Stay Chilly, My Friends: A Glamper's Guide to the Best Coolers

There’s no point in going glamping without delectable food and drinks to enjoy during your stay. And the key to fresh dinner ingredients and chilly bottles is… you guessed it, a good cooler.

So what are the key components of a decent ice chest? First of all, it needs to keep things… well, cool. Duh. Second, it should be sturdy enough to survive the wild outdoors (as wild as a yurt can get, at least). Third most important, it should be easy to transport -- it shouldn’t take up too much space in the car or be awkward carry. Fourth, cooler price is a major point. Last, it should be cute -- accessories are a definite plus!

With these factors in mind, I’ll reveal some of my favorite coolers and why I like them so much.


The Coolest

I mean… just look at it. It’s the mac daddy of all coolers -- the big kahuna. It has everything: a built-in blender and USB charger, Bluetooth speakers, an interior lid light, a bottle opener, a tie-down bungee cord, an accessory compartment, and it even comes with a knife, corkscrew, and some plates. The Coolest wins major bonus points for style and practicality. However, all that extra gear makes it bulky to transport and leaves a lot of room for malfunctioning motors and broken parts.

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Yeti Tundra 35

Yetis are famous for being both incredibly well-insulated and durable. They come in a variety of sizes, ranging from petite to downright huge, but the Tundra 35 is a good medium size. Bonus: it comes in pale blue and millennial pink (on their website) for color-conscious glampers. Downside: its durability makes it rather heavy -- so carrying it from the car to the tent might be a two-person job.

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Pelican 45-Quart

The Pelican is similar to the Yeti in that it is incredibly tough and does a great job keeping your wine chilly. It also comes in a few different styles; the rolling 45-quart is my favorite because - again - transportability is sacrificed for durability, and the all-terrain wheels really help. This cooler is for the serious glamper/camper: it isn’t the cutest, but it will definitely keep your food fresh, and it’s grizzly-proof. Also cool: you can customize it with a basket that keeps your food cold but dry!

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Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme

What this one lacks in good looks, it more than makes up for in price. And although Coleman is not a top-shelf camping brand, you get plenty of bang for your buck with the Xtreme. The wheels make it easy to transport, it’s large enough to fit everyone’s drinks and food, and it stays cold for a fair length of time. Downside: while it’s strong enough for you to sit on, it’s certainly not grizzly-proof.

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Surreal Stump Cooler

This cooler brings some seriously chic style to your glampsite. Just be careful not to lose track of it, or else it might be lost in the woods forever! It's great for placing near the campfire circle so that everyone can top up during ghost stories, and it's small enough to not be constantly underfoot. However, it isn't built to last an eternity, and it offers no wheels or handles with which to transport it. It's more of a secondary cooler to keep full during peak hours, whereas your perishable foods and ice should be kept in a sturdier, colder cooler for the duration of your trip. 

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While these are only a handful of coolers on the market (other high-performance brands include Igloo, Grizzly, and Engel), these are my top picks. Each provides different qualities depending on your personal needs. In the past, I have relied on my Coleman Xtreme because it’s affordable and gets the job done. Going into the future, however, the editor’s pick would have to go to the Pelican. No, it’s not gorgeous, but it combines great performance with maximum transportability, and you won’t have to worry about bears or any other cooler-killers. And there’s nothing a little craft paint, stencils, and decals can’t fix.