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Best Budget Rotomolded Coolers for Cheap

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A Rotomolded cooler is a fantastic addition to your adventure gear.  Unlike the coolers of my youth, rotomolded coolers are not only made with extreme durability in mind but they are also made to keep food cold for a VERY LONG TIME.

Come on, we’ve all been on those trips where on day 2 you realize that everything in your cheap cooler is a soggy mess and that the real test of bravery on your trip would be whether or not you actually STILL EAT what’s inside.  Enter rotomolded coolers.

Here, we’re going to show why budget rotomolded coolers are so great, and what brands are the best, all so you can decide what’s the best-rotomolded cooler that suits your needs without costing too much.

Best Value Rotomolded Coolers under $250

If you’re looking for the best-rotomolded cooler under $250, we’ve got lots of great options. Despite what some of the name brand cooler comapnies want you to believe you can get one of the best coolers for under $250. Now before I go into too much detail, it’s important to know a little about high-end rotomolded coolers so that you can make the best decision.

What makes Rotomolded Coolers so great?

The cooler industry is changing, and if you’ve even spent a little bit of time searching for the best budget cooler, you’ve heard the term rotomolded pop up a lot.  What exactly is a rotomolded cooler and what makes rotomolded coolers so great?  It’s actually referring to how the plastic is molded and shaped.  Instead of just injecting the plastic into the mold, in a rotomolded design, the mold is rotated so that the whole cooler has an even and consistent thickness.

Well, for starters, the insulation in a rotomolded cooler is more evenly distributed than in a traditional cooler.  Because all the cooler walls are a consistent thickness, the rest of the cooler benefits.  The overall result is longer ice retention.  This type of construction also makes rotomolded coolers stronger than traditional coolers.  Additionally, the production process allows a lot more flexibility for manufacturers, so a rotomolded cooler usually has a better design integrated into it including more ergonomic handles and better drainage.  Some of the coolers we’re featuring below are even bear-proof certified, so chances are that these coolers are going to be able to handle just about anything you throw at them!

Are rotomolded coolers worth the high cost?

Well, that really depends on what you’re using the high end cooler for.  Traditionally, when people think of a rotomolded cooler, they instantly think of a Yeti cooler that will set them back at least $400.  Yeti coolers aren’t the only option and there are so many affordable alternatives to Yeti coolers. Is it possible to get a high-quality rotomolded cooler for under $250?  Absolutely.  Here, we’re showcasing the best value high-end coolers and cooler reviews.  In the end though, there’s a bit of ‘you get what you pay for’ here.  Paying for a really high-quality cooler will give you really high-quality performance in most cases.

Should I get a rotomolded cooler or a regular cooler?

If you need the best cooler that will keep your drinks cold for a day on the lake or something to store soda’s in at the barbecue, you absolutely don’t need a rotomolded cooler.  Save yourself a chunk of change and head to the nearest big box store.

If you need a quality cooler that will keep food cold for multiple days, can withstand lots of use, is incredibly strong, and will last for years and years, then a rotomolded cooler is probably an excellent investment for you.

Honestly, until recently, I didn’t believe the hype.  Then we got a Canyon Cooler (see below to see why we chose this one) and took it out with us for a trip in the desert.  After 3 days out in the heat and sunshine, we pulled out cold sodas for the kids at the end of the day, and they were literally squealing with delight to have them on such a hot day.  After that, I was SOLD!

Canyon Cooler Rotomolded cooler

Budget-priced high-end coolers:

Getting a cheap cooler doesn’t mean that the quality is bad. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. You can get a high quality cooler at a budget cooler price with these coolers for cheap we’re sharing here. We want you to get the bet cooler for your money and to keep everything inside safe and COLD!

CoolerSizeIce RetentionWeightWarrantyPrice
RTIC 45 Cooler45 Quart10 days29 Lbs1 Year$250
Canyon Cooler Outfitter Series 3535 Quart5-7 Days22 LbsLifetime Warranty$250
MILEE – Iceland Cooler 45

45 Quart6 Days23 Lbs5 Year Limited Warranty$260
Monoprice Emperor Cooler
50 Liters5 Days33 LbsLifetime Warranty$150
Amazon Commercial Cooler45 Quart5-10 days26.5 LbsN/A$199
Xspec Pro 60 High Performance60 QuartUp to 7 Days31 LbsN/A$240
Landworks ENHANCED Cooler 4545 Quart10 Days26.5 LbsN/A$199
Mariner Watersports 45 45 Quart7 Days31 LbsN/A Check Prices Here

Which Budget Rotomolded Cooler is the BEST?

Honestly, looking at these specs, it’s hard to tell the difference between one cooler and another.  However, diving a little deeper, you’ll find that there are some pretty big differences.  The biggest that I found is in ice retention first, and warranty second. 

If I’m going to spend close to $250 on a cooler, it should do an incredible job of keeping things cold. We’ve tried out so many coolers, but the one that we personally have had the best experiences with are the RTIC cooler. This is the cooler that we trust the most when we go on extended backcountry rafting trips and we need things to stay cold for at least a week. Things just stay cold longer in an RTIC cooler.

rafting green river lodore

The other cooler feature that is above and beyond is theCanyon Coolers BEARPROOF WARRANTY!  Yes, these coolers are certified bearproof.  That goes a long way for me because I’m pretty sure if it’s built to stand up to a bear, it can handle whatever my kids throw at it.  Fun note, on the Canyon Coolers Instagram page, someone showed their cooler that a bear had tried to get into.  They had taken a chunk out of the lid and scratched it up, but still had never gotten in (and Canyon sent them a new cooler).  Honestly, if I’m choosing a cooler for car camping, that would be my first pick.

How can I get my cooler to stay cold longer?

Longer ice retention = longer adventures, right?

Well, if you know how to properly prepare and load your cooler, you’ll get a whole lot more bang for your buck.  First of all, let’s talk about the wrong way to prep a cooler.  You grab it off the garage shelf, head to the store for a case of soda (also off the shelf), and then pour a whole bag of crushed ice on top of it.  WRONG!!  You’ll have a cooler full of water and semi-cold sodas by dinner. Plan on cooling your drinks and food BEFORE they go into your cooler as well as cooling your cooler down before you load it. Here’s the way to do it:

Here’s the right way to load a cooler:

  1. The day before – get out your cooler and put a block or two of ice inside of it and seal the lid.  These will probably totally melt, so just think of them as a small sacrifice for cold food in a couple of days.
  2. Pack the cooler with frozen, or pre-cooled food.  If you put room-temperature food in, it will take all your ice just to cool it down, so this step is critical.
  3. Fill the rest with ice.  Block ice will stay frozen much longer than cubed, but for maximum cooling power, use a combination of both.
  4. Keep the cooler lid sealed at all times unless you are getting something out.
  5. Buy commercial ice – they freeze it to a lower temperature, so it will stay frozen longer than ice from your home freezer.

Are Rotomolded Coolers Better than Traditional Coolers?

Rotomolded coolers have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their durability and ability to retain ice for extended periods. Rotomolding is a manufacturing process that involves heating plastic resin in a mold and rotating it to evenly distribute the material.

Compared to regular coolers, rotomolded coolers are considered to be more durable and better at retaining ice for longer periods of time. This is due to the thicker walls and insulation in rotomolded coolers, which help to keep the contents colder for longer. Additionally, rotomolded coolers are often designed with features like rubber gaskets and latches that create a tight seal to prevent air from entering or leaving the cooler.

However, rotomolded coolers are typically more expensive than regular coolers and can be heavier and bulkier. so those play a factor to helping you decide which cooler is better for your needs.

Alternatives to YETI Coolers

YETI Coolers are considered by many to be the gold standard for Rotomolded coolers, but you can get an amazing cooler for so much less money. We’ve found that the RTIC coolers to be the most suitable alternative to YETI cooler and are significantly less expensive. RTIC coolers can be as much as half the cost of a YETI cooler and work just as well in our experience.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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