The 10 Best Car Camping Cooler Of 2024, Tested By CampFireHQ

Katie Finn By, Katie Finn
Best Car Camping Cooler
Best Car Camping Cooler

Our Top Picks

1. Best Overall: Coleman Xtreme Cooler

The Coleman Xtreme Cooler is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts needing a reliable, high-capacity cooler. With its Xtreme Technology, the cooler can freeze ice for up to 5 days, even in temperatures as high as 90°F. Read Review

2. Best For The Price: Igloo Thermoelectric 12V Cooler

The Igloo Thermoelectric 12V Cooler is perfect for those who need a portable cooler for road trips or camping. It cools without ice and has a 12V power cord that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter, making it easy to use on the go. Read Review

3. Best Design: Maelstrom Cooler Bag

The Maelstrom Cooler Bag is an excellent option for those who need a large-capacity cooler that is easy to carry. With its extra-large size and lightweight design, it can hold up to 75 cans of your favorite drinks and food. Read Review

4. Best Portable: K-box Electric Cooler

The K-box Electric Cooler is the perfect travel companion for anyone who loves to hit the road. Whether camping in the wilderness or traveling in an RV, this portable fridge and heater will keep your food and drinks at the perfect temperature. Read Review

5. Best Versatile: RTIC Soft Cooler

The RTIC Soft Cooler is a versatile insulated bag that can keep your food and drinks cool for up to 24 hours. It's a lightweight, durable cooler perfect for any outdoor adventure. Read Review

Car camping means being outside; if you are there for a few days, you'll need the right gear. Car camping also means you need something lightweight, compact, and easy to set up or take down. At the same time, it might seem like there are unlimited ways to create a cooler to keep your food and drinks cool while car camping, but a basic cooler works best in most cases.

A basic cooler will give you space for your food, drinks, and ice packs and keep everything nice and cool with some ventilation. Finding the perfect car camping cooler isn't always easy since many different styles are available. However, following our guide on the best car camping cooler, you'll have no trouble finding one that perfectly meets your needs.

After hours of research on customer feedback & product specifications, We've concluded that the best car camping cooler is Coleman Xtreme Cooler. Even when the temperature is very high, the ice can remain frozen for up to five days thanks to the extreme technology insulation. If you desire extra features not included in this model, you might look into another one: Igloo Thermoelectric 12V Cooler. The ability of the cooler to hold 32 cans of 12 ounces each makes it an excellent choice for preserving the coolness and freshness of both food and beverages.

Our Top Picks

TOP Choice #1 Coleman Xtreme Cooler
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People who need a cooler with a large capacity to keep their food and drinks cold for several days throughout an outing will find that the Coleman Xtreme Cooler is an excellent choice. Even when the temperature is very high, the ice can remain frozen for up to five days thanks to the extreme technology insulation. The seat lid is another fantastic feature; it can accommodate users weighing up to 250 pounds and provides a comfortable place to sit and unwind.

The built-in cup holders are not only convenient but also serve to prevent beverages from being spilled. Another helpful feature is the comfort-grip handles, which prevent users from inadvertently squeezing their fingers while carrying the item. However, when it is full, the cooler can become quite heavy, making it difficult to transport over long distances. In general, purchasing a Coleman Xtreme Cooler is a wise investment for individuals who like to go camping or participate in other outdoor activities and require a dependable, high-capacity cooler.

TOP Choice #2 Igloo Thermoelectric 12V Cooler
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This product has a power cord for 12V and can be plugged into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle, so it is convenient to use while traveling or to camp. Even with both hands, it is simple to carry, thanks to the handles molded directly into the side panels. The ability of the cooler to hold 32 cans of 12 ounces each makes it an excellent choice for preserving the coolness and freshness of both food and beverages.

Those who need to keep their food and drinks cool during hot weather can benefit significantly from the fact that the cooler can cool down to a temperature that is 36 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the air around it. However, when used, the cooler can produce a lot of noise. Overall, the Igloo Thermoelectric 12V Cooler is an excellent purchase for those who need a portable cooler that can cool without ice and maintain the temperature of their food and beverages while keeping them cool and fresh.

TOP Choice #3 Maelstrom Cooler Bag
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The Maelstrom Cooler Bag is a high-quality soft-sided cooler with an extra-large capacity of up to 75 cans of your favorite drinks, plus 2-4 ice packs or 60 cans and 15 lbs. of ice. With this storage capacity, you can easily pack all your food, fruits, beer, meat, or even seafood together, making it perfect for the whole family.

It has double-stitched carry options, with reinforced pick-up points, shoulder straps, and carry handles that can handle more weight than you would prefer to carry. The cooler bag's capacity is 18x12x13.8 inches, translating to 13 gallons of ice and drinks. While the cooler bag can hold much food and drink, its insulation may not be as effective as other options.

The Maelstrom Cooler Bag's unique design also makes it stand out. It features a top pull tab with a Velcro opening design, making it easy to access your food without opening the zipper around the whole top cover, keeping contents cool/warm longer. Additionally, the cooler bag has an ergonomic design with two different ways to carry it - adjustable straps and a carrying handle. An integrated bottle opener gives you quick access to open a beer bottle.

4 K-box Electric Cooler
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The K-box Electric Cooler is a must-have for anyone who loves to travel. It's a versatile cooler that can heat and warm your food or cool and chill your drinks. With its 48-quart capacity, this cooler can store up to 60 cans of soda or six two-liter bottles and 15 cans of soda or beer. The removable divider also creates two compartments for easier organizing and storing. The cooler's tough hard shell is durable and long-lasting, so you won't have to worry about wear and tear. 

What makes this cooler stand out is its ability to chill without ice. You won't have to deal with ice packs that need constant refilling, take up precious space, and leave you with a watery mess when they melt. This cooler maintains a cool 40°F temperature without any ice. It also comes with two six-foot extra-long cords - one for standard wall outlets and one for car power adapters. Both cords have storage compartments to be hidden when not in use. Nevertheless, the cord is quite short.

5 RTIC Soft Cooler
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The RTIC Soft Cooler is a soft insulated bag that can keep your food and drinks cool for up to 24 hours, making it perfect for camping, hiking, picnics, and other outdoor activities. The heavy-duty nylon shell is tough enough to take on any terrain, while the 2 inches of closed-cell foam provide excellent insulation. One of the best things about this cooler is its floats, making it an ideal choice for a day at the pool or lake. Nonetheless, it's a bit difficult to clean due to its soft shell.

This cooler is leak-proof thanks to its durable zipper that prevents spills and leaks. However, it's important to note that you should still be careful when handling the cooler to avoid damage to the zipper. The RTIC Soft Cooler is versatile and can be used as an ice cooler, drink cooler, travel cooler, beer cooler, lunch cooler, camping cooler, and beach cooler. It's a must-have for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to keep their food and drinks cool.

6 Knox.Lifestyle by Focus Electric Cooler
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Knox.Lifestyle by Focus

The Knox.Lifestyle by Focus Electric Cooler is a great electric cooler with various features that make it stand out from other coolers. The rugged hard shell coolers are designed to provide unmatched insulation power and keep food and drinks cold for hours. The cooler/warmer combo also has two built-in cords - one for standard wall outlets and one for car power adapters. Both cords have storage compartments to be hidden when not in use, making them convenient to carry and store.

With a 48-quart compact cooler, this electric cooler can store about 60 cans of soda or six large 2-liter bottles, with plenty of space for food and snacks. It is portable and spacious, making it the perfect companion for camping or long road trips. One of the unique things about this cooler is that it can maintain a cool 40-degree Fahrenheit temperature without any ice, making it easy to use and convenient.

Moreover, the ergonomic handle and compact design make it easy to carry this electric ice chest/warmer on wheels, even for one person alone. It fits easily into car trunks and seats, making it the perfect bulk-free travel companion. One drawback of this electric cooler is that it may be unsuitable for extremely hot weather conditions. Overall, the Knox.Lifestyle by Focus Electric Cooler is an excellent investment for anyone looking for a reliable and efficient way to keep their food and drinks cool or warm while on the go. 

7 Koolatron Car Cooler
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The Koolatron Car Cooler is a must-have for anyone who loves to hit the road. With its versatile two-way design, you can use it as a classic chest-style cooler or a portable front-opening mini refrigerator. The secure sliding door lock ensures that your food and drinks stay cool and fresh, no matter where you take them.

The 27.5-liter (29 quarts) capacity is perfect for holding up to 48 standard soft drink cans, making it ideal for large families or groups of friends. And because it plugs into any 12V outlet, it's perfect for use in your car, truck, or boat. This cooler is also compatible with AC power if you want to use it indoors. Unfortunately, the adapter is not included in this package, so you must purchase it separately if you want to use it. 

The Koolatron Car Cooler isn't just a cooler – it's also a warmer! With eco-friendly iceless technology, it efficiently cools to 40°F (22°C) below surrounding temperature or warms to 140°F (60°C), using less power than your vehicle’s tail light. So whether you're storing cold drinks or hot food, the Koolatron Car Cooler has you covered.

More To Consider

8 Ivation Electric Cooler
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9 Koolatron Kool 12V Cooler
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10 RTIC Soft Pack Sling Cooler
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A Simple Way To Choose The best car camping cooler For You

Would you like to know how to select the best car camping cooler to purchase in 2024? We have a straightforward solution for you. First, consider your own requirements. For instance, should you need something that could be used during workouts, look for products that are made of high-quality materials and are resistant to water.

Consider the price range next. Some people prefer low prices, while others prefer to invest additional money on better quality items, so weigh both choices once making a decision.

Eventually, reading reviews is a simple way to select the best car camping cooler to buy. Please read our research below before purchasing anything and follow that guide to select your best car camping cooler.

Ice Retention And Cooling Capabilities

Ice retention is one of the most difficult things to determine when researching coolers. This is largely due to external factors. The temperature of the air and direct sunlight have a significant impact. Ice quantity is also important. Most brands suggest a ratio of 2:1. You should also open the lid as often as possible to let warm and cold air into your cooler. Pre-chilling your cooler before loading it is a good idea to ensure maximum efficiency. To reduce the cooler's interior temperature, you should fill it with ice at least for a couple of hours. Once you are ready to go, add fresh ice in the right ratio. You can also expect your cooler to become pre-warmed if it is left out in the sunlight before you load it up.

Bear-Resistant Ratings

Many top-rated hard-sided coolers can be listed as being bear-resistant. This is an important consideration if you are camping in bear territory. You should specifically look out for IGBC ratings. This indicates that a cooler has been tested and is in compliance with their regulations. You should ensure your cooler is included if you plan to travel in bear-proof gear or frequent backcountry areas.

Cooler Drain Systems

Many of our hard-sided coolers have drainage systems that allow you to drain the water out once the ice is melted. This is usually a pop-off or screw-on cap located at the bottom of cooler. Simply remove it and let the water flow out.

Cooler Sizes (Capacities)

A few things to consider before we get started: Size. Importantly, coolers do not measure the interior capacity of all models. Some coolers use cans to measure interior capacity, others use liters or quarts. However, most manufacturers use quarts as a unit of measure. We've used that measurement in this article when it was possible. A final point: Don't let the product name fool you.

Cooler Construction

There are two main types of construction techniques used to make premium hard-sided coolers: injection molding and rotational molding. Yeti popularized rotomolding (even though they weren't technically the first company to do so) and is the dominant market at the top end. This type of cooler is made from a single, continuous piece of plastic which is then rotated to form the desired shape. These coolers have fewer stress points, so they are more likely to break under pressure. They also feature a thicker outer shell that ensures exceptional durability. Cost and weight are the main drawbacks.

Wheeled (Rolling) Coolers

We mentioned above that if you have cooler needs such as mobility and large capacity or maximum ice retention it is a good idea to look into a hard-sided rolling model. These wheeled monsters can still be difficult to maneuver on uneven terrain, and will need assistance if there is no clear path. A rolling cooler is a good choice for camping, tailgating or days at the beach.

Cooler Latch And Closure Systems

The cooler's closure or latch is a key feature of premium models and will play a major role in cooling performance. Two rubber T-handles are a common feature on high-end, hard-sided coolers. They keep the lid in place and prevent it from opening. They are extremely sturdy and user-friendly.

Weight And Portability

Weighing your cooler is an important factor for those who will be carrying it or moving it around regularly. For models with less capacity, they can weigh as little as 10-15 pounds and up to 50+ for those that have 75+ quarts storage. This number goes up dramatically when you load it down with food and drinks. Even though the handles are made of rope, some are plastic and others are nylon. They are too heavy to be carried for extended distances. We recommend wheels if portability is important. They are easier to carry for longer periods of time and more convenient for one person, so they're less burdensome.


What type of cooler is best for car camping?

The best type of cooler for car camping is a large rotomolded cooler. These coolers are designed to keep ice cold for days and can usually hold up to 50+ quarts of food and drinks. They also have a durable and rugged design that will withstand the elements while car camping.

How should I pack my cooler for car camping?

Before packing your cooler for car camping, make sure to pre-chill your food and drinks. Once your food and drinks are chilled, it's a good idea to layer your food. Start with a layer of ice at the bottom, then add a layer of drinks, followed by a layer of food, and top it off with another layer of ice. This will help keep your food and drinks colder for longer.

How do I keep my cooler cold while car camping?

To keep your cooler cold while car camping, it's important to use plenty of ice and make sure to keep the lid of the cooler shut as much as possible. If you're going to be away from your campsite for a while, you can also put a towel over the cooler to help keep the heat out. Additionally, keeping your cooler in the shade will also help keep it cold.


We hope this blog has provided you with useful information about selecting the best car camping cooler to buy. If you're still unsure, consider why you're purchasing a product in the first place.

Here you can select the Knox Gear.Lifestyle by Focus 34Qt Cooler if you are unable to select one of the available items above. Consider whether any of our suggestions aided you in deciding which products to purchase. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time!

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About Katie Finn

Katie Finn

Katie Finn is a freelance writer who loves to explore the world and go camping. She's also an editor for CampfireHQ, where she enjoys writing about wildlife and camping tips. She also has a passion for reading and learning new things, which she often incorporates into her writing.

Read Katie's full bio