What Is The Best Backpack Cooler? 

 October 28, 2022

By  Diane Wuthrich

Backpack coolers are a convenient way to travel while keeping your drinks and food cold for hours. There are many different kinds out there, but what should be taken into consideration before buying one?

There are a few factors to consider before buying a backpack cooler. Choose its capacity based on the number of people in your group and your chosen activity. Additionally, it should have insulation to cool food and drinks for at least 12 hours, made of sturdy fabric, and be comfortable to wear.

Aside from these, there are other things you should think about before deciding on a backpack cooler. Read on below to learn more.

Choosing the Best Cooler Backpack 

Backpack coolers are a travel essential: they keep your food and drinks cool for several hours while keeping your hands free.

Because they are so convenient for traveling, it’s no surprise why backpack coolers have become so popular. They are an excellent alternative to traditional hand-held hard coolers, which can be uncomfortable to carry around.

Before you decide on a backpack cooler, it’s important to consider its capacity based on the number of people in your group and your activity. Additionally, think about how long you intend to carry the cooler backpack: its contents,

– such as ice, cans, bottles, and food – weigh significantly more, which can put a strain on your back if carried for long periods of time.

These will influence other factors that go into choosing a cooler backpack such as its cooling ability and fabric. Last but not least: it should also always be comfortable so that you can protect your shoulders and back while carrying it.


Cooler backpacks range in capacity from 5 liters to as much as 30 liters.

They can accommodate drinks and food for 2 people to as much as a big group who are going to the beach for the day.

Under 10 liters is ideal for a group of 2-3 heading to the beach or a football game, while your group of friends may need a 25 or 30 liter backpack for a day trip.

When choosing capacity, it’s also critical to think about how long you intend to use it for. It’s not recommended to use a 30 liter pack filled to its capacity (around 60 pounds) if you intend to carry it on your back for over an hour, especially if you aren’t used to carrying heavy loads. A capacity of under 10 liters is ideal for longer journeys so you can protect your back.

Insulation Time

Backpack coolers have varying cooling abilities.

Those on the less expensive side of the spectrum can cool its contents for 12 to 18 hours, while pricier models made of premium insulating material can keep it cooler for 24 up to 48 hours.

If your backpack cooler will be used for quick day trips, shorter insulating abilities will work just fine. On the other hand, if you intend to use it for overnight or multi-day trips, coolers with at least a 24-hour cooling ability is ideal.


Different kinds of soft, pliable fabrics are used to manufacture backpack coolers. Interiors are usually made with open-cell foam or closed-cell polyurethane foam, though the latter is typically used in higher-end models because of its superior cooling abilities.

However, if you intend to store food such as produce and vegetables, it would be wise to choose interiors that are also food-safe.

When it comes to exteriors, choose backpack coolers made with durable polyester fabrics that are at least tear and rip resistant. Waterproof material is recommended if you intend to bring it with you on beach or boating excursions. Avoid backpack coolers made with canvas or other fabrics that are not water-resistant because they are prone to leaking melted ice.


Drinks, ice, and food are heavy to carry.

That’s why it’s important to look for backpack coolers that have adjustable, wide, padded straps for added comfort. Narrow straps have the tendency to dig into the skin especially with heavier loads.

Some backpack coolers also have waist straps to help distribute the weight evenly. These are recommended if you will be carrying significantly heavy loads.

Optional Features

Though not important, here are some optional features you might find useful in a cooler backpack:

Extra Pockets

The presence of added pockets – externally, internally, or both – can come in handy. These pockets provide extra storage for anything else you want to bring. External pockets in particular can make smaller belongings more accessible while keeping them dry, such as your mobile phone, maps, or a compass.

Top Handles

Being able to switch from backpack to hand-carried cooler is convenient for some travelers. The top handle will allow you to grab the cooler by your hands and transport it a short distance.

Recommendations for the Best Cooler Backpacks

Day Trips

Coleman 28-Can Soft Cooler Backpack: Perfect for day trips and outings to the beach, the Coleman 28-Can Soft Cooler Backpack ticks all the boxes in the ideal cooler backpack. Its seams have been heat-welded, making it leak-proof so you never have to worry about spills. It comes with adjustable shoulder straps and side handles so that you have options for carrying your cooler. A spacious front pocket plus side water bottle pockets lets you store extra items too.

Multi-Day Trips

MIER Waterproof Insulated Backpack Cooler: Available in 30L and 50L capacities, the MIER Waterproof Insulated Backpack Cooler is the ultimate companion for multi-day trips. The roll-top opening makes accessing your food and beverages simple, and its air-tight compartment will keep the contents cool for 12 up to 24 hours. Its front mesh pocket and 2 side pockets provides added storage for your other belongings.


Backpack coolers are an effective way to travel while keeping your food and drink cold for several hours. There are many high-quality options to choose, making it easy to find one that caters to your travel needs.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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