We’re hopeful that the British summer is going to bring a number of sunny days across the UK so we can get outside to socialise at the beach, BBQs, in the park and in the garden.
But the warmer weather means our packed lunches and picnics are likely to be suffering from the heat too.
The best cooler bags will keep your food and beverages cold in two ways: either with ice to bring the temperature down, and/or through insulation to keep the temperature down.
Cool boxes are a simple solution to safely store food at a colder temperature – excellent for a picnic or barbecue.
There are plenty of options available in the UK from electric cool boxes that can be plugged into your car or cool box backpacks for when you’re exploring on an adventure.
To help you choose the best cooler bag out there, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite options from a range of brands to suit all budgets.
The best cooler bags to buy this summer
This 24l cooler backpack from Amazon is the perfect essential for outdoor adventures as a family. It’s one of the best cooler bags as it’s budget-friendly, easy to carry and extremely lightweight.
The insulated picnic backpack features EVA insulated layer inside with PVC coating to keep food fresh and it’s ideal for picnic, travel, hiking or other outdoor activities.
The main storage compartment is large enough to hold fruit, lunch and beverages while the high quality oxford cloth material makes it splash-proof to keep your food dry.
A reviewer said, “Great size lunch bag for days out with kids. I could include everything needed and the backpack style makes it easy to carry.
“It is well insulated and stylish. It was easy to wipe down after use and store away until it is needed again.”
Dimensions: L26 X W19.5 X H37cm
Capacity: 24 litres
With a 24-litre capacity, including room to stand two large bottles and an in-car socket, we felt this electric coolbox from Halfords offered a lot for its price tag.
It’s one of the best cooler bags because it powers from your car's 12v accessory socket and has a capacity of 24 litres with the ability to cool up to 18°c below the temperature of the air surrounding the coolbox.
The cool box casing is made from polypropylene which is durable plus the interior can be easily wiped clean.
A reviewer said, “This coolbox is brilliant. It is just the right size to hold large bottles as well as food. Relatively quiet.
“You need to buy the mains electric connection but the fact that that is a separate item means the connected cable stores neatly and without hassle. We are very pleased with our purchase.”
Dimensions: L42.5 X W30.5 X H42.5cm
Capacity: 24 litres
This insulated cool bag is ideal for family holidays and days out as it can be plugged into any of the 12V sockets in your car to keep its contents cold.
It’s able to chill its contents to 15° below the ambient temperature, and there’s room inside for loads of snacks and drinks, which makes it brilliant for keeping everyone happy on holiday.
It’s tall enough to fit up to eight 1.5 litre fizzy pop bottles while the hardwearing outer fabric is durable to withstand wear and tear.
Plus the 2-way zip lid function means you can easily access the contents. It also comes with a long shoulder strap and two sturdy side handles to make transporting it easy.
A reviewer said, “Just love this cool bag. It looks good as well as keeping everything fresh.
“We bought an adapter so that we can plug it into the mains- in hotel rooms for instance, as well as in the car.
“Really well balanced and sturdy. Great value for money- it’s already proved its worth after one weeks holiday.”
Dimensions: L43 X W23 X H40cm
Capacity: 32 Litres
The classic look of this ‘picnic basket’ makes it one of the best cooler bags.
The wire-reinforced willow exterior gives it a sturdy base while the traditional aesthetic is perfect for a day out at the park.
The practical upright design makes it suitable for carrying while the insulated green tweed cikker basket features a zipped chill compartment, making it perfect for summer days.
Available at £49 from Joules, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for one of the best cooler bags - plus you can fit up to four food boxes, cutlery, plates and glasses - and extra nibbles if you’re feeling particularly hungry!
Dimensions: L40 x W20 x H33cm
Yeti is renowned for its high-performance cooler bags and this is reflected in the price – but this one is said to live up to its expectations.
It is an ultra-trendy and reliable premium brand that makes high-quality products - which are perfect for your family days out.
If you need to keep your food and drinks cold while enjoying a day out, then we know it’s important to travel light.
This cooler bag is small enough to make it easy to hold while the insulation power is engineered to be tough.
The website claims it can hold 8 cans of beer or 5kg of ice - so there’s plenty of room to store your snacks and drinks.
A reviewer said, “We bought this as a lunch box for our young daughter. It’s the perfect size to carry everything we need for her for a full day as well as some snacks to keep us going out on the trails.
“Great at keeping everything cool even on warmer days. Throw in one of the YETI ice packs and it works like a dream.”
Dimensions: H29.2 X L26.7 X W20.3 cm
Capacity: 10 pounds of ice = 7.2kg approx.
If you’re looking to add a touch of style and finesse to having the best cooler bag, then Fortnum & Mason is a great place to start.
Their picnic cool bag, available at £40, is essential for alfresco dining and it’s the perfect size for a family picnic.
The interior is lined with the brand’s signature print while the eco-friendly cooler bag is made from recycled materials inside and out.
There’s space for nibbles and pockets to ensure your tipples stay put while it’s easy to clean at the end of the day.
The zip-up lightweight cool bag is also comfortable to carry with its contrasting black carry straps and most importantly, it’s fully insulated to keep your picnic goods chilled.
Get the matching blanket and wine cooler to really look the part!
Dimensions: H35 X W37 X D26 cm
Ready to take your little ones to the beach but still keen to look stylish? We’ve got you covered as this option from Roxy is one of the best cooler bags out there.
The roomy tote bag, made from a woven straw and canvas fabric in summer neutrals, doubles up as a standard beach bag and a cooler bag.
The bottom half of the bag unzips to reveal the clever cooler section where you can keep your picnic cool.
The 25l essential is the ultimate summer must have and the cooler bag section can easily hold six cans and some snacks - while keeping them chilled for hours.
It really is a must have for storing your towel, book and sun cream - as well as your family snacks!
A reviewer said, “Absolutely love this bag and how it has the bottom compartment for storing cold items - such a unique design!”
Dimensions: H38 X W46 X D14 cm
Capacity: 24 Litres
This cooler bag from outdoor adventure brand Red Paddle is said to be in a different league.
Making its mark on the best cooler bag roundup, the functional summer must-have is available from John Lewis and keeps ice cool for days.
The functional cooler bag is easily portable with its carry straps and additional shoulder strap while it is also 100% waterproof and leakproof with a special watertight zip.
The cooler bag hybrid’s impressive cooling capabilities mean it lives up to its 72-hour credential for keeping ice frozen - and it floats!
There are also two side pockets and a luggage tension system for attaching it to your boat, roof or car.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-carry cooler bag for adventures for a family of six, this is one of the best.
A reviewer said: “This bag will find itself being dragged everywhere. Paddling, kayaking, sailing, picnics, long car trips.”
Dimensions: L56 X W30 X H37 cm
Capacity: 30 Litres
This cooler bag from Amazon is ideal for family picnics in the bar. The exterior of the bag is made from high density water-resistant dirt-proof Oxford fabric for durability and easy cleaning.
While the interior lining is padded with EPE foam for great thermal resistance. The cooler bag can hold all the essentials a family will need for a picnic so it’s great for holidays and BBQs.
It also comes with two side mesh pockets for storing additional drinks and bottles while the handy front pocket can be used to store napkins.
The padded handle and detachable shoulder strap make it easy to carry and transport too.
A reviewer said, "Great cool bag. The bag has 2 net side pockets and a zip front pocket which is not insulated.
“The main compartment is well insulated and keeps my drink cold with an ice pack most of the day. The material and zips are made well. Perfect for taking to work or on a picnic.”
Dimensions: 37.1 X 32.1 X 10.6 cm
Capacity: 24 Litres
Selfridges stocks one of the best cooler bags around. The Business & Pleasure Co premium cooler bag is ideal for someone looking for a luxurious option.
It’s crafted from the brand’s signature canvas treated with water, while it’s mould-resistant and features a UV coating tso it’s beach ready.
It keeps your refreshments cool while the vintage-inspired straps and supple leather handles make it easy for you to stylishly transport your picnic essentials.
It features a zip fastening and can store multiple drinks!
Dimensions: L32 X W22 X H22cm
Capacity: 14 Litres