Best road trip ice chests

Discussion in 'Camping Toys' started by lookatdirt, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. lookatdirt

    lookatdirt Long timer

    Jun 1, 2009
    Arizona desert
    We like to go on road trips and are looking for good ice chest suggestions.

    We usually stay in motels, but to save money we like to bring a camp stove and cook our own meals.
    The problem is keeping everything in the cooler from turning into a soggy mess. The old Coleman cooler is use now also doesn't keep ice very well.

    Want- 1. Ice chest with a good dry goods/rack/shelf system.

    2. Keeps ice frozen for 3-4 days.

    I'll spend the money for a cooler that works.
  2. Nailhead

    Nailhead Inclusion Rider

    Apr 6, 2003
    Longmont, CO
    I have four Yetis and an Igloo Sportsman 55, all of which are worth their weight in gold for long-term ice retention. They’ll easily keep stuff cold for a week, and a friend claims the Yeti 35 he borrowed from me kept the same ice in it for an entire two-week road trip to Maine. It was autumn, but I don’t know about that...

    Three things separate the Igloo from the Yeti(s): 1. The Igloo was a lot cheaper (at Sam’s). 2. The plastic the Igloo is made of is a porous composition that stains. The Yetis, by contrast, have been impervious to everything that’s touched them: brisket & pork rib grease from use as a BBQ “cambro”, mustard BBQ sauce, procrastinated post-camp cleanups, etc. 3. The Igloo is US-made.

    I borrowed a Pelican 50 from a WY buddy to bring some elk home, and it seems pretty comparable, although I’m not big on the Pelican latching system because it doesn’t compress the lid to the seal very effectively, IMHO. It is US-made.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention: none of these coolers comes with anything more than a small basket to store food above the ice.
  3. danman

    danman Tumbling Dice

    Jun 9, 2006
    DFW / LAX
    Yeti’s are great, But pricey.

    Check out Rtic coolers, yeti quality, less money. Only available online. A direct competitor to Yeti.

    Also Canyon Coolers, great. I have 3 canyon coolers in different sizes.

    Rtic and canyon are well made, roto-molded, stain resistant etc.

    If you get a 50-75 quart or larger cooler you will not be able to lift it by yourself once loaded. If you move a large cooler around a lot then maybe look for one with wheels, if possible.

    I use a large cooler for food and a smaller cooler for drinks and things you need more frequent. Keeping cooler lids closed is key. They have Removable racks, etc
  4. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

    Sep 20, 2009
    Juneau Alaska
    Put your ice in a rubbermaid container, then put it in the cooler, it keeps the food from getting wet.
    Also I would not spend the money on a $$$ cooler. Hey I have a KLR... I drill a few holes in a cheep cooler and shoot expanding foam in the holes. If the lid has any indentations for drinks I fill them with foam too. I get 3-4 days on my ice.
    tlub likes this.
  5. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

    Mar 31, 2004
    Ever though about ditching ice? Portable Fridge About the same price as a Yeti. Myself, I'd probably spend more and get something like Dometic, Engel, or Arb.
  6. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Sloppy 300 rider Supporter

    Jun 13, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA
    I recently bought a Coleman xtreme cooler for about $50. 70 quarts. The price difference between that and a Yeti will buy a lot of ice. On a recent 4 day trip, high temps were almost 80, lows were in the 40’s. We bought a small 5 pound bag of ice and dumped our home ice maker contents in. There was still ice inside when we got home. The trick to soggy food is 1 gallon zip lock bags and a rack. I made a small metal rack for the cooler and I use binder clips to hold the top of the bags up high. I don’t drain the water from the cooler because that water is extremely cold. I just keep the bag openings out of the water. Buy egg cartons that are made from styrofoam.
    goosecreek and Arbolmano like this.
  7. CharlestonADV

    CharlestonADV I do my own stunts. Supporter

    May 30, 2011
    Charleston, SC
    I have the RTIC knockoff of the Yeti. Works great and half the price. BTW, you might want to carry dry goods in something other than the cooler for better cooler efficiency.
  8. lookatdirt

    lookatdirt Long timer

    Jun 1, 2009
    Arizona desert
    Thx, all.
  9. broncobowsher

    broncobowsher Long timer

    Apr 21, 2010
    Baking in AZ
    Engle 12V fridge, ditch the ice. But it will make a Yeti look cheap. Bought mine over 10 years ago, can't believe I spent that much on it. If it died I would buy it again. No icy water. I use it to haul frozen stuff home from the store and still be frozen. Ice cream in AZ in the summer and the closest store is 15 minutes away, put it in the fridge right next to the frozen Pizza. Buy frozen hamburgers from Costco an hour away, still frozen when I get home. Even when there is a wreck and it takes 3 hours to go 12 miles.

    As for actual cooler. Any of the modern coolers with the thick insulation walls does really good. Start with your pricepoint and size. Look at latch and hinge durability. Depending on what you are doing with it maybe look at tie down points. We have several coolers at work for various activities, they are all about the same. The big Igloo tends to break latches, eventially hinges, but they are cheap for the size. Just got a couple of Extreme Igloo or Coleman with the orange trim. The cable retainer for the drain plug is garbage but the rest is pretty nice. We don't have any of the really high end coolers. And they are used 99% for ice water soaked drinks.

    My brother swears by his Yeti. His wife froze a half gallon of milk for a canoe trip. 5 days later it was partially defrosted. The first time she used the Yeti. Co-worker bring in his lunch every day in one. Doesn't use the fridge. Food is still cold at lunch time without ice. But it is massive. For a lunchbox it looks like he is carrying around a bankers box.
    #9 likes this.
  10. Heyload

    Heyload Bent but not broken Supporter

    Dec 14, 2009
    San Antonio
    I have a Magellan Outdoors Icebox 75, got it on sale at Academy sporting goods for $140. It has a rack for dry goods, comes with a thick plastic divider that slots in the middle that doubles as a cutting board, seals well and has a large drain port.

    Still had a good bit of ice after a two day camping trip in the Texas heat.
  11. lkraus

    lkraus Long timer

    Dec 15, 2012
    Central Ohio
    For car/motel trips we use an older version of the Igloo Wheelie Cool, 38qt. Fits behind the front seats of both our cars for easy access on the road. We freeze bottles of water before the trip for ice - no soggy mess in the cooler and we always have cold water to drink. The wheels make transport into our room easy even when packed full, and the size is a close match to most motel-sized refrigerators. We can also stack luggage on top to transfer everything in one trip. If the weather is hot, we move the food to the room fridge for the night and re-freeze the water.

  12. AustinRT

    AustinRT Been here awhile

    Apr 23, 2014
    San Maros, Tx
    Exactly what we do. I add a small bag of ice each day and after 10 days on the road,1/2 camping, both gallon frozen water jugs were still half frozen. Yeti is not needed unless you're in more remote area.
  13. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

    Sep 13, 2003
    Mt. Vernon, Illinois
    One little tip I'd like to share with these coolers---------is fitting a drain valve to drain the water.
    Attach a short garden hose to the drain valve and drain the water.
    You'll never have to pick up that cooler again.
    Those things are a back breaker.
    I was lucky-----my Pelican had a standard 3/4" pipe thread with a cap on it. I took the cap off and put a ball valve on instead---and a garden hose adaptor on the outlet--------been using that ball valve to drain for years.
    Bigbob1 likes this.
  14. Riteris

    Riteris Dessert Runner

    Aug 26, 2002
    A place many ADV Riders fear: The Nation's Capital
    The reason coolers become a drippy mess is because the ice melts and you get water in the base of the cooler. Duh. Of course, that cold water helps to keep things cool.

    Put the ice in plastic sealed containers and put your food around the plastic containers. Put stuff that can survive wet, like cans, in those plastic boxes.

    America’s Test Kitchen recently did a comparison of coolers. If you can find that episode, that might be helpful.
  15. Wasser

    Wasser Spilt my beer Supporter

    Oct 31, 2009
    Stop spending money on ice and Yeti's

    indelB 12V/110VAC freezer-refrigerators. Make your own ice if you want.

  16. cagiva549

    cagiva549 whats a cagiva

    Oct 10, 2004
    Cypress Tx

    Rtic coolers are made a few miles from my house , some really good deals at their store . I snooped but didn’t buy anything , I use a ARB , I’ve done two month trips with it and never bought ice , I turn it down enough for frozen food in the bottom of the box , layer a couple pieces of bubble wrap tightly over it and pack refrigerated food on top .
  17. NorthIdaho800gsa

    NorthIdaho800gsa Bad influence

    Aug 24, 2018
    Kamiah, Idaho
    I have an engel in my van and love that thing. I've had it a very long time. Beats the shit outta ice!
  18. squish

    squish Out of the office.

    Dec 4, 2003
    Where the Ghetto meets the sea.
    For a car cooler, I don't need a fancy yeti or one of the knock offs,
    I just use a smaller three day igloo.

    For ice, we use half gallon plastic milk jugs I clean them, and fill them with water up to the bottom of the handle then freeze em without the lids on.
    This gives me a few things
    Durable solid blocks of ice
    Easy to handle since they have a handle
    And extra water to drink.
    They also work nicely to mix cocktails in if you want stuff cold but not too diluted.
    Cheap,well kind of cheap the milk in half gallon containers is quite a bit more expensive vs gallon jugs.
    We also found Trader Joe's milk containers to be the longest lasting.

    I freeze up about four of them, I keep two in the freezer at home all of the time just to keep thermal mass in freezer in case of a power outage.

    Done up like this you will only have just a tiny bit of water at the bottom, mostly from condensation.

    The 12vdc compressor fridges are kind of neat, with there lowish power draw, when the RV fridge goes that's what we are replacing it with. I like the idea of a top loading fridge. And the smaller car sized ones would be handy to have for extended road trips.
  19. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

    Feb 21, 2010
    Canada's ocean playground
    I do the cooler and portable ice maker for camping/travelling.

    Nice to make your own ice.

    I'd get a real fridge as mentioned over a yeti.
  20. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

    Sep 21, 2010
    why not buy a 4cu ft deep freezer, and drop a regular cooler inside ? if you needed to you could dump ice in the deep freezer, keep the cooler dry ;-)

    always wondered why folks weren't using deep freezers
    Albie likes this.