LOOKING TO PURCHASE AN OUTDOOR PATIO COOLER?
You’ve come to the right place.
Summer brings with it sunny afternoons and outdoor gatherings. And what summer party is complete without chilled drinks?
Even if you are entertaining in your outdoor entertainment space, using the kitchen refrigerator to keep drinks cool will either lead your guests inside or force you to frequently leave the juicy gossip to grab chilled drinks.
Whether it’s a backyard or a balcony, the right patio cooler not only keeps your drinks cold but also adds to your patio’s overall aesthetic. Plus, it is more functional than a regular drink cooler.
In this article, we look at the 10 best outdoor patio coolers to help you make the right choice. Each of these coolers is not only aesthetic but quite functional too. Have a look!
What’s In This Buying Guide?
In this in-depth buying guide, we review the best outdoor patio coolers and cooler carts. We compare our top 10 picks and give you helpful tips for choosing the best cooler for your needs and budget.
Who Needs a Patio Cooler?
After all, an ice chest is a perfectly good way to keep drinks cool when relaxing on the patio.
A cooler cart has two big advantages over an ice chest: style and practicality.
Style-wise, these coolers carts look much better than ice chests. Some have a modern metal roller cart design while others have a traditional wooden finish. You can even get a rattan style cooler that matches your rattan patio furniture.
A patio cooler also looks way cooler, no pun intended, amidst a backyard BBQ party compared to a boring ice chest.
But a patio cooler is not just stylish; it’s also more practical than an ice chest.
Most patio coolers are in the form of a roller cart. The storage chest is raised high above the ground, meaning you don’t have to bend to pick a cold beer.
A cooler cart is also much easier to move around, especially when loaded with drinks and foods. Instead of lifting it as you would an ice chest, you simply push the cart to where the party is.
Something else we love about these coolers is all the extra storage nooks they provide. Most carts have a storage shelve under the storage chest, and others also include folding side shelves and handles where you can hug hand towels.
Of course, all this doesn’t come cheap. A cooler cart will cost you more than a similar capacity ice chest. But the style and functionality upgrades are worth it, especially if you often entertain or spend a lot of time on the patio with your family.
A patio cooler is also a great addition to a pool deck or next to an above-ground swimming pool.
Best Outdoor Patio Coolers (Comparison Table)
VINGLI 80 Quart Rolling Cart
- Best for Backyard
All welded steel construction
- 30.5 x 15.1 x 33
- 41.8 pounds
- Best rattan style patio cooler
Galvanized steel, zinc plated metal and a rattan exterior
- 43.3″ x 23.4″ x 34.6″
Best Choice Products
- Best modern patio cooler
- 15.5″ x 36″ x 33″
Igloo Sportsman Series Patio Cooler
- Best for Outdoors
Plastic with rugged foam insulation
- 38.31 x 17.38 x 17.75 inches
- 18.2 Pounds
- Most durable patio cooler
Yes (but thinly)
- 33″ x 18″ x 29″
Merry Garden MPG-PC01
- Best compact patio cooler
Plastic insert and eucalyptus hardwood exterior
- 17.2″ x 23″ x 20.5″
Rio Brands Entertainer
- Best for small families
Yes (but thinly)
- 32″ x 17″ x 15″
Clevr 80 Rolling Cooler
- Best Party Bar
- 15 x 34.25 x 34.25 inches
- 37 Pounds
Clevr Rolling Cooler
- Best budget patio cooler
Steel frame with rattan exterior
- 15″ x 34.2″ x 34.2″
- Best for outdoor use
Yes (but thinly)
Steel frame with rattan exterior
- 34″ x 18.8″ x 16.5″
Best Outdoor Patio Coolers (Reviews)
This rolling chest patio cooler from VINGLI is an excellent choice if you are entertaining in your backyard. The cooler has a large 80-quarts capacity, allowing you to load up to 100 cans or 50+ bottles inside it.
The Vingli cart features a wheeled frame that makes it easy to move it all over the backyard. Plus, the bottle opener and cap catcher are two handy features that make it easier for guests to help themselves.
The VINGLI 80-Quart Rolling Cart has a solid and durable feel to it. It features a sturdy all-welded steel construction treated with a powder coat for increased durability.
At 41.8 pounds, it is quite heavy, but the wheeled frame really makes transportation a breeze. Its wheels can turn full 360 degrees, allowing you better control over its movement.
This patio cooler is ideal for large gatherings, mainly because of its large capacity. It can easily hold up to 100 drink cans or more than 50 bottles inside it.
To keep the contents cool, the Vingli cart features refrigeration insulation that keeps cold things cool for up to 48 hours and hot things warm for up to 8 hours.
The VINGLI Rolling Cart is a lidded patio cooler with two lids on opposite ends. Both are equipped with metallic handles for easy lifting. It also incorporates a bottle opener as well as a cap catcher.
While the cart comes with a wheeled frame that includes a bottom shelf, if you want to use the cooler alone, you can detach it from the frame.
The most common concern surrounding this patio cooler model is its bottom shelf. Many buyers complain that water tends to pool in it, which damages it.
The VINGLI 80 Quart Rolling Cart is a large and spacious patio cooler to address all your drinking needs on a warm summer day. Its wheeled frame makes it suitable for backyards, decks, and even poolsides.
Plus, if you want to use the cooler alone, simply detach it from the frame to use as a standing chest patio cooler.
If you have rattan furniture in your patio, garden, or pool deck, the Giantex HW51578 is the one you want.
The rattan wicker finish matches perfectly with your furniture.
Under the rattan exterior is a metal body, specifically an anti-rust zinc-plated metal body. This makes the Giantex cooler ideal for outdoor use.
The chest features a wide door that opens upwards. It’s held in place by two poles, making it easy to fetch drinks without holding the door open.
One area where the Giantex cooler shines is extra storage space. It has the usual bottom rack that’s perfect for large items. Also, you get a couple of side shelves for additional small items. There are also hangers under the ice chest, perfect for hanging a few wine glasses.
You can load up the trolley with everything you need from the kitchen, including utensils and extra foods, then wheel it to the patio or pool deck. Once the trolley is in place, lock the casters to secure the cart.
The Giantex cooler’s extra-large 27-gallon capacity makes it ideal for large parties and families. It holds plenty of drinks, and you can even add a few foods for the grill.
The Giantex cooler has one big limitation – the ice chest is not insulated. This is a big deal, especially during summer, when most people need the cooler.
Lack of insulation means the ice melts fast, requiring constant draining and refilling. If you get extra-hot summers where you live, we don’t recommend the Giantex cooler. It’ll be a pain to use. Get an insulated cooler instead.
As long as you don’t get sweltering hot summers, the Giantex HW51578 is a great-looking cooler cart. We highly recommend it if you already own rattan patio/outdoor furniture.
If you have a modern patio or garden furniture, the Best Choice Products patio cooler is a great choice. It has an eye-catching red and black styling with an overall minimalist look.
The ice chest is fairly large at 20 gallons. It can hold about 70 cans or more than 50 bottles. So whether you are relaxing with your family or hosting a large BBQ, the Best Choice Products cooler is perfect for any occasion.
The chest is insulated, so you won’t struggle with constantly melting ice.
The cooler comes with all the usual accessories, including a lower storage rack, a bottle opener, and a cap catcher.
It is wheeled, of course, with two of the casters being lockable.
Build quality is excellent. The stainless steel body and frame gives the cooler a years-long lifespan.
Most customers had an issue assembling the cooler’s wheels. They don’t quite match up properly to the legs, and you may have to force them into place. But overall assembly is still fairly easy and quick.
The Best Choice Products patio cooler cart is a great choice for anyone looking for a large-capacity cooler cart with a modern style.
If you want a spacious standing chest patio cooler, the Igloo Sportsman Series Patio Cooler is a good option.
It features a spacious 150-quart interior that is enough to hold a ton of different beverages. It has rugged foam insulation that keeps drinks cool for up to 5 days if you keep the lid covered.
If you are planning to host a party outdoors, the Igloo Sportsman Series Patio Cooler will keep your beverages cool even after the party is over. This large-capacity cooler has enough space to hold about a ton of all your favorite beverages. It is both wide and deep enough to hold even 2-liter bottles easily.
The Igloo Sportsman cooler features rugged foam insulation that allows it to retain coolness. Once you place the ice and drinks inside, it can keep them cool for as long as 5 days when the lid is covered.
The Sportsman also boasts Cool Riser Technology. Plus, the inside of the cooler is raised to prevent the hot floor from melting the ice. This feature, combined with its new thermocool foam, improves its cooling performance. It can keep all its contents at 90°F for days at a time.
Towards the bottom of the cooler is a drain plug where you can connect a drain hose to purge melted ice. It is threaded, so you can easily connect a drain hose and drain the accumulated water wherever you want. Integrated pouring channels in the insulated liner facilitate the entire process.
Many buyers have issues with its latches. They say that the plastic latches are quite flimsy and prone to breakage under rough usage.
Others say that it gets pretty heavy once the contents are loaded inside. And the color choices are very limited.
The Igloo Sportsman Series Patio Cooler is your best bet if you want an affordable yet spacious patio cooler to accompany you on your outdoor ventures.
It is large and spacious with good insulation properties. It keeps the contents cool for days at a time, making it the perfect choice for any outdoor gathering.
Stainless steel patio coolers not only look cool, but they are also hardy and durable. For something you are going to be using outdoor a lot, you want hardy and durable.
The Tommy Bahama rolling party cooler, has a stainless steel base and exterior with a removable ice bucket.
This Tonny Bahama cooler has a heavy feel to it thanks to the stainless steel construction. Good thing it has casters to wheel it around.
It’s durable and perfect for repeated outdoor use.
The ice chest has a large capacity of 25 gallons, so this cooler is great for parties. The ice chest is removable so you can use it on its own without the roller cart.
Accessories include a flip-outside shelf, a bottle opener, a drain plug, and a cap catcher.
As you would expect for a large, stainless steel cooler cart, the Tommy Bahama cooler’s price is higher than average. If you are looking for a budget cooler, this is not it.
The price is a bit high, but the Tommy Bahama cooler beats other patio coolers on hardiness and durability.
Patio coolers are not just for use at home. If you need a cooler you can carry to picnics, the beach, or a tailgating party, we recommend the Merry Garden wooden patio cooler.
It is also the best choice for small patios and anyone looking for a cooler with a wooden finish.
We love the wooden finish of the Merry Garden patio cooler. It’s made with eucalyptus with an oil stain to protect it from the elements. The louvered sides are a nice touch, as are the gold handles on the sides.
Beyond aesthetics, the Merry Garden cooler is a practical option for those looking for a compact patio cooler. It has a smaller ice chest than other coolers – just 13.7 gallons. This allows for a much smaller size that easily fits in the trunk of a car. It’s also perfect for small patios or pool decks.
The Merry Garden cooler has no casters, but considering its size and capacity, you should be able to lift it even when full. It comes with nice-looking side handles.
The cooler chest itself has double walls to improve insulation and keep the ice solid for longer.
Many customers say they received the cooler with damage. It seems there is a problem with packaging or build quality.
The Merry Garden wooden cooler can’t serve a large party, but its good looks make up for its smaller capacity. If you want a beautiful rustic wooden cooler that you can take to the beach, we recommend it.
The Entertainer cooler has a compact, space-saving design that’s great for small patios, gardens, and pool decks.
As expected, the ice chest is also fairly small, with a capacity of 19.2 gallons. It holds enough drinks for most families as well as small parties and gatherings.
The base is detachable, so you can lift up the ice chest and pack it in your car trunk for a picnic or an afternoon at the beach. The detachable base also makes storage easier.
With the ice chest detached, use the side handles to loft and carry the cooler.
The Rio Brands Entertainer cooler has a stainless steel body and base. It’s hardy and can withstand plenty of outdoor use.
Similar to other coolers, the Rio Brands Entertainer comes with a bottle opener and cap catcher.
The manufacturer says the Rio Brands Entertainer cooler has injected foam insulation to keep the ice solid for three days. But most customers found the ice melts after just a few hours. Clearly, the insulation could be better.
If you need a cooler for just your family or small parties, no need to buy a large and expensive patio cooler. The Rio Brands Entertainer is perfectly sized for small gatherings, and, as a bonus, it takes up less space than large coolers.
We really like this Clevr patio cooler for its stylish appearance. The woven rattan wicker surface not only makes it weather-resistant but also blends well with most patio decors. It looks great whether you place it in a corner or decide to move it to the center.
This Clevr drinks cooler has a spacious interior. Its 80-quarts capacity can easily hold more than 70 cans or bottles with ice to keep them all cool. Plus, the PP (Polypropylene) lined injection foam insulation on the cooler and lid hold the cold in for days.
The lid is fully removable, allowing you better access to the inside. And once you put it back on, metallic handles on each side of the lid allow you to lift it from either end. There is also a convenient lower shelf where you can put food and snacks for the party.
A good thing about this product is the inclusion of a bottle opener and the cap-catching tray. It ends your search for the bottle opener while allowing your guests to help themselves. Plus, the cap catcher stores the lids to prevent a mess.
Unlike other similar patio coolers, this option from Clevr is a bit costly. Users also report that its assembly is tricky, especially because the bottom shelf is ill-fitting.
Some buyers also had problems with leaky drain plugs, which resulted in water pooling inside the bottom shelf.
It is expensive, but the Clevr 80 Quart Rolling Cooler is worth its money. It looks good, functions well, and is extremely easy to care for. The wickerwork surface looks great on most patios, and the large capacity makes it perfect for summertime outdoor entertaining.
The Clevr rolling cooler boasts a large capacity at a low price. The 20-gallon ice chest holds enough drinks for a party.
The chest is foam-insulated, so the ice stays solid for a day or even two.
The legs and the body are made with stainless steel, ensuring the cooler is outdoor-ready. You can get the Clevr cooler in two finishes: tropical-style hunter green and beach-style seafoam blue.
There’s a rack at the bottom, which provides extra storage and boosts support for the legs, so you don’t get any wobbliness when pushing the cart.
Other accessories include a bottle opener, cap catcher, and two side handles.
For easy mobility, the Clevr cooler comes with four 360-degree caster wheels, two of which are lockable.
We’ve seen several complaints regarding the drain plug. When the ice inevitably begins to melt, some of the water leaks from the closed drain plug.
This is not a problem if you are using the cooler on grass, but can it make a mess in a patio or deck.
To be honest, the Clevr cooler is much better than some pricier patio coolers we’ve seen. If you are looking for a sturdy and spacious patio cooler on the cheap, Clevr is an excellent choice.
All the above patio coolers are great, but they work best on level surfaces, be it a floor, pavement, or lawn.
If you need a cooler that can handle any outdoor terrain from sandy beaches to the gravel pathways in your backyard, we recommend the Vingli wagon rolling cooler.
The Vingli wagon has a very off-road look to it; a lifted body, strong steel axles, and large tires. It’s meant to handle all kinds of outdoor terrain. Instead of being limited to the patio, you can take the Vingli wagon to the beach, picnic, or even camping.
The Vingli cooler has a sturdy metal construction that can withstand the outdoors. The inflatable wheels are 10,” and two of them are lockable.
The ice chest is insulated and has a capacity of 20 gallons. That’s enough to carry as many drinks as your family needs. You can also throw in some food.
Once you fill-up the ice chest, it’s easy to pull the wagon using the integrated handle.
The Vingli wagon does not offer any extra storage space. If you like the idea of a patio cooler with a bottom rack or side shelves, check out one of our other top picks.
Another issue is portability. Sure, it’s easy to roll the wagon through your backyard. But unless you have a large trunk vehicle, it’s going to be hard to carry the Vingli wagon to the beach or picnic. It has no foldable or detachable parts.
The cooler lacks side handles, so it is difficult to lift it into the trunk, especially when it is full.
The VINGLI Wagon Rolling Cooler is the best choice for backyard parties. If you have enough trunk space, it’s also a great cooler for picnics, camping, and the beach.
Outdoor Patio Cooler Buying Guide
There is a wide variety of drinks coolers available in the market, so why should you get a patio cooler? What exactly is a patio cooler? Are there any different types?
We address these and many other pressing concerns in the following buying guide.
What is a Patio Cooler?
A patio cooler is designed as a stylish alternative to a traditional drinks cooler. It is a specially designed patio table with a built-in ice chest on top. It is portable and convenient and sits on your patio, deck, backyard, poolside, or wherever you prefer to hold a gathering of friends.
Plus, it keeps your drinks cool for a long time. All you need to do is fill it with ice and keep all your favorite drink bottles and cans inside. It is great for any outdoor gathering, from picnics to camping and fishing.
A good patio cooler serves more than a traditional ice cooler. It is fairly easy to access and also features a raised frame or base that keeps the contents well and away from the hot floor.
Plus, each model comes in differing sizes, capacities, and various additional features. For example, some patio coolers have wheels, while others feature bottle openers, cap catchers, or integrated tabletops.
Regardless, they are excellent focal points and are bound to get admiring looks in your next get-together.
Types of Patio Coolers
Despite their versatile range, patio coolers are mainly categorized into three types – rolling chest coolers, standing chest coolers, and standing bucket coolers.
Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.
Rolling Chest Patio Coolers
Rolling chest patio coolers consist of a wheeled base over which the cooling box is installed. They are the most popular type of patio coolers and are known for their convenience and portability.
They keep your drinks off the hot floor, and you can easily transport them from one place to another. For example, you can bring one into the kitchen to fill it up and roll outside once you are done setting it up.
Patio coolers tend to have large capacities, making them suitable for large gatherings. When you have many guests, you can easily move your cooler all over the outdoor entertainment area to serve everyone easily.
Standing Chest Patio Coolers
Standing chest patio coolers look a lot like their roiling counterparts; however, they are more of a permanent fixture as there are no wheels. They are a great choice for people who don’t have the space or just don’t want the wheels.
These coolers also have large capacities and are great for large gatherings. You can fill one up and place it in a visible place, so everyone can easily access it. Some coolers also come with inserts for easy filling and cleaning.
You can use them for outdoor activities like boating and fishing or when you are entertaining by the pool. (Check out our top picks for the best above ground pools here)
Standing Bucket Patio Coolers
Standing bucket patio coolers are named so because of their lower capacities. Unlike the other two types, these are directed towards smaller, more intimate gatherings. They come in both lidded and non-lidded varieties, so you can easily find one according to your needs.
Bucket coolers are also a great option when you want more than one cooler to provide different kinds of drinks or serve from different areas of your patio or poolside. On a side note, if you are interested in purchasing good pool water testing strips, check our top picks here.
Benefits of Patio Coolers
The biggest advantage of a patio cooler is the raised height. Unlike a traditional ice chest, you do not have to bend to pick a drink.
Patio coolers also win when it comes to style. Instead of a boring cooler chest, you can impress your party guests with a rattan, wooden, or metal cooler cart. More points for you if it has cool interior lights like the Igloo party bar cooler.
Patio coolers are also more portable, at least within your home. Instead of lifting and carrying a heavy ice chest, you get a cart that’s easy to roll around on wheels.
Limitations of Patio Coolers
Patio coolers are highly portable within your home. But for picnics, beach trips, and outdoor events, they are not very portable.
Unless you get a compact patio cooler like Merry Garden or a detachable cooler like the Rio Brands Entertainer, most patio coolers are only ideal for use at home. They are too big to load into a car and cannot handle rough surfaces.
Another downside of patio coolers is their price. A patio cooler will cost you more than an ice chest with a similar capacity. That’s because you are paying for the ice chest as well as the cart it is sitting on.
Another area where patio coolers loose to traditional ice chest is insulation. Patio coolers typically have less insulation; thus, they don’t keep ice solid for as long.
Key Considerations When Buying a Patio Cooler
Ice chest capacity
Patio coolers range from small 10-15 gallon chests to extra-large coolers with 30 gallons or more. The best capacity depends on the number of people in your family and the size of the parties you hold.
Stainless steel patio coolers are the best. They can withstand the outdoors and the elements better, meaning they’ll last longer.
Some patio coolers have a metal finish painted a certain color. Other coolers have a rattan finish while some have a rustic wooden finish. The best choice comes down to your preferences. If you want a cooler that will match your rattan wicker chairs, look for a rattan-style cooler.
Make sure the ice chest is insulated. Otherwise, you’ll have to keep refilling it with ice. Also, check the quality of insulation. Some patio coolers are insulated, but the ice still melts after just a few hours.
Patio coolers with the best ice retention have thick insulation all round, including the door. These coolers can have an ice retention time of several days, reducing how often you need to refill it with ice.
Extra storage and accessories
A bottom shelf is really handy for storing extra things like a bucket of ice, large drinks, or utensils. Other accessories to look for including a bottle opener, a cap catcher, side handles, and side shelves.
A drain plug makes it easy to empty melted water from the ice chest.
If you want a multipurpose patio cooler that you can roll around your backyard and carry to a picnic, look for one with a detachable base. This makes it easier to stow the cooler in your trunk when going to the beach or on a picnic.
Patio Coolers FAQs
Does a patio cooler keep drinks cold?
Yes, most patio coolers are insulated. Once you add ice, it stays solid for several hours. This keeps your drinks cold.
How do you drain a patio cooler?
Most patio coolers come with a drain plug at the bottom. Open the plug to let the melted water out.
Patio cooler vs. ice chest: Which is the best?
A patio cooler is great for use around the home. You can use it in your patio, backyard, garden, or pool deck.
An ice chest is the best choice when you need portability. You can use it for camping, picnics, beach trips, and road trips.
Which ice cooler holds ice the longest?
The Igloo Party Bar Cooler has one of the longest ice retention times of any patio cooler thanks to its full body insulation. Some users say they’ve found solid ice in it after four days.
Which is the best Patio Ice Cooler on wheels?
The BLACK+DECKER Mobile Cooler Cart is one of the best ice coolers on wheels. It has a well made and insulated body, offers plenty of space for drinks, and is easy to roll around on different surfaces.
If you plan to do lots of picnics and beach trips, we recommend the VINGLI Wagon Rolling Cooler, an all-terrain cooler on wheels.
how to make a DIY Patio cooler
If you don’t want to buy a patio cooler, you can make your own using an ordinary ice chest and some timber. All you need to do is construct a wooden frame the ice chest can fit in. Remove the ice chest lid and attach it to the door of the timber frame.
You can opt to build a simple box frame or go ahead and add a stand to raise the cooler higher. For easy portability, consider adding wheels to the legs of the DIY cooler.