Best Budget Hard Coolers

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Hard coolers can hold ice for days, keeping all your items cool. They’re ideal for longer outdoor adventures and are an excellent investment. The one downside to them is that they’re pretty pricey.

The good news is that there are hard coolers that work well and are affordable out there. They’re still going to be over $100, but you won’t need to spend more than $500 on one, while many options are well over that and into the thousands.

The 3 Best Budget Hard Coolers

Hard coolers are great investments, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors. They’re solid and keep your food and drinks cooler for longer. Here are the three best budget hard coolers if you’re searching for a new hard cooler that won’t break the bank. 

1. YETI Roadie 24 Cooler – Best Overall

YETI’s are a great hard cooler, but most of them aren’t very affordable. Luckily, if you’re looking for a great hard cooler from YETI, the Roadie 24 Cooler is an excellent insulated option that’s very affordable compared to their other products.

Unlike the short and long coolers, the YETI Roadie 24 Cooler has a tall build that’s capable of carrying all your favorite foods, cans, and even standard-sized wine bottles. We love that there are 11 color options to choose from that range from neutrals to vibrant colors. It fits perfectly in the backseat of a car.

The thing about hard coolers is their weight; when empty, this cooler only weighs 12.8 pounds. Weighing only 12.8 pounds makes it one of the lightest options, which is essential. It can carry up to 24 pounds of ice by itself or 18 cans if you have a 2:1 ratio.

The rotomolded construction will keep all your items colder for longer, regardless of where you’re going. The permafrost insulation is inside the walls and lid of the cooler to ensure nothing starts melting too soon.

Pros:

  • There are 11 color options
  • It weighs less than 13 pounds
  • It has rotomolded construction

Cons:

  • It only holds 18 cans total

2. Igloo Insulated Ice Cooler – Runner Up

Igloo is a famous cooler brand, but you’ll want to look into their hard coolers if you want one that will keep ice from melting for days. It has a 70-quart capacity, making it a great option if you’re looking to carry both food and drink options simultaneously.

It’s affordable compared to other hard cooler options but still has all the features you’re looking for. Much like other hard coolers, you’ll find that this Igloo hard cooler has been injected with a molded construction to the walls and lid to ensure that nothing begins melting for days.

You’ll be able to choose between six neutral colors. While it doesn’t come with wheels, making it challenging to transport, it has handles with comfortable padding that still make it easier than some models to carry.

We love the lockable function so that no cool air can escape. Plus, you can leave it outside for hours without worrying about damage from UV rays.

Pros:

  • There are built-in handles for easy and comfortable carrying
  • Ice will stay cold for days thanks to the insulation
  • It’s UV-resistant

Cons:

  • There aren’t any wheels which can make it harder to transport

3. RTIC Hard Ice Cooler – Best Value

Our best value hard cooler is by RTIC. This cooler is ideal for bringing with you and your friends to the beach, on camping trips, and anywhere you need to keep food and drinks cold. It has several carrying capacity options, but we suggest going with the 45-quart option because it can hold a lot without getting unmanageably heavy.

You’ll be able to use the rope handles to carry your cooler to and from locations easily. It will get a little heavy, but these handles are helpful. It comes with rubber latches to keep the lid tightly on and all your items cold.

The walls are three inches thick, allowing all your things to stay cold for days without melting. It’s heavy-duty, resistant to sunlight, well insulated, and under $250. Without any ice, drinks, or food in the cooler, it’s 29 pounds.

Pros:

  • There are four color options
  • It has three-inch-thick walls
  • It comes with rope handles for easy carrying

Cons:

  • It has a small drain plug

Key Considerations

Investing in a hard cooler is an excellent idea for many reasons. When you’re shopping around for the best budget hard cooler, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before making your purchase.

Price

Hard coolers aren’t the cheapest option out there, but some are considered budget-friendly. You’ll still be looking at a price tag of over $200 for a quality yet a budget-friendly option, but you’ll want to think about what you’re willing to spend and if that price tag brings all the features you’re interested in.

Carrying Capacity

You’ll want to look into how large the cooler is. Whether you need a smaller option or something more extensive, you’ll want to consider your needs. A giant cooler is a better investment for longer camping trips, sporting events, and more. It’s better to have more space and not use it than to not have enough for what you need.

How Heavy the Cooler Is

Hard coolers are sturdy and can get heavy. You’ll want to think about how heavy it will be when it’s full. Most of these coolers don’t come with wheels, so you’ll want to be able to carry all your stuff either by yourself or when you know you’ll have another person to help you.

Insulation

Last but not least, you’ll want to look at the insulation. The whole point of getting a hard cooler is to keep your drinks and food cooler than a traditional cooler. You’ll want to see what type of insulation they use and how long it will keep your items cold. The longer it can keep your food and drinks cold, the better.