Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best Ozark trail coolers

For outdoor activities like camping, picnics, beach trips, and tailgating, having the right cooler to carry your food and beverages is key to enjoying your day. If you want a cooler that’s really going to keep your groceries cool, though, it’s important to choose one from a brand with a solid reputation. Ozark Trail is known for its durable, effective, and affordable coolers.

But with a variety of Ozark Trail coolers to choose from, finding the best style to suit your needs can be difficult. You need to select the right type, size, construction, and other features to make sure the cooler is the perfect fit for your usual outdoor trips. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’re here to help.

At BestReviews, we make choosing the best products easy with our in-depth research and testing. If you’re ready to buy an Ozark Trail cooler, our shopping guide has all the information you need.

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Ozark Trail coolers offer many of the same features as more expensive cooler brands but at a fraction of the cost.

Types of Ozark Trail coolers

Like most cooler brands, Ozark Trail offers two types of coolers: hard-sided and soft-sided.

Hard-sided coolers

Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers are constructed of hard, sturdy plastic that locks in cold to protect your food and drinks. The brand’s hard-sided coolers are sized according to how many quarts they hold. Hard-sided coolers are the largest Ozark Trail coolers and the most durable, so you’ll pay more for a hard-sided model.

Soft-sided coolers

Ozark Trail soft-sided coolers have soft fabric exteriors and are lightweight and easy to carry. Smaller than hard-sided coolers, soft-sided coolers are sized in terms of how many cans they can hold. Ozark Trail soft-sided models are less expensive but less insulated than hard-sided coolers. That’s why they’re best for shorter trips or carrying lunch to school or the office.

Features to consider for Ozark Trail coolers


Hard-sided Ozark Trail coolers are available in three sizes.

  • Small: Small hard-sided coolers hold 26 quarts and work well for two to four people.

  • Medium: Medium hard-sided coolers hold 52 quarts and work well for four to six people.

  • Large: Large hard-sided coolers hold 73 quarts and work well for six to eight people.

Soft-sided Ozark Trail coolers are available in five sizes.

  • Personal: Personal soft-sided coolers hold six cans. These mini coolers are best for one person.

  • Small: Small soft-sided coolers hold 12 cans and are best for two to three people.

  • Medium: Medium soft-sided coolers hold 24 cans and are best for three to four people.

  • Large: Large soft-sided coolers hold 36 cans and are best for five to six people.

  • Extra large: Extra large soft-sided coolers hold 50 cans and are best for six to eight people.


Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers are made of plastic that’s durable, lightweight, and fully waterproof. Plastic offers highly effective insulation. Ozark Trail plastic coolers are extremely easy to clean, too.

Ozark Trail soft-sided coolers usually have a durable polyester exterior and an FDA-compliant polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) hard liner that’s fully waterproof to prevent leaks.


A cooler’s construction also plays a significant role in how effectively it keeps food and beverages cold.

Ozark Trail’s hard-sided coolers all feature one-piece construction without any seams. This allows the coolers to keep ice cold for long periods of time. It also adds to their durability. Each Ozark Trail hard-sided cooler also has walls that are between two-and-a-half and three inches thick for excellent insulation. Best of all, Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers all feature a thick, freezer-grade rubber gasket that creates an effective seal for the lid. They utilize strong T-style latches to keep the lid securely closed, too.

Ozark Trail soft-sided coolers are all designed to have multiple storage options. In most cases, the coolers feature a large, insulated inner compartment and exterior storage pockets on the front or sides. Front pockets usually have zippers, while side pockets typically have no closure and are made of mesh to hold non-food items. Some soft-sided models also have expandable tops that can increase the height of the cooler by as much as three inches to fit stacked cans or larger bottles.

Ice life

Ice life refers to how long a cooler can retain the ice you place inside. Ozark Trail’s larger soft-sided coolers usually offer a maximum of one to one-and-a-half days of ice life, which is plenty for a picnic.

Hard-sided coolers typically offer a longer ice life. Depending on the size you choose, you can expect two to five days of ice life, which is more than enough for a day at the beach or even a weekend camping trip.


It’s important to have an effective way to remove any water that’s left behind in the cooler when ice melts. Larger Ozark Trail coolers all feature an oversized drain on the side or bottom that makes getting rid of melted ice easy. The drain stopper is even attached to the cooler by a chain, so you don’t have to worry about losing it and dealing with leaks.

Anti-skid feet

All Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers feature anti-skid feet on the bottom. Not only do these feet help stabilize the cooler to prevent it from tipping over, but they also protect any surface that you place or drag the cooler on, such as your truck bed, tabletop, or floor.

Handles and straps

To make transporting your Ozark Trail cooler from place to place as easy as possible, it’s important to have durable, easy-to-grip handles or straps.

Smaller Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers feature a stainless steel top handle with a molded grip, while medium and large models have durable side handles with comfort grips.

Smaller Ozark Trail soft-sided coolers have padded shoulder straps for comfortable carrying. Larger models often have wheels on the bottom and a telescoping handle, so you can easily pull the cooler to transport it. Ozark Trail also offers backpack and tote soft-sided coolers, which allow for hands-free carrying.


Ozark Trail coolers are often equipped with accessories that make them even more functional. Most models include a handy bottle opener to make opening beverages easy. Some hard-sided models also feature a molded fish ruler on the lid for fishermen, as well as two to four molded drink holders to prevent your drinks from getting knocked over. Ozark Trail’s medium and large hard-sided coolers are equipped with an interior wire basket to help organize your food.

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Did you know?
Ozark Trail’s hard-sided coolers have a UV-resistant layer on the exterior to prevent sun damage.

Prices for Ozark Trail coolers

Ozark Trail coolers vary in price based on the type and size. In general, though, you’ll spend between $12 and $219.

Ozark Trail soft-sided coolers are the most budget-friendly option. Small models that hold between 6 and 12 cans usually range from $12 to $50. Medium and large models that hold between 24 and 50 cans usually run from $50 to $70.

Small Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers that are 26 quarts in size usually range from $85 to $105. Medium hard-sided models that are 52 quarts in size typically run from $100 to $165. Large hard-sided Ozark Trail coolers that are 73 quarts in size generally range from $185 to $219.

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Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers are only available in two shades, white and gray, but soft-sided models come in additional colors, including blue, black, green, and red.


Q. Are hard-sided or soft-sided Ozark Trail coolers best for camping trips?

A. Ozark Trail hard-sided coolers are the best option if you go camping regularly. They offer greater capacity than soft-sided models, so there’s plenty of room for the food and beverages you need for a two- to three-day camping trip. They can keep ice from melting for up to five days, too. Ozark Trail’s hard-sided models are also extremely rugged and durable for holding up to the rigors of a camping trip. In fact, they’re certified by the USDA’s Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to be bear-resistant.

Q. Which type of Ozark Trail cooler works best as a lunch box?

A. A personal-size Ozark Trail soft-sided cooler works well for taking lunch to work or school. It’s compact yet has plenty of room for a meal and a drink. Even the smallest hard-sided coolers are too large to make an effective lunch box.

Q. What’s the best way to clean an Ozark Trail soft-sided cooler?

A. Wet a sponge or rag with a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap, and wipe down both the interior and exterior of the soft-sided cooler. Then dampen another sponge or rag with plain water and rinse. Leave the cooler open to air dry completely before putting it away. If there are stubborn stains on the cooler, make a paste with baking soda and warm water, and rub it over the stains until they lift.

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