No matter what you use them for, good wheeled coolers can be a serious game-changer. Whether you’re an angler, hunter, outdoorsman, or just looking for a decent cooler for camping or tailgating, a cooler with wheels will make your life that much easier.
Instead of hauling that fully-loaded cooler around like a sack of bricks, a wheeled cooler lets you glide your cooler filled with ice, drinks, and food around effortlessly. Now you’ll be free to enjoy your cookout or day at the beach without throwing out your back lifting your cooler.
I’ll break down some of the best wheeled coolers on the planet, and help you pick the right one for your needs and budget.
Quick Answer: 7 Best Coolers with Wheels
- Best Overall: Pelican Elite Wheeled Cooler
- Runner Up: YETI Tundra Haul
- Best High Capacity: Igloo Glide Pro 110 Roller
- Best Off-Road: Igloo Trailmate Journey
- Budget Pick: Coleman Xtreme Rolling Cooler 50 Quart
- Soft Cooler with Wheels: Coleman 42-Can Soft Cooler
- Also Consider: RovR Wheeled Cooler 45 qt
Why do you need a cooler with wheels?
If you’ve ever had to load or unload a fully stocked cooler – you’ll know how heavy these things can get. Full-sized coolers stocked with ice and cold beverages can easily top 100 pounds, making them a challenge to transport over any significant distance.
Instead of completing a deadlift and farmer’s carry every time you need to move your cooler, a cooler on wheels gives you the ability to wheel the entire thing with minimal effort. Many also feature oversized wheels capable of rolling over a variety of terrain like sand, mud, and rocky trails.
In addition to wheels and comfortable carry handles, many coolers come with a variety of extra features that will make your day that much better. Built-in bottle openers, molded cup holders, dry-compartments, long ice retention times, and threaded drainage holes can enhance your cooler’s functionality.
Top 7 Wheeled Coolers
This well-insulated rugged cooler is about as good as gets when it comes to coolers on two wheels. It features the same cutting-edge features as Pelican’s other high-end coolers – with heavy-duty wheels and an extendable tilting trolley handle for easy transportation.
2-inch thick polyurethane insulation with a 360-degree freezer-grade gasket provides ice retention for up to 10 days. This makes it great for longer fishing or camping trips, boating, or anytime you need a cooler that can function as a makeshift freezer.
Pelican provides excellent 3-inch press and pull sealing gaskets, which will keep your cooler sealed no matter how rough the conditions get out there. Two different sizes are available: a 45-quart model and an 80-quart one. Both feature ‘true’ internal volume ratings, so you’re getting exactly the internal volume you pay for.
In addition to the superior construction, these coolers are packed with useful features. Built in bottle openers, molded cup holders, a leakproof drain plug, molded tie-down slots and a fish ruler etched onto the cooler lid all come standard, making the cooler an excellent choice for anyone who spends time outdoors.
The 8” x 2 ½” wheels allow you to glide the cooler over all types of terrain, so you won’t need to wear yourself out carrying it by hand.
- Capacity: 45 and 80 quart
- Ice Retention: Up to 10 days
- Weight: 37 lbs / 50 lbs
- Rugged, well-made construction will last for years of heavy use.
- 2-inch thick polyurethane insulation with freezer grade seal.
- Made in the USA & backed up with Pelican’s excellent lifetime warranty.
YETI’s made a name for themselves as the kings of heavy-duty coolers – and this wheeled model is no exception. It features a flatwall design with two inches of pressure-injected commercial-grade polyurethane foam insulation, providing excellent long-term ice retention and toughness.
Never-flat wheels along with a welded aluminum handle with a comfortable grip allows you to glide over a variety of surfaces with ease. The wide curved handle allows you to drag it from either side, allowing you to walk comfortably without knocking your heels on the cooler bottom. Like other YETI coolers, it features rotomolded construction – making it nearly indestructible.
While YETI doesn’t give an exact number on the ice retention time, many users report ice lasting up to 8 days of real-world usage. With a 55-quart capacity, the Tundra Haul can hold up to 55 pounds of ice, or 45 standard sized cans using a 2:1 ice-to-can ratio.
Keep in mind this model is not compatible with YETI’s dry goods basket or divider. If you’re looking for a rock-solid, heavy-duty cooler that’s super easy to transport, take a good look at the Tundra Haul.
- Capacity: 55 quart
- Weight: 37 lbs.
- Rock-solid rotomolded construction.
- Solid, single-piece, never-flat wheels are puncture and impact resistant.
- Curved handle allows for right- or left-handed carry and heel-friendly towing.
- Freezer gasket, neverfail hinges, integrated drain, and extra thick walls.
Best High Capacity
If you’re looking for a high-capacity wheeled cooler that can hold everything but the kitchen sink, this well-made cooler from Igloo makes an excellent option. With a generous 110-quart capacity, it can easily hold everything you need for longer camping or fishing trips, or for a big cookout or barbeque. It’s also significantly cheaper than most coolers from high end manufacturers – while providing a high level of performance.
Igloo states a 5-day ice retention time – which is not as much as higher priced coolers – but is more than enough for most weekend trips. Moving the cooler around is also fairly smooth, with a horizontal telescopic handle and soft ride wheels.
A threaded drain handle allows you to empty out melted ice without lifting the entire cooler. It also allows you to directly attach a drainage hose for easy draining on a boat or other craft. The impact-resistant lid and stainless-steel hinges provide a high degree of durability – and allows you to use the cooler as a makeshift seat or table.
All in all, if you want a well-made high-capacity cooler for a bargain price, you’ll have a hard time topping this one.
- Capacity: 110 quart
- Ice Retention: Up to 5 days
- Weight: 25 pounds
- Slide-and-lock extendable telescopic handle.
- Heavy-duty lid and stainless-steel hinges provide high-degree of durability.
- High-capacity internal volume.
When it comes to coolers suited for rugged outdoor use, the Igloo Trailmate is about as good as it gets. It features all the bells and whistles you can possibly wish for in an outdoor cooler – and wheels that can handle just about any terrain. The 10-inch oversized wheels are big enough to tackle soft sand, mud, rocky trails, and other challenging environments.
Two aluminum stands on the cooler’s undercarriage provide excellent footing, as well as clearance over rocks and other obstacles. A built in stowable butler tray allows you to serve up food and drinks on the go, while a waterproof, lockable dry-storage hatch allows you to stash keys, electronics, and other valuables.
Two built in bottle openers mean you’ll always have somewhere to crack open a cold one, and an integrated drain plug compatible with a standard garden hose lets you drain away melted ice with ease. Igloo gives a stated ice retention time of 4 days – putting it in the middle of the pack in terms of performance.
Igloo’s packed this cooler with all kinds of goodies, including tie down loops for hauling beach chairs and umbrellas, molded cup holders, and interior food basket, a mobile device stand for keeping you phone upright, and more.
- Capacity: 70 quart
- Ice Retention: Up to 4 days
- Weight: 35 pounds
- Perfect for the beach and other sandy environments.
- Heavy-duty 10-inch oversized wheels can tackle a variety of tough terrain.
- Butler tray lets you serve up food and drinks in style.
- Packed with useful features like cup holders, bottle openers, tie-down loops, dry-storage hatch & more.
If you’re looking for a well-made, functional cooler without having to sell your firstborn son, this cooler from Coleman makes an excellent choice. It features many of the same features as more expensive models – in a package anyone can afford. With a healthy 50-quart capacity, the cooler can stash up to 84 cans (without ice) so you’ll have plenty of room for food and drinks for the entire group.
Coleman claims the cooler can keep ice frosty cold for up to 5 days in temperatures up to 90°F, offering similar performance to high-end models. Keep in mind this is in ideal conditions, in reality you’ll probably get closer to 3 days of ice retention. Molded cup handles in the lid can hold up to 4 cans or bottles, while supporting up to 250 pounds of weight.
Heavy-duty wheels and a telescopic handle make it easy to pull over a variety of surfaces, and the handle retracts fully for easy storage in a car’s trunk or other compact spaces. The seal is also top-notch – ensuring the cold stays inside the cooler – and not leaking out into the surrounding air.
- Capacity: 50 quart
- Ice Retention: Up to 5 days
- Weight: 12 pounds
- Heavy-duty insulated walls and lid.
- Telescoping handle and wheels rolls over most terrain.
- Good value for the price.
Soft Cooler with Wheels
This soft cooler from the tried and true cooler manufacturers over at Coleman is the perfect choice when you want a lightweight soft cooler for a barbeque or a day at the beach. While it might not offer the same level of insulation or ice retention as more expensive coolers, it gets the job done when you’re looking for a barebones cooler.
A removable hard plastic liner allows you to fill it up with ice, or remove it completely when your using cooler packs or other ice substitutes. It can hold up to 42 standard sized cans, making it ideally sized for a day outing. The wheels are a little on the small side, making them suited for flat surfaces like concrete or asphalt, but not for sand or other rough terrain.
A front zippered pocket, 2 mesh side pockets, and a dry-storage pocket allow you stash all kinds of goodies, while a bungee on the lid lets you lash extra gear to the top of the cooler. Heat welded seams prevent leaks from ice melting, but keep in mind the exterior is not completely water proof, so you don’t want to drop it in a lake!
- Capacity: 42 cans
- Soft-sided cooler is lightweight and easy to transport.
- Telescopic handle and suitcase style wheels.
- Removeable hard plastic liner for use with ice.
- Zippered front pocket, mesh side pockets, dry-storage pocket and bungee lid for stashing extra gear.
RovR might be a relative newcomer to the cooler game – but don’t let that dissuade you – this cooler is an absolute beast, and a major game changer in the cooler game. It features just about everything you could ask for in a cooler – plus some stuff you probably never could have imagined.
9-inch puncture resistant all-terrain tires mounted on five spoke aluminum hubs give you good traction on nearly any surface – and will hold up well in the sand. An integrated pop up storage bin comes attached to the cooler lid, allowing you to transform the cooler into an all-terrain wagon for use just about anywhere.
A removable deep freeze storage bin also comes included – allowing you to keep meats, bread, veggies and other sensitive items cool and separated from direct contact with the ice. With the deep freeze bin attached it can hold 24 cans and 10 pounds of ice in the main compartment, without it attached it can fit 60 cans and 10 pounds of ice. RovR states the cooler can provide up to 10 days of ice retention, which seems reasonable considering its thick insulation and refrigerator-grade sealing gasket.
The RovR is actually certified as a bear-resistant food container when used with 2 padlocks – so you can be confident no roving critters can get into your food stash! It also has an optional BikR bike mount kit that lets you use the cooler as a makeshift bike trailer.
- Capacity: 45 quart
- Ice Retention: Up to 10 days
- Weight: 37 pounds
- 9-inch puncture resistant tires work well on nearly any terrain.
- Integrated pop-up storage bin.
- Bear-resistant construction.
- 5-year manufacturer warranty.
How to pick the right cooler with wheels?
Wheeled coolers come in a wide variety of makes, sizes, insulation levels, and added features, making choosing one a tricky task. Let’s take a look at some of the most important features to consider when picking out the right cooler for your needs.
The type and size of wheels are an important consideration when considering a cooler. Depending on how you plan to use the cooler, you may want to look for a cooler with larger off-road style wheels.
If you’re looking for a cooler than can handle sand, mud, rocky tails, and other difficult terrain, look for coolers with 9-inch or larger knobby, wide wheels. These wheels will “float” over sand and other terrain much better than smaller wheels will. Some “all-terrain” coolers can function like makeshift beach carts, so you can haul beach chairs, umbrellas, beach blankets and other gear.
If you’re only planning to use the cooler over smooth flat surfaces like sidewalks or parking lots, then smaller suitcase-style wheels will work fine.
Ice retention time is another important consideration, especially if you want a cooler for multi-day use. Ice retention time is generally closely correlated with price, as high-retention times require heavy-duty insulation and well-engineered seals.
If you’re looking for a cooler that will keep your ice cold for a long weekend or an extended camping trip, you’ll want to go with one in the 5 to 10 day range. If you’re just looking for a cooler for a day at the beach or a cookout, then this number is less important.
Also keep in mind when manufacturer’s state an ice retention time they can sometimes exaggerate – so take these ratings with a grain of salt. If you want a better idea of how long a cooler will retain ice, you’ll generally want to subtract several days – especially if you open the cooler often or are planning to use it in hot weather.
Possibly the most important consideration when picking out a cooler is the internal capacity. Capacity is often given in quarts, and many manufacturer’s will also give a rating for the number of cans and pounds of ice that will fit in a given cooler.
When you’re considering what sized cooler to go for, you’ll want to consider how much space you’ll need for ice. If you want to keep stuff cold for several days or more, you’ll generally want to go with a 2 to 1 ratio of ice to food/drinks. So, if you’re planning a longer trip, going with a higher capacity cooler generally makes sense.
Another thing to keep in mind is manufacturers differ in how they rate internal volume. Some will include the insulation when rating internal volume – making it appear like you’re getting more capacity than you actually are.
Handles are vital to any wheeled cooler’s functionality. A good handle will make hauling the cooler straightforward and easy, and should adjust to your height – so you don’t have to hunch over while dragging it.
Look for telescopic handles with comfortable grips. A wide grip can also be helpful, as it allows you to pull the cooler off to one side, preventing it from colliding with your heels as you wheel it.
Cooler materials actually differ significantly, and as you might expect, higher-end materials will offer increased performance as well as cost.
When it comes to hard-bodied coolers, there are two main construction methods used. Rotomolded plastic coolers are made from a single piece of plastic, making them extremely durable as well as completely leak-proof. Traditional plastic coolers are made from multiple pieces of plastic fused together, and won’t be as sturdy or insulating as rotomolded coolers.
Soft coolers are typically made from insulated fabric, and offer a lower degree of insulation to hard bodied coolers. These coolers are fine for a day outing, but if you want something to use for multiple days in a row, you’ll generally want a hard cooler.
Soft coolers are also not typically watertight, so their contents can get ruined by external water soaking through.
Q: How long can a cooler stay cold?
A: This depends on a number of factors including: the insulation level, the ambient temperature, how often you open the cooler, and how much ice is in the cooler. Hard-bodied coolers with thick polyurethane insulation can keep ice cold for over a week, while cheaper soft-bodied coolers will only keep ice cool for 24 hours or so.
Q: Does a cooler need ice?
A: To work properly, a cooler will either need ice or some form of ice substitute like gel packs or ice packs to keep the internal temperature down. You can also use a cooler with prechilled food or drinks without any ice, but it won’t stay cold as long.
Q: How to maximize ice retention time?
A: Maximizing ice retention time can be done by following these steps. First, you’ll want to be pre-chill any food or drinks you plan on storing in the cooler. Second, you’ll want to use approximately a 2:1 ratio of ice to food/drinks. This will maximize cooling and keep your stuff cold for longer.
Third, you’ll need to keep your cooler away from direct sunlight and refrain from opening the cooler too often. And finally, you’ll want to use larger sized ice blocks. Larger ice chunks will melt slower than smaller ice, so if you can get your hands on blocked ice, it will last much longer.
Featured image courtesy yeti.com.
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.