August 17, 2022

Travel & Leisure

Greatest Backpack Coolers (Evaluation & Shopping for Information) in 2022

The dads of yore might have actually used a backpack cooler. In my thoughts’s eye, I nonetheless see the previous man struggling on scorched sand — lugging metallic folding chairs, thick canvas totes, and a tough case cooler. He lumbered past 1 / 4 of a mile on these humidity-soaked summer time days with sweat amassing from a scornful forehead. He would responsibly arrange the household’s basecamp with veins like McDonald’s straws pumping by means of muscled forearms. His sweat dripped to the sand, forming darkish spots like islands round our newly claimed speck of earth. These recollections make the lauded comic Jim Gaffigan’s punchline ring true when he says “why is Dad all the time in such a nasty temper?” In stark distinction to the struggles of the previous, as we speak’s fathers can place the heavy burden of six-packs and bologna sandwiches sq. on their shoulders by way of the progressive backpack cooler. 

The backpack cooler has modified the sport for our means to convey the occasion to wherever you go.  Why full a strongman stroll each time you need some ice-cold IPAs within the park? Process & Objective was capable of get my fingers on the very best lineup of backpack coolers accessible. So, I set out on a imaginative and prescient quest to seek out which cooler retains my beer the frostiest, supplies essentially the most consolation and nonetheless has the sturdiness to final for years to come back. After concluding my assessments, it’s obvious my son will reminisce on how effortlessly I hauled the household cooler with out breaking a sweat, grinning ear to ear, and able to tackle the following journey.


Having deployed in virtually each facet of Naval Warfare, in addition to being an avid outdoorsman, I’ve an concept of what supplies and designs are constructed to final and carry out. I took all that information and got here up with an inventory of the very best backpack coolers accessible as we speak. 

I began my search with trusted manufacturers like Yeti, Coleman, and Igloo. Then, I rounded out the record with some surprises like Icemule, RTIC, and REI — corporations you might not acknowledge as backpack cooler makers. This record has a litany of capabilities, working the gambit from day-use to full-on backcountry adventures. To surmise, I selected the gear that has a superb monitor report and people I’d personally need.  

For this assessment, I examined each backpack hands-on and pitted them towards one another to actually discover out which backpack reigned supreme. If these packs marketed sure capabilities like waterproofing or ice retention, I put them to the check. Each particular person’s wants in a backpack cooler are completely different, so I made certain to let you realize precisely which pursuits the backpack excelled at to slim your search.

After I unboxed this beast, my preliminary thought was she actually lives as much as the mule namesake — ugly sufficient for half of its genetics coming from an ass. After testing, I discovered the opposite half of its DNA hidden below the donkey exterior, the place efficiency capabilities had been equal to that of a champion thoroughbred.

The Icemule Boss is noticeably bigger than others examined, and coated with the sturdy muleskin 1,000-denier shell with welded seams that shield towards the gnarliest climate. An insulation foam mixed with an air valve (you blow into which additionally makes it buoyant) supplies the last word in ice retention we examined. The Boss makes use of a roll-top closure like a dry sack which makes getting out and in of the pack simpler than a zippered cooler. Facet and entrance waterproof pockets, MOLLE webbing, an overbuilt deal with, anchor factors, and a bungee system adorn the robust exterior shell, giving it the aptitude to really tackle no matter insane situation you might dream up the place chilly brews are wanted.

On the subject of truly strapping the pack on, padded mesh shoulder and hip straps, coupled with an adjustable chest strap, present all the safety and as a lot consolation I anticipate whereas carrying any semi-rigid type. It was the heaviest of all packs examined, however its sturdiness and waterproofing tip the scales again into the Icemule’s favor.

The Boss primarily laughed at my little tenting journey the place I attempted to place it by means of some paces. The cooler not solely held ice all the weekend, however it additionally lasted over 5 days. The waterproof pockets saved my keys and pocket book dry throughout some late-night rainfall. I finally strapped the pack on for a 10-mile gravel street bike experience, and it was noticeably heavier and extra cumbersome than others examined, and to be trustworthy, the Boss is better-suited for foot journey whereas forging rivers in a thunderstorm.

The pack sadly is available in at a worth level of $350. I’ve concluded by means of testing that I desire a backpack cooler to be a cooler first, and a backpack second. Whereas a extra modestly priced cooler pack can do all of the issues the Icemule provides, the Boss’s efficiency in ice retention, sturdiness, and ease of use put it on the prime of our record. So, in case your life’s purpose was to hike in 24 of the coldest beers potential to an indigenous tribe of the Amazon rainforest — with out query, that is the backpack cooler to take

Product Specs

  • Capability:

    24 cans with 10 kilos of ice

  • Weight:

    7.12 kilos

  • Closure:

    Tri-fold roll-top

  • Shade choices:

    Gentle tan Greatest use: River floats, fly-fishing, backcountry frat occasion


Unbeatable ice retention expertise

Extra dry storage than you may shake a stick (or actually chilly beer) at

Extremely-durability and weatherproofing for any journey


Not for the meek, it’s an enormous heavy-duty outsized pack

your checking account whereas sipping ultra-cold beer

Gained’t win a magnificence pageant (extra like greatest in present on the honest)

My first impression of the Igloo Ringleader was that it’s robust to inform if this pack is even a cooler. The olive drab and black exterior provides off ALICE pack vibes, however the really feel of the fabric, straps, and zippers are extra akin to a child’s college backpack. That being stated, I actually love this pack. It has immediately upped my fatherly sport turning into the very best dad pack I’ve discovered thus far. Good for a day on the ball discipline or park, you’ll hardly even discover you’re carrying round a cooler as a result of this factor is so comfy. At a worth level of simply $60, you’ll be hard-pressed to seek out something as succesful in that very same worth vary.

Igloo lined the principle inside with its MaxCold insulation and closed that compartment with a drawstring and flap-style lid that buckles within the entrance. Adorned on the perimeters are two insulated zippered pockets for dry storage. On the entrance is a further zippered pocket with a mesh liner and a bungee system for extra dry storage. Shoulder straps are thinly padded mesh with a number of attachment factors and hell sure to the bottle opener sewn into it. A lightweight detachable chest strap is offered, in addition to a skinny nylon deal with to choose the bag up with. The underside is a black, barely extra sturdy plastic, that appears waterproof sufficient. All in all, you get the makings of a rugged look with a hidden cooler and a few performance for on a regular basis life.

Whereas I’d not advocate this pack for backcountry use, it’s completely appropriate for my suburban-dad life. There’s sufficient area to hold the household’s lunch and drinks, to incorporate just a few further suds for mother and pop. Whereas the ice retention was the worst we examined, it would nonetheless be capable to maintain the whole lot chilly sufficient for day use. On prime of perishables, you continue to have room within the dry storage compartments for diapers, wipes, change of garments, and the power to bungee on a blanket or towel for an emergency diaper change state of affairs. Okay, you get it — I’m a dad, however significantly, it is a succesful little pack.

I took this pack to the bottom pool and monitor for somewhat duathlon motion. I packed up a lunch, water, swim gear, toiletries, a towel, and a few beers (simply because), dumped some ice from the fridge on prime, and was on my method. There’s an incognito feeling when sporting this pack. As I stuffed the perfectly-fitting cooler into the small gymnasium locker, a rush of happiness surged by means of me, realizing solely I knew just a few grownup spirits had been quietly sitting on ice, awaiting my completion of the day’s occasion. After a brief swim and heart-pumping intervals across the oval, I hauled the pack to the truck the place I loved a pleasant little tailgate picnic with some chilly brewskies as well.

Whereas not essentially the most sturdy pack on the record, the Igloo Ringleader Rucksack simply kicks ass for the grey man within the crowd. You may effortlessly pack out chilly hops and treats with out the eye of an overpriced standing image in your again. That’s the reason —fingers down — Igloo wins the very best worth of all backpack coolers examined.

Product Specs

  • Capability:

    24 cans with 10 kilos of ice

  • Weight:

    1.99 kilos

  • Closure:

    Drawstring and buckled flap lid

  • Shade choices:


  • Greatest use:

    Taking the youngsters out


Too low cost to not have in your arsenal

Loads of storage for the day

Traditional rucksack appears to be like make it unrecognizable as a cooler


Say goodbye to ice, and hi there to a satchel of water after simply 30 hours

Questionable sturdiness for any enterprise past the native playground

I first began seeing RTIC merchandise present up on the native Walmart, and I didn’t pay them a lot thoughts as they appeared to only be a Yeti knock off. I used to be pleasantly stunned after weeks of giving the RTIC backpack cooler the enterprise within the wild to study it not solely matches the Backflip Hopper 24 in virtually each class we examined, but in addition surpassed it in some — most notably, within the pockets. They’re fairly priced at $180, and at the moment working 10 p.c off for navy and first responders.

The RTIC stands noticeably taller than most we examined for the 30-can model we examined. It makes use of a zippered flap lid model opening that’s watertight when totally shut. The cooler is a foam insulation that ranked third in our ice retention check behind the Icemule and Yeti. Shoulder and chest straps are padded mesh offering consolation and warmth launch for lengthy hauls. Extra carry factors are sewn into the perimeters, in addition to handles to hold the cooler atop the lid that are Velcroed collectively. There are 4 plastic D-rings on the perimeters and entrance to affix carabiners or an extended shoulder strap. Lastly, a bungee system is adorned to the entrance — a spec of backpack coolers I’ve grown to like for affixing small camp chairs or blankets. Within the field, you additionally get a sticker, directions, and zipper lube.

Underneath common tenting use, the RTIC stood toe to toe with the Yeti. Ice retention and complete capability are just about similar. I give the nod to RTIC in consolation with its further padding on the straps. The Yeti lacks dry storage whereas the RTIC supplies a pleasant bungee system. I’d say the RTIC is massive, and somewhat cumbersome for doing one thing like biking or scrambling over massive rocks — go away that to the smaller packs on the record. Total, this is a wonderful choice within the mid-range worth zone that may actually enhance your tenting, seashore, or mountaineering experiences.

Product Specs

  • Capability:

    30 cans with 10 kilos of ice

  • Weight:

    5.17 kilos

  • Closure:

    Zippered flap lid

  • Shade choices:

    Black, tan, blue-grey

  • Greatest use:

    River floats, seashore outings


Nice ice retention

Loads of carrying capability

Sturdy for no matter you throw at it


No dry storage pockets

No MOLLE attachment areas

This isn’t your grandpa’s tenting cooler. Coleman has utilized its classic styling and efficiency to the trendy backpack cooler of as we speak. Coloured in its unmistakable evergreen, Coleman’s backpack is a good companion to the campsite or seashore. Whereas small in stature, there may be loads for one or two folks carrying picnic necessities. The ultra-thick insulation and TPU liner saved ice for 51 hours primarily based on our testing of standard use in tenting situations.

The shoulder straps and backing have a calmly padded mesh, that are close to the underside of high quality on this record. After I loaded up the pack with its most beer capability, the straps had been digging into my shoulders and the underside was very uncomfortable on my decrease again. Extra carrying straps that Velcro collectively can be found to lug it round old-school. The identical inch-and-a-half webbing of these prime straps is sewn onto the entrance of the backpack, offering some MOLLE-like attachment areas. Coleman sewed in a bottle opener to the webbing as a result of everyone knows the meant use for this piece of substances. Two four-inch mesh stretchy pockets adorn the left and proper laterals of the cooler. A threaded bungee is on prime, providing you with sufficient further cargo area to hold blankets and compact chairs. Rounding out the specs is a entrance pocket that my hand can not match into and is difficult to get even a single piece of paper in or out of, rendering it ineffective.

I took the Coleman 24 Can Cooler Backpack as much as Williamsburg, Virginia on the primary sunny spring day for a one-day mountain bike journey. I bottomed out the cooler with a few Igloo ice blocks after which threw beer, a sandwich, a half-drank Gatorade, and snacks on prime. I dumped sufficient ice from the fridge’s ice maker to get in all of the remaining nooks and crannies. My instant thought was this cooler is small, however the good dimension to gas my gnar shedding and have chilly brews after I was performed. I made a notice of appreciation for the sq. flat backside and the cooler’s means to face up straight at the back of the SUV.

Some Amazon assessment complaints had been that it was exhausting to zip. To me, the zipper feels well-made and durable. Dry and moist storage is restricted in Coleman’s providing, and it’s not the backpack cooler for supplying somewhat league workforce of kiddos with drinks and snacks for the ballgame. Most bearded espresso drinkers sporting Carhartt beanies would nevertheless approve of this cooler. That’s why this pack received the nostalgia award for reminiscing recollections of high quality tenting gear and growing new merchandise for as we speak.

Product Specs

  • Capability:

    14 cans with 10 kilos of ice

  • Weight:

    2.77 kilos

  • Closure:

    Sq. zipper flip-top

  • Shade choices:

    Forest inexperienced

  • Greatest use:

    Day hikes and quick outings


Compact dimension goes wherever your journey takes you

Thick insulation retains issues chilly for a number of days

Webbing for further attachments, a Velcro deal with for simple lifting, and calmly padded mesh straps

Bungee on the flip lid to hold a blanket or minimalist tenting chair


Very restricted capability for cans, mesh facet pockets are okay however entrance pocket is unusable and a whole waste

Backside of the cooler digs into your decrease again when totally loaded

Zipper isn’t leakproof and spills water onto you if you bend over

My first impression unboxing the Yeti Hopper Backflip was that of high quality and ruggedness. Generally you get what you pay for, and Yeti’s appear and feel are spectacular. By merging the Hopper Delicate Cooler line with their latest foray into backpacks, Yeti has created a slimmer and taller cooler that bodes effectively as a backpack. Included within the buy are zipper lube and detailed directions to be used. Yeti claims the pack is leakproof, so I stuffed it with a gallon of water, turned it upside-down, and left it in a single day. Other than some moisture-wicking on the zipper cloth, it was bone-dry beneath the cooler.

The pack is minimalist in nature, with simply 4 attachment strips adorning the entrance and sides, together with 4 sturdy one-inch webbed lifting handles. The cooler compartment is massive sufficient to accommodate most something you’re attempting to haul. It did really feel prefer it was overkill after I loaded it up for a day, fueling myself by means of an early morning swim and afternoon run exercise. I barely used up 1 / 4 of the area for all of the liquids and meals I wanted. This included an ice block and about three kilos of ice. The cooler is hard, has superior coldness, and continues to be pretty comfy to put on.

The situational crux is deciding if the worth is a legitimate funding for one thing that actually has a distinct segment software. The best use for this backpack cooler is bringing rather a lot to the occasion when the occasion includes a number of river crossings. To compete with the Icemule Boss, Yeti must throw within the sidekick attachment at no cost to realize some waterproof dry storage. Nevertheless, for my household and private use, the Backflip meets my expectations for a backpack cooler.

Product Specs

  • Capability:

    24 cans with 10 kilos of ice

  • Weight:

    5.42 kilos

  • Closure:

    Sq. zipper flip-top

  • Shade choices:

    Charcoal, aquifer blue, coral, harvest crimson, highland olive, navy, sagebrush inexperienced

  • Greatest use:

    Fishing excursions, faraway picnics, scorching seashore days


Extraordinarily robust

Dryhide shell supplies glorious sturdiness

100% leak-proof zipper doesn’t spill water out Actually good ice retention lasting three days below regular camp use

Greater than sufficient area to nourish a household of 4 for a number of days

Robust webbing for attachments and detachable hip and chest straps


No dry storage

Costly at over $400 for many colorways

No vented or cushioned padding on the straps and backing

Hitchpoint grid system doesn’t settle for MOLLE packs

REI’s Cool Path Pack Cooler is a 40-liter pack that forgot it’s a cooler. It virtually looks as if REI designed a day pack and on the last-minute thought “you realize, a cooler would match very well on this pack!” The thickly padded and totally adjustable hip belts, shoulder straps, and backing are second greatest in consolation behind the Igloo Ringleader Rucksack. At a most beer capability of 49 brews, it additionally supplies essentially the most area for moist and dry storage of any pack examined. In case your purpose is to take chilly beer to the furthest stretches of path possible, that is the backpack cooler for you.

The cooler is past a discount for the way a lot it brings to the seashore, park, or camp outing. I took this pack tenting and examined it on the paths whereas mountaineering with my son. Regardless of the non-square backside, the pack stood up by itself on the desk. It was full of an ice block on the underside after which stuffed to the brim with beer, most of our camp meals, and at last topped with 10 kilos of ice. The ice retention isn’t nice with the Path Pack, solely holding cubes for 36 hours below regular camp use situations. After I took off on trails is the place the Co-op actually shined. It felt similar to any rucksack or massive in a single day tenting backpack I had worn. With all the additional storage choices, I used to be capable of place my son’s water bottle and path snacks into the handy facet pockets. By some means, a pint of whiskey made its method into the facet pockets as effectively — cheers REI!

Whereas mountaineering, I observed some water leaking from the underside of the pack, dripping onto my legs. This was because of the tender cooler insert spilling water into the pack as I leaned over to take away rocks from my four-year-old son’s poor alternative of path shoe — croc’s. I had informed him previous to stepping off to place his boots on, so both have children who truly take heed to you otherwise you run the identical danger of spillage that occurred to me when mountaineering with REI’s backpack cooler.

Product Specs

  • Capability:

    35 cans with 10 kilos of ice

  • Weight:

    3 kilos 3 ounces

  • Closure:

    Drawstring below the lid, detachable tender cooler with zipper

  • Greatest use:

    Lengthy distance hikes to distant desert events


Closely padded hip belt and shoulder straps

Superior dry storage areas

Detachable tender cooler, doubles as a day pack

Entrance lash straps enable for simple blanket or camp chair attachment


Chest strap simply pops off and it’s exhausting to get again on

Non-leak proof tender cooler insert spills into the pack if you lean over

Sorts of backpack coolers

There are loads of decisions these days, as each cooler and backpack firm appears to make a foray into the backpack cooler market. For us, you may break these packs into two fundamental classes to slim your search: waterproof and leisure backpack coolers.      


These are the top-of-the-line coolers with the aptitude to endure white rapids and have the required tie-down anchors to maintain them in place. With all these packs, you may traverse rivers and endure something mom nature can throw at you, all whereas retaining ice at a premium charge, and holding no matter’s inside protected and safe.    


These are constructed to gas you for the day’s journey. The non-waterproof nature of them makes them extra comfy to put on, however their sturdiness additionally takes successful. Not worrying about presumably being submerged in water, they cater to the inhabitants that’s taking a visit to the park, seashore, or trailhead that isn’t so nervous about holding issues cooled down for days on finish.      

Key options of backpack coolers

Ice retention

Within the occasion you’re trekking the Mojave desert, ice retention might imply life or demise. Nevertheless, I’ve discovered that for many day journeys, if my ice melts over the course of getting a good time, it performs simply as meant. When selecting the best cooler, ask your self how exhausting is it going to be to get extra ice? Is having ice obligatory to finish your endeavor? If the plan is to go to the backcountry and tough it for 3 or 4 days, the one technique to maintain ice is with a superior pack that’s going to price extra money.       


Backpack coolers are inclined to let you know what number of cans they will maintain with 10 kilos of ice. They’ve completely different fashions with the standard suspects of 20-, 24-, and 30-can fashions. We examined all kinds on this assessment to provide you an concept of what dimension could give you the results you want. 


The form of the cooler pack truly ended up being an even bigger issue than I had anticipated.  The extra inflexible coolers (fairly frankly) simply don’t ruck very effectively, however they carry out effectively within the ice retention check. The softer coolers type higher to your physique and are usually a lot simpler to lug round for longer infills, however at a better lack of ice over time. The longer and narrower backpacks present loads of consolation as effectively, however reaching down into them is usually a battle. My greatest recommendation is to seek out one thing that works on your physique sort, and cope with the benefit of use when it’s time to pop a prime.        

Dry storage

Consequently, on any journey you’re going to wish greater than ice-cold liquids. Dry storage is your compass for guaranteeing a profitable enterprise. Backpack coolers have many choices relating to stowables, and I implore you to decide on one with alternatives to pack out greater than perishables. Having protected storage of your telephone and digicam on an extended journey may very well be the shopping for distinction in some instances.             


Backpack cooler weight is necessary as a result of carrying drinks and ice is already heavy. I additionally discovered there may be some correlation between ice retention and weight. Right here is the load breakdown for the coolers we examined.

Pricing issues for backpack coolers


There are many decisions on the market below $100 {dollars} if you realize what you might be searching for.  On our record, the Igloo Ringleader Rucksack Again Cooler, Coleman 24 Can Backpack Cooler, and the REI Co-op Cool Path Pack Cooler are all on this worth class and are glorious decisions for entry into the backpack cooler realm. Efficiency dropped for the price range backpack coolers in sturdiness, weatherproofing, and ice retention. Apart from that, we had been impressed with their functionality. In case your actions aren’t that excessive, I’d advocate choosing a cooler on this vary. 


Between $100 and $250 is the place the RTIC Backpack Cooler lies, and it guidelines this worth vary.  At these worth factors, you start to get the weatherproofing we’d anticipate from tougher cased coolers. The RTIC is less expensive than the Yeti, and principally dealt with the whole lot we threw at it. Except you’re going for sure aesthetics that solely premium fashions supply, the RTIC is that this gear reviewer’s alternative.     


When the journey requires a better degree of belief between you and your gear, that is the place you have to be purchasing. The Yeti Backflip Hopper 24 and the Icemule Boss are going to be serving ice-cold drinks regardless of the climate throws at you. On the premium degree over $250, you might be getting a very dependable backpack with a superior cooler. The mixing of those two worlds is essential, and the higher-priced packs merely carried out higher.          

FAQs on backpack coolers

You’ve obtained questions. Process & Objective has solutions.

Q: What ought to I search for in a backpack cooler?

A: Primarily based on my expertise, you must search for one thing that features as a cooler first and backpack second. After that, think about consolation and ruck-ability. Meaning you may belief your cargo goes to get there as chilly as potential.    

Q: Can you set ice in a cooler bag?

A: Sure, stuff as a lot ice as you may match into your backpack cooler. A cooler bag goes to wish some type of chilly equipment to take care of temperature, so ice bricks or ice packs are one other nice choice since you received’t have to fret about leaks. A frozen water bottle works nice as effectively.    

Q: How do you retain your cooler chilly the longest?

A: Pre-chilling the cooler is a obligatory first step. Get your cooler into the chilly storage, truly place it within the fridge or freezer, or sacrifice a bag of ice positioned inside. As soon as chilled, line the underside with ice bricks, then ice and your meals or drinks, and at last prime off the contents with extra ice bricks. Pre-freezing your perishables will lengthen the coldness in your cooler, too.

Process & Objective and its companions could earn a fee if you are going to buy a product by means of one in every of our hyperlinks. We independently consider gear by placing merchandise within the fingers of subject material consultants. The merchandise we check could also be bought by Process & Objective, our employees, or offered for assessment by a producer. Irrespective of the supply, our testing procedures and our assessments stay free from third-party affect. Study extra about our product assessment course of.

See also  A Journey Backpack For Your Child’s Automobile Seat Can Make Flying Simpler