Best Soft Cooler

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When it comes to choosing the best soft cooler for your journey, whether it’s short or long, a soft cooler can be a great option.

The best soft coolers are lightweight, durable, and easy to access, making them a viable alternative to traditional hard-sided coolers. They are perfect for those who don’t need to carry a week’s worth of food and drinks, and they can save you money as well.

With options ranging from burly waterproof designs to packable ones that collapse for easy storage, the best soft coolers offer a variety of features to suit your needs. If you’re looking for more information, you can check out our detailed reviews with pros and cons, and buying advice below the picks.

And if you prioritize cooling capabilities and durability over portability, we also have a list of the best hard-sided coolers.

So, whether you’re on a short trip or a long adventure, consider the best soft cooler that meets your requirements for ice retention, durability, and accessibility.

Quick Answer – Best Soft Cooler:

So, whether you’re on a short trip or a long adventure, consider the best soft cooler that meets your requirements for ice retention, durability, and accessibility.

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-after brands in the industry. Thus, we are starting our post with a review of the popular YETI Hopper Flip, known as one of the best soft coolers available.

This cooler is available in a plethora of colors, offering choices like Tahoe blue/fog gray, coral, river green, navy, charcoal, and more.

In terms of capacity, the YETI Hopper Flip comes in various sizes, including Flip 8, Flip 12, Flip 18, etc. For example, the Flip 8, Flip 12, and Flip 18 can accommodate up to 8, 13, and 20 beer cans with ice, respectively. The net dimensions of the Flip 12 model are 12 ⅝ (L) x 10 (W) x 11 ½ (H) inches, making it a compact and highly portable option.

One of the key features of this YETI Hopper cooler is its use of ‘ColdCell’ insulation technology, which provides a long-lasting cooling solution even in high outside temperatures.

Additionally, the ‘HydroLok Zipper’ technology and the ultra-tough build material make this cooler waterproof, leak-proof, puncture-proof, and resistant to abrasions and mildew, making it one of the best soft coolers in terms of durability.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Previous buyers have praised the YETI coolers, including the Hopper Flip, as fan favorites in the portable cooler industry.

While a few buyers reported minor issues with the zippers being hard to open and close, this is to be expected from a water and leak-proof design.

Overall, buyers are impressed with the build quality of this cooler, making it one of the best soft coolers from YETI, as per their reviews.


  • 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 YETI Backflip 24 is a standout among backpack coolers, with its distinctive design and practical features.

Boasting 20-can capacity (with a 2:1 ice to can ratio) or 25 lbs. of ice, this cooler is perfect for campers, off-roaders, and overlanders who need to keep their beverages and food cold on the go.

The Backflip 24 is made with YETI’s trademark ‘ColdCell’ insulation technology and features the reliable ‘HydroLok Zipper’ system for easy opening and closing. The FDA-approved food-grade liner ensures that the contents stay fresh.

The rugged build quality and low weight of 5.3 lbs. make it a reliable choice for outdoor adventures.

While the Backflip 24 is designed to be carried like a backpack with its 2 shoulder straps, it also offers side and top straps for alternative carrying options. However, compared to other options on the market, the Backflip 24 may have a higher price point and may not be as versatile in terms of compressibility or ease of loading and cleaning.

Nonetheless, for those who prioritize portability, durability, and excellent ice retention, the YETI Backflip 24 is a top contender and has earned its reputation as one of the best backpack coolers available.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Owners of the YETI Backflip 24 have praised its rugged build quality and unique backpack design. Many travelers have found it to be the ultimate backpacking cooler for their outdoor adventures. The ice retention quality and low weight of the cooler have also been appreciated by current owners.

The YETI name and reputation have been a major draw for buyers who value portability, durability, and performance in their cooler. However, some buyers have noted that the Backflip 24 may have a higher price point compared to other options on the market, and its rigid opening design may require more effort for loading and cleaning compared to other softer options.

Nonetheless, overall, the Backflip 24 has garnered positive feedback for its performance and design features.


  • 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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Introducing the YETI Hooper Two soft cooler, a top contender for the best soft cooler title. With its tapered design, this cooler is easy to carry and store, making it a convenient choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Available in blaze orange/field tan or Tahoe blue/fog gray, the Hooper Two comes in various sizes, but our review is based on the Hopper Two 20.

Measuring 22 in x 10 in x 16.5 in, and weighing in at just 4.4 lbs when empty, this cooler is highly portable.

Packed with trademark YETI features, such as the ‘ColdCell’ insulation, HydroLok Zipper technology, DryHide Shell material, and FDA-approved food grade liner, this cooler is built to last. It can hold up to 18 cans with ice (2:1 ice to can ratio) or 20 lbs. or 9 kg of ice, making it a high-capacity option.

With three carrying options including primary carry handles, shoulder straps, and end carry handles, this cooler offers versatility on the go. The adjustable and removable shoulder strap adds convenience, and the HydroLok Zipper technology, known for its use in HazMat suits, ensures the cooler is leak-proof and waterproof.

The wide-mouth opening allows for easy access to the contents of the cooler, making it a great option for off-roaders and overlanders alike.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Previous buyers have praised the top-notch build quality, portability, and ice retention of this cooler, with some even calling it the best soft cooler from YETI in terms of features and durability.

Overall, the YETI Hooper Two soft cooler is a reliable choice for outdoor adventures.


  • 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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Looking for an affordable soft cooler? Look no further than the Coleman soft cooler. With four color options – red, green, grey, and blue – and the ability to hold up to 16 cans with ice, this cooler is a great budget-friendly option.

The inner side of the cooler is treated with antimicrobials to keep it odor-free, mildew-resistant, and mold or fungus-free. The removable liner makes for easy cleaning and storage. The heat-welded stitching ensures that it’s leak-proof.

Measuring at approximately 11.81 in x 6.69 in x 11.81 in and weighing just 2 pounds or 900g when empty, this cooler is compact and lightweight.

It features zippers on all compartments for easy access, and the best part?

The additional storage pockets. With two side mesh net pockets, one zippered pocket at the front, and a dry storage pouch, you’ll have plenty of space for your belongings. The adjustable shoulder strap makes it comfortable to carry with you wherever you go.

What Previous Buyers Said?

While it may not have the price range of an Ozark Trail cooler, the Coleman soft cooler has received positive reviews from satisfied buyers.

Some mentioned that it may not be large enough to hold 16 cans with ice, but for the price, it’s a great option. Users found it easy to carry and praised its overall build quality.

So if you’re looking for the best soft cooler on a budget, the Coleman soft cooler bag could be the perfect choice for you. It may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive options, but it’s a reliable and affordable choice that will keep your food and beverages adequately cold for your outdoor adventures.


  • 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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The RTIC Soft Pack 30 cooler, a top contender in the realm of best soft coolers, boasts a reputation for delivering high-quality performance at an affordable price point. Available in four attractive colors – tan, seafoam, kanati, and blue/gray – this cooler is designed to keep your items ice-cold for up to 5 days, making it perfect for outdoor adventures or weekend road trips.

Constructed with a durable, heavy-duty nylon shell on the outside and featuring 1-inch foam insulation on the sides and 2 inches on the top on the inside, this cooler offers excellent insulation capabilities while maintaining a sleek and premium feel.

The liner is antimicrobial and resistant to mold or fungus, ensuring the contents stay fresh and safe. The flip-top lid provides easy access to the cooler’s contents, and the exterior is designed to resist sweat, keeping the outside dry.

Carrying the RTIC Soft Pack 30 cooler is a breeze with its adjustable shoulder strap, primary carry handles, and side carry handles. Weighing only 4 pounds when empty, it’s lightweight and convenient for transportation.

Despite being a soft cooler, the RTIC Soft Pack 30 is built to last and can handle regular use and abuse.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Previous buyers of this top-performing cooler have raved about its spacious interior, long-lasting ice retention, and impressive build quality. The RTIC Soft Pack 30 cooler is praised for its cost-to-performance ratio, making it a smart investment for those seeking a reliable and efficient cooler for their outdoor adventures.

While the RTIC Soft Pack 30 cooler may have a few minor downsides, such as requiring some effort to open and featuring a simplistic organizational layout, these are outweighed by its overall impressive performance and durability.

As a direct-to-consumer brand, RTIC only sells its coolers online, which means you can’t physically examine them in a store before purchase. However, with its solid reputation and positive customer feedback, the RTIC Soft Pack 30 cooler is undoubtedly a top choice for the best soft cooler available in the market.


  • 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 a leading manufacturer of outdoors gear, known for their high-quality products. One of their top offerings is the Pelican Elite soft cooler, available in three sizes: 48-can, 24-can, and 12-can.

With its sturdy construction and excellent insulation, the Pelican Elite soft cooler is a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts. The 12-can version, weighing only 3 pounds, has interior dimensions of 12 x 6 x 7 inches, while the 24-can model measures 15 x 8.50 x 8 inches and weighs 5 pounds.

The largest option, the 48-can model, boasts an interior dimension of 19 x 10.50 x 10 inches and weighs 8 pounds. All three models come with a soft shoulder strap for easy transport.

The Pelican Elite soft cooler features closed-cell foam insulation, designed to keep the contents cold for up to 2 days, even with frequent opening and closing.

The FDA-approved food-grade liner ensures safe storage for your perishables, while the double-coated 840 construction fabric on the exterior provides durability for outdoor use.

What Previous Buyers Said?

The Pelican Elite soft cooler has received countless positive feedback from previous buyers. Many users have praised its thick insulation and impressive ice retention capability.

Some have also commended its build quality, although a few users mentioned that the zipper can be stiff to work with. However, this is expected due to its 100% water and leak-proof feature, ensuring that your contents stay secure and cold.

In conclusion, the Pelican Elite soft cooler is a reliable and high-performing option for those who require a top-notch cooler for their outdoor adventures. Its durable construction, excellent insulation, and positive feedback from previous buyers make it a top contender for the best soft cooler on the market.


  • 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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Engel’s backpack cooler stands out with its unique double-compartment feature, offering separate storage for food and drinks.

With a capacity to keep food and beverages cold for up to 3 days, this high-performance cooler comes in three stylish colors: seafoam blue, Prym 1 silver mist, and gray.

The convenience of carrying this cooler is unmatched, thanks to the shoulder straps, primary grab handles, and adjustable webbing that allows for backpack-style transport. Weighing only 4 pounds when empty, and measuring 19 x 8 x 17.5 inches, this soft cooler is highly portable with soft-padded carrying straps and additional pockets for extra storage space.

The primary zipper opens wide for easy access to the contents inside, adding to its practicality.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Similar to other best soft coolers in the market, Engel’s backpack cooler has received mixed feedback from previous buyers. While some have mentioned that it may not keep things cold for an extended period of time, others have reported satisfactory performance when not frequently opening or closing the cooler.

However, what sets this cooler apart is its affordability and unique double-compartment feature, making it a great deal for those seeking a portable and multi-functional soft camping cooler.

Just like its premium counterparts, Engel’s backpack cooler features welded construction, sealed zipper, and a vacuum valve for air removal, ensuring maximum ice retention.

Although the zipper may require lubrication for smooth operation and the buckle-equipped “wings” may need extra effort to open, these design choices contribute to the cooler’s leak-proofing capabilities, making it an excellent choice for water-based activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and rafting.


  • 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 renowned for its American-made products, and their cooler is no exception. The durable exterior is constructed with a rugged 1000 Denier Vinyl shell that can withstand up to 375 lbs. without tearing.

It comes in attractive colors like sand, black, pink, and blue, and is available in two sizes: a 12-can version weighing 2 lbs. with dimensions of 13 x 8 x 11 inches, and a 24-can model weighing 3.04 lbs. with dimensions of 18 x 10 x 11 inches.

The company claims that this soft-sided cooler can retain ice for up to 24 hours even in temperatures as high as 120ºF or 48.89ºC, making it one of the best soft coolers for keeping your drinks and food chilled on hot days.

It also offers convenience with an adjustable and removable padded shoulder strap, as well as a primary carrying handle at the top, making it highly portable for outdoor adventures.

In addition to its impressive performance, this cooler also includes additional pockets for storing dry items, adding to its functionality.

What Previous Buyers Said?

This soft-sided cooler from Bison is one of the most popular coolers in the USA.

Buyers have praised the high-quality build material and ice retention capability of this cooler, making it a top choice for those in need of a reliable and durable soft cooler.


  • 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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Looking for an affordable soft cooler that doesn’t skimp on features? AO Coolers has got you covered. With a range of colors and sizes, including their 24-can model measuring 17 x 10 x 12 inches, AO Coolers offers options for everyone on a budget.

Weighing just 3 lbs., this portable cooler is lightweight and easy to carry, thanks to adjustable padded shoulder straps and oversized grab handles for added comfort.

There are 4 models based on capacity such as 48-can, 36-can, 24-can, and 12-can.

AO Coolers 24 Pack is designed with high-density foam insulation, ensuring your items stay cold for up to 24 hours even in the scorching heat.

The durable and leak-proof TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) liner adds to its longevity and is smooth to the touch. Smooth-operating zippers make accessing your items a breeze, making this budget-friendly cooler a practical choice.

What Previous Buyers Said?

Just like in previous reviews, many buyers have praised AO Coolers for its performance and value for money. While it may not have the durability, water resistance, and long ice retention of higher-end coolers, it’s perfect for short adventures like beach trips or park outings.

With a functional zipper closure, an exterior pocket for extra storage, and a compact design that’s easy to shoulder, AO Coolers 24 Pack is a top pick for the best soft cooler on a budget.


  • 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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The Polar Bear Coolers have become a go-to brand for budget-conscious campers in need of a reliable and affordable soft cooler.

With various color options and sizes ranging from 48-pack to backpack, their 12-pack option is particularly popular for most activities.

It can hold up to 12 cans (12 oz. each can) and 5 lbs. of ice, while the 1-inch thick high-density foam insulation keeps items cold for up to 24 hours.

Featuring a smooth zipper system, 4 tie-downs for secure attachment to any vehicle, and an adjustable padded shoulder strap for comfortable carrying, this soft cooler also includes a bottle opener for added convenience.

The side release buckles allow for tighter or looser packing depending on the situation.

What Previous Buyers Said?

The feedback from previous buyers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many praising the ‘Polar Bear Coolers’ as a reliable and budget-friendly choice that can even retain ice for up to 36 hours, making it a must-try option for those in need of the best soft cooler.


  • 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

Coolers are essential for keeping food and drinks cold, whether you’re heading for a day at the beach or planning a camping trip. When it comes to coolers, there are two main types: hard-sided and soft-sided. Let’s take a closer look at the key differences between them.

Hard-Sided Coolers

What are they? Hard-sided coolers are characterized by their sturdy exteriors and thick insulation, making them capable of keeping items cold for an extended period of time.


  • Long-lasting insulation: Hard coolers are ideal for keeping your food and drinks cold for more than just a couple of days.
  • Durable build: With their heavy-duty materials, hard coolers are built to withstand rough handling and tough outdoor conditions.


  • Bulky and heavy: Hard coolers can be challenging to carry around and may not be easy to store due to their size and weight.

Soft-Sided Coolers

What are they? Soft-sided coolers, as the name suggests, are basically bags designed to keep food and beverages cool. They are made of lightweight materials and have thinner insulation compared to hard coolers.


  • Portability: Soft coolers are highly portable due to their small form factor and bag-like design, making them easy to carry around.
  • Easy to clean and store: Soft coolers are typically easy to clean and store, making them convenient for regular use.


  • Limited insulation: Soft coolers are best suited for keeping food and beverages cold for a few hours, although some premium brands offer models that can retain ice for up to three to five days.
  • Lower durability: Soft coolers may not be as durable as hard coolers, as they are made of lighter materials.

In conclusion, hard-sided coolers are ideal for extended trips where you need to keep items cold for several days, while soft-sided coolers are more convenient for short outings where portability and ease of use are key factors.

Tips and Tricks for Packing A Soft Cooler

If you want your soft cooler to perform at its best, packing it correctly is essential. Improper packing can lead to poor ice retention and shorter cooling times.

Precooling is a must: Soft coolers are not refrigerators, they are designed to keep things cool. To get the best results, pre-cool every item that is going into the cooler. Store items in the cooler right out of the refrigerator for maximum effectiveness.

Pre-chill the cooler: To boost performance, pre-chill the soft cooler with plenty of ice for half an hour to an hour before packing it.

Store bottles, foods, and items first: It’s best to place bottles, foods, and other items in the cooler before adding ice. This helps to keep things colder as cold air naturally sinks.

Avoid direct sunlight and hot surfaces: Always keep your soft cooler out of direct sunlight or in a cooler place. Avoid placing it on a hot surface to prevent heat from affecting the cooling performance.

Make use of block and cube ice: If you want to keep things cold for longer, use block ice. Cube ice is great for cooling things down faster.

Utilize ice packs: Ice packs can be used to extend the cooling time of your cooler. They are especially useful for longer trips or when you don’t have access to fresh ice.

Minimize lid opening: Try to open the lid of your soft cooler as little as possible to prevent warm air from entering and cold air from escaping, which can affect ice retention.

Keep the zipper clean and lubricated: Clean and lubricate the zipper of your cooler frequently to ensure smooth operation and to prevent it from getting stuck.

Avoid keeping the cooler open for too long: Keep the cooler closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature inside and prevent unnecessary heat from entering. Avoid keeping the cooler open for longer than necessary.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your soft cooler performs at its best, keeping your items cool for longer periods of time, whether you’re going on a camping trip, a picnic, or any other outdoor adventure!

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How to Determine the Best Soft Cooler from the Rest

Soft coolers are a convenient and versatile option for keeping your drinks and snacks chilled on the go. But with so many options available, how do you know which one is the best? Here are some key factors to consider when choosing a soft cooler that will last long and meet your needs.

Material & Construction

The quality of materials and construction is crucial for the durability of a soft cooler. Look for coolers that are made from tear-resistant, UV ray-resistant, puncture-proof, water, and leak-proof materials. Soft bag coolers with TPU or Thermoplastic Polyurethane material are known for their durability.

Some brands even use DryHide shell technology to make the material stronger, flexible, and long-lasting. Don’t forget to check the quality of zippers and stitching as well.

Tip: Remember, higher quality materials and construction may come with a higher price tag, but it’s worth the investment for a reliable and long-lasting soft cooler.


The insulation of a soft cooler is what keeps your items cold. There are two types of insulation – open-cell and closed-cell. Closed-cell insulation is superior as it keeps items colder for longer periods of time.

However, it may also come with a higher price. Pay attention to the thickness of the insulation as well, as thicker insulation tends to provide better performance.


One of the advantages of soft coolers is their portability. However, the level of portability may vary depending on factors such as size, shape, weight, and build material. Keep in mind that you may need to compromise on capacity for more portability, or vice versa. Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a soft cooler that is easy to carry on your adventures.

Size & Storage Capacity

Soft coolers come in various sizes and shapes, and the storage capacity depends on their size. Typically, soft coolers can store anywhere from 6 to 48 cans (or even more in some cases) along with ice. Be sure to check the inside and outside dimensions of the cooler. The outside dimension is important to ensure it fits in your vehicle or boat, while the inside dimension will help you determine the storage capacity. If you need to store a large quantity of items, a bigger cooler may be the best choice. On the other hand, if you only need to store a few bottles and cans for a short period of time, a smaller cooler would be suitable.

Pro tip: Consider your storage needs and available space when determining the size and storage capacity of your soft cooler.

In conclusion, when choosing the best soft cooler for your needs, it’s important to consider the material and construction quality, insulation, portability, size, and storage capacity. By taking these factors into account, you can find a soft cooler that meets your requirements and provides reliable performance for your outdoor adventures.

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.

Why choose YETI Hopper Flip?

  • Rugged and premium materials for durability.
  • Long ice retention compared to generic coolers.
  • Portable size with additional features for convenience.
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On the other hand, if you are on a tighter budget, you should choose the Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler.

Why choose Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler?

  • Budget-friendly option.
  • Can hold up to 16 cans.
  • Soft-sided design for easy transportation.
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Remember, the best soft cooler for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. Consider factors such as durability, ice retention, size, and additional features to make the right choice. Happy cooling!

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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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