Imagine this: You’re hanging out at your campsite on a hot summer’s day and the time comes to start cooking up a gourmet dinner for all to enjoy. But, when you go to fetch your ingredients and supplies, you find only spoiled food in their place.
Unfortunately, keeping food properly refrigerated while camping or hanging out at the beach isn’t easy. In fact, when you’re out and about, ensuring that you have cold, delicious food requires the right gear—namely, a quality camping cooler.
These days, camping coolers come in a host of shapes and sizes, but the 20-quart cooler is an absolute classic for any adventure. There are hundreds of coolers to choose from, so selecting the best model can be a challenge.
To set you up for success on your next camping trip, we’ve put together this guide to the best 20-quart coolers available.
Coming right up, we’ll discuss 15 of the top options on the market. We’ll even offer up some guidance to make your shopping process as straightforward as possible.
Let’s get to it!
Best 20-Quart Coolers for the Money Review
Grizzly Cooler G20
For all-around performance and quality, the Grizzly Cooler G20 is our top choice.
Built from rotomolded LLDPE plastic for increased durability over years of use, the G20 is one of the few IGBC-certified coolers on the market for use in grizzly bear habitats.
Although this cooler is a bit heavy, it has a refrigerator-grade gasket and is pressure-injected with 2” (5.1cm) of polyurethane foam to keep up to 24 cans and 5lbs (2.3kg) of ice cold for as long as possible.
Oh, and the G20 features a large drain opening for quicker clean-up at the end of your camping trip.
RTIC Soft Cooler 22
An excellent value for the money, the RTIC Soft Cooler 22 is a do-anything choice for frequent adventurers. One of the best-performing soft coolers available, this model can accommodate up to 30 drink cans while you’re outside.
Despite being small and packable, the RTIC Soft Cooler 22 comes with up to 2” (5.1cm) of closed-cell foam insulation, a waterproof zipper, and a heavy-duty nylon shell for added performance at camp.
Moreover, this cooler has a built-in antimicrobial liner for extra cleanliness in the mountains.
Orca Coolers 20
Made in the USA from only the best materials, the Orca Coolers 20 is a burly option for frequent campers. With its rotomolded construction and single flex-grip stainless steel handle, this cooler is crafted to withstand harsh conditions.
As far as insulation goes, this model doesn’t disappoint. It has pressure-injected insulation and a lid gasket to seal out heat and chill up to 18 drink cans or 15 bottles at once for up to 10 days.
Additionally, the Orca Coolers 20 has a cargo net on the back for added gear storage on the go.
Yeti Hopper Flip 18
One of the best-known names in the cooler industry, the Yeti Hopper Flip 18 is a sure bet for outdoor adventure.
Although it comes with a hefty price tag for a soft cooler, the Flip 18 is made with only premium materials, including Yeti’s proprietary DryHide food-grade high-density shell fabric.
Additionally, this cooler boasts closed-cell rubber foam insulation, which can insulate either 24lbs (10.9kg) of ice or up to 20 drink cans for several days in a row.
It also has a fully waterproof and leakproof zipper for added performance in the mountains.
Pelican 20 Quart Elite
Pelican is synonymous with durability in the outdoor gear world and the company’s 20 Quart Elite cooler is no exception.
Built from extra-durable rotomolded plastic and boasting a lifetime guarantee, this cooler is designed to last, all while keeping up to 15 cans or 19lbs (8.6kg) of ice cold during your outdoor escapades.
Thanks to the cooler’s freezer-grade gasket and premium latches, it offers maximum ice retention on hot days.
It also comes with integrated cup holders, non-skid feet, and molded-in tie downs for improved functionality on all your adventures.
Igloo Sportsman 20
Igloo’s premier rotomolded cooler, the Sportsman 20, is a durable option for everyday use. It includes 2” (5.1cm) of pressure-injected foam throughout as well as a rubber gasket for improved insulation on scorching summer days.
With enough space to accommodate up to 15 cans, the Sportsman 20 is a solid companion while camping.
For added convenience, Igloo built this cooler with a cushioned 3 point grab handle for transport, as well as a large threaded drain plug to speed up the end-of-trip clean-up process.
Simple yet durable, the Camp-Zero 20 is a heavy-duty IGBC-certified 20-quart cooler for use in grizzly bear environments. Built using rotomolded plastic, non-slip feet, and commercial-grade insulation, this cooler is built to withstand harsh conditions.
It has enough interior space to hold up to 22 drink cans (plus ice) for improved versatility at camp.
For added convenience, Camp-Zero built this cooler with 4 molded-in cup holders so you can kick back, relax, and enjoy a beverage in the great outdoors.
Reyleo Coolers 21
If packing lots of food and drink on your next camping trip is your top priority, then the Reyleo Coolers 21 might be just what you need.
This rotomolded cooler is decidedly durable and well-insulated, yet it still has enough space to fit up to 30 drink cans.
The Reyeleo Coolers 21 also comes with a nifty set of molded-in cup holders as well as a molded 16” (40.6cm) fishing ruler so that you can quickly measure your catch while you’re out and about.
If that wasn’t enough, it also comes with a built-in bottle opener so that you can enjoy your ice-cold drinks as quickly as possible.
Coleman Party Stacker
When affordability is a key concern, the Coleman Party Stacker is a sure bet for shorter camping trips and days at the beach.
Engineered for maximum convenience, this cooler boasts a polyurethane shell with an interlocking base and lid so that it can be quickly stacked on top of other Party Stacker coolers while in transport.
It offers enough space for up to 20 drink cans as well as an interior that’s tall enough to accommodate a standard 750mL wine bottle.
Plus, the Coleman Party Stacker uses eco-friendly ThermOZONE foam insulation throughout its construction to help chill your food and drinks while you enjoy the great outdoors.
Klein Tools Tradesman Pro Work Cooler
Designed to be tough as nails, the Klein Tools Tradesman Pro Work Cooler is a versatile choice for nearly any situation.
It features a large insulated interior with space for up to 18 drink cans, a small storage compartment for utensils and napkins, and a shaped lid designed to accommodate water bottles up to 1L in size.
One of the best parts of this cooler, however, is that it’s strong enough to support up to 300lbs (136.1kg). That means it can serve as a great place to sit while you’re hanging out at your campsite with a cold beverage in hand.
nICE Cooler 20
Crafted specifically with harsh conditions in mind, the nICE Cooler 20 is a double-wall insulated rotomolded option that can keep up to 24 drink cans cool for days on end.
It comes with an oversized carrying handle, as well as a set of T-shaped anchor locks to ensure easy and secure transport to and from your campsite.
Moreover, the nICE Cooler 20 features a built-in measuring ruler on the lid, as well as an integrated bottle opener for added convenience on the trail.
Finally, the cooler’s threaded drain plug means clean-up is quick and easy at the end of any camping trip.
Under Armour Sideline 20
A tough cooler for active lifestyles, the Under Armour Sideline 20 is a sleek and stylish choice whenever you head outside.
It features a rugged BPA-free HDPE construction as well as 2.4” (6.1cm) of insulation to help you keep up to 28 cans or 24lbs (10.9kg) of ice cold for days on end.
Thanks to its tie-down anchors and oversized carry handle, the Sideline 20 is also easy to transport wherever your adventures take you.
Plus, the cooler comes with integrated locking plates so you can secure your food and drink at the campsite.
Mammoth Coolers Cruiser 20
Small but mighty, the Mammoth Coolers Cruiser 20 is a functional cooler for hot summertime adventures.
Built out of Mammoth Coolers’ proprietary rotomolded plastic, this relatively lightweight model features an integrated stainless steel hinge system for increased durability throughout frequent camping trips.
With enough space to accommodate 19 cans inside its fully insulated, gasket-sealed storage compartment, the Cruiser 20 is a great choice for shorter excursions.
Plus, at the end of your camping trip, this cooler cleans up quickly, thanks to its heavy-flow drainage system.
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 20
When all-around performance is key, the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 20 is a solid choice. That’s because this IGBC-certified bear-resistant cooler is made from rotomolded plastic for increased durability in any environment.
With its quality rubber gasket and corrosion-resistant T-latches, the Titan Deep Freeze 20 can also seal in the cold to keep ice frozen for up to 4 days.
Also, this cooler is built using Microban, which helps to prevent bacteria and mold build-up for a more hygienic camping experience.
IceMule Classic Cooler 20
Perhaps the most unique option on our list, the IceMule Classic Cooler 20 is a soft-sided option that’s as versatile as it gets.
Engineered using a traditional dry sack shape, this cooler is a super-compact, highly portable option that can fit up to 18 cans plus ice for easy transport to any destination.
Unlike many soft coolers of its size, the IceMule Classic is exceptionally durable and well-insulated, thanks to its MuleSkin exterior fabric and PolarLayer insulation.
It also has a roll-top closure system that allows for complete waterproofing and added durability wherever life takes you.
Cooler Types, Sizes, and Brands—What’s the Best Value for the Money?
Trying to balance cooler types, sizes, brands, and value while shopping for a 20-quart cooler is enough to make anyone’s head spin. So, here are some key considerations to keep in mind as you shop.
Hard Cooler vs Soft Cooler
As you shop for your camping cooler, you’ll have to decide between a hard-sided model and a soft-sided model. However, it’s impossible to definitively say that one type of cooler is better than the other in all situations.
Instead, when it comes to real-world performance, each type of camping cooler has its advantages and disadvantages.
In particular, hard coolers tend to be better in terms of insulation and durability. However, they are often heavier and more expensive than their soft-sided counterparts.
So, if maximum ice retention is your goal, a hard cooler is a sure bet. Otherwise, soft-sided coolers tend to be popular among folks who want an affordable and portable food storage option for shorter camping trips.
What Brands to Trust When Buying a Cooler
A camping cooler is a major investment, so you must trust the brand that you’re buying from.
While any of the coolers that you can find on our list are sourced from reputable brands, the following companies are particularly well-known for their attention to quality and durability in their products:
- Igloo Coolers
- Grizzly Coolers
- Orca Coolers
What Size Cooler Is Right for You?
Perhaps the most difficult part about shopping for a cooler is deciding which size model is right for you.
Because most of us don’t instinctively think in quarts, it’s often easiest to understand cooler capacities in terms of the number of standard 12oz (354mL) cans that a cooler can hold.
Here are some approximate estimates for how much carrying capacity you can expect from the most common cooler sizes on the market:
- 20 qt: 15 to 30 cans
- 25 qt: 20 to 40 cans
- 30 qt: 40 to 60 cans
- 45 qt: 60 to 80 cans
- 60 qt: 80 to 100 cans
Camping Fridge or Cooler?
When you go camping, you have 2 primary options for keeping your food cold in the great outdoors: a cooler or a portable camping fridge. Deciding between these 2 choices isn’t always straightforward.
Before you commit to either option, ask the following questions:
- Will I be camping away from electrical hookups?
- Am I planning on camping for around 2 to 4 days?
- Do I need to carry my gear to my campsite?
If you answered yes to all of the above questions, a camping cooler is likely your best choice.
While camping fridges are awesome pieces of gear, they tend to be heavy and bulky, which makes them difficult to transport to and from remote campsites.
Moreover, most camping fridges require some sort of electrical or propane hookup to operate, so they’re better for use at a designated campground or in a campervan.
FAQs About Camping Coolers
How Much Does a 20-Quart Cooler Hold?
A standard 20-quart cooler generally holds between 15 and 30 standard 12oz drink cans, plus ice. However, these numbers vary widely based on the actual internal dimensions and layouts of your 20qt cooler.
Do Ice Packs Go on the Top or Bottom of the Cooler?
Ice packs can go on the bottom and sides of a cooler to provide all-around chilling for your food and beverages. If you have space in your cooler, putting ice packs on the top certainly helps, though the sides and bottom should be your priority.
What Coolers Are Bear-Proof?
The only bear-resistant coolers on the market are those that are independently certified by the IGBC.
These coolers go through extensive testing to ensure that they are bear-resistant. However, most of these coolers must be locked shut with a padlock to prevent a bear from getting inside them.
What Is a Rotomolded Cooler?
Rotomolded coolers are made using a special manufacturing process, which allows for ample durability.
Rotomolded hard coolers, such as those from Yeti, RTIC, Orca, and Grizzly, are exceptionally rugged and offer enhanced performance and insulation in harsh conditions.
Coolers are essential pieces of gear for any summertime camping trip during which you need to keep food, drinks, and ice cold for as long as possible.
Out of the 15 great models that we’ve reviewed, one stands out above the rest: the Grizzly Cooler G20. In particular, we like this model because its durable construction and exceptional insulation make it a solid choice for nearly any adventure.
For a more budget-friendly option that doesn’t skimp on quality, the RTIC Soft Cooler 20 is a great alternative. That’s because it boasts some of the best insulation on the market for an affordable soft-sided cooler.
But, what’s most important is that you get the gear you need for your adventures. Thankfully, you now have all the information you need to select the best 20-quart cooler for your camping trips.
See you on the trail!
About the author
Gaby is a professional outdoor educator, guide, and wilderness medicine instructor. She holds a master's degree in outdoor education and spends most of her time hanging out with penguins and polar bears in the polar region. When she's not outdoors, you can find her traveling, reading Nietzsche, and drinking copious double espressos.