Backpacks and coolers both have come a long way. So it makes perfect sense to combine the two for cooling on the go. The end result is a litany of excellent choices for outdoor fun. I was able to get my hands on several backpack coolers over the summer, and I have to tell you, there are some awesome models out there.
For your shopping convenience, I have narrowed down the five best entries. That in itself was not an easy task, as I enjoyed many backpacks that didn’t make the cut.
But for the ones that made the grade, you’ll find all the details you need to make a smart, educated purchase. Additionally, you will find a handy buyer’s guide immediately following the reviews. It’s packed with helpful tips that will make your research for the best backpack cooler much easier.
View The 5 Best Backpack Coolers on the Market Below
1. Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler – Best Budget Cooler
For the first cooler backpack review, I want to share with you an excellent budget option. Coleman once again delivers an affordable yet effective cooler. As one of my favorite top-rated backpack coolers, this model sports all the necessities for a user-friendly experience. This insulated backpack has a main compartment that keeps food and drinks cold for hours.
I love the front zippered pocket. It’s a little tight, but it has leak-proof lining. So you can store your cell phone in it without fear of water damage. You even get a mesh pocket on each side of the backpack cooler – perfect for carrying bottles. I was able to fit more than 24 cans into the backpack cooler, so there’s definitely plenty of room to work with.
It has some of the best backpack cooler shoulder straps I’ve ever used. They feature mesh lining on the underside, so your shoulders stay cool and dry during use. And you’re going to love the rear portion that rests against your back.
It is entirely made of mesh, so you don’t sweat nearly as much. This is a smart addition that goes a long way in providing you with comfort throughout its use.
I was able to keep ice in this backpack cooler without any leaking whatsoever. Thanks to the Coleman soft cooler design, this helps lend to its versatility. I found this backpack cooler entry to be perfect for all sorts of occasions. It’s an excellent investment is you plan on going to a theme park, and yet it works great as a cooling companion for outings in the woods.
You’re getting an excellent bargain with this backpack cooler. It’s a little limited when it comes to additional storage, but at least it has a couple of mesh pockets. The build-quality is excellent, providing plenty of durability.
Size: 12.2 x 6.3 x 19.3 inches
Capacity: 28-can capacity
Weight: 1.06 pounds
- Large capacity
- Easy to carry
- Limited storage
2. RTIC Day Cooler Backpack – Best Value Cooler
When it comes to the best cooler backpack for the price, RTIC gets the win. You’re getting a lot for your money, with a design and features that deliver comfort and convenience. Soft sided backpacks with coolers can be hit or miss. But as you’ll soon discover in my RTIC backpack cooler review, this entry is a hit in just about every department.
The first thing I noticed was the exceptional build-quality. RTIC didn’t skimp on producing a well-made, durable, and comfy unit. The backpack straps are wide and supportive, helping to make your treks and journeys more manageable.
The Day Cooler provides you with enough capacity to carry up to 15 cans at a time, making this an excellent investment for outdoor expeditions. Backpacks with cooler capabilities should be able to hold ice for a respectable amount of time, and RTIC doesn’t disappoint.
You can look forward to 24 hours of cooling thanks to the clever construction on deck here. There is, however, one caveat that comes into play. You need to be sure to put your ice in a leak-proof bag or container before putting it into the backpack.
The Day Cooler itself is not leak-proof, so you will have a melted mess on your hands by the end of the day if you don’t take the proper precautions. This is to be expected from a soft cooler like this, so it’s really not that big of a deal. Besides, it’s an easy fix that takes only a few seconds to remedy.
RTIC’s Day Cooler is a fine example of one of the best backpack coolers on the market. I love its side pockets and large storage capacity. It has excellent ice retention, and its shoulder straps are comfortable. The only thing missing is a bottle opener.
Size: 16.9 x 12 x 9 inches
Capacity: 15-can capacity
Weight: 2.74 pounds
- Heavy-duty construction
- Great ice retention
- Plenty of storage
- Large capacity
- Backpack isn’t leak-proof
3. YETI Hopper Backflip 24
For those of you who demand the best backpack with cooler capabilities, the YETI Hopper Backflip 24 is the definitive choice. Just be prepared to pay a pretty penny for this backpack cooler, because it is pricey. That being said, you’re getting some of the best ice retention around, with ice staying frozen for 24 hours!
The build-quality here is top-notch. The Backflip sports a waterproof shell, meaning you can take this backpack cooler kayaking if you like. It’s easily the best backpack with a cooler for long, outdoor treks in the elements.
This insulated backpack features a huge main compartment for storing your food and ice. While it doesn’t quite hold 24 cans, I was able to fit 20, and the comfortable shoulder straps help tremendously with carrying heavier loads.
The only real downside here – other than the high price – is that there isn’t any extra storage. No front pocket, side pockets, or mesh pockets. Still, the main draw here is the huge size and amazing ability to keep your ice cold.
Another huge bonus that you’re going to love in this backpack cooler is its anti-mildew construction. That’s right, its food-grade liner material and fabric shell prevent growth, so you never have to worry about build-up. Just another reason why YETI makes the best backpack coolers I have yet to try.
If you love fishing, the Backflip makes an excellent companion. It’s perfect for storing your fish and keeping them chilled until you get home. And again, you don’t have to worry about water damage, so it’s safe to take with you on the water if you’re fishing from a boat.
I really enjoyed my time with this one. As top-rated cooler backpacks go, the Backflip is a winner. Yes, I wish it at least had a front pocket, and it is rather expensive. But you’re getting the best backpack cooler that money can buy for retaining ice and keeping food cold.
Size: 13.8 x 8.5 x 19.1 inches
Capacity: 20-can capacity
Weight: 3.2 pounds
- Incredible ice retention
- Attractive design
- Large capacity
- No extra pockets
4. FORICH Cooler Backpack
FORICH’s Cooler Backpack entry is the Swiss Army Knife of backpack coolers. It is loaded down with handy features and functions that make it stand out from all other models. Heck, it even has a built-in bottle opener!
I love the durable construction of this unit. FORICH made this soft cooler backpack tough as nails, making it the perfect companion for hiking, camping, biking – you name it. Soft sided coolers aren’t supposed to have this kind of versatility, but FORICH made it happen.
From top to bottom, this soft cooler backpack screams convenience. It has incredible storage space, too. You can easily fit up to 30 cans in this thing! Perhaps my favorite part is the sheer number of pockets available. There’s a large front pocket that has a smaller pocket built right into it.
And on top of the Cooler Backpack is a handy zipper pocket for easy access. On each side of the unit are huge mesh pockets that can hold two wine bottles each! I’m telling you, if you want a backpack built for storage, this is the one for you.
Filling up the backpack is made easy thanks to a large zippered top. You can pour cold water directly into it if you like, as the entire backpack is leak-proof. There’s excellent insulation throughout that serves to keep your food and drinks cold for hours.
I am thoroughly impressed with what FORICH has accomplished here. Their Cooler Backpack is an excellent investment for anyone who loves to travel. The amount of storage you get is dizzying, and the lightweight body makes transportation a breeze.
Size: 15.4 x 12 x 2.1 inches
Capacity: 30-can capacity
Weight: 1.95 pounds
- Incredible storage
- Leak-proof design
- Tons of features
- Large capacity
- Sides aren’t insulated
5. Igloo MaxCold
You can’t have cooler backpack reviews without including an Igloo. The MaxCold backpack cooler is a welcome addition that delivers quality performance. There’s a lot to like about this unit, from its sleek design to its compact construction.
I love that Igloo included plenty of pockets. I’m a big fan of having a mesh pocket on backpack coolers, and the MaxCold certainly has its fair share. You get one sizable front pocket, as well as pockets on the side. In fact, the entire backpack cooler is lined with mesh from top to bottom.
This plays a big part in keeping you cool and dry while carrying the backpack cooler. And speaking of carrying, I love the backpack straps on the MaxCold. They are soft and well-padded, making transportation much more enjoyable. Combined with its smaller body, you’ll want to bring this unit with you wherever you go.
Loading up the backpack cooler is made easy thanks to a large, zippered top. I had no trouble filling it to the brim with food and drinks. It seals up nicely and keeps cold trapped in really well.
The MaxCold can carry up to 18 cans with ease, and it does a fine job of keeping food cold during long outings. The backpack cooler has plenty of insulation to ensure that you aren’t left with melted ice midway through the day. Even better, Igloo made sure to make this backpack leak-proof.
While the MaxCold won’t keep your ice frozen for 24 hours, it does a commendable job of staying cold. It should serve you well for most one-day trips. I found that keeping my ice in bags helps to preserve it, and I have less mess to deal with at the end of the day.
I absolutely adore the compact size of the MaxCold. It’s a breeze to carry around, and makes travel much more convenient. Pound for pound, it’s one of the best cooler backpacks around. I love its design, and its many pockets ensure that you’re never short on storage.
*It’s important to note that past models of the MaxCold were prone to ripping quite easily. Igloo became aware of this defect and promptly fixed it. All new models have since been updated to provide quality stitching and better durability.
Size: 10.5 x 8 x 6.5 inches
Capacity: 18-can capacity
Weight: 1.19 pounds
- Plenty of storage
- Leak resistant
- Compact size
- Smaller capacity
Backpack Cooler Buyer’s Guide
Alright, you’ve seen the top entries. Now I want to share some important buying information with you so that you invest in the right backpack for your needs.
There are many factors that should be considered before you invest in any one model. That’s why I want to make sure that you know what to look for when shopping. In the following sections, I’ll break down the most important buying points for your convenience.
This is one aspect that is entirely subjective. Depending on your needs and use, you may not need a large backpack. What works for you may not work for the next person, and vice versa. It’s important to gauge your needs before shopping so that you have a good idea of what to look for.
If you’re going to be using your backpack cooler for long expeditions, you probably want to invest in a bigger model. But if you’re only going to be out for a few hours each day, a smaller unit will do nicely.
It’s also wise to think about any other equipment you will be bringing with you. You may want to downsize and lighten your load by going with a compact cooler backpack.
Not having adequate insulation can make or break your outdoor ventures. Always be sure to review each model’s insulation to ensure that it is capable of providing for your needs.
If you’re only going to be out for a few hours, you don’t need to invest in a backpack cooler with the best insulation. These can often be mighty expensive. There’s no need to spend the extra money on a unit that you don’t really need. Go with an affordable option that has sufficient insulation and you’re sure to have a good time.
This is a big one. If you’re going to be using your backpack cooler on the beach or in a boat, for example, you’re going to want a good, waterproof backpack cooler. Always be sure to research the material that each backpack is made out of before making your purchase.
You don’t want to wind up with a ruined backpack all because it wasn’t made of the right material for your needs. I’ve found that this can also play a role in the overall weight of your cooler backpack, as well. In relation to the size of your new potential investment, you should think about the weight of the material and what impact that will have on your journeys.
A little progressive thinking goes a long way in you having a more enjoyable experience. Remember, you may not need to invest in the absolute best backpack cooler. A budget-friendly unit will likely provide for your needs and save you a good portion of money in the process.
As you have likely gathered from my reviews, adequate storage is a big deal for me. I love backpack coolers with lots of pockets. This allows you to carry everything you need without worrying having to carry extra bags.
Examine each entry to ensure that it has plenty of storage to accommodate for your needs. If you’re going to be out for a few days, this is especially important. And if you’re using your backpack for hiking or biking, the less you have to pack around, the better.
If you’re buying your backpack cooler for getting together with friends, you may want to consider investing in a larger unit. This will allow you to bring along plenty of drinks and food. And if you want a cooler backpack for ice, make sure that it is capable of holding enough for your time out.
We’ve all been there. You packed your cooler full of ice, thinking it will last all day, only to find it melted midway through your cookout. How embarrassing. This is what you want to avoid, so it’s important to research the insulation on your potential new investment to ensure that it will hold ice for a respectable amount of time.
By and large, most coolers will hold ice for a few hours without issue. But for those of us who need ice held longer, we need to invest in something capable of delivering results. Many soft side coolers are well insulated, providing cooling for a full day; maybe a little less.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Will a Cooler Backpack Stay Cold?
This largely depends on the insulation of the backpack (see above). The thicker the backpack is, the longer it should keep your items cold. It’s always best to keep your items well chilled before putting them into your cooler backpack.
This will ensure that they stay colder a lot longer. Most backpack coolers will keep your food cold for around 8 hours, but those with more insulation will provide cooling even longer.
Can I Use My Backpack Cooler Without Ice?
Absolutely. That’s the great thing about these kinds of backpacks. But once again, the better the backpack is insulated, the more effective it will be in keeping things cold.
It’s also important to note that every time you open your backpack, you’re allowing warm air to enter. Try to minimize how often you do this and your backpack will perform a lot better.
Investing in a cooler backpack yields many advantages. They are highly versatile and convenient for all kinds of uses. Whether you’re taking them on a picnic, going to the beach, or using them for camping purposes, cooler backpacks are a handy companion to have around.
By factoring in your wants and needs prior to shopping, you will have much easier time finding the right backpack to fit your individual needs. By doing a little research, you are sure to invest in a cooler backpack that will serve you well for years to come.
Don’t leave your ice packs in your cooler backpack for too long. This can be especially dangerous if you leave them out in the sun. Ice packs can burst in extreme heat, resulting in one nasty mess in your backpack. Always take the time to remove them and, if possible, refreeze them between uses.
Did You Know?
Many cooler backpacks are designed with food grade lining, making them resistant to the growth of mold and mildew. Backpack coolers are great for anytime you need to transport food, as you don’t have to worry about bacteria or other germs. This makes them perfect for doubling as a lunchbox for work or school.
- LEAKPROOF COOLER BACKPACK: High-Density insulation material and leak-proof liner inside of the insulated backpacks work together to make sure anti-leaking and keep food hot/ cold for 16 hours
- LARGE CAPACITY COOLERS: 15.8" x 13.0" x 7.5" / 40cm x 33cm x 19cm (L x W x H), Weight: 1.1 pounds / 500g, can hold up to 30 cans(330ml), own enough space for all your necessities
- LARGE CAPACITY: 30 cans/30L, measures 17.7’’ x 7.9’’ x 13.0’’, roomy enough to pack meals, beer, snacks, tall beverages, towels, cell phone and all your other necessities. Perfect insulated backpack for lunch cooler, hiking, camping, beach, road trip, outdoors etc.
- UPGRADED WATERPROOF & COOL: Insulated with thicken leakproof PEVA liner on all sides, the cooler backpack retains cold or hot for hours. High quality waterproof zippers add its anti-leaking from outside.
- LARGE CAPACITY: 25 Cans/25L, measures 13.3” x 8.6” x 14.9”, roomy enough to pack meals, beers, tall beverages, snacks and all your other necessities. Perfect insulated cooler backpack for lunch, work, hiking, camping, beach, road trip, outdoors etc.
- LEAKPROOF & COLD / HOT: The inner insulation thicken foam and leakproof PEVA liner of the cooler backpack work together to keep things cold or hot for hours and make sure anti-leaking.