The myth that small coolers cannot keep your favorite beverages cool and your food fresh for more than just a few hours has been busted. Today, with the latest innovations, new materials, and technologies, there are some compact coolers which have the ice retention capabilities of the heavy duty large and ultra large ones.
We have thoroughly tested and rated a very wide variety of small coolers and have come up with our list of the best small coolers on the market.
Read on to find out more about our top pick – the Engel 13 quart cooler, as well as our other top, picks for the different small cooler types and categories including the best compact coolers for traveling, for camping, for boats, cooler bags, smart coolers, and many others.
The outer dimensions of the cooler are 15 x 10 x 11 inches, and the interior compartment is 12 x 7 x 8.5 inches.
This cooler has a simple and yet highly efficient design. You can use it as a dry box and for storing bait when you go out fishing as well.
The insulated inner compartment will fit two meals and several drinks which makes it perfect for spending the day outdoors or going on a romantic picnic. The material used inside the cooler does not absorb odors or allow staining. Plus, it is very easy to clean.
The small-sized cooler comes with top grade polystyrene insulation and all of the hardware on the unit is stainless steel and marine grade, so it is perfect for use on boats and for fishing.
It comes with a small plastic tray which can be placed inside the cooler but above the ice to store delicate or small items.
The lid closes securely and will help hold the ice inside the cooler for 24 hours or more if you keep adding ice.
On top, there is a comfortable carry handle which has an integrated shoulder strap for easy portability and to keep the cooler steady during transportation or when used as a marine cooler.
The Engel 13Qt. the cooler is perfect for anybody looking for a portable personal cooler for day trips, for work or for spending time outdoors.
It is sold at a very reasonable price for the high-quality sturdy make it has and for its portability and ice retention qualities. It comes with a 1-year warranty by Engel, and we consider it the best small cooler for 2020.
The second best small cooler for 2020 is the Yeti Hopper Flip 12. This soft-sided cooler has a capacity to hold up to 12 cans plus ice. Its size is just 12.6 x 10 x 11.5 inches, and it weighs 3.1 lbs. so it is a truly portable personal cooler perfect for both urban and wilderness settings.
The dry hide shell is waterproof, UV resistant and scratch and puncture proof and the inner liner is FDA approved for food safety.
The insulation is made of closed cell rubber foam and will ensure longer ice retention than most other soft-sided coolers on the market. In fact, the Yeti Hopper Flip will keep your beverages cold for up to 2 days!
The cooler has a waterproof and leak-proof hydro lock zipper and a MOLLE compatible hitch point grid so that you can easily attach a MOLLE bottle opener, Zinger or SideKick.
The opening of the main compartment is extra-large, so you will have easy access to all of your provisions and won’t need to keep the top open for long in order to grab a drink or find something in the cooler.
It comes with a comfortable padded shoulder strap.
Overall, this premium small cooler is one of the best options you can find on the market right now if you want an easy to carry personal cooler which will hold ice for long.
Best budget-friendly option
If you are on the market for an affordable small cooler, you can’t go wrong if you choose the inexpensive and yet very good quality Coleman collapsible cooler.
This soft-sided cooler costs a fragment of what our top picks cost and still is an excellent option for day or two-day trips.
It has a capacity of holding up to 16 cans and the ice. The interior lining is treated with antimicrobial solutions so you won’t end up with a moldy, smelly liner with fungus or mildew forming on it.
The main compartment has a strong double sided zipper for easy access.
You can use the hard plastic liner provided if you are planning to use ice and go without it if you use ice packs or other substitutes.
Its shoulder strap is adjustable and will allow you to carry your drinks and meals with your hands-free. It also has two side handles so you and a friend can carry it comfortably even when you have loaded it up to the top.
The seams of the cooler are heat welded so they are sturdy and will not break or leak.
This small cooler by Coleman has multiple pockets on the outside to store additional items, gear, and your personal belongings.
The size of this cooler is 12.20 x 6.69 x 12.20 inches, and it offers ice retention for 24 hours and more.
At this price, this is one of the best small coolers you can buy in 2020 without breaking the bank.
Best small cooler for camping
Our top pick for the best small cooler for camping is this Kula 2.5 gallon cooler. Its design looks amazing, and it is a versatile cooler which will ensure that your drinks stay cold even in the middle of the summer. You can also use it as a stool when you go camping or fishing as well.
The 2.5 gallon Kula cooler has a dispenser on the bottom which is great for draining the water from the melted ice, as well as for pouring water from the cooler itself.
It is made of food-grade safe “gatorshell” and has a size of 14.9 x 12.25 inches on the outside, and 9.5 x 9.12 inches on the inside. As the name of the shell suggests, the construction is alligator-proof!
The weight of this cool cooler is 11 lbs.
It has a stainless steel tote handle, a lid seal and one hand operated latch made of sturdy molded rubber. It also has rubber feet which are slip resistant. The lid can be opened from any side for easy access. It also has an integrated bottle opener.
Overall, this may not be the lightest small cooler on our list, but it is very well built, has a strong and clever construction and is easy to top up and drain, so you can take it with you everywhere. Plus, it comes with a 5-year warranty.
Best small beach cooler
It is affordable, compact and easy to carry, and will fit 4 full-sized wine bottles, which is exactly what we have always needed for an outdoor party.
The size of this convenient cooler is 9 inches in width and depth and 12.5 inches in height. It has a 12.5-inch carrying strap as well.
You can carry a wine opener or other stuff in one of the 2 large exterior pockets.
The liner is heat sealed for durability and to prevent leaks and is also PVC free and safe for your beverages and food.
The bottom is hard and flat so the cooler will stay upright and not tip over to spill your drinks.
The cooler is very easy to clean and is available in a wide variety of color options as well as with many different patterns, which will suit any taste.
Best collapsible small cooler
If you want a cooler which you can tuck up neatly into the trunk or in your backpack once you are done with your picnic or outdoor trip, then this collapsible small cooler by GigaTent is an excellent option for you.
It comes in a small and large size, the smaller being 12 x 9 x 8 inches, and the larger – 18 x 12 x 12 inches in size.
The exterior of this foldable cooler is made of lightweight and yet durable 600D fabric
The small-sized collapsible cooler can easily fit up to 18 cans or 12 bottles, as well as various foodstuffs.
Thanks to its clever design, you can easily fold the cooler once it is empty, and use the closure zippers to keep it folded and compact so you can transport it or store it easily.
The weight of the cooler is just 1.01 lbs.
The cooler comes with a bottle opener, 2 hand straps, and has a large zippered front pocket.
It is available in 4 different color options and is sold at an excellent affordable price.
Best bear resistant small cooler
If you are shopping for a truly compact cooler which you can use as a lunchbox, or for carrying just a few drinks and small snacks when going out on a walk, then you should consider buying the Coleman FlipLid Personal Cooler.
The small-sized cooler has a 5 quarts capacity, which means that you can fit up to 6 cans in it.
The Coleman 5-can cooler has a nifty FlipLid, which has reversible hinges for easy access, as well as to use as a mini-table or tray to hold your can or glass.
The base of the Coleman FlipLid Personal Cooler is wide-bottomed, so the cooler will stay stable and steady even on even ground.
The portable little cooler has a bail handle for comfortable carrying and is sold in a red or blue color option.
Its size is just 8.1 x 7.2 x 10.7 inches, and it weighs 1.54 lbs., so it is a small as you can go when it comes to small hard-sided, ice chest coolers.
The lid is coated with an EZ Clean texture, which makes cleaning quick and easy.
Best of all, it is a fully-functional cooler which will ensure that your beverages stay cold for hours, and it costs just over $10!
Best smart small cooler
This soft-sided cooler has removable, light pre-integrated 15W speakers. Its overall weight is just 3 lbs. and the entire cooler is waterproof.
The smart cooler has a built-in rechargeable battery as well as a power bank which you can use to charge your smartphone or another device while on the go.
The audio produced by the speakers is excellent, and they can play continuously for up to 8 hours before you need to recharge the cooler. The speakers can connect wirelessly to all kinds of devices, or via an optional 3.5mm jack.
The cooler comes with 15-watt Bluetooth speakers, a subwoofer, and a micro USB cable.
It is available at a very reasonable price and is sold with a 100% money back guarantee.
The size of the cooler is 14.9 x 12.2 x 13. 7 inches, and it weighs just about 1.7 lbs. without added cans or other provisions.
Best versatile small cooler
It has a nifty second compartment on top of the insulated one where you can keep the dry goods above the larger main cooling compartment.
The main compartment is properly insulated and can fit your meals, a six pack and some ice packs. Even the bottom of this small cooler is insulated.
It also has a side and front pockets where you can carry your personal belongings, water bottles, cups, and other things. The pockets even have dividers for better organization.
The Crew Cooler II which was originally designed for airplane crew members has a top handle, a shoulder strap, and also a carry on strap which you can use to slide the cooler on the handle of your wheeled suitcase for easier mobility.
The cooler is available in many different color options and is made of sturdy 840D ballistic nylon. The internal liner is made of PEVA and is PVC free and completely safe for your food.
The size of this small cooler is 8.5 x 15 x 10.5 inches, and it weighs about 2 lbs. only.
Best lunch box small cooler
This compact ice cube cooler is the perfect companion if you want to take your own lunch to work with you or for just about anywhere you go. It has specially molded corner feet to keep it stable and safe from tipping over.
The cooler also has a separate dry storage compartment in the lid, away from the ice for utensils and other non-perishable foods and accessories.
Thanks to the special curved back design, you will feel comfortable whenever you are carrying it no matter whether the cooler is touching your body or leg.
The swing-up handle is very comfortable and sturdy.
This small cooler is 10.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches in size, and it weighs 3.6 lbs.
Thanks to its height you can store bottles easily. Also because of its cube shape, it is easy to store anywhere including on the floor of most cars and vehicles.
Overall this small cooler from Igloo is our top pick for the best small cooler which can be used as a lunch box as well for 2020.
Best small cooler for boats
It is a sturdy little hard-sided cooler which can withstand all kinds of adventures and wear and tear. It has a 2.7-inch insulation on all walls which helps it provide amazing ice retention for up to 3 days, which is pretty unusual for coolers of this size.
This cooler has various tie-down points and s made of the same plastic used for the making of kayaks. It is rotation-molded, UV resistant and has no-lose draining plugs.
The Canyon Scout 22 has a size of 18.3 x 18.3 x 15.3 inches, and it weighs 16.2 lbs. but it is the most robust small cooler we have tested so far. Plus, it is sold with a lifetime warranty!
Best small cooler for weekend trips
The K2 Summit ice chest coolers are among the leaders in the hard-sided cooler market. The K2 Summit 30 is a smaller cooler from the series but it has all the characteristics of its bigger brothers – it is incredibly well built out of premium materials. It is one-piece roto-molded and has extra thick insulation which helps the cooler achieve the famously long ice retention of the K2 Summit cooler series.
The cooler also comes in a wheeled version and has a can capacity of up to 20 cans. Its dimensions are 20.25 x 18.25 x 16.4 inches on the outside, and its internal storage compartment is 13.37 x 13.125 x 21.5 inches. The cooler is a bit heavy as it weighs about 19 lbs. but it is a heavy duty ice chest cooler which will keep your drinks cold and your food fresh all weekend long and even longer!
It has anchoring points to tie it down, a strong endure hinge, padlock holes for added security and two types of handles – molded and with ropes.
This is not the cheapest ice chest small cooler on the market, but it is definitely one of the best when it comes to durability, ice retention, and overall quality.
Best small cooler for adventures
Like the larger ice chest coolers by Grizzly, this one is made of rotationally molded LLDPE plastic and has thick walls for the best insulation and optimal durability.
The cooler is Grizzly bear resistant and certified. It has insulation which consists of injected dense polyurethane foam in the walls which is 2 inches thick.
The small cooler has an integrated hinge, grip feet and added slick feet for easy pulling and mobility. It has molded-in handles and can be used with ice or dry ice.
The Grizzly 20 has a convenient 2-inch drain and the trademark Bearclaw latches of all Grizzly hard-sided coolers. It seals perfectly when the lid is closed thanks to the freezer grade gasket.
The 20 quart Grizzly cooler is 20 ¼ x14 ¼ x 14 ½ inches outside and weighs 16 lbs. when it is empty.
It has a fish ruler on the lid and also comes with a dry goods tray and most importantly with a lifetime warranty!
Best small cooler bag
If you prefer the convenience of carrying a soft-sided cooler instead of a bulkier ice chest cooler with you on your outings and are looking for a reliable and small capacity cooler, then you should consider investing in the Husky 82021N11 soft-sided cooler bag.
Its size is only 9.2 x 7.5 x 10.5 inches, and it weighs 2 lbs. when it is empty.
It is a perfect option for a lunchbox for someone who does a lot of commuting and needs to be comfortable and have their hands free.
The soft-sided Husky cooler comes with a comfortable shoulder strap, and also has two spacious mesh pockets on both sides where you can store your water bottles, on-to-go cups or other items.
The premium quality small sized cooler is constructed of sturdy and water-resistant 600D polyester fabric and has high-density interior insulation, which is lead-free and BPA-free.
The cooler bag has an internal and external insulated zippered pockets which you can use to keep snacks, medication, and other items either cold or hot. This means that you can ensure that your soup stays hot while your salad and drink stay fresh and cold at the same time.
This small cooler bag by Husky is very comfortable to carry, easy to clean, and even though it is compact, it will enable you to fit more foods, drinks, and accessories than you may think.
Plus, you can store cold and hot stuff simultaneously, and ensure that they retain their temperature until it becomes time for lunch.
Best for weekend hikes and adventures
The Stanley adventure cooler comes in two sizes – 7 and 16 quarts, and in several color options as well.
The larger size can hold up to 21 cans and has ice retention of one and a half days. The cooler has double wall foam walls which help keep the cold in and the heat out and also help prevent leaks.
It has bungee cords on top of the lid to keep the items which you want quick and easy access to.
The cooler has an adjustable tie-down system so you can take it with you in any vehicle, boat, kayak or other.
The size of the smaller cooler is 13.6 x 11.8 x 9.1 inches and it weighs 3.87 lbs. while as the 16 quarts cooler is 17.5 x 15 x 12 inches and weighs 6.64 lbs.
It has rugged latches and a sturdy handle and also a leak resistant gasket which further insulates the interior and stops any potential leaks as you are moving with your small cooler.
As a whole, we love how sturdy, reasonably priced and well made this small sized cooler is, and strongly recommend it for all kinds of 1-2 day outdoor adventures.
Best small cooler for short trips
It has very long ice retention which with proper maintenance can reach up to 10 days.
The lid gasket of the small ice chest cooler ensures the perfect seal at all times.
It has a flex grip handle made of stainless steel which makes solo carrying a breeze, even when the cooler is fully loaded with beverages, food, and ice.
You can easily drain the melted water via the easy flow drainage spout so that you can top the cooler up with additional ice if your adventure is longer.
The 20-quart ORCA cooler is 19 x 14 5/8 x 13 3/4 inches on the outside, and 14 x 9 x 9 7/8 inches on the inside, and weighs 18 lbs. You can fit up to 18 cans or 15 bottles along with the ice needed to keep them cool for days.
It has a nifty cargo net attachment for additional storage and easy access too.
Best small cooler for wine
Thanks to its 2-inch thick polyurethane insulation as well as the added 360-degree freezer gasket, this compact cooler will hold the ice for days.
The cooler has an over-molded handle for easy carrying, 3-inch locking latches, an anti-shear hinge system, a reinforced lockable hasp and tie-down slots to keep the cooler stable and safe from tipping over.
The lid has 4 cup holder which are self-draining, so you can use it as a small table when you are enjoying some fun time outdoors. It also has non-skid rubber feet and I sold at a very reasonable price.
This cooler is perfect for picnics, outdoor parties and all kinds of adventures. Its exterior size is 18.8 x 12.6 x 17.7 inches and it weighs 10 lbs.
It is sold with a lifetime warranty provided by Pelican.
Best small cooler for sports events and tailgating
This is a long-lasting, roto-molded small sized ice chest which is excellent for all kinds of uses. The insulated walls and lid are injected with 2-inch thick foam, and there is a double wall silicone gasket to seal the lid completely in order to enhance and improve the cooler’s ice retention and cooling performance.
This is one of the sturdiest small coolers we have tested in 2020. It has two strong rubber latches and a cantilever hinge system, as well as durable full-length self-stopping hinges which will survive a lot of opening and closing.
Thanks to the convenient grab rail, this small cooler is easy to carry around no matter where you are going. You can use it to tie the cooler down and secure it as well.
The feet of this roto-molded cooler are oversized and anti-skid.
The dimensions of the unit are 20.5 x 17.5 x 15 inches, and the interior is 12.25 x 11.3 x 10 inches, and it has a weight of 20 lbs. The Bison 25 quart cooler can hold up to 21 cans and ice, or a total of 32 lbs. of ice only.
It is reasonably priced and is sold with a 30-day money back trial and a 5-year warranty.
Best bang for the buck
The 22-quart cooler has ultra-thick insulation of 2.75 inches. It also features stainless steel hinges, a lockable lid and can hold ice for several days without a problem. The latch is made of military grade aluminum and can withstand very hot temperatures, salt water, and other environmental factors.
The size of this cooler is 19.5 x 13.5 x 13.4 inches, and it weighs 15 lbs.
This roto-molded cooler is very durable, robust and is sold at a reasonable price and with a lifetime warranty.
As you can see, there is an amazing variety of small-sized coolers on the market to pick from. You can choose among the easy to carry cooler bags, the soft-sided options or the ice chest style small coolers we have picked for you.
We have chosen the best coolers of all price ranges and types so that there is an option suitable for every preference, taste, and budget.
There is definitely a small sized cooler for just about anyone on our list of the best small coolers for 2020. Hopefully, you have managed to find the perfect one to suit your needs.
So, enjoy your purchase and your cold and refreshing drinks with your new compact cooler!
Last update on 2020-07-05 at 21:54 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API