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11 Best Coolers For ATVs (Must Read Reviews)
It might be hard finding a good ATV cooler to fit your specific needs since the market offers quite a lot of variety which can prove pretty confusing, especially if you haven’t purchased one of these products before. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a chore, and knowing a thing or two about each model can effectively narrow down your options.
1. YETI Tundra 65 Cooler
Probably one of the best-appreciated coolers out there, the Tundra is considered by many to be the standard by which all other heavy-duty ice boxes should be judged. It holds up particularly well for off-roading thanks to its tough rotomolded construction which can effectively absorb shocks so constant bumping won’t be a problem.
Resistant marine cables are used to keep it in place on the ATV or UTV, and the patented T-Rex latches will keep its lid shut through the rough and tumble of the back roads. Like any good product fit for outdoor use, the Tundra is bear-proof, so you won’t have any unpleasant surprises with large predatory fauna going through your food.
The 65 in its name refers to the maximum capacity in quarts, which places it in the larger category. The walls are remarkably thick to ensure for good insulation, and up to 3 inches of pressure-injected commercial grade polyurethane had been used for the lid and body, to ensure that the ice won’t melt.
2. RTIC Cooler 45 Tan
This RTIC medium-sized unit is greatly appreciated by customers due to its ability to hold ice for substantially long periods of time without needing to be filled to the brink. This is important because you can keep it light, as it is not uncommon for coolers to weigh as much as 50 pounds when fully loaded.
It is durable enough to hold to a bumpy road but it’s not as resistant as rotomolded models, like the Yeti we’ve looked at, but the price is somewhat lower than the competition, which makes it of a good value. While it does offer good shock resistance and the insulation is particularly competent, this product isn’t certified bear-proof, so you might want to take care when using it on salmon fishing trips.
If kept out of the sun, it can hold the food cold for as much as five days, which means it will provide great service during short vacations in the outdoors.
3. YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
When it comes to ATV coolers, bigger is not necessarily better, and there are situations where you wouldn’t want carrying a 75-pound box around, loaded with heavy ice. The Tundra 45 is in the lower weight class from Yeti, but it can still pack 26 standard-sized cans, with a recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio.
It has the same 3 inches of PermaFrost insulation like the 65 which means it can hold your food frosty for days on end. A rotomolded construction was used to give it great durability, so it holds to shocks and bumps particularly well while the T-Rex lid latches will hold it hermetically closed no matter the road conditions.
It is certified bear resistant, but you shouldn’t expect it to give perfect protection to your goods against a full-sized brown bear or Grizzly. Like all other Tundra models from YETI, this comes together with a dry goods bag so you won’t risk getting your food damp.
4. Pelican 80 Quart Wheeled Elite Cooler
This is quite a large model, but it can be easily carried by its own wheels, which should prove very helpful for people that are easy to tire. It has extra-wide press and pull latches that can be easily operated with gloves and should keep the lid tightly shut.
The insulation has been tested in lab conditions to hold for a remarkably long time, up to 10 days at 70 degrees F of outside temperature, so it should serve you well for a week’s vacation. Thick polyurethane was used both for the lid and gasket, to offer it good shock absorption as well as ice retention.
Stainless steel plates are also present, which contribute greatly to its overall toughness, and the product is certified bear resistant. This unit also comes with an integrated fish scale and a built-in bottle.
Besides the heavy-duty wheels, the unit also rests on a couple of non-skid treads, so it’s safe to use on uneven ground or slippery surfaces.
5. Yeti Coolers Tundra T-Rex Lid
The smallest model from YETI, this 35 won’t take up as much space as other units we’ve looked at, but it should be as tough as any other. Like all the other models in the series, it’s rotomolded for great durability.
It also has the T-Rex lid latches and the same thick walls, which give it as much as 3 inches of insulation. The handles are made from military grade polyester rope, and the marine cord is provided to keep the unit in place on a boat or ATV. When not on a vehicle, the cooler rests on its own non-slip feet, which should offer good traction on slippery or uneven surfaces.
Besides a dry bag to keep some sensible items from getting wet, the Tundra 35 also features a Vortex draining system which makes it leak proof and particularly easy to dry out. Special care has been taken to make the hinges extra durable, so that you won’t have any pleasant surprises with the lid becoming unhinged while on rough roads.
6. Yeti Coolers 10035100000 Tundra 35 Blue
This is basically a Tundra 35 that comes in a lovely blueish color, called Ice Blue by YETI. This might cause a bit of a chuckle for fans of certain TV shows, as the reference is pretty hard to miss, but it might very well be the result of a coincidence since ice itself is sometimes represented to be blue in popular culture.
It has the same good reliability, durability and cold retention capabilities as any other Tundra. The handles are made of military grade polyester rope, and it has been rotomolded for extra strength. This will make it tough enough to resist a curious bear, but like any other piece of equipment, you shouldn’t really expect for it to hold to the full force of an angry fully sized specimen.
Something we’ve omitted to mention with other Tundras is that it has a rubber seal between the lid and the main body, which is constructed in the same way as you’ll find in a regular freezer. Combined with the extra-thick walls, this should give it some remarkable ice retention.
7. ORCA Cooler 75 Quart Tan
The Outdoor Recreational Company of America is commonly abbreviated to Orca, which also lets it borrow an animal theme. The company logo is the tail of an Orca, which gets repeated on the clips used to hold the lid in place.
The Orcas come in a variety of sizes, with even the lightest models having a good capacity -- up to 24 cans of beer for the 20 qt model. It features a rotomolded construction for good durability, which should make it handle well to the stresses involved in off-road use. There is no figure cited for how long it can keep ice solid, but most users find it lasts for well over a weekend, which should give you plenty of time outdoors.
Most heavy-duty ice boxes are American-made, and this product makes no exception, hailing from Tennessee. The build quality has been positively commented on, and you shouldn’t expect any factory faults from the product you’ll be receiving.
8. YETI 18010110000 12 - Fog
If you value portability and convenience more than maximum capacity, then this soft cooler should provide. It only weighs 3.1 lb by itself and also comes with a strap for easy carriage, which means you can get it off the ATV and walk around with it so cool drinks and food will always be at the ready.
It can hold up to 12 standard-sized cans together with some ice, and it’s made from a leak proof material so your clothes won’t get wet. The heavy-duty zipper provides a tight seal, and a wide mouth opening means it will be easy for you to access its contents.
Besides being waterproof, the Dry Hide shell is also resistant to abrasion, punctures, and mildew, which is especially important when trekking through the great outdoors. With two large YETI ice packs, this product should keep your food and drink cool for a couple of days, although some customers remarked that certain factors like outside temperature and opening it often might seriously affect this function.
9. Nelson-Rigg RG-006 Black Mountable Insulated Cooler Bag
Nelson-Rigg doesn’t play around with quarts and other units of measurement but simply uses the number of beer cans a model can hold to denote the size of their products. This 12-pack soft model will prove highly portable when carried on foot and also easy to mount on an ATV, UTV or motorcycle.
It has a waterproof line that can be removed for easy cleaning and high-density insulation so that the ice will hold well for a couple of days. A 4-point quick release tie down system offers it a secure hold to the vehicle, and an adjustable securing panel will keep the contents in place while in motion.
It’s made of highly durable Tri-Max ballistic nylon with fibertech inserts for better tear resistance, and the zippers offer a tight seal against dust and water. As a nice touch, the zipper pullers are oversized and coated with rubber for better grip and easier operation while wearing gloves.
10. Orca NWTF Cooler
This rather small hard case RTIC model holds up to 22 quarts or 24 cans of beer together with the required ice. As an interesting feature, it has a stainless steel handle that can lock in place for easy carry and it should be easy enough to move it around a fishing spot or a job site.
According to user reviews, it should hold well for a weekend under cold outside temperatures, and well past 12 hours in hot climates like you find in Southern California or Florida, so it can efficiently provide service for a full day of fishing.
As an RTIC, it is significantly cheaper than other brands, while offering basically the same functionality, however, you shouldn’t expect the same manufacturing quality as you’d get with a YETI or an Orca and some customers did accuse factory faults with their respective units.
The reviews it received are overwhelmingly positive and should provide good service if you make full use of the warranty and return policy.
11. Pelican Elite 50 Quart
This is quite a sizable unit with a very solid look to it and should hold its contents cool for a considerable amount of time. According to manufacturer specifications, ice will be kept from melting for up to 10 days, with two inches of polyurethane insulation and a 360-degree freezer gasket surrounding the lid.
It features molded handles, so there’s little risk of them coming off and a reinforced lockable hasp as well as a stainless steel bottle opener. The hinges are also reinforced to make it better suitable for off-road use.
It has a plug for easy drainage and 4 cup holders that are also self-draining, as well as non-skid rubber feet, so it stays in place on wet surfaces or uneven terrain. A US made product, the construction quality is quite remarkable, and it’s sold under Pelican’s lifetime warranty, so the company will replace your broken product for as long as it will stay in business.
This Year’s Buying Guide
Although browsing through the ATV coolers for sale might be tiring business due to all the items available out there, the characteristics a good unit should have are pretty easy to guess. Since you’ll be using it off-road, physical durability should be up there in importance, as well as a tight seal, with thick insulating walls to keep the cold in and the dust or water out. Size comes down to preference and your own convenience, while the possibility for the ATV cooler box to be kept tightly in place with a strong marine cord should also be accounted for. The things to look for in the best ATV cooler bag are detailed below.
An ATV cooler is not just a regular ice box, which might very well break open under the stresses of high-speed off-roading, it’s made to be extra durable, so it handles shock without the material giving in.
Both plastic and metal are used for its walls, both of them making for equally adequate solutions, as the newer plastic material is surprisingly flexible so that it gives in to impact and vibrations instead of bending or breaking.
Steel remains a favorite, but it needs to be supplemented with an adequate insulating material, usually polyethylene because of its heat transmission properties. The hinges are commonly made of steel and are extra-strong, reinforced to hold under significant shock without the lid snapping open.
Handles are sometimes made out of heavy duty military and marine grade nylon string, which also ensures a proper ATV cooler mount on the vehicle. If the cord is strong enough to hold a piece of military equipment to its sled while parachuted, then it should do a good job with an icebox carrying your beer.
Depending on the size, wall thickness and composition, the best cooler for ATV can keep ice from melting for as much as ten days. Larger units will naturally work a little bit better, as they have greater overall volume, but the insulation provided by the material and the use of a rubber edge around the lid will factor in as well.
Walls will generally be thick, of up to 3 inches so that outside heat is effectively held at bay, and built out of plastic material that doesn’t have the same high heat conducting properties as you would find with the metal used for a fridge.
ATV cooler design does incorporate some ideas from fridge construction, like the rubber strip that sometimes surround the lid, making for a particularly tight seal, so that warm atmospheric air doesn’t get through to the ice.
How much insulation you’ll actually need primarily depends upon your own preferences for vacationing, with a smaller ATV bag with cooler providing as little as 12 hours of refrigeration, but proving itself remarkably convenient during short excursions where you wouldn’t require a lot of baggage.
Portability and convenience
To a great extent, convenience comes down to the size of the cooler you think you’ll be needing. Large models are usually cumbersome to transport and the ice together with the cool drinks will add a lot of weight to the whole thing.
The volume a cooler can hold is commonly expressed in quarts, abbreviated to qt, but some manufacturers also use the number of regular beer cans a unit can house at a go (together with the ice that should surround them.) Common sizes refer to 24 or 12 cans, which should last a regular drinker the better part of a day.
Small units often have soft fabric walls that offer some water resistance as well as anti-tear properties, but these shouldn’t really be used to house glass bottles, as they won’t really be able to offer any hard support.
The backpack/soft bag style often features traps and other handles, which will make them remarkably easy to transport and even mount on the appropriate support of an ATV. If you only expect to use the unit during a short fishing trip, these might offer all the convenience you need.
Manufacturers constantly come up with new ATV cooler ideas to increase the quality and functionality of their products. Some newer models feature tie-down slots to make them easier to mount on a boat, truck bed, trailer or ATV. When on a rough road, the cooler will be as resistant as its mount, so you might want to look into this if you expect to be putting it through its paces.
Some models feature an integrated draining plug, so that they are easier to wash or dry away if the ice pack happens to leak. Since it won’t be uncommon for the cooler to be placed on a slippery pier or boat, good grip for its supports is another thing to be mindful of. The best models use rubber for their feet, while a cheap ATV cooler might employ something as poorly adherent as hard plastic.
The country it is made in should also weigh into your decision, as not all places hold to the same high standards as the US. Most US-based firms maintain domestic production lines, but some might use plants in SE and East Asia as well as South America, so you might want to check where the product actually comes from.
Best ATV cooler brands
Arguably the most famous cooler manufacturer, Yeti can be said to hold to the highest standards in the business and are basically the go-to for a reliable product. Their Tundra line of hard cased, heavy-duty coolers is well-regarded as exceptionally tough and well insulating.
They are not the most budget-friendly on the market, however, and some of those dollars might be going for paying a premium brand name. They also make a very nice looking line of convenient carry bag styled soft cases, which can hold a relatively high number of beer cans in good conditions.
Another premium manufacturer, Pelican offers a lot of convenience features and some technical innovations with their products. Their flagship Elite series has an integrated drainage system, a bottle opener, four tumbler holsters and a fish ruler, with markings in both inches and centimeters.
These are made in the United States of America under very high manufacturing standards, and while they aren’t as pricey as Yeti coolers, they are pretty close. Another thing that makes Pelican’s stand out is their unusual looks, reminiscent of military containers, with grey, orange and tan regularly used as colors.
RTIC designs relatively affordable cooler that however offer the same degree of functionality as bigger name brands. They don’t really sacrifice quality to the extent that they alienate fans, and RTIC keeps a significant following, many of whom swear by their affordable and well-functioning coolers.
As a testament to the confidence they placed in their products, RTIC used to offer a highly popular 7-year warranty. However, this has been significantly reduced as of November 2016, with loyal customers being disappointed to find out that they can only expect for their products to be replaced up to 30 days after purchase.