Chill Out with the Best Soft Coolers

There are two different types of soft coolers: soft and hard. Soft coolers are made of either plastic or fabric, while hard coolers are made of metal or glass. Some soft coolers have their own internal insulation, while some rely on other insulation to keep your beverages cold.

Finding a good cooler is a real pain. They’re usually expensive, they’re often heavy, and you have to keep food cold for a long time. But there are some coolers that are inexpensive, don’t take up much space, and are very portable. So I’m here to help you find the best soft coolers for backpacking, camping, and traveling.

In this modern age of technology, it’s easy to forget that not too long ago people had no choice but to be far more outdoorsy. Hunting, fishing, camping, and attending festivals with all your friends during the summer were the norm. You can almost hear the old-timey music, the crackling of a campfire, and the sound of a canoe-like oar as you open the lid to your trusty chest cooler.

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It’s summertime, which means visits to the beach, parks, and ballgames, or maybe hanging out on your favorite glacier if you live in the great white north. Whatever you do throughout the summer months, one thing that is always pleasant is a good cold drink to cool down in the scorching heat. None of this is possible without a reliable, roomy, and portable cooler to store sodas, teas, juices, and brews. So let’s have a look at some of the finest soft coolers on the market for keeping your summer drinks as cold as a polar bear’s toes.

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Editor’s Choice: Hydro Flask Unbound Series Soft Cooler Pack

Hydro Flask Unbound Series Soft Cooler Pack - Editor's Pick

The Hydro Flask Unbound soft cooler bag is both convenient and functional. I can’t tell you how much I despised lugging around my family’s old Coleman tub cooler. Little ole me struggled to hold on to the massive object, and I believe I would have been more happy if something like the Hydro Flask had been available. You may be a lot happy, too, since the Hydro Flask Unbound can hold approximately 25 cans of soda or adult beverage. 

Even though it’s a little on the tiny side, the Hydro Flask unbound truly excels when it comes to chilling. The Hydro Flask Unbound can keep food and beverages cool for up to 48 hours when used with an ice pack, thanks to clever insulation and welded seal seams that keep the cold in and the heat out. For $200, you can get the Hydro Flask Unbound Soft Cooler pack.

Pros/ The convenience of a backpack makes it an excellent hiking or day trip cooler.

Cons/not It’s very large, and it’s rather pricey for its size category.

Bottom Line/For short one- or two-day excursions, this one is ideal for keeping your hands free and your beverages cool.

Yeti Hopper M30 Portable Soft Cooler - Most Popular

The Yeti Hopper M30 is one of the most popular soft-sided coolers on the market today, and it comes in a number of colors as well as the excellent insulating capabilities that you’ve come to expect from the Yeti cooler brand. The usual zipper closing technique is replaced with a fast and easy magnetic lock, allowing you to access to your chilled goods quickly without having to unstrap the cooler.

The Hopper M30’s design allows you to carry more weight than a typical satchel or day bag. It has a total capacity of 7.2 gallons, which means you may bring either 20 cans of beer or 28 pounds of ice if you’ve been given that job. To get the most out of its coolers, Yeti always advises a 2:1 ratio of ice to liquid. The Yeti Hopper M30 costs $299.98 and is available in seven distinct colors.

Pros/Portable design with a carry handle or a shoulder strap; Easy access to contents

Cons/Magnetic closing does not keep things as cold as a conventional leak-proof zipper would.

Bottom Line/Perfect for tailgaters, visits to the park, or hunting vacations.

3. RTIC Soft Cooler 30 – A Budget-Friendly Option

RTIC Soft Cooler 30 - Budget Pick

The last item on our list comes from RTIC, a firm that began out tiny in the cooling and insulating sector but has grown to become one of the industry’s most well-known “off brand” brands. The RTIC Soft Cooler 30 offers plenty of room for bottles and cans, as well as enough ice to keep things cool for days. The structure isn’t as sturdy as some of the others on our list, but the insulation is adequate. Because of the leakproof lid and substantial insulation, you won’t discover water outside of the cooler, and you won’t wind up sweating as the day goes on. 

The RTIC Soft Cooler 30 has a more firm construction, similar to the Cabela’s hybrid design, which means items remain organized better and you won’t accidentally overstuff the bag, causing excessive wear and potentially a zipper failure. At $99.99, the RTIC Soft Cooler 30 is the most affordable choice on our list.

Pros/Affordable and lightweight

Cons/Durability isn’t as good as some of the other choices on this list.

Bottom Line/A fantastic budget-friendly choice for keeping your beers cold.

4. Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 Cooler – Ideal for Day Trips

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24 Cooler - Best Day Trip Cooler

We’ve got another another backpack for you, this one from Yeti. The Yeti BackFlip is a watertight cooler constructed of Dryhide shell fabric, which is not only waterproof but also robust and resistant to mildew and UV rays. Because the Hydrolok zipper is both waterproof and leak resistant, you won’t have a mess of water all over the interior of your vehicle if you take a hard turn and the backpack flips over.

Submerging the sealed backpack underwater with the ice to further shade the backpack from the heat is another unusual technique I’ve seen folks do with the BackFlip to improve their cooling effectiveness. Even if you don’t do this, the backpack is excellent to take on the boat or to a tailgate party since it can hold up to 20 12-ounce cans of beer or soda and still have space for all the ice you’ll need. For $299.99, you can get the Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24.

Pros/The waterproof zipper and shell are excellent at avoiding both liquid and cold air leakage.

Cons/Extremely costly in comparison to its size and capabilities

Bottom Line/Designed mostly for one-day excursions — probably ideal for day hunting, range visits, park hikes, or beach walks.

5. Cabela’s 9-Can Hybrid Soft Sided Cooler

Cabela’s Hybrid Soft Sided 9-Can Cooler

You’ll lose capacity with this one, but the Cabela’s Hybrid soft sided cooler will save you money and provide you more mobility. The cooler is much smaller than the other soft-sided coolers on our list, but it is also considerably less costly. When filled with ice and drinks, standard soft-sided coolers bulge and distort, making them difficult to shut and carry. The Hybrid isn’t one of them. With space to spare for ice, you might put 9 cans of beer or perhaps 6 bottles in this configuration. The Cabela’s soft-sided cooler also has an inbuilt bottle opener, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally leaving yours at home. 

The hybrid design has a sturdy top frame and a leak-proof top latching cover, allowing you to operate effectively with the area you’ve been given without having to worry about keeping things sealed. In addition, if you don’t leave the top open, items will remain cooler for longer. For $119.99, you can get a Cabela’s Hybrid Soft Sided cooler.

Pros/A good seal is guaranteed thanks to the rigid top construction. This choice is less costly than the others on this list.

Limitation in size is a disadvantage.

Conclusion/Perfect for use as a personal cooler or a large lunchbox.

prolonging the life of ice

There are a few ways to preserve ice in your cooler for longer. The first is to chill your cooler ahead of time if at all feasible. Many of the coolers on this list will fit in a standard freezer, while some of the bigger ones would need a deep freeze. Pre-cooling the area where the ice will be placed should prevent it from melting too quickly.

Another option is to line the inside of the cooler with foil insulation, such as Reflectix, which will increase the efficiency of the cooler and keep the ice frozen for longer. Finally, your ice may always be salted. The freezing point of water is lowered by salt, which is how ice cream is produced when it is churned (when using ice cream salt). If you want your ice to stay longer, add some rock salt to it – just remember to wipe the lids off your beverages unless you want a salty beer! 

Use of dry ice

Soft coolers, as well as certain plastic-sided coolers, are unable to withstand the very cold (-109° F) temperatures of dry ice. If you don’t arrange Dry ice in close proximity to food or drinks correctly, it may freeze, which causes the soft interiors of soft-sided coolers to become brittle and shatter. It’s always preferable to use ice packs or plain old ice in soft-sided coolers.

Worthiness of a soft cooler

Cooler packs are sold by many of the businesses that offer these coolers. Cooler packs are an excellent method to keep excess water from splashing about within your cooler as it melts. However, according to anecdotal data and evaluations, ice packs do not survive as long as conventional cubed or blocked ice. If you’re bringing food that you don’t want to get wet, the cooler packs are usually the best option. If you’re just bringing beverages, the cooler packs are definitely the best option. Ice that is cut into blocks or cubed will last longer and save you money on accessories.

How long will ice last in a Yeti Hopper?

Yeti soft coolers can retain ice for 1 to 3 days and are known for excellent ice retention in its hard coolers. This is owing to the fact that the degrees of insulation are not equal.

Is it possible to add ice in a soft cooler?

In a soft cooler, yes, ice may be used. Just remember that the ice will melt and that the only way to get the water out of the cooler is to pour it out. In softer fabrics, keep an eye out for sharp edges that may cause tears.

Author Information

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Cuenco, Luke

Luke works full-time as a writer for websites such as,,, and, of course,.com. Luke is a competitive shooter, a guns enthusiast, a reloader, an outdoorsman, and a general lover of all things related to the great outdoors. Luke is also a private certified pilot who is working on obtaining his commercial pilot’s license in order to pursue a career as a professional pilot. Luke’s other passions include aviation, aerospace, and military technologies, as well as conservation initiatives in the United States. @ballisticaviation on Instagram c/BallisticAviation on YouTube:

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It’s easy to lose yourself in the hectic pace of modern life. All of a sudden, you’re awakened from your slumber by the sound of your phone ringing, the sound of children screaming, and the sound of the dog barking. You’re thrown into a whirlwind of activity that leaves you drained and exhausted. The only way to get your life back is to find the time to relax—and in this modern age, relaxation doesn’t come easy.. Read more about best soft cooler for boat and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which soft cooler keeps ice the longest?

The best soft cooler is the one you can afford.

Do soft coolers work as well as hard?

I am not sure what you mean by work as well as hard.

Do all soft coolers leak?

No, not all soft coolers leak.

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