Outdoor Sleeping

Best Soft Cooler: Which Cooler keeps ice the longest?

Spending time in the outdoors is great. However, lunchtimes can become limited, and drinks unpleasantly warm, when on long days out in the sun. Equally, if you are out fishing, the last thing you want is to have to head home early for risk of your catch spoiling in the heat of the day. Fortunately, soft coolers allow you to keep a range of goods cool, fresh, and safe to eat for anywhere from days to hours, enabling you to enjoy the great outdoors for longer.

In this post, we will look at what a soft cooler is, what’s different between soft and hard coolers, what key terms relating to coolers you should consider, and let you know about a few of our favorite soft coolers on the market depending on your needs.

Our Top Picks

#1 Best Value Soft Cooler: IceMule’s Classic Insulated Collapsible and Waterproof Cooler Bag
For a cooler that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg but will give you top of the range quality, this cooler outperforms even some higher-end options.
#2 Best Soft Cooler Backpack: YETI’s 24 Soft Sided Hopper Backflip Cooler & Backpack
For a backpack cooler that won’t let you down for comfort, insulation, ease of use, or portability, this soft cooler is great for those with a bigger budget.
#3 Best Soft Cooler with Wheels: Coleman’s 42-Can Soft Cooler with Wheels
For trips over smoother terrain that don’t require too much heavy lifting, this soft cooler in wheels is a great price.
#4 Best Soft Cooler Tote Bag: Lifewit’s Best Soft Cooler Lunch Box with Cooling tote
For a soft cooler that looks good whilst it keeps things cool, this tote lunch box will make picnics more fun.
#5 Best 30 Can Soft Cooler: Coleman’s Best Insulated Soft Cooler for 30 Cans
For a 30-can cooler that is nicely portable, easy to clean, and made for outdoor parties, this cooler won’t let you down for short trips.

What is a soft cooler?

A soft cooler refers to any bag designed to keep food cooler for longer. They have soft sides (unlike hard coolers) and tend to be made from fabric, vinyl, or a combination of the two. This helps to keep their weight down, at least before you fill them up with the goods you want to keep fresh and cool. Because they are so lightweight, they are nice and portable too and you can find single strap or two strap (backpack style) options to suit your preference.

What is the difference between hard coolers and soft coolers?

Hard coolers, as you might expect from the name, have hard sides made from rotomolded plastic. Typically, they are able to stay cool for longer than soft coolers as they have better ice retention ratings. However, they are much less portable and weigh significantly more even before you add your goods to cool into the mix. Nevertheless, they are better suited to longer trips so long as you have transport to take them in and tend to have a larger capacity.

How do you choose a good soft cooler?

When you start looking into soft coolers, it can be hard to know which product is better than another. Fortunately, figuring this out is a whole lot easier when you know the key things to look out for when buying a cooler. These are, namely, insulation value, ease of use, portability, and durability. Here, we outline what these terms mean when it comes to coolers and how each of these factors will relate to your needs.

#1 Insulation value rating

So, what is insulation value? This relates to the ability of a cooler to reduce how quickly heat affects the contents of the cooler. Moreover, it reflects both heat getting in and coolness getting out. Therefore, coolers with higher insulation values are better equipped to keep your goods cooler for longer. Nevertheless, even with a good insulation rating, coolers usually require at least a 1:1 ratio of ice to food/drink. You’ll also achieve a better insulation value rating by putting your goods in cold.
According to the FDA, perishable foods require refrigeration of 40º Fahrenheit or below to ensure freshness and to prevent harmful bacteria forming so the best soft ice chest coolers should offer this. For a properly chilled beer or other beverage, anywhere under 48 degrees should do the trick. Soft coolers with both external and internal fabrics tend to have better insulation value ratings. Waterproof rated products and coolers with sealing zippers also perform better than those without.

#2 Ease of use

No one wants to buy a product that they can’t figure out how to use properly. In terms of soft coolers, the last thing you want is for it to be fiddly to open and close when you need to. Indeed, with portability and use on the go one of the major attractions of soft coolers over hard coolers, this is a vital consideration.
Things you’ll want to consider when it comes to ease of use include: the opening mechanism; quality of the zipper; whether they self-stand when empty; how easy they are to load/unload; how many ways it can be carried; does it have single strap/two strap options;  how comfortable is it  to carry, and; are they are adjustable.
You also need to bear in mind that ease of use may interplay differently with other important considerations. For example, something easier to pack may have worse insulation, or something easier to carry may have less capacity, etc.

#3 Portability

This is clearly a major consideration when it comes to coolers. Having the best insulation is all well and good, but if it weighs a tonne, then your cooler isn’t going to be suitable for a long walk in the mountains or through the forest. However, equally, if your cooler is so small that you can’t fit enough water and food supplies into it to last you even a day, then the fact you can carry it for hours is not going to be much use to you either.
Think about what you are going to be using your cooler for when you consider portability and be realistic. If you’re just heading down the park, getting a chunkier less portable model might be okay, but if you planning on hiking you’ll need to make a compromise on the size. Not all soft coolers are as flexible as others either, so you’ll want to consider this in relation to how you plan to transport it around.
The most portable coolers in our book, tend to be those that come with at least 2 ways to carry them and preferably offer a backpack style carrying method as one of these options. You can also opt for a larger size if carrying something with two straps, rather than one, which is a bonus. Models with padding can also be more comfortable, as can those with wider straps.

#4 Durability

As tempting as it can be to buy something because of the price, sometimes spending less will actually cost you more. The cheapest quality soft coolers are unlikely to be particularly durable and are unlikely to have a particularly good insulation value rating either. A lack of durability could also see unexpected warmth getting in and ruining your food, leading to warm beer or even worse, food poisoning.
Mid-weight nylon and canvas style coolers are not likely to be particularly durable materials. However, with treated nylon, or models with a heavy rubber coating, you’ll get improved durability and insulation ratings. Look out for models that offer reinforced seems too as this will help them last longer even when you pack them full of heavy items.

Our Top Picks of Soft Coolers

Once you’ve considered how long you want your cooler to stay cool for (insulation value rating), how fiddly it is to use (ease of use), what size you need it to be vs how easy it is to transport (portability), and whether it is going to need to stand up to some rough and tumble (durability), you’re ready to invest in your soft cooler. Here, we outline some of the best for different needs, whether you’re after the best soft cooler Australia has to offer, the best soft cooler under $100, or the best soft cooler Reddit readers rave about, read on to find out our top picks of the best soft cooler brands for 2022.

#1 Best Value Soft Cooler: IceMule’s Classic Insulated Collapsible and Waterproof Cooler Bag

If you are looking for a great value cooler that is great on the water and one of the best leak proof soft coolers on the market, then look no further than this stylish bit of kit. This scores highly on all the major needs of a cooler, whilst not costing a bomb. Indeed, you’ll find this cooler to be durable, comfortable on long walks, and plentiful in terms of capacity. The additional exterior layer can be blown up with air for added insulation to keep your goods ice cold all day.
Other pros of this waterproof cooler are that: it is designed with an easy access hood and single strap, making it easier to access the contents on the go; it is available in a range of sizes, depending on your budget and needs; it offers a high insulation value rating of a full 24 hours temperature maintenance; it is fully collapsible, and; you get more for your money with this cooler compared to others. The downside is that it is not 100% leakproof as it has no zipper so it is not the best cooler for boat parties!
#Soft_Cooler #Value_Cooler #Waterproof_Cooler #Easy_Access_Soft_Cooler #Soft_Coolers

#2 Best Soft Cooler Backpack: YETI’s 24 Soft Sided Hopper Backflip Cooler & Backpack

If you’re looking for a backpack cooler that has two straps, is top of the range, has a fantastic insulation value rating, and budget is no problem, then this is the best small soft cooler for you.  Although, it’s not that small and can hold a whopping 20 cans of beer with a 2:1 ice to beer ratio so you’re evening under the stars won’t run dry! This is made with proper durable material that is waterproof, high-density, and resistant to things like punctures and even mold from morning dew.
Other good things about this cooler are that: it has a zipper, so is completely leakproof and has a better insulation value rating with the best backpack cooler ice retention; it has a large capacity even with a high ice to content ratio and is not so cumbersome that you can’t take it on a walk with you; it is easy to use and access, and; it is lightweight and portable making it the best Yeti soft cooler raved about on Reddit. The downside of this soft cooler is the price, as it is at the top end of the market.
#Yeti #Yet_Cooler #Yeti_Soft_Cooler #Cooler_Backpack #2_Strap_Backpack_Cooler

#3 Best Soft Cooler with Wheels: Coleman’s 42-Can Soft Cooler with Wheels

If you’re heading outdoors, but aren’t going to be taking your cooler over much rough terrain, then you should check out this cooler on wheels. Suitable for an impressive 42-cans of whatever tickles your fancy, this cooler would weigh too much to carry when full but the handy wheels ensure you can enjoy coolness on the go without ruining your back. You’ll find that this is one of the best cheap soft coolers out there if you haven’t got a big budget to blow on a cooler.
Other benefits of this great value soft cooler wheeler are that: it has welded sells, helping to improve both durability and its insulation value rating; it has a number of additional pockets and pouches to store additional items for your day out; it is easy to clean and resists mold; it also has side handles for easy portability over tougher obstacles, and; it is leak proof. The downside of this product is that it is bulky so is not suitable for long trips on rough terrain.
#Soft_Cooler_With_Wheels #Cooler_Wheels #Soft_Cooler_Wheels #Wheelie_Cooler #Coolers

#4 Best Soft Cooler Tote Bag: Lifewit’s Best Soft Cooler Lunch Box with Cooling tote

If you’re looking for a lunch box suitable for in size for a family day out, with plenty of space for a picnic and some refreshing beverages of your choice, then this is a great value option. The exterior tote design looks stylish and helps to keep things cool by adding an extra layer of insulation. The seams are hot-pressed rather than sewed too, ensuring a more durable leakproof construction. This picnic box does a good job of getting the basics right making it the best budget soft cooler in our book.
Other pluses of this cooler are that: it has a wide lid, making it easy to pack and unpack; it is super easy to clean; it has a large capacity and is tall enough for bottles as well as cans and the best 12 can soft cooler for the price; the tote exterior makes it durable when taken outside; it is comfortable to carry even when full, and; it uses a zipper so is leakproof. The downside of this cooler is that it only keeps things cool for 5 hours maximum.
#Cheap_Coolers #Cheap_Soft_Cooler #Affordable_Coolers #Lunchbox_Soft_Cooler #Tote_Cooler

#5 Best 30 Can Soft Cooler: Coleman’s Best Insulated Soft Cooler for 30 Cans

If you’re after a soft cooler that is nice and portable but still has room for plenty of cans and has a decent ice retention rating, then you’ll love this incredibly priced cooler. With a hardened liner, this soft-sided cooler stands alone when empty, whilst still being nicely collapsible. It is also leakproof thanks to the strong zipping mechanism used, whilst the FDA approved antimicrobial properties also meaning this cooler ticks a lot of boxes.
Other reasons to shout about this cooler are: it is one of the cheapest coolers on this list without shirking on quality; it is easy to clean thanks to the removable liner; it is mold and mildew resistant; it comes with a range of straps which can be easily adjusted, and; it is completely leakproof. The downside of this cooler is that it does not last longer than 5 hours and requires a high ratio of ice to products to keep things cool.
#30_Cans #30_Can_Cooler #30_Can_Soft_Cooler #Cooler_For_Cans #Cool


Soft coolers make it easier to enjoy the outdoors whilst keeping stocked up with fresh food and chilled beverages. Keep in mind how long it can keep things cool, portability, ease of use, and the material it is made from when making your purchase. Our top picks have something for everyone no matter your budget or plans for your cooler so check them out!

Exit mobile version