Here Are Our Top Picks For Best Soft Coolers Of 2023
You can't go wrong with a soft cooler if you're looking for a portable cooler that will keep your drinks and foods fresh. While some soft coolers are easier to transport than others due to their lighter weight than conventional hard coolers, all of them are simple to carry around. They can therefore be used all year long, whether to bring snacks to a soccer game or a lunch to work.
In our lab, over a few days, we tested 30 soft coolers. Here, we tested the coolers' toughness by knocking them off tables and observing any leakage or obvious damage on the coolers' exterior and interior. We also put insulation to the test, using a thermometer to gauge the temperature inside each cooler after it had been filled with ice and beverage cans. Then, after leaving the coolers overnight, we measured their insulation both during the day and the following day. We selected the Polar Bear Coolers Soft Nylon Cooler as the winner based on the results of our PEOPLE Tested.
Here are the top soft coolers currently available.
Positives: The Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Soft Cooler is lightweight, has thick insulation, and performed better than expected during our testing.
Cons: When knocked over, this leaked during our tests through the zipper.
The Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Soft Cooler was the undisputed champion among the assortment of soft coolers we tested. It was superior to the competition, receiving perfect scores in almost every category. It can be trusted to keep a sizable quantity of beverages and foods chilled while still being portable.
Thick insulation is what really set this cooler apart from the competition. It has a 1-inch thick high-density foam and a double-coated nylon interior liner that allow ice to withstand temperatures of up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Our testers discovered that only 50% of the ice had melted after 24 hours. What's more remarkable is that from hour 2 to hour 24, its interior temperature barely changed by two degrees. In fact, it had the smallest temperature change of all the bags tested.
Although the manufacturer claims the bag can hold up to 12 cans, our testers were able to fit a few more cans than the bag's maximum holding capacity. Its compact design made it simple for them to carry even with the additional cans. They noted the short top handles that make it incredibly portable and compared it to an oversized tote handbag. If you prefer to sling the cooler over your shoulder, it also has a shoulder strap.
The cooler's durability in terms of water spillage was the only thing they found that needed improvement. They pointed out that the zipper will leak a lot if the bag is tottered. Therefore, it's best to keep it upright.
Customers looking for a reliable cooler will value it for its exceptional ice retention, large capacity, and convenient portability.
Although this model has been retired, you can still purchase it on Amazon while supplies last. To replace it, YETI introduced the Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler.
Advantages: 24 can capacity; lightweight and tested to be durable.
Cons: More costly than other top performers.
If portability is your top priority, a backpack cooler is the best option. The YetiHopper Backflip Soft Sided Cooler Backpack was our choice as the best product in this category.
The Yeti backpack cooler, produced by the leading cooler manufacturer, received excellent reviews in every category. It has plenty of storage and can accommodate up to 24 cans (without ice). The thing that most impressed our testers was how easy it was to carry despite its size. And because it felt sturdy on their backs, they claimed that it was even easier to carry than some of the smaller coolers they tried.
For durability, they also gave it a perfect score. The backpack cooler's outer shell is made of high-density fabric that is waterproof and UV-resistant and is designed to withstand outdoor activities. You won't have to worry about water leaking out of or entering the backpack because the zipper is also waterproof.
The cooler is furnished with closed-cell rubber foam for insulation. The ice to water ratio was 50:50 following a 24-hour test period. And the temperature dropped by about 7 degrees between hours 2 and 24.
The primary negative The expensive cooler is made of high-quality materials. But because of its robust construction, it's a purchase that will last for many years.
Positives: Convenient for hand-carrying to a picnic or a tailgate You can divide drinks from ice using movable dividers.
Cons: If it tips over, the open top design could cause the contents to spill out.
We suggest the RovR Icer & Keeper Combo for pool parties, boat rides, or beach days. Despite being a cooler in name only, it functions more like a bucket organizer for drinks, with an ice bucket with a lid in the middle.
The cooler, which is excellent for social gatherings, has flexible dividers and a topless design that make it simple to store a variety of items of different sizes, from large wine bottles and small cans to fruit and condiments. Additionally, the open-top design makes it simple to access your belongings. Additionally, the cooler is made of leak-proof plastic and high-density foam to guarantee that those items stay dry and cool.
The double wall insulated ice bucket that can hold three pounds of ice, according to our testers, is excellent for keeping ice for adding to drinks (chilled cocktails, anyone?). in addition to keeping the rest of the items in the bag cool. It even serves as an anchor, assisting in evenly dispersing weight and minimizing movement within the cooler.
The cooler is comfortable to carry thanks to the ice bucket and semi-circular handle; in fact, our testers gave it the top score for portability. It is sturdy thanks to its bottom gripping and even weight distribution. But be careful not to tip it over or shake it around, as its contents could easily spill out.
Although we thought the cooler's design elements were excellent, its open-top construction prevented us from testing its durability the same way we did the others.
Overall though, get this cooler if you want a systematic way to offer various cold drinks at gatherings.
The cost of a soft cooler varies greatly, from $20 to $500. Small soft coolers, such as those used for picnics or lunches, are more affordable than larger soft coolers, which can cost hundreds of dollars. We discovered that a well-insulated, sturdy, and portable cooler can be purchased for about .
Consider the number of people you need to accommodate and the occasions you need the cooler for when determining its size. Choose a small cooler with a capacity of about 12 cans for daily use or brief excursions. You'll probably need a cooler with at least a 24-can capacity if you're bringing drinks to a sizable picnic, backyard barbecue, beach party, or long hike. Naturally, the more you can fit in the cooler, the heavier it will be, so weight and portability should both be taken into account when deciding on size. If you're looking for a large soft cooler, we advise a backpack cooler or a cooler with wheels.
The quantity of cans a cooler can hold is frequently used to gauge its capacity. Size and can capacity are inversely correlated: the larger the size, the more space there is for cans. However, keep in mind that can capacity does not take ice into consideration. It's also important to think about how the cans are supposed to be kept inside the cooler. Exist dividers? Can you fit larger alcoholic beverages or foods that aren't in cans? Will they remain put?
A cooler's ability to keep your food and beverages cold is compromised by poor insulation. After 24 hours, the majority of the 30 coolers we tested had all of their ice melt into the liquid. Our top three choices, however, had a 50:50 ice-to-water ratio with only a slight temperature difference between two of them and the rest.
Although soft coolers can be used all year round, interest in coolers typically increases in the summer. That means that once the busy beach season is over in the summer, you can usually find a cooler for a reasonable price.
Over the course of two days, we PEOPLE tested 30 soft coolers, analyzing each one's structure, volume, portability, toughness, and insulation (ice retention). Every category received a score between 1 and 5, with 5 representing the best and 1 representing the worst. We chose our winners based on the highest average scores and additional tester feedback. After the testing was over, testers discovered the coolers' prices.
Soft-sided coolers have a lot of advantages. Compared to their hard plastic counterparts, these collapsible coolers are easier to store and take up less room. Additionally, soft-sided coolers are lighter and simpler to carry; some have backpack-like shapes or straps that allow for hands-free carrying. And you can always fit a few more items into a soft cooler, just like a soft-sided suitcase.
Most premium soft coolers can maintain their cold for a minimum of two days.
No, frozen ice packs or ice work in soft coolers. Place several frozen ice packs in the cooler to maintain the temperature of your items if you'd rather not use ice cubes or a block of ice.
Always fill your cooler with ice or frozen ice packs to keep the bottom as cold as possible for your items. Place everything in the cooler and top it off with more ice or frozen packs. Make sure the items you pack are chilled before you put them in the cooler to keep everything as cold as possible.
To assist you in finding the absolute best products for your life, we developed the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval. We test products using our distinctive methodology in three labs across the nation and with our network of at-home testers to ascertain their efficacy, durability, ease of use, and a lot more. We rate and recommend products based on the findings so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
But we don't stop there. Because the best product today might not be the best tomorrow, we also frequently review the categories in which we've given the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval. By the way, businesses can never purchase our advice; their goods have to earn it, straight up and down.
Simply put, PEOPLE Tested offers recommendations you can rely on for every purchase, every day.
Want additional product suggestions? View all of our content that has been tried and tested by real people.
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