The Best Soft Coolers for Every Type of Adventure

Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
BEST OVERALL
soft cooler yeti hopper
YETI
Hopper Soft Sided Backpack Cooler
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Bottom Line

This backpack cooler easily beats the competition when it comes to ice retention. When we tested it, we found it to be 100% leak-proof and impressively insulated. It's also easier to fill than most soft coolers.

Pros

Long ice retention. Attractive design. Lots of color options.

Cons

Expensive. Heavy when filled.

RUNNER UP
hydroflask soft cooler tote
Hydro Flask
Cooler Travel Bag
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Bottom Line

This tote from Hydro Flask is a compact option that's the right size for picnics, beach days and trips to the grocery store. The insulated tote has a generous capacity and waterproof materials.

Pros

Stylish design. Good for everyday use. Doesn't leak.

Cons

Not many accessories or extra features.

YETI ALTERNATIVE
rtic
RTIC
Soft Pack Cooler
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Bottom Line

RTIC is giving YETI a run for its money. This soft cooler offers impressive insulation and durability for a fraction of the cost. This bag is stylish and can be carried in a range of ways, including in the hand or over the shoulder.

Pros

Up to 24 hours of cooling. Leak-proof design. Range of sizes from 12-40 cans.

Cons

Still expensive for a soft cooler.

CONTENDER
soft cooler icemule
ICEMULE
Collapsible Soft Cooler
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Bottom Line

Packable, portable and cool-looking, the ICEMULE was an impressive runner up for soft-sided coolers. Our testing yielded long-lasting ice retention, and we found the bag to be sturdy and leakproof.

Pros

Good ice retention. Variety of colors available. Packable design.

Cons

Can be hard to fill with ice.

BUDGET PICK
carhartt cooler
Carhartt
Insulated Lunch Cooler Bag
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Bottom Line

The iconic workwear brand has expanded with a line of impressive coolers. This economical bag has a compact design that makes it easy to carry, and it's ideal for your everyday lunch.

Pros

Includes a water bottle. Handy external pockets and mesh pouch.

Cons

Not ideal for groups.

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Ice chests and hard-sided coolers are ideal for their durability and ice retention, but they’re not beloved for their ease of carrying. Regardless of whether you own an affordable Igloo or a premium YETI, coolers can be hard to haul. That’s why, in addition to hard coolers, you should consider the best soft coolers. A soft cooler has a fabric exterior and can be shaped like a tote, backpack or lunchbox. That makes them much easier to carry and pack. If you’re heading off for a beach day or a picnic and can’t park right where you’re hanging out, a soft cooler will make it easier to get your hard seltzer and snacks to the hangout spot. Small soft coolers can also be used to carry your lunch to work.

We’re all about making the most of summer, which is why we’ve written extensively about coolers recently. We’ve been hard at work testing and reviewing the best wheeled coolers, backpack coolers, hard coolers and, now, the best soft coolers.

There are tons of options on the market, and as enthusiastic as we are about premium brands like YETI and ICEMULE, we’ve also found plenty of affordable cooler bags by brands like Coleman and Igloo that have impressed us with their ice retention and convenience.

Beyond coolers that we’ve used ourselves, there are great options from brands we’ve researched and used in the past, even if we haven’t tested that specific product. When picking the best soft coolers of 2022, we considered a range of different categories so you can more easily find the one that works best for you.

Here’s how we choose the best soft cooler:

  • Ice retention and leakage: The ability to keep things cold is the most important job a cooler has, and whether or not it leaks factors into that.
  • Size: Coolers are often measured in either cans or liters, and we’ve picked out options that can keep the whole party satisfied, as well as options that are suited for solo lunches.
  • Features and design: Additional pockets, straps for carrying in different positions, and webbing straps can all enhance the convenience of the soft cooler. Plus, how it looks and what colors it comes in are all worth factoring in.

Read on for our picks for the best soft coolers you can buy, including insulated totes, cooler backpacks and soft-sided lunch boxes.

  

1. YETI Hopper Soft Sided Backpack Cooler

BEST OVERALL

YETI’s coolers are notoriously expensive, but they’re some of the best when it comes to keeping ice frozen for a long time. This backpack comes in a variety of colors and has a stylish design, and when we tested it, we found it to be leak-proof and impressively insulated. One drawback is that, in addition to the price, this cooler is heavy.

soft cooler yeti hopper Courtesy of Amazon
  

2. Hydro Flask Tote

RUNNER UP

If you don’t need to pack food for the whole soccer team, then consider this tote from Hydro Flask. It’s a compact option that’s the right size for carrying your lunch or a few drinks. Or, you can use it on a trip to the grocery store. It’s stylish and sleek, too, and several colors are available.

hydroflask soft cooler tote Courtesy of Amazon
  

3. RTIC Soft Pack Cooler

YETI ALTERNATIVE

RTIC is a brand that’s giving YETI a run for its money, largely because it offers impressive insulation and durability for a fraction of the cost. This bag is stylish and can be carried in a range of ways, including in the hand or over the shoulder.

rtic soft cooler bag Courtesy of RTIC
  

4. ICEMULE Collapsible Soft Cooler

CONTENDER

Packable, portable and cool-looking, the ICEMULE’s Collapsible Soft Cooler was our “Runner Up” selection when we reviewed the best backpack coolers, and it’s one of the best soft coolers overall. Our testing yielded long-lasting ice retention, and we found the bag to be sturdy and leakproof. It has a unique design with a single shoulder strap, so you can sling another bag on your other shoulder if needed.

soft cooler icemule Courtesy of Amazon
  

5. Carhartt Vertical Insulated Lunch Cooler Bag

BUDGET PICK

One option that’s great for everyday use is this cooler bag from Carhartt, a brand whose cooler products we’ve reviewed positively in the past. It has a cylindrical design with one outside zippered pocket, and one mesh pouch for a water bottle.

soft cooler carhartt bag Courtesy of Amazon
  

6. Coleman 28-Can Backpack Soft Cooler

CONTENDER

This cooler backpack could be confused for a regular backpack, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s affordable and has a variety of pockets for stashing your cold essentials, as well as your everyday items. While it’s not quite as leak-proof as our top picks, it’ll still manage to keep your food and drinks frosty.

soft cooler backpack coleman Courtesy of Amazon
  

7. Igloo The Retro Square Lunch Bag

HONORABLE MENTION

Igloo is one of the earliest cooler brands, and they’ve dug into their archives for the Retro series of coolers. They’re eye-catching, but they’re not just for the novelty. They deliver great insulation, affordability and convenience. This cooler bag has a shoulder strap and handle for easy carrying, and there’s a handy outer zippered compartment. It’s just large enough for a few cans and a packed lunch.

igloo colorful soft cooler bag Courtesy of Igloo
  

The 16 Best Coolers for Keeping Drinks and Food Cold — No Matter the Location

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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 soft 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.