There is nothing better than serving your food fresh and your drink icy cold when outdoors. And nothing worse than hauling a large 100-Quart cooler when you don’t really need one. Yes, short trips to the park or the nearby lake do call for something larger than your traditional lunch boxes to keep perishable items fresh, but do you really need such a heavy-duty piece of equipment?
When shorter trips for a few hours does need more than just a tiny lunch box to keep store perishable food these small coolers are great pick.
This is where smaller coolers, weighing in the range of a few pounds come in handy. Comfortably-sized and easy to transport, these small coolers are extremely handy, and work better than a traditional lunch box.
Our Top Small Cooler Reviews for the Money
Keeping in mind usage, weight, price, clean-up and user feedback, we narrowed down on some small coolers that perform extremely well. These are the Igloo Ice Cube Cooler, the Rubbermaid Small Ice Chest, the Stanley, Adventure Small Ice Chest, the Wagan Cooler and Warmer and the Coleman Soft 10 Can Cooler.
Not only does this come with excellent thermal retention, it also has a swing top handle and is stain and odor resistant. Although the usage varies from person to person depending on the situation, our top picks will provide you with better insights on what suits your requirements.
The Wagan Cooler and Warmer stood out from the rest as one that can be used to warm food as well as keep it chilled. Simply plug it to the 12vDC in your car and you are good to go. On the downside, it was one of the heaviest coolers we reviewed, weighing in at 11.8 pounds.
We found the Stanley Adventure to be the best insulated among the rest of the coolers as it features a double wall foam. If you are looking for a small cooler, the Igloo Ice Cube Cooler is one that can be easily transported. The Coleman Soft 10 Can Cooler is excellent if you need to keep liquids cooler, although it can be used for storing food as well.
Igloo Ice Cube Cooler (14-Can Capacity, Ocean Blue) –With Dry Additional Dry Storage
This small sized cooler is an excellent portable option for those on the go. The cooler is shaped in the form of a cube that can hold up to 14 cans of beverages keeping them cold for a longer period of time. The cooler also has plenty of height in its design which can help store bottles in an upright position if needed. The manufacturers claim that the squared shaped geometry of the coolers’ design enhances its ability to retain cold.
Its design and shape also allows it to be easily placed on the floor of a car or pick-up without it getting in the way. Access to the cooler is easy as it has a well designed top lid that is easy to open (It also seals shut with ease). The top lid makes it easy to reach for items and also for additional smaller items to be packed. The cooler is also designed with a rounded base that helps place the cooler firmly on the ground.
We have seen this cooler receive plenty of positive feedback from users for its durability and its convenience and even as a man-sized lunch box. The swing handle is sturdy and grips comfortably. The cooler is made from Polyurethane and has a capacity of 12 quarts. Its dimensions are 10.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches which makes it very compact. On an average and depending on the usage, the cooler can last for up to 3-5 hours.
Rubbermaid Cooler / Ice Chest, 5-quart, Blue
This cooler from Rubbermaid comes in red and blue options in a five quart capacity. If you looking for a cooler that is small in size to chill a six pack, this cooler is the right pick for you.
A feature that stands out in the Rubbermaid is that it has a stain resistant body and is also odour resistant, which means that you wouldn’t have to worry about the occasional spill ruining your cooler.
The top handle swings and rests on one side making it convenient to carry and transport. The Rubbermaid is light in weight (it weighs just two pounds when empty) and measures 10.5 x 7.4 x 7.8 inches. The dimensions of the inside of the cooler are 6 inches deep and 8.5 inches long.
For those that spend plenty of time working outdoors (or even at outdoor activities), this cooler is perfect for you to use as a lunchbox. Lunch bags often get smelly and are not easy to clean which is something you would never have to worry about with the Rubbermaid Cooler.
Users have also mentioned that the cooler was left overnight with leftover food and was still odour free when cleaning the following day. The latch on the cooler secures easily helping the cooler retain and insulate cooler temperatures better.
The design of the cooler is sturdy and compact and can easily be strapped to the back of a motorcycle or bicycle if needed. One drawback we noticed was its inability to store regular sized water bottles due to its small size. For food and other items, however, it performs extremely well.
Stanley Adventure Cooler
Available in attractive green or navy colours and in sizes of seven and sixteen quarts, this cooler features double wall foam and a leak resistant lid lock which helps keep items cooler for longer periods of time.
In terms of its capacity of storage and its insulation, we found this cooler to outperform its competitors easily.
The cooler can easily hold a full case of canned beverages and keep it cool for up to a day and a half. Bungee cords placed on the top lid which are a part of its design, allow for easy access to items you need to keep handy.
The cooler is known to have held up to rigorous usage in vehicles, boats and also kayaks. It is also able to keep its contents cool in higher temperatures thanks to its double foam wall.
The cooler is available in dimensions of 17 x 11 x 10 inches and weighs around 3.2 pounds. The insides are easy to clean, and the lid latches easily and seals tight.
Although the handle of the cooler does stay upright, due to the uneven design of the lid you cannot really place your lunch or beverage cup on top while having a meal.
Wagan (EL6224) 12V Cooler/Warmer – 24L Capacity
If you are looking to avoid the hassle of using ice or want to enjoy your food warm, this cooler is recommended for you as it can do both!
The Wagan (EL6224) 12V Cooler/Warmer (available in dimensions of 17.5 x 17.7 x 13.1 and weighing in at 125.1 Pounds) has plenty of reviews on Amazon with the general consensus being that it is truly a value for money buy in its class.
The cooler is available in a 24 litre capacity which can keep items cold as well as warm. It can easily cool to 32-36 degrees Fahrenheit or warm food up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The 24 litre capacity allows it to comfortably store as many as four two-litre bottles or 27 cans.
The cooler uses a 12 volt outlet which is available in almost every car or you can use the optional a/c adapter and plug it in to any other socket.
No doubt the dual cooling feature is what makes the cooler stand out. However, there are other features in it as well: The cooler features a heavy duty handle that makes it easy to transport. The DC power cord is seven feet long which allows it to be placed in the back seat of the vehicle. The cooling fan is placed on top which eliminates the potential of the cooler being ruined as a result of any leaks or spills.
Coleman C006 Soft 10 Can Man Cooler
One of the most versatile coolers on the market, the Coleman C006 Soft 10 Can Man Cooler is available in dimensions of 9.06 x 9.45 x 10.63 inches (it can hold up to 10 beverage cans) and weighs in at 1.2 pounds.
The cooler also features a soft rubber handle which is helpful while transporting the cooler. It has several side pockets for additional storage on the outside as well as on the inside of the cooler. The inside pockets are convenient to slide ice packs in, instead of actual ice, while the outside pockets can be used to store additional items you may need on your trip like a bottle opener, snacks, etc.
The lining of the cooler also has anti-bacterial properties to prevent odor and mold from forming. It insulates well and the material used to build it is solid. Overall, we found the Coleman C006 Soft to be light in weight, highly functional in terms of its versatility, aesthetically pleasing and providing value for money.
Best Small Ice Chest Cooler Guide and Reviews
Small coolers are ideal for short outings to preserve food and keep drinks chilled for several hours. Here are a few tips to help you select a cooler that fits your needs.
Spillage while transporting or using is common with any cooler. If you plan to regularly use the cooler, smells and odours tend to stick over an extended period of time. In this situation, we would recommend using a material that is easy to clean and also one that offers resistance to odours as mentioned in the Rubbermaid product we reviewed above.
Type of Usage
The small coolers we reviewed can be used for multiple purposes. If you are looking for a small cooler to chill your drinks we would recommend the Coleman Soft 10 Can cooler. If you plan to be outdoors for a longer stretch and need to cater to a small group of friends or family, the Stanley is the type of cooler you should check out. Another cooler that is popular is the Wagan (EL6224) 12V Cooler/Warmer as it also helps heating food in addition to cooling it as well.
Our reviews aimed at covering products over a wide price range. That being said, we recommend the soft sided coolers if you are on a budget as these will no doubt suit your needs. However, if are looking for longer insulation, the price stretches a bit and you can opt for coolers in the Stanley range.
In terms of durability we found that the Stanley Adventure Small Ice Chest and the Rubbermaid Small Ice Chest built with solid materials. The top lids are easy to use and the plastics in both the coolers keep the lid shut which helps with its insulation. The Stanley Adventure’s latch handles also make it easier to seal the top lid as compared to the other small coolers we reviewed.
Although these coolers fall in the category of small coolers, there are plenty of size options available. In some coolers, storing a bottle upright is a limitation and carrying a lunch for two can be a challenge. Hence, before you buy a cooler, determine the size you need based on the food and drinks you plan to carry and the frequency of usage. Small coolers are available for single person capacity as well as in a higher capacity.
Switching to a smaller cooler has several advantages especially when it comes to the convenience attached to it on short trips. All of the box coolers we reviewed offer good insulation and have been on the market for a while.