Top 23 Backpack Coolers Tested and Ranked: Discover Our Ultimate Favorites

Our rigorous examination of 23 backpack coolers from top brands, such as Hydro Flask and Igloo, has resulted in the identification of the best models available.

Whether you are headed to the beach, enjoying a park picnic, or embarking on a day hike, backpack coolers offer the perfect solution for keeping your food and drinks chilled. The padded straps ensure comfortable wear while leaving your hands free to hold other items. Additionally, these coolers are highly portable and fit easily into tight spaces.

Our evaluation focused on insulation, design, capacity, comfort, and durability, and the winning backpack coolers held an average of 20 to 30 liters. Each model is insulated to keep your food and drinks cold for hours, and you can extend the cooling time by adding ice or ice packs. Our recommendations will help you determine which backpack cooler is right for you.

Hydro Flask emerged as the clear winner due to its exceptional insulation, leakproof seams, and padded shoulder straps, earning high scores across all categories. The backpack cooler's sleek profile and five-year warranty make it a durable and aesthetically pleasing choice. Three sizes are available, with the 18- and 26-liter options available as shoulder totes rather than backpack-style coolers. However, the backpack cooler's opening may be too narrow for larger items.

Hydro Flask Escape Soft Cooler

At the time of publishing, the price for this model is $200, and its dimensions are 8.47 x 18.52 x 18.12 inches and weight is 2.63 pounds.

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This particular cooler boasts impressive insulation, protecting your items against odors and stains. 

On the downside, there were some instances of leakage after the ice had melted. 

The backpack cooler comes in at under $50 and offers two layers of insulation, one for water resistance, and another to protect your items against heat. The leakproof lining ensures that your belongings stay safe and dry. Our testers were extremely pleased with the insulation performance, with one stating that their drinks were "about as cold as they would be coming out of the fridge, perhaps a little colder," after two hours inside the cooler. 

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 24 Can Backpack Cooler

There is an antimicrobial material in the lining that prevents bacterial growth, and the reflective lining is easy to clean after use. The padding on the back ensures that it's comfortable to wear, even when traveling over rough terrain, and the adjustable straps allow for a perfect fit. Thanks to its compact size and top handle, it's effortless to pick up and put on. We would recommend keeping the backpack upright to avoid considerable leakage from the sides after the ice has melted. 

Price at time of publication: $45

Size: 10.5 x 7.5 x 16.5 inchesCapacity: 24 litersWeight: 1.53 pounds

Food & Wine / Jhett Thompson

In terms of positives, the Icemule Boss is an excellent option for those longer days out, holding up to 24 cans with ice and staying cold for hours.  

However, due to its high capacity, the Icemule Boss is bulkier than other options on the market. 

IceMule Boss 30 Liter Backpack Cooler

The Icemule Boss is the perfect choice for camping trips or picnics with larger groups and offers a 30-liter capacity. The roll-top design means easy access to everything inside, and the exterior features three pockets and bungee storage, eliminating the need for additional vessels to hold your belongings. 

When it comes to comfort, our experts noted the multiple straps that secure the bag tightly to your body, making it the ideal hiking backpack. Moreover, this cooler doubles as a floating device, making it perfect for water-related activities. Simply add air to the insulation through a valve, and it's good to go. 

Price at the time of publication: $375

Size: 11.02 x 16.93 x 24.02 inchesCapacity: 30 litersWeight: 7.9 pounds

Food & Wine / Jhett Thompson

If you are an avid wine drinker, the perfect backpack cooler has arrived for all your on-the-go needs. Fit up to five bottles of your favorite wine in this cooler that comes in a variety of stylish colors. It also has enough room to fit two bottles of wine and eight cans, or 12 cans for those who prefer beer or other beverages. 

Corkcicle Eola Bucket Cooler Bag

This backpack cooler is sure to impress not only with its ample space but also with its sleek design. Made with vegan leather, the seams are welded to ensure the cooler stays together, and the straps are adjustable to make carrying comfortable. The closed-cell foam insulation ensures all your drinks and snacks are chilled, and the sturdy base ensures the cooler won’t tip over when carrying heavy glass bottles. Although our durability test found that the backpack had some scuff marks after a few falls, this should not be a significant concern as it possibly might show signs of wear quicker than anticipated. 

At a price point of $160, the backpack cooler's size is 16 x 12 x 11 inches and weighs only 2 pounds, providing convenience, comfort, and style for your outdoor activities.

For water and beach lovers, this floatable and waterproof cooler is an ideal companion for all your aquatic adventures. Its outstanding insulation will keep your drinks cold all day long while its padding and leakproof design ensure your belongings remain dry. The backpack cooler comes in two sizes of 20 or 30 cans, with the larger size accommodating food on top of the maximum number of drinks. 

RTIC Backpack Cooler

Our comfort and durability test found that the backpack cooler was impressive, with three strips of thick padding on the back providing the comfort needed for long wears or trekking the trails. What’s more, it didn't leak at all, and the zippers felt sturdy and watertight. Although the backpack cooler does not have any pockets, its functionality makes up for that minor drawback. 

At a price point of $170, the backpack cooler's size is 12 x 6 x 16 inches and weighs 3.7 pounds, providing the convenience, comfort, and durability needed for outdoor activities. So, pack up your favorite drinks and snacks and enjoy all the water activities with this backpack cooler. 

One potential downside to consider is the possibility of ice leakage when using loose ice, so using ice packs might be a better option.

REI Co-op Cool Trail Pack Cooler

This backpack comes with a cooler insert that is leakproof, making it perfect for carrying chilled food and drinks, or it can be used as a regular backpack. The large opening makes it effortless to load the cooler with ice and drinks, while the multiple compartments make it easy to store your phone, trail maps, and water bottle. This backpack is exceptionally comfortable to wear thanks to its padded shoulder straps, adjustable chest harness, and cushioned hip belt and back panel. Even when it's fully packed, it doesn't feel heavy. "I feel like I can carry this for a longer duration," one tester noted.

Price at time of publish: $100

Dimensions: 22 x 16 x 8.5 inchesCapacity: 30.5 litersWeight: 3.5 lbs

Food & Wine / Jhett Thompson

One advantage of this Carhartt cooler backpack is its ability to store your office work, gym gear, or personal items on top, while still providing enough space for your lunch and drinks in the bottom cooler compartment. Though it doesn't have a massive capacity for keeping items cold, it looks and feels like a regular backpack, making it perfect for a day in the office or outdoors. During our durability test, it performed exceptionally well and earned a perfect rating. When we threw it off a table, there was no leakage or damage.

Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack

You can fit ten cans with ice in the insulated section if you prefer to use it as a drink cooler. To top it all off, the material used to make it is treated with Rain Defender, making it ideal for outdoor worksites and overnight camping trips.

Price at time of publish:

Dimensions: 12.5 x 8 x 17.75 inchesCapacity: 4.25 litersWeight: 2.1 lbs

Food & Wine / Jhett Thompson

Our overall favorite is the Hydro Flask Escape Soft Cooler, which features comfortable padding, a stylish design, and the ability to keep items cool for 36 hours. It's perfect for frequent use and will last a long time. If you're looking for something less expensive but still reliable, the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Backpack cooler is an excellent option.

We took it upon ourselves to test 23 of the most sought-after backpack coolers available in the market- each with distinct styles, sizes, and price ranges. We subjected them to six categories: capacity, portability, design, durability, insulation, and overall value- rating them on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 as the highest score). To gauge their performance, we initiated a set of assessments that involved measuring the capacity of cans with and without ice, evaluating the level of comfort while carrying a full backpack, the degree of damage or leakage following a fall from a table, and the coolness of its contents after two hours. We also observed if the extra compartments were functional, the user-friendliness of its openings, and the correlation of its price to its overall performance.

The insulation quality of all the backpack coolers on our list is top-notch, keeping your food and drink fresh and cool for an extended period. Some backpack coolers have multiple layers of insulation, significantly extending the duration of cold storage and can keep things cold for several days. However, some come with only one layer of insulation. Typically, the insulated part is connected to the backpack, while specific models feature removable inserts, making it possible to use as a regular backpack too.

When choosing your backpack cooler, make sure to consider its size and your ability to carry it. The space you need is directly proportional to how much you want to keep in it and the backpack's size you choose to carry. Remember, the more loaded is your backpack, the heavier it will get. When filled up 2/3 with ice, the backpack coolers we tested could store eight to twenty-four cans.

It would help if you looked for adjustable straps and a padded back to ensure your backpack cooler's comfort level. Chest and hip straps help distribute weight, especially when carrying it over a long distance. Be mindful of the backpack cooler's torso length; check your measurements to avoid ill-fitting coolers.

Where you carry your backpack cooler and what you intend to store in it are factors you must consider. If you want to chill a bottle of wine, it's best to buy a tall backpack cooler that can hold the bottle upright. On the other hand, if you are hiking or walking a long distance, choose backpack coolers with plenty of compartments to hold other items with ample padding and adjustable weight-balancing straps.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pack your backpack cooler effectively?

Start by putting large items that you won't need immediately at the bottom. Add a layer of ice and place things that you require earlier, starting with the heaviest on top of the ice. Preserve delicate items such as fruits and crackers on the very top. However, keep in mind to avoid excess air and space, fill any empty areas with ice or ice packs.

Will there be any water leakage from the backpack as the ice melts?

If the backpack cooler is leakproof, water would not leak out when the ice melts. If you are concerned about water leakage, use ice packs instead of loose ice. Also, certain backpack coolers may have zippers that are not waterproof, making them vulnerable to leaks and challenging to use when wet.

How do you clean a backpack cooler?

Use a damp cloth and warm soapy water to wipe the interior. In case of excess dirt, use warm water and dish soap. To aid air-drying, keep the backpack upside down. Only machine wash the backpack cooler if it states so.

Igloo Outdoor Pro Water Repellent Backpack Cooler (Retailing at $140 at Amazon) and Coleman High-Performance Leak Proof Soft Cooler (Currently out of stock at Amazon) are excellent options that caught our eye.

Looking for a convenient way to keep your food and drinks cool while on the go? Check out these top-rated backpack coolers that offer both portability and insulation.

For a compact yet functional option, consider the Icemule Pro Collapsible Backpack Cooler available on Amazon for $145. If you're willing to splurge a bit more, the Arctic Zone High Performance Welded Backpack Cooler from Arctic Zone at $165 is a high quality choice. On the pricier side is the Pelican Dayventure Backpack Soft Cooler at $290, also available on Amazon.

For a mid-range option that won't break the bank, the Igloo Premium Soft-Sided Insulated Cooler Bag on Amazon for $160 is a great choice. If you're looking for a budget-friendly option, the Ozark Trail Welded Cooler at $48 available on Amazon and the TourIt Cooler Insulated Backpack Cooler at $42 on Amazon both provide excellent value.

Looking for specific brands? The Igloo Switch Backpack is available on the Igloo website for $50 while the Magellan Outdoors Pro Backpack Cooler can be found on Academy's website for . For those on a tighter budget, the Coleman Chiller Series Soft Cooler Backpack on Amazon for $35 is a great option. If you prefer a more sustainable choice, the Arctic Zone Eco Picnic Backpack Cooler on Arctic Zone's website for is made with recycled materials.

These recommendations come straight from our trusted sources. This article was written by special diet private chef and certified nutritionist Ariane Resnick, who used testing insights from our staff to determine the best backpack coolers available on the market. Her work has been featured in top publications like The Huffington Post, Simply Recipes, and The Spruce Eats."

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