Cooler boxes are essential for any great camping trip! The GO OUT guide to coolers.

4 years ago

The cooler box is an essential piece of kit for any summer time camping trip but depending on the number of people and nights staying the size and type that best suits your trip can be wildly different.

At the GO OUT JAMBOREE in Aril, I visited a number of cool campsites to get the scoop on what cooler boxes experienced campers are using. 

A small hard cooler for solo camping!

  • ■ in the case of Mr Hayabusa(2 days 1 nights/Solo camp )
  • Using cooler box:YETI/Roadie 20

Mr Hayabusa is using a small hard cooler from Yeti called the “Roadie 20” (19L capacity). This is perfect for an all in one camping site that has a dedicated living space and dome shaped shelter.

By setting the cooler box on top of a wooden stand you can offset the heat produced from the ground to maximize its cooling potential as well as creating additional storage space underneath. Raising the height also makes it easier to access the contents.

If you store frozen goods along with drinks they will acts as a refrigerant and can then be thawed naturally will helping to keep the other contents cool. This is an effective strategy for one nights camping.

OWNER:Mr Hayabusa

Yeti’s Roadie 20 is small sized with dimensions of 36.8cm x 50.8cm x 34.1cm but has about 19L capacity which equates to about 30 350ml bottles so it’s perfectly suitable for short term or solo camping trips. Mr Hayabusa recommends that for trips of two nights or more he brings an additional 20L soft cooler (Seattle Sports 23QT).

Hard coolers can also be used as makeshift tables or chairs by taking advantage of their rugged shape and exterior.


3 hard coolers with a capacity of 20L or less that are perfect for solo camping.

■ORCA Coolers/Mossy Oak Blades

20 Quart -MOSSY OAK BLADES Tan-(19L) ¥64800

ORCA Coolers are a brand founded in Tennessee and first came to Japanese shores in 2018. It has excellent durability to the rotomold (rotational molding) used during production, high cooling capacity and versatility thanks to the ability to attach pouches and drink holders to the external sides. The new color variant Mossy Oak has been on sale since the Spring of 2019.

ORCA Coolers


PELICANElite Cooler

Elite Cooler 20QT(19L) ¥31320

Endorsed by all manner of professionals from US forces to photographers, US based Pelican’s hard cooler comes well recommended. Although its capacity is relatively small at about 19L, it has a 2inch polyurethane layer that can keep contents chilled for up to 5 days. It also has odor inhibiting properties to prevent wild animals such as bears from detecting the food and approaching the campsite.




Cooler Box 15.1L ¥12744

This is Stanley’s classic model 15.1L cooler box. A number of new colors such as red and white were added to the classic line up in 2018. Cooling insulation is installed not only in the main body but also on the top lid so that any drinking bottles stored under the rubbing banding while being sufficiently cooled as well. You can store 500ml pet bottles vertically or 2L bottles horizontally.




Family camping trips of 2 days and 3 nights are more effective using hard and soft equipment.

  • ■ in the case of Nishikubo Family(3 days 2 nights/Family camp with 3 people )
  • Using cooler box:Coleman/54QT , AO Coolers/24

This is Nishikubo’s large campsite for a family of 3 using a tent in tent kangaroo style tent set up with a tarp plus 2 popular soft AO coolers of about 23L capacity.

For food storage a hard steel cooler is used. This can hold contents of up to 51L so it is perfectly suitable for family camping trips of 3 days.

The hard cooler has a higher cooling capacity than the soft variety and is therefore suitable for storing perishable food items. The sturdy hard body designed is also great for transporting pre prepared or food that is easily squashed or damaged.

The soft AO coolers on the other hand are used for storing drinks. The cooling capacity is excellent due to the 1.9cm thick insulation material on the inside and the storage capacity can be further increased by removing the side buckles. Plastic bottles of up to 2L in volume can be easily stored vertically.

OWNER:Nishikubo Family

For 3 day family camping trips you are going to need quite a large amount of food and drink, but using a set up similar to this site with soft coolers used a sub cooler you will have plenty of provisions and a more enjoyable camping experience.

Most soft coolers can be stored compactly once empty so are easy to either transport home or to take to the nearest store to fill up on more food and drinks. This is the most efficient use of a sub cooler.


2 hard coolers of 50L capacity for family camping.

 ■CHUMS/Steel Cooler Box

Steel Cooler Box 54L ¥25704

The “Steel Box Cooler 54L” from CHUMS with its vibrant color and impactful logo is an excellent large size cooler for family camping trips. It also features urethane foam injection for excellent cooling capacity and a bottle opening on the front and drainage on the back.




ORION 55L ¥96120

Orion Coolers are developed for people seeking real adventure. This high end hard cooler features 5cm thick insulation for extraordinary cooling potential as well as a resilient and robust frame which makes it easily usable as a stool or table. The tie dye pattern is perfect for summer festival camping.



3 lightweight easy to carry soft coolers.


SOFT COOLER 23Qt ¥10044 /40Qt ¥11880 /
12Qt ¥7452/ 25QT ¥10260

 The soft cooler range from SEATTLE SPORTS has fast become a favorite among campers. The outside layer is 19oz vinyl while the inner lining uses aluminum material with special cold insulation properties. After using or when empty they can be easily compacted and stored for convenient transportation.



FREEZY10 ¥20520/FREEZY20 ¥28080

This is the first soft cooler box from long time Seattle based brand COMFY OUTDOOR GARMENT. The seamless design is achieved by using ultrasonic manufacturing methods without sewing to create a modern and aesthetically clean design. The large opening is synonymous with the brands other designs and gives it a unique appeal.



YETIHopper Flip 18

HOPPER FLIP 18 ¥48384

This soft cooler from YETI has cooling capacity comparable to that of a hard cooler. Similarly to popular hard cooler designs it has tight sealing and water resistant zippers to prevent fluid leakage which is a common complaint with soft coolers. It is also very durable due to the use of polyurethane coated extra tough nylon fabrics.



Choosing a cooler box for the ultimate camping experience!

Over the 2 days of conducting interviews with different solo and family campers across 10 different camp sites, the variety and size of coolers used from hard to soft types while maintaining a fashionable atmosphere highlights the important of choosing the right cooler to fit your camping experience. Utilizing both hard and soft styles in the same camp site also seems to be increasing popular.

Make sure to do your research and to choose the right type of cooler to suit your camping needs.


PhotoTakuma UtooManufacturer