One of the many beauties of car camping is that you can load up all your camping gear in your car, without having to worry about carrying it in your backpack. Although you do pull into a campsite and set up a tent near your vehicle, all your stuff remains in the car.
You know what that means, right? It means that you are free to pack whatever you want, be it thick sleeping pads, plastic bins, or even a cast-iron stove if you like, as long as it all fits in your car.
More than that, though, all the fun lies in cracking open a can of cold beer in your base camp while your camping gear is stacked up nicely and safely in your car. To keep the beer cold, however, you need a good quality cooler, which is one of the main pieces of equipment when it comes to car camping.
A cooler is the best way to keep your food and drinks cold enough to last for a few days. A great cooler also has the ability to make or break your camping trip. Imagine a sad combination of melted, messy food and lukewarm beer; you certainly don’t want that!
So, to help you keep all your brats, cheeses, and beers fresh and cold all weekend, we’ve come up with some of the best coolers for car camping. These will easily fit in your car and will also act as a makeshift seat and step stool!
1. Canyon Coolers Outfitter Series 35
This cooler for car camping is made of a high-quality polyethylene rotomolded shell that ensures great durability and provides excellent ice retention. The outer shell or cover of the cooler is filled with ultra-thick, high-density foam that efficiently traps cold air inside and gives it an air-tight seal. It also has a no-loss drain plug that makes the cooler highly leak-proof. Even if the ice does melt somehow, it’ll stay inside the container and won’t end up leaking anywhere.
A great feature of the Canyon Cooler Outfitter Series 35 is that it employs 100 percent recessed handles and latches that make it easy for campers to load it into their cars. The latches also ensure that everything is kept safe and secure.
When properly pre-cooled, the ice in the cooler can last for about 14 days, which means that you can set up camp in the backcountry without worrying about your food and drinks running out. The cooler is also bear-proof, which suggests that it’s super tough, durable, and safe to use.
- Comes with latches and a lockable lid
- It’s equipped with a one-piece drain plug for ease of use
- Straight interior walls offer additional storage
- Excellent ice retention and cooling function
- Can be easily loaded in the car
- Doesn’t come with wheels, so carrying it around might be tough
- Not big enough for a large group of campers
2. Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler
For regular campers, the Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler is a great option for car camping trips. While this cooler is quite heavy on the pocket, it’s actually worth the money, given its incredible features and benefits.
This cooler for car camping is well-known for its unmatched durability and a superior insulation function. It has been designed with a three-inch-thick layer of polyurethane foam that keeps the ice super cold for several days. Like many other camping coolers, this cooler is also made using a rotomolded shell, so it’s highly likely that this cooler will last you a lifetime!
The Yeti Tundra 45 cooler comes with impressive storage and capacity – it can store up to 28 cans of soda or an equal quantity of food. Additionally, it features T-Rex lid latches that are made of top-quality rubber, which prevent anything or anyone from busting the latches.
The best part about this cooler is that it’s unbelievably sturdy with an extra thick FatWall design that ensures durability and strength.
- Has a bear-proof construction
- Easy to use
- Excellent cooling function
- Can be loaded in vehicles with great ease
- The ice lasts for days
- Very expensive compared to other similar coolers
- Doesn’t come with wheels
- Heavy to carry around
3. RovR RollR 60 Cooler
In case your car camping trip involves a bit of hiking or walking around without the car, the RovR RollR 60 Cooler is your best bet. It’s not just a cooler, but is actually more like a full-fledged mini-car with tons of special features.
One of the most notable characteristics of this cooler for car camping is that it comes with large, inflatable wheels that are super sturdy and smooth. The wheels easily roll on difficult terrain and easily handle rough and rugged grounds.
The thick, high-density foam insulation of this cooler provides excellent durability and insulation, along with the rotomolded construction that keeps your food and drinks fresh and cold throughout your car camping trip.
This cooler comes with a great many special features that include a rubber sealing gasket, a large dry basket, non-skid feet, a wagon bin, anchor points, and a secure storage basket on the top of the cooler. All these factors make it one of the best coolers for car camping, especially for large groups of campers.
- Offers unmatched durability
- Has a comfortable handle
- High-performance, puncture-resistant tires
- Provides ice retention for almost 7-10 days
- It is very heavy
- Quite pricey
- Not ideal for small camp groups
4. Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler
This is a heavy-duty, high-capacity cooler for car camping that is highly popular for its no-nonsense retro design and sturdy construction.
The Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler offers classic camping vibes with its metal-like appearance. This cooler comes with a stainless steel lid that provides ease of use and exceptional durability. It also sports a solid steel latch that ensures an air-tight seal, along with stainless steel screws and hinges that make the cooler incredibly resistant to breakage and rust.
The best feature of this cooler is that it has a 54-quart capacity, which means that you can stock up to a total of 85 cans inside! It also features comfort-grip steel handles that make it easy for campers to lift the cooler and carry it wherever they want.
- Comes with a built-in can opener
- Has a charming retro design
- Easy to lift and carry
- Keeps ice cold for many days
- Excellent storage capacity
- Doesn’t include inserts or trays
- Drain plug tends to get dislodged in case of mishandling
How to Buy the Best Cooler for Car Camping?
Although there are a plethora of coolers out there that you can get for your next car camping trip, not all of them will meet your preferences. This is because they all vary in terms of size, portability, capacity, ice retention function, and design, to name a few.
Here are a few features and factors that’ll help you buy the best cooler for your camping trip.
Since the main function of coolers is to provide exceptional cooling performance, this is one of the first things you should check in your preferred choice of cooler. The cooling function and ice life of the cooler are strongly related to its construction, type of insulation, rubber gasket, etc. So, you must keep an eye on these things during the buying process.
It’s very important to consider the size of the cooler for car camping because you don’t want to end up with the wrong size. For instance, if there you’re going out with a large group of campers, you will need a large-sized cooler to stock enough food and drinks. You also want it to be spacious and easy to load in your car.
One of the worse things that can happen during a camping trip is a broken or out-of-order cooler that ruins all your food and drinks supplies. So, you must ensure that cooler has thick walls, superior construction, and top-quality components, such as rubber latches and hinges.
A portable, durable, and top-quality cooler is one of the basic requirements of any camping, so you must get your hands on the best coolers for car camping. Along with making your trip that much better, they are likely to last you a lifetime, which means that a good cooler is a one-time investment!