If you’re in the market for a new cooler, you’re probably wondering which are the best coolers for ice retention. Ice retention refers to how long a cooler can keep ice before it melts, and it’s a good indicator of how long your food and drink will be kept nice and chilled inside.
The question is, how can you figure out whether a cooler is good for ice retention, and what should you be looking for?
The bottom line up front: We like the Coleman Quart Xtreme Rolling Cooler. It’s a great cooler for hot days, and it has a really good ice retention time of 5 days.
We also like:
- Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler – a super tough, durable cooler
- Igloo 110-Quart Glide Pro Portable Cooler with Wheels – a good large cooler
We’ll be looking at:
- What to look for in a good cooler for ice retention, including ice retention tests, cooler construction, and more
- Our top 5 best coolers for ice retention, including their key features, pros, and cons
- The most frequently asked questions about coolers and ice retention, including how long ice lasts in a cooler and how to make it last longer
- Which cooler we think is the winner, and why
Let’s start by comparing the coolers we’ll be looking at today!
Table of Contents
- 6 Best Coolers for Ice Retention Compared
- What to Look for in the Best Cooler for Ice Retention
- Top 6 Best Coolers for Ice Retention
- ORCA Cooler with Lid – Best Small Cooler
- Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler – Most Durable
- Igloo 110-Quart Glide Pro Portable Cooler with Wheels – Best Wheeled Cooler
- Landworks Rotomolded Enhanced Ice Cooler – Best Value
- Coleman Quart Xtreme Rolling Cooler – Best for Hot Days
- YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler – Good All-Rounder
- Frequently Asked Questions
- To Sum Up …
6 Best Coolers for Ice Retention Compared
What to Look for in the Best Cooler for Ice Retention
Here’s a quick guide on what to look for in a cooler with good ice retention:
Ice Retention Tests
Ice retention is typically measured in days, with anything from 1-2 days and up to 10 days. This measures the amount of time that ice will stay solid, essentially. However, ice retention tests by manufacturers may be done under more ideal conditions than you would have in real life.
For example, they may officially test their ice retention by placing their cooler in a shady area, away from direct sunlight. Whereas you may be taking the same cooler in a hot car for a long road trip. So you may not get the same results from your ice retention time from your cooler in practice.
However, ice retention times are a good rough estimate, so you can use it as a guideline. For example, you can probably expect a cooler with an ice retention time of 3 days to keep ice for a shorter amount of time than a cooler with a 7-day ice retention time.
Official ice retention tests are not the only thing to look for when you’re considering a new cooler. It’s important to look at how a cooler is constructed.
Rotomolded coolers tend to keep ice better than soft-sided coolers. Rotomolding is a manufacturing process, creating coolers from one thick continuous piece of plastic, injected with insulating materials. This makes a robust, strong cooler with thick walls – ideal for keeping cold air trapped inside. You can see how they’re made in Grizzly’s video ‘Rotomolded Cooler Process’.
There are other things to look for too. Strong latches combined with freezer-grade seals help to squeeze the cooler tightly shut, keeping warm air from getting inside through tiny gaps.
Cooler capacity (in hard-sided coolers) is measured in quarts. 1 quart is equivalent to around 1.13 liters. Coolers vary hugely in sizing, from those just big enough to keep your lunch cold all day, through to huge chest-style coolers that will keep you going on a hunting or fishing weekend. The bigger the cooler, the heavier it tends to be, and it will require way more ice to keep the contents cold.
Soft-sided coolers sometimes measure their capacity in cans, which makes it easy to visualize the sizing.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is another consideration. Look for features like extra-large drains, which make it easier to dump out melted ice water (especially important in large coolers that may take a while to drain completely).
You could consider getting a cooler with wheels. This makes it much easier to travel around with your cooler, especially if you don’t have another person around that can lift a heavy cooler with you.
Some coolers come with extra features, including:
- Built-in bottle openers
- Non-stick feet
- Built-in fish rulers
- UV protective coating (this helps to prevent your cooler’s outside color from fading in the sun)
- Cup or water bottle holders
You can also think about how easy it will be to clean your chosen cooler. Coolers can get dirty fast, so it’s worth having one that doesn’t have a lot of tiny spaces for dirt and grime to hide away in.
Top 6 Best Coolers for Ice Retention
Here are 5 of the best coolers out there for ice retention. We’ve chosen those with long ice retention times as well as great features, covering a wide range of sizes. We’ll look at the pros and cons, so you can find one that suits you!
ORCA Cooler with Lid – Best Small Cooler
- Capacity: 26 Quarts (25 Liters)
Insulation: Insulating foam
- Ice retention: States up to 10 days of ‘coolness’
- Color: Green
- Weight: 16 Pounds (7.25 Kilograms)
- Dimensions: 19 x 14 x 15 Inches (48 x 36 x 38 Centimeters)
The ORCA Cooler with Lid is a small cooler at 26 quarts (25 liters). If you’re after a small cooler that can hold ice for a good amount of time, this is a good one to go for.
ORCA doesn’t state ice retention time for its coolers officially, but it does say that this cooler can keep food cool for up to 10 days. That’s a great amount of time, and you can expect your ice to stay solid for a good few days before it begins to melt. It has good insulation with a strong gasket.
It’s durable too, with high-quality handles and latches. This means that it can withstand a lot of use without these key components breaking down.
It has some extra features, including an easy-flow drainage spout, and a cargo net attachment, allowing you to keep your dry goods separate from your chilled goods.
- Great extra features including a storage net
- Durable components
- Good insulation
- Doesn’t have an official ice retention time stated
Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler – Most Durable
- Capacity: 70 Quarts (66 Liters)
Insulation: Insulating foam
- Ice retention: Not officially stated
- Color: Grey
- Weight: 33 Pounds (15 Kilograms)
- Dimensions: 36 x 20.3 x 21 Inches (91 x 52 x 53 Centimeters)
The Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler is a fairly large cooler at 70 quarts (66 liters), and it’s a tough and durable cooler. While Pelican doesn’t state the ice retention time of this cooler specifically, many people have tested Pelican coolers for ice retention (like this Pelican Cooler 10 Day Ice Test Challenge by Hunting Waterfalls). Pelican coolers are known for having great ice retention time, so you can trust ice will last for a long time in this one. It has good insulation and a freezer-grade gasket.
Pelican manufactures durable coolers, and this one is no exception. It has extra strong latches, a reinforced clasp, and an anti-shear hinge system. You can trust that it will withstand a ton of use.
It also has some extra features, including strong non-skid feet, a stainless steel bottle opener, tie-down slots that are molded into the cooler, and 4 self-draining cup holders.
- Great insulation
- Durable and strong
- Extra features including a bottle opener and cup holders
- Ice retention time isn’t officially stated
Igloo 110-Quart Glide Pro Portable Cooler with Wheels – Best Wheeled Cooler
- Capacity: 110 Quarts (104 Liters)
- Ice retention: 5 days
- Color: White
- Weight: 25.4 Pounds (11.52 Kilograms)
- Dimensions: 36.76 x 18.5 x 19.69 Inches (101 x 45 x 50 Centimeters)
The Igloo 110-Quart Glide Pro Portable Cooler with Wheels is a large cooler at 110 quarts (104 liters), but it’s a really good choice if you’re looking for a cooler with wheels. It has a 5-day ice retention time, with good insulation in the walls and the lid, too.
It’s fairly durable, although not as tough as some other coolers out there (like YETI coolers, for example). It’s tough enough to withstand camping trips, day trips, and barbecues, but may not hold up if you’re taking it out across rough terrain.
It has a drain for dumping melted ice, but the main draw of this cooler is the way the wheels and handle work together. The telescoping handle is smooth to pull in and out, and the wheels are designed to work on different surfaces, and it feels really easy to move around, even when full.
- 5-day ice retention
- Easy to move around
- Large capacity
- Not the most durable.as durable.
Landworks Rotomolded Enhanced Ice Cooler – Best Value
- Capacity: 20 Quarts (19 Liters)
Outer: Stainless Steel
Insulation: Insulating foam
- Ice retention: 3-5 days
- Color: White
- Weight: 16.7 Pounds (7.57 Kilograms)
- Dimensions: 14 x 8 x 10 Inches (36 x 20 x 25 Centimeters)
The Landworks Rotomolded Enhanced Ice Cooler is a good value small cooler. It has 3-5 days of ice retention, with good insulation in the walls, a freezer-style gasket, and a zero-leak drain plug that stops cold air from escaping.
It’s pretty durable for an entry-level cooler, with a strong steel handle and UV coating on the outside to protect it from fading in the sun. Although it won’t last as long as a high-end cooler, it should keep you going for a little while.
It has tie-down slats, built-in stainless steel bottle openers, and non-skid feet.
- 3-5 days ice retention
- Good value
- Built-in bottle openers and tie-down slats
- Not the most durable.
Coleman Quart Xtreme Rolling Cooler – Best for Hot Days
- Capacity: 50 Quarts (57 Liters)
Insulation: Insulating foam
- Ice retention: 5 days
- Color: Blue
- Weight: 13.44 Pounds (6.1 Kilograms)
- Dimensions: 23 x 18 x 18 Inches (58 x 46 x 46 Centimeters)
The Coleman Quart Xtreme Rolling Cooler is a good mid-sized cooler at 50 quarts (57 liters), and it’s a great beach cooler. It has an ice retention time of 5 days, with excellent insulation in the walls and lid. It’s designed to cope with temperatures up to 90°F/32°C.
It’s pretty durable. Like the Igloo cooler, it’s not as tough as other coolers out there such as the Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler or ORCA Cooler with Lid, but it works well for camping trips and days out, as well as road trips and beach trips. It has a strong telescoping handle that can withstand a lot of use, and tough wheels that can deal with most types of terrain.
The cooler has built-in cup holders and the lid doubles up as a seat, which is a nice extra feature. It can take up to 250 pounds (113 kilograms) of weight. You can pile some of your gear (towels, sports gear, water shoes, and everything else you need for a good beach trip) on top, and wheel it from your car to the beach.
- 5 days ice retention
- Strong wheels and handle
- Built-in cup holders and seat in lid
- Not as durable as some other brands
YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler – Good All-Rounder
- Capacity: 55 Quarts (52 Liters)
Outer: UV-resistant polyethylene
Insulation: Insulating foam
- Wall thickness: 3 Inches (7.62 Centimeters)
- Ice retention: Not stated
- Color: Blue, tan, white
- Weight: 32 Pounds (81 Centimeters)
- Dimensions: 28.25 x 18.63 x 19.5 Inches (72 x 47 x 50 Centimeters)
The YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler is another mid-sized cooler. It has wheels and is super-durable, so it makes a great cooler for all kinds of situations. While it doesn’t state ice retention time, YETI has a great reputation here, and they use pressure-injected foam in the walls and lid. The lid interlocks tightly, helping to keep cool air from escaping.
It is very tough. It’s a great cooler to take on a trip if you’re expecting the conditions to be a little rough – it can survive almost anything you throw at it! It has reinforced hinges and handles, so you won’t have to worry about anything breaking or snapping. The wheels are durable too.
The downside is that it doesn’t really have much in the way of extra features – so no storage baskets, bottle openers, or anything like that.
- Super durable and tough
- Keeps contents cold for a long time
- Durable wheels
- No extra features
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you go, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about coolers and ice retention:
What’s the best way to make ice last longer?
There are a few things you can do to make ice last longer:
- Pre-chill the cooler with ice the night before you want to use it – you can dump this ice in the morning, refilling it with fresh ice. This means the cooler will reach a nice low temperature before you begin to pack it
- Line your cooler with foil to help keep the cold air trapped inside
- Use different types of ice – large blocks at the bottom, and smaller ice to fit in the gaps between items
- Use rock salt on ice to help it last longer
You can find out more in our guide on How to Keep Ice from Melting in a Cooler. You can also check out YETI’s tips on How to Keep Your Yeti Hard Cooler Cold for Longer which will work with any hard-sided cooler.
What’s the best way to clean my cooler?
The best way is to use a soft cloth with warm, soapy water, concentrating on the small gaps where dirt can get trapped and forgotten about. You can also use baking soda to remove stains and odors – you can read more about this in the Kitchn’s guide on How to Clean a Dirty Cooler.
How long does ice last in a cooler?
This really varies, but ice can last up to 5 days in a hard-sided cooler. Soft-sided coolers can retain ice for around 12 hours, and water jug coolers can keep ice for around 12 hours.
Dry ice lasts for up to 24 hours according to Penguin Dry Ice’s guide on How to Pack a Cooler with Dry Ice.
How should I pack my cooler for a hunting trip?
Ice retention is really important for hunting trips, especially if the journey home is going to be a long one. Pre-chilling your cooler with blocks of ice is a good idea, as well as loading up with enough smaller ice to cover the contents once you’re done hunting. You can read more in GoHunt’s tips on How to Get Your Cooler to Hold Ice Longer.
To Sum Up …
If we had to choose our favorite today, we’d probably go for the Coleman Quart Xtreme Rolling Cooler. The ice retention time is 5 days, which is pretty good, and we also like the extra features it includes, such as the built-in cup holders and the seat built into the lid. It’s a great one if you’re going to the beach or on a long road trip on a sunny day.
If you want something that can withstand some tougher conditions, we’d recommend the Pelican 70 Quart Elite Cooler. It’s a durable cooler that will last for a long time.
If you want a large cooler, we’d go for the Igloo 110-Quart Glide Pro Portable Cooler with Wheels. Although it’s a big cooler, the wheels and handle make it easy to maneuver.
If this has helped you to find the right cooler for you, please feel free to share it. We’d also like to hear your thoughts – how long have you managed to keep ice in a cooler? If you’ve used any of the coolers on this list, how does it work for you? Leave us a comment to let us know.