8 Best Picks for Tailgating Coolers

Get Ready for the Big Game With These Top Picks for Tailgating Coolers

Women relaxing at tailgate barbecue in field
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Tailgating is a party unto itself and the extreme tailgater will take it to extremes that include installing grills in truck beds and heating outdoor tents with generators. The absolute necessity every tailgater needs, however, is a good cooler. Luckily, there are a lot of choices, but a few cater specifically to those with the ultimate team spirit, no matter what sport or team level is your thing. Below are some of those coolers that sports fans of any degree can find useful.

  • 01 of 08

    One of the biggest advancements in coolers came when someone decided to put wheels on them. If you have ever lugged a large cooler even across a chilly parking lot, you will certainly appreciate this simple convenience.

    Wheeled coolers are available in a variety of sizes from small 12-inch, soft-sided versions to huge 80-quart ones that will hold all of the food and drink you need for a long day tailgating. One thing to look for: a cooler with a long handle so you are not hunched over while...MORE dragging it.

  • 02 of 08

    The Cocktail Gator bags are a very convenient way to carry all of your bar needs to the tailgate. Bottles, cups, and all of the accessories you need to mix drinks in the parking lot can be packed in these soft-sided bags with a shoulder carrying strap. Need ice? A tub for carrying ice inside is included. A good friend of mine has a Cocktail Gator and is impressed by its convenience.

  • 03 of 08

    This one is a little different from the rest. It is clearly more of a personal indulgence for the die-hard tailgater who wants to take it as easy as possible. If you prefer to have a few cold cans of beer within reach while chilling out, this is the chair for you.

    For little more than the cost of a quality folding chair, this seat has a soft-side cooler on one of the arms that holds 3 cans and a re-freezable ice pack, a drink holder on the other and a convenient pouch for storing small items you...MORE would want handy. The padded seat is also a nice feature and more comfortable than the average lawn chair.

  • 04 of 08

    If toting bags of ice around in a cooler is not your thing, you may want to check into a refrigerator. Yes, it will keep drinks and food cold, but it also requires a power source and may not hold as many beers as you would like.

    The key to choosing a tailgate-worthy refrigerator is to look at its size. Many are designed to plug into your car, sitting in between front seats or in the back, but they hold only a few cans. That is great for the casual tailgater. However, that may not be enough for...MORE the enthusiastic tailgater so you will want to find a larger capacity fridge and be diligent about rotating the stock. Also, you'll need to ensure your car's battery is up for the power drain, or you could be stuck in the parking lot for much longer than you expected.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    The Trashcan Cooler is a classic of the tailgating scene for a few reasons. It is cheap at around $20, can be found with almost any sports team's logo and colors, and is lightweight and leak-proof.

    This cooler has a lining that will keep a lot of drinks and ice cold for awhile, however it has no lid. That will not matter much during the fall and winter football seasons because the frigid air will keep things chilly, but if you are in the South or tailgating on a warmer day, you may find your...MORE beer a bit warm. The other issue is that I like to leave home with a stocked cooler and the design of this collapsible one is not the best for that. Sure, it's great after the game when it's empty, but when full it is best left in the truck.

  • 06 of 08

    There are pros and cons with this cooler. It is ideal for tailgating because the gas grill, barbecue tools, and cooler are all together in one tote. The totes can also be found with the logos of a number of college teams. However, despite the grill being small -- though able to handle a few hot dogs and burgers -- it does take up cooler space. The cooler compartment is removable as well, but it would be far more convenient for carrying what is going on the grill rather than the BBQ master's...MORE drinks. Make the other guy bring the beer!

  • 07 of 08

    This may look like a small cooler, but it actually holds 20 well-placed cans and has a separate compartment for a reusable ice pack. The drawback to this configuration is that if you load it to capacity there is no room for extra ice and that ice pack will not keep your drinks really cold for really long. That means you either need to start out with really cold cans or leave a few out and add regular ice. However, the ability to throw this cooler over your shoulder and go anywhere is a nice...MORE convenience for the price.

  • 08 of 08

    You thought the coolers with wheels were cool? How about a rolling cooler that can be converted into a backpack? This cooler is the ultimate in mobility and great for traveling from tailgate party to tailgate party with your own stash of cold, refreshing drinks.

    The cooler converts from backpack to cooler with ease and will hold 24 cans with enough ice to keep everything cold for hours. The leak-proof, insulated lining does a great job keeping your back dry and the wheels are like those on the...MORE luggage you drag around the airport, so if your back gets tired you can switch to a convenient cooler that rolls smooth over almost any terrain. This may be the best cooler for the value (just around $50).