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The 5 Best Coolers for the Beach


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If you're planning on spending a day at the beach, you better prepare enough drinks and food for the day -- or you'll find yourself cutting the day short or having a hangry family on your hands. And you can't have food without utilizing a cooler to keep everything cold. The best coolers for the beach, however, need to have a few bells and whistles you might not have considered -- they need to be easy to clean, easy to transport, and keep your food extra-cold in the blazing sun. Our picks for the best beach coolers come from top-rated brands like Coleman, YETI, and Igloo -- and come in various options, like coolers that are backpacks or have wheels. These high-quality portable beach coolers also allow easy access to drinks and snacks because no one wants a bulky cooler that's hard to dig through. So, make that list of fresh fruits, sandwiches, and drinks you'll need for the ultimate beach day.

We rounded up great options for families, couples, or small groups -- and here are our five favorite coolers that are hassle-free, light-weight, and roomy.

1. Best Hard-Sided Cooler

Igloo Trailmate Journey Cooler - Amazon, $299.99

When you're packing for a crowd, consider a heavy-duty cooler that can take lots of wear and tear. This wheeled cooler is perfect for families packing lots of food and drinks. While you may be packing a ton, getting this cooler down to the beach with be a breeze. The wheels were built to tackle sand with ease, and the 70-quart large capacity cooler can hold up to 112 (yep!) cans.  Other features we love include a lockable box for valuables, a food basket to separate the food from the beverages, and a storage pocket for sunscreen and other beach essentials. The removable butler tray is a plus -- it's perfect for serving snacks -- and there's cupholders on top for easy drink storage. For true all-in-one snack and serving potential, there's also two beverage openers.

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While the price point might be a lot -- believe us, it's worth it. One reviewer on Amazon wrote that it's "built like a tank," while another wrote "Placed 3 bags of ice in mine on Wednesday and still have ice 7 days later." However, if you're looking for a heavy-duty cooler on wheels for under $70, consider Coleman's portable hard-sided cooler. It can even keep food and drink cold for up to four days -- making it great for an RV or van.

2. Best Soft Cooler

YETI Hopper Flip Soft Cooler - Yeti, $250

YETI's compact cooler is a top-rated option for portability -- and it's a fan-favorite brand for a reason. The YETI Hopper is a leak-proof cooler that's perfect for a few people. Pack sandwiches, drinks, and sunscreen in this YETI cooler with ease, thanks to the wide mouth opening. If you're looking for a soft-sided cooler with a secure, comfortable shoulder strap, you'll love this option. It comes in a few different colors and sizes (one that carries up to 20 cans, while this one can carry either 13 cans or 6 pounds of ice). The outside is puncture-, mildew- and UV-ray resistant, making this ideal for outdoor use, and it's easy to clean with mild dish soap and water when needed.

3. Best Affordable Soft Cooler

Coleman Soft Cooler Bag | 9 Can Cooler - Amazon, $26.99

Coleman is another trusted brand for all things camping and outdoors. To no surprise, their soft cooler bag is impressive. The portable cooler will keep food and drinks cold for 12 hours or more. The leak-proof cooler is easy to clean -- and it has a removable anti-microbial and stain-resistant hard plastic liner to prevent odors, mildew, and mold. If sustainability is crucial to your shopping, you'll love that the exterior fabric is made from recycled polyester fibers, and it can hold up to nine cans. but we think a few sandwiches, snacks, and a few drinks will work when you play a little "Tetris" while packing. Use the adjustable padded sling strap to make it comfy to trek across the beach.

4. Best Backpack Cooler

TOURIT Cooler Backpack - Amazon, $36.99

This backpack cooler is an excellent pick for a trip where you might be taking public transportation or don't have a lot of space in your car. The cooler has a leak-proof liner, which also works to keep food hot or cold for 16 hours. And even though it's small, the main compartment of the backpack can hold up to 30 cans, making this a great pick if beverages are your main concern for the trip. However, if you're packing for one or two, you'll have ample room for sandwiches. There are also a few side and top mesh pockets to store your personal items like keys or wallets, and there's a bottle opener on the strap. There's even a large zippered pocket in the front. So free up your hands with this cooler backpack -- it's super convenient if you bike or use scooters, too.

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5. Best Cooler for Road Trips

BODEGA Car Refrigerator & Portable Freezer - Amazon, $439.77

So maybe you're hitting the road for a beach trip that's a little farther away. You'll need your strawberries, sandwiches, and Gatorades to stay nice and cool for a while! Or, maybe you're car camping near the beach and need something more advanced than a normal cooler for a few days. This is where a portable fridge/freezer is the best option. The freezer is equipped with both AC and DC adapters, which can be used at home or in the car. You can control the appliance manually or through the compatible app. Both sides (75 liters in total) are independent from the other, so you can use one side for freezing meat for a tailgate or barbecue and the other side for drinks. The strong compressor can bring the temperature down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in just 15 minutes, and there's even an app to check on the internal temperature. There is an LED light inside and has a retractable handle and wheels, making it portable. The door can be easily disassembled and can freely switch directions, and to clean it, simply unplug the drain plug after each use and wipe with mild soap and water. The appliance is also shake-proof, perfect for driving on rougher terrains.

This article originally appeared on Wide Open Roads and was written by Allison Johnson.

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