Sleek design. Top Performance. Spacious compartment. Good color variety.
Packs down for easy storage. Large capacity
Some options stay cold for longer.
Trusted cooler brand. Economical alternative to more expensive brands. Additional pockets for storage.
Limited availability in other colors.
Lightweight and affordable. Fun and playful design. Keeps ice cold.
Cheap-feeling. Not totally leak proof.
Good multi-purpose backpack. Classic brand.
Not as much storage as other options.
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There are few things better than sitting down with a group of friends to enjoy a cool, crisp, and tasty beverage. Whether it’s a beer, soda or seltzer, joining in a communal sharing of cold ones is the best way to spend the days, especially during a backyard bonfire. But as you’re moving from one locale to another, it’s important to ensure your drinks stay cool when you’re on the go, which is where one of the best coolers come into play. But sometimes, a full cooler isn’t the easiest thing to transport, and that’s where the best backpack coolers save the day.
The best backpack coolers are pretty straightforward; instead of hauling around a cooler, you can sling it on your back. Backpack coolers are typically reinforced with extra padding in the back and shoulders to support the weight of heavy cans. At the same time, the exterior is typically made to protect water from getting in or leaking out onto you while you move around. Oh, and yeah, they’ll keep those cans ice cold.
Great for the outdoors or those just on the go, cooler backpacks make all the difference in keeping the good times rolling. To make sure we’re only recommending the very best backpack coolers, we did extensive testing in this product category. In addition to bringing them to the beach, we also used a laser temperature gun to test how long they really retain ice. After weeks of testing, we’re confident we’ve found the very best backpack coolers of 2022.
How We Test Backpack Coolers
To test backpack coolers, we took the time to fill each to the brim with ice and a drink or two to let them stand still in our homes for as long as the ice stays solid. To add to the process, we used a temperature gun to ensure that the interior of each backpack cooler was staying at or close to freezing. We checked on them every few hours to note how the process was going. This time, we checked the backpack coolers after 1 hour, 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 30 hours and finally, 36 hours. This led us to discover which coolers can actually keep ice cold for long and which didn’t hold up as well.In addition, we tested backpack coolers according to the following criteria to check which backpacks were actually worth your purchase.
- Time for Ice to Melt: We said it already, but we’ll repeat it. The point of having a cooler is to have ice stay ice for a long period of time to keep your drinks cold.
- Comfort: When wearing a backpack cooler, it’s important that your back and shoulders both continue to stay pain-free.
- Leakage: This was to see whether or not by any means the backpack coolers would leak during the testing process.
- Ease of Filling: We did not even consider this until we began testing. Some coolers are way harder to fill than others due to the materials used to create the backpack. If that were the case, ice would spill all over the floor when trying to fill.
- Structure: This goes hand-in-hand with ease of filling, but here’s where we checked out how the backpack cooler was made. Is it built to last? Is it durable? Sturdy? The list goes on.
Here are our picks for the best of the best backpack coolers on the market right now. These include options we tested like Yeti, IceMule and Carhartt, as well as options we’ve researched from brands we like. You can also check out our guide to the best rolling coolers with wheels if you need something larger or more durable.
1. YETI Hopper M20 Backpack Coolers
When it comes to anything in the world of coolers, YETI reigns supreme — and that’s certainly the case with their brand-new take on a backpack cooler with the Hopper M20.
This 2022 release is an updated version of the brand’s Hopper Backflip Backpack Cooler. It’s totally waterproof both in and out with a roll-top magnetic closure that keeps ice cold even on the hottest of days. The bag opens exceptionally wide with enough room to fit 18 cans total using a two-to-one ice ratio. And, yeah, you can keep your sandwich cold at the bottom, too.
Unlike a lot of today’s backpack coolers, YETI will most certainly keep your ice cold when it’s sweltering, so no more awkward melting throughout the day. Take this to the beach, on hikes, to the park — whatever. You’ll definitely be thanking us later, that’s for sure.
2. IceMule Pro Cooler
The IceMule Pro Cooler is one of the toughest, most reliable and best-performing backpack coolers you can purchase.
This option is completely built for the outdoors, allowing users to take it realistically wherever. It holds 18 cans total plus ice for staying hydrated on hikes, picnics or when you’re hanging out on the beach. It’s built with an incredibly tough Muleskin exterior and an interior PolarLayer insulation to keep drinks cold for more than 24-hours total.
When you’re not using, crush this baby down flat for easy storage.
3. OAGear Backpack 20 Can Cooler
This OAGear backpack cooler is our pick for the best value for many reasons outside of its fantastic price.
The sealed liner ensures that the bag won’t leak, no matter how stuffed full it is full of cans and ice. With an up to 20-can storage capacity, there’s plenty of room for your brew needs. Additionally, the bag features side and front pockets for other handy storage. Plus, the padded back and shoulder straps help to protect your back from feeling too overworked.
Oh, and did we mention that price?
4. Coleman High-Performance Leak Proof Soft Cooler Backpack
Coleman has been around for as long as we can remember. Well before all the big guys dominating the world of wheeled coolers and cooler backpacks. So, for an old-school pick, we’ve gotta tell you about Coleman’s High-Performance Leak Proof Soft Cooler Backpack.
This puppy has a rectangular design that’s easy to carry and uses extra foam for insulation and immense durability. It has a front pocket for small bring-along such as your PKW and mesh side bottle holders.
Read More: Best Cooler With Wheels
5. Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack
For as hard as you work, there’s a good chance Carhartt works harder — and that’s absolutely the case with the brand’s version of a cooler backpack.
With a storage room of up to 12 cans plus an ice pack, the back also features a main compartment area that can provide extra room for other stuff you might need along the way like clothing and non-perishable snacks. The bag also has smart accessory features like side mesh holders for water bottles and even a dedicated key fob holder.
The entire cooler is constructed to be tremendously durable and even water-repellent, perfect for tough days.
6. Igloo Retro Cooler Backpack
Igloo’s Retro line of coolers continues to be an absolute delight. But we tested this backpack cooler to make sure it actually performs like the best Igloo coolers. In addition to great ice retention, this cooler has multiple compartments for easy organization. While this cooler is lightweight and affordable, it’s not 100% leakproof. However, we love the fun and playful design.
7. TOURIT Backpack Cooler
Some cooler backpacks don’t immediately look like, well, an actual backpack. That’s not the case, however, with TOURIT’s backpack cooler, as it looks very similar to what you’d carry around a college campus or in grade school hallways but has excellent cold retention, keeping items cold for 16 hours.
The interior storage can hold up to 28 cans and, of course, is made from durable and water-resistant materials.
8. Corkcicle Eola Bucket Cooler Bag
Have you heard of Corkcicle? This brand allows you to spice up your coolers and cooler bags with fun colors you otherwise wouldn’t see in the cooling space like this gorgeous lilac featured below.
This bag is perfect for any place you need to bring cold drinks and will allow you to keep looking stylish as you do. It can hold 12 cans total or 8 cans and two bottles of wine if you want to throw the bigger boys inside. It’s crafted with vegan leather for an eco-friendly option with a wrap-around zipper up top that allows you to see all contents easily.
With availability in rose quartz (pictured), seafoam and black camo, you’re really going to rock a look with this one.
Why Trust Spy?
SPY.com is a product discovery and reviews platform, connecting you with the latest tech, style, smart gadgets, and outdoor gear. We've been hard at work testing the best backpack coolers in the world, and we've gathered the top options for every budget. When we finally log off and head outdoors, these are the coolers we're packing.