Best Small Coolers For Keeping Ice (GREAT for day hikes)

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best small cooler for keeping ice is, then we recommend the YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler.

As we get closer to the Spring & Summer seasons, when one portion of the world gets much warmer, coolers come in real handy! You might use one for camping, outdoor get-together, or even just a random pool party. For some events, a larger cooler is what you need, however, there are a lot of times where a smaller cooler is the way to go. That is of course as long as they can keep ice for a reasonable amount of time!

With that being said, we’ve found 5 small coolers that we feel can get the job done for you! However, before we jump into this, we wanted to go over some important factors you’ll need to consider first. Let’s dive into those now.

In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top 3 Picks…

[amazon table=”7044″ link_id=”1545″]

How to Determine The Best Small Cooler for Keeping Ice 

best small cooler for keeping ice

Ice Retention

As mentioned above, Ice Retention is vastly important. The reason this stands out is that it essentially gives you the idea of how long your stuff will remain cool. If the ice melts completely in an hour or two, then the ice retention is absolute crap.

Meanwhile, if ice within the cooler does not even begin to melt until 12 hours, for example, then the ice retention is great. This is important mostly due to the fact that you’ll want to keep drinks cool as well as certain meat. If meat gets too hot, it can end up making you quite sick.

Of course, it may depend on how much you eat of said meat too. However, it does not matter if you cook it or not. The meat is still going to be bad to eat regardless. Great coolers prevent this from happening, especially the best small coolers for keeping ice.

Is Hard Or Soft-Side Best

This is often a major question people consider, but it’s really unfair to say one is much better than the other. Ultimately, it is all down to what you prefer as well as what your specific needs are. Since we are discussing smaller coolers here, both are fine for most activities.

The real change comes into play when you look at price differences and specific needs. For example, if you just need a smaller cooler to take to work, a friend’s place, or something like that…then the soft-side version is perfectly fine.

Meanwhile, if you’re going on a camping trip, headed to the beach, etc. then the hard-side version is your best bet. The reasoning has to do with how tough the outer shell is that will protect your items.

Dropping it, knocking it over, stepping on it…all the things you could see in outside environments versus inside. This is why the hard vs soft debate on coolers mostly comes down to inside vs outside needs.

We’ve also found out that hard coolers on average retain ice for up to 60% longer than soft-sided coolers.

Does It Have Enough Space

It may seem like an odd question to consider, as it should be obvious. However, you’d be surprised how many people buy coolers only to find out they are too small for their needs. It happens far more than many are willing to admit.

If you’re planning on using your cooler for an overnight camping trip or day hike, then I recommend that you get at least a 30 quart cooler.

How much space does a 30 qt cooler have?

Just to give you an idea, it can hold 24 cans (beer or soda), six foot long subs, or four tubs of ice cream. As far as ice goes, if you are looking to use your cooler for bringing home the catch of the day, a 30 qt can hold roughly 30 lbs of ice.

How Leak Proof Is It

While this is often attributed to soft versions more than the harder type, leaking can actually happen with both types. We do not mean condensation, however. Some assume that leaking and condensation that makes the cooler sweat are the same thing. They are not at all similar.

Leaking would be if you put ice in it and as it melted, the water began to randomly flow out of the cooler. This is obviously not a good thing for a slew of reasons. Thus, you want to be careful before buying. A lot of coolers will actually have something in their byline about leak protection.

Easy Clean-Up

Often overlooked for coolers is how easy they are to clean. We’re so concerned about how well they’ll cool or keep stuff cool that we tend to forget about the fact that they have to be cleaned up off and on too.

It’s obviously a big deal to do this. For hard versions, you should not have to do more than put it in the sink and wipe it out. Meanwhile, the soft type should merely take a napkin or washcloth at the most to cleanout.

No matter what version you get, the ability to clean them with ease should be high on your list. It can be a timesaver for sure!

Reviews: Best Small Coolers For Keeping Ice

YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler

[amazon box=”B06VXC7R4M” template=”horizontal” link_id=”1546″]

YETI has been one of the most notable brands on the planet for years now. If there is anything you know about them, it is that they make some impressive cooling-based products. While some can be slightly overpriced, the quality behind them is always terrific.

Their smaller cooler, the Hopper Two, keeps with that concept of terrific design. YETI claims that it is 100% leakproof, which is pretty impressive. Leaking is going to happen with coolers normally, but the best ones only see a small portion. The fact that YETI can make one 100% leakproof is incredible.

The tapered body of this cooler allows you to add more stuff than the previous Hopper. This also makes it easier to put stuff in and grab them out. It even makes it more comfortable to carry around and deal with overall.

How did it become one of the best small coolers for keeping ice? YETI implemented the DryHide Shell to make it completely waterproof. The straps are almost indestructible, as they can deal with a ton of abuse and punishment without having any trouble.

Being leakproof and waterproof, this practically ensures you will see your items remain cool for a very long period of time. However, if you need them to remain warm, it works for this as well.

One of the coolest additions to the cooler is its HydoLok Zipper. This is the same type of design that is used in Hazmat suits. Of course, those suits have to remain sealed completely to keep a person safe. Thus, using them for a cooler ensures the entire leakproof and waterproof design.

The weight for the cooler without anything in it is roughly 5.5lbs. However, the tough straps and cooler can handle a relatively high weight. Therefore, you could have a cooler over 30lbs with items packed into it and it’ll still be able to hold up well.

View on Amazon

ENGEL HD30 Waterproof Soft-Sided Cooler 

[amazon box=”B076HY6XZK” template=”horizontal” link_id=”1547″]

The team at ENGEL has managed to make a soft cooler that is absolutely amazing. While other brands could be considered more popular than ENGEL, it seems that this brand wants to change the game in the world of cooling.

They have a patent-pending vacuum valve technology employed in this cooler. The tech manages to improve overall insulation performance. This is one of the reasons the cooler is considered one of the best small coolers for keeping ice.

In fact, it can be considered a “high-performance” cooler due to its ability to hold ice for up to 4 days! It also contains a waterproof full-length zipper for easy access as well as a front accessory pocket to store things.

This is all housed in an incredibly tough and durable TPU outer wall.

It can be considered one of the best portable coolers too due to its impressive, ergonomic shoulder strap. They even went the extra mile by adding a bottle opener and zipper lube, just in case you need either one.

View on Amazon

Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler

[amazon box=”B077Y84VR9″ template=”horizontal” link_id=”1548″]

Igloo has been around for several years, making some tremendous cooling products. You may know them most for their impressive lunch boxes. However, they also have several other coolers as well. They have been a leader in this area, making us know we had to add them to the list.

Igloo’s BMX is a hard cooler, unlike the previous softer coolers. This means it is going to have a tough outer shell. They certainly made sure to make it durable as well. It has been blow-molded and coupled with oversized hinges and stainless steel reinforcements.

They even added skin pads for even more added coverage. The space in it is useful as well. It holds up to 25 quarts or 23.6 liters and even keeps ice for up to 4 days under 90-degree temperatures or less.

This is a very portable cooler, as it has a tremendous ergonomic handle. Igloo claims this cooler is practically bear-resistant due to its toughness. We’d like to think that this is a joke made by the brand, but they likely are not lying due to how durable it was made to be.

View on Amazon

RTIC Soft Pack 

[amazon box=”B07DXFFZPT” template=”horizontal” link_id=”1549″]

RTIC may not be as big of a brand as Igloo & YETI, but they are certainly impressive in the cooling product sector. They like to make sure people know, via their tagline, that their products are “overbuilt yet underpriced.”

They’re not lying about that either, as their cooler is well-priced yet built like a brick house nearly. Many love this cooler due to its no sweat factor. Seriously, the exterior of this cooler does not sweat at all. This means that it cools so well, it simply does not let contents melt.

This is likely accomplished due to its impressive 2-inch foam insulation. When you have that much insulating food or drinks, it is hard for things to melt, get warm, or go bad.

As a great portable cooler, it stands out as one of the best small coolers for keeping ice due to how tough it is made. They used laminated fabric along with welded seams. This keeps things inside from melting or getting too cool, depending on what you have inside the cooler.

View on Amazon

TOURIT Soft Cooler

[amazon box=”B079KY95PL” template=”horizontal” link_id=”1550″]

The TOURIT brand is quickly becoming one of the better brands in cooling. They have been delivering impressive products for quite a while. Now they have done it yet again with this softer cooler.

This cooler is made 100% leak proof & waterproof, giving you a guarantee that liquid will not come out of this thing unless you want it to. It is also impact resistant, meaning you can drop it, step on it, attempt to puncture it, etc. Regardless, it should still be fine and everything inside should be good too.

It can also handle UV rays with ease. The Airtight Zipper was established to further add leak protection and features an easy pull tab that ensures this.

On top of all of this, it was also made with superior cooling capability. It works on three unique layers that operate together to keep food and drinks cool for up to 3 days. This basically means it has 3-day ice retention.

The outer layer has a waterproof surface to keep sweat from being an issue. The Middle Layer uses high-density foam to keep temps inside and outside separate. Meanwhile, the interior is fully lined, offering leakproof ability.

TOURIT also added a useful 3-carry system. It includes a detachable shoulder strap with pad, top handles with 2 reinforced side handles, and even side handles for heavier carries.

All in all, the cooler can hold roughly 30 cans and a ton of ice. This soft cooler ranks as one of the best small coolers for keeping ice due to all of the above.

If this wasn’t enough, it is also BPA free & even FDA approved! This means you’re getting a product made with the environment in mind. The fact that the FDA clears it only makes it even better.

View on Amazon


When it comes down to it, finding the best small cooler for keeping ice may seem easy but it surely is not. There are a lot of them out there, so tracking down some of the top versions was certainly not simple

We feel we found some that you will absolutely love though. We feel that these soft and hard coolers will fit pretty much anything you need. It really just comes down to your specific needs honestly.

If you need one that can retain ice better than most coolers, then the options from either TOURIT or ENGEL will be perfect. They, of course, hold ice 3 to 4 days respectively.

If you need a tough cooler that will remain durable through pretty much any issues, then the option from Igloo could be your best pick. Perhaps, you’re looking for the best portable cooler you can find. If that is the case, you cannot go wrong with the option from YETI.

Finally, if you need something that is fairly priced and built to last without any major issues, then the option from RTIC might be best.

In the end, again, it all comes down to what you need. What activities will you be involved in? Will it just be day camping? Answering these questions and considering the factors above will surely help you decide on the best cooler for you.

Regardless of the one you pick, all of the coolers we added will be terrific.

Similar Posts