We Tested 15 Backpack Coolers—These Are the Best for Every Adventure

The Yeti Hopper M20 was the winner in our tests

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Backpack Coolers
Tamara Staples / TripSavvy.
TripSavvy's Pick

The winner from our lab tests is the Yeti Hopper M20 for its long-lasting insulation and its magnetic closure that makes it easy to open and shut. If you're shopping on a budget, we like the Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler.

Whether you're headed to the beach, a park, or the top of a mountain, a backpack cooler can make a cumbersome carry easier. Hard coolers do a great job keeping drinks and food cold, but even equipped with wheels, they're difficult to take certain places such as beaches that swallow them in the sand, rough trails, or any area that is further than a few hundred yards away from your house or vehicle. Soft backpack coolers offer an ergonomic solution that comes in a surprising array of forms. We tested top options in our Brooklyn lab and the field to dive into the merits of their insulation and extras (as well as discuss the value and what activities they'd be suitable for), to help you decide which backpack cooler is right for you.

Read on for the best backpack coolers available.

Best Overall: Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler

4.9
Yeti M20 Backpack in the navy color

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Portability
    4.5/5
  • Capacity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Excellent cold and ice-retention

  • Sturdy

  • Waterproof

  • Improved sleek design

What We Don't Like
  • No extra storage pockets

  • Miss the sternum and waist straps of the Hopper BackFlip

New this spring, Yeti has replaced its infamous Hopper BackFlip 24 backpack cooler with the Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler. The big difference? Yeti's new soft backpack cooler no longer has a zipper. It now uses magnet technology and clips to close the top of the cooler. One frequent complaint we hear with Yeti and other similar cooler models is how tough it can be to pull the zipper open and closed. Yeti must've been hearing that as well with this swap.

Rest assured, even with a fold, magnet, and clip closure, the M20 still has some serious insulation chops. Our testers put a small bag of ice in the M20 with a few cold beverages, and it took more than 30 hours for all of the ice to melt in temperatures around 70 degrees. The M20 is also a bit sleeker and lightweight compared to its predecessor. We also like that the M20 has a bit more accessible price.

One minor complaint: There are no sternum or waist straps on the M20. Now, that's not a deal-breaker—this backpack cooler is still super solid and comfy to tote around. But for longer approaches, we'd like to see those features added back. However, the upshot is that Yeti did it again, making a top-shelf cooler, and we do think the magnet technology is much easier to deal with than those tough zippers.

Size: 18.5 x 9.5 x 18.75 inches | Capacity: 20 Liters | Weight: 4.8 pounds

Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Best Overall, Runner-Up: IceMule Boss 30 Liter Backpack Cooler

4.9
IceMule Coolers 30L Backpack Cooler

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4.5/5
  • Insulation
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Capacity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Waterproof and easy to clean

  • Excellent for carrying

What We Don't Like
  • A bit tough to see items in the main compartment

Like the Yeti Hopper BackFlip, IceMule's Boss is heavy-duty, rugged, and spendy. And while the pack is good and cold and ice-retention (more on that in a bit), our testers particularly enjoyed how easy it was to carry it despite its bulk. "This is the best big cooler for carrying," one tester noted. Our testers loved how the straps are not too thin and not too bulky and the cooler's back padding and ventilation. They also liked the chest and waist straps. IceMule has emphasized the ergonomics of this backpack, including a dual-zone suspension.

We also like some extra touches on the Boss compared to other coolers we tested, like the additional pockets and places to attach gear you don't want inside the actual cooler. We also enjoy how waterproof the cooler is.

It was good in terms of cold and ice-retention, and there was still some solid ice in the cooler 24 hours after initially putting ice in it. But while Yeti's Hopper BackFlip only saw the inside temperature rise by about 7 degrees after 24 hours, IceMule's Boss increased by about 19 degrees. Our conclusion: If ice and cold-retention are most important to you and you don't mind one main compartment, go with the Yeti Hopper BackFlip. But if you prefer organization and a comfortable carry, the IceMule Boss is the way to go.

Size: 12.5 x 9 x 25 inches | Capacity: 24 cans (including ice) | Weight: Not listed

IceMule Boss 30 Liter Backpack in a campfire setting with a tent in the background

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best Budget: Coleman 28 Can Soft Backpack Cooler

4.5
Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Insulation
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Capacity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Padded waist strap

  • Comfortable

What We Don't Like
  • Minimal leaking through the zipper

Coleman has become famous for its budget outdoor gear. And this cooler backpack meets that expectation. Our testers loved how lightweight and comfortable this backpack felt, giving a nod specifically to the plush padding on the sides of the waist straps. We also like the carrying and organizational diversity potential within this bag. There are multiple inner pockets, a couple of outer mesh pockets, and straps on the back for carrying potential.

While the initial temperature wasn't as cold as other cooler packs we tested, the inner temperature only increased by about 11 degrees 24 hours after putting ice in the pack. There was also a bit of minimum leaking from the zippers after the ice began melting. At the end of the 24 hours, there was no solid ice left in the backpack.

This Coleman is a solid choice for anyone looking to find an affordable backpack cooler. It'd be ideal for outdoor music festivals, taking lunch to work or on a picnic, or quickly transporting drinks or food to a potluck.

Size: 12.2 x 6.3 x 19.29 inches | Capacity: 28 cans | Weight: 1 pound, 1 ounce

Coleman 28-Can Soft Backpack Cooler

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best Value: Igloo Reactor 24-Can Backpack

4.8
Igloo Reactor 24-Can Backpack Cooler

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Capacity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Fit 24 cans easily

  • Comfortable and easy to carry

  • Good durability

What We Don't Like
  • Would like to see a waist strap to distribute weight more

Igloo's Reactor backpack cooler performs nearly as well as coolers priced hundreds of dollars more than it. In terms of ice and cold-retention, after 24 hours, the Reactor had amounts of solid ice similar to the IceMule Boss and IceMule Pro. And where the IceMule Pro's inner temperature increased by about 19 degrees, the Reactor's internal temperature only raised less than 10 degrees 24 hours after we filled it with ice.

Our testers also liked how comfortable and easy the pack was to carry—although they did mention wanting to see a waist strap added to help distribute the weight a bit. The waterproof zipper was challenging for the testers to open but not as tough as other coolers. The abrasion-resistant material held up well in our lab testing, and the waterproof material kept liquids from falling in or out of the pack.

Size: 13.4 x 7.9 x 18.5 inches | Capacity: 24 cans | Weight: 3.04 pounds

Igloo Reactor 24-Can Backpack Cooler

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best for Paddling: IceMule Pro Cooler 23L

4.9
IceMule Pro Cooler 23L

IceMule

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Capacity
    5/5
What We Like
  • We easily fit more cans and ice than IceMule claims it will fit

  • Air valve to boost flotation or help compress for travel

  • Comfortable padded straps

What We Don't Like
  • A bit heavy

  • Some water did leak from the top roll closure

We love the simple design of the IceMule Pro. But don't let the simple design fool you—the Pro has some suped-up tech and features, making this pack a great option, especially if going onto the water is in your outdoor plans. IceMule employs its double proprietary inner and outer fabric to boost durability. It also uses proprietary insulation to amp cold and ice-retention, making the Pro one of the best performers during our 24-hour ice test. A day after initially putting ice into the cooler pack, the internal temperature only raised about 7 degrees, and some solid ice remained.

Our testers liked how padded and comfortable the backpack's straps were on their shoulders and the chest strap for weight distribution. And while the pack was a bit heavy and some water leaked out of the roll-top closure, our testers still gave the pro top marks across all rated attributes. We also like some travel- and boat-specific features like the air valve, which allows you to add—or remove—extra air from the insulation air. This will help make the cooler buoyant (with extra air) and compact to a smaller size for travel (with less air). Bonus: The straps on the outside of the cooler allow you to attach extra gear to the outside of the pack or secure the pack to a boat, kayak, or SUP.

Size: 14 x 11 x 18 inches | Capacity: 18 cans | Weight: Not listed

IceMule Pro backpack cooler

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best for the Beach: RTIC Backpack Soft Cooler

4.8
RTIC-cooler-backpack

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Portability
    4.5/5
  • Capacity
    4.5/5
What We Like
  • Excellent cold and ice-retention

  • Floatable

  • Good padding on back panel

What We Don't Like
  • Potential zipper fails

RTIC's Backpack Cooler had some of the best ice-retention among coolers in our lab test. After 24 hours, the RTIC still had about 50 percent solid ice, on par with Yeti's Hopper BackFlip cooler. Also similar to the Hopper BackFlip, RTIC employs some serious premium insulation to help keep contents inside the cooler cold.

Besides the cold retention, we particularly like some excellent design features like chest and waist straps for even weight distribution, a super padded back panel for boosted comfort, and a floatable structure. RTIC recommends using solid ice packs or putting loose ice into baggies to avoid leaking, but our testers didn't have any issues with leaking despite using free-floating ice.

One note: Many users on Amazon report the zipper into the primary compartment breaking. We still haven't had this issue, but at least a few have. Still, we didn't see many design or performance differences between the RTIC and Yeti backpack coolers, and this RTIC is a lot more affordable.

Size: Not listed | Capacity: 20 or 30 cans with a bag of ice | Weight: Not listed

RTIC Backpack Cooler
Tamara Staples / TripSavvy.

Best for Camping: Pelican Dayventure Backpack Cooler

4.6
Pelican Dayventure Backpack Cooler

Pelican

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Portability
    3.5/5
  • Capacity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Excellent cold-retention

  • Good organization capability with top and bottom compartments

  • Strong and durable outer materials

What We Don't Like
  • Length and height of the cooler a bit too big for smaller testers

  • Straps also bulky and wide for smaller testers

Pelican's Dayventure Backpack Cooler had some of the best cold-retention among all coolers we tested in our Brooklyn lab. Twenty-four hours after filling it with ice and beverage cans, the internal temperature had increased only about 2.5 degrees. Like similar high-end soft and backpack coolers, Pelican uses dense closed-cell insulation to boost its cold-saving chops.

We particularly like the double compartments of this pack, making it ideal for overnights in the wilderness. And because of its total waterproofness and heavy-duty puncture-resistant outer, we'd have no hesitations taking this on a boat, kayak, or SUP.

While the double-compartment organization of this pack is fantastic, our smaller testers didn't like how bulky and wide the straps were on their shoulders. They also thought the height of the pack was a bit too large. Still, we envision this pack as perfect for the adventurer looking to separate food, drinks, and gear out but only carry one pack.

Size: 12.1 x 7.1 x 21.7 inches | Capacity: 18.36 liters | Weight: 9.3 pounds

Pelican Dayventure Backpack Cooler

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best for Durability: Otterbox Trooper LT 30 Cooler

4.6
otterbox-LT30-cooler

Walmart

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Portability
    4.5/5
  • Capacity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Converts to shoulder carry easily

  • Good cold-retention

What We Don't Like
  • Weight felt far from back, throwing off balance a bit

Most widely known for its smartphone protection products, Colorado-based OtterBox also creates other outdoor-focused products. Among those is the Trooper LT 30 soft backpack cooler. As expected, OtterBox takes that same durability for which it became infamous and applies it to the Trooper, creating an incredibly durable product.

But the Trooper also has some cold-retention chops as the internal temperature only increased about 5 degrees 24 hours after we filled it with ice. It's got good capacity—we were able to fit 38 cans without ice and 33 with ice easily inside the cooler. And while the straps were not uncomfortable, we would like to see at least a chest strap to help keep the weight against the back.

Size: 12.1 x 7.1 x 21.7 inches | Capacity: 18.36 liters | Weight: 9.3 pounds

OtterBox Trooper LT 30

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best for Picnics: Hydro Flask Unbound 22 L Soft Cooler Pack

4.5
Hydro Flask Unbound 22 L Cooler Pack

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Insulation
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    5/5
  • Portability
    4.5/5
  • Capacity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Very light weight

  • Great durability

  • Good cold and ice-retention

What We Don't Like
  • Not a ton of padding on the straps or back

Like OtterBox, Hydro Flask is usually first known for products that are not coolers. Hydro Flask's case is the extensive line of high-quality travel water containers, tumblers, and insulated mugs. Naturally, Hydro Flask does an excellent job with cold and ice-retention in its Unbound Soft Cooler Pack. The "smart" insulation Hydro Flask employs helped retain solid pieces of ice 24 hours after being placed in the cooler. And the internal temperature only climbed about 8 degrees 24 hours after we dumped ice into it.

While this pack's cold and ice-retention capabilities are strong, what sets the Unbound apart from other backpack coolers is how lightweight yet durable it is. The pack weighs about three pounds and has a waterproof 420D nylon shell. We like the three external mesh pockets for storing utensils or other items for your picnic that don't need to stay cool.

Our testers would've liked to have seen more padding on the shoulders for more comfortable carrying. But that would also obviously make this a heavier pack.

Size: 12.5 x 8 x 19.5 inches | Capacity: 22 liters | Weight: 3.2 pounds

Hydro Flask Unbound 22 L Soft Pack

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best for Work: Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack

4.3
Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Insulation
    4/5
  • Durability
    4/5
  • Portability
    4.5/5
  • Capacity
    5/5
What We Like
  • Separate cooler and storage compartments

  • Classic Carhartt design and durability

What We Don't Like
  • Leaked fairly significantly

If you're looking for a backpack and a cooler instead of a backpack cooler, the Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler is just that. Carhartt's backpack cooler is divided into two sections: The insulated bottom fitting up to 12 cans and the top, which is suitable for other items you might need to take hiking, to school, or to work. Bonus: There are numerous pockets and compartments for extra storage.

Carhartt uses its classic 1200-denier polyester and some proprietary durable water repellent to boost the durability of this pack. While it didn't do as well at cold and ice-retention as other packs we tested, our testers did love how comfortable and easy it was to carry. They also enjoyed the cooler pack's simplistic design and school backpack feel. One main issue with this pack is the leaking through the zipper. Our testers noted that this pack couldn't be turned upside down if you use loose ice, which inevitably melts. Of course, the best way around this is to use ice packs.

Size: 12.5 x 8 x 17.75 inches | Capacity: 12 cans | Weight: Not listed

Carhartt 2-in-1 Insulated Cooler Backpack

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best for Road Trips: Igloo Pursuit 24-Can Backpack

4.3
Igloo Pursuit 24-Can Backpack Cooler

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    3/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Capacity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Very light weight

  • Excellent to carry

What We Don't Like
  • Leaked easily

Our testers loved the very light weight and ease of carrying the Igloo Pursuit 24-Can cooler. In particular, they enjoyed the padding on the back and straps and how not bulky the pack was, especially compared to others tested. Igloo uses a durable and water-repellent outer material yet somehow keeps the weight of this pack down to just 2 pounds.

That lightness likely came at the expense of insulation, as this pack also had some of the worst ice and cold-retention results. There were no remaining solid ice cubes 24 hours after the ice was placed into the cooler. And the internal temperature rose by about 17 degrees 24 hours after ice was placed in the pack. Our testers also had issues with melted ice leaking through the zippers. "When tipped, water pours out easily," they reported. So, if you do decide to go with this pack, make sure you invest in some ice packs or ways to keep melted ice in a secure container.

Size: 18.9 x 7.5 x 12.6 inches | Capacity: 24 cans | Weight: 2.09 pounds

Igloo Pursuit Cooler Backpack

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Best for Day Hikes: REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler

4.4
REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler

REI

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Insulation
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    3/5
  • Portability
    5/5
  • Capacity
    4/5
What We Like
  • Super light weight

  • Comfortable to carry

  • Good sternum strap placement and thick mesh padding

What We Don't Like
  • Leaked through inner and outer zippers

Sometimes a name says it all. That's the case for the REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler, which has ample plush cushioning and a well-placed sternum strap. Combine that with a very light weight (2.5 pounds), and you've got the ideal trail cooler pack. We also really love that there are separate compartments and pockets to carry gear and items you don't wish to get cold or place with your food and drinks.

Like other light weight cooler packs we tested, the cold and ice-retention were not great. After 24 hours, all of the ice we placed in the pack had melted, and the internal temperature had increased by about 17 degrees. Still, there are other intelligent features to appreciate about this pack, like a removable cooler liner and attachment points for bulky items. Bonus: The pack was crafted with recycled and bluesign-certified materials, making this one of the most eco-friendly constructed coolers we tested.

Our testers did have issues with melted ice leaking through the zippers. As previously noted, the way around that is to avoid loose ice and utilize reusable ice packs.

Size: 22 x 12.5 x 8.5 inches | Capacity: 31.5 liters | Weight: 2.5 pounds

REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler

TripSavvy / Tamara Staples

Other Backpack Coolers We Tested

Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24: Although Yeti has upgraded the Hopper BackFlip 24 with the Hopper M20, you can still find the BackFlip 24 at some places like Amazon. It's durable, it easily holds 20 cans plus ice per our tests, and its insulation is still top grade (one tester took this hiking for six hours in 80-degree temperatures, and after 24 hours, it still held onto most of its ice). It's still a solid backpack cooler choice; we just prefer the M20 upgrade. (Read our full review of the Hopper BackFlip 24.)

Tourit Loon Insulated Cooler: The Tourit Loon is a solid budget backpack cooler. We just liked the Coleman a bit better. Our testers liked how comfortable this pack was. And the cold and ice-retention was average compared to the other packs we tested. However, the testers noted that the zippers did come apart slightly, and some moisture leaked out.

Tourit Cygnini Cooler BackpackTourit's Cygnini is another budget option that didn't beat out the Coleman. Our testers didn't like that they could feel the cans inside the pack protruding into their backs when testing. Water did come out through the zippers, and this was the only cooler we tested that had a can inside of it break and leak.

Forich Backpack Cooler: The Forich is another budget option that didn't score well among our testers across the attributes they were grading. Our testers noted that while the pack was decently comfortable and fine to carry, water leaked out in various places, and the insulation was not excellent.

Hydro Flask 20 L Day Escape Cooler Pack: We were surprised that this popular choice from Hydro Flask scored the lowest in many attributes among our testers. While the durability was solid, the cold and ice-retention were not. What's more, our testers did not like how heavy and uncomfortable the pack was to carry.

Backpack coolers testing
Tamara Staples / TripSavvy.

Product Selection

Backpack coolers were selected based on the prior knowledge of TripSavvy editors and writers of top brands and coolers, researching online product reviews, and what other sites have listed as top backpack coolers. We narrowed it down to 15 popular choices to test in our New York City lab and in the real world. We picked items that had a wide range of price points and uses.

How We Tested

Our travel editors spent a day in our New York City lab space, testing 30 coolers side by side to score each on a variety if attributes, including insulation, portability, capacity, and durability. After an initial examination of the coolers to make note of any special features or design (such as method of closure, existence of additional pockets or compartments for organization, and more), we filled them all to the manufacturer-recommended capacity and ratio of cans and ice. (For ones that did not come with a recommendation, we filled them with cans and ice in a ratio that a user realistically would choose). Once filled with ice and cans of beverages, we let them sit for a while. We took a temperature reading at two hours after filling to see how the insulation held up at that point (say, a couple hours after filling once you've arrived at your destination or need another drink). We also let them sit overnight, and then took a temperature reading at 24 hours after filling to see how they would hold up for an entire day (for purposes of camping or other extended activity).

Between the two- and 24-hour marks, we tested for portability and durability while they were filled with cans and ice. We wore the backpacks around the lab, including walking up and down stairs to test for comfort and ease of carrying. We also pushed the coolers off tables onto a concrete floor, turned the backpack coolers upside down, and tipped them over to see if they would leak or become damaged. As we performed all of these tests, we gave scores for insulation, design, capacity, portability, and durability (on a scale of 1 to 5) for each cooler.

Backpack coolers testing
Tamara Staples / TripSavvy.

What to Look for in a Backpack Cooler

Insulation

Because backpack coolers are a type of soft cooler, many use open-cell foam because it’s more flexible while still insulating, though not as well as the closed-cell foam of a hard cooler. However, there are a few backpack coolers that do use closed-cell foam. Closed-cell insulates better but generally costs and weighs more, so be sure you’re willing to pay literally and figuratively for the increased performance.

There are two other things to look for in your backpack cooler’s insulation: thickness and evenness. Not surprisingly, the thicker the insulation, the better the cold preservation, no matter what type of insulation is used. You should also look for weak areas in the insulation. The insulation needs to surround the inner compartment to be most effective. If there’s only insulation on three sides, the fourth side will be a weak link that can significantly decrease chill time, especially if it’s the side against your back.

Intended Activity

The world of backpack coolers is a surprisingly sophisticated one—these days, there are plenty of advances in design and fabric technology that add to what seems like a reasonably necessary purchase. Look for the extras that are right for you and your intended activity, whether it's multiple storage spaces for cutlery, anti-mildew fabric, or an attached bottle opener. You'll also find ones explicitly built for specific activities—like overnight hikes into the woods, picnics, beach and water days, and hunting. Think about how you'll use this cooler and look for models that cater to your pursuits.

Comfort

Consider what you'll primarily be using the cooler for and how much padding you'd like (and where you'd like that padding to be). If you're taking a cooler on an extended hike, you probably want to look for lighter weight packs with hip and sternum straps and some extra padding. If you're simply going to the beach or other destination where you won't be carrying very far, you can prioritize other features over comfort.

Durability

Durability is also important. A cheaper option might initially be more appealing, but if it tears after minimal use or leaks when it gets tipped or inverted, you might quickly purchase another cooler. Our humble opinion: Spend a bit more for durability—that can mean waterproof materials, puncture- and scratch-proof materials, and a robust zipper (or other closure method).

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Will water leak out as the ice melts?

    The answer varies from pack to pack, but if the product description doesn’t specifically mention features that will prevent water from leaking out (or getting in, for that matter), there’s a good chance it may leak. Features include a waterproof cooler compartment, watertight zippers, and sealed seams.

  • How should a backpack cooler be cleaned and stored?

    The process for cleaning is the same as a regular hard or soft cooler. Often, simply rinsing and drying before storing is enough. If there’s more than water inside to be cleaned out, consider using disinfectant wipes after thoroughly cleaning with water and soap, then rinsing to remove any debris.

  • Are backpack coolers heavy?

    Because of their construction and likely contents, backpack coolers are heavier than typical soft coolers. The more effective coolers are generally the heaviest, but these aren’t intended for overnight or long-distance hikes. (Those camping in the backcountry overnight will need more gear than they can carry with a backpack cooler!)

    While the packs themselves are heavier than average, the ice and liquids carried are also very heavy. A quart of water weighs over 2 pounds, not counting the water bottle. But, keep in mind, that any soft cooler will generally be lighter than a hard cooler.

  • How many drinks can fit in a backpack cooler?

    Again, this depends partly on the pack and its dimensions, but it also depends on the size and shape of the drinks being carried, and the ratio of ice to drinks preferred. A commonly recommended ice to drinks ratio is 2-to-1, and some cooler manufacturers will list estimated drink counts based on that specific ice ratio.

    If the product description lists several cans capacity without a specific amount of ice, assume that this number is much lower when accounting for ice. For example, a cooler that can hold 24 cans without ice would likely have eight cans if using a 2-to-1 ice to drinks ratio. If capacities are unclear from the product description, try contacting the manufacturer directly to clarify or find the product locally to assess the capacity firsthand.

IceMule Pro Backpack Cooler

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor and has personally used many coolers on this list for his outdoor adventures. In addition, a team of travel editors spent a day testing more than 30 coolers (15 backpack options) side by side in our New York City lab space, evaluating each for insulation, portability, and more.

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