Ideal for when you will have a heavy load of food and drinks, wheeled coolers make transporting your perishables from one spot to another, such as at the beach, picnicking, or tailgating easier. Most wheeled coolers come with a handle so that you can pull it conveniently behind you. The handle can be located either on the side or even the top of the cooler. Unfortunately, most of the premium priced coolers don’t come with wheel, however you can add wheels to your favorite Yeti, Engel, and others. However, Pelican is the exception, as many Elite cooled (and a few others below) come with wheels. In this post we will be focusing on the coolers that come with wheels already equipped. Just because they may not be a Yeti or Engel does not mean the coolers below can’t handle serious ice retention times.
Coolers On Wheels Comparison Chart
|Cooler||# Of Wheels||Rating||Price|
|Coleman Soft Sided||TWO||4.4||$$|
|Nash Sub Z||FOUR||4.1||$$$$|
Coolers With Wheels Purchasing Considerations:
Wheeled coolers are available in a number of styles, colors, and shapes, as well as a wide range of prices. It depends on what you are willing to spend and what you will need the cooler for. They can be for just one person, called a personal wheeled cooler, or one large enough for your entire family, or they could be used for an outdoor patio cooler. Take a close look at the points below which will ultimately help in guiding your decision on which type of wheeled cooler is best.
One of the most important considerations to make when looking at wheeled coolers is the type of wheels they have. Are they large enough wheels to roll over gravel easily; or are they merely meant for flat surfaces like a patio? The size of the wheels will usually dictate the terrain that they can handle. For those that intend to spend time “roughing it” you’ll want to pick a larger wheel size. The larger the wheels the more aggressive terrain you’ll be able to handle. Its also worth noting with wheel size, the type of bearing used is rather important too. If the wheel bearing is open to elements, then it is likely dirt, gravel, etc can get inside the wheel and lock up a wheel or both.
Number Of Wheels
Although two wheels is the most common setup, there are several four wheel coolers. The Nash Sub Z which we reviewed here, is a good example of a 4 wheel cooler. In our experience, the two wheeled coolers are more capable for rougher terrain, whereas the 4 wheel coolers are easier on flat to moderate sloped surfaces. With a cooler with four wheels you’ll need to consider whether the cooler can sit flat in place. In other words, does the cooler have a locking mechanism for the wheels or is there some way to prevent the cooler from rolling about when you may not want it too. The Nash for example (as well as many other patio coolers) comes with locking wheels. A two wheel cooler on the other hand, usually has the wheels recessed so that when the cooler sits flat, the wheels are not in use/engaged.
Height & Type Of Tow Handle
Aside from the type and number of wheels used on these coolers, one of the biggest difference among this cooler type is the tow handle. This is how the cooler will be towed or wheeled. Some coolers, especially the roto molded coolers with wheels, will use only a rope handle. Although this will work just fine, it may not be the best choice if you intend to wheel the cooler for long distances. For example, if you intend to wheel a cooler across a college campus for a tailgate, you’ll definitely want a cooler that is comfortable when wheeling. Therefore, handle height is an important consideration.
The most common handle setup is the telescopic handle. This type of handle allows for the handles to be stored down and out of the way. This is especially convenient when the cooler is in a boat or the back of a truck. Coolers with permanently extended handles can be more cumbersome to store. Some may be inclined to think that there are only two types of handles, telescopic or permanently affixed, but the Pelican for example has a handle that hinges off one side of the cooler. This could be a concern if you want to wheel the cooler out of the back of a truck, but the handle is pinned against the side of the truck. In this case, the cooler would have to be moved out about a foot in order to access the handle. Suffice it to say, the type of handle will greatly impact the cooler experience.
Although the points above are important for choosing the type of wheels you’ll have on your cooler, one of the first decisions you should make is the size of cooler needed. We usually like to lean on the side of a larger cooler is better for those debating on say a 40 quart vs a 50qt. However, those interested in a wheeled cooler are usually interested in moving their cooler greater distances. Filling up a 50 quart cooler with drinks and ice can easily reach 100+ lbs. Moving a 100 lb. cooler without wheels easily can take two people to move. Therefore, taking some time to seriously consider the primary use for this cooler will often dictate which size and type of wheels necessary.
We receive a lot of emails and YouTube comments asking how well a cooler on wheels really rolls. Does it get caught up in rocks, how does it do on sand, is this for hard surfaces only; are just a few of the questions which frequently come up. These regular questions encouraged us to test out a brand new model. In fact, we set out to test not only how well the cooler rolls, but the ice retention capability as well.
EVO Semi-Soft Sided Cooler
The EVO, by Evolution Outdoor Designs, is a 50qt wheeled cooler. What makes this unique is the fact that it is a quasi soft sided cooler. The sides are soft, yet the cooler is rigid enough to maintains its’ shape. The top of the cooler, which offers massive amounts of insulation, has a hard coating on the top giving it the look of a hard sided cooler. However, we feel the best feature is the telescoping handle, similar to a suitcase handle. The collapsible handle folds all the way down and out of the way. This is imperative when trying to store a cooler in tight locations. Finally, the wheels are recessed on the lower back corners of the cooler allowing the cooler to sit flat.
We have tested a multitude of soft coolers in the past so we have baseline data for how these coolers as a whole performed. Therefore, the testing procedure on the EVO would be the same as our prior tests so we could make an accurate comparison. The cooler was filled with 20lbs of ice which was about 15-20% of the volume the 50qt cooler offers. Prior coolers were filled with 10lbs, but these coolers were 20-30qt, so in order to maintain a similar ratio we decided to add 20lbs to make it consistent ratio of ice to available space.
During the test, the EVO was exposed to direct sunlight which caused surface temperatures of the top of the cooler to reach 100°+. Even in the extreme temperatures, the EVO held ice among the best of the non-roto molded coolers we’ve tested. Lasting, 2.75 days with 15-20% of the cooler filled, the EVO definitely made a name for itself. One last feature we’d like to highlight, as shown in the video below, the cooler did not leak water when tipped upside down. Although the zipper is said to be “water resistant,” it held all ice melt inside when turned upside down.
Rolling Wheeled Coolers Uses
Wheeled coolers sometimes are referred to as rolling coolers. However, you call them, wheeled cooler and rolling coolers both do the same thing: transport your goods easily and comfortably, so that you don’t have to lift the cooler. Here are product descriptions for a few of the top rated wheeled coolers on the market today.
Top wheeled cooler uses:
- Day in the Park
- Backyard Barbecues
- Outdoor Concerts
- Sporting Events – Cruzin’ Cooler
Top 1o Coolers With Wheels Reviews
The Pelican Elite is one of the longest lasting coolers, in terms of ice retention times, which comes with wheels. The Elite series of coolers comes with or without wheels. In our testing we have tested both, with and without wheels, and both model performed extremely wheel. In fact the new Elite IM Series 50Q cooler lasted 10 Full Days. We have a video of that on our YouTube Chanel⇒. Because this is a roto molded cooler, it is also one of the more expensive coolers our list. Having said that, Pelican does offer a limited lifetime warranty on their products. This is also one of the very few wheeled coolers which is also a certified bear proof cooler. The large plastic wheels make this suitable for some pretty rugged surfaces. The handle extends out from the side of the cooler, yet folds down flush for optimal storage in a boat, truck, etc.
We also really like the fact that this cooler sits completely flat. The wheels are rendered completely useless when sitting flat, and the anti-skid feet keep the cooler from sliding around. One last feature we like to highlight on this cooler which makes it drastically different from the coolers below is the latching mechanism. As with all Pelican coolers, the Elite comes with Press & Push latches which we feel are some of the most robust cooler latches available. These are much more appealing than the T-Latches on many other roto molded coolers.
This cooler is made for sturdy polyethylene, a well-known heavy duty material common to coolers for its ability to withstand damage. Unlike other coolers, the handle has a lock feature so that when it is in use, it will stay in place. The ultratherm body keeps ice for approximately five days when the temperature is up to 90 degrees.
This stylish wheeled cooler looks good, but it also is rugged enough to be rolled through grass, woodlands, or any other terrain, thanks to the big and rugged sport wheels. The wheels and the handle are attached to the cooler with nearly unbreakable hinges.
The handle also stores neatly in place when you are not using it. If you are using this for a fishing trip, there is a fish ruler included for your convenience. Most have been very pleased with this product, especially the fact that this cooler has metal hinges as opposed to plastic hinges that can break easily. More Igloo Glide Reviews⇒
Famous for making wonderfully crafted coolers, Coleman has produced another great item with this one. With a 50-quart capacity, this cooler can hold 84-12oz. can beverages. Moreover, it possesses extra thick insulation and an ice retention quality, which means it can keep ice cold for nearly six days in up to 90 degree weather. Referred to as a “marine cooler,” this product is geared towards individuals that are boating and fishing enthusiasts. For their convenience, there is a tray and cutting board included for cutting up your daily catch.
For ease, the handle is large and created for one-handed pulling. The large, durable wheels will make transporting it from boat to land quite easy. Along with delivering convenience, this cooler also offers reliability with such features as UVGuard sun protection to block yellowing and cracking from excessive sun exposure.
The stainless steel hardware is rustproof and sturdy, as not to deteriorate from rain or sweating. You can drain this cooler without having to lift the cooler, due to the leakproof and rustproof drain and the cable lift strap makes getting in and out of it a breeze. You don’t need any type of table with this cooler, as the lid serves as a four-can beverage holder and a place to sit a plate of food. More On 50Q Wheeled Here⇒
Coleman has made some of the best coolers on the market. If you are looking for one that will serve as a food and beverage carrier for a family picnic, tailgating, or camping, look no further. This one has a 62-quart capacity, which is equivalent to holding 85 cans of a 12oz. beverage. The thick, Thermozone insulation that is well-known for Coleman cooler is evident here. Ice placed in this cooler stays frozen for nearly up to five days in up to 90 degree weather. The all-terrain wheels lets you pull this item over many different areas without worrying about the wheels coming off.
There is a four place beverage holder on the hinged lid for your convenience. The handle also locks into place on the side when it is not being used. Crafted with Xtreme 5v technology, the handle on this cooler can be used for not only pulling, but lifting as well without breaking. Like many other Coleman coolers, the rust resistant, leakproof drain lets you drain the water out without having to lift. This is very convenient, especially if you have a lot of food and drinks inside it. More Coleman Owner Reviews Here⇒
This cooler is innovatively, cube-shaped and with a 70-quart capacity, it holds up to 114 12 oz. cans. Because of its unique shape, unlike a lot of other coolers, you can sit 2-liter bottles inside upright. This is one of the most popular rolling coolers which you may find in stock at your local big box retailed. Therefore, many have seen this style cooler at a BBQ, picnic or maybe a sporting event.
The thick insolation, which is famous with Igoo products, can keep ice for approximately six days. For those with children, the lid is childproof and snaps into place with a safety-lid latch. To protect this product from sun damage, there are UV inhibitors. Quick hatch lets you get inside quickly and easily. The wheels are constructed to roll smoothly over many surfaces, and the tow handle can simply be pulled and locked back into place when not in use. Moreover, there are also two side handles for lifting. There is two beverage holders on top of the lid for handiness when sitting and enjoying your outdoor activity.
Wheeled coolers and rolling coolers are a convenient way to get a huge amount of food and drinks from one spot to the next, whether it is from your home to your backyard or the trunk of your car to a picnic area. The prices are reasonable, as with the products above. It just depends on the size you prefer and which one will work best for your event. More On Igloo Here⇒
For those that prefer a smaller, more portable cooler, the Coleman 42 Can cooler could be the solution. This is a soft sided cooler, but comes with a removable hard plastic liner. This cooler is going to take up significantly less real estate when compared to the coolers above. In terms of shape, this is a narrow but tall cooler as opposed to a wide and flat style of many roto molded coolers. The handle on the Coleman is telescopic and is fully collapsible. The coleman utilizes two rear wheels and two front stationary pegs. The wheels on this cooler are slightly smaller than say a Pelican, which makes this cooler less suitable for rough surfaces. This is the perfect cooler for wheeling on paved surfaces or even fine gravel. The best selling feature of the Coleman is the price. This cooler coms in at a fraction of the cost of those outlined above.
As we mentioned above, most wheeled coolers come with only two wheels. The Nash Sub Z is the exception to this, with its’ four screw in wheels. We show these wheels up close in our video review. As you’ll see, these wheels closely resemble roller blade wheels. They are very smooth, but also smaller when compared to others. Therefore, this cooler is best suited for flat surfaces. The wheels do lock so that the cooler will remain stationary when desired. Additionally, the wheels screw in, which means they can easily be removed. Because these wheels are not recessed, it does make relying on the brakes a slight concern. The tow handle is similar to that of the Pelican in that the handle swings out of the side. The metal tow bar comes with a padded grip, in addition to two rope handles.
In our video review you’ll see that we call this cooler the “cooler with the most features.” The Sub Z comes, out of the box, with the most features of almost any cooler we have ever reviewed. In addition to the screw in wheels, the cooler comes with a dividing/cutting board on the inside, a padded seat which buttons on via four snaps, and an optional wire basket. Needless to say, for the price, and the fact that this cooler is MADE IN USA, this is one of the best bangs for your buck coolers.
For the cheapest option the Coleman 16 Quart is the best option. This is one of the smallest rolling coolers, but again one of the most affordable. Usually priced below $25, this cooler is the perfect cooler for picnic, small BBQ etc. Because it is on the smaller side, so too are the wheels, meaning this cooler will not be ideal for really rugged surfaces. However, if you need to wheel through a parking lot to a tailgate for example, this cooler will do the job. The handle on this is telescopic like most, and folds completely down and out of the way. The interior of the cooler is large enough to hold 22 cans or even a 2 liter bottle upright. The Coleman comes in two color choices, both with a white lid.
For the most rugged rolling cooler, the Igloo Trailmate is the hands down winner. This cooler is built like a tank capable of handling almost any off road adventure. This is one of the larger sized cooler with wheels at 70 qts. This is also one of the most advanced coolers in the list. The telescopic handle has an area which can accommodate a small cup holder rack. Built into the cooler is a media docking station, which allow for a phone or table to be propped up at the appropriate angel for hands free viewing. As mentioned, the oversized 10 inch wheels make tackling gravel, grass, or trails a possibility. Because of the way this cooler was built with the raised bottom support, the cooler is optimal for towing additional gear (like camp chairs) to your destination. This also allows for “cooler riser technology” which allows air to freely flow beneath the cooler so as to not come in direct contact with hot pavement, truck beds etc. The Trailmate also comes in a variety of slick looking color design, which can be seen here⇒
Last but certainly not least is the Coleman Rugged 55 Qt. This cooler gives the Igloo above a run for its’ money on the most rugged cooler. Although we feel the design of the Igloo is more capable of more extreme environments, the Coleman is certainly capable of its fair share. The biggest difference between these two is price. The coleman is a fraction of the cost of the Igloo above. The wheels on this model are never flat wheels, similar to the Igloo, just slightly smaller. One feature that the Coleman posses that the Igloo does not, is the integrated bungee system. This makes towing gear to the campsite or beach that much easier. The design of this cooler is very similar to the Coleman Marine above, but a much beefed up build. Again, one of the greatest selling point on this cooler is the fact that this cooler is one of the most affordable all terrain wheeled coolers available. Usually priced well below $75 this can fit almost anyone’s budget who is looking for a quality cooler that can handle a rugged environment.