The words “social occasion” make a lot of people roll their eyes, particularly when they’re all crammed together like that, but there’s little better than tailgating to enjoy a good time with some great people—or was it the other way around? In any event, for your next tailgating party, you’re going to need something to keep the beer cold, and the meat fresh, and the other beer cold.
That brings us to a small selection of coolers whose design makes them particularly suitable for serving out of the back of a pickup truck or an SUV. Each of these coolers has been specially designed just for tailgating, and each one does its job admirably—without breaking the bank.

High-Quality Tailgating Coolers

We’ll start things off with what might just be the most entertaining option on our list, for sheer brand value and the final word in portability: the NCAA rolling cooler by Logo Brands.

#1: NCAA Rolling Cooler by Logo Brands

What better for a tailgating party than a cooler with its own wheels? We wouldn’t suggest attaching it to the back of your car or anything, but it adds a certain level of convenience which our other items don’t offer. Plus, you can get it branded with the logo of your favorite college team! The cooler is made of high-quality, water-resistant polyester, and it’s heat-sealed for maximum leak-proofing. It includes backpack straps, for that one dude who’s always pretending to be a beer distributor (or… whatever it is that he’s doing; it’s been four years now, and we’re honestly not sure). Carrying capacity? Up to 48 12-oz cans. The rolling cooler also features mesh pockets on either side, for anything you might want to keep close at hand.

So, What’s the Catch?

The carrying capacity is good, but it’s not the greatest, and the rolling cooler becomes a little less practical when used for anything but beer. That’s not the worst thing in the world; after all, the beer has to go somewhere, right? We’d simply like it if it were a little more internally flexible. Also, there is a notable lack of durability: it’s rugged enough to carry beer, but not particularly good at withstanding the occasional, accidental drop or impact.

Of course, being inherently fun isn’t the only selling point for a tailgating cooler. You want something that’s affordable as well. For that, check out the next item on our list, the Tailgaterz Cool-N-Carry cooler.

#2: Tailgaterz Cool-N-Carry Cooler

The Cool-N-Carry has that multi-functional element we love. It’s a convenient, rugged, and durable folding trunk organizer, which includes an insulated cooler—perfect for carrying everything you’ll need come game day! The versatile side compartments fold independently of each other, and of the cooler itself; if all you need is someplace to keep the beer cold, that’s what you’ll get. It’s one of the most affordable and highly-rated options we’ve found anywhere. It includes side and front mesh pockets, high-quality insulation, and carrying straps for use once you’ve arrived.

So, What’s the Catch?

With the payload that this thing can carry, its design isn’t necessarily the most convenient for the carrying straps. Fully-loaded, it’s not entirely unlike carrying around a big back of rocks. Then again, when those rocks are beers, and the beers are cold, and everybody’s having a good time? The weight is certain to go down in short order. For some people, this just isn’t all that inconvenient.

All in all, it’s a no-frills item without the cost that’s associated with some of the higher-end alternatives, though it’s just as well-insulated, durable, and leakproof.

Of course, if it’s higher-end you’re after, and spending a few dollars more isn’t that big of an issue, there’s always the Buccaneer all-in-one tailgating BBQ grill/cooler set from Picnic Time.

#3: Picnic Time Buccaneer All-In-One Tailgating BBQ Grill/Cooler Set

For the man whose truck has all the bells and whistles comes a tailgating cooler that is likewise stacked. The all-in-one Buccaneer tailgating set from Picnic Time includes everything you need to host a killer tailgating party, minus the ice, the beer, and the charcoal. It includes the insulated and highly durable cooler, the mini grill, and all the grilling tools required to ensure food that’s every bit as satisfying as what you’d cook on the grill at home. It includes lots of pockets for easy carrying of accessories, handy carrying straps, and high-quality steel construction in the grill itself.

It’s even available gift-wrapped.

So, What’s the Catch?

With everything that’s included in this cooler, coupled with its economical and space-saving construction, it’s a little light on the cooler space itself. You’ll need something supporting by way of a larger-capacity cooler to hold most of what you’re going to want for any kind of a sizable gathering. The Buccaneer is more well-suited to carrying your grill and accessories, then keeping a few bottles and cans ready and on ice within easy reach. Of course, there’s something to be said for that, and with the grill itself deployed that frees up a little more space. Two of these would make for a great tailgating party for a couple of families—or a few good friends!

In Closing

Each of the three items presented above is a high-quality, well-insulated cooler with different pros and cons associated with its use. One is highly portable, with a more than respectable carrying capacity; one is a no-frills economy model with extra dry storage capacity, great for living 24/7 in your truck; finally, one comes with everything you need to throw a great tailgating party, including the grill! You should have no trouble picking your favorite, based upon your personal needs, out of that selection, as it covers a wide range of tailgating possibilities.

Whichever item you choose, don’t forget the most important part of any tailgating occasion: to have fun, to enjoy the company of friends, and to rev yourselves up for cheering on your favorite team!