Best Patio Coolers

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
75 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best patio coolers

Last Updated October 2019

It’s the day of your outdoor event, and every guest you invited is attending — so how do you keep the drinks as cool as your party? A patio cooler is a convenient freestanding solution. It stores ice and drinks, and since it’s an easy self-serve station, you’ll have less work to do as a host.

Patio coolers are available in a range of different capacities, so whether you’re looking to chill a few drinks or a couple cases of beer, there are plenty of options from which to choose. If you prefer an inconspicuous cooler, you can get one that is hidden inside what looks like a simple outdoor side table or receptacle. On the other hand, if you want to showcase your patio cooler, you can choose a fun themed model.

Our guide will help you find the best patio cooler for your next outdoor party. For our top five patio coolers, check out the matrix above.

Many patio coolers have wheels for convenience, so make sure the cooler is placed on flat ground where it’s not at risk of rolling away. It’s also a good idea to keep some distance between the cooler and your swimming pool so it doesn’t accidentally end up submerged.

Key considerations

Capacity

Think about how many people you’ll need to serve to choose the right capacity for a patio cooler. Capacity is easier to quantify when you think of it in terms of how many cans the cooler can hold with ice.

If you’re looking for a basic poolside cooler, then a smaller model should work. Small patio coolers tend to hold around 30 quarts or approximately 20 cans. Because these coolers are often decorative, their space isn’t always optimized, so fitting beverages could be a challenge depending on the shape of the cooler.

Mid-size patio coolers are ideal for occasional hosts who are looking for a decorative and functional step up from traditional tailgate coolers. These models hold between 50 and 60 quarts, which amounts to approximately 64 cans.

For regular entertainers, large-capacity patio coolers are a sensible investment. With an 80-quart capacity, these coolers hold around 100 cans. Large coolers are designed with parties in mind and tend to have helpful accessories, such as a can opener or towel rack.

Insulation

Some patio coolers have a steel lining for insulation, while other coolers have a dense, insulated basin similar to that of a freezer. Not only is the interior of a patio cooler insulated, the lid is also usually fully lined – though a few patio coolers lack this feature.

The quality of insulation varies among patio coolers and affects how long drinks stay cold. Some smaller models can keep cans cold for up to 12 hours, whereas larger models range between 24 and 36 hours. However, it still depends on how well-packed the cooler is with ice. Obviously, the more ice, the longer the patio cooler will retain its chilled temperature.

Drainage

Patio coolers come equipped with a drain to remove excess water. In some models, there’s a plug and attached stopper. Others have a small drain that sticks out beneath the cooler. Your patio cooler could require some tipping to fully drain. Be sure you have a firm grip on the cooler when emptying it.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Avoid lifting your patio cooler, especially when it’s full. It could cause the contents to shift around and damage the internal components. If you have a wheeled model, simply roll it to a new location. For a cooler without wheels, empty it before moving it.

Features

Material

Like popular outdoor furniture and accessories, many patio coolers are made of resin. Not only is resin easy to clean and maintain, it holds up well against rain, which just runs off the surface. Even if you’re not matching outdoor furniture, resin patio coolers have a neutral look, so they fit in well with most decor.

Some patio coolers are steel or stainless steel and very sturdy. These models tend to hold the largest capacities, so they’re ideal for regular hosts or large families. Certain steel models are painted and treated with special rust- and fade-resistant powder to keep colors fresh and bright.

Wheels

Some patio coolers are stationary, and others are outfitted with wheels for easy portability. There are wheeled models with locking casters to ensure your cooler stays put, which comes in handy if you have young guests running around. Other wheeled models are more geared toward taking on the go, making them ideal for park or tailgate parties. These wheels are larger with deep treads to cross parking lots, grass, and dirt paths.

Theme

Themed patio coolers are ideal for anyone who wants to add a functional statement piece to their patio. Some coolers are painted with unique designs. Other coolers take on a country chic or Americana look, typically with wood slats around the insulated box. Another popular theme is that of classic beverages, with coolers featuring vintage Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola designs.

Accessories

Premium patio coolers come with a number of extra features to turn the cooler into a streamlined drink station. Some are equipped with towel bars, side baskets for accessories, or wine glass racks. One of the most popular features on steel coolers is a bottle opener and cap catch.

Patio cooler prices

Patio coolers range in price from $60 to $250.

Between $60 and $100, you’ll find smaller-capacity patio coolers that don’t have wheels.

Patio coolers between $100 and $175 have mid-size capacities with better insulation and lid closures. There are also some patio coolers in this range that are ideal for bringing to events as they can be easily packed and loaded into the truck of your car.

For $200 and up, you’ll find patio coolers with large capacities of up to 80 quarts and plenty of extra features, including towel racks, bottle openers, storage space, and high-quality outdoor wheels.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re buying ice for your patio cooler, always err on the side of caution and get an extra bag. That way you won’t have to make another trip to the store during your party.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Keep a recycling bin close to your patio cooler. Your party guests can recycle their bottles and cans as they pick up a new drink, reducing the trash left around your yard.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Buy your own ice maker. Invest in a commercial ice maker so you don’t have to buy ice for your patio cooler.

  • Use an appropriate cover. While most patio coolers are tough enough to withstand the elements, add an extra layer of protection with a cover. You can often find a cover made specifically for your cooler, or you can get a generic outdoor furniture cover.

  • Match your outdoor furniture. With so many options available for stylish patio coolers, matching your outdoor decor is easy. Coordinate a stainless steel cooler with your BBQ grill, or match your furniture with a rattan-style resin cooler.

  • Close the lid. Unless you have oversized wine bottles that completely stick out, always close the patio cooler’s lid once you retrieve a drink. Exposure to outside temperatures will cause ice to melt faster, plus the lid has its own layer of insulation to maintain coolness.

  • Set up a full-service drink station. Set up a table next to your patio cooler with cups, sliced lemons and limes, coasters or napkins, and straws so that guests can help themselves.

  • Wipe the interior after draining. After you drain the patio cooler, wipe down the interior with a damp paper towel and the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning products. Keep in mind you’ll probably need different cleaning products for the cooler’s exterior.

Other products we considered

We’re big fans of the Backyard Expressions Patio Cooler. This rustic Americana cooler is a conversation piece with a treasure chest look and Old Glory painted on its distressed wood. The hinges open for easy access to drinks, and its seal is reinforced with a tight fit. With this 57-quart cooler, you’ll be able to keep plenty of drinks cool for a party. Its design is so unique, some customers say they’ve brought it inside for parties as well. If you need to bring your patio cooler to an event, then the Clevr 80-Quart Party Wagon is an ideal choice. Its 10-inch all-terrain wheels are prepared to traverse parking lots and grass, so it’s easy to transport up to 50 bottles and 70 cans. With built-in features like a dual-hinged lid and a bottle opener with a cap catch tray, this patio cooler wagon is a one-stop party station. A favorite among families, it’s also a fun addition to your backyard.

You’ll probably have different sizes of cans and bottles in your patio cooler. Figure out the combined can and bottle capacity and recommended ice level to maximize space in your cooler.

FAQ

Q. Can I leave my patio cooler outside during rain or snow?

A. Patio coolers are built to withstand extreme heat, and some are even rust-resistant so they hold up in the rain. Other coolers could sustain damage if left out in the rain or snow. You can cover the cooler with an appropriate cover if it’s raining. As far as snow goes, store your patio cooler in a shed or garage during the off-season so it’s protected from wind, hail, and snow.

Q. When I’m not using my patio cooler to store drinks, can I use it to store other backyard items?

A. Patio coolers are constructed to handle ice and drinks, so storing other items could result in damage. Placing outdoor toys or games in the cooler could also bring dirt and insects, so stick to only storing ice and drinks to keep your cooler as clean as possible.

Q. I keep my patio cooler in a shed during the winter. I’m worried about bugs and animals getting inside since it doesn’t lock. What can I do to prevent that?

A. A simple cover might not be enough to deter bugs and critters, so you could opt to wrap up the patio cooler until you need it again. Some companies offer shrink-wrapping for outdoor furniture and accessories, or you could invest in the large plastic wrap used by movers to seal it yourself.

The team that worked on this review
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    Editor
  • Jacob
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    Editorial Manager
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