Hot days on the beach, a barbecue at the campground, or a picnic at the park isn’t complete without cold beverages and plenty of food. But for that, one needs a cooler that has the ability to keep its internal temperature near freezing for hours or even days if need be. With their thick walls, heavy insulation, and durable plastic construction, rotomolded coolers are well suited for the job.
These hefty coolers can keep up to 70 quarts of food, drinks, and ice cold for up to 10 days. These coolers are also equipped with features that make them easier to use, including wheels for transport, large handles for carrying, integrated bottle openers, storage compartments, and even bear-proof latches.
This guide examines the features that are crucial to consider when shopping for the best rotomolded cooler and reviews some of the best models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: YETI Tundra 65 Cooler
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AmazonCommercial Rotomolded Cooler
- BEST LARGE-CAPACITY: Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler
- BEST INSULATED: RTIC Hard Cooler
- BEST SMALL-CAPACITY: YETI Roadie 24 Cooler
What to Consider When Buying the Best Rotomolded Cooler
While how long a cooler can keep ice frozen is one of the most important elements to consider when shopping for a rotomolded cooler, other factors are also crucial, including size, capacity, portability, and durability. Below, learn more about these and other features of rotomolded coolers.
Size and Capacity
Coolers vary in size and capacity to meet different needs. Smaller rotomolded coolers hold about 24 quarts and measure 16 inches long, 14 inches high, and 17 inches deep and weigh about 15 pounds. That’s enough capacity to carry 16 drinks with an ice- or ice pack-to-drink ratio of 2:1.
Midsize coolers come in 45-quart capacities and measure about 27 inches long, 16 inches high, and 16 inches deep, making them ideal for picnics and tailgating parties or even a camping trip.
Large 65- to 70-quart coolers measure 30 inches long, 17 inches high, and 17 inches deep and can hold up to 40 cans with a 2:1 ratio of ice to drinks, making them ideal for larger families or multi-night camping trips.
Rotomolded coolers range in empty weight from 15 pounds for smaller models up to 40 pounds for the largest models. They’ll also offer less capacity than coolers of the same size with thinner walls.
Material and Construction
The quality of the plastic, thickness of the walls, and amount of insulation all go into just how well a rotomolded cooler does its job. Most coolers have walls that are between 2 and 3 inches thick. Thicker walls better insulate the inside of the cooler, allowing it to keep what’s inside the cooler cold for a longer period of time. They also make the cooler heavier.
Rotomolded cooler manufacturers rate their coolers based on how long they can retain ice. These ratings range from a few days up to an eyebrow-raising 10 days. While these ratings help identify just how well a cooler can insulate food, keep in mind that those are based on specific circumstances. Many manufacturers base their ratings on stipulations that the entire contents of the cooler be cooled overnight with ice prior to use or that the external temperature around the cooler remains below a certain temperature. With this in mind, it’s important to check the fine print when comparing models.
A cooler’s portability is based on several factors, including weight, handles, and wheels. Some coolers have wheels on one side and a large handle on the other that allow the user to pull the cooler. While most cooler wheels work great when riding on smooth surfaces, the going is not always smooth. The gravel parking lot of a stadium, a dirt campground, an overgrown lawn at the park, and a sandy beach require larger wheels capable of rolling over unpaved surfaces.
The handle is also an important element to consider. There should be handles on either side of the cooler for lifting the entire thing as well as a long handle that extends to allow for raising the nonwheeled end of the cooler for pulling. The handles should be large enough to provide a substantial and comfortable grip on the cooler.
Of course, weight is also a factor in how easy a cooler is to transport. A smaller 24-quart, 15-pound cooler is easier to move than a bulkier 35-pound, 65-quart model.
Coolers have extras that make them easier to use and more attractive for a tailgating party, beach outing, or camping trip. Many models have large latches that help keep the cooler tightly closed, keeping cold air in and warm air out, improving the cooler’s ability to maintain its temperature.
Many also have drains at the base of the unit with plugs that allow the user to easily drain melted ice out of the cooler without having to tip it over to dump it. Some coolers even feature other extras, including built-in bottle openers and small compartments for personal belongings.
Although coolers are considered to be mainly utilitarian, because they can have a large presence on a deck patio or at large gatherings, aesthetics are also important. Most rotomolded coolers come in various color options to suit different preferences.
Our Top Picks
The list below includes products from some of the best-known names in coolers. These coolers hold ice for days, feature durable construction, and come in a broad range of sizes to suit different needs.
With its superior insulation and rugged design, it’s little wonder that YETI’s Tundra has made a name for itself in the rotomolded cooler market. It’s superior in all the areas that count. Its thick-wall FatWall design provides 3 inches of YETI’s PermaFrost insulation, which is good enough to keep this cooler’s insides cool for up to 6 days. And while the name of the Tundra 65 is a bit deceiving—it actually has 56-quart capacity—it’s still capable of holding nearly 30 cans of beer and more than 50 pounds of ice.
This cooler is also built to take abuse with two large T-Rex lid latches, a tough interlocking hinge design, and thick polyester handles, all of which make it bear-proof and certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Other attractive features include a gasket around the lid that helps create an airtight seal and rubberized feet that prevent slipping. The Tundra measures 30.5 inches long, 17.5 inches tall, and 16 inches deep and weighs 34 pounds.
At hundreds of dollars, a good rotomolded cooler can be quite an investment. This 45-quart model from Amazon offers similar performance at a more affordable price. Its 3-inch-thick insulation is enough to provide up to 5 days of ice retention in low temperatures or 7 days when the cooler is precooled. A rubber gasket provides a barrier that makes this cooler airtight, trapping cold air while keeping warm air out, while large latches hold the lid tightly closed. It’s also durable, with large steel handles on either side and a shell that resists UV rays.
Despite its budget price, it also includes some nice additional features, including molded tie-down slats on the outside, built-in stainless steel bottle openers, and nonskid feet to prevent it from sliding. This cooler measures 27 inches long, 16 inches tall, and 16 inches deep and weighs about 30 pounds.
The large capacity of this Pelican cooler makes it one of the biggest on the market. While some manufacturers fudge on the capacity of their coolers, this model from Pelican has a true 70-quart internal volume, making it one of the largest-capacity rotomolded coolers on the market. Large 34-inch locking latches with lockable hasps keep this behemoth’s lid tightly sealed to hold in cold air. This construction also makes it durable with a bear-resistant certification from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Large molded handles on both sides allow two people to get a good grip on this beast.
Additional features include four self-draining cupholders on the lid and a bottle opener and nonskid rubber feet. The Pelican 70 measures 36 inches long, 20.3 inches high, and 21 inches deep and weighs about 33 pounds. With six color options, it’s easy to coordinate the Pelican 70 with other camping and beach gear.
The impressive insulation and thick gasket seal on this cooler from RTIC make it one of the most effective at keeping things cool. It maintains a temperature of under 40 degrees even in scorching midsummer heat or for 10 days at less extreme temperatures. This is all thanks to 3-inch-thick walls, a thick rubber gasket around the opening of the cooler, and rubber latches that stretch to maintain tension on the lid when closed.
Thick nylon rope with foam cushion handles makes this cooler comfortable to carry on long treks from the parking lot to the beach. Convenient additional features include rubberized feet that keep the cooler from sliding around while riding in the back of a truck and a drain plug that makes draining melted ice easy. This cooler measures 32 inches long, 17 inches high, and 15.5 inches deep, and it weighs 40 pounds.
While a 45- or 65-quart cooler is ideal for holding a lot of ice, drinks, and food, these coolers are also heavy, weighing more than 30 pounds empty. This smaller 24-quart cooler is a great option for outings that don’t require a full-size cooler. At 13 pounds, this model is notably lighter than other coolers, making it easier to transport.
Despite its smaller size, it still has an impressive capacity. The Roadie, which measures 16.5 inches long, 14.5 inches wide, and 17.5 inches high, holds 18 cans with plenty of ice to keep the drinks cool. Quick latches keep the lid tightly closed while allowing for convenient one-handed latching and unlatching. A large strap makes carrying this cooler easy. With its seven color options, the Roadie is easy to coordinate with camping or beach accessories.
FAQs About Rotomolded Coolers
If you’re still wondering what a rotomolded cooler is or how long food will keep in a cooler, then read on for answers to these and other commonly asked questions.
Q. What is a rotomolded cooler?
The term “rotomolded” describes how the cooler is made. It refers to rotational molding, which is a process of taking hot molten plastic and rotating it at a certain speed to attain a consistent thickness throughout the body of the cooler. Rotomolding ensures that there are no weak spots in the body of the cooler that could result in cracking or shattering.
Q. How long does food stay cold in a cooler?
This depends on the cooler. The best rotomolded coolers feature insulation-filled walls 3 inches thick that can keep food cold for up to 10 days depending on external temperatures and how often the cooler is opened.
Q. How do you pack your cooler correctly?
Before packing the cooler, precool it by filling it with ice the day before the trip. Load the cooler with frozen food and chilled drinks as opposed to chilled food and room-temperature drinks for best results. If possible, load the cooler with a 2:1 ratio of ice to drinks/food. The more ice you can pack in, the better. Pack the cooler tightly, eliminating air gaps that can create warm pockets that cause ice to melt more quickly.
Q. Do I need to clean my rotomolded cooler?
Yes, but use mild cleaners to avoid damaging or staining the cooler. Clean the cooler out with a solution of mild dish soap and water. For deodorizing a cooler, use a solution of bleach and water.
Q. How long can my rotomolded cooler last?
If properly cared for, a rotomolded cooler will last many years. The insulation inside the cooler will continue to provide the same amount of insulation as long as the shell does not crack. To extend the lifetime of the shell, limit the amount of direct sun exposure the cooler receives and clean it periodically between uses.