The 6 Best Soft Coolers of 2022

The warmer months come with the excitement of outdoor adventures. Are you planning your next trip to the beach? A hike up the trails? A pool party? A hunting or fishing expedition? Or maybe a picnic? If yes to any of those, then a soft-sided portable cooler will come in handy for your food and drinks.

The best determinant for choosing the cooler to carry is to figure out how you intend to use it. Will it sit in the trunk of the car or will you carry it on a long walk? What do you intend to carry and how long do you intend to keep your food and drinks fresh and cool? This article provides a guideline on what each soft-sided cooler offers and how to make the best choice for your needs.

A Glance Into Some Of The Best Soft Coolers

About Soft-Sided Coolers

Soft-sided coolers work the same way traditional hard-sided coolers work. The covers insulate the interior from heat, so the inside remains cold, keeping your food and drinks cool and fresh. 

Soft-sided coolers are easier to carry and more convenient compared to hard-sided coolers. They make excellent accessories when going camping, on long road trips, going to the gym, or when teeing at the golf course. They are often smaller and lighter than hard-sided coolers of the same capacity. They are collapsible, which saves space when you don’t have much to carry. 

Soft-sided coolers come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Their exteriors are mainly made of vinyl or fabric. They come with straps for easy carrying as a backpack, a sling bag, or a courier bag. 

The Best Cooler for 2022

Now that we know the different functions and types of coolers, it’s time to rank some of the best soft-sided coolers in the market. 

Best Soft Cooler Overall - YETI Hopper M30 Soft Cooler

Product Specifications

  • Capacity: 7.2 Gallons
  • Dimensions: 25 by 12 by 17.5 inches
  • Weight: 10.3lb
  • Warranty: 5 years

Description

Like most YETI products, the M30 soft-sided cooler is highly durable and made from high-quality materials. The trendy eye-catching design is backed up by top-notch engineering, ensuring you look good and your food stays cool and fresh for longer. 

The top opening of the M30 YETI soft-sided cooler replaces zippers with airtight magnetic locks to create a hydro shield closure. These magnets lock into place with only a gentle nudge. 

The opening is reinforced with Quick-Release buckles so your cooler doesn’t open unexpectedly. With the magnetic lock and quick-release buckles in place, even piling heavy weights on top of the bag can’t burst open the cooler. The bad side is because the magnets snap back so quickly and tightly, often you’ll find that you need help loading in stuff. 

The interior of the cooler is sheathed with Leak-proof Liner and held together using RF welded seams. The welded seams are far superior to stitching and guard against leakage. The Leak-proof liner provides a water-resistant interior while providing the exterior with puncture and UV-ray resistance. 

YETI Hopper M30 2.0 Portable Soft Cooler with MagShield Access, Charcoal
  • YETI’s tough-as-nails Hopper M30 Soft Cooler has a major update. With the 2.0 Version their signature wide-mouth opening has been reengineered to stay open with ease and close tight with a gentle push.
  • MAGSHIELD ACCESS: Powerful magnets create an ultra leak-resistant shield that stays open when you need it and seals closed with a gentle push.
  • COLDCELL INSULATION: Closed-cell foam offers impressive cold-holding capabilities, helping keep your frosty goods ice cold.
  • DRYHIDE SHELL: High-density fabric withstands punctures and UV rays.
  • HITCHPOINT GRID: Securely attach your SideKick Dry Gear Case or load it up with zingers, nippers, bottle openers, and multitools.

What We Like

  • Long-term warranties

What To Improve

  • The side pockets could be bigger with better insulation.

Best Backpack Soft-Sided Cooler - The IceMule Boss

Product Specifications

  • Dimensions: 12.5 by 9 by 25 inches
  • Capacity: 30 liters
  • Weight: 7.2lb

Description

The IceMule Boss cooler is the ultimate badass backpack. It has a trendy design, it’s comfortable on your back, has great capacity, and has superior insulation capability. 

You can hook a sleeping bag and blanket across the top and front.  The zippers offer dry storage to the front and side pockets for waterproof enclosures. So, you can carry cameras and phones without fear even when kayaking or walking in the rain. 

ICEMULE Boss Backpack Cooler – Padded Straps, 100% Waterproof, 24+ Hours Cooling, Soft Sided Cooler for Hiking, Camping & Picnics, 30 Liter, Fits 24 Cans + Ice, Sand
  • RUGGED AND VERSATILE – From our proprietary MuleSkin fabrics and the game-changing IM AirValve, to the welded seams and padded straps — these soft sided cooler bags are built to outlast your next beach day, hike, picnic and more.
  • 24+ HOURS OF COOLING – Ultra-tough Muleskin Exterior and Interior plus PolarLayer Insulation ensures strength and superior ice retention to maintain ice-like temperatures for 24+ hours. Holds 30 Liters or 24 cans + ice; 12.5”L x 9”W x 25”H
  • HANDS FREE COOLER – This backpack-style cooler has two padded airmesh straps, a cushioned hip belt, and a sternum strap so both arms are free to grab your surfboard, fishing pole, or other adventure gear. Perfect portable cooler for men or women.
  • EASY ACCESS INTERIOR – Roll-top design opens wide, letting you load and find what you’re looking for easily. Store everything you need with exterior bungee storage and 3 large zipper pockets, makes the perfect carry on for traveling parents.
  • WATERPROOF & BUOYANT – Welded seams and PakShield waterproof top zipper closure makes this a waterproof, floating cooler. The IM AirValve allows air to be added to insulation layer – so the ICEMULE can float right next to your kayak.

What We Like

  • Across the back there’s the padded chest strap and lower strap for extra safety. The ergonomic design protects your back even on long treks. 
  • The back design offers ventilation so the bag doesn’t hold sweat between your back and the bag.

What To Improve

  • It’s relatively expensive

Best Soft-Sided Cooler Under $100 - Polar Bear Original 12 Pack

Product Specifications

  • Brand: Polar Bear
  • Weight: 2lb
  • Material: Nylon
  • Insulation material: Foam
  • Chamber width: & inches

Description

The Polar Bear brand makes two different lines of soft-sided coolers. There is the Original line of coolers and Deluxe line of coolers. Original line is the budget line, made of cheaper materials. 

The Polar Bear Original 12-pack soft-sided cooler has an insulation lining of 1-inch-thick high-density foam. The cooler can keep ice frozen for more than 24 hours in temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The outer shell is made of luggage-grade nylon for longer durability. The seams are all double hemmed to reinforce waterproofing. 

The top is sealed with rust-proof No. 10 weatherized zippers.

Polar Bear Coolers 12 Pack Original Soft Cooler Black
  • INSULATION – Keep ice 24 hours in 100+ degree heat – 1″ thick 10 Gauge HIGH-DENSITY foam insulation – BEST QUALITY, HIGHEST DENSITY foam insulation (easy to fake it, hard to make it)
  • INTERIOR LINER – Food-Grade TPU DOUBLE COATED NYLON – Consumer SAFE for perishable storage – Most durable and longest-lasting liner ever built into a soft cooler – If it’s not TPU DOUBLE COATED NYLON, it’s NOT a Polar Bear
  • OUTER SHELL – Rugged 840 D LUGGAGE GRADE Nylon Outer Shell – All seams are DOUBLE HEMMED and anchor stitched (easy to fake it, hard to make it)
  • ZIPPER – Super Heavy-Duty YKK #10 weatherized zipper (RUST PROOF) – Our patent-pending zipper design keeps the zipper from ripping out of your cooler (easy to fake it, hard to make it)
  • SIDE ZIPPER POCKET – This side zipper pocket area can be embroidered with your company logo or monogrammed for personalization – For details visit the Polar Bear Coolers website and send your logo

What We Like

  • The high-quality hemming makes the soft cooler leakproof.
  • The affordable price

What To Improve

  • Though the zipper is strong and rust-proof, they could make it waterproof too. 

Best Soft Cooler + Hydration System Combo - CamelBak ChillBak 30L

Product Specifications

  • Brand: CamelBak
  • Capacity: 6-liter reservoir
  • Weight: 4.54lbs
  • Hydration system with a spigot for quick refills and hose for accessible hydration. 
  • TRU Zip waterproof zipper

Description

The ChillBak from CamelBak is a cooler backpack and hydration pack. You and your crew or family can easily quench your thirst on the go. 

The insulation system keeps ice cold for 72 hours. The interior can hold 24 standard cans and 15lbs of ice.

CamelBak ChillBak Pack 30 Soft Cooler Backpack & Hydration Center – Drink & Food Storage, Adriatic Blue
  • Includes 6L Fusion Group Reservoir with Tru Zip waterproof zipper.  Stows conveniently behind back panel.
  • Keeps cold for 72 hours and retains ice for 72+ hours.
  • Holds 24 cans and 15lbs of ice.
  • Hose with spigot accessible from exterior for quick refills
  • Roll top closure allows single-hand access while providing superior thermal efficiency

What We Like

  • The ChillBak is convenient to carry and easy to dispense liquids. 
  • The backpack straps are strong and durable

What To Improve

  • It comes in only one color, Adriatic blue. The company could introduce more colors.

Best Lunch Cooler - RTIC Day Cooler

Product Specifications

  • Brand: RTIC
  • Dimensions: 11 by 6.25 by 15.25 inches
  • Material: Polyester

Description

The RTIC day cooler is a lunch bag that’s lightweight and easily portable. It’s lined with high-density insulation to keep food and drinks cold for up to 24 hours. 

RTIC Lightweight Backpack Cooler, Black, 15 Can, Portable Insulated Bag, for Men & Women, Great for Day Trips, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Beach, or Park
  • Low-Maintenance But High-Performance: Designed with plenty of space and easy access to all your snacks and drinks, assurance to keep what you store cold for up to 24 hours.
  • Ample Storage: Enough room for day-to-day essentials with extra top, front, and side pockets.
  • Lightweight And Portable: Durable polyester plus adjustable, padded shoulder straps make this cooler easy to transport.
  • Fully Insulated: Lined with high-density insulation and food contact material.

What We Like

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Padded shoulder straps for comfort

What To Improve

  • The insulation could be improved to keep food cool for longer. 
  • They could add a front pocket for extra storage.

Best Value Soft-Sided Cooler - Grizzly Drifter 20 Fliptop Soft Cooler

Product Specifications

  • Brand: Grizzly
  • Capacity: 20 quarts
  • Dimensions: 14 by 11.5 by 14.5 inches
  • Weight: 3lbs
  • Material: Fabric

Description

The Grizzly Drifter 20 offers the best value for money. It can pack enough food and drinks for two and keeps ice frozen for 72-plus hours.

Grizzly Drifter 20 Fliptop Soft Cooler, Black/Gunmetal
  • Tough: Waterproof 1680d Ballistic Polyester Shell can take a beating, it is highly abrasion resistant and includes a waterproof backing.
  • Safe: The highly flexible and puncture resistant liner is made from 100% waterproof welded seam polyether-based TPU that exhibits excellent resistance to microbiological attack. The liner contains zero vinyl and is BPA-free.
  • Easy Opening Zippers: Large coil zippers with molded thumb pulls make getting into your Drifter 20 simple. You won’t have to fight the zipper on the Drifter 20.
  • Better Insulation: The Drifter 20 walls are fully insulated while the lid and base feature compression molded closed-cell EVA Foam insulation.
  • More Features Included: Integrated Drinkware Pocket, Bottle Opener, Neoprene Gear Band, Padded Shoulder Strap.

What We Like

  • Easy opening large-coil zippers with thumb pulls. This makes it easy to snap open and remove food and snap it back shut. 
  • Welded seams protect against leakage and microbiological contamination. 
  • BPA-free

What To Improve

  • It has a handle and a shoulder strap though they could add straps to carry as a backpack too.

Conclusion

There are many high-quality soft-sided coolers on the market. The ones we have featured in this guide are optimal for long outdoor adventures lasting days. They rank best for comfort, temperature retention, and leakage protection. Try either and share your experience with us in the comments. 

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