Gathering your essentials for the next outdoor adventure or road trip? Don’t forget to add a small ice cooler to your gear list. A  vital part of living on the go, personal coolers keep your food and drinks cold and fresh that give you the ultimate energy you need on your adventures. Offering the same blessings and comforts in the wilderness as life in the midst of society, mini coolers come in many forms, sizes, and features, but the quest for the best small cooler is not an easy one.

Thankfully, we’ve taken a look at several small cooler reviews and already come up with a list of the 10 best small coolers to help you get one step closer to choosing the best small cooler for your needs. You’ll not only learn the top rated persocal coolers currently on the market, but also about the essential criteria to look for in a small personal cooler. Closing it off, there come the FAQs that you always wanted to know.

How To Choose a 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 the one that manages to carry as many cans as you think you will need for your upcoming trip while not being big itself. Obviously, the greater the capacity the bigger the size, thus it is important to pay attention to some parameters.

Some of you may be looking for a cooler with wheels for an easier carry. Our advice is to stick to the ones that are without wheels since wheels tend to break pretty fast and decrease the shelf life of hard-sided coolers. 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 mini 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 and 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. It is important to choose ones that 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 sided 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 worthy of the title ” the best small cooler.”


The product description of the cooler you’re planning to buy 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 soft sided 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.

Coolers for lunch are obviously 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 small coolers or kayak small coolers are reinforced with industrial-strength durability. So it all comes down to the type of trip you’re planning. Just choose a cooler appropriate for the purpose of your trip and the durability will not disappoint.

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Fishing Coolers & Kayak Cooler

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


A compact soft sided cooler enables you to carry your drinks, food, snacks, and other items like small cosmetics with you on a short trip, while also keeping them cold and fresh.

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


The best 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 your 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.

Q: How To Clean My Compact Cooler?


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 carefully 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 the 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 from your comfort in order to attain it.

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

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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 the best coolers? How important is the ice time compared to the dimensions of the cooler? What are your favorite foods and drinks to put in a soft sided cooler? Let us know by posting a comment below!