Soft sided coolers have many advantages over traditional coolers. They are generally a lot lighter so it is easier to transport. You can also collapse them down so your entire backseat isn’t filled up by an empty cooler. Below you will find our soft sided cooler reviews for four of our favorites.
|NAME||ICE RETENTION||PRICE||OVERALL RATING|
|Engel Backpack Cooler||4.7||$$$||4.9|
|Polar Bear H2O||4.5||$$||4.7|
- 1 YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler
- 2 ENGEL Cooler Backpack | Best Backpack with a Cooler
- 3 Polar Bear Coolers H2O Cooler
- 4 Coleman Wheeled Soft Cooler with Hard Liner
- 5 How to choose soft cooler
The Hopper Portable Cooler is described by Yeti as a soft cooler that is anything but soft. Their description is accurate because the Hopper is extremely durable. The outer shell is made from material that is similar to material found in white water rafts. If it is strong enough for a white water raft it is strong enough for a cooler.
Leak Proof and Well Insulated
The design Yeti went with is specially crafted to minimize the number of seams and therefore make it much easier to be waterproof and 100% leak proof. They even created the Hopper with a Hydro lock zipper that is the toughest in the world and very similar to those used in survival suits. Having a waterproof shell and a leak proof zipper allows you to focus on enjoying your time and not worrying about your cooler. Your Yeti Hopper will be able to keep ice for three to four days by making use of the exceptional insulation technology that Yeti is known for. Most other soft sided coolers lose ice after only a few hours.
Ergonomic and Crazy Strong
To carry your cooler you can use the six D-ring points attached to the outer shell. This gives you a number of ways to carry the cooler so you don’t have to struggle with it. Each D-ring is attached with reinforced stitching to make them tough as nails. You can use the end handles, the removable shoulder strap, or the primary handles to carry the cooler. On the outer shell of the Hopper there is an ingenious hitch grid system that allows you to attach additional Yeti products that further cater to whatever your needs may be on your outing. We use this feature to attach a Yeti tumbler so I can keep my hands free to carry other items I need for my trip.
The Yeti has you covered from all sides including the bottom. With EVA foam on the base you won’t have to worry about anything puncturing the bottom of the cooler.
Yeti Hooper Worth the Money?
I say yes it is and here is why. Most soft coolers are horrible at keeping ice frozen. The Hopper will keep it frozen for up to 4 days. Not to mention you won’t ever have to buy another cooler again. It is amazing how touch this cooler is even though it has soft sides.
The ENGEL Cooler Backpack is made from tough and durable fabric on the outside making it puncture resistant and anti-microbial, an ideal feature all soft coolers should have. The Engel comes with a removable liner that is attached with a few hoops and hooks so it is super easy to clean. This cooler also has a water-repellent heavy-duty zipper at the top making it easy to find what you are looking for.
The Best Soft Cooler Backpack
There are multiple ways to carry this cooler allowing you to pick which method works best for you. You can carry it with the top of the line durable fabric handles which are perfect for going short distances. However if you have your sights set on going medium to long distances then the ENGEL cooler comes with shoulder straps that are breathable and padded to give the most comfort for the wearer. Having quality padded shoulder straps is a nice feature for anyone carrying a cooler on their back. It makes the cooler easier to carry and frees up your hands.
You will be able to carry plenty of food and beverages with this cooler because it has 23 Quarts of space which is enough room to carry 24 beverage cans. Engel also uses heavy-duty insulation that will keep your ice frozen for up to three days.
More Compartments Means More Flexibility
This cooler has five pockets making it truly customizable and offering many options for how to use your cooler! With an ingenious design you can keep your food both cold and dry by storing the ice in a separate pocket that cools down the adjacent section. Having extra side pockets is also very convenient. You can store items you may use frequently in them making it easier to retrieve them later.
Engel Cooler. Yay or Nay?
We really like this cooler. It gives you a lot of high-end features like great insulation and a leak proof design. You get plenty of pockets for storage and the best part is you can carry it like a backpack. This cooler is generally cheaper than the Yeti Hopper as well. Overall you can’t go wrong with any Engel products we have reviewed.
Polar Bear Coolers have been creating soft coolers that perform exceptionally well for nearly ten years and this cooler is no different. The Polar Bear Cooler is made of rugged waterproof tarpaulin, with a bottom that is created to ensure no skids or damage.
Great Insulation and Zero Leaks
Using one inch thick advanced insulation technology this cooler works overtime to keep your contents cold. On the inside it is the same story a heavy-duty sweat proof DuraTemp liner prevents your cooler from having any condensation. The Polar bear H20 also has a leak proof liner to keep what you want inside and what you don’t want out. This is a great feature because it allows for you to be certain your cooler’s contents will be just as you left them with no surprises!
All your contents are kept inside by Polar Bears YKK #10 rubber coated zipper and they even throw in a stainless steel bottle opener.
The Bottom Line
While the Polar Bear isn’t on the same level as the Yeti or Engel it is still a very nice cooler. The insulation is good enough to keep ice frozen for a full day and you get plenty of storage. Better yet it costs less than half of the other higher end brands.
The Coleman soft cooler can hold up to 42 cans and can be wheeled around with you wherever you go. This particular model has a telescoping handle that makes it extremely comfortable to pull around. The durable wheels will hold up well over time and help make even the heaviest load practically weightless to transport.
Hard Liner for Easy Cleanup
There is a removable hard plastic liner that makes it easy to clean not to mention the liner is mildew, odor, and mold resistant. One great feature of this soft cooler is that you can use both ice and cold packs to keep your contents cold. If you do not want to use the roller and the wheels you can use the side handles which give you the maximum carrying control.
The Coleman Cooler has a front zippered pocket that allows for extra storage and can be used in a pinch if you remember something last-minute. The cooler also comes with mesh pockets on each side and bungee cords on the lid that allow to carry extra items such as fold up chairs, towels, or a picnic basket.
The Bottom Line
This is a great cooler for day trips. It has good insulation and a great design that maximizes its space. You also get the telescoping handle and wheels so you can load the cooler up and transport it with ease. We really like this cooler. Especially if you have a heavy load to carry for any distance. Not to mention it is a soft sided cooler for storing the cooler takes up minimal space.
How to choose soft cooler
If you are buying a soft cooler for adventure or rough usage, then durability is the very first thing you should check that cooler. Make sure to check its outer and inner material, stitching, and zips.
There are coolers made with different intents. Some are made for merely carrying lunch for work/picnic, while some are made for hardcore adventure. Some are made for single use while other has extra storage. Having a clear purpose will be an added advantage and can save you lot of money. We have created a pretty diverse list to help pick you best soft cooler.
The main advantage of soft cooler over hard cooler is portability. They come in different strap types. Most of them are shoulder style, lunchbox style and backpack style. Each one has separate utility. We love backpack style the most, mainly for the ease of portability. But other options are also useful for different situations.
Space is an important aspect. Soft cooler storage is usually calculated regarding no. of cans it can hold. You cooler may have the entire features required to be the best soft cooler, but if it lacks storage, then there will be no point in buying them. Please make sure to check storage and storage options before purchasing any soft cooler.
This is by far the most important thing to look. The whole purpose of buying a soft cooler is keeping your stuff cold. We have mention insulation time for every cooler in our list. Insulation time is calculated by maintaining ice and waiting for it to melt. Time taken for ice to melt is known as insulation time of the cooler. Anything below 24 hours is below average.
Ease of cleaning
The next thing to look is cleaning process; many have removable inner storage for ease of cleaning. Do check the cleaning process for you soft cooler.
Don’t waste your money on the cheap and low-quality product; only go for a product that comes with a manufacturer warranty and excellent customer service.