Best Backpack Coolers Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time outdoors knows how important it is to stay hydrated and that’s where backpack coolers come in handy. This can be especially true when we are planning several day trips outdoors. We never know if we are going to have steady access to clean drinking water and so its important for safety’s sake that we carry clean water with us when we are spending time outdoors. Of course, not only do we need water, but we also need food so we have to think about both if we are spending a couple of hours or several days in the wilderness.
There are a few different ways we can pack food and water. Backpack coolers are one such option. These coolers are useful because they allow you to carry food and water on your back or shoulder. They are usually capable of keeping the items stored inside of the cold for several hours, which is more than useful for a day trip. If your own concern is water, then there are also backpack coolers that are dedicated to water which can keep water cold for hours. Such coolers are especially useful because they usually have pockets for items besides water.
- eBags Crew
- Dry Compartment
- Miracol Hydration Pack
- 2L Bladder
- Coleman C003
- Padded back
Backpack coolers are a great way to carry food, water, or both and enjoy the outdoors. They are easy to pack and carry. You can use these coolers when you decide to spend time on the hiking trail or even if you are going to tailgate at the ballgame prior to going into the ballpark. Backpack coolers provide you with an excellent way to carry food and water. They usually have several pockets you can also store non-food items such as utensils or napkins. The high-quality backpack coolers are large and will allow you to store days worth of food and water.
15 Best Backpack Coolers
1. eBags Crew
The top of the cooler has a special compartment that is intended to provide you with easy access to dry items and non-perishables. It is located on the top of the cooler and it offers a great spot for napkins and cutlery.
Pass Through Pocket
The cooler has a pass-through pocket which allows you to insert the handle of your luggage through the cooler's pocket. This allows you to easily stack the cooler on top of your pull behind carry-on luggage.
Cost and Value
You should expect to see this cooler sold at an average price. It gets its value by offering features such as handles and shoulder straps that make it easy to carry. The cooler is also fully lined on the inside.
- You can carry this cooler by using the shoulder straps or the handles that are located on the top.
- The main compartment is insulated on all sides so that the cooler retains cold air all day.
- There are mesh pockets on both sides of the cooler that allow you carry water bottles.
- You can store non-perishable items in the top compartment which allows you to access them easily.
- It has a pass-through pocket that allows you to mount the cooler onto your carry on luggage.
- Some reviewers have mentioned that the cooler doesn't keep items cool for a very long time.
- Other reviewers have experienced the insulation lining tearing away from the cooler after only a few uses.
2. Miracol Hydro Pack
This backpack has an insulated compartment and a replaceable 2-liter bladder. You fill the bladder with water or other drinking liquid and the backpack will go to work to keep it cool for up to four hours at a time.
The backpack does more than just keep liquid cool. It also comes with a large main storage compartment where you are free to store other items that you may need. It's a great place to store food in sealed bags.
Cost and Value
This backpack has a price that is below average, which makes it a great value. You get features such as excellent water cooling capabilities and large storage compartments without having to pay a high price for them.
- You can store up to two liters of fluid in the replaceable bladder bag.
- There is a drinking straw that extends from the bladder all of the ways up to your mouth.
- It can keep liquids cool for up to four hours at a time.
- You can store other items in the backpack's main compartment which is large enough for clothing.
- The backpack is built to military grade strength which makes it long lasting and durable.
- Some reviewers have noted that it is extremely difficult to clean the drinking straw well.
- Other reviewers had issues with the original water bladder leaking and water logging the backpack.
3. Colman C003
The cooler compartment on this backpack is extra large and will allow you to store up to twenty-eight twelve ounce cans. You will have no trouble finding room for food, water, ice, or other things that you decide to take.
The shoulder straps are padded and are extra wide. This feature is really helpful when the backpack is fully loaded since it can become extremely heavy. The heavy-duty straps distribute the weight across a wider area which makes it easier to carry the cooler.
Cost and Value
You should expect to pay a low price for this backpack cooler. It is an excellent value because it is extremely large and allows you to easily carry a day's worth of food and water. You can even fill it with ice.
- There is a large front pocket that you can use for dry item storage.
- The main compartment is large and fully sealed so you can fill it to capacity and use ice.
- The shoulder and waist straps are padded and fully adjustable so that you can carry a full load.
- The main compartment is antimicrobial which helps keep the backpack disease free and reduces odors.
- There are bungee cords on the front of the backpack that allows you to attach additional items.
- You have to make sure that you do not place items that are too heavy or sharp in this backpack.
- Other reviewers have had issues with the backpack leaking water when using ice.
4. Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Series
The foam used in this cooler is a high-density foam that is also open cell and will keep ice cold for twenty-four hours. You can trust that your food and water will remain cold for a day if packed properly.
High Density Exterior
The backpacks exterior is made out of 1000D nylon. It is advertised to never scratch, tear, or rip. The material is leakproof and sweatproof which makes this rugged cooler the ideal tool when you are camping or spending time outdoors.
Cost and Value
You should expect to pay a high price for this backpack cooler but it is well worth the investment. This cooler keeps ice cold for an entire day when packed properly and it is constructed to be extremely durable.
- The cooler is easy to store since it can be collapsed to about half of its size.
- It has an FDA approved interior that is made from TPU Double-Coated Nylon material.
- The backpacks exterior surface is made out of heavy-duty 1000D nylon which is perfect for outdoors.
- The cooler can keep ice cold for an entire day thanks to its high-density foam.
- The product is guaranteed to be sweat-proof and leak-proof and its sold with a lifetime warranty.
- Some reviewers have mentioned that this cooler is extremely stiff which makes it hard to carry.
- Other reviewers have had issues with the shoulder straps breaking under heavy loads.
5. Camden Gear Pack
This backpack is designed to hold a 1.5L water bladder. The bladder has a wide opening which screws shut so that you can fill it easily and even add ice to it to help your drink stay cool for hours.
Lightweight and Breathable
The exterior of the backpack is made out of a lightweight mesh material that allows the backpack to breathe easily. This feature prevents sweat from pool up where the backpack touches your body. The material is also lightweight.
Cost and Value
You should expect to see this backpack at a low price. It gets its value by being specifically geared towards holding large quantities of water while still being lightweight and durable. People who spend time hiking, biking, or running will love this backpack.
- The bladder is wide mouth which makes it easy to fill, clean, and dry.
- You can replace the bladder when it is worn out or is too dirty to clean.
- The shoulder straps are highly adjustable so that just about anyone can wear this backpack.
- The backpacks material is water resistant so that your items will stay dry in up to medium rain.
- There exterior bungee cords and hooks which allow you to attach extra gear to this backpack.
- Some reviewers have had issues with the zippers and seams breaking and wearing out prematurely.
- Other users have had trouble with the water bladder leaking when it shouldn't leak at all.
6. OAGear Cooler Back Pack
This backpack has a liner that is designed not to leak. Having a no-leak liner is an important feature because it allows you to use actual ice inside of the cooler to keep your food and drinks cold.
This is a large cooler that can become extremely heavy when it is filled to capacity. The shoulder straps are wide and padded so that they don't dig into your shoulders while you are carrying the backpack.
Cost and Value
You should expect to pay a low price for this backpack cooler. It gets its value by being a basic backpack cooler that simply fulfills its intended purpose. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles on this cooler so you save.
- The main storage compartment is large enough to hold up to twenty cans plus ice.
- It has a zippered front pocket that allows you to carry dry goods such as napkins.
- There are two mesh pockets on the side of the backpack that you can use for water bottles.
- It has bungee cords on the exterior so that you can attach additional gear to the backpack.
- The shoulder straps are wide and have extra padding so that they don't dig into your body.
- Some reviewers have observed that the interior liner tears easy which causes the bag to leak.
- Other users have had issues with the zippers breaking and falling off in as soon as six months.
7. Extreme Pak and Trade
The cooler is insulated on five of the six sides which allows you to pack it plenty full and keep items cool. You can use ice substitutes to help keep items cooler for a longer time if desired.
Padded Shoulder Strap
The main shoulder strap is fully adjustable and padded. This allows you to comfortably carry the cooler when it is packed full. The straps can be adjusted so that they fit comfortably around your body.
Cost and Value
This cooler has an extremely low cost which makes it a bargain buy. It has plenty of extra pockets besides the main storage pocket so you will have no trouble packing everything you need into this cooler.
- The cooler sits flatly on the ground so it won't spill from tipping over.
- You can use the zippered exterior pockets to hold non-perishable items such a utensils and napkins.
- The shoulder strap is padded and is also fully adjustable so that you can easily carry this cooler.
- You can also use the handles that lock together to also carry this cooler.
- All of the compartments (except the mesh ones) are zippered so that items are stored securely.
- Many reviewers report that the item has a very strong chemical smell that disappears after a few days.
- Other reviewers have mentioned that the cooler is not very durable and starts falling apart in about a year.
8. RTIC 30 Cooler
You should have no issues with leaking water from melting ice when using this cooler. The cooler is designed to be fully leak proof so you will not get wet if the ice melts or a liquid container leaks inside the cooler.
The cooler's interior liner is antimicrobial and resists mildew. This will keep all food and beverage items protected from harmful bacteria and will also keep the cooler smelling fresh even after repeated uses.
Cost and Value
This cooler is very expensive and justifies its high price tag by being built out of quality materials. The insulating foam is two inches thick and is made out of closed cell material. This feature provides the cooler with a five-day cooling ability.
- The cooler is large enough to allow you to pack thirty twelve ounce cans along with ice.
- It can cool ice for up to five days in hot weather.
- The cooler is completely leak proof so you won't get soaked with water from melted ice.
- The exterior shell is made out of a heavy-duty vinyl material that resists breaking and tearing.
- It has a heavy-duty shoulder strap that is fully adjustable and padded.
- Some reviewers have mentioned that the shoulder strap is low quality and it breaks easily.
- Many reviewers have had complaints about the company's customer service department.
9. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze
The cooler has insulation that is high performance. The larger models can keep ice for up to three days at a time. The coolers have a heat barrier and a triple layer on the bottom of the cooler.
The cooler features a removable organizer compartment that allows you to easily separate food items from liquid items. This prevents mishaps such as sandwiches getting crushed by soda cans or pouches bursting open from pressure.
Cost and Value
This cooler has a price that is slightly below the average which makes it into an excellent value for the money. It offers an excellent cooling capacity and allows you to easily separate soft food from heavy items.
- It has a triple layer of lining on the bottom to protect contents from hot surfaces.
- The lid is easy to open because it does not use any zippers.
- There is a padded and adjustable shoulder strap that makes it easy to carry this cooler.
- The liner is FDA compliant so that you can safely store food and drink in this cooler.
- The exterior is a hard shell design that resists punctures and tears.
- Some reviewers have mentioned that ice melts much faster than advertised in hot weather.
- Other reviewers have experienced problems with the zipper on the front zipper pocket.
10. SportsTrail Pack Cooler Res
The product is sold with a complete cleaning kit which allows you to wash and clean the bladder and the straw between uses. This helps you stay healthy by killing removing harmful microbes such as bacteria, mold, and mildew.
The backpack has an additional storage compartment that allows you to store items as large as extra clothing. It is completely separate from the water bladder so that you don't need to worry about the bladder getting damaged by your gear.
Cost and Value
This product has an average price. It gets its value by offering features such as a total cleaning kit, a two-liter water bladder, and extra storage for additional gear. The product is high quality and is great for outdoor use.
- The backpack is sold with a cleaning kit that allows you to clean the bladder and the water straw.
- You can easily take a drink from this backpack thanks to the provided drinking straw.
- The water bladders are durable and fully tested against pressure, swinging, and vibrations.
- The straps are fully adjustable and can be adjusted to fit just about anyone's body.
- You can store additional gear as large as clothing in the extra storage compartment.
- Some reviewers have mentioned that the mouthpiece on the straw makes it really hard to drink.
- Some reviewers have had trouble with closing the hydration pack properly.
11. North Coyote
This backpack cooler is manufactured with 600D polyester which is not only hard-wearing, but is water resistant. This can be highly beneficial when faced with rough terrain and unexpected hazards, the material is designed to be tough and will withstand a good hiking trail.
The North Coyote backpack is designed to be tough and long-lasting. The manufacture of it means it can be used for any outdoor trip/activity that demands quality, strength, and functionality. It is suitable for all and benefits from having many pockets for individual personal effects.
Cost and Value
The North Coyote backpack cooler is equally balanced in both cost and value. The trusted brand and the extra combined features that come as standard, means this is an excellent purchase. The universal use and multi-functioning it provides are justifiably reflected in the cost.
- Heavy duty
- Spacious interior
- Excellent value
- Lining is soft
- Hangs low when laden
12. Tourit Insulated Cooler
This cooler is produced with high-density insulation, and a leak-proof liner; this is divided into the pockets and helps items to retain the chosen temperature for longer periods. The exterior is tough and benefits from being water resistant and lightweight for added comfort.
The added padding around the shoulder straps keeps comfort at a premium whilst remaining versatile for a variety of uses. The back padding is designed to detract discomfort from the cooler packs and reduces the chances of chafing where the cooler sits on the back.
Cost and Value
The features included in the manufacture of this backpack cooler; mean it’s versatility is wide – this ensures that with this purchase; cost and value are well represented. The leak-proof interior and water-resistant exterior are a bonus in inclement weather.
- Deep storage
- Comfort padding
- Water resistant
- Mesh is weak
- Flaky zipper
13. Picnic Time Tourismo
The cooler has a handy mesh pocket that benefits from having a reinforced base for heavier effects, it offers a drawstring style closure and a useful zipper pocket that is hidden for safe storage of small valuables such as keys and tech. Its compact design is ideal for most day trips and activities.
This handy backpack cooler is best suited for day trips, but this does not detract from the size of the interior. It can hold a substantial amount of food and drinks that will be necessary for most requirements. The comfort and style it offers mean it is versatile for a variety of uses.
Cost and Value
The style incorporated into this cooler, combined with the adjustable comfortable straps, and the removable drinks cooler – make this backpack cooler good value for money. The size makes it ideal for days out and as a daily work-pack for keeping lunches cool.
- Adjustable shoulder strap
- Great value
- Flaky closures
- Fragile stitching
14. Dakine Prom 25L Cooler
The Dakine has an infused insulated cooler pocket, this is secreted within the backpack so food and drinks can be stored as cool for hours. It features a useful water bottle compartment that is zippered for convenience, meaning it can be multi-functional for other storage.
The functionality of this cooler is essential for taking everything required for a day out, the size is generous enough to hole extras without being too bulky and cumbersome. The padding provides plenty of protection for the valuables so working on the go is attainable.
Cost and Value
The balance between cost and value with this cooler is equally balanced, the multi-use versatility of it ensures it is great value for money. The extra peace of mind gained with the secure padding is a real bonus, and the ease of access to any kit is very convenient.
- Excellent value
- Thin exterior
- Flaky zippers
15. Igloo Marine Ultra Square
This cooler is designed to be leak resistant, its manufacture helps to keep the cooler air in, without leakage and possible spoiling of contents. The smooth material is easy to clean and is stain and odor resistant, a very useful addition to maintaining cleanliness and safety.
This square cooler has a multi-use versatility that allows its users to be functional in a variety of settings, it is ideal for picnics, longer trips and even for every day use when cooling is important. The easy carry handle means it can be comfortably carried in most situations.
Cost and Value
The cost and value of this Igloo Marine Ultra square cooler are proportional, the convenience of the multi-functionality and the easy maintenance design makes it excellent value for value. The hard casing makes it tough and protects anything stored within.
- Great value
- Flaky stitching
- Melting ice leaks
We don’t always have access to electricity which means that we don’t always have access to a refrigerator. Without a refrigerator, we sometimes have to turn to coolers in order to keep our food and water cool. Coolers are useful because we are able to easily store food and water and take it with us to outdoor places. Sometimes we go camping while other times, we decide to go to the beach. If we want access to cold drinks and food, we will need a cooler.
Backpack coolers are remarkably ideal because they are easy to carry. There are plenty of backpack coolers for us to choose from. Some backpack coolers are just regular coolers with shoulder straps. These coolers are really ideal for packing lunches or plenty of drinks for a fishing trip. They are easy to carry using the shoulder straps and you can purchase them in a variety of sizes depending on your needs.
Other backpack coolers are more suited for extreme sports such as running, hiking, or biking. Many of these coolers feature a large water bladder in which you can put plenty of ice in order to keep your drink cooler. They often have long straws so that you can easily take a drink. These coolers are great because you can also pack food or other gear into these backpacks and carry the entire pack.
Backpack coolers make it easy to enjoy refreshments or stay hydrated while we work or play outdoors. They are a great way to pack food and drink because they are easy to carry. Many of them are designed for large capacities are well insulated. This allows you to spend all day outdoors.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Backpack Coolers
For most of us; when the weather warms it is time to start on getting out and about. There is always a chance that our destination doesn’t have amenities, so it is important to ensure we take enough supplies to make the trip comfortable. For the day to day excursions a backpack cooler is an ideal solution, it is less cumbersome than the hard, box coolers traditionally utilized. The backpack cooler works on a very simple basis and is easy to maintain. The cooler inserts are secured in the backpack when they are frozen; and ready for the day out with any supplies that require cooler temperatures.
They come in various forms and sizes, and you should probably decide what you will be using it for on a general basis. That way, you can buy the ideal size so you don’t end up with too much space or not enough. Backpack coolers will always work best when they are filled correctly – if it Is too full; it will lose its effectiveness quicker. A half-empty one will have the same effect on the contents. Another important aspect to consider is an idea of the temperatures it will be used in and a rough timescale that the cooler is required to keep chilled. This will give you a better idea of the size of both the backpack and the cooler inserts you require.
The market for backpack coolers is huge, and many have varying features for different requirements. A good starting point should be the ease of care – most interiors are lined with polyurethane which is not only practical but is also easy to keep clean. Often, they will have inside sealable pockets for safe storage of your valuables like keys and wallets. For comfort, they have padded straps to provide and maintain comfort on your shoulders, and for the unexpected – the exteriors can be produced with a weather-resistant exterior.
The shape of backpack coolers varies depending on the style and size, some are single sling designed, but the majority are twin strapped for an equal balance of weight. They can have extra external clips so you can attach useful items for your trips such as picnic blankets. The types of the external material vary too, some are weather resistant whilst others may just be a basic fabric. The way to ensure you buy a backpack cooler that is right for your individual needs – starts with planning ahead.
The size of the backpack cooler you require should reflect full functionality for your individual uses and ensure you have the right kit for the job in hand. Some products are primarily made with hydration in mind and consequently have large water bladders within them; and whilst this is practical for some activities, it may not suit all due to the free space left around it. Larger coolers are specifically designed for holding a number of cans and for the soda lovers, these will be a must!
Ideally, for an everyday backpack cooler, the best fit will be one that fits both and drinks inside. Flexible straps are useful too because they help to maintain comfort on longer walks/hikes. If size is of optimum importance, especially on the return trip, some sizes are collapsible and so are less bulky once the contents are finished with.
The reasons for buying your backpack cooler may vary, but largely it will be for specific outdoor activities when you enjoy cooler snacks and drinks. There are a number of factors that may well be more important to you than others, size is of importance as seen above. But the extra features and functions that are on offer can be of great value when you are out of areas with basic amenities. One such important feature that can improve the functionality of a backpack cooler is its performance with regards to ice-retention. (The last thing you need is a lower performance model that doesn’t keep your stuff cool).
Another thing that has to be a focus, is how leakproof the bag is. Generally, there will be an indication of the individual product information but check carefully because some may not be as robust and can leak. This is due to lower quality materials which are not as thick – these may be more appropriate for shorter periods, but definitely not for longer trips when the last thing you want is a wet back. The lining of the backpacks should be of a superior quality too, especially if you are storing tech and maps in the same bag.
The style of backpack cooler you decide on will also depend greatly on what the primary use is. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and your purchase should reflect a balance with your stature. It’s not wise to buy a large, heavier weight capacity backpack if you are slight, this will be uncomfortable and can cause back problems. Modern designs are similar to ordinary backpacks, and these are infinitely better because they have support, and padded shoulder straps to equalize and balance weight.
Contemporarily, there is a wide range of colors and brands to choose from, and your individual style will determine what you choose. Important here though is the incorporation of both style and functionality for the best choice. Don’t be tempted to buy the latest look and style just because it’s popular – the purchase may look good initially, but may not stand up to the job in hand or last for longer periods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need to cool the whole backpack before use?
A: It is always advisable to cool the cooler before you use it as this can increase the overall performance, this can be achieved by placing it somewhere really cool prior to use, or you can use a primer dummy ice-pack in preparation.
Q: How long will it keep cool for?
A: This will depend on the preparation you take as above, it also helps to make sure you place pre-cooled items into the backpack. (By storing in a fridge or freezer where appropriate). And a good tip is to reduce the number of times you open the cooler – the more you open it; the warm air will be retained and will reduce the cooling effect faster. Packing the cooler tightly will also help to maintain the temperature.
Q: What size should I buy?
A: This will vary on what you want the backpack cooler for and how long you want it to retain temperature. If it’s just a quick trip – you may need less kit and therefore a smaller capacity backpack. Equally; if the requirement is for a longer trip or for larger groups – it will be best to adjust the size accordingly. Just remember to ensure the overall weight is sustainable comfortably for the person responsible for carrying it.
Q: How do I keep my cooler clean?
A: Good cleaning practices are always advisable where food products are stored, and backpack coolers are no exception. Before the first use, it is best to wipe it with a mild detergent and make sure it is dry. And the same practice should be repeated to maintain hygiene. It is best just to lightly sponge the exterior too; and important not to machine wash as this will weaken the seams and reduce the overall temperature, as well as causing possible leaks.
Q: Do backpack coolers come with accessories?
A: This depends on the product you buy, some come with extra accessories such as a detachable ice container for use in drinks. The best way to check is to look through the individual item in the product specification.