Best Beach Coolers: Top Models From 5 Brands

Best beach coolers feature image

Beach coolers are something that you don’t think of needing until you actually need it. But if you frequent the beach often just to enjoy some sunshine or to do some surf fishing, a good beach cooler with wheels or carrying handles is a necessity.

In this post, we will take a look at some of the best beach coolers on the market, to help you determine which one holds the title for the best beach cooler in their category.

Best Beach Coolers: Our Top Picks

Best Soft-Sided Beach Cooler
YETI Hopper

The Yeti Hopper is our pick for the best soft shell coolers. The Yeti Hopper has great ice retention for its class and is made from high-quality materials.

Best Hard-Sided Beach Cooler
YETI Tundra

The Yeti Tundra is our pick for the best hard beach cooler, they are great for large groups when you need to carry a lot of stuff and keep your drinks cold, and the ice retention is hard to beat. The popularity of the Yeti name and the tundra line of beach coolers should speak for themselves as being the best beach cooler on this list.

Best Beach Cooler with Wheels
Igloo Trailmate

The Igloo trailmate has so many great features for a wheeled cooler it’s hard to find anything else that comes close to it in the beach cooler with wheels category.

Mesh storage compartment, dry storage, butler table, solid construction with premium materials, this rolling cooler keeps things ice-cold, and a stellar price, what more could you ask for. These reasons are more than enough to give it the title of the best beach cooler with wheels in our book.

Best Beach Coolers: Full Reviews

YETI Tundra
YETI Tundra
YETI Tundra
Our Score

It is probably not a surprise to anyone that the Yeti Tundra is on the list of best fishing coolers. Yeti coolers quickly made a name for themselves in the cooler market, and have become an absolute powerhouse by creating some of the highest-quality coolers of all time.

The Tundra is loaded with innovative design features with one job in mind, keeping things cold and can hold ice for an incredibly long period of time. Yeti does this by creating very thick walls that hold up to 3 inches of insulation which consists of a polyurethane injection during construction, and an interlocking lid system that creates a form fit a barrier to prevent any leaks.

The Yeti Tundra also has excellent ice retention which is one of the reasons for its popularity in the beach cooler world.

  • Long ice retention
  • Rock-solid construction
  • Great Insulation
Igloo Trailmate
Igloo Trailmate
Igloo Trailmate
Our Score

The Igloo Trailmate has so many cool designs and features that it will make your head spin. The Trailmate is a beach cooler with wheels for great mobility and an extendable handle to aid in transport.

The cooler features a 70-quart capacity, being able to keep a maximum of 112 12 0z cans cold, that’s a ton of beverages.

Along with the high carry capacity, the Trailmate features a butler table attachment with cup holders, a mesh external storage pocket, two bottle openers, a mobile device stand, a dry storage compartment for things like cell phones, and a food basket.

The Trailmate is like the SUV of coolers in is one of the more affordable beach coolers despite all the features it comes with, and there’s not much that it can’t handle.

  • Cooler on wheels
  • Large capacity
  • Tons of additional features
YETI Hopper
YETI Hopper
YETI Hopper
Our Score

The Yeti Hopper is a highly mobile soft-sided cooler that is highly mobile and great for use while spending the day on the beach surf fishing or simply enjoying a summer day.

The hopper features the hydro shield closure technology which employs powerful magnets to ensure a leakproof and tight seal at all times when coupled with the zipper.

The dry hide high-density shell resists mildew, mold, punctures, and tears, and even protects against UV rays that shine down on a sunny beach.

  • Highly mobile
  • Awesome sealing technology with high ice retention
  • tough and mildew-resistant shell
RTIC Soft Cooler
RTIC Soft Cooler
RTIC Soft Cooler
Our Score

The RTIC soft cooler comes in four different sizes. Sizes include 8, 20, 30, and 40 12 oz can capacity sizes.

The RTIC soft cooler also has an incredibly tough zipper that is leakproof and keeps your contents well insulated, and the body itself has closed-cell foam insulation that is 2 inches thick that is coupled with a tear and puncture-resistant liner, all of these features combined will keep your beverages cold with ice retention that lasts for 24 hours.

The RTIC soft body cooler also has a ton of handles and straps for any carrying situation you may come across, allowing for easy carry and high mobility for beachgoers.

  • Very portable beach cooler
  • Many carrying options
  • Variety of sizes
Evolution Soft-Sided Cooler With Wheels
Evolution Soft-Sided Cooler With Wheels
Evolution Soft-Sided Cooler With Wheels
Our Score

Features soft sides while still giving you a beach cooler with wheels, the Evolution may be the best beach cooler for you.

The evolution comes in two different sizes with both 25 QT and 50 QT offerings.

The retractable handle on the Evolution comes with four different stages so you can dial in the best handle length for you, and the insulated lid is very large, coming in at 2.5 feet, and is fully insulated.

The covers zipper is leakproof to protect against spills, and also has two built-in cup holders and a recessed area for temporary storage.

To top these features off, the evolution cooler comes with a detachable dry storage compartment that attaches to the front of the cooler, great for things like car keys, cellphones, or other items that you don't want to lose on the beach.

  • Cup holders
  • Heavy Duty Wheels
  • Detachable dry storage compartment


How to Choose a Beach Cooler

A well-insulated cooler is essential when you spend a few hours or all day at the beach.

Storage Needs

Storage capacity is one of the most important factors when choosing a portable beach cooler. If you only need beverages to last you or a few people for a short beach outing of one day, then a smaller capacity cooler will make more sense to use instead of hauling a large cooler capable of carrying 50 12 oz. cans.

If you have a larger group and are on an excursion that will last several days, a larger cooler is definitely the best option, you can hold enough beverages and food, and keep them cold the entire trip with a well-built beach cooler.

Hard or Soft Shell

This consideration can be listed as a personal preference for many, but there are advantages for both hard and short cooler designs.

Soft beach coolers are typically smaller and easier and more comfortable to transport by hand for long distances.

Hard shell coolers are typically larger, but also do a better job at keeping things colder for longer periods of time, and if you are going on a trip lasting the weekend or longer, then hard-sided coolers will most likely be the best option.

Layout and Design

Are cup holders or dry storage compartments an important feature to you? If they are, you might want to consider a portable beach cooler with these features.

Beach coolers with wheels are a necessity for many beachgoers and surf fishermen, as they make for easy transport to the beach itself, other people prefer soft-sided coolers with shoulder straps to a rolling cooler.

Ice Retention

Ice Retention refers to the amount of time the cooler can keep ice solid before melting completely into water.

Some coolers boast excellent ice retention properties, but in practice don’t last as long as intended, this is due to factors such as time in direct sunlight and temperatures.

Good ice retention is obviously important when it comes to keeping things cold, so be sure to see if you can find information on the ice retention potential of any cooler.


As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for,” but in many cases particularly when it comes to incredibly popular brand names, you are paying for the name and not because it’s the best beach cooler on the planet.

There are some great coolers out there that offer nearly identical performance for half the price of other coolers, and some that just simply aren’t up to snuff.

Get the best cooler that you can afford, it’s as simple as that.


Beach coolers help keep your refreshments ice-cold when you’re out at the beach.

Transporting a large cooler capable of storing a large number of ice-cold beverages is going to be a challenge to carry around on a beach if you are alone. This isn’t as much of a problem if you have friends to help.

If you’re going to the beach alone, it’s probably best to use a smaller soft beach cooler, and if you want one larger than the carry-friendly soft-sided cooler, you definitely will want to get a rolling beach cooler, this will greatly improve its portability.

Additional Features

Some of the best beach coolers may have other handy features like a bottle opener, and indeed a bottle opener may be something many people consider to be a necessity to round off the perfect beach cooler.

One feature that all hardshell coolers should have – along with the ability to operate in extreme heat and retain ice –  is a leak-resistant drain plug, while some soft-sided coolers might not feature a drain plug, they are typically smaller, and can easily be drained by flipping the beach cooler.

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Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.
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