Spending time on the beach throughout the warm season is great, whether you like to be surrounded by groups of friends, family, or you’re more of a lone wolf. Going on a date on the beach is also a nice idea, and so is organizing a picnic get-together.

But for all of these, and even for simply catching a couple of hours of sun towards your tan goals, you need a reliable beach cooler. We’ve taken a look at the best rated beach coolers currently on the market and came up with this top.

Our goal is to help you choose the best beach cooler for you, depending on your needs, budget, preferences and so on. We will take a look at every item that made it to the list of best beach coolers and see what makes it special.

How To Choose A Beach Cooler – Buying Guide

Choosing the perfect beach cooler for your needs is easy enough, once you know the exact key features to look for. If you only need it for spending a few hours on the beach, than you need a smaller beach bag that is convenient to carry and store. Even if the coolness will only last for a few hours, it’s enough for the purposes of 1 day at the beach.

If you’re looking into beach coolers which can also serve you well on a multi-day camping trip or on a water sports adventure, then you need a heavy-duty one. This often comes at the expense of space occupied and ease of use, but it keeps the contents safe from shock and cool for days.

After you decide what kind of beach cooler you’re looking for, there are a few extra criteria to take into account. This is what you need to consider before making the final decision.


The exact dimensions of top rated beach coolers can vary from brand to brand and model to model, but it’s easier to understand it if you look at capacity instead of standard dimensions. For a casual day on the shore, a beach cooler that can hold between 6 and 12 cans should be enough. If you’re going with a group of 4 to 6 people, then you can consider a beach cooler bag of up to 16 cans.

If instead you are going on a multi-day camping adventure, a larger beach cooler box is required, and the capacity you should look for is around 20+ cans. Of course, when considering a beach cooler for a longer time away from home, you should also look for one that maintains the temperature for days.


When it comes to the materials used, not all beach coolers are created equal. The best insulation capacity is reserved for the beach coolers that are hard sided and coated with complex steel-based fabrics.

The soft-sided beach bags and totes that only insulate the contents for a few hours are usually lined with an aluminum-based fabric, enough for maintaining the temperature for the afternoon.

There is also the matter of product life that comes directly from the type of material used. A hard sided beach box made with reliable insulation has the advantage of lasting for decades, even taken care of properly. Therefore, even if these beach coolers tend to be more expensive, you can think of them as an investment, not only for future beach trips but for more challenging camping days as well.

The soft sided beach cooler bags are lined with fabrics which make them do the job well for half a day, but the insulation will also wear off faster. Even for the top rated beach coolers, you shouldn’t expect them to last more than a few years if they are from the soft-sided category.


More expensive is not necessarily better, and there are plenty of affordable beach coolers on the market that do their job well. Still, when it comes to really high performance, you can expect the good ones to be more of an investment. The popular favorites like Yeti or RTIC beach coolers can stay in use for a very long time (up to 20 years), so when you think about it like that the price doesn’t seem so high.

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On the other hand, sometimes the price of a beach cooler is higher than what you need to pay for a similar one from a less known brand. If you don’t mind whipping out $20 extra for the same features from a brand with more prestige, then it’s ok. But if you want to always get your money’s worth, you need to pay attention to the features and just choose exactly what you need, regardless of the logo on it.


When shopping for a beach cooler, you should also look at how easy it will be to clean and maintain. The soft sided coolers can sometimes be put into the washing machine, but this may shorten the product life due to the wear and tear. The hard sided ones can be wiped clean with cloths or cleaning wipes, but the many components that create the inner lining and pockets can make the job harder.

To make sure you won’t have a hard time keeping your beach cooler clean, you should look for one which specifically states it is easy to clean. A little trick to consider is that the beach coolers with plenty of secured compartments and pockets inside may also be easier to clean. Since everything you put inside will be held tight, there is little risk of the contents spilling or being dispersed all around the cooler.


Q: How to clean beach coolers?


Speaking of cleaning, it’s very important to look for beach coolers that are spill-proof, since they will also be easier to clean than regular ones. Also, keep in mind that using loose ice inside the cooler (instead of ice packs or packs of ice cooling gel) can also make it harder to clean due to the water which will be left on the bottom.

Most beach coolers can be kept clean simply by removing their contents and placing the cooler upside down so every drops remaining can drain out. If there is actual dirt to be cleansed, cleaning wipes or a damp cloth should do the trick.

For soft beach coolers, there is also the option of machine washing (if the instructions specifically state this is allowed). When using a machine is not an option, giving them a wipe with a damp cloth will do. Any stains on the outside of the beach cooler can be cleansed with a toothbrush and a little soapy water, whether it is a hard sided box type or a soft tote bag type.

Q: How do beach coolers work?


The basic idea of any beach cooler is to allow you to place food, drinks or cosmetic products inside that will be kept cool for at least 4-6 hours, and up to several days. But the way in which this is accomplished can vary, depending on the type of beach cooler in question.

Soft-sided beach coolers usually consist of a waterproof fabric outer layer, and an extra insulating layer that will maintain the cold temperature inside. This layer can be made of aluminum lining or of other insulating materials, and everything needs to come together tightly to prevent the temperature from being influenced by the one on the outside. Everything from the corners to the zippers or caps that lock it is made from similar special materials for perfect insulation. This is why the top rated beach coolers tend to be expensive.

For hard-sided beach coolers, the materials used are even more complex, since the box needs to ensure not only insulation, but also resistance to shock. Furthermore, the hard sided coolers also make the coolness last for a longer time, so the fabric inside needs to be based on steel rather than aluminum.

Still, the beach coolers don’t produce the cold themselves, they only maintain the temperature that is created inside them. To ensure this coolness, you need to place ice-cold items inside the beach cooler, whether you use ice packs, ice gel packs or even actual ice. In a way, beach coolers function similarly to old-fashioned ice-boxes, but they are portable and designed for time spent outdoors.

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Being perfectly equipped with a suitable beach cooler can make the difference between a great vacation and an irritating one. Especially when going in a hot area (like the beach), having access to cold drinks or food several hours after you’ve left home is essential. If the weather is particularly hot, you should also place your sunscreen inside the beach cooler as well.

But beyond the basic necessity for a functional beach cooler, there are plenty of other perks to look for in a good product. Extra pockets, coolness for days (in case of out of town camping trips), built-in bottle openers, being easy to fold and store away when not using, comfortable carry straps or handles, extendable compartments etc. are just a few. If you know what to look for and what you need in a beach cooler, making the right choice should be easy after reading our guide.

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Do you use beach coolers when you go get some sun? What kind of beach cooler do you have? Would you change it and if so, why? Share your experience with the other readers below!