Some things just go together. Like dry shampoo and busy mornings (according to moms). Or bike shorts and tie-dye (according to Instagram influencers). Or an ice cold drink and a hot summer afternoon (according to every human ever). And for that, you’ll need a cooler.
But unlike pizza or sex, not every cooler is a good cooler. You need something that’s lightweight yet durable, spacious yet sleek and sturdy yet easy to carry and use. And, most importantly, you need something that’s insulated enough to keep your drinks frosty for hours on even the hottest of days.
Finding the perfect cooler can be tough (so many options! so many styles! so many brands!) which is why we’ve rounded up some of the most popular ones below, from the cult-favorite Yeti to a thermoelectric Igloo that doesn’t even require ice (!!). Based on reviews and ratings from mamas just like us, these are the best coolers you can buy right now, whether you’re stocking up on Capri Sun for the kiddos or something a little stronger (read: booze) for the adults.
A cooler loaded down with ice and White Claws (black cherry always, please and thank you) sounds like a good idea—until you realize you somehow have to carry it down what feels like a 10-mile boardwalk (and 500 stairs) before you even reach the beach. Not even your quarantine home workouts could prepare you for that. Luckily, coolers on wheels exist—like this one from Coleman, which has nearly 1,500 rave reviews on Amazon. Just like your favorite suitcase, it has a telescoping handle and easy-to-roll wheels that will give your arms a much-needed break. And with a capacity of 42 cans, it’s ideal for outings with a big group, like a day trip with your friends and fam or your little one’s pool party.
In case you missed it, things that used to be cool are, well, cool again. Like Crocs, bike shorts, overalls, and, apparently, retro coolers. This one from Coleman has over 1,800 positive reviews for its chunky ’70s-style design and large capacity (it can hold up to 54 quarts which is the equivalent of 85 cans!). Even more importantly, it’s made of rust-resistant stainless steel that is both durable and insulating—according to shoppers, the cooler keeps drinks ice cold for up to four days. And in the rare case that you get to the beach and no one has a bottle opener to crack open that refreshing Corona Light you’re dying for? No worries, this cooler has a built-in one right on the side.
Your 13-year-old self called—she wants her cooler back. No but really, tie-dye is back in style and we are so here for it, even on our coolers thanks to this trendy option from Anthropologie. The shibori pattern comes in blush pink, stone gray, and canary yellow and is everything your Instagram-obsessed self needs for your summer activities. Created by popular brand Business & Pleasure Co., it was even featured in the most recent FabFitFun box and is made from eco-friendly materials like recycled cotton and polyester. A.k.a. not only will you look good toting around your cute cooler but you can feel good about it as well, knowing that you did your part in saving the environment.
Your time is valuable, mama, we know. A.k.a. the struggle that is buying enough ice, breaking it up (why is this part always so hard?!), and then artfully arranging said ice so that every drink is perfectly covered takes up way too much of that precious time. The solution? A cooler that doesn’t require ice (!!), like this thermoelectric one from Igloo. All you have to do is plug it into an electrical outlet—or your car’s cigarette lighter if you’re on the go—and it instantly cools the interior to keep your beverages nice and frosty. According to the 1,400+ reviewers, the plastic cooler is lightweight and super quiet and, most importantly, saves you the mess that is melting ice at the end of the day.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s your motto for your kids’ toys (no, you’re not buying yet another L.O.L. Surprise Doll) and it can also be your motto for your cooler. I.e. the nostalgic Igloo Playmate cooler of your own childhood is still just as popular—and just as good—as ever. It still has that iconic triangle-top design that brings back memories of Sunny D and PB&Js at the park and has an easy push-button lid so you can open it one-handed (while holding onto your little ones with the other). And at just $35 with nearly 1,700 rave reviews, it’s the definition of a good value buy.
Clunky, plastic, and usually a not-so-chic primary color, coolers aren’t exactly the most aesthetic of accessories. Until now, that is. Leave it to the ever-whimsical Ban.do to create a cooler that is all at once fashionable and functional. Shaped like a bright pink slice of grapefruit, this water-resistant cooler bag has enough room to carry all of your summer picnic essentials from sandwiches to sweet tea and is well-insulated enough to keep them cold for hours. Plus, since it has a comfortable-to-carry shoulder strap, it can even double as a beach tote, making the $32 you’ll spend on it more than worth it. “This is the 5th bag like this I have purchased,” one mom says, adding, “My daughters love them as much as I do!”
When you think about the best slippers, you think of Uggs. When you think about the best yoga pants, you think of Lululemon. And when you think about the best coolers, you think of Yeti. The wildly popular brand has garnered quite the following—and for good reason. Yeti coolers are renowned for how amazing they are for keeping ice from melting for hours and even days on end. The only catch? They’re expensive (think investment). The tote-like Yeti Hopper is one of their more affordable coolers and is just as good, if not a little smaller (or as we see it, a lot more portable). The inside is 100 percent leakproof while the outside is 100 percent waterproof. That’s a win-win all around for us! The colors are great, too, and you’ll always be able to recognize “your” YETI.
Want more top-rated summer gear? Find all of our favorite home and kitchen must-haves here.