No roadtrip, RV camping excursion, or tailgate party is complete without a reliable soft cooler.
They’re not just the best way to keep your food or drinks fresh, and are the perfect utility belt to backup your portable grill.
They can be doubled up as a cooling container to help your grilled or smoked meat rest, which can help you preserve the juices and flavors within.
Whichever way you want to use them, we’ve put together a list of the best soft sided coolers out there today for all uses. Our list of features to look out for will help ensure that you’ve chosen the right one for you.
Let’s get into it!
YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler
Widely considered the analog of Apple in the cooler industry, YETI offers some of the best soft-sided coolers you can find on the market. Their pricing is very steep and isn’t justifiable for everyone, but if you want the best quality no matter the money, then have a look at Hopper Flip.
The highlight of the YETI Hopper Flip cooler is its build. The DryHide Shell is completely waterproof, and so is the HydroLok Zipper. The cooler’s zipper is pretty hard to open, but this is a standard thing for waterproof zippers.
The outer shell of YETI Hopper Flip is fairly rigid and is puncture-, abrasion-, and mildew-resistant as well. The closed-cell rubber foam insulation offers ice retention for days too – with proper packing, you could expect to get 2-3 days of ice storage out of this thing.
What’s also notable in the Hopper Flip cooler is the Hitchpoint Grid accessory attachment system. You may use it for YETI accessories such as the MOLLE Zinger Bottle Opener, or any other accessory that can fit on the loops.
- Excellent quality and insulation.
- Accessory attachment grid.
- Neat design.
- Plenty of colors and sizes.
- Really expensive.
- The zipper is difficult to open and close.
- The Hopper Flip 18 has ColdCell Insulation, a closed-cell foam that offers superior...
- The Hopper Flip 18 features a 100% leakproof HydroLok Zipper and the wide-mouth opening means...
- The DryHide Shell is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and abrasions so it will...
IceMule Pro Cooler
The IceMule Pro cooler is far less expensive than YETI’s Hopper Flip, but it nonetheless has a few interesting things to offer.
This is a backpack cooler, first of all – it has breathable mesh shoulder straps to make carrying heavy loads easier.
Next, the shell of the Pro cooler isn’t as rigid as in Hopper Flip. When empty, it may even be collapsed, delivering excellent space efficiency.
In terms of construction, the IceMule Pro cooler offers a leakproof body along with a zipper-less closure. Given that you properly seal the closure, this cooler will not let water get inside. The Pro cooler is buoyant as well.
For some added storage, the IceMule Pro cooler also has bungee straps on the front that you could use for paddles, a fishing rod, or the likes.
Insulation-wise, the Pro cooler should retain ice for one or two days, maybe longer if you don’t open the cooler often throughout the trip. However, do note that how well you seal the cooler is paramount to its insulation ability.
- Easy to carry thanks to the backpack design.
- Foldable when empty.
- Bungee straps on the front for accessories.
- The water tightness of this cooler depends on how well you seal the closure.
- RUGGED AND BUILT FOR THE OUTDOORS: Engineered for portability and high-performance, this...
- EFFORTLESS HANDS-FREE CARRY: Lightweight, backpack-style cooler with 2 padded, airmesh shoulder...
- EASY ACCESS INTERIOR: Accessible roll-top design opens wide, letting you load up and find what...
Coleman Soft Cooler Bag
If you don’t need a super-durable cooler, then this model from Coleman might be the best soft-sided cooler for you. It’s considerably cheaper than YETI and IceMule coolers and has inferior quality, but for single-day trips, it should work just fine.
Coleman promises up to 24 hours of ice retention with this cooler – in reality, you will have to work very hard to get to the 24-hour mark. Most of the time, you’ll get no more than 12 hours. And that’s fine for the price, but Coleman should have been more accurate.
Although this cooler bag doesn’t have fancy accessory attachment points, it does have a small front pocket for dry storage. Its lid features a small built-in hatch too that allows you to access your items without opening the whole cooler.
The build of the Coleman cooler is fine but offers nothing remarkable. It won’t withstand abrasion or water, so be very careful with where you take it.
- Very inexpensive.
- Great for day trips.
- Top hatch for easier access to your food items.
- Not the greatest insulation.
- Not nearly as durable as our previous picks.
- PREMIUM INSULATION: Keeps ice up to 24 hours in temperatures as high as 90°F
- CAPACITY: Holds up to 30 cans
- STORAGE OPTIONS: Zippered main compartment keeps contents cold; front pocket for dry storage...
NorChill Voyager Soft Cooler
The NorChill Voyager soft cooler is a slim and space-efficient cooler with great build quality. The 600D canvas shell makes this cooler wear- and tear-resistant, while the thick insulation retains ice for 1-2 days.
Although Voyager is highly durable, it’s not its toughness that makes it remarkable. The Voyager cooler offers several features that you won’t find in other soft coolers.
One of these features is the spout on the corner that allows you to easily pour melted ice out of the cooler. The liner can be pulled out as well, dramatically facilitating cleaning.
What’s also nice about the NorChill Voyager soft cooler is that it may be folded down when empty for added space efficiency.
Best of all, the Voyager cooler is fairly inexpensive. Needless to say, it won’t deliver the same level of protection as something like YETI coolers, but for the money, the Voyager is solid and should work for most needs.
- Good price.
- Collapsible when empty.
- Wear- and tear-resistant shell.
- Great insulation.
- Several sizes available.
- Less capacious than other coolers of similar size.
- 600 denier canvas shell is stain, wear and tear resistant along with puncture resistant...
- Fusion welded liner seams virtually eliminates the possibility of leaking from melting ice
- Dual temperature insulation system keeps food and drinks hot or cold
Pelican Elite Soft Cooler
The Pelican Elite soft cooler offers great performance for a not too steep price. The Elite cooler is by no means cheap, but it’s certainly not as outrageously expensive as the YETI Hopper Flip cooler.
This soft cooler has a design that resembles that of Hopper Flip. The Elite cooler has a semi-rigid shell that is resistant to abrasion and tearing. The insulation in the Elite cooler is high-density closed-cell foam too – similar to what Hopper Flip has. In terms of ice retention, the Elite is good for around 2 days.
The Pelican Elite soft cooler is also completely waterproof, partly thanks to the leakproof zipper. The zipper is like in Hopper Flip – it does its job but is hard to open and close.
Interestingly, the Pelican Elite soft cooler has dedicated stainless steel tie-down points on the front too. With these, you may securely anchor the Elite cooler to your car or kayak. The tie-down points double as bottle openers as well.
All in all, the Elite soft cooler is a worthy competitor to Hopper Flip, though it probably isn’t as rugged and high-quality. It doesn’t have an accessory attachment system too. But all in all, it’s an excellent choice if you don’t want to overpay for YETI coolers.
- Waterproof and very durable.
- Excellent insulation.
- Tie-down points that double as bottle openers.
- The zipper is difficult to use.
- High density closed-cell foam insulation for extreme ice retention. 55% lighter than premium...
- 100% leak-proof zipper with quick access dual-lock buckle system
- Durable double-coated TPU outer fabric with stainless steel tie-down and bottle opener
Last update on 2020-09-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API