Holds ice for more than 24 hours
Sturdy shell holds its shape
Roomy 24-liter capacity
Zipper is difficult to pull
No extra storage pockets
When searching for the perfect backpack cooler, you’re probably looking for a mixture of design and function. Sure, certain backpacks might look cool, but if they can’t keep your stuff cool, too, what’s the point? We’ve been on the hunt for a backpack cooler that can stand its ground against the elements, so we put the highly-rated YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 to the test. Read on for our assessment of its design, performance, features, price, and competition.
Design: Large, but well-made
When we pulled the YETI backpack out of the box, our first reaction was “Wow, this is big!” While it’s definitely not a backpack cooler that you’ll be able to squeeze into tight spaces or take with you on a plane, the size grew on us after we filled it and strapped it to our back. The YETI may be large, but it has a well-designed rectangular shape that helps it lie flat against your back.
The YETI Hopper comes in two colors: charcoal and fog gray with tahoe blue detailing. While the charcoal version has a classic, monochromatic look, the fog gray and blue combo (which is the one we tested) is actually quite striking. The light gray body is contrasted with black handles and straps that have bright blue stitch detailing. The thick, rugged zipper—which wraps horizontally around the entire top of the cooler—is also light blue and pops nicely against an adjacent black seam.
The YETI logo is proudly displayed front and center, in a stencil-like design that’s understated and not obnoxious at all. There’s also a large, stamped YETI logo that extends across almost the entire base of the cooler. Again, it’s understated and gives it a high-end feel, without making us feel like we’re a walking advertisement.
Features: Plenty to speak of
The Hopper Backflip 24 is YETI’s first backpack cooler and it’s evident that the manufacturers took extra care with it. The outer shell is made from their trademarked Dryhide™ material, which is waterproof and resistant to mildew, UV rays, and punctures. The insulated rubber foam inside is lined with an FDA-approved, food-grade material that’s safe for longer-term food storage. That’s a perk that we didn’t even realize we needed.
The large body is held up by solid ergonomic shoulder straps that are padded and easily adjustable, even when the cooler is full and on your back. It also comes equipped with a removable chest strap and waist belt, so you have the option of added stability if you need it. While we thought the extra straps were a nice touch, we preferred to use the YETI Hopper Backflip 24 without them. If you prefer to carry the backpack off your back, or you just want to quickly move it a short distance, you can use the hand straps that are secured with double-stitching on each side of the main body.
There are also four hitchpoint grids™ (one on each side and two in the front), another exclusive and trademarked YETI feature that allows you to clip bottle openers, carabiners, or other accessories onto the backpack. That’s the only way to take anything extra with you, though. Unlike other cooler backpacks, which have side or front pockets where you can store some additional items like keys, a book, or an umbrella, the YETI Hopper only has the main, insulated compartment.
The cooler has a large wide-mouth opening that almost completely unzips so you can fold the top back to fill the main compartment quickly and easily. After you close it, the top is held in place by a thick, Hydrolok™ zipper that’s leak-proof and waterproof when zipped securely into place. Because the zipper is so rugged, the backpack also comes with a zipper lubricant that you can use to help the zipper glide more smoothly and increase its life during times of prolonged storage.
The YETI Hopper boasts a 20-can storage capacity (when using a 2:1 ratio of ice-to-cans). If you’re using the YETI just for ice, you can load it up with a whopping 25 pounds.
Performance: As good as promised
While the YETI certainly looks cool and its features make a lot of promises, that wasn’t enough to sell us on it—especially given its higher price point. However, after trying it out for ourselves, we quickly fell in love. We started out by testing its capacity and, as promised, the Hopper Backflip was easily able to hold ice and 20 cans in a 2:1 ratio. You could probably squeeze even more in there, but the 20 cans fit nicely without causing any bulging at the seams.
We started out by testing its capacity and, as promised, the Hopper Backflip was easily able to hold ice and 20 cans in a 2:1 ratio.
After the cans were zipped up and secured, we hoisted the backpack onto our backs. As expected, the cans and ice added some serious heft, but we were surprised at how evenly distributed the weight felt. Even though the backpack was heavy, once the straps were tightened to our preferred position, we didn’t feel weighted down.
We set out on a hike to see if the cooling power was strong enough to hold up to a sweaty, 83-degree day and if the straps could withstand the bumps and shocks of walking on uneven terrain. After six hours in the sun, most of the ice was still intact and our drinks were perfectly cold. The straps also held up nicely and didn’t show any signs of wear. The buckles didn’t slide at all under the full backpack’s weight, either, so it stayed perched nicely in place and didn’t cause any back pain.
We also tested the YETI’s ability to keep ice frozen by leaving it outside (fully zipped) for a full 24 hours. Although some of the ice melted, at least half of it was still frozen and the ice water mixture was freezing. This comes in extremely handy if you’re taking the YETI on an overnight camping trip where you need to bring some extra food and don’t have any other form of refrigeration.
After six hours in the sun, most of the ice was still intact and our drinks were perfectly cold.
There was one thing we didn’t love, though: The zipper didn’t glide easily at all. It was a little bit of a struggle to zip and unzip the cooler and we had to tug hard. We assume that this is a byproduct of the zipper’s thickness and durability, though, so that’s a trade that we’re willing to make. YETI also made sure to attach an equally rugged zipper pull that you can hold between your pointer and middle finger to get a good grip on, so we appreciated that added (and necessary) touch.
Price: It’s an investment
The YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Cooler will set you back about $300, placing it firmly on the pricier side. That said, if you take care of it properly, it will likely be the last backpack cooler you ever purchase.
Competition: In a weight class of its own
ICEMULE Pro Backpack Cooler: Unlike the YETI, the ICEMULE Pro is available in three different sizes, so you can choose how much space you need (and how much backpack you want to carry). The IceMule also floats in water and rolls up when it’s not in use, so you can store and travel with it easily. The price ranges from around $115 to $145, depending on which size you choose. You will have to sacrifice some durability, though, since the IceMule isn’t as rugged.
Polar Bear Coolers Solar Bear Backpack Cooler: The Solar Bear Backpack Cooler will save you even more money, retailing for around $105, but it is a step down from the YETI. Its material isn’t as strong as the YETI, but it does have a mesh pocket, so you can store some extra items. You may be able to get the same amount of cooling time, though, as the Polar Bear Cooler also boasts up to 24 hours.
- Product Name Hopper BackFlip 24 Cooler
- Product Brand YETI
- MPN 2058338
- Price $299.99
- Weight 5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 13.75 x 19.12 x 8.5 m.
- Color Charcoal and fog gray/Tahoe blue
- Volume 24L
- Material Double-sided thermoplastic urethane/closed-cell foam insulation
- Warranty 5-year manufacturer’s warranty
- What’s Included Backpack, waist strap, and zipper lubricant