What is the best cooler for the money?
With all the coolers on the market, it was a difficult choice to come to a single ‘golden cooler’ which ticked all the criteria’s. So we’ve shortlisted the top 5, with an editor’s choice as the best cooler for the money.

These coolers have been categorised into 3 bands being high budget, low budget and mid-range. This will help you decide which cooler will suit you for your next camping trip.

Best Cooler for the Money Comparison Table

 High-EndMid-RangeBudget Saver
Product ModelPelican Pro Gear CoolerOrca CoolerColeman Xtreme 5
Ice Retention10 days
7 Days5 Days
When buying a cooler, there are a few factors to take into account:

Durability – A cooler needs to be made from strong materials because they may be thrown around.
Portability – The insulation material must be light for ease of handling, and at the same time made from good insulating materials.
• Lastly, you need to know the size that will fit the occasion.

Cooler Types

Hard Coolers
Soft coolers


The Best Cooler for the money

1. Pelican Pro Cooler

Best cooler for the money - Pelican Cooler White

The exceptional cooler that keeps ice for up to 10 days. To avoid tension build up, we’ve put the #1 best cooler for the money first. The Pelican ProGear Elite Cooler is fitted with a robust dual handle system. Accompanied with the famous press and pull latches keeping it sealed, it is also armed with freezer-grade polyurethane 2″ seals. The tie downs are molded in for easy transporting and guaranteed for life.

Being built with military grade polymers, the Pelican cooler is designed to last. It keeps the ice solid for up to ten days and in hot temperatures, however, remember to drain the water daily – which is easy with the fitted drain plug.
The Pelican rivals and arguably outperforms all the other brands such as Igloo, Yeti, and marine just to mention a few.

Capacity: 35 quarts
Weight: 36 lbs.
Dimensions: 21” x 20” x 27”
Material: Military Grade Polymers

It is perfect for taking on your boat or truck with the molded in tie down points and the rubber feet it will not move an inch. The rubber feet are very tacky ensuring that it will not even slide around on a wet boat floor.
The added advantage is the lifetime guarantee where if any of the latches or handles break they will be replaced for no charge.

Due to the robust design, this cooler is on the heavy side, but for those extended long trips where you need your ice and perishables to be kept cold, this makes this cooler a worthy contender with the infamous Pelican vs Yeti debate.


• Keeps ice up ten days
• Fully insulated lid
• Fridge grade seals
• Tacky rubber to prevent slipping

• Heavy

Avg. Cooler Ice Retention

Best Cooler for the Money - Ice Retention Graph

Best Budget Cooler

2. Coleman Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler

Best cooler for the money - coleman xtreme

The Xtreme Wheeled chest cooler is an extremely durable 100-quart cooler that will keep your ice for up to 5 days. It comes with a hinged lid, Two-way handles for easy carrying, a channel drain, and the lid has four drinks holders. The Coleman Xtreme cooler encapsulates the idea of the best budget cooler.


It is a great 5-day cooler that will keep the ice and meat cold in temperature of 75 to 95 degree Fahrenheit. It is the right size for summer camping trips and easily can fit all the food and drinks for the whole family.

The handle makes it easy to drag the cooler around the camping site. The Coleman Xtreme 5 is easy to store, and if you need it for that boating trip it fits perfectly, and you can move it into position with ease using the wheels.

Capacity 100qtz 160 cans
Weight 22 lbs.
Dimension 17.19” x 16.75” x 36.5”
Material Thermozone insulation

At only 18 lbs. and fitted with wheels the cooler is one of the easiest to move and with the 4 cup holders precisely what is needed for a barbecue or sporting event.


• Seals well and keeps ice for five days
• Drain plug for easy cleaning
• Wheels for mobility
• Cup holders on the lid
• Extra handles for carrying


• Some weak points on the cooler
• Wheels are not as sturdy


First Runner Up – Best Cooler for Camping

3. Orca Cooler 

ORCA Cooler - Best cooler for the money

This is a great cooler for those extended camping trips. The product is made by using rotomolded construction making it more durable and robust.  The ORCA cooler will keep ice up to 7 days.

As runners-up, in the quest for the best cooler for the money, the ORCA cooler is a perfect addition to your camping gear. It is designed to withstand the highest temperatures, and at the same time keep all your ice and drinks cold for up to 7 days.
With the drain plug, it is easy to drain the water daily to ensure that the ice will last the maximum time.

Size 36” x 21” x 20”
Weight 34 lbs.
Capacity 58 Quart
Made in the USA

You can use it for any occasions where you need to have ice and food stored, from leaving it on your porch to taking it to your next day trip, with the flexibility of being able to use it for up to 7 days without replacing the ice.


• Big enough for at least a 4-day trip
• Keeps food and drinks cold up to 7 days
• Easy to handle
• Seals extremely well


• Heavy when loaded
• Fitted handles can bend the body work
• Seal can be difficult to open


Second Runner Up – Best Cooler for Tailgating

4. Igloo Polar Cooler

Best cooler for the money - Igloo Polar Cooler Open

For some, the Pelican ProGear Cooler can be an expensive purchase, and a cheaper alternative may be preferred.

The Igloo is the perfect cooler which can be used for all applications.
This cooler is light enough to put on the back of your truck or boat easily. As a cheaper Yeti alternative, it also seals perfectly with an Ultratherm insulated body and UV inhibitors to guard against damage from the sun.

The Igloo Polar Cooler provides exceptional value for money. You do not only get a cooler that will keep the ice and drinks cold for up to 5 days in 90 degrees’ Fahrenheit heat but one that is easy to move about at only 19 lbs. Being voted the best large cooler, it has a 120-quart capacity and at the best price.

Capacity: 120 Quart
Dimension: 17,72″ x 17,32″ x 38,19″
Weight: 18.21 lbs.
Material: Ultratherm Insulated Body

With a size of 120 quarts, it is big enough to pack all the drinks and ice that you need for any occasion. Even though the latches are on the weak side, they are easy and cheap to replace. As value for money, it cannot be beaten.

Also read: Top 7 Best Growler Cooler reviews in 2017


• Big enough to go on long trips
• Reinforced swing-up handles
• Excellent value for money
• UV Protected


• Weak hinges
• General construction not up to standard


Third Runner Up – Best Cooler for Picnics

5. Coleman Soft Cooler

blue coleman cooler - Best cooler for the money

A Fantastic picnic cooler that will hold 16 cans and has a removable inside liner for making it easier to clean. This comes with adjustable shoulder strap with added pockets on the inside, the front, and the sides.


The Coleman Soft Cooler is designed for any day, whether it be a picnic, a hike, or that lunch at work. The small Coleman cooler has the flexibility of easy cleaning with its removable plastic liner.

Different colors
Dimensions: 11,02″ x 11.81″ x 7,87″
Material: Fabric
Weight: 1.85 pounds

Need it for a trip?… then remove the plastic liner, roll it up and at only 1.85 lbs., it will not make much difference to your luggage weight. If you need some extra space?… No problem. There are three added pockets for those small little extras often needed at a picnic.

This little Coleman is exactly what is needed for the day out with its adjustable shoulder strap, bungee cord for an extra bottle, robust and great ice keeping ability.


• Well insulated
• Extra zipper pockets
• Durable, adjustable carrying strap
• Easy to clean


• Small base
• Need narrow ice packs
• 16 cans a very tight fit


What makes for the Perfect Cooler?

Coolers come in many sizes, designs, and materials which make it difficult for us to know which one to buy and for which purpose.
Hard-sided coolers tend to keep the ice for longer periods of time but are on the heavy side.
Soft-sided coolers are light easy to carry around and will keep the ice for long periods but are probably suited for day use rather than lengthy camping trips

The perfect cooler is the one that keeps your drinks cold, your foodstuff from going off, and the ice solid in the highest temperatures.

Best cooler for the Money – Conclusion

Pelican Banner - best ice chests 2016

The Pelican cooler is hailed king when it comes to the best cooler for the money, whether camping, boating or transporting of foodstuffs, it ticks all the boxes.
The cooler is robust, seals exceptionally well and with the push-pull type clasps will not allow for the accidental opening of the lid.

This article has tried to showcase the best coolers available in every budget range, and for the different activities. The features that are important is the durability, value for money and if they are capable of keeping your food and ice for the required time.
Whatever the use you cannot go wrong with the above coolers for both performance and value for money.