The 10 Best Soft Coolers

Updated November 15, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best Soft Coolers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. If you're looking to upgrade your on-the-go food and beverage storage from standard grocery bags, consider an insulated option like one of these soft coolers. Designed to maintain the temperature of whatever you load them up with, we've ranked them by ease of transport, storage capacity, and how long they keep things cold (or warm). When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best soft cooler on Amazon.

10. Arctic Zone Pro 30

The Arctic Zone Pro 30 is a stylish option with a patented easy-access zipper-free lid. It features a built-in shelf that separates beer or soda cans from soft food, as well as a padded shoulder strap for comfortable transport even on long hauls from the car to the beach.
  • shelf is removable
  • lid latches with strong velcro
  • polyester fabric is prone to ripping
Brand Arctic Zone
Model 5872460004
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Igloo Marine Ultra 24-Can Square

The Igloo Marine Ultra 24-Can Square provides insulated storage for your all-day adventures with an ultra thick 1.1" extruded closed-cell foam interior. It comes in a variety of sizes, but the only available color option is white.
  • hardware is corrosion-proof
  • can keep ice frozen for up to 2 days
  • stitching is a bit weak
Brand Igloo
Model 57176-PARENT
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. OAGear Backpack

The OAGear Backpack is great for hiking or amusement parks with its padded straps and deep insulated storage sack that can keep up to 20 cans plus ice chilled all day. The zipper has been known to get stuck at times, though.
  • flip-out liner dries easily
  • available in six colors
  • straps are too small for tall people
Brand OAGear
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Coleman 1330

The Coleman 1330 features a soft exterior that's comfortable to carry, while the hard plastic liner protects your food. There are tons of pockets in the front, side and inner mesh lining for smaller items, plus bungee cords on the lid for strapping on extra gear.
  • easy to clean with soap and water
  • fda-certified food safe
  • hard liner is prone to cracking
Brand Coleman
Model 3000001310
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Freddie and Sebbie FS0018

The multipurpose Freddie and Sebbie FS0018 is the perfect solution for keeping perishable goods fresh and frozen foods chilled for hours. It can accommodate not only food items, but sunscreen, wipes and more in its myriad of pockets.
  • mesh sides hold four water bottles
  • liner can be removed and washed
  • interior walls tend to rip over time
Brand Freddie and Sebbie
Model Cooler Bag FS0018
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. AO Vinyl

The AO Vinyl is ideal for any boating, fishing, or sporting activity, as it features a waterproof exterior. It is UV protected to prevent fading in the hot sun, and can keep ice frozen for up to 24 hours even in 120-degree heat.
  • welded seams for durability
  • can also be used to keep things warm
  • meets airplane carry-on requirements
Brand AO Coolers
Model AOFI24SL
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Coleman 1342

The Coleman 1342 loads easily, and is a breeze to transport with its smooth telescoping handle and durable wheels. It also comes with side carrying handles and a removable hard liner for added support that makes it easy to clean as well.
  • mildew and mold-resistant
  • offers extra side storage space
  • holds up to 42 cans
Brand Coleman
Model 3000001309
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. eBags Crew II

Designed for flight crews, the versatile eBags Crew II features a top section for dry goods with 2 zipper pulls for quick access, as well as an insulated bottom storage compartment to keep your edibles nicely organized for your next family outing.
  • adjustable removable shoulder strap
  • replaceable food-safe liner
  • easily slides onto luggage handles
Brand eBags
Model M204851
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. AO Canvas

The AO Canvas comes in a variety of color and capacity options to suit your needs, and features a leakproof liner that keeps the cold and moisture where you want it. Its five-layered construction is designed to maximize both durability and insulation.
  • uses the same materials as waterbeds
  • sides clip down for secure transport
  • liner covered by lifetime warranty
Brand AO Coolers
Model AO12BK-Parent
Weight pending
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Polar Bear Nylon Series

The Polar Bear Nylon Series is built to take years of use and abuse. It will keep ice frozen for up to 24 hours in 100-degree weather, and is made of a rugged heavy duty nylon, just as suitable for outdoor adventures as it is for a simple trip to the beach.
  • doesn't leak or produce condensation
  • compresses to half-size when empty
  • available in 12-48 can capacities
Brand Polar Bear Coolers
Model PB 242
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Built For Travel: The Soft Cooler

When choosing between a hard-sided "ice chest" style of cooler and a soft-walled, more bag-like cooler, you're going to have to accept something right from the start: soft coolers almost always have a smaller capacity than their boxy, hard walled counterparts.

Softy sided coolers are all about mobility. Unlike large, unwieldy ice chests, these coolers are designed to be brought along with you, whether that means carried in your arms, tucked under a seat of the van, or secured in the bow of your boat or the back of a canoe.

Soft coolers are useful for myriad purposes, but not all soft coolers are suitable for the same uses. Unlike hard sided coolers, which tend to be simply larger or smaller cubes (or rectangular prisms, to be precise), soft coolers are more often than not purpose built, allowing a user to choose the soft cooler that best fits a person's preferred activities.

For example, some soft coolers feature backpack style harnesses. These coolers are often the smallest in terms of capacity, but that too is a well conceived design element: even with shoulder straps, you can't carry a huge load over long distances. By limiting its size and offering a harness, a backpack style cooler is the perfect choice for longer overland trips, great for hikers headed to a camp site or for that long walk to the beach, the park, or the riverbank.

Other soft coolers are designed to minimize the amount of space they take up when not in use. If you live in a smaller home or an apartment, space is at a premium. A large, rigid cooler is simply out of the question when you have to count every square foot of free space. Many soft coolers collapse nearly flat, allowing you the versatility of chilled storage space when you need it without taking up a lot of space the rest of the time.

Choosing The Right Soft Cooler

When choosing a soft cooler, think first of the types of activities you enjoy and the locations in which they take place. If you're a hiker and a camper, then you're probably not going to be hauling 48 cans of beer or soda along with you. If you're a NASCAR fan or tailgating enthusiast, however, then there's a decent probability that you will want to bring up to and including 48 individual beverages along for the trip. And yes, there are soft coolers that can handily accommodate that many cans, by the way, and that can keep them cold for as long as 24 hours in 100 degree weather, as long you added enough ice or cooler packs.

Most soft coolers have handles and shoulder straps, but know that a heavy cooler is only comfortable over the shoulder for shorter distances. If you're going to be trekking over longer distances, there are really only two designs of soft cooler that make sense; backpack soft coolers, and rolling soft coolers.

Backpack soft coolers evenly distribute the weight across your shoulders thanks to a built-in harness system. While rolling soft coolers are luggage-style coolers with wheels and telescoping handles. They can effortlessly trundle along over most hard or moderately hard surfaces (grass will probably be fine; sand will be pretty much impassable).

As for the other soft coolers available, more often than not the right cooler for you will simply be a matter of size and capacity; most soft coolers are cube-shaped and all decent coolers offer many hours of cooling thanks to the high quality insulation available these days. You can help differentiate based on price, of course, and you will find that pricier coolers tend to have bells and whistles you may like, but might not need. Examples of these would be molded cup holders in the top and side pouches for additional non-chilled storage.

Soft Cooler 101: Use And Maintenance

A hard sided cooler is hard to damage. Soft coolers, on the other hand, are more easily hurt by snags, scuffs, and by being crushed. While most soft coolers have rugged and resilient exteriors, the more damage their exterior endures, the less the interior lining will remain intact; eventually the compromised exterior will lead to interior damage, which can cause reduce insulation and lead to leaks, potentially impacting food safety. Take care of your soft cooler or plan to replace it now and then.

Cleaning a hard sided cooler is easy: you spray it with a hose inside and out, add a few spritzes of a cleaning agent if needed, spray it again, and leave it outside upside down to drip dry. Soft coolers require a bit more TLC to keep clean and free of mold and/or odors.

Cleaning a soft cooler's exterior involves spot cleaning, not spraying with water. As for the interior, you will do best to use an anti-bacterial wipe or a clean cloth or paper towel covered with a cleaning agent. Introducing lots of water, as from a hose, just means a more rigorous drying process. (If the interior is already soaked from melted ice, go right ahead, though.)

As many soft coolers have a malleable interior that can retain water in folds and nooks, it's important to wipe the interior of a cooler down with dry paper towels before you store it away for long use.

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Last updated on November 15, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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