How to Choose the Best Small Cooler with Wheels

Best Small Cooler with Wheels

If you are looking for a hassle-free way of transporting snacks and drinks for picnics and outdoor parties, then a wheeled cooler is definitely what you should buy. The best wheeled coolers will keep your drinks cold and protected from the outside elements or inclement weather. What factors you should consider when buying a cooler and which are the top best coolers with wheels?

Types of coolers

There are three popular types of coolers: passive, thermoelectric, or compressor coolers. These products sound complicated, but they are not. Let’s explore the characteristics of each type of cooler and see which type is best for you.

Passive coolers

Passive coolers are traditional ones, they do not automatically cool. You use this cooler in conjunction with separate cooling blocks. This cooler is very handy and simple to use because you don’t need a power outlet nearby.

Its advantages are light weight, noiseless, affordable.

However, there will be some disadvantages: limited space for bottles and food, dependent on ambient temperature.

Thermoelectric cooler

The thermoelectric cooler is commonly used in cars or trucks, as it typically runs on 12 or 24 volts. You can also use some coolers at 230 volts, as long as you have an adapter. Since the cooler cools to 20 degrees Celsius relative to the outside temperature, you won’t get a cold bottle of ice from the cooler in tropical temperatures.

The advantages are light weight and inexpensive. However, this cooler is not silent when operating.

Compressor cooler

Compressor coolers are widely used in cars, trucks or caravans. They use different power sources: 12, 24 or 230 volts. The cooler is self-cooling (no cooling element) at a constant temperature. The ambient temperature does not affect the temperature in the cooler. The compressor cooler is capable of cooling and freezing.

The advantages of this type of cooler are independent of ambient temperature, freeze and relatively low power consumption. However, the downside is that it is quite noisy and more expensive.

Hard vs. Soft coolers

What is the difference between hard and soft cooler? Does one have better cooling than the other? Do they keep everything cold for the same amount of time?

Soft-sided coolers

Exactly as its name, soft cooler is made with soft, malleable, flexible sides.

The best soft-sided coolers are made with a durable, puncture-resistant nylon material that’s pleasant to the touch yet strong enough to withstand daily wear and tear. These coolers use closed cell insulation to maintain cold temperatures and keep your drinks cold and frozen.

Hard-sided coolers

Hard-sided coolers are made of hard plastic, typically, the sides are hard, don’t bend, and are designed to withstand the weather elements outside. So, hard-sided coolers are exactly as they sound. Most manufacturers rely on the process called rotomolding. This is a highly technical process to create hollow products.

With rotomolding process, the hard side coolers are much more durable than other plastics on the market, providing an extra layer of insulation to the super-closed and cooled cooler.

Key differences between hard and soft-sided coolers

  • Insulation: Hard-sided coolers offer better insulation than the soft-sided ones because they have the extra thickness of the walls and cover.
  • Durability: Both hard-sided and soft-sided coolers are extremely durable, but for long camping trips, large outings, and intense outdoor activities, a hard-sided cooler will handle the job better.
  • Weight: This is one advantage of the soft cooler, where the soft face cooler shines. These lightweight coolers are always the preferred choice for frequent travel. Because it’s lighter, smaller, and has a soft surface, it can be carried on the go, hiking, to the office, to the gym, or cycling.

Further reading: Best Portable Fridges and Coolers for Camping

Why you need a cooler with wheels

Here are a few reasons why you should buy your cooler with wheels.


Wheeled coolers are known for their easy transportation and excellent mobility. Its wheels make it more special than conventional coolers; So you also get food preservation benefits along with cooling drinks, with a smooth movement. Even if there are heavy drinks in this cooler, you can easily transfer it wherever it is needed. Therefore, these wheeled coolers also save you energy and time.

Maximize space

Wheeled coolers are known for their striking compact designs that fit into small spaces.  They are able to preserve your items safely in a good environment. You can quickly access the foods and drinks easily whenever you need. These wheeled coolers are very convenient, suitable for both outdoor and indoor purposes.

While there are different sizes, when you choose the right size, you can pack all your food and drinks for a picnic or camping that lasts at least 2 days with the family.

They can also keep fruits, vegetables, fish, shrimp and other seafood in perfect condition, as coolers on wheels don’t allow direct sunlight to reach the area where you store your foods.

Easy to use

The wheeled cooler works like a mini fridge, which you can cool drinks anywhere and anytime, with its useful and wonderful design.  Moreover, some coolers are more beneficial because they do not use electricity.

Therefore, for outdoor events located in places where there is no power source, these coolers can come in handy. These coolers are very suitable for camping in deserts, mountains or hills where there is no electricity.


Wheeled coolers are designed to withstand outdoor weather conditions such as heavy rain, high winds and intense heat. They are usually made of durable materials; built and covered with high quality and sturdy materials that make these coolers last for a very long time. This great design keeps it stand firmly; support against any rough impact that may occur during the cooler’s movement as well as protects all things stored in the cooler.

Other utility purposes

  • Keep foods warm
  • Serve as a table
  • Use a sitting chair
  • Can also store medicines and vaccines
  • Can be used to store clothes, cameras, laptops, and books

You may also like: Solar Powered Fridge: Why Is It Best for Camping?

Factors to consider when buying a wheeled cooler

Owning a cooler with wheels will make your life much more convenient and easier. However, there are crucial factors you need to take into consideration before making the purchasing decision.


Size and material of the wheels are important because the durable material will help it get the job done in rough terrain like mud, sand, and rocky roads. Usually, small wheels are not a priority because you will most likely store heavy items inside the cooler. In this case, the large wheels will work more efficiently.

It’s also important to note that the wheels on soft-sided coolers tend to be small and suitable for pavement, while all-terrain wheels are perfect for all road conditions.

Storage capacity

Chances are you’ll need a large cooler if you’re taking your family to outdoor getaways and camping trips.

Additionally, cooler size can come from both uninsulated and insulated storage areas. If a cooler is described to store up to 45 liters of capacity, that doesn’t mean the whole 45 liters is just for cooling food and drinks. Soft-sided coolers typically have various compartments lined up throughout the cooler, including compartments for cooled and unrefrigerated items. It will be suitable if you want to prepare everything in one place.

If you only use it for cooling purposes, look for a cooler that you can take full advantage of storage size.


If you want a sturdy cooler, you should buy a wheeled cooler made with a rotomolded construction. These coolers are extremely durable, ideal for long-term ice keeping, often act as ice chests and usually rather expensive.

If you regularly go camping and hiking, these wheeled coolers are recommended as they are designed for all weather conditions.

Besides, soft sided coolers are usually made of fabric, nylon is one of the commonly used materials, its durability depends entirely on the user. Soft sided coolers may not be as strong and durable as rotomolded coolers, but if used correctly, they can be a great addition to outdoor adventures.

Fabrics also tend to be cheap and very affordable for most users. Since most soft sided coolers are not waterproof, coolers made of fabric are not ideal for the beach as they can get wet easily and can form mold on the inside.

Further reading:  How to Properly Dispose of a Mini Fridge


Wheeled coolers come in a wide range of costs. Sometimes, you may find that some products cost more than others and make you wonder why. It’s the main functions that make the different. Usually, with a cooler, high quality insulation will make it more valuable. In some cases, you can spend much less without losing the ability to retain ice. However, you may have to make a trade-off about the size of the cooler or another feature that is important to you. In general, you should also consider insulation and be prepared to pay more to keep food at a safe temperature, especially when taking long trips.


Any cooler you plan to take outside, should be reasonably weather resistant. So, before buying a cooler, you need to decide if waterproofing is necessary. In fact, some coolers may struggle with water resistance. When there is too much ice melt and heavy rain can cause problems. Boat-mounted coolers, or ones you plan to take to the beach or lake, will also need to be waterproof.

If you choose a soft on-wheel cooler, make sure the fabric can handle the full load of ice and leftover water. You should look for a soft cooler with a rubber or plastic belly. Most hard on-wheel coolers are water-resistant, either inside or out, but that’s still an element you need to double-check.

Carrying method

A cooler when full, will be quite heavy and can become quite a challenge to carry. Especially when the cooler is large in size, heavy in weight and contains a lot of ice and other items.

To assist with this, many coolers offer multiple carrying methods such as:

  • Side handles: Side handles are probably the most common type of carry tool. These handles are located on either side of the refrigerator to allow one or two people to transport it more conveniently.
  • Lid handle: The lid handle is a single handle on the cooler cover for single-carrier use. This is very useful because users can have one hand free to carry other items.
  • Shoulder strap: The shoulder strap allows a person to carry the cooler over the shoulder, allowing both hands to be free. Thus, users can bring more items.

Additional accessories

There are many additional products that can improve its usability and aesthetics, as well as help maximize the capabilities of the cooler.

  • Ice packs: They are reusable, less cluttered, and easy to put away to help maximize storage volume.
  • Cooling basket: Another popular accessory is the cooling basket, which allows for multiple compartments of food and beverage products while preserving precious freezer space. Similarly, the cooler divider helps to divide the compartment and helps the ice is distributed more evenly.
  • Seat cushions: Seat cushions are a good choice. You’ll likely be sitting on the cooler at some point, so you can maximize comfort as well. They have many different sizes and functions like anti-mildew, fabric upholstery for fishing gear. Depending on your needs, you will pick the right type.
  •  Lights: They are also useful for your cooler at night. The lights support finding specific items in the dark and they also add cool visual effects to enhance your evening environment. Most lights are available in one size, and you can use it with any cooler.
  • Bottle opener: You can get bottle opener attachments and attached cup holders to make your cooler more efficient.

What are the most popular cooler brands?

There are many popular coolers on the market. As it stands, here are the brands that are keeping things cool and worth buying:

  • Igloo
  • Coleman
  • Yeti
  • Bison
  • Orca
  • Canyon
  • Orion
  • Pelican
  • Engel
  • Otterbox
  • Grizzly

Igloo, Yeti and Coleman are the biggest brands in the group. However, the remaining brands also have their own outstanding characteristics.

Either way, there’s something great about your personal style. It is up to you to decide which brand best fits your budget.

Are hard or soft coolers better?

The coolers can be made from a soft material, like vinyl or cotton, or a harder material like plastic or metal. Both styles can keep your food and drinks tasty and cold.  The main differences lie in why you need cooling, how well the insulation is, and how much you keep inside.

How much can a cooler hold?

The coolers have different shapes and sizes for your choice. They are large enough to store anything from a snack to a full buffet, depending on capacity. If properly packaged, a small cooler can hold about 5 to 10 items, a medium can hold about 15 items, and a large can hold about 20 or more items.

Top best small coolers with wheels

1. Best Budget: Igloo BMX 52 Quart Cooler

The foam wall and lid are designed to be extra thick to keep ice for 4 days. Features a rubber T-bolt to ensure safe lid closure and keep cold. With oversized hinges and stainless-steel screws, the product is durable with a long service life.

It has a heavy-duty blow-molded construction to increase the durability of the cooler. Furthermore, there is a three-point grip with stainless steel reinforcement and a rubber grip that provides points of contact. Also, the slide adds an additional layer of corner protection. The Cool Riser technology enhances cooling performance.

Pros: Competitive price, good ice retention, nice styling, well-built

Cons: Limited color options, not many accessories

2. Best Soft: Coleman Soft Cooler with Removable Liner & Wheels

This Coleman soft cooler on wheels may not offer the same ice-holding capacity as other hard-sided coolers, but it’s built with added insulation to help keep snacks and drinks cold. Drink refreshments for at least 42 hours.

The durable two-wheel design and telescopic handle make transport easy, while the side handles allow you to carry it around. It weighs less than 2 pounds and can hold up to 42 cans. Practical features like top lid for easy takeout, multiple compartments for dry packaged snacks, extra ice and more, including a built-in bottle opener.

It features a fabric exterior, welded seams to prevent leaks and a removable odor-resistant antibacterial lining and a pad for cleaning.

Pros: This cooler’s removable antibacterial treated liner is resistant to odors, mold, and mildew.

Cons: Its insulation is limited, which also limits in outdoor events or one-day outing.

3. Best for the Beach:  Coleman Ice Chest

Closed lid supports up to 250 lbs. With a high capacity, it can hold up to 100 cans. The cup holders are molded into the lid, so they can keep drinks closed and prevent spills.

Effectively insulated, the lid and body keep ice for up to 5 days at temperatures as high as 90°F.With swing-up handles, it’s easy for carrying and lifting and recessed lip for easier access to foods and drinks.

Pros: This classic cooler is a practical, well-built and pocket-friendly choice that’s perfect for beach days and will last for years.

Cons: Ice retention can be shorter than claimed (up to five days) when the cooler is on excursion, in the hot sun.

4. Best for Camping: Pelican RC 45QT Wheeled Elite Cooler

It is designed with freezer grade gasket, 2-inch polyurethane insulation, and up to 10 days ice retention.

Other features: built-in bottle opener, press & pull latches, molded-in tie downs with non-skid & non-marking raised feet, stainless steel plate.

Pelican Elite Coolers with wheels are durable thanks to the corrosion resistant stainless-steel hardware, molded-in handles with built in trolley handle.

Pros: Large all-terrain wheels and thick insulated walls make this cooler for weekend to week-long camping trips.

Cons: The Elite wheeled cooler is rotated instead of injection molded, so it’s made of more plastic and is slightly heavier.

5. Best Overall: YETI Tundra Haul Wheeled Cooler

The YETI hard cooler is thoroughly engineered to last and is the right size for any adventure. YETI hard cooler performs well in outdoor rough terrain and retains ice for days.

Various choices are available for the user, such as the Roadie 24 Rigid Cooler ideal for road trips, the YETI V Series stainless steel coolers stand out for their groundbreaking thermal performance.

If you are looking for tough, unbreakable coolers, the legendary Tundra cannot be ignored. It’s designed with extra-thick walls that insulate up to two inches to keep ice out. Permafrost insulation uses commercial-grade polyurethane foam that is pressurized into the walls and lid to ensure your ice stays frozen. The rotomolded construction makes it sturdy and durable.

Pros: High durability, longer ice retention and better resisting the elements.

Cons: The certified bear-safe design protects your devices from claws but also means this cooler is quite heavy.


Cooler with wheels is a product that helps to preserve foods for many different purposes, long trips, camping or going to beach. When buying a cooler, you should first pay attention to the insulation because it helps keep drinks and food cold for hours, convenient to use anytime, anywhere.

In addition, it is also important to determine whether you need to buy a hard-sided cooler or soft-sided cooler as well as any accessories that come with it.

The wheeled coolers recommended above are all good quality products that are worth your investment.


1. Top Rolling Benefits of a Cooler with Wheels,, Retrieved on Oct. 31, 2022

2. What Are the Different Types of Coolers?,, Retrieved on Nov. 1, 2022


Jenny Brown
Hi, I’m Jenny. On my blog, you will find helpful advice about using and organizing the kitchen appliances. You will also receive the recommendations on choosing a compact refrigerator or freezer that best fits your demands. Besides, frozen meals from the freezer bring many incredible benefits because they ensure freshness, deliciousness, and full nutrients. Many helpful tips from experts on frozen meals will also be found.