Best Backpack Coolers for Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Kimberly Miles Avatar

When you live in a beach town surrounded by rivers and mountains like I do, it’s easy to spend all day outdoors lounging in the sun and sand, hiking through the jungle or enjoying other outdoor activities. However, these all-day adventures also mean being prepared. And while a traditional hard cooler is convenient for keeping snacks and drinks cool, it isn’t always the most practical solution when you have other items to lug around, such as beach accessories, outdoor sporting gear or even the kids! 

That’s where a hands-free backpack cooler comes to the rescue! With a variety of price points, functionality, styles and sizes, these versatile bags are perfect for keeping items cool during your outdoor adventures including beach days, picnicking, tailgating, festivals, camping trips, biking and kayaking.

So if you’re looking for something to give you the functionality of a cooler with the mobility and ease of a backpack, you’ll want to take a look at our roundup of the best backpack coolers.

1. Icemule Pro Collapsible Backpack Cooler

The Icemule Pro Backpack Cooler is rugged, versatile and makes getting around easy with its hands-free and lightweight design. It is one of the best backpack coolers for beach goers and hikers who need extra hands to carry other essential accessories or for parents who need an extra hand for their kids.

Not only is it 100% waterproof, but it also has an AirValve allowing it to float (even while full)! Now you won’t have to worry about losing your backpack in case of an accidental kayak flip or if the waves washed up a little too high during that picnic on the beach. With 24+ hours of ice retention ability, your food and drinks will stay nice and cold for the duration of your day trip.

It is also one of the best backpack coolers for traveling, as it can be easily folded down into a compact design to fit into your luggage or used as a carry-on bag.

Here is why the Icemule Pro Collapsible Backpack Cooler is a great choice:

  • It is lightweight and completely hands-free, making it easy to carry along with your other beach belongings.
  • Holds up to 33 liters or 24 cans, plus ice.
  • Keeps contents cold for 24 hours or more.
  • Available in different sizes and colors to fit your needs and preferences

2. Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler

Whether it’s for hiking, camping, beaching, or air travel, the Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler is another excellent choice. It is also one of the most comfortable choices, with two padded straps, a cushioned hip belt, and a sternum strap. 

Its hands-free design makes it easy to carry all of your snacks and beverages on your back while leaving your hands and arms free to carry your gear such as beach totes, beach blankets, surfboards or kayaks. This is also a great choice for parents traveling to the beach with kids– now you have more space to pack their things while still leaving your hands available for your little ones.

The PolarLayer insulation and rugged, Muleskin exterior and interior keeps your food and drink cold for more than 24 hours. Its waterproof and buoyant materials will not only keep your belongings dry, but will also keep your backpack afloat and visible while in the water.

Here is why the ICEMULE Boss Backpack Cooler is a great choice:

  • Fits up to 30 liters or 24 cans, plus ice.
  • Padded straps and cushioned hip belt for comfort and hands-free carrying
  • Roll-top design for easy loading and plenty of storage space
  • Superior ice retention, keeping items ice cold for at least 24 hours

3. Coleman Chiller Series Insulated Portable Soft Cooler Backpack

The Coleman Chiller Series Soft Cooler Backpack is a simple, yet practical backpack cooler with just the right amount of functionality for a hiking trip or day trip to the beach. It is the best backpack cooler choice for those who want comfort and convenience without having to lug around a huge, bulky backpack.

In addition to its 12-hour ice retention abilities, one of the best parts of this cooler is its leakproof design. Unlike some other coolers that will leave your car, clothes or other belongings wet after the ice melts, this bag has welded seams that prevent it from doing so. It’s padded shoulder and waist straps make transport a breeze while keeping you comfortable and hands-free. It also has plenty of storage space, holding up to 28 cans.

Here is why the Coleman Soft Cooler Backpack is a great choice:

  • Holds up to 28 cans
  • Leakproof design
  • Front and inside mesh pockets for extra storage space

4. Igloo Lightweight Maxcold Insulated Gizmo Backpack Cooler

In addition to being one of Amazon’s top choices, the Igloo Gizmo Backpack Cooler is one of the best backpack cooler choices for consumers heading out on an outdoor adventure. It has all of the essential features that one needs in a backpack cooler to make transporting your belongings easy while keeping your food and drinks cold.

Features of this backpack cooler include padded backpack straps and an adjustable sternum strap to make hands-free carrying easy and comfortable. Its multiple storage pockets include an insulated front pocket, side mesh hydration pockets great for holding water bottles and a padded zip pocket on the back for storing items that don’t need to be kept cool. It also comes in various colors and designs so you can find one that best fits your personality!

Here is why the Igloo Gizmo Backpack Cooler is a great choice:

  • Additional exterior pockets to provide storage space for items that don’t need to be kept cold
  • Interior 10.5 liter capacity; stores up to 30 cans.
  • One of the top choices for backpack coolers on Amazon
  • Comes in a variety of different colors and styles

5. Carhartt Convertible Backpack Cooler Tote

If you’re looking for a cooler with versatility and style, the Carhartt Convertible Backpack Cooler tote needs to be on your list. This heavy-duty backpack cooler is the best backpack cooler for travel, with adjustable straps that give it the ability to be worn as a backpack or carried as a tote bag.

Its 600-denier waterproof water-repellent fabric keeps your belongings dry in the rain and while at the beach, while its insulated main compartment holds up to 24 cans. There is also plenty of storage spice including zippered pockets for your smaller belongings, and two interior mesh pockets for holding ice packs or water bottles.

Here is why the Carhartt Convertible Backpack Cooler Tote is a great choice:

  • Can be worn as a backpack or carried as a tote bag
  • Keeps items cold for up to 24 hours
  • Spacious design, holding up to 24 cans

6. Tourit Cooler Backpack with Double Deck

If you have a long distance hiking trip or all-day outdoor adventure coming up, the Tourit Cooler Backpack with Double Deck is certainly the backpack you’ll want to have with you. In addition to its double-deck design to store your cooler items and dry items separately, it is also very comfortable with a lightweight design and thick mesh padding.

Other features of this bag include a leak-proof cooler compartment that holds up to 16 cans, and an upper compartment that holds your dry items such as clothing or snacks (or an additional 10 cans). There are also multiple pockets for extra storage space, including two large mesh side pockets with enough space to store two big water bottles or wine bottles!

Here is why the Tourit Cooler Backpack is a great choice:

  • Dual compartment design: One for keeping dry items and one for keeping items cool
  • Thick mesh padding on shoulders to keep you comfortable
  • Leak-proof liner to keep you dry even after the ice melts

7. Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler

Yeti discontinued its popular Hopper M20 soft backpack cooler in February 2023. However, its high-end Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler bag certainly deserves mention as one of the best backpack cooler alternatives.

Its compact and cubed shape and double-stitched top handle makes it easy to load, carry and store, as well as flip upside down for pouring out water and ice. Its heavy-duty, waterproof material keeps it dry as well as protected from rough use, UV rays and mildew. Meanwhile its leak proof zippered top makes it incredibly easy to load and prevents water from dripping out once the ice starts to melt.

Here is why the Yeti Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler is a great choice:

  • Superior insulation and ice retention
  • Wide, ergonomic shoulder strap for maximum comfort
  • Also comes in smaller 8 and 12 can capacity
  • Grids to easily attach bottle openers or other accessories

8. RTIC Backpack Cooler

The RTIC Backpack Cooler is one of the best soft coolers to compete with the high-end Yeti brand. Its large, hands-free design, padded back panel and comfortable straps make it ideal for beach days, pool days, camping, hiking or picnics.

The RTIC Backpack cooler comes in two different sizes: One with a 20-can capacity and 30-can capacity. Its superior insulation and ice retention abilities keeps your food and drinks cold for days, with a leakproof design to keep you protected from spills and leaks. It also floats, so you can keep your belongings by your side during water adventures at the pool or lake!

Here is why the RTIC Backpack Cooler is a great choice:

  • Superior ice retention that can keep items cold for days
  • Comes in two different sizes and a variety of colors
  • Waterproof, leakproof and floatable

9. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Insulated Backpack Cooler

The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Insulated Backpack Cooler offers a combination of both comfort and capacity, perfect for those long days out and about in the outdoors. Its large main compartment and heat-reflecting material keeps the cooler cold for hours, while its water and stain repellent properties makes it super easy to clean.

The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze comes with two large ice walls that slide into two exterior pockets, providing extra space to hold up to 30 cans while also keeping your belongings cool (without having to worry about melting ice). Its padded back panel, padded adjustable backpack straps and sternum strap provides stability while keeping comfortable. There’s also a convenient bottle opener so you can enjoy your favorite beverage at any time or place!

Here is why the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Backpack Cooler is a great choice:

  • Includes two removable ice packs and detachable bottle opener
  • Water-resistant and stain repellent, with easy-to-clean lining
  • Large capacity, holding up to 30 cans

10. REI Co-op Cool Trail Pack Cooler

For a backpack cooler durable enough to keep perishable items protected on longer day trips, the REI Co-op Cool Trail Pack Cooler is the best backpack cooler for the job. This leak proof backpack cooler holds up to 6 pounds of ice and can keep belongings cold for up to 40 hours!

Its spacious double compartment design and adjustable padded shoulder straps makes it perfect for a long day hike. It also has extra external pockets to provide additional storage space as well as front straps for attaching bulkier accessories such as chairs or blankets. And for when you need a little more space on those trips where you don’t need ice, the cooler insert is completely removable.

Here is why the REI Co-Op Cool Trail Pack Cooler is a great choice:

  • Has both top and bottom compartment for extra storage space
  • Contains removable cooler insert for easy cleaning and option for extra storage space
  • Can hold up to 12 cans and 6 pounds of ice

11. Engel BP25 Roll-Top High Performance Backpack Cooler

For longer trips where comfort and storage capacity is a must, the Engel Roll-Top backpack cooler is the best backpack cooler for the job. This lightweight and versatile backpack includes a watertight roll-top closure, padded back and shoulder straps, and a chest strap to provide stability and comfort during the long hauls.

Other features of the Engle BP25 backpack cooler include a waterproof front pocket and mesh side pockets for extra storage space. There’s also a bottle opener, d-rings and side straps for convenience. The one-way vacuum valve makes it easy to get rid of unwanted air in the cooler, while the foam insulation keeps the warm air out. For even more convenience, there are three side and back grab handles, enabling you to carry the bag by hand on shorter trips.

Here is why the Engel Roll-Top High Performance Backpack Cooler is a great choice:

  • Easy-access, waterproof roll-top closure that buckles down into an extra handle
  • Can retain ice for up to three days
  • Large capacity, holding up to 25 quarts

12. Hydro Flask 20 L Day Escape Soft Cooler

If keeping contents cold for longer periods of time is a deciding factor for your backpack cooler, the Hydro Flask Day Escape soft cooler needs to be at the top of your list. This comfy, hands-free backpack cooler keeps your contents cool for up to 36 hours and also has a watertight zipper to stay leakproof the entire time.

In addition to its super durable material and design, this sleek travel backpack has a padded back panel and shoulder straps, a sternum strap, carrying handles and a compression base that allows it to stand on its own without falling over. It is also very spacious, holding up to 36 cans!

Here is why the Hydro Flask Day Escape Soft Cooler is a great choice:

  • Lightweight, leak-proof design with a waterproof zipper
  • Keeps contents cold for up to 36 hours
  • Can fit up to 36 cans without ice

13. Pelican Dayventure Backpack Soft Cooler

The Pelican Dayventure Backpack Soft Cooler is another excellent choice offering versatility, space and comfort in one convenient design. Whether for camping, a trip to the beach or hike through the backcountry, this backpack has all the components you need to keep your belongings protected and cool.

With two spacious compartments, you can transport even more items while keeping your dry items separate from those that need to be kept cold. Its lightweight insulated design, padded shoulder straps and durable structure keeps you comfortable while in transport while keeping your belongings protected from the roughest elements. It also has a leak-resistant zipper and waterproof seal, so you won’t have to worry about any ice or liquids leaking out during your outdoor adventure!

Here is why the Pelican Dayventure Backpack Soft Cooler is a great choice:

  • Large, double-compartment design: 13-liter upper compartment and 4-liter lower compartment
  • 840D Double-Coated TPU that resists punctures
  • Compression molded base to allow it to stand upright on its own

14. Ozark Trail 24-can Welded Cooler Backpack

When it comes to finding a budget-friendly cooler backpack that will keep your belongings cold for days, Walmart’s house outdoor gear brand Ozark Trail meets expectations. Testers of the product said that this sturdy and durable bag kept ice intact for hours and kept belongings cold for days, offering some pretty stiff competition next to some of the more expensive brands.

This sturdy and durable bag holds up to 24 cans and still has more room for ice. It’s moisture-proof, leakproof Microban lining keeps items protected from punctures and UV rays while also resisting odors and stains. The only downsides according to testers is that its design wasn’t great for organizing multiple items and that the small exterior pocket was too small and difficult to open. However, for carrying drinks, it is an excellent option.

Here is why the Ozark Trail Welded Cooler Backpack is a great choice:

  • Holds up to 24 cans plus ice
  • Keeps ice intact for days
  • Great for those on a budget
Kimberly Miles is a mother of one and an experienced solo and single mom traveler. So far, she has traveled to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Dubai, Bahamas, Aruba, Mexico, and several places in the U.S. Kimberly was born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, but in 2018 she took a leap of faith and made the beautiful beach town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico her home with her young son. In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Kimberly ghostwrites blogs on a variety of topics. She also provides marketing consulting services and business guidance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and corporations via her independent business KNM Virtual Solutions. When she’s not traveling or writing, you can find Kimberly working out, eating tacos, dancing the night away, or spending time at the beach with her son. You can read more of her work at Travel Unapologetically.
Read full bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *