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Best cooling boxes for chilled food and drink this summer

Off camping or heading to a festival this bank holiday weekend? Here are the best cooling boxes to keep your food fresh and drinks chilled whatever the weather may bring.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Aug 23, 2023

Selection of the best cool boxes

We updated this guide on 23 August 2023 to ensure everything was in stock, up to date, and still the very best of the best.

Whether you’re off for a picnic on the beach, heading to a festival, or embarking on a family camping trip, you’re going to want a practical solution that can keep your food and drink cool, no matter how warm it gets outside.

Whilst cool bags are certainly the most portable, if you want to guarantee a cool drink for longer, it may be time to upgrade to the best cool box. Although relatively big and bulky, these robust and highly-insulated cooling boxes can house significant capacity and chill your contents for a number of days rather than hours.

With a wide variety of cool boxes to choose from, varying significantly in price, it can be hard to know where to start. Fear not, as we’ve done all the research for you, scouring the Mumsnet Talk boards for recommendations. Every guide we produce to help you keep cool this summer - including everything from the best portable air conditioner or air cooler to the most efficient tower fan - starts with Mumsnet user suggestions, as we know just how valuable an independent, honest recommendation can be. We then also consulted trusted outdoor expert publications and analysed detailed customer reviews to bring you the best cool boxes to suit every budget and lifestyle.

Best cooling boxes at a glance

  • Best cooling box overall: Coleman Xtreme Marine Cooler Box, £109

  • Best budget cooling box: Campos 29L Cool Box, £37

  • Best cooling box for camping: Igloo Max Cold Box, £100

  • Most durable cooling box: DeWalt Toughsystem DS404 Cooler, £136

  • Best cooling box on wheels: Igloo Laguna 60 Roller Cool Box, £98

  • Best large capacity cooling box: Yeti Tundra Hard Cooler 50L, £399

  • Best cooling box for a car: Halfords 12V In-Car Electric Cool Box, £40

  • Best cooling box for travel: Outwell EcoCool Prime, £80

  • Best hard cooling box: Icey-Tek Premium Cube Cool Box 25L, £135

  • Best cool bag: Red Paddle Co 15L Cooler Bag, £135

1. Best cooling box overall: Coleman Xtreme 70QT Marine Cooler Box

Price on writing: £109 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Passive | Capacity: 66L |  Cold performance: Up to 5 days | Material: High density polyethylene, polyurethane | Weight: 6.1kg | Size: 71 x 39 x 44 cm

What we like

  • Long ice retention

  • Moulded cup holders in the lid

  • Durable and weatherproof

What we don’t like

  • Can be tricky to open due to the firm seal

What Mumsnet users say

“We have the Coleman Xtreme, new last year. It’s excellent. Keeps things cool beautifully.” (Recommended by Talipesmum)

“Another vote for Coleman Xtreme (you can also fit wine bottles upright - a very important consideration). I pre-freeze it and fill every last bit with frozen water bottles. We've actually had the problem where the chilli was still frozen four days later.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Ducksurprise)

Our verdict

High-performing and suitable for use all year round, the Coleman Xtreme is a robust and durable cooling box that can keep its contents chilled even on the hottest of summer days. With a UV guard coating and rustproof stainless steel hinges, it’s also hard-wearing enough to stand the test of time, whether your camping trips occur during a heatwave or over a weekend of torrential rain.

Mumsnet users praised the Coleman Xtreme for its ability to fit up to 21 1.5 litre bottles (or wine bottles) standing fully upright. Thanks to the thick walls made from premium PU full foam insulation, it also offers impressive ice retention, keeping the contents cool for up to five days.

It's quite expensive but that's to be expected for a box with this much capacity. We also love the built-in cup holders, strong carry handle and its ability to be used as a seat. Strong enough to hold up to 110kg in weight, it’s handy for camping, festivals or parties where seating is in high demand.

2. Best budget cool box: Campos 29L Cool Box

Price on writing: £37 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Passive | Capacity: 29L | Cold performance: Unspecified | Material: Plastic | Weight: 2.2 kg | Size: 43 x 39 x 29 cm

What we like

  • Easy carry handle

  • Reliable locking system

  • Lightweight yet robust design

What we don’t like

  • Small capacity

  • Less insulated than some other cool boxes

Our verdict

UV resistant and suitable for use all year round, the Campos Cool Box 29L can accommodate around 50 small cans, with a high-quality locking seal that can keep the contents fridge-cool for up to two days using ice packs (or for a good few hours without).

Not as well insulated as some other models, it’s perhaps better suited to shorter durations such as day trips and barbeques rather than weekend-long camping trips or festivals. Just make sure you take the best sunscreen for kids along with you for protection from the sun’s rays!

3. Best cooling box for camping: Igloo Max Cold Box

Price on writing: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Passive | Capacity: 51L | Cold performance: 5 days |  Material: Plastic | Weight: 3.7kg | Size: 67 x 39 x 39 cm

What we like

  • Up to five days of cooling

  • Substantial capacity

  • Integrated cup holders

What we don’t like

  • Costly

What Mumsnet users say

“We have an Igloo cool box. It’s fantastic and works really well, even in France in the summertime. You just need to remember to change the ice blocks and not to open the lid too much.” (Tried and tested by Kahlua4me)

I agree with the Igloo recommendation - we bought this one after a friend recommended it. It is so well insulated that with ice packs it can keep things cool for up to five days. We used it in really hot weather camping and it was great.” (Recommended by Carpediem1)

Our verdict

While they come with a premium price tag, Igloo cool boxes are praised by Mumsnet users and consumers for their superior MaxCold insulation. These thick, sturdy walls are filled with Thermecool foam that offers up to five days of ice retention - ensuring you can still crack open a cold beer watching the sunset on the final day of your break.

With a 51L capacity that can hold the equivalent of 76 330ml cans, it’s relatively big and bulky when full. That said, it comes with two gripped handles for comfortable carrying and multiple tie-down points to secure in your car during travel. When it’s time to relax in your tent, the four cup holders integrated into the lid can even be used to create a handy makeshift table.

Related: Best the heat when working from home with the best desk fan

4. Most durable cool box: DeWalt Toughsystem DS404 Cooler

Price on writing: £136 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Passive | Capacity: 25.5L | Cold performance: Up to 5 days |  Material: Polyurethane | Weight: 1kg | Size: 40.5 x 54 x 35cm

What we like

  • Lightweight when empty

  • Extremely durable and protects contents

  • Built-in bottle opener

  • Leakproof

What we don’t like

  • Not aesthetically pleasing

  • Short carry handles

Our verdict

It’s certainly not the most stylish of cool boxes, but don’t let the 'building site' appearance of the DeWalt cool box put you off. This durable and hard-wearing cooling box offers an impressive commercial-grade cooling ability, cooling the equivalent of 36 cans for up to five days.

Whilst it may look relatively large and cumbersome, the top and side carry handles make it surprisingly portable. Weatherproof and leakproof, it can also keep dust and water out and your contents completely safe and protected from the elements, whatever the weather may bring.

We love the two recessed can holders in the lid, and with the addition of a built-in bottle opener, you’re sure to have everything you need close to hand when it’s time to relax and enjoy the contents. We’d pair with the best handheld fan for the ultimate on-the-go cooling experience.

Read next: Relax in the shade this summer with our pick of the best hammocks

5. Best cooling box on wheels: Igloo Laguna 60 Roller Cool Box with Wheels

Price on writing: £98 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Passive | Capacity: 56L | Cold performance: Up to 4 days | Material: Polypropylene | Weight: 5.74 kg | Size: 52 x 47 x 53 cm

What we like

  • Large handle and wheels for easy portability

  • Built-in cup holders

  • Robust and well insulated

What we don’t like

  • Heavy and bulky

What Mumsnet users say

“I've got a big Igloo that's on wheels and has a drain plug in the bottom. I love it but it is big and bulky. I freeze four points of milk, a large carton of juice and pre-frozen sausages, bacon, burgers, ice creams, chilli in a tub etc, and take a frozen bottle of vodka too.”  (Tried and tested by HotPatootiebootie)

Our verdict

If the thought of lugging around a heavy cool box is enough to put you off, you may want to consider opting for a cooling box with wheels instead. A far more portable option, the Igloo Laguna 60 Roller Cool Box features two oversized all-terrain wheels and a lockable telescopic handle which can be used to push or pull the box, making it far easier to transport.

Whilst it’s still fairly substantial in size with a 56L capacity, it makes a practical option for families heading off to a camping trip or festival. The high-quality ThermoCool insulation is capable of keeping the contents cool for up to four days and with a convenient drainage hole, it’s quick and easy to empty and clean when you’re ready to head home.

Related: Discover the best pedestal fan for a cooling breeze at home

6. Best large cool box: Yeti Tundra Hard Cooler 50L

Price on writing: £399 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Passive | Capacity: 50L |  Cold performance: 5 days to a week |  Material: Food grade UV-resistant polyethylene | Weight: 16.3kg | Size: 47.3 x 71.8 x 49.5cm

What we like

  • Impressive insulation

  • Large capacity

  • Wheels and handlebar for portability

  • Rugged and virtually indestructible

What we don’t like

  • Heavy and bulky

  • Expensive

What Mumsnet users say

The good quality ones without electric are much better. I have a lovely Yeti.” (Brand vetted by mrsrobin)

Our verdict

The Yeti Tundra comes with a relatively eye-watering price tag, so you’ll certainly want the opportunity to use it regularly to make it worth the investment. If you’re concerned about value for money, however, reviewers and Mumsnet parents feel it’s worth every penny, especially if you’re starting to take your camping trips more seriously.

Boasting ‘unmatched’ insulation, the super thick pressure-injected polyurethane walls allow excellent ice retention. With the ability to keep up to 45 beer cans cool (using a 2:1 ice-to-can ratio) for between five days to a week, the Yeti Tundra can help you to relax and enjoy your trip whilst living completely off-grid.

While this 52L cool box certainly takes up some space, it’s more portable than many thanks to its large military-grade handlebar and big, rugged wheels. It’s both leakproof and waterproof, and if you’re worried about someone sneaking the last can of your favourite drink or your best reusable water bottle, it can even be padlocked to protect the contents.

7. Best car cooling box: Halfords 12V In-Car Electric Cool Box

Price on writing: £40 | Buy now from Halfords

Key specs

Type: Electric | Capacity: 8L | Cold performance: Unspecified | Material: Unspecified | Weight: 2.7kg | Size: 31 x 21 x 45cm

 What we like

  • Holds 11 standard 330ml cans

  • Includes two external drinks holders

  • Ideal for long car journeys

What we don’t like

  • Limited capacity

What Mumsnet users say

“We have a camping fridge. Plugs into the car lighter when we are out and about. Then at the camp, it is still cold enough to keep stuff fresh. Best camping item we got.”  (Style of cool box recommended by Summerholidayorcovidagain)

Our verdict

If you’re heading on a long car journey during the height of summer, it certainly doesn’t take long for food and drink to get warm, even when stashed in the boot.

This Halfords 12V Electric Cool Box is ideal for preventing sweaty sandwiches and warm cans of pop. It slots between the two back seats and is held securely using your seatbelts, offering a practical in-car cooling option for chilled food and drink on the go.

Whilst it does have a somewhat limited 8L capacity, this compact, well-insulated design actively chills like a fridge rather than just keeping the contents cool. It also comes with two integrated cup holders that can hold cans securely once opened, reducing the risk of spills during transit.

8. Best 12V cool box: Vango E-Pinnacle 12V Cooler Box, 30L

Price on writing: £96 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Type: 12V cool box | Capacity: 30L |  Cold performance: Up to 16°C below ambient temperature when powered |  Material: Plastic with polyurethane foam insulation | Weight: 5.4kg | Size: 48.5 x 36 x 50.5cm

What we like

  • Five-year guarantee

  • Actively cools contents

  • Choice of AV or 12V power

What we don’t like

  • Audible humming noise

  • Can’t run overnight on 12V without risk of draining your car battery

Our verdict

A cooling box that can conveniently be used both during travel and on the campsite, this thermoelectric refrigeration cooler box from E-Pinnacle can keep your goods up to 16°C below ambient temperature, taking just two hours to reach the maximum.

Holding up to 46 cans, it comes with both a UK plug and 12V in-car adapter, allowing you to keep the contents cool during your journey before transferring to the electric hook-up when you’ve reached your destination. It’s worth noting that it does have an audible hum, which could be a little frustrating for passengers in the back seats who like to nod off during travel.

The convenient carry handle offers easy portability between the car and campsite and once set up, the thermostatic valve will control the temperature, responding to its surroundings to ensure your drinks stay chilled to perfection.

Please note: this product is currently sold out, but we're checking back regularly and will update the page when it's back in stock.

9. Best cooling box for travel: Outwell EcoCool Prime 24L Camping Cool Box

Price on writing: £80 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type: Thermoelectric | Capacity: 24L | Cold performance: 4-5 days  | Material: Polyfoam | Weight: 4.6kg | Size: 38 x 24.5 x 42 cm

What we like

  • The electric cooler can be mains powered or run via a 12V adapter in the car

  • Can be used without power too (using ice packs)

  • Addition of a warming setting

What we don’t like

  • Plug will need an adapter for UK plug sockets

Our verdict

If you’re looking for complete flexibility during travel, the Outwell EcoCool Cooling Box is a versatile choice, running on a choice of either a 12V adapter or mains power that can actively chill the contents up to 18 degrees below ambient temperature. Thanks to its high-density polyfoam insulation, it also performs well using ice packs as a standalone cooler when unplugged.

With a 24L capacity, it’s large enough to house 1.75L bottles standing fully upright and comes with a built-in divider to help organise your content. For garden parties and picnics, we love that it has a practical warming function too. If you also want to keep your drinks extra chilled at a party, then don’t miss our guide to the best ice cube trays, as recommended by Mumsnet users.

10. Best hard cool box: Icey-Tek Premium Cube Cool Box 25L

Price on writing: £135 | Buy now from Cool Boxes UK

Key specs

Type: Passive | Capacity: 25L | Cold performance: Up to 6 days | Material: Pressure-injected polyurethane insulation | Weight: 8kg | Size: 46 x 42.5 x 37.5cm

What we like

  • Excellent cooling performance

  • Choice of bright colours

  • Durable with five year guarantee

What we don’t like

  • Costly

What Mumsnet users say

We have an Icey-Tek, bought a few years ago and it's totally amazing.”  (Reviewed by northerngirl2012)

Our verdict

With an Australian retro style design that’s available in a wide variety of bright colours, Mumsnet users rave about Icey-Tek Cube Cool Boxes for their high durability, impressive five-year warranty and excellent insulation that’ll keep your contents colder for longer than other boxes.

Holding up to 32 cans or 12 bottles of wine, it’s ideal for house parties where you need an additional fridge, whilst offering superior cooling power for longer trips and camping holidays too. The strong rubber seal tightly locks in the cool air and when used with ice packs, the foam-injected insulation across the walls and lid can keep your contents chilled for around six days to 5 degrees celsius.

Whilst it doesn’t have a traditional style carry handle, it’s still relatively portable thanks to the lips under the lid and can even double up as a comfortable seat.

11. Best cool bag: Red Paddle Co 15L Cooler Bag

Price on writing: £135 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

Type: Cool bag | Capacity: 15L | Cold performance: Unspecified | Material: Recycled TPU | Weight: 3.2kg | Size: 45 x 27 x 18.5cm

What we like

  • Lightweight and easy to carry

  • Waterproof and leakproof

  • Plenty of storage pockets

What we don’t like

  • Costly

Our verdict

While it may appear costly for a cool bag, Red Paddle are renowned for their high-quality outdoor gear made for adventure lovers. This highly-insulated cool bag can house up to 15L (enough for a family of four) and comes with plenty of storage pockets both inside and out, making it easy to organise your food, drink and accessories for life on the go.

With a lightweight and portable rucksack design, it’s easy to carry, distributing the weight across your shoulders, and it has a padded back that will stay comfortable during long walks and explorations with your family. It’s super convenient for finding picturesque picnic spots or heading for a day at the beach, but you may need to take it off to fully open it up due to the firm hold zips that can be a bit tricky to release.

Read next: The best paddling pools for keeping cool this summer

How to choose the best cooling box?

When selecting the right cool box for you, you should consider the following:

  • Size and shape - You should consider the duration of your trip as well as how much food and drink you’re planning to take. As a general rule, 30 litres can accommodate around 50 standard-sized cans, while larger cool boxes can accommodate a wide variety of food and drink. It’s also worth looking at the box’s dimensions. Is it tall enough to house bottles standing upright? Remember to factor in the ice packs too, as these can take up valuable storage space. If in doubt, size up!

  • Portability - Whilst many cool boxes are large and bulky, you should look for features that make it more portable, such as wheels, carry handles, telescope handles or easy grip indents.

  • Electric or standalone? - Do you need to keep your contents cool, or actively chill your food and drink? Are you going to be staying completely off-grid, or do you have access to an electric charge point during your trip? Some cooling boxes can be used both as electric or passive cooling options, with passive options tending to offer larger capacity. Others are standalone coolers only, needing ice packs to ensure they work effectively.

  • Insulation and cooling performance - What is the insulation made from and what kind of cooling performance does it offer? Some of the more expensive cool boxes can keep your contents cool for up to a week, but this may be overkill if you’re planning a simple overnight stay with your family.

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users

Mumsnet parents love spending time in the great outdoors, whether that’s camping holidays or simply picnics and days out in the sunshine.

First, we tapped into the hive mind of Mumsnet forums, seeking out trusted opinions of Mumsnet users to get their feedback on the cool boxes that they rate, recommend and have used with their families.

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace, including those recommended by travel and camping experts and leading food publications.

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best cool boxes on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon and John Lewis to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist.

About the author

Lucy Cotterill is a Content Writer at Mumsnet, specialising in lifestyle product roundups. Having written product reviews on her own blog Real Mum Reviews since 2012, Lucy loves to research and explore the pros and cons of products, scrutinising reviews and exploring consumer feedback to help parents make confident purchases that benefit their families.  

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

Read next: The best kids’ water bottle, as recommended by real parents