Best Cooler Bag: How to Choose a Bag for Your Summer Outdoor Trips

Cooler bag
Written by Russell McCarty

Summer is the time of planning for a cool outing with family, friends or as a solo traveler. It is because everyone loves to enjoy the summer holidays in the best recreational localities with activities like hiking, hunting, picnic and camping somewhere within nature’s best offering. But hey, don’t you think the stuff like food and especially the beverages need to be kept cool all the time?

No one would ever like to compromise their trip by drinking potentially dangerous water from rivers and sips of warm water somewhere in the mountains to quench their thirst. Just to avoid these non-acceptable compulsions, a cooler bag is a must not only for keeping beverages and food preserved but also making the ice cubes durable for getting cold water as well demanded by the season and climate.

But which one could be the best cooler bag for you? Seems a difficult question to answer especially with hundreds of varieties available in the market.

Hold on! How about we help you deciding for the suitable cooler bag? If you are serious on the matter, keep reading this and you will find a solution to your problem. We have chosen some of the top cooler bags and will be reviewing them to help you choose the best product that will make your trip great.

As an obvious fact, carrying heavy, bulky and larger items is not a wise approach. Whether it is anything from a small knife to a camping tent. Your gear and supplies needs to be simple, lighter, smaller and portable while you’re on the trail.

The industrialization advancement thus has greatly contributed in making this possible by introducing better and lightweight products. The hard, large and heavy traveling coolers are now replaced with smaller, lighter and easily portable bags. Varying in sizes, the best feature of these portable cooler bags is the foldability. When you don’t need the thing, just fold and keep it in your pack with little to no hassle.

Features of Portable Cooler Bags


Insulation is the foremost thing that one looks in a cooler bag. It is sorted for the proper insulation system which keeps your food and other supplies cold or warm as per the conditions. Previously, the cooler bags used to be highly insulated but had a rigid box made up of hard materials like plastic and quite bulky. Although the insulation factor was high, it was hard to manage especially for accommodating space.

The latest thermal technology introducea more flexible and advanced portable cooler bags which quickly dominated the market. Keeping the insulation system more effective, a huge variation phase in the designing and manufacturing material is noted.

A well-insulated cooler bag not only helps in fulfilling the need for small lunch and outdoor parties but also applicable in long adventure trips. The durable nature of highly insulated bags gives you extra time to keep the beverages and ice cold for longer periods of time. Furthermore, the easy portability of these bags provide the option of taking a light bag pack when you are traveling.

Food Storage

It is normally believed that the cooler bags are capable of keeping the foodstuff at a regulated or uniform temperature for longer periods of time. However, this is not the only case. The cooler bags along with keeping your food and supplies cool or hot can also help in preserving them for longer periods of time.

The latest models have extra-large storage capacity. The insulating medium in the material regulates the temperature in harsh weather or environmental conditions but the space for keeping extra ice bag packs are capable of preserving the quality and taste of the food.

If you are on a long trip to a pretty remote location, then taking a highly insulated cooler bag with some packs of ice will keep your food (like fruits, meat, vegetables) fresh.

Most of the adventurers and travelers prefer the bags with numerous availability of pockets and storage options to accommodate more things in a single pack and keeping this in mind, the manufacturers are bringing the possible multi-pockets cooler bags to the market. Not only this but most of the varieties also have the options for holding items other than food like glasses, keychains, traveling knife, GPS and torch etc.


Till now we know that the core feature of a cooler bag is durability in terms of temperature. However, it is worth noting that portable cooler bags are highly durable not only in terms of temperature but in general as well. The wear, tear and breakage problems are commonly associated with traveling cooler bags.

Since then, manufacturers have focused on improving the durability of their cooler bags. Since these bags are subjected to intense environments, they need to be able to withstand the harsh conditions. You need  a bag that will last you a long time.

The internal lining material and external coverage should begood enough to withstand the inevitable impacts and shocks that could happen while traveling. The antimicrobial heat-sealed PEVA lining makes it highly resistant to heat and improved overall durability. The waterproof nature and leak-resistance qualities are also common in most of the varieties of these items.


Outdoor activities demand the light weight and smaller size when it comes to traveling equipment. Whether you’re a solo traveler or in a group, it is always best to keep the size and weight of your load at a minimum. A passionate traveler thus chooses the ideal traveling items for the trip. Cooler bags are also dealt the same way. As mentioned earlier, the classic traveling cooler bags’ main flaw was the size and accommodating space.

Keeping this issue in mind, these portable bags are quite convenient and lenient on the matter. They are easily available in different sizes ranging from a small and lighter compact bag to the larger ones. Of course, the larger the size of the cooler bag, the heavier it will be.

But that problem is now solved by the strong straps and handles available in the latest designs. Another good thing about these portable cooler bags is, of course, the portability which were lacking in the classic designs of the cooler bag.


The material used in the manufacturing of the cooler bags were PVC, plastic and other related polymers. Although they were good enough in providing rigidity and toughness along with highly insulating nature, this factor had a direct impact in the sizing of the cooler bag.

The ones now we have in the market are now made from synthetic materials like polyester which has high durability. The synthetic materials are also easily washable. Other materials like vinyl and PVC are also used in some designs but they are avoided by most of the consumers because they may seep into the food and contaminate it with the chemicals.

Top Cooler Bag Reviews

Cooler bags are available in different styles, sizes and designs, each having their own specialties. But when it comes to your choice, you will obviously look for one which is more suitable and in linewith your preferences. You probably need one that would make the financing investment count. Thus, we have taken the liberty to highlight some of the best cooler bags available in the market to help you out.

Igloo Insulated Duffle Cooler Bag

Igloo Insulated Duffle Cooler Bag

Weight: 0.7 pounds

Dimensions: 30 x 14 inches

Specific features: PVC-free, highly insulated, specially designed insulated side pockets for holding cans, availability of multiple storage pockets, approved product of US FDA in accordance with food contact and safety

Best use: Sporting events, hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing

The Igloo Cooler Bag is an ideal option for outdoor sporting activities. It is preferred for its multi-storage ability and larger container size. The manufacturing material in the lining is capable of eliminating the risk of contaminating the food stored inside.

There is no PVC material used in the product and is made up of pure polyester with good insulation maintaining the coolness or hotness of the food stored for about seven hours. The portability is also easy because of the availability of adjustable straps and handles.

This fancy designed cooler bag have a dry container duffle at the center supported by cooler on the either sides. If you are on a single day trip or sporting activity, this is your perfect choice.

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Thermos Raya Premium Cooler Tote Bag

Thermos Raya Premium Cooler

Weight: 8 ounces

Dimensions: 8 x 16 x 11.2 inches

Specific features: 100% PVC free, superior cold retention through IsoTec multi-layered insulation structure, ability to hold about 24 cans, extra-large size top container, heat sealed PEVA lining

Best use: Picnicking, lunch party, beach party, adventure trips, tailgating

Thermos Raya Cooler Tote Bag is a lightweight portable product in very affordable price. The worthy feature of this product is the effective insulation ability due to the integration of IsoTec multilayered technology. Although it’s lightweight, it has the capacity of holding about 24 cans inside.

The multi-pockets for the cans also enhances the design and look of the product. The Thermos Raya Cooler Tote Bag is comfortable to carry due to the availability of the padded handle. This cooler bag is for you if you love drinking cold beverages on the go and love to travel in the summer. The superior cold retention of the cooler bag will get you cold beverages in your trail for a long duration of time.

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Igloo Fancy Fruit Apples Thermal Tote

Apples Thermal Tote

Weight: 2.1 pounds

Dimensions: 20.5 x 15 x 9.8 inches

Specific Features: Leak resistant interior, polartherm insulation for keeping the items cool or warm, antimicrobial heat-sealed liners, flat folding for easy storage

Best use: Ideal for shopping grocery especially in the intense winter or summer seasons, hiking trips, riverside parties, music and beach parties.

The extra-large size of the Igloo Fancy Fruit Apples Thermal Tote makes its preferable to its counterparts in the same price range. It is the best choice for carrying fruits and vegetables for small trips and parties. The freshness of the fruits and vegetables are preserved by the antimicrobial liners.

This bag seems very ordinary but the best thing is, of course, its leak-resistant interior. You don’t need to have any tensions carrying it along in the rain with some precious food items inside. For light travelers and vegetarians, this is the best choice to include in their traveling necessities list. 

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Arctic Zone Pro Cooler

Arctic Zone Pro 18 Can Cooler

Weight: 0.9 pounds

Dimensions: 9.25 x 7.25 x 11 inches

Specific features:  Large size, made up of 840D polyester with high-density thermal insulation, easily cleanable leak-proof lining, easy portability with handles and shoulder straps available

Best Use: Lunch box, camping, hiking, boating, traveling, weekender

The Arctic Zone Pro Can Cooler is mostly considered as the best lunch box available for traveling or camping. There are even people that use it as a lunch box when going to work. There are different varieties in size available like Arctic Zone Pro 12, Arctic Zone Pro 16 and more.

Each of them gives the option of choosing one as per the need of the person. Exterior pockets are available for holding water bottles or other items. The best and highly rated feature of this product is the high-density thermal insulation in its interior. If you are looking for a model with compact design with limited but important features, this is for you.

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Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers

Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers

Weight: 2.92 pounds

Dimensions: 11.5 x 13.25 x 14.5 inches

Specific features: Easily cleanable and highly durable, anti-mildew and UV protective, non-corrosive manufacturing material making it ideal for harsh marine conditions, leak-resistant, 1.1-inch ultra-thick high insulation, stain and odor resistant with 0.35 mm antimicrobial PEVA liner

Best use: Long trips, hiking, lunch box, fishing excursion, camping, boating

The Igloo Marine is a highly durable cooler bag with multiple available incredible features. The best choice for those who want to enjoy their hiking, camping, fishing and adventure trips. This specially designed cooler bag has the capacity for 24 cans. Along with this, the side pockets provide the convenience of storing keys, glasses and mobile phone.

This cooler is featured with advanced lining materials for insulation keeping your beverages and drinks perfectly cool no matter what time and temperature of the day it is. It is considered as a great cooler because it can withstand intense and harsh marine conditions. We highly recommend this product to those who love sailing, boating and fishing excursions.

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Evrgrn Backpack Cooler

evrgrn backpack cooler

Weight: 13 ounces

Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 7.25 inches

Specific features: Waterproof insulated PEVA liner, tough and durable, highly weather-resistant, interior zipping pockets, easily washable, made up of polyester material

Best use: Camping, picnicking, paddle board day trips, bike outing, tailgating

The Evrgrn Cooler is one of the latest designs from REI products with excellent waterproofing and weather-resistant qualties. The insulated liner can be easily removed for cleaning purposes without compromising the quality and durability of the cooler.

Being tough and rigid, it can easily be placed in a vertical position and can serve as a small table. The outstanding insulation property of this product will get you optimum temperature for about 24 hours which is nothing short of impressive. If you are planning a long day trip, check out this cooler and it will not disappoint.

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Yodo Collapsible Soft Cooler Bag

Yodo Collapsible Soft Cooler Bag

Weight: 1.72 pounds


  • 18L: 12.6 x 9.4 x 11.8 inches
  • 25L: 17.7 x 10.6 x 10.6 inches

Specific features: FDA qualified aluminum foil lining, 4-6 hours temperature regulating ability, leak proof and leak resistant due to heat-welded seams, a separate mesh pocket for ice packs, soft and collapsible helpful in saving space

Best use: Beach parties, picnicking, sporting events, music parties, shopping, tailgating, lunch box, traveling

The Yodo Cooler bag is featured by the vast compartment which is capable of accommodating almost everything you need for your outdoor trip. The ideal 18 L size is best for placing beverages, meat, snacks, ice packs and more. The thermal regulating ability of this product is good enough to last for about 6 hours, making it the ultimate choice for day trips.

The foldability or collapsible nature will help you save that precious space. Its portability is provided by the adjustable straps and padded handles along with multi-pockets for items like icepack, napkins and more. In our opinion, the most suitable and fit choice for a family trip or friends party is the Yodo cooler bag.

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To wrap it up…

Now that you know much about the portable cooler bags, its core features and usage flexibility, you can easily choose the best one that will meet your needs and requirements. Among the diverse varieties of portable cooler bags, the high insulaton, lightweight, leak proof, extra durability and multi-pockets features are good things to consider when you shop for one.

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Russell McCarty

Russell considers backpacking one of his great passions in life. He actually managed to transform his passion into a living becoming a professional adventurer. Russell loves long-distance backpacking and he enriched his portfolio with famous trails like the Alaska-Yukon Expedition or the Appalachian Trail. With thousands of miles under his feet, Russell is the expert to consult when it comes to how to prepare for a successful outdoor adventure.