Best Backpack Coolers: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

best value
Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler

​Coleman C003 Backpack Cooler

​The Coleman backpack is perfect for daytrips or camping and can carry up to 28 cans of beer.

top the range
YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Sided Cooler Backpack

YETI Hopper Cooler Backpack

The YETI is smartly designed with cold-cell rubber and waterproof zippers for extra cooling.

Carrying around a heavy cooler can cause stress and strain on your body. This is especially true if you’re doing something that involves a lot of walking, such as hiking.

Instead of lugging around a standard cooler, consider a portable backpack cooler. A backpack cooler will allow you to carry around plenty of food and beverages without much of a hassle.

We have compiled a list of our 12 favorite backpack coolers, which we will go over in detail below.

What Items Can be Stored Inside the Cooler Compartment?

Beer

A good backpack cooler works great for keeping your beer cool. After all, nobody wants to sip a warm beer on the beach, right? In fact, backpack coolers work so great for keeping beer cold that we even included the beer capacity of each backpack we reviewed below.

Water

You can also keep water cool in a backpack cooler! Let’s say you’re going on a long hike, you’re going to need hydration. If you were carrying a standard hiking backpack, you would end up with warm water. Instead, you could carry a backpack cooler and drink refreshing cold water.

Ice

You want your backpack cooler to be able to hold ice! Ice will keep your items even colder. Some backpack coolers don’t work as well and will melt your ice fast, which could cause leaking. You definitely don’t want to deal with that, so we tried to avoid reviewing any bags that might have the problem.

Food

Picnicking, hiking, boating, and many other activities would warrant bringing food with you. A backpack cooler can help ensure your food stays cool throughout the day. Most backpack coolers have the capacity to carry quite a bit of food, so your entire group could likely store their food in just one backpack.

Fishing Bait

Backpack coolers also work great for storing fishing bait! It can be tedious to bring a regular cooler onto a boat, so a backpack cooler saves you that hassle. It can be very convenient to bring fishing bait in a cooler backpack since you literally have everything you need right on your back. Your hands would be free to carry other equipment, such as fishing poles.

Check out these cool tricks and hacks you can do with your new cooler! 


best backpack cooler

Where Would you Need a Good Backpack Cooler?

Beach

The beach is one of the best places to take a backpack cooler! Some of the best backpack coolers with wheels are a pain to stroll on the beach with. A traditional, hard cooler is just too heavy to deal with. Good backpack coolers are lightweight, easy to carry around and can store anything you would need on the beach.

Picnics

Picnics are also great for backpack coolers! Most of them are spacious enough to carry everything your family needs. Your food will be kept cool and you won’t have to carry around too much. Plus, your hands will be free to carry other things such as a picnic blanket.

Boat

Whether you’re fishing or just out sailing, backpack coolers are awesome for boat trips! You won’t need a bulky cooler, which already is a huge plus. You could fit food and drinks for everyone on the boat inside the cooler. Also, fishing bait can be stored in a backpack cooler too.

Camping

Backpack coolers are very convenient for camping trips. They can keep your food and drinks cold and available at all times. You can also carry them around your campsite with ease. The only issue you may come across is the fact that even the best backpack coolers will only keep items cold for 12-24 hours.

Hiking

Hikers will love backpack coolers. They’re so easy to carry around and allow you to bring food, drinks, and other items you need with you straight to the trail. At a minimum, backpack coolers should keep your food and drinks cool for twelve hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to complete your hike.

Disneyworld (Amusement Parks)

Disneyworld and other amusement parks are great places to bring a backpack cooler. Food and drink inside the park can be very expensive. You can save a lot of money by investing in a backpack cooler, especially if you go to these parks often. Plus, backpack coolers are easy to carry around and you could store other belongings in the bag too.

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There are a large number of backpack coolers available on market. Every backpack cooler comes with different features and functionality.


James Franklin - travel blogger

What to Look for in a Quality Insulated Cooler

Cooling Time

One of the most important qualities of a high quality insulated cooler is it’s cooling time. After all, what good is a bag that will only keep your stuff cool for a short amount of time? A good backpack cooler will keep your items cool for at least twelve hours, with the best ones keeping your drinks cool for up to twenty-four hours.

Materials of the Bag

You also want your bag to be made of good, leak-proof material. Cheaper materials won’t keep your bag insulated for long, so it really is a big deal. Some of the best backpack coolers are made with PEVA hot-pressed material. As long as the bag’s insulation material is thick, it should work well.

Purpose

Many of the insulated coolers we reviewed work well for pretty much any purpose. Some of these purposes include a trip to the beach, a hiking trip, an amusement park trip, fishing, and so on. Some won’t work well for certain purposes though, like a five-pound bag might not work too well on a hiking trip due to its weight.

Size

Size is an important factor because you want the bag to be able to carry everything you need. A good insulated cooler backpack should be able to hold at least 20 cans of beer. In terms of liters, you should expect it to be able to hold at least 20 liters. Any smaller than that and you might have a hard time carrying enough to get you through the day.

Weight

When it comes to finding a good backpack cooler, weight is often an overlooked factor. The issue with that is that the whole purpose of backpack coolers is that they’re more convenient than a traditional ice chest.

When a backpack is too heavy, it becomes more of a nuisance than anything and that’s exactly what we are trying to avoid. Many of the backpacks mentioned down below weigh as little as one pound when empty. I would avoid anything over five pounds because it’s going to be too much of a hassle.

Seals & Zippers

Zippers are another very important aspect of backpack coolers. A poorly designed or placed zipper means leaks will happen. It’s very common for backpack cooler manufacturers to use YKK zippers. When those are placed too low, leaks will often happen if the ice starts to melt.

Some backpacks use hydrolok zippers, which work fantastically for preventing leaks. If you go with a bag that has a YKK zipper and not a hydrolok, it’s advised to use ice packs instead of regular ice to prevent leaking.

Easy Access

Backpack coolers tend to focus on accessibility, which is a good thing. After all, when you’re out enjoying your day and ready to access the food and drink you’re storing, it shouldn’t be a hassle to actually get to your items. All of the backpack coolers we’ve reviewed on this list are easily accessible.

Shoulder Straps & Handles

Decent straps and handles can make a world of difference when it comes to backpack coolers. 20 cans of beer isn’t a light load, but straps that offer good weight distribution can make it seem like it. One huge thing that makes a difference is if the shoulder straps are padded or not.

The more padding, the more comfortable they’ll be. Some backpack coolers even have a strap around the hip and sternum too, which just further improves the weight distribution and overall comfortability.


12 Best Backpack Coolers Reviewed

1. IceMule Pro Backpack Cooler

IceMule Pro Backpack Cooler

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

20 liters

Weight of the Bag

5 pounds

Beer Capacity

18 cans

Cooling Time

24 hours

Price Range

$$$$

Warranty

No

The IceMule Pro Backpack Cooler is a great bag for a great weekend. This insulated bag can hold up to eighteen cans of beer and keep them cool for up to twenty-four hours. It comes with a convenient padded strap.

The materials are good quality, however, it’s a common complaint that the straps aren’t very comfortable. With that issue in mind, the IceMule backpack cooler would be best suited for someone who doesn’t have to carry it very far, so this would be the best backpack cooler for beach us.

Hikers might find that it’s too uncomfortable to carry around all day. If you decide to go with the IceMule Pro, you can trust it will keep your beers cold, not just cool, all day long.

Pros

  • Keeps beer cold for at up to 24 hours
  • Can hold 18 cans of beer
  • High quality material

Cons

  • Costly
  • Uncomfortable straps

2. Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler

Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

28 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.06 pounds

Beer Capacity

28 cans

Cooling Time

24 hours

Price Range

$$

Warranty

No

Headed on a trip to Disneyland? The Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler is the best backpack cooler for Disney or other amusement parks. It can hold up to 28 cans.

The back of the bag is padded so you’ll be comfortable carrying it long distances. There's even a smaller pocket in the front designed for storage. It’s big enough for things like glasses, phones, typical items you would need on your vacation.

While I mentioned that this bag is ideal for amusement parks, there’s no reason it couldn’t be used on a hiking trip, beach trip, or anywhere else you might need a soft cooler.

The biggest downside to this bag is any ice will leak once it melts. However, you can combat this by using frozen water bottles instead of ice. Overall, the low price point of this bag combined with its qualities makes it a great deal.

Pros

  • Comfortable for long distances
  • Versatile
  • Good price for what is offered

Cons

  • May leak

3. SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack

SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

30 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.74 pounds

Beer Capacity

30 liters

Cooling Time

24 hours

Price Range

$$$

Warranty

100% satisfaction guarantee

One could say this is a “cool” backpack. All puns aside, the SEEHONOR Insulated Cooler Backpack is a simple cooler backpack that will keep your food and drink cold for a long time. This bag won’t leak on you, even if your ice starts to melt.

Aside from the main cooler compartment, the SEEHONOR insulated backpack also features two front zipper pockets, two side bottle holders, one zipper pocket on the lid, and a mesh phone pocket. The back pads are covered in breathable mesh, so you know you’ll be comfortable.

One of my favorite features of this bag is the flat multi-tool attached to the right strap, including a bottle opener, screwdriver, box opener, letter opener, and ruler. Overall, this bag is pretty unique compared to the other models and is the best backpack cooler for beer.

Pros

  • Zero leaking
  • Back pads covered in breathable mesh
  • Flat multi-tool included

Cons

  • Costly

4. TOURIT Insulated Cooler Backpack

TOURIT Insulated Cooler Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

25 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.1 pounds

Beer Capacity

28 cans

Cooling Time

16 hours

Price Range

$$

Warranty

No

When you need a cooler backpack made of great material that will keep your drinks cold for a long time, you need a TOURIT Insulated Cooler Backpack. This bag is fashionable enough to be used as a daily backpack and a cooler backpack. The shoulder straps are padded for your comfort.

Its main compartment is lined with thick PEVA hot-pressed material to keep your beverages cool for at least 16 hours. However, it’s recommended to use ice packs instead of ice inside the bag. Ice could cut the waterproof material and cause leakage.

Other than that, this is a cooler bag with minimal complaints. It’s comfortable, stylish, efficient, and has a very reasonable price. TOURIT makes the best waterproof backpack cooler. The TOURIT could be used as an everyday lunch bag or for a trip to the beach, amusement park, or wherever else. It’s very versatile which is why it’s so highly rated.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Lined with PEVA hot-pressed material
  • Comfortable padded shoulder straps

Cons

  • Ice may rip backpack and cause leaking

5. S&P Safe and Perfect Insulated Cooler Backpack

S&P Safe And Perfect Insulated Cooler Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

30 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.25 pounds

Beer Capacity

28 cans

Cooling Time

12 hours

Price Range

$$

Warranty

100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee

Good insulation, design, and comfort, what more could you want in an insulated cooler backpack? The Safe and Perfect Insulated Cooler Backpack provides exactly that.

Both the backpack and shoulder straps are lined with thick padding, ensuring this bag will be comfortable, even on a long hike, making it the best backpack cooler for hiking. My favorite part is how great the weight distribution is, even if you’re carrying it at full capacity, you won’t strain yourself. The front and side pockets are excellent for storing smaller items.

The Safe and Perfect Insulated Cooler Backpack is also super durable, you can use it again and again without it breaking on you. Overall, this cooler backpack is a great deal and perfect for practically any use.

Pros

  • Good weight distribution
  • Efficient storage pockets
  • Best value for money backpack cooler

Cons

  • No hip straps

6. YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Sided Cooler Backpack

YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Sided Cooler Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

20 liters

Weight of the Bag

7.8 pounds

Beer Capacity

20 cans

Cooling Time

18 hours

Price Range

$$$$$

Warranty

No

In the world of cooler backpacks, YETI is practically a household name. The YETI Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Sided Cooler Backpack is an exceptional cooler backpack. It’s pricier than the other brands mentioned on this list, but as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for”.

This YETI model is large enough to hold enough food and drink for you and your group. It’s supremely comfortable, so you can bring it with you on a long trek. It’s inside is lined with closed-cell rubber foam, which allows for optimum cold holding. The hydrolok zipper allows this bag to be entirely waterproof and leak proof.

However, the one complaint we’ve heard about this bag is the zipper can be difficult to open. Most of the other bags on this list with standard YKK zippers had complaints of leaking, so it’s up to you to decide which zipper type works better for you.

This YETI model is the best backpack cooler for fishing. If you need a comfortable bag that you can use for years, the YETI Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Sided Cooler Backpack is the best option for you.

Pros

  • Very large
  • Lined with closed-cell rubber foam
  • Hydrolok zipper
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Most expensive model on list

7. Igloo Outdoorsmen Gizmo Backpack

Igloo Outdoorsmen Gizmo Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

20 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.65 pounds

Beer Capacity

20 cans

Cooling Time

10 hours

Price Range

$$

Warranty

No

If you aren’t really too big on hiking but you do need an insulated cooler for the beach, the Igloo Outdoorsmen Gizmo Backpack might be for you. This bag isn’t a perfect bag, but it is the best small backpack cooler. It’s large enough to hold around 20 cans of beer along with sunglasses, phones, wallet, things like that.

However, it’s not the most comfortable cooler backpack in the world. It fits strangely and the weight distribution is uncomfortable, which is why I stated above this is not for hikers. Also, if the ice melts enough to reach the zippers, it will likely leak. All cons aside, this bag is pretty solid if you know what to expect and don’t expect it to be extremely comfortable and leakproof.

Pros

  • Can hold 20 cans of beer
  • Affordable
  • Great for the beach

Cons

  • Uncomfortable
  • May leak

8. North Coyote Hiking Insulated Backpack Cooler with Two Ice Coolers

North Coyote Hiking Insulated Backpack Cooler With Two Ice Coolers

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

42 liters

Weight of the Bag

2.4 pounds

Beer Capacity

30 cans

Cooling Time

12 hours

Price Range

$$

Warranty

90-day guarantee

Attention hikers, the North Coyote Hiking Insulated Backpack Cooler with Two Ice Coolers is practically made for you! Compared to other insulated backpacks, this bag is huge with a 42-liter capacity, making it the best large backpack cooler. It also features two ice coolers, instead of just one.

The bottom cooler is more insulated than the top, so it’s a good idea to store the stuff you absolutely need cold in the bottom and everything else in the top. As for the bag’s design, it’s very comfortable and comes with padded straps. There are also adjustable sternum and hip straps included, adding for optimum comfort.

If you have a long hike coming up, this is definitely an insulated backpack cooler you should look into.

Pros

  • Huge, 42-liter capacity
  • Two coolers
  • Padded straps
  • Sternum and hip straps

Cons

  • Heavy

9. Lifewit Insulated Cooler Backpack

Lifewit Insulated Cooler Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

24 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.2 pounds

Beer Capacity

24 cans

Cooling Time

12 hours

Price Range

$$

Warranty

No

The Lifewit Insulated Cooler Backpack can be used for hiking, camping, picnics, beach trips, and so on. It can hold up to 24 cans of beer. It’s large enough to hold what you need but small enough that carrying it around isn’t a hassle. The bag itself has a stylish look to it and can be worn for long periods of time without discomfort.

You might find that you’ll have a problem with leaking if you use ice. It’s recommended to use ice packs instead. There have been complaints about the inside material feeling cheap, but aside from that, this is a solid cooler backpack that can be used for many different purposes.

Pros

  • Can hold 24 cans of beer
  • “Goldilocks” size, not too big, not too small

Cons

  • May leak

10. GigaTent Large Padded Backpack Cooler

Large Padded Backpack Cooler

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

25 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.4 pounds

Beer Capacity

25 cans

Cooling Time

18

Price Range

$$

Warranty

No

The Large Padded Backpack Cooler sold by Gigatent is a large insulated cooler backpack that could be used for a variety of activities, such as going to DisneyWorld, hiking, camping, and so on. If you wanted to, you could even use this as both a daily bag and cooler backpack.

You’ll be able to store a ton in this bag as it has two extra cargo pockets and mesh pockets. It’s leak resistant and even with melted ice, it shouldn’t leak. You’ll also find that this cooler backpack is very comfortable to wear, thanks to the padded straps. The low price tag really shows that this bag is an awesome bargain.

Pros

  • Extra pockets
  • Leak-resistant
  • Good bargain
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Material may feel cheap

11. Chilly Billy 36-can Portable Soft Cooler Backpack

Chilly Billy 36-Can Portable Soft Cooler Backpack

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

36 liters

Weight of the Bag

3.9 pounds

Beer Capacity

36 cans

Cooling Time

12 hours

Price Range

$$$$

Warranty

No

A great backpack cooler with a catchy name? Yes, please! The Chilly Billy 36-can Portable Soft Cooler Backpack is a high-quality backpack cooler. This bag is very comfortable to wear, so it can really be taken anywhere. It won’t cause too much strain, even if you take it on a long hike.

The insulation is very thick, so it will keep your food and beverages cool for at least 12 hours. Another great feature is that it’s leak-proof, so you won’t have to worry about that. Many brands claim to be leak-proof, but customers still report leakage. The Chilly Billy is not one of those brands.

Overall, if you need a dependable bag you can use again and again, the Chilly Billy is for you.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Thick insulation
  • No leakage

Cons

  • Pricey

12. OAGear Ultimate Backpack Cooler

OAGear Ultimate Backpack Cooler

Quick Look - Bag Features

Size

20 liters

Weight of the Bag

1.55 pounds

Beer Capacity

20 cans

Cooling Time

24 hours

Price Range

$

Warranty

No

It doesn’t matter if you’re going to Disneyland, the beach or hiking. The OAGear Ultimate Backpack Cooler will keep your food and drink cool! You’re able to hold up to twenty cans of beer, though with ice, that might be closer to sixteen or seventeen. You shouldn’t experience any leaking as the material is very strong and durable.

The biggest complaint about this bag is that by the end of your day, you might notice that your beverages aren’t very cold. They won’t be warm, but they won’t be ice cold like they would have been earlier.

If this is an issue for you, you might consider another backpack on this list but if it’s not, the OAGear should suit your needs. Overall, this OAGear model is the best backpack cooler for hiking.

Pros

  • Durable material
  • Can hold up to 20 cans of beer
  • Decently priced

Cons

  • Won’t stay cold for very long

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do these bags stay cool?

While it varies from bag to bag, each one of the bags on this list will stay cool for at least twelve hours, with some staying cool for up to twenty-four hours.

What else can I do to keep it cooler for longer?

Ice packs can make a world of difference in keeping your backpack cooler cool. It’s not really advised to use ice because it increases your chance of leaking, but if you’re confident that the backpack cooler you choose won’t leak, ice works too.

Can I put hot food in my backpack?

Yes, you can! Insulated backpack coolers will also keep hot food warm.

How do I clean a backpack and its cooling compartment?

One great thing about backpack coolers is they’re really easy to clean. Wiping them down with a soapy wet cloth should get the job done.

Where is a good place to buy backpack coolers?

Amazon is hands down, the best place to find backpack coolers at a good price.


Conclusion

There are many different uses for an insulated backpack cooler. Whether it be a trip to the beach or a camping trip, you’ll find that a backpack cooler does nothing but add convenience.

It’s important to have a good backpack cooler, which is why we wrote this review and included twelve different ones. The above list should help you find the perfect insulated backpack cooler for you and your family.


  • Updated October 8, 2019
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