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Best Car Coolers: Keep Snacks Cold on a Hot Day

A car cooler will keep your drinks cool and close at hand during a trip

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON January 28, 2021

Some drivers spend a lot of time in their cars. It can be expensive and inconvenient to stop on your drive to buy food and drinks. Car coolers provide a great option for snacking while driving. You can save time and money by packing some beverages and easy-to-eat food items instead. Our buying guide features some of the best car coolers on the market.

Best Overall

CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

Summary

A mostly polyester cooler bag designed to keep your drinks and beverages cold. This option contains a Velcro handle for easy transport and can be used for any outdoor endeavor.

Pros
  • This bag can hold up to 50 cans in addition to ice
  • This option also can be used for either grocery store trips or food delivery services
  • Its collapsible construction allows for easy storage whether it is in use or not
Cons
  • Lining has been prone to leakage
  • Its ability to keep items cold isn’t as extensive as other options
  • Snap hinges may need to be snapped more than once for functionality
Best Value

Arctic Zone Titan Cooler

Summary

This shoulder bag carry car cooler is available in three sizes. The inner hard shell keeps the soft-sided cooler from collapsing. Add pre-frozen ice-blocks and you are ready to go.

Pros
  • Cooler has several pockets for storing various items
  • Comes with a zipperless, flip-open lid for easy access
  • This bag is leakproof
  • Inner liner can be removed easily for cleaning
Cons
  • You will need to purchase reusable ice blocks and freeze them before using them
  • Once the ice starts defrosting, the temperature may not stay cold for as long as you need it
Honorable Mention

Wagan Electric Cooler

Summary

This is a car cooler that looks like an armrest. It can be used for keeping food cold or hot. Connector included. Has no handle, but it can be easily moved with two hands.

Pros
  • Has two external cup holders and a central spot to hold other small items
  • Cooling capacity of 32-36 degrees
  • Offers plenty of space, as it can hold up to 30 cans
  • At less than 12 inches wide, it can be used as an armrest
Cons
  • Does not have a handle for transport
  • This is a cooler, not a refrigerator
  • Works as a warmer, not a product that will heat your food
  • You will need to purchase an additional adapter if you want to plug in this unit at home
Best Car Coolers: Keep Snacks Cold on a Hot Day

This cooler from Coleman is perfect for tailgating, picnics, and other outdoor activities. It keeps the food up to 40 degrees colder than the temperature outside. Its 8-foot power cord makes it easier to plug into outlets in your car or boat. The door can open from the left or right side to make it easier to store, giving you more options to use. It is extremely lightweight by itself, so it is easy to haul around. It is about the price you would expect for electric coolers, but it runs on the lower end so it makes it more affordable than competitors. 


You will have to ensure this is plugged in to keep things cool, so if you are looking to be really off grid, then this is not the item for you. It also will not work the best in hotter climates, so taking it to the desert or on a tropical beach isn’t the best idea. It draws power continuously, so it will drain your batteries quickly. Make sure you have charging options to keep a power supply running to it.

If you are looking to spend a bit more on a high-quality cooler, this iceless chest from Igloo is a great option. It comes in a silver color with a white lid, and it has a large handle for ease of carrying, as well as two side handles. Its dimensions are 12.87 x 16.65 x 18.23 inches. It is made of plastic with a polypropylene liner. Its power cord is 8 feet long, so you should have no trouble reaching your car’s 12V receptacle for power. However, if you are parked, that does drain the battery. It can cool items within up to 36 degrees lower than the surrounding temperature.


While its smaller, compact size makes transportation easy, the downside is that you can’t fit much within it. This is definitely a disappointment given the higher price, but Igloo has designed this as a beverage cooler. It also needs about four hours to cool down the interior from room temperature, so you will need to wait to put your items in. There are also reports of the cord getting quite hot to the touch, so you will want to run it in a place where you are not likely to reach.

Tips

  • Check the size of the car cooler. Smaller coolers may be designed to hold only a few items. If you want to carry more items on your drive, look for a bigger size.
  • Some car coolers use electrical connections that only keep cool when plugged into a power source. Make sure you have a source for power and a long cord.
  • These types of coolers are not for storing frozen food. You may be able to bring home frozen food from the market, but don’t plan to take any frozen food with you on a long trip.

FAQs

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Q: What should I look for in a car cooler? 

Buy a car cooler to fit your driving habits. If you take road trips or spend many hours driving, then consider a larger cooler that will hold more items. 

Q: Why should I buy a car cooler? 

It will help you save money and time and help you eat healthier. You can bring along food and drinks that you like best, so you don’t have to stop to buy items at a convenience store.

Q: What should I pack in a car cooler?

Pack some of your favorite snack items. Bring water, soda, fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, and any other popular food items. Pack food that is easy to eat while driving.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a car cooler, consider the Igloo Iceless Cooler. The handle makes it easy to transport, and it keeps your food cool through its plug-in design.

For a budget-friendly option, try the Arctic Zone Titan Cooler.

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