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Best Outdoor Patio Coolers

10 Best Outdoor Patio Coolers 2022: Reviews & Buying Guide

Looking for a patio cooler?

You've come to the right place. 

When you are shopping for a patio cooler, you'll be drawn to the many styles and designs patio coolers come in, ranging from modern stainless steel roller carts to rustic wooden coolers.

But there's much more to a patio cooler than just the style.

Build quality, ice retention, and storage space are other important factors to consider when buying a patio cooler.

What's In This Guide?

In this in-depth buying guide, we recommend the best patio and outdoor coolers you can buy online. We considered things like durability, materials, price, and, of course, style in choosing our top picks.

We also explain the benefits of a patio cooler and give you some tips for choosing the right one for your needs.

If you prefer a good old ice chest instead or a thermoelectric cooler, read our reviews of the best 12V electric coolers & ice chests


When Is A Patio Cooler Best?

Patio cooler

Patio coolers are great for, well . . . patios. They blend in well with patio furniture and look much better than an ice chest.

But it's not just about their looks – patio coolers are also very practical for outdoor use. Most are designed in the form of a raised trolley or stand that makes it easy to get drinks and foods out of the ice chest.

Most also come with wheels for easy mobility.

Despite their name, patio coolers are great for any outdoor setting to be it a backyard BBQ (handy for storing meats and other foods before they are cooked), a picnic, or even the beach.

If you need a nice-looking ice cooler you can travel with but think old fashioned ice chests are a bit unsightly, get a patio cooler.

Look for one with wheels so you can easily move it from the car to where you are setting up.


Best Outdoor Patio Coolers 

Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com

  1. 1
    Editor's Pick: BLACK+DECKER Mobile Cooler Cart 
  2. 2
     Best For Pool Parties: Permasteel PS-A203
  3. 3
    Best For Beverage Cooling: Best Choice Products Steel Rolling Cooler Cart
  4. 4
    Best For Outdoor Entertainment: Backyard Expressions
  5. 5
    Best Large Gatherings: Tommy Bahama
  6. 6
    Best For BBQs: BLUU Outdoor Patio Table With Ice Chest
  7. 7
    Best for Ice Storage: Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest Outdoor Cooler
  8. 8
    Best For Smaller Parties: Sunjoy A601006600
  9. 9
    Best For Portability: Clevr Rolling Cooler
  10. 10
    Best for Backyard & Patio Parties: Clevr Patio Cooler Ice Chest with Foosball Table Top

BLACK+DECKER
  • BLACK + DECKER

  • Editor's Top Pick
  • Volume:


    20 gal
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Stainless steel
  • 35" x 29" x 35"
  • 44.5lbs

rolling patio cooler cart
  • Permasteel PS-A203

  • Best For Pool Parties
  • Volume:


    80 gal
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Powder-coated steel construction
  • 36.5 x 18 x 33.5 inches
  • 34 pounds

Best Choice Rolling Cooler Cart
  • Best Choice Products

  • Best For Beverage Cooling
  • Volume:


    20 gal
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Steel
  • 15.5" x 36" x 33"
  • 44lbs

outdoor patio cooler ice chest
  • Backyard Expressions Wooden Cooler

  • Best For Outdoor Entertainments
  • Volume:


    45 quarts
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Wood construction
  • 27.6 x 31 x 14.75 inches
  • 32.9lbs

Tommy Bahama Rolling Party Cooler
  • Tommy Bahama

  • Best Large Gatherings
  • Volume:


    25 gal
  • Insulated:


    Yes (but thinly)
  • Construction:


    Stainless steel
  • 33" x 18" x 29"
  • 49lbs

patio coolers with stands
  • BLUU Outdoor Patio Table With Ice Chest

  • Best For BBQ Gatherings
  • Volume:


    9.8 gal
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Polypropylene
  • 19.29 x 19.29 x 22.83 inches
  • 16.72 lbs

patio beverage cooler
  • Driftsun 75 Quart

  • Best for Ice Storage
  • Volume:


    75 quarts
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Rotomolded Thermoplastic Construction
  • 34 x 19 x 18
  • 32lbs

outdoor drinks cooler
  • Sunjoy A601006600

  • Best For Small Parties
  • Volume:


    60 quarts
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Alloy Steel
  • 26 x 13.8 x 22.4
  • 33 lbs

Clevr outdoor Cooler
  • Clevr Rolling Cooler

  • Best For Backyard Parties
  • Volume:


    20 gal
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Steel frame with rattan exterior
  • 15" x 34.2" x 34.2"
  • 37lbs

best patio cooler
  • Clevr Patio Cooler Ice Chest with Foosball Table Top

  • Best for Backyard & Patio Parties
  • Volume:


    17 gallons
  • Insulated:


    Yes
  • Construction:


    Polyurethane construction
  • 15 x 27 x 33
  • 40 lbs

Top 10 Patio Coolers: Reviews

1. Editor's Pick: BLACK+DECKER Mobile Cooler Cart 

BLACK+DECKER Mobile Cooler Cart

Black+Decker's high-quality steel construction, large capacity, and affordable price make it our top pick. 

It's a great choice for relaxing on the patio, backyard parties, and BBQs.

Pros

  • Large 20-gallon basin.
  • Durable stainless steel construction.
  • Lockable wheels.
  • An integrated drain makes it easy to get rid of melted water.
  • Built-in shelf, bottle opener, and cap catcher.

Cons

  • Doesn't come with all the screws.

Our Review

The Black+Decker cooler cart has a beautiful contemporary style that blends well with garden and patio furniture.

The body and base of the cart are stainless steel, ensuring durability and weather resistance (no rusting).

The cooler basin has a 20-gallon capacity, which is as large as most patio coolers. You can fit dozens of cans and bottles inside, not to mention plenty of ice to keep everything chilled.

A drain makes it easy to get rid of melted water.

The cart can get pretty heavy when fully loaded. But you can still move it easily on your own thanks to the 360-degree wheels. The wheels are lockable to ensure the cart doesn't roll away.

The Black+Decker cooler provides additional storage space at the bottom in the form of a shelf. The shelf is lipped, so when you move the cart, whatever is on the shelf stays put.

You also get a built-in bottle opener and a cap catch bin below it.

Issues & Limitations 

One issue several customers have brought up is regarding some missing screws. The cooler doesn't come with all the screws you need to assemble it.

But they are common sizes that are easy to find at a local hardware.

Bottom Line 

The Black+Decker mobile cooler cart is a great choice for anyone looking for a nice-looking, big, and durable patio cooler.


outdoor cooler

The Permasteel patio cooler is a great addition to your outdoor entertainment area.

It is portable, attractive, and features a large capacity to hold a ton of ice and beverages. This extra large cooler will guarantee that you will not be short on supplying cold beverages to the party.

Pros

  • Retro design and bright color.
  • Lockable casters to keep it in place.
  • Keep drinks cold for 36 hours.
  • Large capacity.
  • Built-in bottle opener and cap collector.

Cons

  • Not rust-proof.

Our Review 

This blue rolling cart-style patio cooler gets high marks for its attractive design. With its distinctive retro look, this cooler is an attention grabber and goes well with outdoor settings. 

Available in a range of colors and built from high-grade steel, this cooler is powder-coated to ensure corrosion resistance. 

There are four wheels for portability, with two lockable to keep the cooler in place when required. 

This cooler also features a bottle opener two side handles to aid in moving it around.

The Permasteel PS-A203 comes with a built-in cap catcher to prevent littering. 

But what we like most about this cooler is its large capacity of up to 110 cans. It will keeps your beverages cool for up to 36 hours, too. Isn’t this amazing? 

Issues & Limitations

The only concern with this patio cooler is that the nuts and bolts are not coated or corrosion-resistant, so you may need to keep them as dry as possible to prevent rust. According to some users, the inner surface is not rust-proof either. 

Bottom Line

One of the best patio coolers out there, this Permasteel patio cooler is durable, attractive, and highly portable. It keeps drinks cool for a long time, making it an ideal pick for your pool parties. 

Specs

Product: Permasteel PS-A203 Rolling Cart Patio Cooler

Best For Pool Parties

Volume: 80 quarts

Insulated: Yes

Construction: Powder-coated steel construction 

Dimensions: 36.5 x 18 x 33.5 inches

Weight: 34 pounds 


outdoor cooler

If you prefer a more contemporary style, we recommend the Best Choice Products steel cooler cartIt has an all-steel construction, clean lines, and a modern red & black finish.

Pros

  • Beautiful contemporary styling.
  • Large 20-gallon capacity.
  • Durable steel construction.
  • Lockable casters.
  • Storage shelf.

Cons

  • Wheels don't line with the legs, making assembly difficult.

Our Review 

Many customers love the red and black combo of this patio cooler. It's eye-catching and looks great outdoors.

But the cooler is good for more than just its looks. It's very practical as well.

The 20-gallon bin can hold about 70 cans or 50 cold beverages. But it's hard to see a scenario where you need 70 drinks. A more realistic combo would be a dozen cans, a pack of beer, maybe two large bottles of juice or soda, ice to keep everything cool, and a bag of ice to add to the drinks.

The bin is insulated, which keeps the ice solid for hours. Users say they've found frozen ice two days or longer after they put it in.

The insulated bin not only keeps your drinks chilled, but it also reduces how often you have to refill the bin with ice.

There's more storage space on the shelf underneath the bin. You can also hang some towels on the large handles on the side.

For easy mobility, the cart comes with 360-degree wheels that you can lock in place to keep the cooler from rolling.

Issues & Limitations 

The most common problem customers encountered was during assembly. The wheels don't align perfectly with the legs – you have to force them into place.

Clearer assembly instructions would be welcome.

Bottom Line 

If you have modern patio furniture, this cooler from Best Choice Products will blend in great. It's also a good choice for anyone looking for a large and durable patio cooler.

4. Best Wooden Cooler For Outdoor Entertainment: Backyard Expressions Wooden Cooler for Patio

patio cooler cart

Add style and class to your outdoor patio settings with this Backyard Expressions wooden cooler.

The beautiful wood construction with a rustic finish is attractive. It is fully insulated and features enough capacity to keep many drinks cool for a long time. 

Pros

  • Fully insulated unit to keep your drinks cool.
  • Vintage design with wood construction.
  • Built-in bottle opener and drainage spout.
  • Side handles for easy maneuverability.
  • Easy assembly and maintenance.

Cons

  • Not sturdy.
  • No wheels.

Our Review

If you are looking for a standing chest patio cooler, this might be the one for you. This cooler with hand-made wooden construction and rustic finish is perfect for adding charm to your patio settings.

The overall frame is built with wood and features cast iron details. The cooler is completely insulated with foam insulation and comes with a capacity of 45-quartz. It is enough to accommodate 45 cans as well as ice. 

The cooler has side handles, so you can quickly move it around. It also features a bottle opener that comes in handy during parties. It is screwed, so you do not have to worry about losing the bottle opener anymore. 

That is not all. There is a built-in drainage spout to remove water without any issue. All in all, it is lightweight and a valued purchase. 

Issues & Limitations

The unit does not have the sturdiest frame, so you may need to keep an eye out for damage. Also, while the design is pretty simple, there are no casters. This can limit the portability of the cooler. 

Bottom Line

This wooden cooler is medium-sized with generous capacity, making it a perfect pick for outdoor entertainment.  

Specs

Product: Backyard Expressions Wooden Cooler for Patio

Best For Outdoor Entertainments

Volume: 45 quarts

Insulated: Yes

Construction: Wood construction

Dimensions: 27.6 x 31 x 14.75 inches

Weight: 32.9 pounds 


outdoor cooler cart

Steel patio coolers are durable, can withstand rough outdoor use, and they look great. The Tommy Bahama rolling party cooler is our top pick for anyone who prefers the reliability and longevity of a steel cooler cart.

Pros

  • Durable stainless steel construction.
  • Large 25-gallon capacity.
  • Lots of extra storage.
  • Lockable casters.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Could use better insulation to keep the ice solid for longer.

Our Review 

The Tommy Bahama stainless steel cooler is the heaviest among our picks. That's an indication of its durable construction.

And don't worry about moving it. The heavy-duty casters allow you to push it on your own, even when it's packed full of ice and drinks.

It's also big, with a capacity of 25 gallons. It's perfect for large parties.

There's a large storage shelf beneath the cooler as well as a flip-out side shelf. You can also hang hand towels on the large side handle.

Other convenient features include a drain cap to get rid of melted water and a bottle opener with a cap catcher beneath it.

Issues & Limitations 

The Tommy Bahama patio cooler is understandably expensive. The stainless steel construction and extra-large capacity don't come cheap. If you are looking for a budget patio cooler, this is not it.

For the price, however, the manufacturer could have used thicker insulation. The cooler box has thin plastic walls that don't keep the ice solid for long.

Bottom Line 

Looking for a large and heavy-duty patio cooler? The Tommy Bahama stainless steel cooler cart is a great choice.

outdoor ice chest

An excellent choice for foodie gatherings or BBQs, this BLUU patio cooler is nicely built and looks great. It is lightweight and can keep your drinks cool for a few hours. 

Pros

  • Doubles as a table.
  • Stylish and attractive design.
  • Suitable for most outdoor settings.
  • Sturdy built.
  • Adjustable lid and easy to set up.

Cons

  • Small capacity due to shape.
  • The surface is prone to scratches.

Our Review

The BLUU patio cooler is quite popular, and it’s no surprise why. This is a well-insulated patio cooler that looks like a standard patio furniture table. 

It is manufactured using high-quality polypropylene material to ensure durability. It will not bend or fade even after years of usage. The beautiful wooden texture gives it a stylish and sophisticated look. The eye-catching design will surely turn heads at the party.

The cooler is lightweight and also comes with an adjustable lid. The belly of the cooler accommodates the beverages, while the lid can be used as a tabletop. 

This cooler has good capacity and can hold up to 50 cans. It can keep the drinks cold for hours, making it perfect for BBQ parties, deck parties, or casual lounging by the pool.

There is a built-in drainage plug to make the cleanup quick and easy. Also, it is super easy to set up and comes with a detailed guide to help you with the assembly. 

Issues & Limitations

This cooler has relatively less capacity due to the curved design. However, it can still hold enough ice and drinks. The polypropylene exterior is likely to get scratches over time.  

Bottom Line

Get this BLUU patio cooler to add a funky dimension to your BBQ parties. It is stylish, durable, and a value pick. 

Specs

Product: BLUU Outdoor Patio Table With Ice Chest

Best For BBQ Gatherings

Volume: 9.8 gallons

Insulated: Yes

Construction: Polypropylene  

Dimensions: 19.29 x 19.29 x 22.83 inches

Weight: 16.72 pounds 


rolling patio cooler

The Driftsun ice chest is the sturdiest cooler on the market. With superior insulation and a remarkable interior capacity, this cooler will retain ice for days. It is leak-proof and scratch-resistant, indicating a high-quality build.

Pros

  • Durable thermoplastic construction.
  • Large capacity and built-in bottle openers.
  • Highly portable.
  • Available in a range of sizes.
  • Comes fully assembled.
  • It is backed by a one-year warranty.

Cons

  • Rubber clasps can be a bit challenging to secure.

Our Review

This ice chest from Driftsun is built from high-end thermoplastic to last in the long run. It has two-inch thick walls of insulation to retain the ice for as long as possible. There are heavy-duty Gorilla-Grip feet that keep the cooler in place.

It features a large interior space with 75 quartz capacity to hold ice. This cooler is ideally designed to retain ice for seven to ten days.

One thing that we like about this cooler is the freezer gasket. This feature minimizes the impact of the gap between the lid and the base on the ice by forming a good seal.

You can pick the cooler with the nylon rope handles and take it anywhere you want. The overall design is entirely leak-proof as well as scratch-resistant. It comes pre-assembled and requires little to no maintenance.

Lastly, there is a reliable one-year warranty on this cooler, making it a great deal. 

Issues & Limitations

The only complaint about this impressive ice chest is the loose clasps. These rubber clasps require proper securing to prevent an unwanted accident. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Driftsun patio cooler is sturdy, durable, and stylish. The large capacity cooling system with excellent insulation makes it the best patio cooler for ice retention for a party or trip. 

Specs

Product: Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest Outdoor Cooler

Best for Ice Storage

Volume: 75 quarts

Insulated: Yes

Construction: Rotomolded Thermoplastic Construction

Dimensions: ‎34 x 19 x 18 inches

Weight: 32 pounds 


backyard cooler

The Sunjoy cooler cart is all about convenience. Get this cooler, so you do not have to carry your favorite drinks yourself. The wheels and cart-style design make this unit easy to move from place to place and an excellent choice for intimate parties. 

Pros

  • Attractive design.
  • Convenient and portable.
  • High-quality wheels.
  • Large capacity to hold drinks and ice.
  • Adjustable handle and built-in bottle opener.

Cons

  • Not rust-resistant.
  • Poor customer service.

Our Review

Serve guests various drinks in style with the Sunjoy cooler cart. While the beautiful black color blends with the outdoor patio furniture decor, the attractive cart design is also eye-catching. 

It features an alloy steel construction with a nice black finish. With a 60-quart capacity, this cooler can hold a plethora of drinks and snacks. Also, there is a built-in shelf to increase the carrying capacity.

The most striking thing about this cooler is the ease of use. The rolling design with well-made wheels and two strong handles helps move the fully-loaded cooler from one place to another without any struggle. 

There is a built-in opener, so you do not have to get a separate bottle opener. Also, the cap catcher prevents littering and inconvenience.

The unit mostly comes pre-assembled and has a drainage plug to remove water when the ice finally melts. 

Issues & Limitations

The main complaint we found about this cooler is that it’s not entirely rust-resistant. Therefore, you should not place it outside in the rain and keep the surface as dry as possible. Also, the customer support is just average. 

Bottom Line

If you want to add a hint of style to your patio or poolside, this Sunjoy cooler cart is just the right pick. The phenomenal design of this cart will surely brighten up any party.  

Specs

Product: Sunjoy A601006600 Audrey Backyard Cooler Cart

Best For Small Parties

Volume: 60 quarts

Insulated: Yes

Construction: Alloy Steel 

Dimensions: ‎ 26 x 13.8 x 22.4 inches

Weight: 33 pounds 


9. Best For Portability: Clevr Rolling Cooler

Clevr Rolling Cooler

If you are looking for a patio cooler on the cheap, try the Clevr 80 Quart rolling cooler.

It has a large ice chest, durable steel construction, and a beautiful rattan finish, but costs less than other comparable patio coolers.

Pros

  • Low price.
  • Lockable wheels.
  • Large capacity for the price.
  • Durable steel construction.

Cons

  • Leaky drain plug.

Our Review 

There isn't much you have to sacrifice to get this affordable patio cooler.

It has most of the best features of pricier coolers, including a long-lasting steel frame, an insulated cooler chest, and a lower shelf for storage and stability.

It also comes with locking wheels for easy portability as well as a bottle opener and cap catcher.

The only area it could do better is ice retention time. Premium patio coolers can keep ice frozen for days; the Clevr cooler manages, at most, just one day. The insulation is a bit thin.

This is not necessarily a downside. Most people buying a patio cooler only need it to keep drinks frozen for only a few hours.

The cooler chest is plenty big. It can easily fit 100 cans or a mixture of cans and bottles. You can also throw in a bag of ice to add to drinks.

The lower shelf provides extra storage and stabilizes the cart to keep it from wobbling.

Issues & Limitations 

The main complaint we've heard from customers is the leaky drain plug. If your cooler leaks, we recommend not leaving the ice in the cooler for more than 24 hours.

But most users were able to find a way to stop the leaking.

Bottom Line 

The Clevr cooler is cheap for its size and quality. We highly recommend it for anyone looking for a low-cost but good quality patio cooler.


10. Best for Backyard & Patio Parties: Clevr Patio Cooler Ice Chest with Foosball Table Top

outside coolers

This Clevr Patio cooler combines high-end cooling performance and fun in a single unit.

The cooler keeps your drinks cool, while the foosball tabletop design provides extra appeal for your guests at a backyard party. This sturdy cooler is portable and has a 17-gallon capacity to hold numerous drinks.  

Pros

  • Equipped with a foosball tabletop.
  • Durable build and sturdy.
  • The bright red color makes it eye-catching.
  • Multidirectional rolling wheels.
  • Bottom shelf for extra carrying capacity.

Cons

  • Assembly can be challenging.
  • Expensive.

Our Review

A perfect choice for outdoor gatherings and patio parties, this Clevr patio cooler doubles as a football table. It is wonderfully designed to incorporate an efficient cooling system with an entertainment unit to add a fun factor. 

The cooler has a classic red body made from high-quality steel to last in the long run. With a 17-gallon capacity, the cooler can easily hold up to 60 cans and keep them cool for hours. Also, there is a bottom shelf to give you extra space for holding things.

Four rubber wheels make it portable. These wheels can even glide over rugged surfaces. Two of them are also lockable to keep the unit in place.

The top features a foosball table so your guests can entertain themselves. The unit also has a bottle opener, so no more searching for a bottle opener. With the cap catcher and drainage spout, you do not have to struggle with the cleanup.

Issues & Limitations

The installation and setup can take longer than advertised. There are complaints of welding gaps and incompatible screws. Though it’s sturdy with some cool features, this cooler is still overpriced compared to other models on the market. 

Bottom Line

Durable, red, fun, and functional, this Clevr patio cooler is a must-have for your backyard and patio parties. It will keep your drinks cool so you and your guests can enjoy the party to the fullest.  


Specs

Product: Clevr Patio Cooler Ice Chest with Foosball Table Top

Best for Backyard & Patio Parties

Volume: 17 gallons

Insulated: Yes

Construction: Polyurethane construction 

Dimensions: ‎ 15 x 27 x 33 inches

Weight: 40 pounds 


Buying Guide: Patio Outdoor Coolers

The market is flooded with options, so before you buy your next patio cooler, consider the following features, issues and factors to find the right one for your needs.


What Is A Patio Cooler?

A patio cooler is a patio table that pairs nicely with your outdoor settings. It features a built-in ice chest to keep your drinks cool for a long time. It is designed to be a stylish version of a traditional drink cooler. Just fill it with ice and put your favorite beverages inside. 

Patio coolers are available in different sizes and shapes. A standard patio cooler is a medium height with a rectangular storage box and a lid.

They even come with a drainage system and additional features like a built-in cap catcher and a bottle opener that varies across different models and brands. 


Types of Patio Coolers

Though most patio coolers provide the same essential functions, they are available in different styles to choose from.

Rolling Cooler Cart Style

The rolling cooler cart style is the most common type of patio cooler. It features an ice chest with the tabletop surface on wheels, making it highly portable. 

These carts are spacious and can hold a ton of ice and drinks while keeping them cold for hours. This makes them an ideal pick for your pool parties, outdoor gatherings, and BBQ nights.

These patio coolers mainly stand out for being conveniently portable. The wheels make maneuverability from one place to another a breeze.  

Portable Cooler Style

Portable coolers have a soft polyester construction, allowing you to fold them when not in use. They are easy to carry around and store. Though they do not have high points on style, this type of patio cooler is a convenient choice for travel.

Side Table / Hot Tub Style

The last type of patio cooler is the side table/hot tub style. These patio coolers are pretty popular for their typical outdoor side table appearance. They have an adjustable lid that doubles as a pop-up top table that reveals a cooler within.

The most loved thing about this type of patio cooler is how smoothly it blends with your outdoor patio furniture. Unlike a typical drink cooler, they do not stand out while adding a charm to the outdoor setting. 

Size and Capacity

The size and capacity of the patio cooler are the two most important to keep in mind while making a purchase. Remember that an overall large size does not indicate a large capacity. Patio coolers come in various shapes and styles, so you must double-check the actual capacity. 

The size and capacity of the cooler you need are dependent on several things, including the type of gathering, the number of people you will be entertaining, and of course, how often you will use the cooler. 

If you like to host numerous outdoor gatherings, it is better to get a large capacity patio cooler with enough space to hold drinks as well as ice.

Ice Retention Time

This term refers to the time that a patio cooler can retain ice and keep it from melting. This time duration can be affected by multiple factors like the frequency of opening the top lid and external temperature.

Since patio coolers are generally used for outdoor settings, these factors can affect the ice retention time. So, it is necessary to consider the ice retention metric.

UV Resistance

As mentioned above, patio coolers are mainly designed for outdoor purposes and are exposed to sun and heat. It is, therefore, important that your cooler features a UV-resistant coating to ensure the protection of the unit. 

Material

Patio coolers are constructed from various materials, including stainless steel, plastic, wood, and more. While metal is durable and has a retro aesthetic, it is prone to rust.

Nowadays, most patio coolers are made from hard recycled plastic. These are waterproof and sturdy enough to take a beating. However, coolers built from wood are heavy-duty and quite aesthetic. 

Wheels

When choosing the best patio cooler, you also have to choose between wheels and no wheels. Patio coolers can be surprisingly heavy when fully loaded with ice and drinks. 

Even if you have a small outdoor space, it is still a good idea to get a cooler that comes on wheels. It is easier to handle and move around on your patio. 

Some models even come with locked wheels, allowing you to keep the cooler in place and avoid potential accidents. 


What To Look For in an Outdoor Patio Cooler

Outdoor Patio Cooler

1. Capacity 

Similar to a conventional ice chest, capacity is the most important factor to consider when choosing a patio cooler.

Standard patio coolers have a 20-gallon cooler, enough to hold 70-100 12 oz. cans. Go higher if you are looking for a cooler that can handle large parties or smaller if you need a patio cooler for just yourself or you and your partner.

2. Portability

You do not want to be carrying a fully-loaded cooler while serving drinks to your guests. That is what makes wheels an important consideration. It is suggested to invest in a patio cooler that comes on wheels so you can easily move it around. 

Another feature that enhances the unit's portability is the detachability of the cooler box from the base. You can use it as a portable ice chest, making the whole experience convenient. 

3. Construction 

stainless steel patio coolers

The best patio coolers are made with stainless steel. It is durable and weatherproof.

Make sure the cooler is sturdy and has lockable wheels for easy portability.

4. Finish 

Rattan-finished patio coolers are popular, but you can also find coolers with a plain metal exterior or a rustic wooden finish.

5. Storage 

Patio cooler storage

Extra storage on a patio cooler is handier than you think. A bottom shelf can be especially useful for storing utensils or some extra drinks that don't need to be chilled.

Some patio coolers also come with side shelves and a bar or handle to hang a hand towel.

6. Insulation 

Almost all patio coolers you'll find in the market have an insulated ice chest. But it's always good to check. Some just have a metal box with no insulation. Ice melts within no time.

Also, check the quality of insulation. If you want the ice to stay frozen for more than a day, get a patio cooler with thick insulation and an insulated lid as well.

7. Detachable Base 

Patio cooler detachable base

The ability to detach the cooler from the base makes it easier to travel with the cooler or store it away.

8. Drain Plug 

A drain plug is a must-have. It makes it easy to get rid of melted water from the cooler chest. Some coolers have a hose-compatible drain plug that allows you to connect a hose for easier draining.

9. Accessories 

pure outdoor cooler

Considering what most people put inside the cooler, two accessories that every patio cooler should have are a bottle opener and a cap catcher.

The cap catcher ensures your guests don't leave caps lying all around.


Pros and Cons of Patio Coolers

Portable Air Conditioners Pros and Cons

Patio coolers are mostly great. But they have their downsides too. Here's a look at the pros and cons of patio coolers.

Pros

  • No more bending: Patio coolers typically come with a rolling base that raises the cooler chest high enough that you don't have to bend when picking a drink. Big convenience for the elderly, those with back problems, and us lazy types.
  • Easy portability: Ever tried to lift and carry a full cooler chest, even a small one? Yeah, it's a pain. With a rolling patio cooler, you just push the cart wherever you want to be it on the patio, beside the pool, or to the backyard.
  • Easy drainage: Most patio coolers come with a drain plug at the bottom that makes it easy to get rid of melted water in the chest.
  • They look good: Cooler chests are great, but most are ugly. Patio coolers have the 'ugly' chest inside and use a more appealing finish on the outside, such as rattan (our favorite), wood, or plain metal. A patio cooler is essentially a part of your patio or garden furniture.

Cons

  • Reduced portability: With a conventional chest, you can quickly put it in the trunk of your car for picnics and camping trips. Patio coolers are harder to carry around because of the rolling base. But there are some with a detachable base; look for one of these if you want a patio cooler you can travel with.
  • Reduced insulation: Most patio coolers don't have as good insulation as conventional cooler chests. They keep ice frozen for less time, usually 1-3 days.
  • Pricier: You can get a good quality ice chest for well under $100. Most patio coolers, even smaller ones, start at $130 and can reach $500 for large premium cooler carts.

Final Thoughts 

Best Outdoor Patio Coolers

Patio coolers are not just good for the rustic décor they add to your patio; they are also very practical.

You can wheel the cooler where you want, carry more drinks and ice than you would with a conventional cooler, and there's no more bending to pick a drink.


FAQs

Can I use a patio cooler to serve ice cream outdoors?

Yes, you can. The challenge will be keeping the ice from melting. Patio coolers don't have the same good quality of insulation as traditional chest coolers. 

We recommend getting a well-insulated patio cooler and add some ice packs or dry ice to the cooler to help keep the ice cream frozen. 

How do I protect my patio cooler from weathering?

Most patio coolers are designed to withstand weather elements including sunshine and rain to a degree. 

But too much exposure can still damage them. We recommend keeping the cooler under some sort of shade like under a tree or in the patio. If you often use the cooler in our backyard or at the beach, consider getting a weatherproof cover for it to keep out sun, snow and rain.

How do I make my own DIY patio cooler?

If you find store-bought patio coolers too expensive, you can make yours using a wooden box. Build a box with a lid, then insert a cooler chest into the box and you have a well insulated DIY patio cooler. 

You'll need to attach the cooler lid to the wooden box lid and remove the cooler handles.

For better access, consider giving the box legs so it sits at an easy-to-reach height. If you want, you can also make the box wheelable for easy portability. Other features you can add include a storage shelf, side shelves, storage hooks and a bottle opener. 

How long does a patio cooler keep ice frozen?

It depends on how well insulated the ice bucket is. With good insulation, the cooler can keep ice frozen for days regardless of the weather. 

Patio coolers with thin or no insulation only manage to keep ice solid for a few hours or a full day at most. 

The type of ice you use also matters. A block of ice is going to melt slower compared to cube ice. 

To keep ice frozen and your drinks cold, remember to keep the cooler in a cool place away from direct sunlight and keep the lid closed.  


About the Author Tom Hanson

I’ve worked as an HVAC tech in Phoenix, AZ for the past 10 years. I created CoolAndPortable.com to help home owners select the right portable air conditioner, cooler or air purifier for their needs & budget in just a few minutes.

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