The 12 Best Soft Coolers of 2020

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products and services; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Best Overall: RTIC Soft Pack 30 at Amazon

"It has plenty of capacity for a day's worth of food and drink that can stay cold for days."

Best for Budget: Igloo Ringleader HLC Bungee Cooler at Dick's Sporting Goods

"A high-quality soft cooler from a longstanding cooler brand that doesn’t break the bank."

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

"Stores a day’s worth of dry items while the insulated lower portion keeps food cool while you hike."

Best for Boating: Permian Cooler Bag with Roll Top at Amazon

"The seal keeps water out and holds air in, which enables the bag to float if it goes overboard."

Best for Backpacking: Hydroflask Unbound Soft Cooler Pack at Amazon

"This smartly engineered cooler pack has woven sternum straps for added stability and comfort."

Best for Picnics: Yeti Hopper M30 at Amazon

"Popular in beaches and parks across the country for their long-lasting cooling capabilities."

Best for Road Trips: Otterbox Trooper 20 at Amazon

"This waterproof medium-sized soft cooler can hold its own in a packed vehicle for a long weekend."

Best Tote: L.L. Bean Medium Insulated Tote at L.L. Bean

"Weighing only 2.5 pounds, it's light enough to be used as an everyday or beach tote."

Most Durable: Tourit Voyager at Amazon

"Made of durable three-layer construction and a UV-resistant shell, so your food will stay colder longer."

Best Collapsible: OlarHike 40-Can Cooler Bag at Amazon

"Folds in on itself when empty to form a compact briefcase you can easily stash under a car seat."

Our Top Picks

01 of 12

Best Overall: RTIC Soft Pack 30

RTIC Soft Pack 30

Courtesy of Amazon

The RTIC Soft Pack 30 is a serious soft-sided cooler at a price that’s a fraction of the cost of comparable products from industry standard-bearer Yeti. The Soft Pack 30 is named what it is because it can hold 30 12-ounce cans or 30 pounds of ice. Although it’s a medium-sized cooler, it’s got plenty of capacity for a day’s worth of food and drink or a long weekend road trip’s worth of cold beverages—no pit stops required.

The 2 inches of closed-cell foam insulation means your food and drink stay cold for days instead of hours. And the durable exterior vinyl and nylon shell are tough and fully waterproof, while the antimicrobial liner keeps liquids from leaking out.

02 of 12

Best for Budget: Igloo Ringleader HLC Bungee Cooler

Igloo Ringleader HLC Bungee Cooler

 Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

This soft cooler from Igloo may not be a status symbol and it won’t keep ice for days, but it’s a high-quality soft cooler from a longstanding cooler brand that doesn’t break the bank. The soft exterior holds a removable stiffer insulative liner that provides some structure and gives you confidence that your sandwiches won’t get crushed the second something bumps up against the cooler. It also has an exterior zippered front pocket and a front flap pocket to hold extra snacks or cutlery.

The Ringleader holds about 12 12-ounce cans so it’s a great size for lunch for a small group. Unlike larger more expensive soft coolers which can weigh 5 pounds or more, this Igloo offering is light: it weighs just over a pound, making it easy to grab and go.

03 of 12

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

REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler

Courtesy of REI

REI’s house brand provides products that are made of quality materials but are priced reasonably, and this innovative cooler/backpack combination is no exception. The durable ripstop nylon top stores a day’s worth of dry items while the insulated lower portion keeps food and drinks cool while you hike. Most backpack coolers are completely insulated which presents a problem of where to stash your extra layers and necessities that you don’t want sloshing around with ice and tuna salad. This backpack also features padded shoulder straps and lash straps so you can carry heavy items comfortably.

The insulated liner is also removable if you want to use its full volume as a regular backpack, meaning this pack isn’t relegated to those special occasions when you want to bring lunch and drinks along to the beach or the top of a mountain.

04 of 12

Best for Boating: Permian Cooler Bag with Roll Top

Roll-top dry bags are a staple of river and lake gear storage and for good reason: watertight bags like this one from Permian reliably keep water out and holds air in which enables them to float if they go overboard. The lack of zippers on the closure is a reliable sealing mechanism that holds all the contents inside the bag. Simply fold the top over three times and connect the clasps to make a welded seam.

Capable of keeping ice cold for 30 hours, this 15-liter dry bag holds up to 5 bottles of wine or 12 cans of soda. It also folds down neatly into an included stuff sack for convenient storage when not in use.

Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12

Best for Backpacking: Hydroflask Unbound Soft Cooler Pack

This smartly engineered 22-liter cooler pack looks fun and casual but means business when it comes to keeping things cold. It features watertight Aquaseal zippers and thermal conductive pathways built into the padding that directs body heat away from the cool zones, so your food and beverages can stay cold for up to 48 hours.

Additionally, its relatively small size and long rectangular shape mean you can pack this onto a larger frame pack or inside an internal frame pack on longer backpacking trips where you want to bring special food and drink items, such as meats for the campfire or champagne, that you want to keep cold as long as you can. If you choose to use this backpack cooler by itself, there are woven sternum straps for added stability and comfort. Plus, there's an exterior pocket for your water bottle and other accessories, so you won't need to slow down to access them.

06 of 12

Best for Picnics: Yeti Hopper M30

YETI revolutionized a stale cooler industry with their hard coolers and now their Hopper soft coolers are popular in beaches and parks across the country for their long-lasting cooling capabilities. The Hopper M30 boasts upgraded features such as a wider opening and a magnet closure for easy loading and unloading, and uses Hydroshield technology to ensure nothing leaks out of the top. This cooler also features Cold-cell insulation foam and UV-resistant lining to ensure its contents stay cold for as long as possible.

You’ll pay extra for that quality, but their three-year warranty lets you rest easy knowing you won’t have to buy a new cooler the following year.

07 of 12

Best for Road Trips: Otterbox Trooper 20

Otterbox is perhaps best known for its durable cellphone cases, so it’s not a stretch to imagine they’d make great coolers. The Trooper 20 showcases the same attention to detail in a waterproof, leakproof medium-sized soft cooler rigid enough to hold it’s own in a packed vehicle for a long weekend.

The stiff food-grade liner and hard plastic top blend the best of soft and hard coolers together and make this a great fit for when you just need a small cooler for the road or to carry short distances. The cooler also comes with a few extra features such as an exterior dry storage pocket and a bottle opener.

08 of 12

Best Tote: L.L. Bean Medium Insulated Tote

L.L. Bean Medium Insulated Tote

 Courtesy of L.L. Bean

Whether toting groceries home from the store or hauling a half day’s worth of drinks out to the beach, this 16.5-liter insulated tote looks the part and fits the bill. Weighing only 2.5 pounds, it's light enough to be used as an everyday or beach tote, and the food-grade leak-proof insulation gives you the option of using it to keep snacks and drinks cold for a few hours in the heat.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a hardcore camping soft cooler, but when you just need that little extra protection from the heat, this tote is easy to reach for.

Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12

Most Durable: Tourit Voyager

If you're looking for a soft cooler that will handle any adventure or weather condition you find yourself in, look no further than the Voyager cooler by Tourit. This 30-can cooler has a durable three-layer construction that will stand up to the elements. The outer layer is waterproof, the middle layer is made out of high-density foam, and the interior has a leak-proof insulated lining. Its tough shell is also UV-resistant, meaning your ice, food, and drinks will stay colder longer. Reviewers noted that this cooler was easy to carry thanks to a padded shoulder strap and two handles, and were able to wipe up spills effortlessly.

10 of 12

Best Collapsible: OlarHike 40-Can Cooler Bag

 

Hauling an empty cooler from your destination can take up some valuable space in your trunk, but the collapsibility of this large square soft cooler will make the return trip just a little bit more efficient. This 40 can soft-sided cooler folds in on itself when empty to form a light, compact briefcase you can easily stash in another backpack or under a car seat.

The exterior lining is made out of durable 600D Oxford fabric that dries quickly and is lightweight, weighing only 2 pounds. Reviewers were impressed by much this cooler can hold and noted that they were able to pack enough food to feed a small crowd.

11 of 12

Best Wheeled: Coleman 42-Can Soft Cooler

Coleman is synonymous with camping and while this large-capacity cooler isn’t flashy, it provides enough volume for bigger groups. It also features carry-on luggage-style wheels so you can transport all those food and beverages easily. Perfect for heading into a friend’s tailgate or down the boardwalk, the exterior bungees, exterior dry storage pockets, and large capacity mean you’ll be fully prepared when you arrive.

A removable hard plastic liner guarantees leakproof holding of ice and liquids, but it can also be taken out for extra capacity. Just make sure you use artificial ice packs instead. It's also treated with antimicrobials to prevent germs and mildew from forming.

12 of 12

Most Portable: Carhartt Beverage Sling

Whether toting a few drinks along on the chairlift or staying refreshed on a casual stroll to a lookout, this sling is like an elongated beer cozy that slings over your shoulder and totes a six-pack worth of 12 oz. cans. At 31 inches long, it’s about the size of a fly fishing rod case and the adjustable webbing strap allows you to cinch it as tight as you need when on the move.

The durable water repellent coated polyester fabric repels water and the lined insulated interior keeps moisture in. And at half a pound, it’s not a burden when your six-pack is gone, plus it gives you a home for your empties if needed.

Was this page helpful?