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The 5 Best Small Coolers for 2024

It’s crucial to make sure you are staying hydrated and nourished when camping, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors. One of the most important items to help ensure you have everything you need on the fueling front is a small cooler. Transportable and efficient, this a piece of gear every camper needs in their repertoire.

Read on for our top picks of the best small coolers, some key factors to consider when purchasing, and more!

Best small cooler

Our Top Picks

Best Overall
YETI Portable Soft Cooler

Best Budget
Coleman 28 Can Backpack Soft Cooler 

Best Hard Design
Stanley Adventure Leakproof Outdoor Cooler

Best Overall

YETI Portable Soft Cooler

YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler, Nordic Purple

When choosing the best small cooler, look for long-lasting cold capacity, ample storage, durability, and a reputable brand. The YETI Portable Soft Cooler is our top pick, offering a compact size (14 x 14 x 11 inches) that can hold up to 12 cans plus ice. It’s suitable for various outdoor activities, leakproof, and waterproof, making it an ideal choice for wilderness adventures, camping trips, and more. Choose from a variety of colors to match your gear.


  • Is a proven sturdy, waterproof, leakproof cooler
  • Keeps items cold for many hours, even up to multiple days in the right conditions
  • Comes in a variety of colors


  • Occasional issues with compromised items; however, no consistent product detriments have been reported

Best Budget

Coleman 28 Can Backpack Soft Cooler

Coleman Chiller Series Insulated Portable Soft Cooler Backpack, Leak-Proof 28 Can Capacity Backpack Cooler with Adjustable Straps and Ice Retention

For those seeking a budget-friendly small cooler, the Coleman 28 Can Backpack Soft Cooler is a top choice. Despite its lower cost, this cooler offers practicality, high capacity (up to 28 cans), effective insulation, and ease of use. It features an insulated pocket for food, waterproofing, durability, and a comfortable backpack-style fit. It’s a great option for keeping items cold on hikes, camping trips, or outdoor adventures without breaking the bank.


  • Highly affordable, particularly in comparison to other standard small coolers
  • Can be carried like a regular backpack
  • Has a waterproof exterior design
  • Has a good carrying capacity


  • Several customers have reported leakage after a few uses
  • Should only be filled with frozen water bottles or icepacks rather than loose ice

Best Hard Design

Stanley Adventure Leakproof Outdoor Cooler

Stanley Adventure Leakproof Outdoor 16qt Cooler - Double Wall Foam Travel Insulated BPA Free Chest Cooler - Heavy Duty Camping Cooler with Flat Top Doubles as Seat

For those seeking a small cooler with a hard exterior, the Stanley Adventure Leakproof Outdoor Cooler is an excellent choice. Made of stainless steel, it offers durability and leak resistance. It can also double as a seat, making it versatile for camping or hiking. This cooler keeps contents cold for over a day, is lightweight and portable, and comes with a lifetime limited warranty.


  • Has a sturdy and durable design
  • Great for camping and outdoor adventures, but also a great small cooler for daily lunches, picnics, etc.
  • Wonderful value for a middle-of-the-road price
  • Has bungie cords on top for carrying additional water bottles


  • Some customers have reported manufacturing issues with their Stanley coolers
  • May prove hard to snap closed

RTIC Soft Cooler Insulated Bag

RTIC Soft Cooler 30 Can, Insulated Bag Portable Ice Chest Box for Lunch, Beach, Drink, Beverage, Travel, Camping, Picnic, Car, Trips, Floating Cooler Leak-Proof with Zipper, Seafoam Green

For car trips, the RTIC Soft Cooler Insulated Bag is a top choice. With a capacity of up to 30 cans, it’s lightweight, flexible, and ideal for easy packing. Customers praise its ease of use and material quality. If you need a well-designed, high-capacity cooler that keeps items cold for a day, this is a great pick for car adventures.


  • This cooler ranks highly as a well-built, sturdy, easy-to-use product
  • The dimensionality makes it easy for use in the car, packing in among other items, and carrying to campsites and on hikes
  • This cooler is waterproof and floating, making it also ideal for beach trips and pool days


  • Some customers have found the size to be too large and therefore off-putting for their particular camping gear needs

Coleman Rolling Cooler

Coleman Rolling Cooler | 50 Quart Xtreme 5 Day Cooler with Wheels | Wheeled Hard Cooler Keeps Ice Up to 5 Days, Black

The Coleman Rolling Cooler is the best small cooler on wheels, ideal for those who prefer pulling over carrying. Despite being larger than typical small coolers, it is still compact and practical. With a capacity of up to 50 quarts, it features a telescoping handle for easy transport over rough terrain and unpaved paths. The locking lid doubles as a seat, adding to its practicality.


  • The heavy-duty wheels and telescoping handle make for easy navigation on even the toughest terrain
  • The large storage capacity makes it easy to keep all your cold items stored in one place
  • The heavily insulated lid and sides can keep contents cold for up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit


  • Some customers have reported the handle not telescoping properly on their item
  • Cooling capacity and longevity may be significantly reduced in extreme, prolonged temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or with frequent opening and closing of the cooler

Considerations for Choosing the Best Small Cooler

  • Sunlight Exposure: Some small coolers perform better in direct sunlight than others. Consider higher insulation models if exposed to extreme heat.
  • Durability: For rugged use, like hiking or frequent opening/closing, prioritize well-built coolers over cheaper or more stylish options.
  • Effectiveness Factors: Conditions and usage determine a cooler’s effectiveness, so consider these before choosing one.

Transportability Considerations:

  • Variety in Transport: Some coolers can attach to backpacks or be worn as one, while others require hand-carrying. Choose based on intended use.
  • Importance of Transportability: A cooler may have excellent cooling capacity but might not be suitable if difficult to carry and transport.

Capacity and Size:

  • Cooler Size vs. Needs: Review dimensions to ensure the cooler can hold what you need, including considering space for ice packs or frozen items.
  • Avoiding Disappointment: Ensure the cooler has enough space for your items to avoid post-purchase disappointment.

Cooling Duration:

  • Varied Cooling Times: Coolers can keep contents cold for a few days or less than 24 hours. Environmental factors and frequency of opening affect cooling duration.
  • Consider Customer Reviews: Customer feedback on cooling duration can help guide your purchase decision.
The Best Small Coolers

Wrapping up the Best Small Cooler for 2023

Choosing the best small cooler is just one of the important items to check off on your camping gear list!

Check out our Camping Gear page for insights and ideas on other items to make sure you have on hand before you set out on a camping adventure.