The cooler we didn’t know we needed

Folded Kelty Folding Cooler
The Kelty Folding Cooler all folded up.Tiona Eversole

We’ve been packing wrong for road trips and camping trips this whole time. That is, until we discovered the Kelty Foldable Cooler. 

The Kelty Foldable Cooler comes in two sizes: 25L (14.5” x 13” x 11.5 “) and 45L (20.5” x 14.5” x 13.5”). We tested the 25L. The 12mm polyethylene foam walls are collapsible, creating less bulk when the cooler is not in use — a nice change from rigid models. This soft-sided, lightweight cooler is the perfect size for a short road trip or a camping trip. 

Here’s what we found.

Kelty Folding Cooler inside
All packed for a road trip and ready to go: ice packs, soda waters, fruits, veggies and cheese sticks.Tiona Eversole
For Road Trips

The 25L cooler is a good size for the car, taking up one seat in the back, and offers plenty of room for drinks and snacks. For the road trip, we used frozen ice packs to keep our items cool. Taking care to keep the top zipped, our ice packs stayed nice and chilly inside the cooler for the duration of our two-day road trip, keeping drinks cool and food fresh.

If you’re looking to do a longer road trip, we would suggest re-freezing the ice packs if possible. If you can’t re-freeze the ice packs, a bag of ice will work, but could make for a damp situation while traveling. 

Kelty Folding Cooler camping
Your next car camping essential.Tiona Eversole
For Camping Trips

For our overnight camping trip, this cooler fit everything we needed for lunch and dinner — with room to spare for adult beverages. Since we had to make a stop at the store anyway, we opted to go with a bag of ice.

According to Kelty, the 25L cooler holds 40 cans of beer, not including ice. But since we also had food in the cooler, the two individuals in our camping party had to settle for 12 beers — six apiece. For an overnight, we were more than fine with this capacity.

The inside of the cooler has a PEVA lining (non-chlorinated vinyl), which prevented the external softshell from getting wet when the ice began to melt. Since this part of the cooler detaches from the rest, setting it up the first time was a little tricky. Fortunately, we’ve gotten it right every time thereafter. When you’ve exhausted the contents of your cooler, simply dump the excess water, let the inside dry and fold it up to consolidate space on the car ride home. 

Kelty Folding Cooler latches
Tabs on each side latch down the cooler, keeping it fully collapsed to about four inches when not in use.Tiona Eversole
Final Thoughts  

While great for shorter road trips, longer trips are still possible with the Kelty Foldable Cooler, but only with a little more planning to keep items cool. If you’re an expert planner and good at mapping out your road trip, then this will most definitely work for longer road trips as well.

The Kelty Foldable Cooler was a good complement to our overnight camping trip. Aside from keeping beers cold, the top of the cooler has four cup holders to prevent your drink from spilling. The zippers seem sturdy, but it will take a few more camping trips to truly see if they will stand the test of time. 

Our next test for this cooler: festival season.

25L: $79.95

45L: $99.95