Review: Is the $325 YETI Backpack Cooler Worth It?

YETI Hopper M20 Backpack
Courtesy of YETI

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We covered the release of YETI’s new backpack cooler when it was first released in March 2022, and after testing it out in the summer sun, we’re finally ready to publish our in-depth YETI Hopper M20 Backpack review. In addition to testing it out at the beach, we also used a laser temperature gun to see how effectively it retained ice and cold temperatures.

If we can make any promises about summer, it’s that you can catch us spending our off days sipping ice-cold cans in the sun. It’s simply the way the cookie has been crumbling these days. While regular coolers, small coolers and wheeled coolers have been great for keeping drinks cold in summer’s past, in 2022 we’re getting a little more innovative when taking drinks on the go. Backpack coolers have been where it’s at this year, and recently, we went through a mass testing process to try and find the best backpack cooler you can purchase in our modern world.

To test each cooler backpack properly, we rated how well each cooler kept ice solid, how comfortable they sat on our backs, how easy each was to fill, how structurally sound each bag is and whether or not the bag leaked. After weighing each one of these features, it became absolutely no contest. The best cooler backpack on the planet comes from none other than YETI.

That’s right, the YETI Hopper M20 Backpack is the backpack cooler of all backpack coolers.

YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Courtesy of YETI

PROS:
  • Ice stays cold for more than a day
  • Great design
  • Leakproof
  • Gorgeous
  • Extremely durable
  • Lots of fun colors
CONS:
  • Very pricy
  • A bit heavy
  

Why Would You Buy a $325 Backpack Cooler?

This is an excellent question because we were wondering the same thing. Who in their right might would ever allow themselves to purchase a $325 backpack cooler? The answer is easier to answer than you might think. It’s someone who prefers the best of the best.

When testing 9 of the world’s best backpack coolers available for purchase, we went through a rigorous process that included hourly temperature checks, taking the bags out in public and leak checks. The YETI Hopper M20 passed all of our tests with flying covers, going above and beyond anything we’d ever expect in a backpack cooler.

While the majority of other backpack coolers we tested had ice melt relatively quickly, the YETI Hopper M20 simply kept going, leaving ice solid and less melty than the rest. So much so, that during testing, we even decided to take the YETI Hopper M20 out and about on a lake day to see if this would fasten up the process and allow for ice to melt more quickly. This wasn’t the case whatsoever. Even when out in the sun, the Hopper M20 kept its cool longer than the backpack coolers relaxing within the confines of our testing location.

Each YETI Hopper M20 also feels as if it were made to withstand a nuclear war. The bag is made to be waterproof both inside and out, so users can expect zero condensation or leakage in any way, shape or form. YETI claims that it is built to withstand UV rays and punctures, and given all of our testing so far, this is something we can agree upon. Seriously, this puppy is built to be the last backpack cooler you’ll ever have to purchase. That’s why it’s worth the $325 price tag.

  

YETI Hopper M20 Backpack The writer and his friend on their way to the lake using the YETI Hopper M20 Backpack. Tyler Schoeber | SPY

Bringing the YETI Hopper M20 Out On the Town

The main focus is to bring your backpack cooler to and from various places, right? It’s not your typical sit-down cooler. You don’t want to keep this one perpetually in the backyard. Carrying the YETI Hopper M20 is one of the most important jobs of owning the cooler. So, is it comfortable to wear?

We’re going to keep it frank with you: yes, it’s comfortable to wear if you don’t overpack it. The Hopper M20 is heavy without ice and drinks. In comparison to every other backpack cooler we tested, the Hopper M20 quite literally outweighed the competition by a landslide. We’ve taken the backpack cooler out multiple times at this point and have come to notice that extra-long walks are not the coziest on your back, so we suggest taking it solely to spots you know you’re not going to have to walk too far to get to. That said, if you choose to fill the backpack less than a regular overpacked cooler, you should be fine taking the pack on hikes and longer treks.

Bringing it in the sand? Good, we did, too. The issue with a lot of backpack coolers is that they tend to keep that backpack-esque material. Think back to whatever you were using in high school and that’s the material that you can expect in the majority of backpack coolers. Now, picture that backpack in the sand. Not fun, is it? The Hopper M20 uses a material on the outside that easily allows users to wipe away sand as if it were never there to begin with. Any other splashes, spills and stains have also wiped away effortlessly in our experience.

  

How Cold Does the YETI Hopper M20 Get?

As mentioned, we consistently checked the temperature of each bag tested throughout our review process. Each bag started at, below or slightly above freezing. When it came to consistency, the Hopper M20 stayed the coldest the longest at around 31°F. Sure, there were other bags that started colder at around 28°F, but the Hopper M20 was able to keep its original temp going the longest, which was tremendously impressive.

When it comes to ice solidity, we were able to see solid ice inside of the YETI Hopper M20 for around 32 hours in total. To compare, no other backpack cooler was able to go this long. The runner-up was ICEMULE Classic Medium 15L Backpack Cooler at around 24 hours, meaning the YETI lasted around 8 hours more. It’s safe to say that’s ridiculously impressive — especially given the fact we took the bag out into the world during our testing process.

YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler Tyler Schoeber | SPY

  

The Verdict: Is the YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler Worth It?

We understand the $325 pricetag makes the YETI Hopper M20 a pretty hard sell, but trust us when we say you will not find a better backpack cooler. This is the Tesla of backpack coolers. The Beyoncé of backpack coolers. An Olympic gold medal winner of backpack coolers. If you were looking for the very best backpack cooler on this blue planet, it’s silly to look elsewhere because this is it.

With that said, if you are willing to splurge on the very best backpack cooler the world will ever see, yes. Purchase the YETI Hopper M20. You will be in no way disappointed. It’s absolutely worth it due to its extreme durability, ice preservation and the fact that it will likely last you years to come.

Can’t take more of the curiosity? Snag the YETI Hopper M20 for yourself below from YETI and make each summer sip from here on out the coldest you can imagine.

YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Courtesy of YETI