Unbeatable coolers for the beach this summer

Keep your cool with these practical and portable beach coolers for all the family

Taking a trip to the beach is one of the ultimate family summer activities, and for good reason.  It costs nothing, everyone is able to enjoy some much-needed sunshine, and your children are sure to take a nice, long nap afterwards. 

As exciting as a day of fun on the sand is, it’s also essential to be well-prepared (especially if the whole family is involved).  One crucial item for your Family Beach Packing List should definitely be a cooler for snacks and beverages, and we’re here to help you select the best cooler for the beach to fit your needs.

This is part of our beach vacation series and best family travel products


What to look for in a Great Beach Cooler

Bringing a cooler for the beach has many advantages.  For one, it enables you to pack healthy snack and meal choices for you and your family.  While it may be tempting to stop at the nearest petrol station for provisions, these options will likely be more expensive and less nutritious.

Along the same lines, a beach cooler will also enable you to pack enough drinks and food for an extended stay without having to dash off to buy extra ice, meals, etc.  If you’re planning on staying for the day, meeting up with friends for a beach bbq, or are vacationing for several days in a row, a beach cooler will make the process so much easier. 

There are many products out there vying for the position of best beach cooler, but which one will most adequately fit your family’s needs?  Here are some key features to consider when considering your options:

Portability

You’re going to have your hands full with beach towels, boogie boards, and the children, so ease of transportation is a major factor to consider in a beach cooler. 

Handles: Regardless of beach cooler type, you’ll need to choose one with sturdy handles.  There’s nothing worse than getting halfway to your destination, only to have your handle break off!

Wheels: While a wheeled beach cooler is not a necessity, it does make it easier to transport to and from your vehicle, especially if you have to walk a longer distance.  Many beach coolers with wheels specify that they sport all-terrain wheels, which allows them to roll on the sand instead of digging in.

Weight/Size: If you’re packing a large amount of food and water, consider your cooler’s weight without anything in it.  Also, ask yourself how many people you’re needing to feed.  For couples, a 20-quart beach cooler might work just fine.  For a family of 4+ (depending on length of use), a 50-quart size would be much more suitable. 

Other considerations for your beach cooler:

Stacking/Accessibility: If you’re going to be packing beverages and food in the same cooler, how accessible will they be?  Do you need multiple compartments within the same cooler to keep everything separate? 

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Insulation: Will you be using your cooler for a span of a few hours or over multiple days?  Many coolers for the beach have increased insulation for multi-day use, or you may just need several ice packs to keep everything cool enough. 

All things considered, you’re going to want your beach cooler to last for an extended period of time, so we recommend choosing a quality product.  If you’re considering expanding your family, you may want to buy one that is slightly larger than what you’re currently needing so that you can use it for many years to come – but remember you still need space in the car and muscle-power to lift it in and out!

If you are travelling with baby bottles and breastmilk, you may want to consider a separate cooler for your drinks and food to help maintain temperature, we look a the best breastmilk coolers here.

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Best Cooler for the Beach

All our top picks for each beach cooler type are summarised here, or read on below for more details and options to suit your budget.

ProductBrandType
WeightCapacity
Artic Zone Titan Deep Freeze2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler6.77 lbs60 can / 100 lbs
Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme Wheeled Cooler2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler 18 lbs160 can / 113 Liters
Igloo Trailmate Journey2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler34 lbs112 can / 70 quarts
Clvr 80 Quart Wagon Cooler4-Wheeled Rolling Cooler41.8 lbs70 can / 80 quarts / 20 gallon
dbest Ultra Compact Cooler Smart Cart2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler3 lbs36 can / 4 gallons
CleverMade Collapsible Cooler BagCooler Carry Bag2 lbs30 Liters/8 gallons/50 lb weight capacity
TOURIT Cooler BackpackBackpack Cooler1.1 lbs30 can
Igloo 5 gallon wheeled sports cooler2-Wheeled Water Cooler8.24 lbs20 quarts / 18.9 liters

Best Wheeled Coolers for the Beach

Our Top Pick: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 60 (50+10) Can Collapsible Rolling Cooler with All-Terrain Cart

Why We Love It: This wheeled beach cooler is both high-capacity and collapsible, making it storage-friendly and roomy enough for all of the essentials. 

The all-terrain wheels and additional carry handles make it ideal for those slightly more difficult to get to locations. It can keep ice for up to 3 days, so packing for a day trip should be a breeze. 

Key Features:

  • Weight: 6.77 lbs
  • Capacity: 60 cans/100 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.25 x 12 x 14.75 inches
  • Material: Stain-resistant nylon
  • Insulation: Deep Freeze high-performance insulation with radiant heat barrier
  • Portability: All-terrain wheels, retractable telescopic hook’n’go handle

Possible Cons: The bottom section of the cart can collapse when lifted off the ground, so it can be problematic when taking in and out of your vehicle.

Best Cooler for Extended Use: Coleman 100-Quart Xtreme 5-Day Heavy-Duty Cooler with Wheels

Why We Love It: Not only does this beach cooler wheels have enough non-toxic insulation to keep ice for five days, it also doubles as a seat and has built-in cup holders in the lid.  The large handle makes transportation easier, and it’s also easy to drain excess water without having to tilt it up.

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This is a top choice for those big family outtings.

Key Features:

  • Weight: 18 lbs
  • Capacity: 160 cans/113.7 Liters
  • Dimensions: 36.5 x 16.75 x 18.25 inches (Exterior)/23.75 x 11.75 x 13 inches (Interior)
  • Material: Synthetic
  • Insulation: Thermozone Insulation that contains no toxic CFCS, HFCs, or HCFCs
  • Portability: Large, all-terrain wheels, two-way handle, comfortable two handle

Possible Cons: The cooler’s large size may not be practical for shorter trips or smaller families, and it may be difficult to transport longer distances.

Most Rugged Beach Cooler: Igloo Trailmate Journey

Why We Love It: This is possibly the most durable wheeled beach cooler out there, and we like that it stays well off the ground when stationary.  The added accessories like the butler tray and mobile device stand are a plus, and it’s well-suited for a variety of terrain.

Key Features:

  • Weight: 34 lbs
  • Capacity: 112 cans/70 quarts
  • Dimensions: 34.59 x 19.7 x 23.61 inches
  • Material: Plastic
  • Insulation: Ultratherm Technology
  • Portability: Wide, all-terrain wheels and extendable handle

Possible Cons: The cooler weighs a hefty 34 lbs by itself, so it could present a challenge to transport if loaded to full capacity. 

Best Wagon Cooler: Clevr 80 Quart Wagon Cooler w/10” Large All Terrain Wheels

Why We Love It: This cooler combines the best of both worlds, in that the four wheels add extra stability and ease of transport, and the insulation allows you to keep food and drinks cold for at least a day.  The dual hinges provide convenient access to either side, and it even comes with a built-in bottle opener. 

Key Features:

  • Weight: 41.8 lbs
  • Capacity: 80 Quart/20 Gallon/70+ cans/50+ bottles
  • Dimensions: 36 x 33 x 36 inches
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Insulation: Powder-coated steel exterior/PP lined injection foam interior
  • Portability: Four 10” inflatable wheels, long handle for easy maneuverability

Possible Cons: The wagon is large, so you would need enough trunk space to pack it along with all of your other supplies.  This might restrict use based on the size of your vehicle.

Most Compact Beach Cooler: dbest products Ultra Compact Cooler Smart Cart

Why We Love It: This storage-friendly wheeled beach cooler comes in a variety of colors and weighs less than 3 pounds by itself.  The extra storage on the sides are perfect for napkins and cutlery, making it ideal for a family picnic or day trip. 

Key Features:

  • Weight: 3 lbs
  • Capacity: 36 cans/4 gallons in volume
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 13.5 x 10.75 inches
  • Material: Fabric
  • Insulation: Fully insulated and leak-proof
  • Portability: Durable wheels and telescoping handle

Possible Cons: Insulation and capacity is not enough for multi-day use, and several customers have reported that the handle is a bit short for their preference. 


Best Soft-Body Cooler: CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

Why We Love It: This cooler for the beach is highly versatile, allowing you to store as many as 50 cans in its leakproof interior.  The SnapHinges support contents while full and allow the cooler to fold flat when not in use.

Key Features:

  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Capacity: 30 Liters/8 gallons/50 lb weight capacity
  • Dimensions: 18.25 x 12.25 x 12 inches
  • Material: Polyester
  • Insulation: 3 layers of leak-proof insulation
  • Portability: Carrying handle with duffle bag handles for heavier loads
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Possible Cons: Cooler works well for a day trip, but will not keep items cold for prolonged use.  The duffle bag handles are also cumbersome when filled to maximum capacity.

Best Backpack Beach Cooler: TOURIT Cooler Backpack

Why We Love It: The backpack beach cooler boasts an impressive capacity and multiple pockets for additional storage.  The insulation material and leak proof liner work together to ensure there are no messy spills, and there are a variety of color options to choose from.

Key Features:

  • Weight: 1.1 lbs
  • Capacity: 30 cans
  • Dimensions: 13 x 7.5 x 15.8 inches
  • Material: 600D Oxford
  • Insulation: High-density foam
  • Portability: Padded back and shoulder straps

Possible Cons: Some customers reported that after months of regular use, the leak proof liner was not as effective. 

Best Water Cooler For the Beach: Igloo 5 Gallon Wheeled Portable Sports Cooler

Why We Love It: If you’re strictly looking for a beach water cooler, this Igloo cooler makes it a breeze to transport beverages wherever they’re needed.  We especially like the elevated base with Cool Riser Technology, which works to both keep contents cool and protect the spigot from dirt, sand, and grass.

Key Features:

  • Weight: 8.24 lbs
  • Capacity: 20 Quarts/18.9 Liters
  • Dimensions: 14.57 x 12.99 x 19.69
  • Material: Plastic
  • Portability: Molded-in side handles and locking, telescoping handle, inset wheels

Possible Cons: You want to make sure that the cooler is upright while in your vehicle, as it will possibly leak from the top. 

Don’t Forget Your Ice Packs!

While these products come with insulated linings to keep your drinks and food cool, remember it maintains the temperature so you need ice cubes or ice packs in your cooler to begin with to keep the right temperature.

All in all, there are so many great beach cooler options to go with, whether you’re looking for a wheeled beach cooler or simply a water cooler to transport beverages/snacks for a short jaunt to the water.  Don’t forget the sunscreen!


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family leaving the beach with a wheeled beach cooler

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