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:
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?
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.
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.
|Artic Zone Titan Deep Freeze||2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler||6.77 lbs||60 can / 100 lbs|
|Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme Wheeled Cooler||2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler||18 lbs||160 can / 113 Liters|
|Igloo Trailmate Journey||2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler||34 lbs||112 can / 70 quarts|
|Clvr 80 Quart Wagon Cooler||4-Wheeled Rolling Cooler||41.8 lbs||70 can / 80 quarts / 20 gallon|
|dbest Ultra Compact Cooler Smart Cart||2-Wheeled Rolling Cooler||3 lbs||36 can / 4 gallons|
|CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag||Cooler Carry Bag||2 lbs||30 Liters/8 gallons/50 lb weight capacity|
|TOURIT Cooler Backpack||Backpack Cooler||1.1 lbs||30 can|
|Igloo 5 gallon wheeled sports cooler||2-Wheeled Water Cooler||8.24 lbs||20 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.
- 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 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.
This is a top choice for those big family outtings.
- 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: 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.
- 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.
- 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: 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.
- 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.
- 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
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 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Found this beach gear review useful? You may also like:
- Best family beach tents – when you’re finished in the water it’s great to have a shaded spot to retreat to out of the UV rays.
- Best family-sized beach blankets – ideal sand-free options for your next big day at the beach.
- Best family-sized beach bags – fitting in all your essential family gear, what are the best XXL sized beach bags this summer with essential features to look for.
- Learn to swim vest and lifevests for kids – how much flotation and protection do your kids need around water? We’ve been looking at the leading brands of swim vests and lifevests for your smaller kids.
- Ultimate Beach Packing List – don’t forget a thing next time you head to the beach with our essentials packing list (downloadable!)
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