Backpack Cooler – The 5 Best Backpack Coolers

Choosing to invest in a backpack cooler for your family is a great idea. They open so many doors for families to plan more activities out of the home together–and to be active! A trip to the movie theater is always fun, but with today’s growing concern over childhood health and the obesity epidemic, parents are now looking for ways to get active while having fun together.

Backpack coolers make that process so easy! You just add a few extra items to your weekly grocery list, and you can stock your cooler with healthier snack and drinks for everybody. You know you’re making a better choice for your family, and as a nice bonus you don’t have to waste money on greasy fast food.

Making the decision to buy this new bit of gear is the easiest part. Next you have to decide which backpack cooler to purchase. This can seem impossible:  each one of your friends seems to have their own favorite that they insist is the best out there, and with internet shopping the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming.

Don’t worry, though, this guide is intended to help set you on the right track. First we’re going to take a look at some basic criteria that you ought to keep in mind when shopping for a backpack cooler. This will help you narrow your search and focus only on models that provide the most benefit to you and your family.

Then there is a list of the top 5 backpack coolers available on Amazon right now, complete with reviews of each. These are all fantastic products; having a handful of options to start with may make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Buyer’s Guide

Internet shopping has revolutionized the way we decide on which products to purchase. Rather than just going to the nearby store and trying to choose the best of an available handful of products, you have thousands of options. Online filters make the process easier, allowing you to sort through the choices based on specified characteristics. Below are some characteristics you may want to take a moment to think about before you begin your search.

Size

You may be surprised at the range of sizes available when looking at backpack cooler options. Typically, these coolers have a capacity recommendation based off of either the number of cans you can expect them to hold or the total available space, measured in liters(L).

In terms of the actual size of the pack, this translates to a wide range of sizes. Some look more like the teeny tiny backpacks you’d buy for a child in preschool or kindergarten. Other are quite large and rival the size of day-trip hiking packs. A typical range in capacity is 12, 18, or 28 cans.

If you’re looking at the information on size for a particular model and it seems just barely big enough for your needs, you’ll want to double check whether the manufacturer’s stated recommendation for how much the cooler can hold accounts for the use of ice. If it doesn’t, a few pounds of ice is going to lose you a lot of space.

Of course, the larger you go the more expensive the bags tend to become. If you are a frugal family, take some time to consider how much stuff you actually need to carry–you may be able to get away with a smaller model and save some money.

For example, if you’ve got a family of four and you know that you like to stay out as long as the sun does then you’ll probably need that 28-can option. If you’ve only one child and you know that everyone likes to be home in time for a hot supper, you probably don’t need such a large model.

Design

The design of your prospective backpack cooler might seem unimportant at first, but it is a factor that can have a big effect on your impression of your cooler over time.

While design doesn’t necessarily mean the color scheme, don’t discount looks! If you buy something that you know is functional but think is ugly as sin, you’re not going to get nearly as much use out of it.

It’s simply more enjoyable to use something when you like the way it looks and don’t feel that it makes you stick out like a sore thumb to be carrying it on your back all day.

Beyond look, however, is the aspect of design that dictates how easy something is to use. Think of a traditional backpack. You can buy a less expensive backpack that has just one gigantic compartment. It will fit all your stuff but it will also take you eons to find anything because there is no built in organization.

Then there are the more sophisticated backpacks that have custom-sized pockets for your pens, waterproof slots for your laptop, and so on. These are usually much easier to use over the long haul because if you want to grab just one thing you know exactly where it is and everything stays perfectly organized for easy access.

Performance

When it comes to backpack coolers, one of the biggest concerns among consumers is in regards to their performance. Some people feel that because you are taking the idea of a traditional (bulky) insulated box and translating it to a soft-sided backpack that you will inevitably miss out on the cooler’s ability to effectively keep the contents cold for any length of time.

This simply isn’t true; some models may be less effective than others but it is definitely possible to find a backpack cooler that will keep your items nice and frosty. Later in this article, look for a product review of a cooler that can hold ice for a full 24 hours!

Again, it’s important to consider how much insulative ability you need. Models like the one mentioned above that display superior insulation will be bulkier and will cost more.

If you just want to keep a twelve pack of sparkling water cold through a 6 hour hike then you shouldn’t be as concerned with enduring performance–leave that for something like a camping trip or visiting a theme park in the summertime.

Special Features

As you can probably guess from the name, special features are additions to a backpack cooler that are not always available. They aren’t necessary for it to function properly, but they do make your life easier. Since upping the convenience factor is such a huge part of why many people choose to buy a backpack cooler, these features can be compelling reasons to choose one pack over the other.

Some packs are multi-functional or come with a wealth of accessories. You’ll find reviews here of a backpack cooler that doubles as a chair, and one that includes a cutting board and its own specialized cutlery set.

Certain special features, though, have more to do with physical comfort than anything else. A big part of this is the strapping. All backpack coolers will have shoulder straps–the comfortable ones will pad them.

If you are going to be buying a larger sized pack and are concerned about the weight over long hours, choose a model that offers waist and/or chest straps. These extra straps help evenly distribute the weight and make the whole pack easier to carry.

 

Top 5 Backpack Coolers

 

5.Tourit Cooler Backpack–4.2 Stars

Tourit Backpack Cooler ReviewThis backpack cooler from Tourit is a great minimalist option. There isn’t a whole lot going on in terms of aesthetics, which allows it to appear nearly indistinguishable from a traditional backpack.

A fairly large capacity of 25L (28 cans) should give you more than enough room to store whatever items you need. The cooler portion of the pack is simply one large compartment, so if you plan to bring a lot of smaller items you may want to pack them in containers to organize the space a bit more.

In front of the cooler compartment, there is a zippered dry storage pouch. It isn’t very deep but it does run almost the entire height and width of the pack. You could use this for anything from granola bars and paper plated to tablets and car keys.

There are also two elastic mouth pouches on either side which are large enough to hold standard water bottles or sunscreen tubes.

The thick heat-pressed liner is both insulative and leak resistant, so if you get a bit of liquid in the bottom of the back it won’t leak through and make a mess. The zippers, however, are not marine grade which means that if enough water builds up it could spill through the zipper’s teeth.

See our full review here.

4.Soonyean Multi-Function Backpack–4.3 Stars

Soonyean Multi-Function Backpack Cooler ReviewSoonyean’s multipurpose pack is clearly meant for the avid outdoorsman. The backpack cooler itself is surrounded by heavy grade steel tubing that, once the pack has been removed, can be unfolded to transform it into a stool.

When in “stool mode” the cooler portion hangs underneath the seat. This means you would have to close the stool in order to access the cooler, but with i open you can still get to the elastic-mouth water bottle pouch and the zippered dry storage pocket located on the side of the pack.

Meant to prove for of its value from multifunctionality than size, this cooler isn’t overly huge. The cooler compartment can fit 1.8L, which can be 12 or more cans depending on how tightly you want to pack it. Buying a reusable ice sheet may help the space go farther as they are typically flat and more space efficient than cubed ice.

The zippered dry storage pouch is, again, not massive but should be enough to get the job done. You can put your wallet or keys here; if you are hunting or fishing though you could stow some extra hooks or tools in here as needed.

See our full review here.

3.AO Coolers Soft Backpack Cooler–4.3 Stars

AO Coolers Soft Backpack Cooler ReviewAO Coolers has made a name for themselves in regards to their superior insulative capabilities, and this soft-sided backpack cooler is no exception.

While it does cost a little bit more compared to other models, the manufacturer promises that it can keep ice from melting for a full twenty-four hours in temperatures up to 120 degrees. That is a huge deal if you live somewhere with particularly harsh summers!

Moderately sized, this model is rated to hold up to 18 cans(ice is included in that estimate). If you are planning a get together with lots of people this may not be sufficient but it will work for most other scenarios.

The design is pretty basic, one main cooler compartment and three dry storage pockets. You can choose from four colors: red, navy, gray and black. There are padded shoulders, a chest strap for added stability, and even a strap located over the top of the bag so that it can be carried as a tote if you’d like.

See our full review here.

2.Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler–4.5 Stars

Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler ReviewColeman has officially partnered with the National Parks Foundation to bring you a backpack cooler rugged enough for any of your outdoor adventures.

The large cooler compartment can fit an estimated 28 cans making it perfect for a family day out or a weekend warrior camping/hiking trip that’ll keep you out in the woods for a day or two.

The lining is not only waterproof, but has been treated to be anti microbial as well and mold and mildew resistant. This makes it ultra easy to clean after use and gives you confidence that your are storing your food somewhere safe.

The entire back of this pack has a layer of padded, enabling you to carry it in comfort regardless of how much you put into it or how far you’re carrying it. Really, the whole back of it: the back panel itself, the shoulder straps, and even the waist strap.

Where the waist straps attach to the back is a wider, contoured section to help hold the load in the right position without digging into your sides.

Also included are three dry storage areas. One large zippered pouch on the front of the bag, and two elastic mouthed pouches to either side, near where the waist straps attach to the body of the pack.

The zippered pouch has zig-zag bungee cording attached which allows you to lash and extra or oddly shaped gear to the outside of the pack for easy transport.

See our full review here.

1.Igloo Daytripper Collection Backpack–4.6 Stars

Igloo Daytripper Collection Backpack Cooler ReviewWhile looks aren’t everything, the Igloo Daytripper collection certainly delivers a wow factor when you first see it. The main fabric is a stylishly modern gray hatched pattern, with black trim and orange zipper pulls. Cooler or not, this pack definitely brings the wearer into the modern era.

Aside from good looks, the space is extremely well organized to make the most out of what you have. There is a large main compartment that has a padded, removable divider.

If you’ve got tupperware or sandwiches you can take it out, but if you’re carrying glass bottle the divider keeps them from hitting each other as you walk.

This main compartment is covered by a boxy flap that buckles closed. The flap also covers the specialized compartments that hold the included accessories. These are a bamboo cutting board, a butler’s wine opener, and rudimentary metal fork, knife, and butter knife.

On the bottom-front of the pack you’ll find a separately zipper cooler compartment that is reinforced by a plastic container. Think storing fragile cold foods like grapes or other fruits. They stay cold but don’t get crushed by larger items.

Shoulder straps are padded, with included sternum straps and even an attached bottle opener. This pack really does have just about every bonus feature you could ask for!

See our full review here.

Hopefully this guide has given you a great place to start when shopping for your perfect backpack cooler! If you liked this, please leave a comment and let us know!

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