We put 23 popular models to the test, and these are the best backpack coolers we found.
We put 23 backpack coolers to the test, including models from Hydro Flask and Igloo, and here are our top picks.
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Wine & Dine with Kevin Liang
You can take your favorite cold drinks and snacks with you on any outdoor adventure with the help of a backpack cooler. You can walk around hands-free thanks to the padded straps, or you can use them to carry other items. Backpack coolers are not only convenient because of their portability, but also because of how well they fit in crowded cars and small closets.
Twenty-three of the most popular models of backpack coolers were put through rigorous testing, and the results were ranked according to insulation, design, capacity, comfort, and durability. Each of our best picks has a capacity of around 20 to 30 liters and is insulated to keep contents cool for hours; however, just like regular coolers, you can add loose ice or ice packs to extend cooling time. Here, you can learn how to choose the best backpack cooler for your needs.
This cooler has a five-year warranty and can keep 12 cans cold for up to 36 hours.
The cooler bag has a small opening, making it difficult to store bulkier items.
The Hydro Flask performed exceptionally well in every category due to its high level of insulation, its leakproof seams, and its padded shoulder straps. It's a long-lasting option with a five-year guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship. We admired not only its usefulness, but also its attractiveness. "The backpack cooler has a very low profile, which makes it look very stylish," said one reviewer. "It's so well designed; it looks like a very expensive handbag." ”
The 18 and 26 liter options are shoulder totes rather than backpack-style coolers, but all three sizes are available. Remember that the backpack cooler's opening might be too small for bulky items.
Currently, the price is $200.
- Size: 8 47 x 18 52 x 18 12 inches
- Twenty liters in capacity.
- Weight: 2 63 pounds
Jhett Thompson, food and wine writer
The insulation in this cooler is second to none, and it also prevents the buildup of odors and stains.
Negatives: After the ice melted, there was some leaking.
This backpack cooler has two layers of insulation—one that repels water and one that blocks heat—and it retails for less than fifty dollars. After two hours in the cooler, the insulation performed as expected, with one tester reporting that "the cans were about as cold as they would be coming out of the fridge, perhaps a tiny bit colder."
The lining is constructed with an antimicrobial material to discourage the growth of bacteria, and it can be easily cleaned thanks to its reflective sheen. The padded back means it won't cause back pain even if you have to carry it over rough ground. They found the upper handle and compact size convenient, and the adjustable straps ensured a snug fit no matter their height or build. Since there was significant leakage when the ice melted, we advise keeping it upright whenever possible.
As of this writing, the price is $45
- Size: 10 5 x 7 5 x 16 5 inches
- 24 liters of storage space
- Weight: 1 53 pounds
Jhett Thompson's Food & Wine
The 24 can capacity and extended cold storage time make it a smart pick for extended day trips.
The high capacity comes at the expense of increased size.
The 30-liter capacity of the Icemule Boss is perfect for large groups going on camping trips or picnics. The exterior has three pockets and bungee storage, and the interior can hold a full 24 cans of beer without the need for an additional container. In addition, its roll-top construction makes getting to its contents a breeze.
"There are many straps that secure the bag tightly to your body, which allows it to be a perfect hiking bag," our expert said after putting it through its comfort paces. Its buoyancy makes it a great pick for water sports when you're not out on the trails. Adding air to the insulation through a valve allows you to use it as a floating cooler while floating down a river.
Current price (as of publication): $375
- Size: 11 02 x 16 93 x 24 02 inches
- Holds 30 liters
- Weight: 7 9 pounds
Jhett Thompson's Food & Wine
Features five wine bottle capacity and a rainbow of color options.
The poor quality of the fabric was evident after it was dropped a few times and received scuff marks.
This backpack cooler makes it convenient to carry wine bottles wherever you go. It can hold five wine bottles, two wine bottles plus eight cans, or 12 cans, so you can bring enough refreshments for the whole group.
Its modern design means you can transport many liquids and perhaps some food items in comfort and elegance. Features vegan leather construction with permanently welded seams and detachable, adjustable shoulder straps. The closed-cell foam insulation will keep the contents cold, and the strong base will prevent any toppling even from heavy glass bottles. Some scuff marks showed up after a few drops when we tested its durability. This isn't a huge deal, but it could wear out sooner than expected.
Cost as of publication: $160
- Inches: 16 x 12 x 11
- Holds up to 12 cans or 5 standard wine bottles.
- Total 2 pound weight
Thompson, Jhett -- Food & Wine
The pros include its toughness, buoyancy, and waterproofness, making it an excellent choice for trips to the beach or lake.
The lack of pockets is a major drawback.
This floatable, waterproof cooler is perfect for the beach, lake, river, or pool. You'll be spending most of the day in the sun, so its high level of insulation will come in handy to keep your belongings cool. It comes in 20- and 30-can capacities, and we were able to pack food in addition to that.
During our comfort and durability tests, we were impressed with the cooler’s padding and leakproof design According to our expert reviewer, "the backpack has three strips of thick padding on the back, making it feel cushioned and comfortable to wear." Nothing leaked, and the zippers seemed as strong and watertight as ever. ”
Cost as of publication: $170
- Measures 12 by 6 by 16 inches.
- Holds twenty cans
- Weight: 3 7 pounds
Jhett Thompson's Food & Wine
The hip belt and chest harness make it suitable for long periods of wear or trail hiking.
Negative: To avoid leaks, you may want to use ice packs instead of loose ice.
You can keep your food and drinks cold in the leakproof cooler insert of this backpack, or you can use it as a regular backpack without the insulation. Because of the spacious entrance, we had no trouble filling the cooler with ice and beverages. There are multiple pockets for storing essentials like your phone and trail maps, as well as a water bottle holder.
The softness of the padding is one of our favorite features of this cooler. Weight is distributed evenly thanks to the padded hip belt and back panel, the adjustable chest harness, and the padded shoulder straps. These high-quality features allowed for a pack weight that was barely noticeable even when completely loaded. One participant in the trial reported, "I feel I can carry this for a longer duration."
As of this writing, the price is $100.
- Measurements are 22 x 16 x 8 inches. 5 inches
- 30 people max. 5 liters
- Weight: 3 5 lbs
Jhett Thompson's Food & Wine
The top compartment is perfect for stowing away your office supplies, gym clothes, or other personal items, and the bottom cooler section can hold enough food for a day.
Negative: It can't store a lot of cold items.
This Carhartt cooler backpack has the look and feel of a regular backpack, but the insulated bottom compartment is perfect for the office or the great outdoors. A change of clothes or picnic blanket can go on top, while a lunch with an ice pack can go in the bottom. Despite not being a conventional backpack cooler, it passed all of our durability tests with flying colors. The bag showed no signs of leakage or damage after being thrown off a table.
Ten cans of soda or beer with ice will fit in the insulated compartment if that's all you need to transport. With Rain Defender treatment, the fabric is also suitable for use on construction sites and camping trips.
Current price (as of publication):
- Size: 12 5 x 8 x 17 75 inches
- 4 people max. 25 liters
- Weight: 2 1 lbs
Cuisine and Vine: Jhett Thompson
The Hydro Flask Escape Soft Cooler is our top pick because of its plush interior, sleek exterior, and impressive 36-hour ice retention. It's built to withstand repeated use and looks great while doing it. The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Backpack Cooler is a good option if you're shopping on a budget without sacrificing quality.
Size, price, and design varied widely among the 23 most popular backpack coolers we tested. On a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the best), we ranked each cooler based on its design, capacity, portability, durability, insulation, and value. The number of cans that fit inside with and without ice, how easy it was to pick up and carry when full, and how much leakage or broken items occurred after being knocked off a table all factored into the final scores. how cold the interior got after sitting for two hours We recorded information such as whether or not the price was reasonable, whether or not the coolers had extra storage space, and how well they opened.
All the backpack coolers we considered had excellent insulation to maintain cool temperatures. When it comes to keeping things cold for extended periods of time, such as multiple days, some coolers have multiple layers of insulation while others only have one. Some models have a detachable insulated section so the backpack can be used as a regular backpack when not in use as a vessel.
The capacity of your cooler should match your storage needs while also fitting comfortably in your backpack. The more stuff you stuff inside of it, the heavier it will get. When tested, the backpack coolers held between eight and twenty-four cans when filled two-thirds with ice.
Make sure your backpack cooler has the comfort features you need, such as adjustable straps and a padded back. Weight distribution is improved with chest and hip straps, which are especially useful if you plan on walking long distances while carrying the backpack. You should take a measurement in advance to make sure the cooler will fit your torso length if there are restrictions.
Plan ahead for where you'll be going and what you'll need by loading up your backpack cooler. A tall option that can hold the bottle upright is best for chilling a couple of bottles of wine. Long-distance walkers and hikers should look for backpack coolers with plenty of storage space, plenty of padding, and weight-distribution straps.
When and how should a backpack cooler be packed?
Put heavy, non-perishable food and drinks at the bottom of the fridge first. A layer of ice, followed by the heavier items you'll need first, should be placed in the cooler. Fruit and crackers, which are easily damaged, belong on top. Empty spaces should be filled with ice or ice packs to prevent air from escaping.
When the ice melts, will water leak out?
As the ice melts, water shouldn't leak out of a quality leakproof cooler. You can avoid this problem by using ice packs instead of loose ice. It's also important to remember that some coolers don't have waterproof zippers, so they may leak more and become less convenient to use if they get wet.
How do you disinfect a backpacking cooler?
Clean the inside with a damp cloth and some warm soapy water. Clean it thoroughly with hot water and dish soap if it gets really dirty. Turning the backpack upside down to dry it expedites the process. You shouldn't use a backpack cooler unless it specifically says it can be cleaned in a washing machine.
- Consider the $140 Igloo Outdoor Pro Water-Resistant Backpack Cooler.
- The Coleman High-Performance, Leak-Proof Soft Cooler is currently unavailable on Amazon.
- Purchase an Icemule Pro Collapsible Backpack Cooler from Amazon for $145.00.
- Welded High-Performance Backpack from Arctic Zone, available for $165.
- Pelican Dayventure ($290 on Amazon) Soft Cooler Backpack.
- For $160 on Amazon, you can get an Igloo Premium Soft-Sided Insulated Cooler Bag.
- Invest in an Ozark Trail Welded Cooler from Amazon for only $48.
- Insulated Backpack Cooler, TourIt Cooler, $42 on Amazon.
- Buy an Igloo Switch Backpack for $50.
- Spend at Academy for a Magellan Outdoors Pro Backpack Cooler.
- For $35 on Amazon, you can get a Coleman Chiller Series Soft Cooler Backpack.
- Out of stock at Backcountry: Cotopaxi's Hielo backpack cooler.
- A Backpack Cooler from Otterbox, available for .
- Purchase a Seehonor Insulated Cooler Backpack from Amazon for only $20!
- The Eco Picnic Backpack Cooler from Arctic Zone is available for .00.
Ariane Resnick is a certified nutritionist, private chef, and lifestyle writer with over 20 years of experience in the food and publishing industries. In addition to Simply Recipes and The Spruce Eats, her work has been featured on Clean Plates, Huffington Post, Verywell, and a number of other websites. She wrote this piece after consulting with our in-house testers to find out which backpack coolers were the most effective.
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