Best Backpack Cooler Bag
With the recent surge in high end coolers like Yeti and Engel, has came a surge in backpack coolers. Although, these types of coolers have been around for years, they have recently been reinvented. A backpack cooler is one of the newest trends and now provide many different aspects of functionality. Each cooler has its own unique features (waterproof, external pockets, weight, etc) and most importantly ability to hold ice for a long duration of time. Check out our top picks for backpack coolers and day packs.
Jump To Top Ten => Backpack Coolers
Top Cooler Backpack Comparison
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What Makes the Best Backpack Cooler?
The best backpack cooler is going to be one that offers the most space, the most ice retention, and still maintain the lightest weight. Ideally, they will not only provide you with a place to store drinks and cold snacks, but they will be so well insulated that you have extra pockets to keep your cellphone, MP3 players, medications, etc.
What Are the Advantages of a Soft Sided Cooler?
When you have an insulated cooler backpack, you can walk hands-free. Just think about past trips to your favorite camping spot or down to the lake. You carry your towels, cell phone, all your other necessities, and a cooler that weighs a ton. Some coolers are able to hold a lot, and when they are full, you have to lug it around in front of you, using both hands. There are no free hands to hold your child’s hand, additional gear, etc.
How Well Do They Retain Ice?
Many looking for a soft sided cooler are leery of exactly how long it can really hold ice. Admittedly, they may not hold ice for days like the high-end roto-molded coolers, but they usually can still hold ice for days. Much of ice retention times depend on how warm the external temperatures are as well as how often users open and close the cooler. If you chill the bag and your drinks before you put ice in it, you may get even longer ice retention times. Either way, you are likely to have enough ice retention, to enjoy a hands-free day at the beach, lake, or hike. The backpack coolers that are currently available are also more budget friendly than the higher end coolers so that you can put more money toward your summer fun.
Top Ten Backpack Cooler Choices
This cooler backpack is easy to clean and durable. It is protected against mildew, stains, odors and UV rays that may cause damage to other backpacks. It has 25% more MaxCold insulation foam than other coolers of its type. It has noncorrosive hardware so that it can hold up against the tough marine environment conditions. Also present are multiple compartments outside of the cooler and when empty it is very lightweight at only 1.25 pounds.Check Pricing & Availability
This backpack cooler bag designed to handle heavy duty use. It has a heavy duty PEVA liner in the bottom, along with a board to ensure it sits properly when loaded. It has heavy duty shoulder straps that are adjustable, as well as a padded handle. There are back pads on it to protect your back from getting sore sports. It can hold an outstanding amount at 20 cans plus ice and it is heat sealed to ensure it does not leak. When empty, this backpack weighs only 1.5 pounds.Check Pricing & Availability
This cooler is available in a variety of colors and if you choose to purchase through the Polar Bear Coolers website you can further customize it with a logo or monogram. It is leak proof and sweat proof. It features a heavy-duty outer shell that is made of 1000 denier Cordura nylon. Inside there is high-density foam. With all of this, it is still flexible enough to fold up and put away when not in use. It is slightly heavier than most backpack coolers at nearly 3 pounds, but for some people, it is well worth it.Check Pricing & Availability
This cooler is ideal for a day out. It can hold up to 20 cans if they are already chilled, 16 if you want to use ice packs. It features a convenient cell phone pocket and zippered pockets. It is heat sealed and water resistant to protect you from leaks. It is light weight at around 1.45 pounds. This cooler is offered in a variety of colors as well.Check Pricing & Availability
If you like hunting with a small cooler, this camo backpack cooler could be ideal. It is fully insulated to keep things cold, features exterior pockets for extra storage, and holds 18 cans with a little bit of ice. The entire bag is made of fabric/polyester so that it is durable enough to keep up with you. Total weight when empty is 15.2 ounces.Check Pricing & Availability
The Coleman gives you two large pockets. One is for the cooler area and the other is a dry pocket for added storage. It has side pockets as well for smaller, easy access items. It has fully adjustable shoulder straps and waist straps to ensure you do not feel a lot of pressure pulling you backward and all straps are padded providing added comfort. It also features a padded back area to ensure you do not feel the coldness on your back. You can choose from lime green and black or khaki color choices. It weighs in at only 2.5 pounds when empty and measures an impressive 12.2 x 6.3 x 19.3 inches. This means it can hold up to 28 cans and ice as well. Most importantly this pack is an official partner of the National Park Foundation!Check Pricing & Availability
This cooler is lightweight and water-resistant. It is able to hold up to 28 cans. The TOURIT is easy to clean and measures in at 17.7 x 13 x 7.5 inches and weighs only 1.1 pounds. It can hold ice for up to 16 hours if you are using freeze packs. Ice should not be used because it may damage the backpack’s water-resistance coating. You can choose from black, gray, and purplish blue in color. Overall, it holds 4.3 star rating and gives you plenty of storage with a total of four pockets; one for the cooler area, one large storage area, and two side pockets.Check Pricing & Availability
This fully insulated, water resistant cooler is available in a variety of colors. It is made with polyester and padded straps to ensure your comfort. It also features an attachment harness so that you can put it on golf carts or other UTVs. There are several pockets to give you storage as well as a stretch cargo cord to help you carry towels, extra change of clothes, etc. It can hold up to 23 cans and an ice pack as well. It measures a total of 12.5 x 11 x 7 inches and weighs 15.2 ounces. It is backed by the Picnic Time brand and has a lifetime guarantee.Check Pricing & Availability
This cooler is truly one of a kind in looks and style. It is a Picnic Time cooler that features two large insulated interior compartments that are covered by a fold over flap, a mesh pocket, and a hidden zippered compartment. It has comfortable shoulder straps and comes with a removable, insulated water bottle holder. The bottle holder also has an adjustable shoulder strap. It measures 19 x 15 x 5 inches to give you plenty of storage and is available in black, olive, and moka. It weighs in at 2.6 pounds and has a lifetime guarantee.Check Pricing & Availability
IceMule is a popular choice for beach trips and adventure activities because of its unique shape. This cooler is a backpack that is more a “tube” for you to put your cold beverages and snacks into. It is considered one of the most portable, high performance coolers around and can hold ice for more than 24 hours and will never leak. It has a single padded backstrap to ensure your comfort when carrying it slung over your shoulder; even if you are shirtless and carrying a full 18 cans on your shoulder. It weighs in at 1.7 pounds and measures in at 12 inches around by 16 inches tall. This cooler can also double as a dry bag.Check Pricing & Availability
Choosing a Backpack Cooler
When choosing a backpack cooler, most want to understand the full spectrum of what the pack is able to do; beyond keeping their colds cold. When looking at backpack coolers most of us want the most bang for our buck without weighing us down too much. It is important that they are not going to soak your back, be comfortable, large enough to hold what you need it to and be extremely usable. For that reason, we encourage you to also consider its size, comfort, and additional features when making your choice.
It is easy to see that a larger bag will hold more ice, but does it hold it longer? When choosing any type of cooler size does matter, but not in the way you may think it does. The key to keeping things cold for the longest amount of time possible is allowing the least amount of external air to be introduced to the interior. If you open the cooler often, you will significantly reduce the amount of time that the cooler can maintain ice. Also, you need to consider the ratio of ice to space. A small cooler filled to capacity with ice and beverages will last longer than a larger cooler only partially filled. Therefore, most are better off buying a cooler they can fill to capacity yet not limiting themselves with the amount of food, drinks, ice they can bring along.
Carrying drinks and snacks on your back is not always going to sound or be comfortable, especially when carrying for long distances/durations. Therefore, you need to look at styles that are not only great at cooling, but those that have comfort features that will ensure you do not mind carrying it. Adjustable shoulder straps, padded straps, sweating prevention, and naturally lightweight will help you be a lot more comfortable when carrying it around.
Many coolers have several pockets to help you carry other things that would normally be in a backpack. For instance, they may have a pocket for your keys, your cell phone, and other gear. The one thing you will want to ensure is that the pockets are protected. You wouldn’t want the pocket your smart phone is in to sweat or the one that has your keys to be open at the top where you risk dropping them. Adjustable, padded shoulder straps will help to ensure a good fit and less pressure on your back, even if you have a larger backpack that is fully packed with cans, bottles, and snacks.
More Backpack Cooler Options: