Best Coolers with Wheels of 2024

by Vern Evans

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If you’ve ever had to lug cold drinks across a beach or drag food for a long weekend into a walk-in campsite you know how helpful having coolers with wheels can be. But within this category there are a wide array of performance and price points to sift through. To help you decide whether you should opt for a $400 rotomolded option or something simpler, I put six options from Yeti, RovR, Coleman, Magellan, RTIC, and Brumate to the test to find the best cooler with wheels. 

How I Tested the Best Coolers with Wheels

I evaluated six coolers from Yeti, Coleman, RovR, Brumate, Rtic, and Magellan Outdoors on ice retention, portability, price, warranty, and features.

Ice Retention Test  

My first big test was of each cooler’s ice retention potential. To evaluate this, I purchased six 7-pound bags of ice and put one in each cooler. I then closed the lids and waited to see how long it would take each to melt. 

While I aimed, as much as possible, to call in coolers that were of a similar size, you can generally expect a 52-liter cooler to struggle more with this test than a 35-liter cooler. While I did check during this test to see whether the coolers were waterproof, ultimately none of them were, and I removed that testing metric from consideration. 

Read Next: Best Ice Packs for Coolers

Portability

Next I looked at portability — this thing has wheels, after all. In this test, I pulled each cooler around a small circuit with a few different surfaces: a parking lot, a muddy field, a sandy beach, and down a set of stairs. I looked at both how much effort I needed to use to move the cooler over the different surfaces, how easily they got stuck, and whether I was forced into an uncomfortable posture. I rolled the coolers with 7 pounds of ice or water inside (depending on where the cooler was at in my ice retention test). 

As part of my portability testing, I also looked at the comfort of the handles for both pulling the cooler along the ground and lifting it up and taking it down from a car. 

Finally, I considered price and warranty, and other features that can affect user experience. 

Read Next: Best Backpack Coolers

Best Coolers with Wheels: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Yeti Roadie 48

See It

Report Card

  • Time to Melt 7 Pounds of Ice: 62 hours
  • Wheel Performance: Great
  • Ease of Use:  Great

Key Features

  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Capacity: 76 cans
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Easy to maneuver over all manner of terrain
  • Latching and telescoping handle work seamlessly
  • Good warranty

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Didn’t hold ice as long as other coolers that I tested

The Yeti Roadie 48 was the cooler with wheels already in my gear closet, so I wondered: Would another, better cooler come along and replace it?

Nope. Although it was close, with other coolers beating the Yeti in any given category. But when it came to sheer overall performance — ice retention and capacity and ease of use and maneuverability over all manner of terrain — this one is still my favorite. The latches were easy to use, the telescoping handle came up and down without issue, it was reasonably easy to pull across even the sandiest section of my testing area. While I wish it had done a little better on the ice retention test, its actual capacity relative to its performance was impressive. More insulation would have meant either a bulkier cooler or less interior space. 

The downside to this Yeti is the same downside with just about everything Yeti makes: It’s really expensive. If this one is too rich for your blood, move right along to my best value pick and best wheels, which were also standout performers. 

Read Next: Rtic vs Yeti: Is a More Expensive Cooler Actually Worth It? 

Best Value: Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore Icebox 45-QT


Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore Icebox 45-QT

See It

Report Card

  • Time to Melt 7 Pounds of Ice: 73 hours
  • Wheel Performance: Poor
  • Ease of Use: Great

Key Features

  • Weight: 30 pounds
  • Capacity: 45 quarts
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Second longest ice retention in my test
  • Excellent haul handles
  • Easy to use latches that open on both sides
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • The least comfortable to drag across the testing terrain

If this had just been a test of the best coolers, then the Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore Icebox 45-QT would have easily won the day. It held a single bag of ice for over three days. It had excellent haul handles — the only ones in my test that made it comfortable to carry the cooler down stairs or haul it up into my SUV. The latching mechanisms were easy to use and, unusually, were on both sides of the cooler so you could open it from either direction. And it was very affordably priced, at half the cost of my best overall pick. This is really a great cooler. 

In the end it was lugging this cooler around my testing loop that was the Magellan Outdoors Pro’s downfall. Even with limited weight inside of it, this cooler was a bear to drag across sand, and was less steady pulling down a short series of steps than anything else I looked at. The haul handle was also shorter than I would have liked, to the point that I was forced into an awkward stance to pull it. If you know that you’ll only be pulling this cooler a short distance across a parking lot or other paved surface, it’ll work just fine. But if you’re looking for a cooler that can handle being dragged across more rugged terrain then look elsewhere. 

Best Wheels: RovR RollR 45


RovR RollR 45

See It

Report Card

  • Time to Melt 7 Pounds of Ice: 69 hours
  • Wheel Performance: Excellent
  • Ease of Use: Good

Key Features

  • Weight: 37 pounds
  • Capacity: 45 quarts
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Best in class wheels that can handle anything
  • Good ice retention

Cons

  • Difficult to use latching mechanism
  • Shorter warranty despite higher price point

If you’re planning to wheel your cooler a quarter mile across a rocky beach there’s no question which one you need: the RovR RollR. These are serious wheels, more akin to what you’d see on your fat-tire bike than the typical plastic pieces. And the telescoping handle was the longest in my test, which both improved my posture and my leverage. This cooler practically bounced down the steps in my testing circuit and was equally smooth pulling across both sand and mud. 

While this cooler did well on the ice retention test, it’s worth noting that it had less capacity (relative to its overall size) and weighed more than other coolers I looked at. If you’re packing up the family car for a long weekend of camping, this one may not have the space efficiency that you need. I was also a little frustrated by its latching mechanism. While very secure (this cooler was closest to being waterproof), the latch was annoyingly difficult to get on. Young children will not be able to open and close this cooler on their own. 

Best Ice Retention: Brumate Brutank 35-Quart Rolling Cooler


Brumate Brutank 35-Quart Rolling Cooler

See It

Report Card

  • Time to Melt 7 Pounds of Ice: 77 hours
  • Wheel Performance: Good 
  • Ease of Use: Fair

Key Features

  • Weight: 31 pounds
  • Capacity: 35 quarts
  • Warranty: 5 years

Pros

  • Best ice retention in my test

Cons

  • Low interior volume to weight ratio
  • Telescoping handle can be pretty sticky

The best coolers with wheels should have great ice retention, and that is where the Brumate Brutank shines. It took 77 hours for a 7-pound bag of ice to fully melt, which was the best result in my test. One caveat to this is that, despite being one of the heavier coolers I looked at, it had less interior volume than anything else. 

For the first half of testing, I was convinced that the Brumate Brutank had only a half size telescoping handle. As hard as I tried to pull on it, it just wouldn’t pull out further than a foot and a half or so. This made it surprisingly awkward to lug. But when I went to try and force the cooler up over a curb, the rest of the telescoping handle popped out. Now it’s easy to pack away and pull out again, but it’s worth noting that this model has an exceptionally sticky handle to start.

Best Lightweight: Rtic 52-QT Ultra-Light Cooler 


RTIC 52-QT Ultra-Light Cooler 

See It

Report Card

  • Time to Melt 7 Pounds of Ice: 55 hours
  • Wheel Performance: Good
  • Ease of Use: Good

Key Features

  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Capacity: 52 quarts
  • Warranty: 3 years

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Very lightweight for its size and performance

Cons

  • Not as good ice retention as other things I looked at

Test enough rotomolded coolers and one thing becomes clear: These suckers are heavy. No wonder they need wheels. So I was pleasantly surprised when I first lifted the Rtic. Despite having the largest capacity of any wheeled cooler I looked at, it was also the second lightest. 

While the Rtic Ultralight Cooler was easier to pull across my testing circuit than the Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore (which also has a haul handle) it, unfortunately, did not do as well in the ice retention test. If you need to keep your items cool for a long period of time, this could mean that you need more ice than with other coolers, negating some of the capacity and weight benefits of this cooler. 

Best Budget: Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme Hard Cooler with Wheels


Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme Hard Cooler with Wheels

See It

Report Card

  • Time to Melt 7 Pounds of Ice: 40 hours
  • Wheel Performance: Good
  • Ease of Use: Good

Key Features

  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Capacity: 50 quarts
  • Warranty: 1 year

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Good capacity for its size
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Worst ice retention in my test
  • Wheels are less robust than other options
  • Difficult to open lid

While the RTIC 52-Quart was impressively lightweight for a rotomolded cooler, nothing in my test was as light weight, or less expensive, than the Coleman 50-Quart Xtreme. I could easily pick up this cooler with one hand. Because it was so light, it handled better than I expected in my portability circuit. If you fully loaded this cooler up, however, you might start to see problems due to the fact that it only has half wheels. 

This was the only cooler in my test that didn’t have a latching mechanism but it was still one of the most difficult to open, even when there wasn’t a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the cooler. It was also notable for having the worst ice retention performance in my test, lasting less than two days. But, if you are only planning to use your wheeled cooler for the occasional picnic or beach outing, what this cooler does offer at this price point makes it absolutely worth it. 

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Cooler with Wheels

Ice Retention

How much ice retention potential you need depends in large part on what you are doing. If you’re just looking to keep some beverages cool during a weekend picnic it’s much less important than if you are planning to head off grid for the long weekend. Generally, the coolers with the best ice retention will be more expensive and heavier. See the testing results in this story before making a final purchase

Portability

The whole point of a cooler with wheels is that it’s easy to move around. But there’s more to portability than just the wheels: There’s also the handle, size, and weight. Consider how much lifting you are planning to do with your cooler (off your front steps, into your car, etc.) and choose a weight and size that you can easily manage. 

Read Next: Best Small Coolers

Ease of Use

There are a surprising range of features that came with the wheeled coolers, from telescoping handles to different latching styles to side handles. Consider which features are most important to you. If you travel with children, you may want to focus on how difficult or easy to use the latches are. If you are hauling your cooler longer distances, focus on the wheels and the length of the handle (which will impact your leverage). Keep the comfort of the haul handles in mind if you use your cooler for a lot of short trips in your car. 

FAQs

Q: What is the best beach cooler with wheels?

In my opinion, the best beach cooler with wheels is the RovR RollR series, as its more robust wheels and longer haul handle make it easier to travel on variable, uneven terrain. 

Q: Which cooler has the best wheels?

The RovR RollR cooler series has the best wheels of anything I’ve tested. 

Q: Which cooler keeps ice the longest?

In my test of the best coolers with wheels, the Brumate Brutank kept ice the longest, closely followed by the Magellan Outdoors Pro Explore Icebox 45-QT.

Q: How big of a cooler do I need for 4 days?

While you can get away with a 45-quart cooler for four days, especially if you freeze items like soup in advance to give the cooler a boost, most people will find that 65-quarts is the right size for four days out in the woods with the family. 

Final Thoughts

After testing the best coolers with wheels, I’m confident that one of the models on this list will fit your needs. Whether you’re looking for best-in-class wheels or excellent ice retention or something affordable and lightweight, there is something for everyone. 

Read the full article here

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