The perfect soft-sided coolers mix usability with sturdiness and insulating properties — but one of the best soft-sided cooler is just not the one that has three extra ice cubes remaining after a multi-day ice retention check. For a way we use soft-sided coolers, the perfect smooth coolers are the ones you need to use in quite a lot of locations: A very good soft-sided cooler ought to work nicely on the seashore, on the boat, in your car and in the wild.
Next, the perfect soft-sided coolers need to offer nice price-to-value ratios. Ruggedness delivers excessive marks with us, however what about ruggedness and usefulness paired with decrease insulating properties at a really reasonably priced worth level? Usability and affordability are essential cooler issues, too.
The result’s that your greatest soft-sided cooler won’t be the costliest choice — it may be the most effective general blend for the sorts of belongings you do. And this, it turns out, is crucial to how most individuals use soft-sided coolers: Most people use delicate coolers for shorter trips. You don’t want your ice to final three days in the event you’re packing for a single day on the river.
Should you’re in search of the longest ice retention in a soft-sided cooler, you’re missing the purpose: Decide the design for what you do most. Mountaineering to the seashore? Choose a soft-sided backpack cooler. Fishing from a drift boat? Select a gentle cooler with a secure base and tie-down points. Uninterested in preventing burly waterproof zippers? Choose an OtterBox Trooper, which you’ll be able to open with just one hand.
So, stability. That’s what we search for in the most effective soft-sided coolers, and we consider most of our readers really feel this manner, too. They want coolers that may work properly for them, not the ones that win ice contests that don’t mirror true real-world use: Claiming that the perfect cooler is the one that holds ice the longest is like claiming that the most effective pickup truck is the one with the longest bed. Should you perceive what’s fallacious with that assertion, you’re going to like this information. In case you don’t, nicely, this information may enable you to choose a soft-sided cooler anyway.
The Fishpond Ice Storm blends sturdy type with an ideal worth.
Oh, one level about ice-retention: Begin with chilly drinks and chilly ice. When you take a bag of ice that’s already melting and throw it over 20 cans of room-temperature beer or soda, you’re going to soften most of your ice simply transitioning the warm cans or bottles to a cooler temperature. Should you should begin with warm cans, plan on including recent ice somewhere along the best way on your journey.
Final of all, use extra ice than you assume you need if holding issues cold is your precedence. We frequently use ice packs for short day trips but load up with extra ice for longer journeys.
So, what are our best soft-sided coolers for 2019 and past? We get into the small print under, however right here is our quick answer record of one of the best soft-sided coolers:
Once you employ an amazing soft-sided cooler, you’ll start taking ice-cold drinks all over the place.
- YETI Hopper Flip 18
- OtterBox Trooper 20
- Fishpond Ice Storm
- ICEMULE Pro
- Engel HD30
- Hydroflask Unbound Collection Tote
- ICEMULE Traveler
- Grizzly Drifter 20
- Pelican Elite Soft Cooler
- Orca Podster
- REI Co-op Pack-Away 24 Soft Cooler
- Coleman 24-Hour 30-Can Cooler
- 1 Best Soft Coolers 2019
- 2 1. YETI Hopper Flip 18
- 3 2. OtterBox Trooper 20
- 4 3. Fishpond Ice Storm
- 5 4. ICEMULE Professional
- 6 5. ENGEL HD30
- 7 6. Hydro Flask Unbound Collection Tote
- 8 7. ICEMULE Traveler
- 9 8. Grizzly Drifter 20
- 10 9. Pelican Elite Soft Cooler
- 11 10. Orca Podster
- 12 11. REI Co-op Pack-Away 24 Soft Cooler
- 13 12. Coleman 24-Hour 30-Can Cooler
- 14 The best way to Choose the Best Soft Cooler
- 15 Which Soft Cooler Keeps Ice the Longest?
- 16 More Notable Soft Coolers
- 17 Are Onerous or Soft Coolers Better?
Best Soft Coolers 2019
Some producers, like YETI and OtterBox, produce multiple soft-side cooler versions which have comparable features and construct high quality — but some even have slightly totally different design features amongst their models. Technically, many of these variations also needs to make most “best” lists, however most readers choose to see a bit more variety, so we’re only ranking the models we respect most . . . however we’re also calling out probably the most fascinating comparable versions, along with the occasional mannequin we expect you may need to keep away from.
1. YETI Hopper Flip 18
The YETI Hopper Flip 18 is completely waterproof and really rugged.
YETI has been the cooler market leader for years, and it’s not just because the corporate has the most important advertising finances: YETI produces a few of the greatest, highest quality thermally environment friendly coolers. If you need a rugged tender cooler that may maintain ice for days, YETI must be on your shortlist. YETI makes a number of delicate coolers in several configurations and dimensions, and our favorite all-around version is the YETI Hopper Flip 18. It’s large enough to hold 20 cans of beer or soda, yet it’s sufficiently small to suit most anyplace. The “flip” over lid is an enormous improvement over the zipper-only opening on the YETI Hopper 2 30. Yet the cooler is totally waterproof because of the high-quality Hydrolok waterproof zipper. The rugged shell is puncture-resistant whereas the robust fully-sealed liner is created from FDA-approved food-grade materials. The insulation is closed-cell rubber foam, which provides the cooler it’s capability to carry ice for a number of days. You additionally get plenty of lashing factors for strapping the cooler right down to ATVs, rafts or boats. We’re massive fans of all of the Hopper variations which have flip-open lids, as well as the surprisingly snug YETI Hopper Backflip 24 backpack version (full evaluation right here). Any cons? The one con is that it’s exhausting, if not typically unimaginable, to open up the YETI Hopper Flip collection with one hand. The stout zipper often requires two palms to open and reseal correctly. Nonetheless, unbelievable durability and insulating properties.
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2. OtterBox Trooper 20
The OtterBox Trooper 20 includes a lid you possibly can open with one hand.
You may know OtterBox from its ultra-rugged smartphone instances. We’ve been OtterBox fans for years, so we jumped at the probability to check out the brand new OtterBox Trooper 20 soft-sided cooler (full assessment right here). The OtterBox Trooper boasts an identical build high quality to the YETI nevertheless it varies strongly by means of the design of the lid, which you’ll be able to open one-handed. The lid is hinged however has a hinged clasp which you can pop or seal with one-hand, at the hours of darkness, without wanting. So cool. The lid seals fairly darn nicely, too. We might fill the Trooper 20 with water and flip the cooler over without water leaking out. The fully-sealed inside is stout, and the insulation general is thick sufficient to help the soft-sided Trooper hold its shape. The Trooper 20 comes with a bottle opener attachment. The entrance includes a small pocket giant enough for a number of odds and ends, your keys or perhaps some plastic consuming utensils, wet wipes or napkins. The dimensions 20 is the sweet-spot measurement, large enough to hold 28 12-ounce cans without ice . . . and some quantity much less with ice. Obviously, the more ice you will have in comparison with your cans, the longer your ice will final. All of the high-end soft-sided coolers, by the best way, can hold ice for 3+ days — which is what the Trooper 20 can do, too. For even more cooling room, take a look at the OtterBox Trooper LT 30 — it has an analogous build high quality however shifts the design to a clamshell-style closing (and sealing) lid you could still open and shut with one hand. Plus, that will help you handle heavier masses, the Trooper LT 30 is a backpack-style soft-sided cooler. It’s simply as superior as the Trooper 20.
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Superior one-hand lid design
Impeccable fit and end
Wonderful insulation and ice retention
3. Fishpond Ice Storm
The waxed canvas Fishpond Ice Storm is each sturdy and reasonably priced.
We had no concept we have been going to like the Fishpond Ice Storm cooler as much as we do: The Fishpond Ice Storm uses a waxed-canvas exterior material that just oozes fashion with out being pretentious. The truth is, the Fishpond Ice Storm cooler may be one the perfect general buys you can also make in a soft-side cooler: It’s rugged, the design is versatile and usable, and the price is way less than the costliest options on this listing. Positive, the Fishpond Ice Storm gained’t maintain ice so long as the YETI or OtterBox above, nevertheless it does fairly darn nicely — and makes consuming beer even more gratifying as a result of it seems like a human being truly designed the thing and put it collectively. Fishpond’s core audience is often made up of fly fishers, however the Ice Storm cooler is a real cross-over product. Higher yet, the Ice Storm is huge without feeling cumbersome — it will probably maintain up to 60 cans without ice. In our exams, we easily match a mixture of 25 bottles and cans with a single bag of ice, with room for an additional bag of ice if we needed all of it to remain cold for 2 full days (full evaluation here). So how durable is the Ice Storm? We expect the exterior will hold as much as a heckuva lot of abuse, but the liner — while good — isn’t fairly as stout as you’ll find within the YETI and OtterBox. Need a smaller Fishpond choice? The Fishpond Blizzard Soft Cooler can deal with 8 bottles with plenty of ice, plus it has a flip-open door in the lid for straightforward entry. It’s greatest for day trips or impromptu trips to your buddy’s house if you’d moderately deliver your personal beverages than drink the stuff in his fridge.
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4. ICEMULE Professional
The ICEMULE Pro is among the greatest backpack coolers.
ICEMULE takes a simple general design and turns it into a mushy cooler that’s an absolute joy to make use of: The ICEMULE Pro collection is principally an insulated dry bag with backpack straps. So why does it get a lot love? The worth is greater than truthful, the insulating properties are surprisingly good, it’s snug to carry when full, and it’s waterproof and floats. As well as, its IM Airvalve permits you to add air to extend the insulating properties — or suck air out to make it flat for straightforward storage. Looks like a gimmick, however it works great — particularly whenever you go for the bigger X-Giant or XX-Giant variations. The roll-top closure system works identical to dry luggage, so that you’ll have to use two arms. Still, if you’d like a easy and rugged gentle cooler, the ICEMULE Pro is far better than its simple appears would lead you to consider. What concerning the ICEMULE Basic? The Basic collection uses a single over-the-shoulder strap (like a sling pack) as an alternative of the backpack straps. If you’d like a smaller choice, go together with the ICEMULE Basic that holds 12 cans with ice. As for value and sturdiness, the price-to-value ratio of the ICEMULE Pro is incredible. And the dry-bag design fashion? We shrugged our shoulders at first, but after placing the ICEMULE Professional to work, we’re massive fans of the rugged simplicity. (Take a look at our full ICEMULE Professional evaluation for extra element.)
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5. ENGEL HD30
ENGEL has been a cooler powerhouse for years: The company launched its first era of roto molded coolers in 2005, then designed and patented the unique roto-molded excessive efficiency hard-sided cooler in 2007, which was a yr or so before YETI launched its personal model of a high-end roto-molded cooler. Back to soft-sided coolers: ENGEL has made a few totally different variations, however the new ENGEL HD30 is our favorite. It’s tremendous durable, waterproof, and good at preserving issues chilly. The development is nearly totally welded collectively moderately than sewn, which suggests there are not any tiny little needle holes in the exterior to let warmth slip into the insulating interior. In relation to insulation, ENGEL takes almost the other strategy from ICEMULE — as an alternative of offering a valve that allows you to add air to create a thicker insulating layer, as within the ICEMULE Professional, ENGEL enables you to take your vacuum hose and suck air out of the cooler’s sides and away from its closed-cell foam insulation. This stiffens the soft-sided structure of the cooler and ensures that warm air heated by the sun on the surface of the bag doesn’t mix with cooler air on the inside. In fact, the design and manufacture of any cooler may permit this air to mix — or it won’t be a problem in the first place. Both means, the ENGEL HD30 is huge, awesome and competes very nicely in general ice retention and the power to keep things chilly for a number of days.
Verify Delivery/Pricing: Amazon | ENGEL
6. Hydro Flask Unbound Collection Tote
The brand new Hydro Flask Unbound Collection Tote.
Model new for 2018, the Hydro Flask Unbound Collection of sentimental coolers brings Hydro Flask high quality and elegance to the gentle cooler world. Best recognized for its tremendous in style insulated bottles and meals flasks, the Hydro Flask 24 L Insulated Soft Cooler Tote is the soft-sided cooler for Hydro Flask followers. In fact, it’s nice for many everyone else, too. What’s greatest concerning the Hydro Flask Soft Cooler Tote is its streamlined design. The compression molded base makes it simply freestanding. The liner is FDA food-grade and the zipper is waterproof. It’s designed to carry about 24 cans. A pair small exterior pockets will hold your keys or smartphone. The tote handles make it simpler to hold one-handed however — like a lot of the coolers in this information — Hydro Flask includes a padded shoulder strap once you want an extra hand or have a totally loaded cooler to haul. No surprise here: Hydro Flask also makes a backpack mannequin, the Hydro Flask 22 L Soft Cooler Pack. Each are coated by a 5-year guarantee towards manufacturer defects.
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7. ICEMULE Traveler
The high-capacity ICEMULE Traveler has an easy-to-use ultra-wide opening system.
The new-for-2019 ICEMULE Traveler adds splash of urban type to the ICEMULE tender cooler lineup, however it’s full of outdoor-ready options. Let’s begin with the rugged waterproof zipper. It’s burly and works properly, nevertheless it additionally comes with an ingenious design: The zippered opening pops open extensive and stays open till you close it. ICEMULE calls it a “Bowhead Top.” Incredible function. In fact there’s more — ICEMULE’s declare to fame is its backpack coolers, so it must be no shock that ICEMULE created backpack straps for the Traveler, too. Surprisingly, the removable backpack straps are very snug, even once you’re hauling a heavy load. The 35-liter, 36-can (plus ice) high-capacity Traveler isn’t meant for long treks, but a 600-yard slog right down to the seashore? No drawback. In face, we should always in all probability say this again: The ICEMULE Traveler backpack strap system is astoundingly snug. As for insulation, the ICEMULE PolarPlus will provide you with 48+ hours of ice retention. The general build high quality is superb. Also, don’t overlook the pockets — they’re great for keys, wallets, napkins, and utensils.
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8. Grizzly Drifter 20
The Grizzly Drifter has a removable liner for straightforward cleansing.
Grizzly is one other high-quality roto molded arduous cooler producer that has started making soft-sided coolers, too. The corporate gives a burly lunch-box sized Grizzly Drifter 12 cooler, but the larger Grizzly Drifter 20 is the one which captures our consideration (full assessment right here). The Drifter 20 is pretty new available on the market — you will discover the black model in a couple of places — however the sweet inexperienced/black/orange model continues to be on preorder. The Grizzly Drifter 20 has multiple pockets, together with a vertical pocket pouch that doubles as a cup holder for these occasions when you will have an open beverage and wish a spot to stow it and even carry it with the cooler itself. The lid has a strap system that may let you stow a jacket, shirt or stack of paper plates. You get plenty of lashing factors for boat or ATV/UTV use. Apparently, Grizzly has opted to make use of a detachable waterproof roll prime liner as an alternative of a liner sealed to the exterior foam insulating case. The key profit, in fact, is with the ability to remove the liner for straightforward cleaning. All-in-all, the Drifter 20 is fairly stout with a superb general construct quality. If you need your delicate cooler to have pockets for miscellaneous gear, keys, telephones or perhaps a rolled up towel on prime, attempt the Drifter 20.
Examine Delivery/Pricing: Amazon | Grizzly Coolers
9. Pelican Elite Soft Cooler
Pelican’s rugged fame continues with the Elite Soft Cooler.
The Pelican Elite Soft Cooler is rugged but light-weight and comes in three totally different sizes. The 12-can version is obviously for shorter adventures whereas the midrange 24-can Pelican Elite Soft Cooler is the all-around cooler for many soft-cooler consumers. The 48-can Pelican Elite Soft Cooler is large enough to supply some critical versatility for a number of days — and provides you adequate room to overload it with additional ice. As for insulation, it boasts a semi-rigid structure with high-density closed-cell foam. The liner is an FDA-approved meals grade anti-mildew and anti-odor liner. The waterproof zipper is huge and burly and made to last. The steel tie-down buckles double as bottle openers. All you actually need to do is decide the dimensions you need and name it good.
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10. Orca Podster
The ORCA Podster is an oval shaped backpack cooler. Like most high-end tender coolers in this class, it makes use of closed-cell foam insulation and an FDA food-grade liner. It’s constructed robust, in fact, and boasts a water-proof zipper. The exterior seams are all ultrasonically welded. There are plenty of lashing factors to be used on boats or ATVs. The dimensions is true for many everyone — it’ll maintain 7.5 pounds of ice with about 12 cans, which leads to a reasonably good ice-to-can ratio. As for the lid, it has a few hinge straps that may hold the lid up in order that it doesn’t cling down too far and stress the zipper and materials the place they join — fairly sensible, really. The general design could be very usable and rugged. Incidentally, we like the Podster better than the a lot larger unique Pod simply because of the measurement, however the ORCA Pod is superb, too.
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11. REI Co-op Pack-Away 24 Soft Cooler
The REI Co-op Pack-Away 24 Soft Cooler is huge whenever you need it but folds flat for storage.
The REI Co-op Pack-Away 24 Soft Cooler is probably the most packable smooth cooler we’ve seen for 2019 — it folds flat however then transforms into a normal field form with a few cool folds. You’ll be able to depart the REI Co-op Pack-Away 24 Soft Cooler within the trunk of your automotive or underneath the seat in your pickup, and then growth, it’s prepared once you need it. REI makes a number of totally different Pack-Away variations, however we like the 24-can choice, which may hold 24 cans with 10 lbs. of ice. While the insulation isn’t as strong as most other picks on this record, the REI Co-op Pack-Away 24 Soft Cooler could be very reasonably priced and will nonetheless maintain your drinks cold for as much as 32 hours. The liner is food-grade, seam-sealed and leakproof — simply maintain the cooler upright because the zipper itself isn’t waterproof.
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12. Coleman 24-Hour 30-Can Cooler
When you’re on a very tight price range and you have to go together with a very inexpensive gentle cooler, go together with a Coleman cooler. All the Coleman gentle coolers, together with these with arduous plastic liners, are rattling good coolers for the worth . . . but they only don’t compete with the higher-end, costlier mushy coolers obtainable. Nonetheless, we’d a lot slightly spend money on a Coleman cooler than some other division retailer brand or off-brand knockoff cooler. We like the Coleman 24-hour 30-Can Cooler, in addition to the 30-Can Soft Cooler with a hard liner. Plus, the Coleman Maverick Extremely Backpack Cooler is surprisingly great — we took one on a full-day bike journey around a lake and it fit nicely enough and stored our drinks chilly. None of these coolers are the kinds of coolers you’ll be able to abuse for years, but hey, in the event you need one thing reasonably priced and plan to use somewhat additional ice, we like Coleman.
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The best way to Choose the Best Soft Cooler
Should you’re still having hassle choosing the most effective gentle cooler for you, listed here are our favorite picks in a couple of of the categories we care about most:
Which Soft Cooler Keeps Ice the Longest?
For pure insulating capabilities, the ENGEL HD30 tender cooler holds ice the longest. In fact, there are various real-world variables in usage. The ENGEL HD30 has super thick insulation and a zippered opening that is still principally shut when it’s unzipped, which reduces the impression of hotter air whenever you’re reaching for a cold drink. A cooler with a bigger opening is less environment friendly for ice retention . . . however could possibly be much more user-friendly.
While the overall type issue is an important criteria to us, what in the event you’re in search of the perfect ice retention? If ice retention is your key criteria, you’ll need to go together with any of the high-end choices which are utterly waterproof, which additionally have a tendency to use closed-cell foam insulation. Go together with a measurement that’s a bit larger than you assume you need so you possibly can accommodate extra ice to get the results you’re in search of. The YETI, OtterBox, and ENGEL work notably nicely, particularly when you’ve gotten a minimum of twice the ice as meals contents. Finally, select a light-weight shade, like white, silver or grey that has a greater probability of reflecting a bit more sunshine than darker colours: If the surface shell absorbs slightly less heat, you may get a couple of extra slivers of ice before you pull out the last drink. In fact, we’re fans of colour, so we’d relatively go daring in just about each selection obtainable. To every their very own.
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More Notable Soft Coolers
These soft-sided coolers are additionally excellent — they might have made the top 10 or 12 on someone else’s listing. We now have to draw a line somewhere, however like we stated, these are additionally great smooth coolers, and are notably value testing if considered one of our prime 12 just didn’t sing to you.
RTIC SoftPak — RTIC is the cooler manufacturer with the fame for providing YETI-competing coolers at a much lower cost, and actually, bumped into some trademark infringement issues with YETI. In the meantime, RTIC has dealt with the issues and gives each onerous and smooth coolers at lower cost points.
Polar Bear 48 Pack H20 Waterproof Cooler — Waterproof TPU exterior, leakproof, closed cell foam insulation, and a monster measurement. Notice: The 24 Pack H20 version is simply nearly as good, just smaller.
Kelty Folding Cooler — The perfect factor concerning the Kelty Folding Cooler is that you would be able to have an enormous cooler appropriate for a weekend tenting journey . . . after which fold it down for storage.
AO Canvas Collection — Cheap however well-insulated.
Are Onerous or Soft Coolers Better?
For longer trips that require chilly food and drinks storage for two or more days, hard-sided coolers are better. As well as, hard-sided coolers are available larger sizes and are more sturdy. However, soft-sided coolers are lighter and are simpler to hold. Select soft-sided coolers for 1-2 day outings and hard-sided coolers for 2-7 day trips.
Want a hard-sided cooler suggestion? Attempt the ultra-rugged line of Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Coolers [full Cabela’s Polar Cap review here].
For max week-long ice retention, you’ll want a hard-sided roto-molded cooler just like the Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler.