What Size Cooler Do You Need for Weekend Camping?

If you plan to go on a weekend trip to get some time away from all the tiring daily routine work, you need to make sure that you carry all the necessary equipment. A cooler would be a great addition to your weekend camp, providing you with all the fresh food and chilled drinks while relaxing in front of your campfire.

Most of the people considering taking a cooler along with them often wonder which size cooler they should pick that would fulfill their needs. Don’t worry; we have got you a guide that completely discusses all the different cooler sizes available in the market and the one that you should go for. The size of the cooler mostly depends upon the number of people going to a camp; however, carrying multiple coolers can also be taken into consideration if the situation demands it.

What are the different cooler types available?


Electric coolers have become very popular in recent times because of their quality and reliability along the trip. They keep food and drinks cool and fresh for a longer period compared to other cooler types; however, a downside of using these coolers is that they are difficult to carry and require a power source.

You can plug them into your car or carry a generator for the power, making sure that you take enough fuel with you to keep it powered up for the whole journey.


Fabric coolers are made of synthetic fabric, which makes them lightweight and easy to carry on the trip. It can store comparatively smaller things than other types of coolers because of their small size, but they are very convenient as you can carry them along while walking on the road towards your campsite.


They are very useful if you want to keep things cool for a short period, food such as barbeque which requires to be kept cool until you reach your campsite is ideal for this type of cooler. You need to fill these coolers with ice to keep your food cool and fresh, keeping in mind that they should not be used for longer journeys as they are not meant for long-term use.


Metal coolers are the ones to go for if you are going hunting as they are made up of hard metal, which provides high durability. They are heavy compared to other coolers because of the materials used to manufacture them; however, use these coolers if you are looking for quality and quantity, and you have the means to carry them along easily.


They are the most popular type of coolers available in the market today because of their durability and space. They also have wheels attached to the bottom, making them easier to carry as they can be moved just like your regular luggage. The extra compartments are present inside the cooler to carry ice packs in case the current ice melts.

couple weekend warrior campers with a cooler hauling their perishables for camping

Why do you need more than one cooler for camping

Carrying more than one cooler is the best you can do if you are looking to travel with a group of friends or family; however, it would be a hassle if you do it while traveling alone. Considering the situation that you have means to carry multiple coolers, we advise you to do it as it makes your food and drinks fresh and chilled for a longer period respectively.

Fill your food with ice in one cooler and the drinks in the other, as most people crave drinks during the camp more than the food. The repeated opening of the cooler causes the ice to melt faster, so keeping your food in a different cooler would fix the problem.

Cooler size for one person camping trip 

As a lone traveler, we would recommend you to carry a cooler with a capacity of between 8 to 20 quarts. Make sure that the weight of the cooler is not too heavy, as carrying it would be a hectic job on the trip. 

You should consider 8 quarts cooler if you are going for a one-night camp, as it can carry around 9 cans and 5 pounds of ice, which is more than enough for a single night. Coolers with larger sizes are recommended if you are planning to stay more than a couple of days on a camp. Twenty quart cooler can store up to 20 cans and 14 pounds of ice, which can fulfill all your needs on multiple day’s trips.

Cooler size for a couple camping trip

Escaping your hectic daily job to go on a trip with your partner is one of the most memorable experiences that you can have, but you definitely don’t want to add a starving experience to those beautiful moments. For this purpose, you must carry a standard size of about 20 quarts of space on a single night camp; however, if you are staying there for a week, then a cooler of 40 to 45 quarts of space would be ideal for carrying. 

A cooler with 45 quarts of space can carry 40 cans with 20 pounds of ice inside its belly, which is sufficient enough for a camp of two people.

Cooler size for a family camping trip

While traveling with the family, you always need to ensure that you carry an adequate amount of food and drinks. The requirement for food and drinks is comparatively higher when you have a group of more than two people, as some people have a habit of eating or drinking after every hour on the campsite. 

We recommend that you get a cooler of 40 to 45 quarts of space for a one-night trip. Carry another one of the same sizes if you have planned a week-long trip, as you can carry 40 cans per cooler, making it a total of 80 cans with 40 pounds of ice to keep everyone satisfied.

man with sunglasses leaning up against a red camping cooler

Things to consider before buying a cooler

There are several things that you need to consider before making a decision to buy a cooler. 

  • First is the number of people you have for your camping trip, as it helps you get the basic idea of the required cooler size for the trip. 
  • Second is the number of days you are staying at the camp. The more days you stay, the more will be the size required for your cooler to keep things stored in it.
  • The third is to look for the quality of the cooler. Almost all of the coolers tend to cool your content, but some of them do the job better than others. Make sure that you buy one with the right materials used for better cooling.
  • Make sure that the cooler you are buying is well insulated. It is the most important part as some low-quality coolers can cause your meat to become inedible before you reach your campsite to cook it.
  • IGBC (Interagency grizzly bear committee) certified coolers are always a good choice to keep all the animals and bears away from your precious food.
  • Lastly, look for a cooler that has a good quality lid that can be opened easily, but not too easily. A lid that keeps your items safe inside when you pass through a bumpy road and opens easily with bare hands without applying too much force.
couples walking on a campsite beach with a neon yellow camping cooler

How to pack a cooler for camping

Once you are done selecting the size of the cooler to meet your camping demands, now it is time to know the right method of packing your cooler the right way. There are several steps to ensure that you have put all things right inside the cooler.

  • Cut the food into small pieces and place it inside so that they don’t end up taking too much space.
  • Pre Chill the items that you want to store in your cooler, so extend the time they remain cool inside.
  • Fill the bottom of the cooler with ice as it would not end up exposed every time you open the lid to take out food.
  • Place the food above the ice if you are putting all your stuff in a single cooler.
  • Place your drinks above the food, but make sure that you separate your food and drinks with something in between.
  • Fill the space on the top of the cans with a towel as it would keep everything inside cool even if the cooler is placed in the open sun.
  • Make sure that you lock the lid tightly so that no air passes through.


Choosing the right size cooler for your camping trip is an essential part of your preparation, as no one wants to be kept starving on a trip that is supposed to be an ultimate escape from routine life for relaxation of mind and body. We have provided you with a complete guide on what to choose and how to choose the right size for your camping cooler, so make sure that you follow all the steps properly.


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