The best coolers for travel will depend on the individual. A diabetic, for example, is going to need a cooler that can keep insulin at the right temperature and store snacks. This article reviews some of the best travel coolers on the market - from soft-sided coolers to hard-sided coolers and to powered ones - and discusses their benefits and drawbacks.

In this Diabetic & Me article you will learn about:

  • What are the best coolers for travel?
  • What are the different kinds of travel coolers?
  • Why should I buy a travel cooler?
  • Things to consider before buying a travel cooler.

What Is a Travel Cooler?

There are many insulin coolers out there. They are slightly different from travel coolers. A travel cooler is a portable ice chest. It's designed for carrying ice, beverages, and other things while traveling. When it comes to staying cool, they're customizable because different people need them to do different things. Some might be used just to store food or drinks, while others also might need to stay at the right temperature so medications can stay safe while traveling.

Basically, a travel cooler does whatever you personally need it to do - which is why there are so many different kinds on the market these days! You'll come across soft-sided coolers that are good for camping or hiking trips because they compress when empty and are really lightweight. There are also hard-sided ones that could go in an airplane's overhead compartment or fit into your car's trunk. And then there are compact coolers that have a built-in cooling system, which can be very helpful for those with medical needs who need to stay at certain temperatures while traveling.

Is It Safe To Store My Insulin In A Travel Cooler?

When you travel it's important to keep insulin at the right temperature. You can keep insulin cool in a travel cooler by putting it next to ice packs or cold water bottles, which will work for about six hours.

I do recommend using a protective case and protective insulin sleeves so you don't have to worry about them breaking or coming into direct contact with ice or ice packs.

ALWAYS avoid letting your insulin directly touch ice or ice packs.

Why Is The Right Travel Cooler Important for Diabetics?

Diabetes is a serious condition that requires constant care and monitoring. One of the best ways to maintain your health while traveling or otherwise on the go is with an efficient cooler. From insulating properties to features like built-in ice packs, these coolers are designed specifically for people with diabetes.

High-quality insulation combined with a hardshell exterior makes coolers ideal for diabetics on the go.

The bottom line is that there are many different travel coolers on the market, and not all will be good for diabetics. However, the options below should more than do the trick! By keeping your insulin cold at all times, you can ensure that it remains safe - but also that you have snacks with you when needed. So if traveling with diabetes has been causing problems before... hopefully, this list helps solve them once and for all!

Different Kinds of Travel Coolers

Here's a list of the different kinds of travel coolers:

  • Soft-sided cooler
  • Hard side coolers with wheels
  • Compact, powered travel coolers for medical needs.
  • Soft-sided coolers with a built-in ice chest
  • Backpack cooler
  • Portable cooler
  • Specialized insulin coolers

Why Buy a Travel Cooler?

The biggest benefit of using a travel cooler is to keep items cold and fresh. Who likes warm drinks and food that goes bad? There are many reasons why you should buy a travel cooler.

  • You don't have to buy ice for every trip and this way you save money
  • To keep insulin and snacks at the right temperature while traveling
  • Easy to use for camping or hiking trips
  • Can go in an airplane's overhead compartment
  • Fits into a car trunk easily
  • Most of them are very lightweight
  • It's customizable (you can change what it does)
  • Soft-sided coolers can compress when empty, making them easy to store away in a small space 

The 5 Best Hard-Sided Coolers

1. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hard-Sided Cooler

  • Dimensions: 12.75 x 7.6 x 10.25 inches
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds

When it comes to your favorite type of cooler, you need one that speaks to the way you live. Whether you're planning a day at the park with family and friends or a back-country hunting trip, this Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze high-performance insulated cooler without a zipper is made for your outdoor adventures.

The patented "flip-open" Zipperless lid allows for quick access to food, drinks, and medication while keeping out the warmth when in transport or when camping, but protects contents when not in use; meanwhile cooling waves radiate heat away from comestibles.

The handy removable SmartShelf compartments inside can be customized to meet all your needs (holds up to 30 cans) - perfect if you like your medication away from direct contact with the ice but still cool enough.


  • Removable SmartShelft for medication storage
  • Holds up to 30 cans
  • Patented "flip-open" ZipperLess lid
  • Hard Sided but still soft
  • Easy to carry around


  • Shoulder strap might be too short
  • Plastic liner is very thin and could easily break

2. Coleman Portable Cooler - Keeps Ice Frozen Up to 4 Days

  • Dimensions: 26 x 17 x 17 inches
  • Weight: 2.25 pounds

Meet the coolest cooler...on the go. I don't know about you, but I am always on a quest for a cool drink on summer days. That's why I love the Coleman Portable Cooler - it keeps iced drinks cold for up to 4 days.

It features a charming retro design that will be sure to impress your friends! Keeps ice insulation offers 4-day ice retention in temperatures as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It's built to deliver years of performance with rust-resistant stainless steel hardware, comfort-grip steel handles allow for easy, controlled lifting and carrying.

Make sure you store your insulin in a protective case as this cooler has no separate compartment for it.


  • Keep ice frozen for up to 4 days
  • Cools up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Charming retro design
  • Comfort-grip steel handles


  • It looks and feels like plastic

Sale (-$5.53)
3. Coleman Wheeled Cooler - 5 Day Durable Cooler
$59.99 −$5.53 $54.46 Amazon Prime Buy on Amazon

3. Coleman Wheeled Cooler - 5 Day Durable Cooler

  • Dimensions: 23 x 18 x 18 inches
  • Weight: 13 pounds

The 5 Day Durable Cooler is a heavy-duty wheeled cooler that will keep ice for up to five days in ninety degrees Fahrenheit! With all of those hot summer days ahead, this durable cooler from Coleman can handle any situation and provide refreshing drinks and food at your destination.

Insulated walls are reinforced with Xtreme technology, providing full high-capacity storage space for up to 84 cans. The handle is fully extended, padded, and includes cup holders for convenience. When closed the lid easily supports up to 250 lbs without buckling or collapsing under pressure!

Storing your insulin in a protective case is important as there is no separate safe compartment for it.


  • Keep ice frozen for up to 5 days
  • Space for up to 84 cans
  • Telescopic handle
  • Cup holders included
  • Really secure lid


  • Everything is made from plastic and tends to wobble

Sale (-$25.00)
4. Yeti Tundra 45 Rotomolded Cooler
$325.00 −$25.00 $300.00 Amazon Prime Buy on Amazon

4. YETI Tundra 45 Rotomolded Cooler

  • Dimensions: 26 x 15.5 x 16 inches
  • Weight: 18 pounds

The YETI Tundra 45 claims to be the most durable cooler on the market with up to 3 inches PermaFrost Insulation, protecting your ice from melting. This high-quality insulation also makes it bear-resistant to ensure you never have to worry about cleanups.

The Rotomolded Construction is made using a mixture of wet and dry ingredients placed in an oven that reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit while rotating for over two hours. This leads to a sturdy, virtually indestructible product according to YETI's website. Quality Lid Latches constructed of heavy duty rubber assures no breaking.


  • Rotomolded cooler
  • Quality lid
  • PermaFrost Insulation
  • 4 days ice retention


  • Too small for the price

Sale (-$40.00)
5. Pelican 30 Quart Elite Cooler
$269.95 −$40.00 $229.95 Amazon Prime Buy on Amazon

5. Pelican 30 Quart Elite Cooler

  • Dimensions: 25.3 x 19 x 18.5 inches
  • Weight: 26 pounds

I love this cooler because it's designed to keep your drinks cool for days. Never fear scorching sun again, the Pelican 30-quart Elite Cooler keeps ice well into next week! You'll love the small design that can hold up to 23 cans or 6 cases of 12oz beverages - if need be.

There is no separate insulin compartment so make sure you pack it in a protective case so it's doesn't break or comes in direct contact with the ice.


  • Great construction
  • Built like a tank
  • When pre-chilled it keeps ice cold for up to 7 days


  • On the heavy side

The 5 Best Soft-Sided Coolers and Backpack Coolers

Sale (-$16.95)
1. Tourit Backpack Cooler With Comfortable Padded Straps
$45.99 −$16.95 $29.04 Amazon Prime Buy on Amazon

1. TOURIT Backpack Cooler with Comfortable Padded Straps

  • Dimensions: 13 x 7.5 x 17.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds

Bored of your old, bulky backpack? Ready for something lightweight with an insulated back pocket to keep all your food fresh and cold until the last minute? Look no further than the Tourit Backpack Cooler with adjustable shoulder straps!

This sleek bag will hold up to 16 hours of coolness, so you can keep your drinks ice cold with less hassle. The multiple pockets are perfect for keeping medication on one side and reusable goods on the other.

So next time you're packing up some snacks and medication and heading out for a hike, make sure you do it with the Tourit cooler. Enjoy an ice cold beverage wherever you go.


  • Hold up to 16 hours of coolness
  • Multiple pockets for medication storage
  • Adjustable Shoulder Straps
  • Not bulky and lightweight


  • Can become wet at the bottom if used for a long period

No products found.

3. CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag for Food and Drinks

  • Dimensions: 18.2 x 12.2 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds

This cooler bag brings the convenience of being both a tote and cooler in one! The patented SnapHinges allow for easy folding, so once you have filled it with ice at the beach or family picnic call, all you have to do is close its snap hinges back down flat. You can also push them together for packing during your vacation as well.

Featuring large capacity temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and a removable bottle opener, this cool bag has space enough for 50 canned drinks plus ice - perfect for weekend camping trips that are too much fun only to last one day!


  • Large capacity
  • Easy to use as tote and cooler
  • Patented SnapHinges
  • Front zipper picket for medication


  • Bottle opener is useless

Sale (-$4.74)
4. Coleman Soft Cooler Backpack - Great For Picnics, Bbqs, Camping, And Tailgating
$39.99 −$4.74 $35.25 Amazon Prime Buy on Amazon

4. Coleman Soft Cooler Backpack - Great for Picnics, BBQs, Camping, and Tailgating

  • Dimensions: 12.2 x 6.3 x 19.3 inches
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds

This backpack is perfect for packing your tasty picnic goods and carrying them to your destination with ease! With the ability to hold up to 28 cans within it, you'll be sure to never run out of ice-cold drinks on a hot summer day.

Along with the main compartment, this Coleman's backpack has an easy-to-access front pocket that makes for medication storage at those all-day tailgates or camping trips. And with its padded adjustable straps, you can load up as much as you need without worrying about uncomfortable weight distribution.


  • Padded adjustable straps
  • Holds 28 cans
  • Easy-to-access front pocket for medication
  • Lightweight


  • A little bit too small

5. IceMule Pro Backpack Cooler

  • Dimensions: 11.02 x 14.17 x 16.93 inches
  • Weight: 3 pounds

This backpack-style cooler is engineered to provide a lightweight, portable solution that's perfect for anywhere from the beach to an adventure hike or picnic. It holds up to 23 Liters or 18 cans + ice, features two padded air mesh shoulder straps with a sternum strap that leaves your hands free for grabbing other items, and certifies as waterproof and floatable.

When you're done packing up at sunset, roll down the top before sealing it shut with secure welds to safeguard against leaks until morning. Bring this versatile cooler bag wherever the next big day takes you!

This cooler bag is so tough, you'll think it's made of steel. Built to last through endless adventures, this cooler will hold in cold for up to two days.


  • Padded adjustable straps
  • Holds 18 cans
  • Two padded air mesh shoulder straps
  • Lightweight
  • Very robust


  • Exterior is not what it seems like on the photos

Things to Consider With Travel Coolers

Travel coolers come in a variety of materials and sizes. They also have different insulation properties, which means while some may keep your insulin cold longer, others will be better at keeping snacks fresh. The best travel cooler for you depends on what it is that you want to store inside them and what features it has.

Here are some considerations you need to take into account.


Most travel coolers are designed to keep your ice cold and your drinks cool. But they can also be used to store your insulin.

Keeping insulin at certain temperatures while traveling is very important because if it goes bad during transport, you could run into some serious problems such as high blood sugar levels. The best way to ensure insulin's safety is by using an insulated travel cool box. These boxes are specially designed so diabetics can safely store their insulin without worrying about its temperature fluctuating too much. They also have refrigerated compartments which allow users a simple, easy way to keep insulin cool while traveling.

These also often come with other features like UV protection and lockable latches, which are necessary for outdoor use. As far as cooling goes, this is the most important thing you should look out for when it comes to travel coolers - specifically ones made especially for diabetics or those who need insulin at certain temperatures during transportation.

Ice Retention

Ice retention is measured by the amount of time it takes for your cooler to reach a certain temperature - in this case, how long it takes your ice chest to melt. A good travel cooler will be able to maintain its insulation and coldness for several hours so you can stay on the road longer without having to stop at restaurants or gas stations to replace the melted ice.

As far as ice retention goes: bigger doesn't mean better! A lot of people make this mistake and think the larger bag will stay cold longer but this isn't true at all. The quality of insulation has nothing to do with how big something is; thickness does instead. So don't go by size and always look at the insulation of the travel cool box.


A smaller cooler is more portable compare to a bigger one. Most coolers come with strong handles that make them easier to carry around.

Some coolers come with wheels to make it easier for you to push and pull them.

Other coolers can be carried around like a backpack or have carrying straps to make them easy to carry around over long distances without tiring out your arms quickly. It's adjustable so everyone in the family can use one of these coolers comfortably no matter their size or height.


During the selection of your travel cooler weight does matter. You don't want to buy a heavy cooler because it will be harder for you to carry around and move.

The best travel coolers are lightweight so they can easily be moved from one place to another without causing strain on your body or arms, especially if you'll have to use the cooler often during your trip. The lighter weight also means that these bags won't take up too much space in an airplane's overhead compartment or your car.

Keep in mind that an empty travel cooler will weigh more once it's filled up with all your travel essentials.


The capacity of your cooler is a very important factor. It should be big enough to store everything you need, but not too big that it becomes difficult to carry around. If you are planning on storing your insulin make sure you have some separate compartment where you can store it safely without cans or bottles crushing it. 

It's often measured by how many cans can fit inside and how much ice will be needed to keep the cooler and your beverages cold.

Sizing up your cooler depends on several factors: what you'll be using it for, how long you plan on being away from home, and the climate that surrounds where you live. It's important to get a travel cooler that fits all of your needs - but not too big if space is an issue! For example, some people only need something small enough to store snacks or drinks in during flights while others go camping with their family so they want one large enough that everyone has storage room for food.

Insulation Types

There are 2 main types of insulation used in travel coolers. While one is cheaper the other one keeps your ice colder for a longer period.

  • Polystyrene is a very effective insulation and it's not that expensive. It's very lightweight and is often found in most travel coolers. The fact that it's bad in transferring heat keeps your beverages and medication cooler for a longer time. The best way to describe this insulation substance is "bone-chilling." It can keep items cold for a very long time, making high-end hard coolers more appropriate for longer stays.
  • Foam insulation is mostly found in soft-side coolers. This is because it's very lightweight and can be molded into any shape. This insulation material isn't as good in keeping items cold for a long period of time, but foam coolers are better at protecting your belongings from outside elements like rain or sand. Since they're mainly made up of fabric, soft-side travel coolers offer more flexibility when storing your snacks and drinks so you don't have to worry about them getting crushed.

Materials And Durability

Coolers come in different materials like plastic, metal, and fabric. Each material has its own pros and cons which you'll need to consider carefully before making any decisions.

Plastic coolers are the cheapest of all types available on the market today but they also break easier than their counterparts that come in other materials like aluminum, steel, or rotomolded. They're not as durable as other materials so if you drop them once or twice then chances are it will break.

Rotomolded coolers are the best at protecting your belongings through their thick insulation and sturdy outer shell. They're not only very durable but also come with a great warranty so you can have peace of mind knowing that they'll last for many years to come.

A soft-sided cooler is mostly lightweight and made from fabric. They should be protected against tears, stains, and leaks and should be waterproof.


Some coolers come with other features like extra storage space and even USB ports. Others have cup holders, seating lids, can transform into a bar, and many others.

Soft vs. Hard Coolers

  • Hard-sided coolers come in several different materials such as plastic, metal, fabric, and others. Some even have extra features like wheels for easy transportation from place to place or pull handles designed specifically so they can easily be pulled along an incline without having any problems carrying them up hills. These types of coolers offer great insulation properties and ice retention because there is more room inside which means items stay colder longer than soft coolers.
  • Soft-sided coolers are great because they're lightweight and easy to carry around. They can be folded up or rolled away when not in use. Soft coolers are ideal for a day at the beach, an afternoon of fishing, or if you plan on using it as your main bag while on vacation.


Most cooler brands offer great warranty service to their customers. They want you to feel safe when buying one of their products and will often replace or repair your cooler if something happens while using it.

It's a good idea to check what kind of warranty each brand has before purchasing a new cooler, just in case anything goes wrong with the product after purchase!

Most warranties range between 12 months and 2 years. While some bigger brands even offer 5 to 6 years of warranty.


Travel coolers are designed to keep your beverages, snacks, and insulin fresh, no matter where you go. This article will show you the best travel coolers for diabetics that can be customized with features like insulation or ice retention properties depending on what is needed. You'll find information about pricing, weight capacity, materials used in the construction of the cooler as well as warranty information. If traveling has been difficult before because of diabetes - this list should help solve those problems!

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About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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