Backpack coolers are immensely convenient. It’s no secret why they’re a favorite for everyone from beach goers, campers, and party animals. The convenience just isn’t matched by a single shoulder strap or handle. They range in size, price, style, pocket layout, and cooler technology.
Things to consider
Some backpack coolers are better than others and we’re here to show you the best of the best. But before we get to our top picks, there are few important things to consider before making your buying choice.
The size of your cooler will be important. That’s a no-brainer, but it’s important to think through what you plan on using your cooler for to determine the size that’s right for you. Carrying around a cooler that’s way bigger and heavier than it needs to be is frustrating and can get exhausting over time.
Most backpack coolers tend to stay smaller due to design restrictions. They find themselves at the perfect size for carrying drinks for one or two people and maybe a few snacks. They’re not a good size if you plan on using it to carry things for a large group or for things like keeping fish cool after you catch them. Think of a backpack cooler as a convenient way to take care of yourself.
Different backpacks will have different standards. Some are very clearly made to replace a lunch box while others are made with more durable construction.
Again, it’s important to decide if it’s worth it for you to pay more for more durable materials and construction. If you just plan on using the cooler to keep some drinks cold on a walk to the beach, there’s no need to spend more.
On the other hand, if you plan on taking your pack into the woods where branches and brush are sure to snag it or get caught on the straps a more durable construction will be important for you. In this case, you should look for packs made with stronger nylon fibers. Many of these packs will have features geared towards camping – more on that later.
The comfort of your cooler might be the most important thing to consider when buying a backpack cooler. What’s the point of buying a backpack cooler if it hurts your shoulders and leaves you carrying it in hand? Make sure to take a close look at the padding on the straps.
If you’re ordering online and can’t feel the padding in person make sure to read reviews. An uncomfortable pack is sure to warrant negative reviews. Make sure the straps are long enough for you as well and consider the strap layout. Will you only need two straps or will you need more to keep your cooler secure? Take time to consider your options and use.
The weight distribution of your pack is easy to overlook, but incredibly important if you plan on carrying a heavy load. The weight of cans and food add up quickly and will feel much heavier after an hour than they do when you first put the pack on.
You can minimize the stress on your back and discomfort from carrying a heavy load by making sure to pick a pack that will distribute the weight evenly.
You should also make sure items can be distributed so that if you plan to take food and cans you can separate the two can keep your snacks from getting crushed with every step you take. This is just a minor concern, but something to consider none-the-less.
This goes along with making sure you can distribute the weight evenly in your pack, but it goes a step further than that. Make sure you can keep things separated if needed (think food and cans like the earlier example). Or if you plan on bringing food and also storing fish you catch in the cooler it will be important to make sure you have enough pockets to accommodate your needs.
You should also consider the non-cooler pockets. If you’re going to the beach, where will you put your phone, wallet, and keys? Leaving them in sight can lead to a sandy overheated phone and your possessions getting stolen. Make sure the additional pockets are both large enough and potentially hidden to protect your things.
Do you need a bottle opener, speakers, or places to attach your other gear? Take a minute to shop around and explore options with features that can cut down on your load. Many coolers come with fun and useful features without adding much to the total cost of the cooler.
This is the most important factor when buying a backpack cooler. Determining what you plan on using your cooler for will make all the difference in choosing the right cooler. Go over the list above and think about what is important to you.
Be sure to determine the more important factors like size, durability, comfort, and pocket layout first. Any of those could be a deal breaker and leave the cooler collecting dust out in the garage.
Top Backpack Coolers You Should Try
It’s a well-known fact that backpack coolers are not created equal. Therefore, you can’t just go to a shop and choose and be done with your day.
The most important thing is that you choose a cooler that will cater to your needs and intended usage. We know that shopping for a backpack cooler can be rather daunting, so we have put together a list of some of the best products that should please a wide range of backpackers.
Picnic at Ascot Diamond Collection Cooler Backpack
Dimensions: 11 x 8 x 14 inches
Features: Patter Design, Extra Pockets, Rugged 600 denier polyester canvas, Heat welded leak-proof liner
Best Use: Social Outings, Camping
The Picnic at Ascot Diamond Collection Cooler is perfect for the beach, bringing food and drinks to a party, or carrying snacks on the trail. The backpack is leak-proof and insulated to keep your food and drinks fresh over the course of the day.
Its excellent insulation combined with the plentiful pockets for your phone wallet and keys plus decorative pattern make it perfect for a day hanging out with friends. This is the perfect party bag. This is the perfect bag for a day of fun in the sun.
The bag is constructed from a rugged 600 denier polyester canvas material and features adjustable padded straps to keep you comfortable. With the pack fully loaded with 22 cans you’ll appreciate the padding and design. This pack has one main pocket with insulation and 2 side drink pockets.
On top of that, it has a buckled front pocket and a small zipper pocket on the top. You’re sure to keep all your belongings secure and out of sight with this pack. You’ll enjoy your time with this pack at the beach, parties, tailgates, and concerts.
Yodo 18L Collapsible Soft Cooler Bag
Dimensions: 11.81 x 9.45 x 12.6 inches
Features: Pattern Design, Easy Access Hatch
Best Use: Picnic or Beach Party, Camping, Backpacking
The Yodo Collapsible Soft Cooler comes in an 18 and 25 liter option. For this review we’ll be focusing on the 18 liter bag. This bag is sealed tight. In fact, it’s waterproof with a sturdy polyester canvas material. With only one strap it might not be comfortable enough to take on the trail, but if you did it would surely come out in one piece.
The 18l option has plenty of space for whatever you need to get through the day. Going to party and need to bring drinks? This bag has you covered. Want to take food to work? This pack has more than enough room to carry everything you could possibly eat over the course of the day.
The pack comes with a bright blue pattern design. While it is a little feminine it will look good on whoever is wearing it. You’re sure to look in your element on a sunny day.
The bag also features a large pocket separate from the insulated pocket that is perfect for your phone, wallet, keys, and anything else you could need to bring with you. This pack is highly recommended for anyone looking to enjoy a nice day in the sun without worrying about restocking throughout the day.
Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler
Dimensions: 19.29 x 6.3 x 12.2 inches
Features: Two Insulated Pockets, Extra Padding, Adjustable Shoulder and Waist Straps
Best Use: Long Days in the Sun, Hiking, Backpacking
The Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler is perfect for keeping your food and snacks cool in situations varying from the park to the campsite. You can expect this bag to keep your things fresh all day. This pack is also perfect for bringing breakfast and lunch to work.
You’ll look professional with the khaki color scheme while still having plenty of space for everything you could need throughout the day. If you plan on using this pack during the weekend you’ll be prepared to carry 30 cans with you to the party, concert, or get together. The extra padding on the straps is sure to keep you comfortable despite a full load.
This pack also features two separate insulated areas. That means you can separate food and drinks to keep things from getting crushed and make it more convenient to access the things you need most. This bag is also rugged enough to be trusted on the trail and at the campsite.
You can trust this bag no matter the situation. The bag also has plenty of extra pockets to hold your phone, keys, and wallet in case you’re getting in the water or don’t have pockets. Overall, this bag is highly recommended as a jack of all trades.
Picnic Time ‘Zuma’ Insulated Cooler Backpack
Dimensions: 11 x 8 x 19 inches
Features: Large Insulated Pockets, Durable polyester fabric, Heat-sealed, water-resistant lining
Best Use: Hiking or Camping, Travel
The Picnic Time Zuma Cooler is perfect for any man looking to bring drinks and food on a hike or to the beach. This cooler is definitely more masculine than the rest on our list and has the most traditional backpack style. You’re sure not to catch any flak for having a bright blue and pink bag with this on your back.
The durable fabric is also light weight enough for you to bring this bag on the trail without being overwhelmed. The pack features two compartments, the top compartment is perfect for snacks and items you’ll need to access in a hurry while the bottom is perfect for the drinks you want to keep cool and refreshing.
You’ll be glad to have this pack with you on the trail after you crack open a cold drink after a long hike. This bag is sure to keep your things cool all day. The top section is perfect for if you need to access things quickly thanks to the drawstrings that keep the compartment closed. On top of the drawstrings is a buckled down cover to keep your items safe and secure.
OAGear Backpack Cooler
Dimensions: 17.2 x 13.7 x 3.2 inches
Features: Compact Lightweight Design, Heat sealed no-leak liner, Padded backpack straps
Best Use: Lunchbox, Hiking, Backpacking, Camping
The OAGear Backpack Cooler is the most compact on our list. The lightweight compact design will allow you to carry this bag throughout the day without any hassle. This bag features tons of extra pockets for your phone, wallet, tablet, key, folders, and anything else you could need during your workday.
The bag features a 6 x 6 insulated pocket that will surely keep your lunch cool through the morning. If you bike to work, this bag will be perfect for you. You won’t even notice it on your back.
This bag is also rugged enough to be taken on the trail or to survive a fall off your bike in the worst case. This pack can carry 20 cans and still have room for ice.
That’s plenty to last you through a game of golf or to keep your water cool during a long day kayaking. It is also waterproof to keep your snacks and drinks both cool and dry. You can rely on this pack in nearly any situation.
The pack also comes in a multitude of colors. The six options are generally more masculine meaning this pack will look at home on the trail or in any other rugged situations.
evrgrn 24 Pack Backpack Cooler
Dimensions: 18.5 x 13 x 7.5 inches
Features: Removable Cooler Insert, Interior zippered pocket, Interior zippered pocket
Best Use: Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
The evrgrn 24 Backpack Cooler is unique due to its removable cooler. The cooler is designed to fit snugly and attach to the backpack. You can remove the cooler and use the pack as a standard backpack if the situation calls for it.
The pack is tough and made from a waterproof polyester. It might not look like it, but it will be right at home on the trail. The bag also features a large pocket big enough for a laptop or cutting board depending on the situation. Otherwise you’ll surely be able to fit all your daily necessities inside.
Overall, this bag is sure to make you happy and has something to offer everyone. You’ll be comfortable thanks to the ergonomic design and extra padding and you’ll appreciate the flexibility of the removable cooler.
Backpack coolers are undoubtedly the most convenient way to keep food and drinks cool and mobile throughout the day. So if you haven’t used one, we highly recommend that you do so especially if you’re a frequent backpacker. However, it’s imperative that you choose the right cooler for your needs in order to make the most out of it.
Do you have a favorite backpack cooler? What coolers would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!