Gathering your essentials for the next outdoors adventure or travel experience? Don’t forget to add a small ice cooler to your gear list. Being able to keep food and drinks cold and fresh can be a vital part of living on the go but with the same blessings and comforts as life in the midst of society.

To help you pick the best of the best, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide. Browse our list of small and mini coolers below and you’ll be one step closer to choosing the best small cooler for your needs.

You’ll not only learn of the 10 best coolers currently on the market, but also about the essential criteria to look for in a small personal cooler. Closing it off, all the FAQs about coolers that you always wanted to know. Ready? Let’s go!

How To Choose The Best Small Cooler – Buying Guide


Still not sure what you should be looking for in a small travel cooler? Here’s the scoop, broken down into the main criteria to pay attention to.

Carrying Capacity And Size

The perfect mini cooler for your needs is one that manages to carry as many cans as you think you will need for the upcoming trip, while being not that big itself. Obviously, the greater the capacity the bigger the size, but pay attention to these parameters and you’ll notice that some options are better than others.

Also, some of you may be looking for a small portable cooler with wheels for an easier carry. Our advice is to stick to the ones who are more durable, since wheels tend to break pretty fast. Don’t worry, the swing handles on most models on our list above means they’re easy to carry without wheels, too.

Ice Time

For how long will the best small cooler you’ve chosen keep your drinks and snacks cold? Usually, a long time advertised also means that you’ll need to wait an equally long time before using it, in order to prepare the ice packs. Think about this trade-off and find the ideal time window for you, so you get both high performance but also a bit of flexibility.


You don’t need your cooler to be waterproof, but you do need it to be leak-proof in order to prevent the melted ice or drinks inside from spilling out. On the other hand, if your small personal cooler is also waterproof, then all for the better.

Ease Of Cleaning And Maintenance

Don’t buy a cooler if it doesn’t specify that it’s treated with anti-microbial substances. Only those are easy to clean and don’t pose future health risks. This is even more important if you’re using them for storing food as well, not just drinks.


This is where you need to make a choice, usually based on your gut, on whether you prefer soft coolers or hard-shelled coolers. Both types come with their own unique sets of pros and cons. A soft cooler is obviously easier to carry on your person, like with a shoulder strap, while a hard one is more durable, can protect the contents better and can double down as a chair or small table.

Regardless of which of the two types of cooler you prefer, you can rest assured that the items which made it to our list are top of the line.

Related Review: Soft Cooler


The product description of the cooler you’re considering should clearly state for how many hours they promise to keep the contents of the cooler ice-cold. On average, look for at least 6-8 hours for lunchbox type of coolers, and around 24 hours for coolers used for city breaks and camping trips.


Durability is important not just for how long you have until you need to replace it, but also as a question of how bad is your cooler going to look after a couple of trips, even if still functional. The truth is that here, it depends on the purpose of the cooler.

Lunch coolers are obviously going to be the softest of them all, but you don’t really need them to withstand bear attacks if you just take them to work and back, right? The same goes for beach coolers, they’re great for their intended job, but can prove flimsy on an expedition to the highest mountain peak. On the other hand, fishing coolers or kayak coolers are going to be reinforced with industrial strength durability. So it all comes down to the type of trip you’re planning. Just choose a cooler appropriate for it and the durability will not disappoint.

Related Reviews: Fishing Coolers & Kayak Cooler




Q: What Are The Benefits Of Owning A Compact Cooler?

A: Being able to carry your drinks, food, snacks and other items (like small cosmetics) with you on a short trip, while also keeping them cool.

Q: How To Get The Most From My Compact Cooler?


The best personal cooler is the one that works best for you. Since all coolers are designed for a different kind of use, you need to think about what you plan on using your cooler for: lunches to work, on short trips out of town, to the beach, or as a hybrid?

Based on what you answer, you will know how big you need your cooler to be, how well insulated and so on. Also, when in doubt, also go for higher quality in order to make the most from your cooler.

Related Review: Beach Cooler

Q: How To Clean My Compact Cooler?

A: As long as your cooler has been treated with anti-microbial substances to keep germs from over-multiplying, you can wash it without much fuss. The inner sides can be wiped with a damp cloth, kitchen cleaning wipes and so on, while the outer sides can even be machine-washed if the product tag indicates it. Just read the instructions for your particular model and brand to know for sure.

Globo Surf Overview

Camping can give you immense freedom to move around and explore as deep into natural territory as you’d like to go, or to be able to stay right next to the site of action (like your next dive site and so on). But all this freedom is only worth it if you don’t have to sacrifice all your comfort in order to attain it.

Having access to your favorite foods and drinks can make any travel experience that much greater. That’s why having one of the best coolers to accompany your trip is hugely important. We hope our guide helped you choose the best option from the list of top-rated personal coolers above. Enjoy your summer!

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Coolers are an essential item on any packing list preparing you for a trip in the great outdoors. How do you choose yours? Do you have a favorite brand for coolers in general? Are you looking for anything in particular when shopping for a good cooler? How important is the ice time compared to the dimensions of the cooler? What are your favorite foods and drinks to put in a cooler? Let us know by posting a comment below!

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!