a small cooler to take to work, there’s no need to invest in a larger model.
This will only serve to make transporting and carrying with you difficult and bulky. This is especially true if you take a bus or taxi to work every day. Go with something small and compact, and you will have a much better experience with your new investment.
This is another crucial factor you want to consider in your purchase of a new cooler. Are you going to be taking your new cooler in the woods or hiking expeditions or camping? If so, you want to make doubly sure that your cooler is capable of withstanding rough and rigorous use.
Plastic coolers are the most popular types of coolers purchased. They are typically quite durable, and they don’t cost much, either. With plastic, you’re getting insulated, water-proof material that can usually take a beating fairly well. This makes them ideal for outdoor use.
With that being said, you may want to consider a roto molded cooler for the best results. this ultra-tough and durable material is designed for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts who need a cooler that will last a lifetime, or close to it. If you’ve generally not had good luck with coolers over the years, a roto molded model is your best bet.
If you work in a job like construction, you may want to invest in a metal cooler. You can expect to pay a bit more for metal coolers, but you’ll be investing in a cooling companion that is guaranteed to last for years. These tough and durable coolers are just what the doctor ordered for heavy-duty, outdoor jobs.
Fabric coolers are also a popular choice thanks to their tough bodies. Often made of canvas, fabric coolers are designed to reduce the risk of tears or rips. Outdoor ventures and fabric coolers go hand in hand. They are lightweight and highly versatile, making them a great option for hiking or biking.
This is important considering what you’re going to be using your cooler for the most. Cyclists will want to invest in a cooler with a shoulder strap for easy transportation. Conversely, if you’re just attending a cookout with family and friends, a traditional cooler with handles on the side will serve you nicely.
For a more convenient setup, you might consider going with a cooler that has a handle directly on the lid. I’ve found that this provides much easier carrying, especially if it’s just you who is doing the lifting. Larger coolers are better suited for side handles, as it allows for a friend to help you carry the heavier load.
Whatever the case may be, invest in a cooler that is best suited for your individual needs. When you factor in the size, shape, and what you need the cooler for, you’ll have a much easier time choosing the right one.
Depending on the size of your cooler, you may need a little extra help to transport your large load. Many coolers come equipped with two wheels to make things easier on you. But it’s important that you invest in the best wheels for the job. Allow me to explain.
Let’s say you’re planning a trip to the beach and you want a good cooler to bring along with you. Investing in a cooler equipped with plastic wheels will likely only serve to make things worse. Plastic wheels don’t fare so well on the sand, which will just cause the cooler to get hung up, forcing you to carry it throughout your time on the beach.
However, there are wheels specially designed to cut through sand and other surfaces, making your life a whole lot easier. Large, rubber wheels often do the trick, but it’s important to research the material used for the wheels to ensure that the cooler is built to accommodate your needs.
We’ve all been there. You packed your cooler full of ice, thinking it will last all day, only to find it melted midway through your cookout. How embarrassing. This is what you want to avoid, so it’s important to research the insulation on your potential new investment to ensure that it will hold ice for a respectable amount of time.
By and large, most coolers will keep ice for a few hours without issue. But for those of us who need ice held longer, we need to invest in something capable of delivering results. Many soft side coolers are well insulated, providing cooling for a full day; maybe a little less.
Roto molded coolers are your best best for great ice retention. It’s important to review its capabilities to ensure that your ice will keep as long as you need it to. These heavy-duty coolers are typically designed to keep ice for days. As you will see in a moment, Igloo’s BMX cooler came out on top in the reviews as having the best ice retention.
If you’re going to be out camping for several days, you should seriously consider investing in a roto cooler. You’ll be able to keep food cool without having to worry about melting.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Small Cooler Keeps Ice the Longest?
By my estimation and experience, Igloo’s BMX is the king of cool. With its incredible five-day ice retention, you’re getting the best cooling capabilities of any small cooler. Its thick, roto molded construction gives you the peace of mind that you’re carrying one of the very best coolers that money can buy.
Where Can I Buy a Small Cooler?
Amazon is home to a countless variety of small coolers. You’ll find coolers of all shapes and sizes that deliver just about anything to fit your needs. I love the sheer volume of small coolers that are literally right at your fingertips.
If you don’t want to shop online, just about every major department store carries a variety of small coolers. However, you won’t be able to find as many as you can on Amazon. That being said, you can always try your favorite department store’s online catalog to see if they carry what the brick and mortar stores do not.
Coolers have come a long way in recent years, providing us with features that make our lives much easier. Whether you are camping, biking, hiking, or just enjoying a cookout with loved ones, coolers make our time much more enjoyable and convenient.
Investing in the right cooler simply takes doing a little research and considering your needs before making a purchase. By understanding the features of coolers and what they can do for you, it will be much easier finding the right cooler for the job. And with the right care, your new investment will make an excellent companion for years to come.
Always consider your needs first. Make a list if necessary and weigh them against the features, dimensions, insulation, storage capacity, etc., before investing in a cooler. This will make it much easier to weed out the coolers that don’t fit your needs, and allow you to zero in on the ones that do.
Did You Know?
Some coolers have built-in lights, extra storage compartments, special slots for ice packs, and other unique features. If you’re an avid beach-goer, you might want to consider looking into coolers that have built-in pop-up campers. These neat models are great for fun on the sand, with some having fold-out tables for greater convenience.
- The Hopper Flip 12 has ColdCell Insulation, a closed-cell foam that offers superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers, with a capacity of up to 12 cans plus ice
- The Hopper Flip 12 features a 100% leakproof HydroLok Zipper and the wide-mouth opening means great accessibility and visibility to contents
- Heavy duty blow-molded construction with reinforced base for increased strength and protection.
- Extremely durable yet lightweight with proven 4-5 day ice retention
- PELICAN 24 CAN SOFT COOLER