The Best Backpack Cooler of 2023: Chill Options for You Next Outdoor Adventure

Best Backpack Cooler in the sand


Whether you're hiking, camping, fishing, or simply heading outside for a family picnic, it's imperative that you have a good cooler to keep your food and drinks fresh. Thankfully, a number of top brands have innovated exciting new backpack cooler choices, offering convenient options that are highly transportable, well-insulated, and sturdily built.

So, which backpack cooler products are most deserving of your hard-earned money? The ACTIVE Reviews Team has investigated several of the leading options, and we've assembled a list of recommendations. Here are our picks for the best backpack cooler products of 2023.

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The Best Backpack Coolers - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Backpack Cooler - Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Backpack Cooler

Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Backpack Cooler

SPECS

  • Material: High-density fabric
  • Weight: 4.8 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 18.5" x 9.5" x 18.8"

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With the Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Backpack Cooler, you should have plenty of room to pack a full day's worth of food or drinks, including roughly 18 to 20 canned drinks (and that's accounting for a pretty high ice to drink ratio). Though spacious, this pack is reasonably lightweight, and it's made with materials that are naturally mildew-resistant. Powerful magnetic closures help prevent leaks, while high-density fabrics help you avoid accidental punctures.

What We Like

  • Tough, UV-resistant exterior shell
  • High storage capacity
  • Naturally mildew-resistant
  • Leak-proof

What We Don't Like

  • High price point
  • Though reasonably lightweight, it is a little bulky

BUY: Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Backpack Cooler

Best Budget Backpack Cooler - Tourit Insulated Backpack Cooler

Tourit Insulated Backpack Cooler

SPECS

  • Material: Tear-resistant fabric
  • Weight: 1.1 lb.
  • Dimensions: 13" x 7.5" x 17.7"

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Great coolers don't have to break the bank. The Tourit Insulated Backpack Cooler is not just reasonably priced, it's also pretty spacious, offering room enough for at least two dozen cans. At just over a pound, it's incredibly lightweight. And it's made with decent-quality fabrics that are both tear-resistant and waterproof. A great option for hikers and campers with a more modest budget.

What We Like

  • Modest price point
  • High storage capacity
  • Tear- and water-resistant fabrics

What We Don't Like

  • Some technical issues with the zipper
  • A couple of extra pockets would be nice

BUY: Tourit Insulated Backpack Cooler

Best Insulated Backpack Cooler - IceMule Pro 23L

IceMule Pro 23L

SPECS

  • Material: 1,000-denier ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Dimensions: 17" x 14" x 11"

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Obviously, the main thing you want from a cooler is for it to keep its contents good and cold. That all comes down to the insulation, and the IceMule Pro 23L really goes above and beyond in this regard. The 1,000-denier materials provide ample durable insulation, enough to keep ice for a full 24 hours. Factor in a decent internal capacity (think 18 cans plus ice) and you have an excellent option for your next picnic or fishing excursion.

What We Like

  • Can keep ice for a full 24 hours
  • Good storage capacity
  • Durable exterior shell

What We Don't Like

  • Would be great to see some color options
  • Adjusting the straps can be just a little fiddly

BUY: IceMule Pro 23L

Best Leak-Proof Backpack Cooler - Earthpak Insulated Backpack

Earthpak Insulated Backpack

SPECS

  • Material: Thermoplastic Polyurethane
  • Weight: 5 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 8" x 11" x 18"

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Nothing spoils a picnic quite like a leaky cooler, which can render your food items a soggy mess. The Earthpak Insulated Backpack is a great pick for leak-protection, offering a tough exterior shell that is fully puncture- and abrasion-proof. Add in foam insulation able to keep the internal temperature cool for a good 72 hours, and you've got a really excellent pack.

What We Like

  • Can keep cold for 72 hours
  • Puncture- and abrasion-proof
  • Completely waterproof

What We Don't Like

  • A little on the pricey side
  • Not the lightest pack in the world

BUY: Earthpak Insulated Backpack

Best Small Backpack Cooler - IceMule Jaunt 15L

IceMule Jaunt 15L

SPECS

  • Material: Non-phthalate vinyl with polyurethane insulation
  • Weight: 2 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 9" x 8.5" x 22"

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Compact in its dimensions and lightweight in its construction, the IceMule Jaunt 15L is our pick for best small backpack cooler. But while it's on the tiny side, it still offers decent storage capacity, with room enough for a 12-pack of cans along with plenty of ice. The premium insulation materials will keep those cans cold for a full 24 hours.

What We Like

  • Very lightweight
  • Small and easy to transport
  • Great insulation
  • Reasonable price point

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended if you need a large storage capacity
  • The straps aren't quite as durable as we'd like

BUY: IceMule Jaunt 15L

Best Backpack Cooler for Hiking - IceMule Pro 33L

IceMule Pro 33L

SPECS

  • Material: Nylon/polyester
  • Weight: 3 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Dimensions: 20" x 14" x 11"

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For hiking expeditions, the IceMule Pro 33L is just what you need. It strikes a good balance between being lightweight and providing a decent storage capacity, while padded back and shoulder straps make it easy to carry. An elastic cargo pocket is nice for stashing a few extra snacks, and the whole pack is buoyant and waterproof.

What We Like

  • Padded back and shoulder straps
  • Reasonably lightweight
  • Keeps ice for up to 24 hours

What We Don't Like

  • Not recommended if you need a larger storage capacity
  • We'd love to see more color selections

BUY: IceMule Pro 33L

Best Backpack Cooler for the Beach - Evajoy Backpack Cooler

Evajoy Backpack Cooler

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester
  • Weight: 5.5 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 15" x 9" x 19"

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Planning a day at the beach? The Evajoy Backpack Cooler is a great option for keeping your drinks nice and cold. Though it's not the most compact option, it can hold an awful lot of cans—potentially three dozen or more—and the insulation is strong enough to provide 72 hours of chill. The padded handle and ergonomic design make it surprisingly easy to transport, too.

What We Like

  • Padded handle
  • Can hold as many as 36 cans, plus ice
  • Great insulation

What We Don't Like

  • A little on the heavy side
  • A little on the bulky side

BUY: Evajoy Backpack Cooler

Best Backpack Cooler for Kayaking - Icemule Classic Collapsable

Icemule Classic Collapsible

SPECS

  • Material: MuleSkin fabrics
  • Weight: 1.15 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 7" x 7.5" x 14"

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For boating expeditions, especially kayak adventures, having something easily collapsible is nice. The Icemule Classic Collapsable excels in this regard. Offering 24 hours of cooling and space enough for about half a dozen cans, it can easily be broken down and stashed somewhere when you're done with it. Waterproofing and total buoyancy are added perks.

What We Like

  • Waterproof and buoyant
  • Great insulation
  • Easy to transport and store
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Modest price point

What We Don't Like

  • Very limited storage capacity
  • Exterior shell isn't quite as tough as other options

BUY: Icemule Classic Collapsable

Best Soft Backpack Cooler - Igloo 30 Can Soft Sided Cooler

Igloo 30 Can Soft Sided Cooler

SPECS

  • Material: Flat-knit fabric
  • Weight: 1.36 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 11.25" x 8.75" x 17.25"

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While soft cooler materials aren't as sturdy or abrasion-resistant, they can be lighter and more comfortable to carry around. Consider the Igloo 30 Can Soft Sided Cooler, a well-constructed soft cooler with space enough for more than two dozen cans. Multiple pockets allow you to stash some snacks and supplies, too, all in an easily transportable package.

What We Like

  • Lightweight
  • Great capacity
  • Lots of storage pockets
  • Easy to transport
  • Modest price point

What We Don't Like

  • Exterior shell isn't quite as tough as other options
  • Straps aren't as well-padded as we'd like

BUY: Igloo 30 Can Soft Sided Cooler

Best Lightweight Backpack Cooler - Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler

Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler

SPECS

  • Material: Polyester, thermoplastic polyurethane
  • Weight: 2 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 13" x 9" x 19"

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Carting around a cooler shouldn't be back-breaking work. The Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler is made with your comfort in mind, offering a slim two-pound weight and padded, ergonomic straps. The 24-can capacity is nothing to sneeze at, either.

What We Like

  • Lightweight
  • Great capacity
  • Easy to transport
  • Very stylish look

What We Don't Like

  • Exterior shell isn't quite as tough as other options
  • Insulation isn't quite as good as other options

BUY: Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler

What to Consider When Buying a Backpack Cooler

When shopping for a backpack cooler, there are a few metrics and attributes to keep in mind.

Material

The quality of materials matters quite a bit, as premium materials will provide greater durability, insulation, and waterproofing. Of course, premium materials also increase the price point. In terms of specific materials, some of the most important things to look for include a waterproof zipper lid, welded seams, and exterior fabrics that resist condensation.

Weight

Simply put, you don't want to be weighed down by your cooler. It's reasonable to seek a backpack cooler that weighs in at no more than six or seven pounds, but some of the more compact options are as light as one or two pounds.

Dimensions

How much storage capacity do you need? It really depends on how many people you're packing for and how long you plan your expedition to last. Most of the cooler packs we reviewed fall somewhere between 20 and 30 liters in total capacity.

FAQs About Cooler Backpacks


How can I make my backpack cooler colder?

To make your cooler stay colder, consider adding dry ice as well as wet ice. Also make sure the items you place into the cooler are already cold or chilled, and pack those items as densely as possible within your cooler.

What should I pack in my backpack cooler?

Basically, you'll want to pack any perishable items in your cooler: Think any kinds of meat, dairy, eggs, or mayonnaise. Naturally, you'll also want to pack beverages that you wish to enjoy cold.

Can you put dry ice in a backpack cooler?

Yes. Dry ice has been a commonly used refrigerant for decades now, and represents one of the top options for use in a backpack cooler.

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