Top 20 Backpack Coolers for Outdoor Adventures
A backpack cooler can make a heavy load easier to carry, whether you’re going to the beach, a park, or the top of a mountain. Hard coolers do a great job of keeping drinks and food cold, but even with wheels, they’re hard to move to places like beaches where the sand will swallow them up, rough trails, or anywhere more than a few hundred yards from your house or car.
Soft backpack coolers are a comfortable option that comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes. To help you decide which backpack cooler is right for you, we tested the best ones in our Brooklyn lab and out in the field. We talked about their insulation and extras, as well as their value and what activities they would be good for.
What is Backpack Cooler?
Backpack coolers are portable and versatile cooler bags that can be worn on your back like a backpack. They are designed to keep your food and beverages cool and fresh while providing the convenience of hands-free carrying. With insulated compartments and durable materials, backpack coolers are perfect for outdoor activities such as picnics, hikes, and beach trips. They offer a practical and efficient way to transport and maintain the temperature of your refreshments, allowing you to enjoy your adventures without worrying about food spoilage or warm drinks.
The 20 Best Backpack Coolers of 2023
YETI Hopper Soft-Sided Backpack Cooler
- Rating: (4.8-star average rating from 2,917 reviews on Amazon)
YETI Soft Coolers stand out because they are made of materials that are ridiculously tough and have better thermal performance. Our lineup of coolers that are anything but soft has what you need for your next day out. These coolers are made for extreme conditions and are tough enough to go with you on hikes through the brush, post-ups on rocky shorelines, and lunch on the ranch.
TOURIT Cooler Backpack 30 Cans Lightweight
- Rating: (4.7-star average rating from 21,553 reviews on Amazon)
This backpack is a great choice if you want something versatile and affordable. More than 6,000 customers have given it an average of 4.8 stars, which means they love it. The backpack is made of tough 600-denier polyester and has a 330-millimetre capacity that can hold about 30 cans. It weighs only a pound and has a large insulated main compartment with a wide zippered top that makes it easy to load. There are also two zippered front pockets, two mesh side pockets, and a slip pocket for your smartphone on the shoulder strap.
Read More: Bulletproof Backpacks
BUILT Welded Soft Portable Backpack Cooler with Wide Mouth Opening
- Rating: (4.3-star average rating from 239 reviews on Amazon)
BUILT designs are based on simplicity, a love of materials, and a desire to make life easier when you’re on the go. The city that never sleeps was the inspiration for the BUILT collection of hardworking, stylish, and protective items. This Large Welded Cooler Bag is the best soft cooler to bring to picnics, barbecues, or camping. This portable cooler is very hard to tear or puncture because it is made of a tough shell fabric like that used for white water rafts and has a high-strength 1000 denier polyester core with double the coating.
OtterBox Trooper Cooler
- Rating: (4.5-star average rating from 156 reviews on Amazon)
OtterBox makes products that make it easier for people to connect in a world that is becoming more mobile. OtterBox has been around since 1998 and is known for its commitment to quality, durability, and innovation with a purpose.
With a 20-quart capacity and a food-grade interior liner, this cooler can keep ice frozen for 3 days or more, depending on the weather. The cooler’s contents are kept safe from water and dust by a leak-proof seal and a compound latch system.
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 24-Can Backpack Cooler
- Rating: (4.6-star average rating from 1,509 reviews on Amazon)
The inside has Titan Deep Freeze high-performance insulation with a radiant heat barrier and a triple-layer ColdBlock base, as well as a leak-proof* lining with Microban that helps protect against bacterial odours and stains and makes the lining easier to clean.
The outside has a front pocket that is insulated, 3 pockets, a padded back with mesh panels that let air in, and adjustable, padded backpack straps.
Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack
- Rating: (4.7-star average rating from 2,818 reviews on Amazon)
It has an insulated base compartment and a large main compartment with mesh pockets for food and other things. Ideal for camping, picnics, tailgates, beach trips, festivals, concerts, and job sites. Made of heavy-duty poly with Rain Defender durable water repellent.
The soft cooler compartment can hold up to 12 cans and an ice pack, and it will keep everything cold for more than 24 hours. Food that doesn’t go bad, clothes, and gear go in the main compartment. Mesh side pockets and a front zipper pocket with a key fob hold other essentials.
Igloo 24-Can Softsided Insulated Cooler Bags
- Rating: (4.6-star average rating from 109 reviews on Amazon)
Not everyone needs weekend-long ice retention. In fact, some people just want a backpack cooler to bring to sporting events, family get-togethers, and picnics. This cooler from Igloo doesn’t leak. It has comfortable straps, strong carrying handles, and seams that are welded together to keep water out.
The rectangular shape isn’t as easy to carry for long distances as other styles, but it’s great for making the most of space. It’s easy to fill it with food and drinks, and once you do, you can put it in your car or on a boat and know that the textured base will keep it in place.
ICEMULE Boss Backpack Cooler – Padded Straps, 100% Waterproof
- Rating: (4.3-star average rating from 38 reviews on Amazon)
From the MuleSkin fabric and game-changing IM AirValve to the welded seams and padded straps, these soft-sided cooler bags are made to last through your next beach day, hike, picnic, and more.
The outside and inside are made of ultra-tough mule skin, and PolarLayer Insulation makes sure the cooler is strong and keeps ice longer, so it stays as cold as ice for 24 hours or more. Holds 30 Liters or 24 cans plus ice; 12.5″L x 9″W x 25″H. This backpack-style cooler has two padded air mesh straps, a padded hip belt, and a sternum strap, so you can use both arms to grab your surfboard, fishing pole, or other adventure gear. This portable cooler is great for men or women.
Read Also: Novice Backpacker
RTIC Backpack Cooler Insulated Portable Soft Cooler Bag
- Rating: (4.6-star average rating from 368 reviews on Amazon)
The RTIC backpack cooler is an insulated cooler bag that you can carry on your back without using your hands. This gives you both arms to do whatever your adventure needs. The insulated backpack cooler is made with high-quality insulation that will keep your things cold for days. have two sizes. Backpack cooler with 20 cans. Backpack with a 30-can cooler.
It also floats, so you can take your drinks and snacks with you wherever you go. Perfect for a day at the pool or lake, or just about anywhere else.
BLONDI&SAM Cooler Backpack Insulated Leakproof
- Rating: (4.6-star average rating from 175 reviews on Amazon)
Don’t buy cheap cooler bags that make it hard to carry food and drinks. Your navy cooler backpack from BLONDI&SAM is made of high-quality materials and looks great.
Cooling That Lasts Longer: Enjoy your portable cooler! Your soft cooler backpack can keep food and drinks cold for up to 6 hours without an ice pack or up to 12 hours with one. It does this by putting food and drinks in two different layers. Don’t worry about falling on the ice. Your camping cooler won’t leak or get wet because it is sealed with hot-press technology and lined with polyester for extra protection.
SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack Leakproof Soft Cooler Bag
- Rating: (4.5-star average rating from 8,720 reviews on Amazon)
It holds 25 cans/25L, is 13.3″ x 8.6″ x 14.9″, and has enough space for meals, beers, tall drinks, snacks, and everything else you need. This insulated cooler backpack is perfect for work, lunch, hiking, camping, the beach, a road trip, the outdoors, etc.
The cooler backpack’s thick foam insulation and leak-proof peva liner work together to keep things cold or hot for a long time and make sure they don’t leak. The heavy-duty nylon used to make the backpack cooler won’t rip, tear, or scratch, but it’s still easy to carry. Shoulder straps that are padded and can be changed in every way offer the most comfort and support. We promise you’ll be happy.
2 in 1 Insulated Rolling Cooler Backpack with Wheels Roller Bag
- Rating: (3.8-star average rating from 307 reviews on Amazon)
Our insulated cooler-on-wheels backpack can also be used as a lunch box backpack, a cooler lunch bag, or a daily pack. Ideal for lunch, picnics, trips with the family, work, or travel.
One large, leak-proof pocket for a picnic, two large mesh pockets on the sides, and one large zippered pocket on the front for storing things like utensils. Our insulated cooler-on-wheels backpack can also be used as a lunch box backpack, a cooler lunch bag, or a daily pack. The bag is great for hiking, picnics, trips with the family, work, or travel. Made of waterproof and durable Nylon EVA Polyester, this is the best lightweight backpack with a cooler for work, picnics, trips, road/beach trips, hiking, camping, and cycling. It makes a great gift for both men and women.
Lifewit Cooler Backpack Leakrproof 32 Can Insulated
- Rating: (4.5-star average rating from 2,020 reviews on Amazon)
The Lifewit cooler pack is a great choice for the size in the middle. It’s a cheap backpack cooler with a few unique features and a price that seems pretty good. This bag costs about $30, so it’s a great choice for anyone on a budget.
This soft cooler pack’s best feature is that it has two insulated compartments. So far, I haven’t seen this on a lot of other backpacks, at least not on any good ones. It’s a great feature if you want to keep food and drinks separate, or if you want to keep alcohol away from juices for kids.
Pelican Dayventure Backpack Soft Cooler
- Rating: (4.6-star average rating from 48 reviews on Amazon)
With a material that won’t tear and a waterproof zipper, this one can handle trips into the backcountry or rough kayak rides. The two separate sections are smart, especially if you want to keep your lunch dry and your drinks cold.
The designated cold zone can hold six cans, but if you need more space, you can use the other compartment as well.
AUSQI Backpack Coolers Insulated Leak Proof
- Rating: (4.7-star average rating from 80 reviews on Amazon)
The 5 layers of insulation make up the insulated cooler backpack, which was made to keep things cool. Scratch-resistant Ripstop Polyester Snowflake Cloth + Waterproof PU Coating + High-density 8mm insulated Pearl cotton + Aluminum foil + Food grade Leak Proof Hot-pressing TPU Liner work together to prevent leaks and keep food hot or cold. Our cooler won’t leak, so it will stay cool for 36 hours.
Coleman 28 Can Backpack Soft Cooler
- Rating: (4.6-star average rating from 6,484 reviews on Amazon)
Coleman is known for making cheap camping gear. This cooler backpack lives up to that standard. Our testers loved how light and comfortable this backpack felt. They especially liked how the sides of the waist straps were padded with soft foam. We also like that this bag can be carried in different ways and used for different things. There are several pockets on the inside, a couple of mesh pockets on the outside, and straps on the back for carrying.
Also Read: Concealed Carry Backpack
ICEMULE Pro Collapsible Backpack Cooler
- Rating: (4.6-star average rating from 138 reviews on Amazon)
From the MuleSkin fabric and game-changing IM AirValve to the welded seams and padded straps, these soft-sided cooler bags are made to last through your next beach day, hike, picnic, and more.
24+ HOURS OF COOLING: The exterior and interior are made of ultra-tough mule skin, plus PolarLayer Insulation makes sure the cooler is strong and keeps ice longer, so it stays as cold as ice for 24 hours or more. 14″L x 11″W x 18″H; holds 23 liters or 18 cans plus ice. This backpack-style cooler is light and easy to carry. It has two padded and airy straps that you can use to grab your surfboard, fishing pole, or any other adventure gear. Both men and women will love this portable cooler.
Picnic at Ascot Original Insulated Backpack Cooler
- Rating: (4.5-star average rating from 190 reviews on Amazon
This insulated cooler backpack is great for tailgating or going on a picnic. It has a large interior compartment that can hold up to 22 cans, and the inside is leak-proof, so you won’t have to worry about melted ice. The outside of the bag has one zippered pocket on the top and four slip pockets where you can put water bottles, umbrellas, or extra snacks. We think the sporty canvas fabric and elegant gold hardware make it the perfect carryall for a variety of activities where food needs to be kept cool.
Hydro Flask Day Escape Soft Cooler
- Rating: (4.4-star average rating from 64 reviews on Amazon)
On a hike with two dates in Colorado’s Elk Mountains, the Hydro Flask Day Escape Soft Cooler Pack ($199.95) came in handy. The walls of the flexible cooler feel pretty thin, so we were surprised by how well it fit our bodies as we hiked. We were happy to carry this pack on longer hikes and for longer amounts of time.
Based on our test, this cooler can keep ice for nearly 60 hours, which is longer than what the brand says. We really liked that the top zipper is both waterproof and quiet. The downside is that it takes more time and two hands to open and close a watertight zipper than a regular zipper.
Coleman SPORTFLEX Soft Cooler Backpack
- Rating: (4.4-star average rating from 317 reviews on Amazon)
The four-way stretch pocket on the front makes it easy to get to your phone, keys, and snacks. The Active-Stretch side pocket expands to hold more stuff throughout the day, and the side mesh pocket can fit a water bottle.
The padded, adjustable shoulder straps and mesh back make it easy to carry, and the sternum strap helps support and spread the weight of the cooler. The base is strong and easy to clean. Two-finger zipper pulls make it easy to undo the zipper.
How We Chose The Best Backpack Cooler?
We’ve put together a list of the best backpack coolers in a variety of categories based on reviews, technical details, and first-hand accounts. We’ve also used some of these coolers in our own lives, from the backyard to the backcountry, and we still do.
To keep you up-to-date, we regularly update this article with the latest prices, specs, availability, and full descriptions. We also check out new gear and products all the time to make sure that this list has some of the best backpack coolers on the market right now.
Factors to Consider in a Backpack Cooler
Backpack coolers can hold anywhere from 5 litres to 30 litres of stuff, and the size you choose will depend on how many people you’re packing for. If you’re going to the beach with a group of six people, you’ll need between 20 and 30 litres to bring drinks, snacks, and ice for everyone. If you’re making lunch for your kid’s soccer game, you probably don’t need more than 10 litres (unless you want some extra goodies in there for yourself). Think about how many people will be in your group and then make plans based on that number.
As with any good outdoor product, the best backpack coolers don’t just keep things cold; they also have useful and well-thought-out features like extra pockets, daisy chain webbing to attach matching accessories, and special pockets for water bottles. Many backpack coolers also have padded shoulder straps that make them easy to carry and internal storage or ice packs that fit easily into the cooler.
Backpack coolers sound useful because they are easy to carry and easy to pack. But are they durable? Soft-sided beverage hauliers of today are about as close as you can get to being unbreakable. Many are made with durable polyester shell fabrics and have anti-microbial liners to keep things from getting smelly. Welded seams are the industry standard. They keep water out and help the backpack float if it falls out of the boat during a rough ride. Many backpack coolers have mesh pockets that make them easy to pack and clean. Some even have UV-protective coatings that keep the fabric from fading and breaking down.
There are two main kinds of backpack coolers: 1) coolers with hard, boxy sides and 2) coolers with soft sides that are more flexible. The boxy, rigid designs, like the Igloo Reactor, have a flat bottom that makes it easier to load food and drinks. But they aren’t as easy to carry around.
Backpack coolers with soft sides, like the Hydro Flask Day Escape or the REI Cool Trail Pack, sit more naturally on your back and are easier to carry. But it’s also harder to load them with cans.
To Know More: Best Backpacking Destinations in the World
How Can I Make My Backpack Cooler Colder?
Here are our top five tips for making your cooler work best on the trail.
If you’re not using all of the space inside your cooler, you can add polystyrene or something similar to the walls to make them thicker and better at insulating. Even a single layer of cooking foil will help.
Use Large Ice Blocks
Because they have less surface area, big ice blocks melt more slowly than small ones. This will work with both cool packs and loose ice. If you’re going camping for the weekend, you might want to freeze food or drinks that you won’t need until later. They can be used as big ice cubes without taking up more room.
Drain Melted Water
When water moves around in your cooler, it makes the ice melt faster. Taking the water out of your cooler keeps things cool and keeps you from carrying around extra weight you don’t need.
Find some shade to put your cooler in when you stop for a break or when you get to camp. Even insulated coolers work better in the shade because direct sunlight heats the outside of the cooler.
How Do You Properly Pack a Backpack Cooler?
Mix frozen ice blocks or reusable ice packs with cubed ice and fill the cooler about 66% full. The rest should be filled with food and drinks that have already been frozen or chilled.
To be more specific, layer those things. Put the frozen blocks and their contents in the bottom section, and then sprinkle cubed ice on top. Next, add the food and drinks that have already been chilled. Add more cubed ice to the very top. Fill up any empty space because air makes the ice melt faster. If you need to, you could also put in a crumpled paper or small towels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Backpack Cooler
Let’s have a look at some commonly asked questions about Backpack Coolers:
Can You Put Dry Ice In A Backpack Cooler?
Most backpack coolers are soft coolers, which means they are made of materials that are more flexible than those used to make hard coolers. With this in mind, you shouldn’t use dry ice in soft coolers because it could damage the insulation and soft materials.
How should a backpack cooler be cleaned and stored?
Cleaning is the same as cleaning any other hard or soft cooler. Often, it’s enough to just rinse and dry something before putting it away. If there’s more than just water inside that needs to be cleaned out, you might want to use disinfectant wipes after cleaning thoroughly with water and soap and then rinsing to get rid of any debris.
Who Makes the Best Backpack Cooler?
There are a lot of backpack coolers on the market right now. Based on our tests, all of the products in our guide are good choices. Each design puts the most weight on its own special features. For example, some are very simple and have no pockets, while others have lots of places to put dry things.
The best backpack cooler is the one that fits your intended use and needs, such as the length of your trip, the amount of stuff you need to carry, and your budget.
Do cooler bags work as well as coolers?
For one thing, cooling bags can be used in a lot more ways. Since they are made of soft material instead of hard plastic that is moulded into a hard box, they can be much easier to carry from day to day. They are the best way to keep drinks and snacks cool for several hours at a time.
Can you use a backpack as a cooler?
Fill the first bag with your drinks and/or food. Put the cold packs in the second bag, then slide the first bag into the second bag so that the cold packs are all around it. Wrap everything in the mylar blanket and seal it with tape. All done!