April 23

Best Soft Sided Cooler


What is the best soft sided cooler?

It's critical to find the best Soft cooler for certain types of trips. If you’ve ever used a big, heavy, hard-sided cooler for a weekend trip, you probably know how inconvenient they can be. A soft sided cooler is a great option for smaller groups or shorter trips. This is due to their lightweight and portablility. Because they are typically smaller and lighter, they are often referred to as backpack coolers. Some of these coolers can actually be worn as backpacks. Others need to be carried over the shoulder.

What soft coolers are comparable to Yeti?

There are many brands of coolers that compare favorable to Yeti.  Many are listed on this page.  Some of the ones that compare most favorable are the RTIC 20 back and Engler backpack

You might think a soft cooler won’t stand up to the inevitable wear and tear of camping or other outdoor activities. However, many companies now make soft-sided coolers with that exact purpose in mind. Their outer shells have heavy-duty materials that can withstand puncturing and tears you might expect to happen easily.

If you’re looking for something a bit smaller than a hard cooler that can easily go wherever you go and still keep your contents cold and protected, a soft-sided cooler is the way to go. Also be sure to check out our our reviews of rotomolded coolers.

What soft coolers keep ice longest?

You would expect Yeti to be near the top of this list and you wouldn't be wrong.  however the cooler that holds ice longest is the Polar Bear H2O cooler.  In 11-degree weathe, this soft pack can keep ice code for 24 hours.

Finding the best soft Coolers

Are Soft Coolers any good?

As with any product, some are bad and some are good.  Finding a high quality soft sided cooler can make lugging drinks to neighbors much easier.

Although there are several excellent soft-sided coolers on the market, there are some that stand out from the rest of the pack. The following cooler bags are currently some of the most popular, and highest-rated products:

AO Vinyl Series

The Vinyl Series is quickly moving up the ranks as one of the most-loved soft-sided coolers for outdoor enthusiasts. This series is made specifically for those who put their bags through a lot of strenuous activity outdoors. From fishing to hunting to camping this soft cooler holds up the best. AO Coolers promise that its strong vinyl exterior will hold up to any terrain and weather, including ice, snow, or extreme heat. The vinyl is even protected from UV rays so it won’t crack when exposed to the sun for extended periods of time. AO Coolers offers several sizes in the Vinyl series, all with an optional shoulder strap or carry handles for easy transporting. This serires of coolers comes in a variety of colors and sizes. The sizes start at 12 pack and go up th 36 pack. This tells you how many cans you should be able to fit in the cooler including ice. The colors include gray, blue and black.

AO Coolers Stow-N-Go Cooler, Black, 38-Pack
AO Coolers Traveler Original Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, Navy, 24-Can
AO Coolers Sportsman Vinyl Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, Silver, 24-Can
AO Coolers Collapsible Insulated Tote Basket, 30-can, Powder Blue
AO Coolers Backpack Soft Cooler High-Density Insulation


  • Removable shoulder strap
  • Can keep ice cold for up to 24 hours, even in extreme heat
  • Can keep ice cold for up to 24 hours, even in extreme heat
  • Side pocket for dry items
  • Leak-proof liner
  • Durable vinyl shell with UV protection will not crack or fade in the sun
  • Easy to find the size you need
  • Soft exterior keeps car interior free from tears or scratches when transporting


  • Won’t retain ice well on extended trips
  • Stitched edging, rather than welding, which can cause leaking
  • Zipper may not stand up well to frequent use
  • If cooler gets wet, it can cause water-logged pockets to form in the insulation

Coleman Cooler Bag

Coleman Cooler bag

Coleman has been a leader in the cooler and outdoor gear industry for decades. The company is known for its hard coolers, but its cooler bags are just as good. They are a great fit for outdoor enthusiasts who need a lighter, more portable option for cold drinks and food. Coleman offers a variety of products with great designs and sizes. From smaller lunch-size bags to large, wheelable ice chests with a 42-can capacity. The soft-sided coolers definitely have a range of people in mind, whether you’re looking to make a day beach trip or a weekend-long camping trip. Coleman’s soft-sided coolers have either comfort grip handles, padded shoulder straps, or both for easy transporting wherever you need to go. Additionally, they’re extremely lightweight, with its largest 75-can cooler weighing just under 5 pounds.


  • Heat-welded seams help prevent leaks in and out of the cooler
  • Larger sizes are collapsible for easy storage when not in use
  • Convenient pockets for dry items, bottle openers, and cup holders on certain sizes and designs
  • Removable hard-liner on some coolers for easy cleaning and storage
  • FDA-approved interior liner meets food grade standards


  • Won’t typically retain ice for more than a day or temperature for more than two
  • Doesn’t have heavy-duty hardware to resist corrosion or breakage
  • Handles may not hold up to consistently heavy loads in the cooler

Engel Backpack Cooler HD30

Engler backpack

Engel Backpack coolers stand above the competition for their rugged exteriors and build that can stand up to whatever you throw at it in your outdoor activities. These coolers were built with the outdoors in mind, whether you hike, fish, hunt, or camp. They have a convenient carry handle. This means you can evenly distribute weight as you transport the cooler. The cooler itself is only two pounds empty, so it won’t put extra strain on your back. This cooler has the best insulation compared to many others and has ice retention for up to three days. You’ll likely find the Engel Backpack Cooler one of the easiest to clean, too, with a removable liner bad that’s easily washable.


  • Four outer pockets to carry dry items
  • Holds 24 cans with plenty of room for ice
  • Interior has a liner of reflective foil plus a one-inch insulation of closed-cell foam; together they help minimize radiation from the sun to keep heat away from contents
  • Two-way zipper with heavy-duty construction helps keep a proper seal between the inner contents and outside elements


  • Only comes in one size option, which is best for short trips
  • Outer shell can get stained easily
  • Cooler may absorb water through the bottom; should be sat on a dry surface

Igloo Marine Series

Igloo is a top name in soft coolers and active gear, and their products back it up. Igloo currently has a few different types of cooler bags, but its Marine series that has the best cooler you’ll want to use for more frequent outdoor use and exposure to the elements. You can choose between a 24-can square cooler or the 36-can square and snap-down versions. All three are made with the marine life in mind, so they’re good choices for fishers and boaters. The exterior is protected against mildew and the non-slip feet will keep the cooler in place no matter where you are. Additionally, the thick liner will prevent tears and leaks and help to keep your contents cool for up to two days.

Igloo Marine Ultra 24-Can Square Coolers
Igloo Playmate Gripper Maxcold 16 Black
Igloo Switch Marine Backpack-Gray/Seafoam, Grey (Renewed)
Igloo Outdoorsman Square 30
Ogloo max old HardTop Gripper 22


  • Choose between the top or side carry handles and the shoulder strap for convenience
  • Puncture-resistant exterior and interior
  • Cool Riser Technology keeps cooler raised from hot surfaces to keep interior cooler for longer
  • Keeps contents cold for up to two days
  • Front zip pocket and side mesh pockets to keep dry items protected
  • Hardware is made from non-corrosive materials to withstand salt water and air


  • Insulation isn’t as thick as other cooler bags;does not keep ice cold for extended periods of time
  • Can’t hold excessive weight for frequent use

Polar Bear Cooler Nylon Series

Polar Bear Coolers has a few to choose from, but its Nylon Series is a customer favorite. The tough nylon exterior is designed never to crack, tear, or scratch, so it can withstand some heavy outdoor usage. You can choose from a small 6-can capacity to a huge 48-can capacity, with all sizes above the 6-can having optional carry handles or a comfortable shoulder strap for easy carrying. Every cooler in the Nylon Series are packed with about an inch of high-density foam insulation all around the cooler to keep contents as cold as possible for as long as possible. Additionally, the heavy-duty bottom saddle not only prevents liquid from seeping into your cooler, but it also protects your contents from warming on a hot surface. a Polar Bear Cooler guarantees that your ice will remain ice for about 24 hours, even in 100-degree heat.

Polar bear Tote Size
Polar Bear Eclipse UV-Resistant Cooler (Backpack)
polar bear – Solar Bear 24 Pack


  • FDA-grade food liner that’s both leak-proof and sweat-proof
  • Four tie-downs on larger versions to keep it in place while transporting or sitting at the campsite or on the boat
  • Heavy-duty hardware that will stand up to frequent use and extreme elements
  • Customizable with embroidery; several colors to choose from for personalization


  • Can be difficult to place and remove items through opening

RTIC Soft Pack Cooler

RTIC Soft Cooler

RTIC is one of the most popular brands of soft coolers next to the YETI. Their Soft Pack series offers similar sizing options to the YETI but is considerably cheaper. This makes it a great choice for people who have lower budgets. This brand of soft cooler have heavy-duty nylon shells that keep them waterproof and allow them to hold their shape better than other soft sided coolers. Their rugged design holds up well for frequent use and excessive wear and tear from outdoor activities. Two inches of foam insulation on the top and one inch on the sides help these cooler bags keep your contents cold for as long as five days, and ice may even retain itself for this long if the cooler isn’t kept in direct sun.


  • Welded seams to prevent leaks and tears
  • No-sweat design inside and outside
  • Mold-resistant liner
  • Exterior pocket for dry items
  • Zipper design keeps contents from leaking if cooler is tipped over
  • Offers hook connections for additional items
  • Lid flips open wide for easy access to contents
  • Lightweight for easy transport, even when full


  • Higher price-point than others of similar sizes
  • Water can sometimes leak into the lid, causing it to become trapped near the lid insulationHeavy-duty shell doesn’t allow for compacting for storage when empty
  • Heavy-duty shell doesn’t allow for compacting for storage when empty

YETI Hopper/Hopper Two

Yeti Hopper

There’s a reason you’ve likely heard of the YETI Hopper several times when searching for the best soft cooler. YETI is a leader in all things of all shapes and sizes. Although its higher price-points make some wonder if they’re worth the cost, most customers admit that once they try a YETI, they’ll never again look elsewhere. So, if you have it in the budget, the YETI Hopper is likely one of the best soft coolers you’ll find. Yeti now has the Hopper Two as an addition to the Hopper line, which has the added benefits of easier opening, better cooling power, and more comfort when transporting. The ColdCell insulation continues to make the YETI Hopper cooler stand out from the pack with their ability to retain ice and keep contents cold for days.


  • Waterproof DryHide shell is resistant to tears and punctures, so it can withstand tough outdoor activities and environments
  • Attachment spots for several YETI accessories
  • Optional carrying handles or padded shoulder strap
  • HydroLok Zipper helps eliminate spills if cooler tips over
  • Thick, reinforced bottom helps cooler retain its shape and keep contents protected from hot surfaces and water


  • A bit heavier than other soft sided coolers when empty
  • Hopper line can be very stiff to open; difficult to place and remove contents
  • High end of the budget for soft sided containers


You can’t go wrong with any of the above soft sided cooler options. Although they vary greatly in price, they’re all highly-rated for meeting the needs of their intended outdoor enthusiasts, from the day-long beach goer to the week-long adventurer.

When choosing the perfect soft cooler, keep in mind the frequency of which you’ll use it. If you intend to use it consistently, you’ll want one that can hold its shape well and stand up to outdoor elements. However, keep the length of your trips in mind. Some cooler bags are better for longer trips than others, but they often come at a higher price point.

Article Name
Best Soft Sided Coolers
ranking the best soft sided Coolers currently on the market. Some are expensive but look closely and you can find some bargains
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