When it comes to lunch time, do you have a way to keep your drink cold and your food fresh? Do you feel like a child going off to work with a goofy little lunch box in hand? If so, perhaps it is time to discover a new way to make lunch more enjoyable (and less embarrassing). Personal coolers are perfect for taking much more than just lunch along with you. Here are some of the best personal small coolers available and why you may want to consider making one your own.
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Small Personal Ice Chest Comparison
What Makes a Good Personal Cooler?
This type of cooler is small enough to handle comfortably. They often have soft sides and a shoulder strap for easy transport. Read more about our larger soft sided coolers here. Some may also have a handle on the top, which you can carry by hand, or some might be an insulated backpack cooler. Soft sided coolers stay closed by using a zipper and hard sided personal coolers have a plastic locking lid in most cases. They are able to keep your items cold for a day or two.
Often these coolers are available in a variety of colors for you to choose from. Each cooler manufacturer will add their own unique touches to the cooler. Most of the time, these small coolers are able to hold only a few canned drinks. Some may be able to carry up to a six pack.
People may use them for their daily lunch, a car ride, a trip to the beach or the lake, and even trips to the grocery store. Soft sided coolers may look small, but expand to hold more. For those that are not a fan of soft sided cooler, there are multiple plastic personal coolers available as well. We have highlighted both types below to show the pros and cons of each.
Ice Packs Or Regular Ice For Small Coolers?
Most utilizing a small or personal cooler are using it for a lunch bag or a day trip. Because most use these style coolers for daily lunches most opt to use ice packs. Using ice packs in your small cooler will keep internal temperatures cool enough to enjoy your meal, yet will not cause food to become waterlogged. Depending on which ice pack you choose (we have a post on the best ice pack) most only product a minor sweat which would not ruin a lunch. Whereas ice, by lunchtime, would likely experience significant melt potentially ruining a sandwich.
Also, many of the more affordable soft sided small coolers are not meant to hold water. As ice melts inside, water could seep out through the seams of the bag. It is worth noting though, that the higher end cooler bags like Polar Bear or Yeti Hopper are in fact water tight and can hold ice melt, but then again these are larger options.
Best Small Cooler- Top 10
This small cooler can hold up to 6 cans of soda or beer. It has a wide bottom for stability and a comfortable handle for you to hold onto. The FlipLid top though is what truly sets it apart from other coolers. The lid itself is reversible so that it can be used as a serving tray, which also includes molded can holders so that when it is time to eat, you can eat worry free regardless of where you are. It is available in two colors, either blue or red. _________________________________
This is the best small ice chest cooler if you want a personal cooler that can hold more. You can carry up to 12 cans as well as ice. It has the ability to keep food and drinks cold thanks to the superior thermal retention. It has a durable handle that swings on the top. It is easy to clean and able to resist stains and odors. You can choose from blue or red. This is probably one of the most popular and affordable choice for a small plastic cooler. _________________________________
This small Igloo cooler features an industrial diamond plate exterior and it has earned its name as one of the best small coolers on the market due to being a longstanding cooler manufacturer and for providing quality. It has a tent shaped locking lid that will help to prevent spills, the exterior is durable and resists damage from impacts, you can open it toward either side for easy access, and the handle is very comfortable to hold. Many men prefer the diamond plating sides making this their go-to lunch pail.
Even the small cooler bags can become a handful sometimes. Adding cans of soda or beer along with ice can make the pounds add up quickly. If this is one concern that prevents you from getting a personal cooler, you should consider the Coleman’s wheel personal cooler. It is taller than most personal coolers and able to hold a two liter bottle upright. Although this is a smaller version to most of our coolers with wheels, It can hold 22 cans and the ice to keep them cool. It has recessed wheels to ensure it rolls smoothly and the handle is extendable to make it comfortable regardless of your size. Imagine how much easier it will be to take this cooler to the beach or anywhere else that life will take you.
The Stanley Adventure coolers is produced by the same company that produces many tools including the popular tape measure. The working husband or dad will appreciate this manly cooler. The lifetime warranty is a testament not only to the cooler itself, but Stanley as a company. This adventure cooler offers a leak resistant lid and double wall insulation. This is the perfect job site cooler. This is also slightly larger at a 21 can capacity making it suitable for a days-worth of drinks. Lastly, this is one of the few smaller coolers that offers adjustable tie-down AND can double as a seat.
This cooler is slightly different from the rest of the coolers outlined in this post and for good reason. If you need a small cooler for long hauls, truck drivers for example, this could be the perfect solution. This cooler plugs into a 12 volt source and can cool AND warm its contents. This is what makes this cooler unique. In the summer months, this is more than capable to maintain internal temps indefinitely as it can be plugged in. In the winter months, this is perfect for transporting food to a holiday party of for a warm cup of coffee or soup on the job site. This cooler will maintain (on cool mode) at 35-40 degrees and when on warming mode will heat up to 140 degrees. The Wagan is a 7 Liter cooler that features a padded shoulder strap as well as built in cup holders. This is the perfect car or truck accessory.
The Coleman 24 hour cooler is capable of holding up to 30 cans and keeping them cool for up to 24 hours. This is a versatile cooler with multiple access points including a larger zippered opening as well as a soft hinged top access point. The front of the cooler also offers a pouch for dry goods. The padded should strap makes transporting this cooler comfortable and handsfree. One of the best features of this cooler is the antimicrobial liner. The liner resist odor and mildew. This is the perfect cooler for anyone who tends to forget food or ice packs in their cooler. Many moms will know this feeling when opening a cooler and finding a moldy sandwich or mildew from a leaky ice pack.
Anyone who travels often has likely heard of eBags before. eBags is one of the most popular packing cube manufacturers. Thus, they have developed the perfect cooler for traveling. The Crew Cooler offers several compartments for storage of dry and wet goods. The bottom section of the cooler is the “cold section” and offers insulation on all 6 sides. Externally there are multiple mesh bottle storage compartments. Finally, on the top is a zippered dry storage area.
On of the most unique features of the Crew Cooler is the back slip pouch which allows for a rolling suitcase handle to slip through. This allows the for the cooler to be securely carried on top of a rolling suitcase. The eBags Crew Cooler is available in multiple color schemes. See Color Choices Here⇒
The Igloo Max Cold is most traditional lunch box looking cooler. This is essentially a modern approach to the lunch pail. Although the Igloo offers a leak resistant design, we still recommend utilizing ice packs with this cooler. This will ensure that seams do not become damp or leak. The interior offers an anti microbial liner and the exterior offers an ergonomic carrying handle.
If you are the “Keep It Simple” kind of person you will appreciate the Everest Lunch Bag. This is one of the most affordable lunch bags. Offering an additional storage area in addition to the large insulated area, this is one of the simplest coolers available. This is practical for a children’s lunch box as it is available in multiple colors so each child can have their own color. At roughly $10, this is the economical approach to a lunch box.