Keeping your food cold, fresh and safe to eat when spending time outdoors can make or break a day. A long hike that ends in a beautiful view on top of a mountain is slightly less satisfying when you reach into your bag and find that your ice water is now more like bathwater, with your sandwich looking extra slimy. That’s why we recommend purchasing a cooler bag that actually keeps your food cold and lets you be handsfree while you take off on your next adventure.
We love cooler backpacks because of their versatility, with most styles able to double as regular daypacks as well as coolers. Their list of uses seem endless, with cooler backpacks a great way to carry your lunch to work or school, bring snacks to the beach, avoid paying high prices on water at theme parks and music festivals, and transport your drinks to a tailgate party.
Cooler backpacks are also a great item to take on vacation or adventures, from exploring new cities, to hiking trails, to long car trips. Drinks and snacks are a must-have for any successful trip, and these backpacks won’t take up as much room in your car as those bulky old-school ice chests.
Whether you need an everyday cooler bag or one designed for rugged terrain, we’ve got three great options that will fit your needs.
1. Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler
With extra back padding and adjustable shoulder and waist straps, the Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler is perfect for anyone who needs a comfortable cooler bag to take on long walks and hikes. The Coleman has an impressive 28 can capacity with a BPA and phthalate-free, heat-welded main compartment that is designed to handle ice packs and cold items. The bag has a separate front pocket for dry food items, with a bungee cord front providing additional storage space and quick access pockets on either side for umbrellas, water bottles, or small snacks.
Pros: The Coleman is antimicrobial and resists odor, mold and mildew. We like that the Coleman looks like a regular backpack, making it perfect for taking to the work, theme parks, music festivals and more.
Cons: Bag isn’t leak proof and shouldn’t be used with loose ice.
2. ICEMULE Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag
For those looking for a bag that will keep their drinks and food cold for an extended period, we recommend the ICEMULE. The world’s coldest hands-free cooler is the ICEMULE Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag, which can retain solid ice for over 24 hours.
Pros: Perfect for overnight camping, bicycle, car and motorcycle trips, the ICEMULE is a personal sling-style cooler bag with double padded ventilated straps for easy, hands-free carrying. The ICEMULE folds over to close and can be rolled for compact storage when not in use, perfect for travel. Unlike the other two bags, the ICEMULE is waterproof and it can float, making it a great option for portaging, fishing, tubing and more water activities. The ICEMULE is available in three sizes and the middle size is 15L, which can hold 12 cans plus ice and weighs only two pounds when empty.
Cons: Unlike the other two bags, the ICEMULE doesn’t have separate compartments to keep food organized. It also doesn’t have quick access pockets.
3. TOURIT Classic Insulated Cooler Backpack
With a leakproof liner and a 25L capacity, the TOURIT Classic Insulated Cooler Backpack is an excellent option for anyone who wants a hands-free cooler with the look of a regular backpack.
Pros: The TOURIT is a discreet backpack cooler that passes for a regular backpack. Like the Coleman, the TOURIT has two side mesh pockets for umbrellas, water bottles, small snacks and more. The TOURIT can pack an impressive 28 cans into its 25L capacity, with one large main compartment that is waterproof, as well as one large front zippered compartment that is perfect for dry food and personal items. The bag is water-resistant and the adjustable padded straps are comfortable enough to wear all day. We like that the TOURIT has webbing on the front, perfect for storing a bike helmet, a sweater, a towel or picnic blanket.
Cons: Unlike the Coleman, the TOURIT doesn’t have a waist strap and therefore isn’t as well suited to long walks and hikes.