There was a time when soft cooler was just a niche market. But their growth over the years has invited more and more players into the market. Earlier this segment was only dominated by couple of players. But as the consumer became aware of the product and its benefit companies began to innovate and create different variation.
They are use for different purposes. But the main purpose of a soft cooler is keeping your drink chilled. That’s the reason why there volume is calculated in no. of can one can store rather than no. of litres they can hold. Though the market is not huge for soft cooler but they still required some filtration. Therefore, we have compiled the list of best soft coolers.
Table of Content
- What is a soft cooler?
- Soft cooler reviews
- 1. YETI Hopper Portable Cooler
- 2. Collapsible Cooler Bag by Bayfield Bags
- 3. IceMule Coolers Classic Coolers
- 4. Engel USA Cooler Bag Backpack Review
- 5. Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Cooler
- 6. Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers
- 7. AO Coolers Deluxe Canvas Soft Cooler
- 8. Leopard Outdoor Soft Cooler Bag Review
- 9. eBags Crew Cooler II Review
- 10. Philadelphia Phillies Soft Sided Cooler
- How to choose soft cooler
What is a soft cooler?
Soft cooler are lightweight and smaller alternatives to normal coolers. Soft coolers are easy to carry and portable than hard coolers. They are usually made from tough but flexible material. They come in various styles. Few of them are – backpack, lunch box and square shape box.
Soft cooler reviews
1. YETI Hopper Portable Cooler
Yeti is well known for making best coolers. This is a premium class product from the Yeti. They make plenty of products for premium segments and they pretty much nailed high-end segment. Yeti Hopper is no exception with it amazing built quality. Many users declare it as indestructible. Well, it may not be indestructible but surely it is made with top of the line material and there is nothing to complain with its built.
The brand also claims it as leak-proof and puncture-resistant for rough adventures and we don’t find any flaws in that claims. When it comes to insulation we believe it can beat any other soft cooler in the market. The brand here claims ice for days and in our experience when we checked after 48 hours of our experiment, the ice did melted but however the water was chilled.
You can carry this soft cooler in multiple ways. As you see in the above image, there are straps at front for carrying it like a purse and a long strap at the side of the cooler for carrying on your shoulders. Speaking of flexibility of this cooler, we won’t say it is best, but once it gets little old it gets lot more flexible.
2. Collapsible Cooler Bag by Bayfield Bags
This soft cooler bag from Bayfield is extremely well made for day packers. It has everything that one may need for a traveller and fits perfectly as a kayak cooler. The main attraction of this soft cooler bag is its lightweight. It weighs only 1(one) pound that makes it extremely portable.
As the name suggests that the bag is collapsible, an extremely useful quality while you are travelling. You can use it as soft cooler when required and when not in use you can collapse it and store this in a corner of your bag, it won’t take much space. This bag is made with durable and cushy outer layer. Webbing straps and buckles are also well made with durability in mind.
It handles the weight of foods and drinks stored in it extremely well and not once did it leaked in our testing. Therefore, we can safely assume that it is a leak proof product by Bayfield Bags. It has a capacity of holding 16 cans at once. Now, coming to Insulation it has a sealed PEVA liner and ¾ inch-thick insulation to keep your food cool for longer period of time.
Overall, this is amazing buy for someone who is looking for a portable soft cooler at an affordable price with some simple yet useful features.
3. IceMule Coolers Classic Coolers
This is an ultra portable soft cooler from Icemule Coolers. Yeah we know the name sounds like a breed of arctic donkey, but it’s a cooler brand and a good one actually. There are three variant available for this model small, medium and large. Larger variant can hold 20 cans at once, medium variant can hold up to 12 and smaller variant can hold up to 10 cans.
A cool thing about this cooler is there is no zips to open and to keep food sealed and packed you simply unbuckle and roll. The brand claim it to leak proof and it can even float in water. We can say true about leak proof while we haven’t tasted about its floating claim but we can say it’s possible because of it
The cooler is made with Heavy-Duty embossed MuleSkin EV fabric which is a very durable material and the welded seams are solid. Because of insulating foam between its layers it can keep ice intact of 24 hours, a really good number for its price. Overall, we feel this is really good product to purchase with its unique design, good Insulation technique, light weight an ultra portable design. It ticks every box for being considered as best soft cooler.
4. Engel USA Cooler Bag Backpack Review
The very first thing that attracted us toward this bag was the number of compartments it offers; there were really a lot of them. There is a separate side pocket inside the insulation for keeping dry things and wet things divided. And the fact that separates them from other soft cooler manufacturer is its completely detachable inner lining, a very useful feature for numbers of reasons.
Apart from these features it is also a well made cooler with a foil inside the bag to bounce off the heat. Another interesting feature that we really love was the fact that it has got a back strap. You can use it as backpack or use multiple handle to hold it like a purse. The bag is constructed with using Polyethylene Foam. It seems durable and zippers were also quite good, there were no leaking of air or liquid when we use it in our testing.
Engel claims that it has a capacity of 24 cans or 23 quart. The capacity seems a little less to us compare to Yeti Hooper but no to forget it comes at half the price. Now coming to insulation, it seems pretty substantial and good enough to keep food and drinks nice and cool for long period of time.
5. Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Cooler
Polar Bear Coolers Soft Cooler is one of the most popular and well known soft cooler available in the market. This is a mid ranged product that performs like a high end product. We were presently surprised using this product. One unique thing about this soft cooler is the fact that you can customize your own polar bear cooler with its unique embroidery, co-branded feature.
The outer is made with 1000 denier Cordura nylon and high-density open cell foam. It is said to be heavy duty material made for rough conditions, many good quality suitcases are made from this material. In latest version liner is made of TPU double coated nylon and buckles are also updated with YKK side-release buckles.
The Polar Bear is also a really good at portability. It can nicely fit anywhere when in use or not in use. We consider this a really important element for any soft cooler to be considered as best soft cooler.
In term of design, it has zipper on top, a shoulder strap and handles on top. When it comes to insulation it is second to none. In our test few pieces of ice was still intact even after 72 hours. While most soft cooler at this price doesn’t last more than 36 hours, we were really impressed with its insulation value.
6. Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers
Another introduction to the list of best soft cooler is a product from a well known cooler brand igloo. They manufacture variety of affordable and useful products. One of them is Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers. It is amongst the affordable product in the best soft cooler list.
This soft cooler hardware is made from non corrosive material for lasting long in rough marine conditions. It is a claimed to be durable, leak proof and UV protective bag. There are lot of different storage option available like mesh pockets on the sides and front pocket for storing sun glasses, car keys, cell phone etc.
It has the capacity to store 36 cans and features a .35mm thick PEVA liner that is anti-microbial, stain and odour resistant. There are different variants available to choose according to your preference. Not many soft coolers offer cooling for 2 days especially at lower price segment. Tough we have not tested that claims but according to many user they really appreciate its cooling ability. The only thing we disliked about this soft cooler is the fact that it is square in shape that makes it difficult to store when not in use. Apart from that it is an excellent soft cooler.
7. AO Coolers Deluxe Canvas Soft Cooler
This soft cooler is very similar to our previously reviewed product name Polar Bear Coolers. They both have similar size, structure and design. It also have a shoulder strap and handles to carry, a feature that we really adore as it gives you flexibility to carry your bag. Moreover, straps are well made and look solid.
To prevent leakage it has a leak proof lining which also is very easy to clean. This soft cooler is also very easy to use because of its wide angled zipper and inclusions of front pockets. Though we find front pockets of little less useful because of its small size, but come handy at many situations. This bag is also quiet portable as you can fold it and easily store anywhere. It can hold up to 36 cans when fully filled.
On the cooling front, it can keep ice intact for 24 hours even in hot conditions, though it is less than its similar competitor Polar Bear Coolers but we must also remember the fact that it is cheaper option amongst two of them. Durability is fine for day to day usage but we don’t think it is suitable for harsh conditions.
8. Leopard Outdoor Soft Cooler Bag Review
This is one of the cheapest products in our best soft coolers list. It is made from ripstop polyester which is claimed to be durable for day to day services. Yes, we don’t expect it to be as durable as high end soft coolers but it still does its job pretty well. Another noteworthy thing is, it has Built-in antimicrobial and odour resistance properties.
There are multiple ways to carry this bag, you can carry this on your shoulders with its removable shoulder strap, carry with its long handle, carry with its additional small handles on the side of this bag, and there is also a rear system to attach this with your trolley bag.
At storage front, it can hold 24 cans at a time. It has two front pockets to keep cell phone, additional batteries, car keys etc. And mesh pocket on the side of this bag for additional storage, though we doubt you can utilise it because they are very tight. When not in use it can be easily stored because of its collapsible property.
Finally, there are no words from the brand about its cooling duration yet, but many users claim that it has lasted more than 24 hours for them.
9. eBags Crew Cooler II Review
This is a great bag for short trips; this is an updated version of eBags Crew Cooler which was originally designed for flight attendants and pilots. It is a nice basic soft cooler for storing your lunch, drinks and other handy things.
A really nice choice for small business trips as it has lot of storage options available. It also has a business card holder on the rear pass-thru pocket. On the top it has a dry compartment with two zippers for easy access; the zippers are well made and seem to last long. At bottom it has a cold compartment that is insulated and a PEVA liner which is replaceable. There is a mesh pocket for storing napkins, pouches etc.
This cooler bag is made with 840D Twisted Poly. It is durable enough for most of the things. A nice thing to consider while buying this soft cooler is it has lifetime warranty for personal use and 5 year warranty on commercial use. It always an awesome thing when manufacturer stands behind the product.
The thing which we dislike about this product is it could make better use of the available volume thorough better designing. And insulation could also be improved.
10. Philadelphia Phillies Soft Sided Cooler
This is last product in our list of best soft cooler. Philadelphia Phillies Soft Sided Cooler is small yet useful product from Coleman. It has a dimension of 12″ X 12″ X 11″, it is fairly small but can handle up to 24 cans at a time. It has a zipper on top for easily inserting and taking things out of the bag. Not only this bag is small in size but it is fairly light weight and can be easily stored when not in use.
There are two mesh pockets on the side of the soft cooler for keeping cards, napkins and other such stuffs, there is also embroidered full team logo at the front. The inner liner is made up of FDA approved material, they haven’t specified the type of material but it is a soft liner. This bag is reasonably durable for everyday tasks, most of the users were very happy with it performance.
For handling of the bag there is a padded adjustable carry strap and small handles on the sides. There quality seems to be good but we don’t think it would last long in rough conditions. Cooling duration was surprisingly good for food and drinks. And you should also keep in mind that this is not a leak proof bag, so don’t directly put ice in it.
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 about 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 simply carrying lunch for work/picnic, while some are made for hardcore adventure. Some are made for solo use while other has extra storage. Having a clear purpose will be an added advantage and can save you lot of money. We have made 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, lunch box style and backpack style. Each one has different utility. We personally love backpack style the most, mainly for the easy of portability. But other options are also good for different situations.
Space is an important aspect. Soft cooler storage is usually calculated in terms of 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 buying 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 cool. We have mention insulation time for every cooler in our list. Insulation time is calculated by keeping ice and waiting for it to melt. Time taken for ice to melt is known as insulation time of the cooler. Anything below 24 hour 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 cheap and low quality product; only go for product that comes with manufacturer warranty and good customer service.