Best Soft Cooler

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Whether you are on a short or a long journey, a soft cooler can make a huge difference. The best soft coolers would be lightweight, ruggedly built, and easily accessible.

Additionally, a longer ice retention capability would be a huge plus. But the problem arises when you are looking for the perfect soft cooler for you.

There are so many options that it can actually be confusing.

Quick Answer – Best Soft Cooler:

To resolve the issue, we have put together a list of the best soft coolers available as of right now. In this article, you will find the reviews of those top soft coolers with an extensive buying guide.

Best Soft Cooler – Reviews

Review of YETI Hopper Flip

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When it comes to portable coolers, YETI has established itself as one of the most sought-out brands in the industry. Thus we are beginning our post with the review of the popular YETI Hopper Flip.

This cooler is available in a plethora of colors. To be accurate, it is available in about 7 colors including Tahoe blue/fog gray, coral, river green, navy, charcoal, and more.

This is also available in many sizes in terms of the capacity such as Flip 8, Flip 12, Flip 18, etc.

For the record, the Flip 8, Flip 12, Flip 18 can accommodate up to 8, 13, 20 beer cans with ice respectively. The net dimension of the Flip 12 model is 12 ⅝ (L) x 10 (W) x 11 ½ (H) inches.

And the weight of the Flip 12 is about 3.1 lbs. or 1.4 kgs. when empty. That means it is highly portable as well.

This YETI Hopper coolers use ‘ColdCell’ insulation technology with which it can offer a long-lasting cooling solution even if the outside temperature is very high.

Additionally, the ‘HydroLok Zipper’ technology and the ultra-tough build material of this cooler keeps it waterproof, leak-proof, puncture-proof, and even resistant to abrasions and mildew. Overall, this can be one of the best portable soft coolers from YETI right now.

What Previous Buyers Said?

The YETI coolers are fan favorites in the portable cooler industry. Thus, it doesn’t have to be stated that this particular YETI Hopper flip cooler is also a popular one.

Most of the previous buyers praised it to a greater extent. However, a few of them also reported some minor issues with the zippers.

They said it is a bit hard to open and close. But it is to be expected as it is water and leak-proof.

Otherwise, most buyers are happy with it. Mostly, they liked the build quality of this cooler. They said it is one of the best portable coolers from YETI. 


  • Made with highly durable materials
  • Totally waterproof, leak-proof, and puncture-proof
  • High ice retention capability
  • Resistant to mildew and abrasions
  • Easy access for the wide-mouth opening feature


  • A bit expensive
  • The zipper might need regular lubricating

Review of YETI Hopper Backflip Backpack Cooler

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The next item on our list is also from YETI. But this time, we have a uniquely designed soft cooler for you. From the look of it, you will notice that it looks like a backpack cooler.

And, Yes, you are right. You can carry it with you like your backpack as it comes with 2 shoulder straps. It is available in 4 colors right now.

And, this Backflip 24 can carry up to 20 cans of beer (2:1 ice to can ratio). Conversely, it can hold about 25 lbs. or 11 kgs of ice (only).

The inside and outside dimensions of the cooler are 12 ⅝ x 6 ½ x 15 inches and 13 ¾ x 19 ⅛ x 8 ½ inches respectively. And, the empty weight of the Backflip 24 is about 5.3 pounds or 2.4 kgs.

It uses the same ‘HydroLok Zipper’ system for opening and closing the cooler. They have also used their trademark ‘ColdCell’ insulation technology on this cooler as well.

And, YETI use food-grade material that is FDA-approved to make the liner for keeping the contents inside fresh all the time.

When you are not using it as a backpack, you can use the side or the top straps to carry it like any other cooler. In short, this is arguably the best backpack cooler on our list.

What Previous Buyers Said?

This YETI Hopper Backflip has a reputation for being the ultimate backpacking cooler to many campers, off-roaders, and overlanders.

The current owners praised its rugged build quality. Also, they liked its unique backpack design. They also admired the ice retention quality and the low weight of the cooler.


  • A soft cooler in the style of a backpack
  • Highly portable
  • Built with highly durable matrices
  • Waterproof, leak-proof, mildew-resistant, UV ray-resistant, etc.
  • Great ice retention capability


  • A bit pricey
  • The zipper is so strong that you might face opening and closing it

Review of YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler

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Yet another YETI Hopper cooler for you. But this time, we are talking about the YETI Hooper Two soft cooler. This one comes with a tapered design.

That makes it easy to carry and store. Also, you are getting this in 2 color options such as blaze orange/field tan and Tahoe blue/fog gray.

This is available in many sizes as well. However, this review is based on the Hopper Two 20.

The net dimension of this cooler is 22 in x 10 in x 16.5 in. and the empty weight is about 4.4 lbs. So, we can say that it is fairly portable.

This is one of the earliest and most popular models of soft coolers from YETI. Still, it has most of the trademark features of YETI.

For instance, it features the ‘ColdCell’ insulation, HydroLok Zipper technology, DryHide Shell materiel, and FDA-approved food grade liner. It can hold up to 18 cans with ice (2:1 ice to can ratio) or just 20 lbs. or 9 kg of ice.

It is equipped with 3 types of carrying options that are primary carry handles, shoulder straps, and end carry handles.

The shoulder strap is adjustable and removable as well. Interestingly, the HydroLok Zipper technology has been used in making HazMat suits for a long time. So, you can rely on this technology to keep your cooler leak-proof and waterproof.

The wide-mouth feature allows the user to access the contents of the cooler more easily. This can be a great overlanding accessory for the off-roaders.

What Previous Buyers Said?

The past buyers of this cooler are complimenting this cooler to a greater degree. It is because of its top-notch build quality. They are also stating that it is very much portable.

Also, they praised the ice retention quality and the high capacity of the cooler. Some buyers even said this is one of the best soft coolers from YETI in terms of the features and build quality.


  • Waterproof, leak-proof, UV ray resistant, Mildew-resistant, etc.
  • Tapered body makes it portable and comfortable to carry
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Long time ice retention capacity


  • Expensive

Review of Cooler Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler

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If you are looking for an inexpensive soft cooler, then this can be a great option. This Coleman soft cooler comes in 4 colors such as red, green, grey, and blue.

And, it is capable of holding up to 16 cans with ice. The inner side of the cooler is treated with antimicrobials for keeping it odor-free, mildew-resistant, and free from mold or fungus.

Interestingly, the liner of this cooler is removable, which makes it streamlined to clean or fold it. This cooler also comes with heat-welded stitching that makes it leak-proof.

And, the net outside dimension of this cooler is about 11.81 in x 6.69 in x 11.81 in. Similarly, the empty weight of this cooler is about 2 pounds or 900 gm.

It uses zippers on all the compartments for opening and closing the cooler. But the best part of this cooler Coleman is the additional storage pockets.

For example, it comes with 2 side mesh net pockets, 1 zippered pocket at the front, and a dry storage pouch as well. You can use the adjustable shoulder strap to carry it comfortably with you.

Yes, this might not be an Ozark Trail cooler, but it can be a great option without breaking the bank.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Most current users of this soft cooler are satisfied with it. Yes, some buyers reported that it is not that large to hold 16 cans of beer with ice.

Yet, for the price, they could not complain. Additionally, they said it is very easy to carry. And the overall build quality is decent.


  • ItVery cheap price
  • Waterproof and leak-proof
  • Treated with antimicrobials
  • Comes with multiple pockets and storage compartments


  • Cooling capacity could be better

Review of RTIC Soft Pack 30

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This soft cooler comes from another popular brand in this category named ‘RTIC’. They are known for supplying high-quality products at a reasonable price.

Now, the RTIC soft pack 30 cooler is available in 4 colors that are tan, seafoam, kanati, blue/gray. RTIC claims that it can hold ice up to 5 days. And, it can accommodate about 30 cans and ice. 

The weight of this soft cooler from RTIC is only 4 pounds or 1.8 kg when empty. The outside and the inside dimension of this cooler are 15.5 x 12 ¾ x 11.5 inches and 13 x 9 x 9.5 inches respectively.

It features 1-inch foam insulation on the sides and 2 inches on the top to keep it cold for a long time. The liner is antimicrobial and resistant to mold or fungus. It is equipped with a flip-top lid for easy access to the contents inside the cooler.  

Additionally, the exterior of the cooler will not sweat. On the outside, they have used a high-grade nylon shell and waterproof zipper on the outside. You will have to use the zippers to close or open it.

It has an adjustable shoulder strap, primary carry handles, and side carry handles as well. Overall, this can be one of the best cooler bag from RTIC for a reasonable price. 

What Previous Buyers Said?

The users of this RTIC soft pack cooler are impressed with its service. They have said that it has a large space inside and can hold ice for a long time.

Also, they liked the build quality of the cooler. Additionally, most buyers seem to agree that it has a great cost to performance ratio.


  • Durable, sturdy, and long-lasting
  • Has a lot of space inside
  • Leak and waterproof
  • Portable


  • Comes with 1 zipper on the main compartment

Review of Pelican Elite Soft Cooler

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Pelican is another popular manufacturer of camping and hiking accessories. This particular Pelican Elite soft cooler comes in 3 sizes that are 48-can, 24-can, and 12-can.

From the name of the models, you can guess the capacity of each type of soft cooler. Now, the 12-can version has an interior dimension of 12 x 6 x 7 inches.

The ‘24 cans’ comes with a net inside dimension of 15 x 8.50 x 8 inches. Lastly, the 48-can model has an internal dimension of 19 x 10.50 x 10.

Similarly, the empty weights of the 12/24/48-can models are 3 pounds, 5 pounds, and 8 pounds respectively. With the soft shoulder strap, it can be a great portable cooler for you.

Like any other premium soft cooler, it also uses closed-cell foam insulation for keeping the inside cold for a long period. According to Pelican, it can retain ice for up to 2 days even if you open or close it several times per day.

You can access the inside of the cooler by opening the zippier and the dual-lock buckles. The liner of this cooler is made with FDA-approved food-grade material.

And, the exterior of this cooler is made with double-coated 840 construction fabric for withstanding the abuse of outdoor.

What Previous Buyers Said?

The majority of the buyers of this soft cooler are pleased with this. They have liked the thick insulation and the ice retention capability of this cooler.

Some users also praised the build quality of this Pelican cooler. However, a few of the users complained about the zipper saying it is a bit stiff to work with.

But they also said this is to be expected due to its 100% water and leak-proof feature.


  • Made with heavy-duty materials
  • Portable and durable
  • Leak-proof, waterproof, and mold-resistant
  • Comes with 3 years of warranty


  • The zipper might be hard to open and close

Review of ENGEL High-Performance Backpack Cooler

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This Engel backpack cooler comes with a unique feature. Interestingly, this one has a double-compartment feature.

That means you can keep your food and drinks separately on both of the compartments. For instance, you can use one compartment for storing only the dry contents.

And the other compartment could be used to store the drinks and beverages. As per ENGEL, this cooler is capable of keeping the food and drinks cold up to 3 days.

This is available in 3 colors such as seafoam blue, Prym 1 silver mist, and gray. This high-performance cooler can be carried in multiple ways.

For example, you can use the shoulder straps, the big primary gran handles to carry it or you can also take with you like a backpack with the help of the adjustable webbing.

The weight of the cooler is about 4 pounds or 1.80 kg while it is empty. 

And the net dimension of this product is 19 x 8 x 17.5 inches. With this size, weight, and the soft-padded carrying straps, it is a fairly portable soft cooler.

On top of that, this cooler comes with some additional pockets as extra storage space. The primary zipper opens wide to give you easy access to the contents inside.

It might not be the best backpack cooler in the market right now, but, it can be a great deal if you are looking for a portable and multi-functional soft cooler.

What Previous Buyers Said?

The past buyers of this soft cooler have left mixed feedbacks about this cooler. Some of them said that it cannot keep things cold for a long time.

However, other buyers said if you don’t open or close it frequently, it can actually keep the food and drinks cold for a decent amount of time.

Furthermore, they also liked the affordable price tag and the unique double-compartment feature of this camping cooler.


  • Reasonable price
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Durable build quality
  • Easy to clean
  • Comes with 2 cold storage compartments


  • Not great ice retention capability

Review of BISON Soft Sided Cooler

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BISON is well-reputed for manufacturing its products in the USA. And, there is no exception in the case of this cooler from BISON as well.

It is available in 4 attractive colors that are sand, black, pink, and blue. The exterior of the cooler is made with 1000 Denier Vinyl shell that is so rugged that it can withstand up to 375 lbs. without wearing or tearing.

It comes in 2 sizes that are 12-can and 24-can version. The weight and the dimension of the 12-can version are 2 lbs. and 13 x 8 x 11 inches respectively.

And, the weight and the dimension of the 24-can model are 3.04 lbs., and 18 x 10 x 11 inches. As per the company’s claim, it can retain ice for up to 24 hours even under 120ºF or 48.89ºC temperature.

This soft-sided cooler comes with an adjustable and removable padded shoulder strap. At the same time, it also has a primary carrying handle at the top. So, it is highly portable.

And, there are a few additional pockets on the cooler which are great to store dry items as well. All in all, it could be a great soft-sided cooler for the money.

What Previous Buyers Said?

This soft-sided cooler from Bison is one of the most popular coolers in the USA. Many customers are saying that it is a high-quality cooler. And, the build material of this cooler is also top-class.

Also, they also complimented the ice retention capability of this cooler. As per most buyers, it is one of the best soft-sided coolers.


  • Made in the USA
  • Comes with 2 years of warranty & 30 days trial option
  • Free bottle opener
  • Sturdy build quality
  • UV ray resistant, fade-resistant, and tear-resistant


  • The zippers are not leak-proof but the liner is

Review of AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler

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Are you looking for a soft-sided cooler that comes with all the useful features but within a reasonable price? Then this soft cooler from ‘AO Coolers’ might fit the bill perfectly.

This brand offers a large variety of soft coolers in terms of color and size. For instance, these soft coolers are available in about 11 unique colors.

At the same time, there are 4 models based upon the capacity such as 48-can, 36-can, 24-can, and 12-can.

And, here, we are reviewing the 24-can model for you. This particular model comes with a dimension of 17 x 10 x 12 inches.

Next, the empty weight of this cooler is about 3 lbs. or 1.3 kg and can hold up to 24 cans. You can see that it is a portable and lightweight cooler.  

This one comes with high-density foam insulation to keep the things cold inside the cooler for up to 24 hours even under the scorching heat. 

The adjustable padded shoulder straps and the oversized grab handles make it comfortable to carry. The liner of this cooler is made with TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) that makes it durable, smooth to touch, and totally leak-proof.

This cooler also has a side pocket, that you can use for storing other dry items. And, the zippers are smooth to operate. Simply put, for the cheap price, it can be a decent deal.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Many current owners of this cooler were amazed by the performance of this soft cooler. They have said this could be one of the best options if you are on a tight budget.

Typically, most of them talked about the great ice retention quality and the use of high-quality leak-proof build material. Additionally, they also liked that it is available in many varieties.


  • The exterior doesn’t sweat
  • Water and leak-proof liner
  • Cheap price
  • Heavy-duty build quality
  • Easy to clean and carry


  • Might leak if tipped over

Review of Polar Bear Coolers 12 Pack Original Nylon Soft Cooler

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‘Polar Bear Coolers’ has become a staple brand in the portable cooler category. They are reputed for providing campers with many budget-friendly options when it comes to soft-sided coolers.

For example, this particular model comes with a ton of options but with a price that won’t hurt your wallet. This is available in about 6 colors and 5 variations in terms of the capacity. 

You will find these coolers from them in 48-pack, 24-pack, 12-pack, 6-pack, and backpack variation. Here, the number in the model name refers to the quantity of beer can any particular soft cooler can accommodate.

Anyway, we are going to talk about the 12-pack option here as it can be an ideal size for most activities. As we have mentioned, this can hold up to 12 cans (12 oz. each can) and 5 lbs. of ice at the same time.

The 1-inch thick high-density foam insulation keeps the items in the cooler cold up to 24 hours.

It uses a smooth zipper system for closing and opening the cooler bag. Additionally, you can use the 4 tie-downs to attach the cooler to any vehicle securely.

And, the adjustable padded shoulder strap would come in handy to carry it comfortably. It also has a bottle opener attached for free.

The side release buckles can be used to pack the items more tightly or loosely depending on the situation. Altogether, this looks like a promising choice. 

What Previous Buyers Said?

The feedback about this ‘Polar Bear Coolers’ soft cooler from the customers was overwhelming.

The majority of the customers said that it is a must-buy if you are looking for a reliable yet cheap portable cooler.

Some buyers even said that it can retain ice for up to 36 hours. So, it can definitely be worth a try.


  • Lightweight and portable
  • Comes with a free bottle opener attached
  • Reasonable price
  • Anti-microbial liner made with FDA approved food-grade materials
  • Comes with rust-proof weatherized zipper


  • Not leak-proof zipper, so it might leak if tipped over

Best Soft Cooler

Buying Guide – Best Soft Cooler

Soft-Sided vs. Hard-Sided Coolers

Primarily, there are 2 types of coolers that are hard and soft coolers. As the name suggests, the hard coolers come with a hard exterior and a substantial amount of thick insulation inside.

As a result, this type of cooler is capable of keeping the items inside cold for a large amount of time. However, due to their form factor and heavy-duty build material, they are hard to carry around and not easy to store as well.

But if you are looking for keeping your food and drinks cold for more than a couple of days, this is the best option. Also, this type of cooler will last longer than a soft cooler bag.

On the other side, soft coolers are basically bags that can keep food and beverages cool for a few hours. They are not as stiff as hard coolers.

Also, the thickness of the insulation of the soft coolers is not that high like the hard coolers. As a result, they are suitable for keeping the foods and beverages cold for a few hours.

Of course, there are some top brands that offer premium soft coolers that can even retain ice for up to three to five days.

Due to their small form factor and bag-like design, they are highly portable, easy to clean, and store. At the same time, they cost a lot less compared to hard coolers.

Tips and Tricks for Packing A Soft Cooler

If you don’t know the basics of packing things on a soft cooler, you should get fairly with it. Because if you are not packing the items right, you will not get the best performance from your cooler.

Matter of fact, a poorly packed soft cooler will have poor ice retention capability. While your cooler might keep the items cold for a day, it might not even go for a few hours if you pack and store it poorly.

Here are a few tips to give you a head start…

  • Precooling is a must in the case of soft coolers. Remember that soft coolers are not refrigerators, that these can cool things down. Rather, their function is to keep things cool. As a result, if you want the best result, then you should pre-cool every item that is going in the cooler. It is better to put items in the cooler right out of the refrigerator

  • You can also pre-chill the soft cooler with lots of ice for half-an-hour to an hour for greater performance

  • It is better to store the bottles, foods, and other items first, and then cover them with ice. It will help to keep the things cold as cold air goes down

  • Always, keep the cooler out of direct sunlight or in a colder place

  • Never put the cooler in a hot surface

  • Take advantage of block and cube ice. If you want to keep things cold longer, then use block ice. And if you want to cool things down faster, then use cube ice

  • You can also use ice packs whenever possible. Typically, ice packs can be used to keep the cooler cool for a long time in general

  • Try to open the lid as less as possible
  • Clean and lubricate the zipper frequently

  • Avoid keeping the cooler open for longer than needed

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How to Determine the Best Soft Cooler from the Rest

Material & Construction

If you want your soft cooler to last long. Then you should opt for one that is built with the best materials. The construction quality should also be top-class.

The best soft-sided coolers will be tear-resistant, UV ray resistant, puncture-proof, water, and leak-proof as well. You should go for soft bag coolers that come with TPU or Thermoplastic Polyurethane material. 

Also, some brands use DryHide shell technology to make the material stronger, flexible, and long-lasting. You should also consider the quality of the zippers and stitching.

But keep in mind that the better the material and the build quality would be, the higher the price would be as well.

Still, we would recommend going with a soft-sided bag cooler that comes with a reliable build quality, even if it’s a bit pricey.  


Basically, there are 2 types of insulation in a soft cooler that are open-cell and closed-cell insulation. The closed-cell insulation system is better than the open-cell one.

Because this type of insulation technology can keep the items on the cooler cold for longer.

Eventually, the price of the cooler that comes with closed-cell insulation would be higher than the other type. Another thing to note is the thickness of the insulation. The thicker it is the better.


Soft coolers are known for their portability. In that sense, all the soft coolers should be fairly portable.

However, depending on the size, shape, weight, and the build material, the portability varies from one soft cooler to another. In this regard, you might have to sacrifice capacity for more portability and vice-versa.

Size & Storage Capacity

Soft coolers come in many sizes and shapes. And the storage capacity of a soft cooler will depend on the size of it. Based upon the size of the cooler, you will be able to store from 6 to 48 cans (in some cases more) and ice in the cooler.

You will also need to know the inside and the outside dimension of the soft cooler. The outside dimension will be necessary to know whether you have the storage space for the cooler on your vehicle or boat.

And the inside dimension would help you to figure out the storage capacity of the soft cooler. So, if you need to store a lot of items in the cooler, you need to go with a bigger one.

Conversely, if you want to store a few bottles and cans for a few hours, a smaller cooler would be a perfect choice. In this case, the best choice will depend on your personal preference.

Nonetheless, the can be the best choice in many ways. Because it is built with the most rugged and premium materials both on the in and outside. Also, it can hold up ice for a long time compared to any other generic cooler. Besides, it comes in a portable size, and the additional features make it a top choice without a doubt. On the other hand, if you are on a very tight budget, you should choose the .best portable soft cooler

Wrap Up – Best Soft Cooler

If you are still with us, then you are now familiar with some of the top soft-sided coolers available. Now, you just have to make the final call.

Remember that depending on your requirements, your choice of the best soft cooler will vary from another individual. As a result, it is very hard to pick only one best option from out of these 10 soft coolers.

Nonetheless, the YETI Hopper Flip can be the best choice in many ways. Because it is built with the most rugged and premium materials both on the in and outside. 

Also, it can hold up ice for a long time compared to any other generic cooler. Besides, it comes in a portable size, and the additional features make it a top choice without a doubt. 

On the other hand, if you are on a tighter budget, you should choose the ‘Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler’.

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Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.
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