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It’s a fact—most outdoor summer activities are better with a cold beverage. Whether you’re going for a long, challenging hike or a mellow stroll on the beach, or just heading to the park to meet up with friends, it can be cumbersome to lug around a large, heavy cooler, particularly on a hot day. Backpack coolers are the perfect solution. Designed to be light, comfortable, and practical, they come in a vast array of sizes and styles to suit every occasion or excursion.
With a backpack cooler, your cold drinks can go wherever your feet can. Take a look at this curated list of best backpack coolers on the market right now, and see which one is best for you!
Best Overall: Igloo Reactor 24-Can Backpack
Sleek, attractive design
Durable, waterproof, and effective
Comfortable and easy to wear
Can hold a bottle of wine upright
Waterproof zipper can be challenging to grip
Limited color options
This stylish, sleek backpack has a streamlined design that takes up minimal space while providing maximum functionality—all at a great price, considering the high-quality craftsmanship Igloo is known for.
Durable, waterproof exterior fabric, a sturdy, stable structure, and a leak-proof zipper help this cooler backpack withstand the elements through your outdoor excursion, while advanced insulation means that once the journey is over, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious, ice-cold drink. Padded and adjustable shoulder and sternum straps, as well as a padded back panel, offer plenty of comfort, while versatile carrying options (backpack straps, top handle, dual side handles) allow you to switch things up if you need a break.
What’s included: Cooler backpack
Best Budget: Wise Owl Outfitters Backpack Cooler 20 L
Compact, lightweight, comfortable
Not recommended for longer duration use
Awkward closure system
This leakproof, waterproof backpack cooler packs a lot of features into a compact, inexpensive package. Keep drinks ice cold all day long with soft layers of customizable insulation—an adjustable air valve lets you add or remove air as needed. Lightweight but durable, this bag is designed to withstand the elements, making it great for kayaking, hiking, camping, rafting, or just lounging on the beach. Adjustable straps ensure maximum comfort, wherever your adventure takes you. With ice, the Wise Owl backpack cooler holds up to 24 cans.
What’s included: Backpack cooler
Best Luxury/Splurge: IceMule Boss
Long-lasting temperature control
Engineered for maximum comfort
Durable to withstand heavy use
Bulky compared to similar styles
This top-of-the-line backpack cooler is the winner for heavy-duty use. Serious outdoor adventurers agree that the functionality and performance of the IceMule Boss are second to none.
Lightweight and ergonomically designed—with padded air mesh shoulder straps, a cushioned hip belt, and a chest strap—this cooler backpack leaves your hands free to haul everything else you need for your adventure. Keep 24 cans ice-cold for up to two days while camping, fishing, backpacking, or rafting. No matter how extreme it gets, the waterproof, leakproof, ultra-durable Boss can handle it.
What’s included: Backpack cooler
Related: The Best Soft Coolers
Best Design: Corkcicle Brantley Backpack Cooler
Stylish, minimalist design
Comfortable and lightweight
Unisex design with several color options
Not ideal for long-duration use
Not a high-performance option
If your ideal summer day is focused more on socializing than sweating, a compact, simple backpack cooler with a fashion-forward design might be just right. This streamlined model from Corkcicle puts a modern spin on a chic classic, with clean lines and an assortment of color choices to match your personal aesthetic.
Stroll to the park or beach in style with up to 24 cans—or 16 cans, plus two bottles of wine. The zippered outside pocket is just the right size to hold all of your other small necessities, and each side of the bag has an expandable bottle sleeve, which can hold your water bottle...and perhaps a backup bottle of wine.
What’s included: Backpack cooler
Best Set: Sunflora Picnic Backpack
Includes everything you need for a four-person picnic
Stylish design in a range of colors
Blanket must be hand washed
Some minor quality control issues
Packing a picnic is effortless with this backpack cooler set—just add food, drinks, and ice! The attractive, unisex design, available in several colors, comes with everything you need for a group of four, including plates, flatware, cloth napkins, plastic wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, a cutting board, a bottle opener, an insulated wine pouch, a detachable waterproof ice pouch, and a fleece picnic blanket. The large, insulated food and drink compartment keeps your picnic at the perfect temperature for hours. This high-quality, well-priced picnic set also makes a great gift.
What’s included: Backpack cooler, plates, flatware, napkins, wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, cutting board, bottle opener, insulated wine pouch, detachable waterproof pouch, blanket
Best Insulated: Yeti Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Sided Cooler/Backpack
Attractive color options
Exceptional performance and durability
Sleek, modern design
YETI is one of the top names in coolers, so it’s no surprise that their backpack cooler knocks it out of the park. The brand is known for its hip yet classic design, which is ideal for a cooler you intend to wear, especially since this one has the durability to last for many years to come. But aesthetics aside, the Hopper Backflip is also a top performer. Its thoughtful ergonomic design carefully distributes the contents’ weight, while padded chest, hip, and shoulder straps add comfort and stability so you’ll be happy to carry the bag as long as your drinks stay cold—which is a long time, thanks to YETI’s special rubber-foam insulation.
Any extra accessories you may need, like ice packs or bottle openers, can be purchased separately from YETI and attached to the outer grid loops.
What’s included: Cooler (compatible accessories sold separately)
Related: The Best Beer Koozies
Best For Durability: Otterbox Trooper Cooler
Designed to maximize durability Lifetime warranty
Insulation lasts up to 3+ days
Mounting system for accessories
Optional shoulder or backpack carry
Can be difficult to open and close
Otterbox is widely known for making practically indestructible mobile phone cases, so the company clearly knows a little something about durability. Case in point: the Trooper Cooler, a backpack designed to withstand the most rugged, harshest elements, while keeping its contents ice cold.
Rushing rapids and pounding waves are no match for the Trooper’s water-, puncture-, UV-, and chemical-resistant coated nylon exterior, and rough, abrasive surfaces can’t scratch its heavy-duty base. And since the Trooper is backed by a lifetime warranty, you can rest easy knowing you have a trustworthy sidekick for all of your future adventures.
What’s included: Backpack cooler, bottle opener
Best For Hiking: REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler
Great for separating chilled items from other gear
Removable leak-proof cooler insert
Insulation lasts for up to two days
Smaller beverage capacity
Exterior is not waterproof
For hikes that require more supplies than a few cold drinks, this split cooler backpack is perfect for storing all of your gear. The top compartment can hold everything you need for a day hike, while the removable cooler insert can keep twelve cans chilled for up to 40 hours. For hikes that don’t require ice (or for travel), you can still use this lightweight, comfortable bag, which meets TSA carry-on standards—just remove the cooler insert, and you’ve got the whole interior to work with. The bag’s front straps can hold a towel, blanket, or camp chair, and the external side pockets offer great bonus space.
What’s included: Backpack cooler
Related: The Best Coolers
For its price, quality, durability, and efficiency, the Igloo Reactor 24-Can Backpack (view at Igloo) is outstanding. Its deceptively minimalist design offers everything you need in a backpack cooler without any unnecessary frills or gimmicks. From the social butterfly to the weekend warrior to the fearless explorer, everyone can appreciate this versatile, functional backpack cooler.
What is the average size and capacity of a backpack cooler?
Most backpack coolers are fairly compact—typically around 13-14 inches in length, 7-9 inches in width, and 17-19 inches in height, but this can vary widely depending on the style and function of the specific backpack cooler. Most can hold around 24 12-ounce cans, or 16 12-ounce cans and two bottles of wine, with ice. The general rule of thumb is to use a 2 to 1 ratio of ice to drinks—this is typically factored into the manufacturer’s capacity estimate.
How heavy is the average backpack cooler?
Most backpack coolers are relatively lightweight when empty. The average backpack cooler weighs around 1-3 pounds, with higher-performance models often leaning toward the heavier end of the range. Naturally, the weight when the cooler is full will depend on its contents—including the ice, the liquids, and the containers that hold the liquids.
What's the best way to clean a backpack cooler?
Most backpack coolers are easy to clean if they are not heavily soiled and can be cleaned just like any other hard or soft cooler. Empty the contents of your backpack cooler and hand wash with dish soap or mild detergent. If a deeper cleaning is needed, hose down the cooler and coat it with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Let it sit for several minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. You can also use disinfectant wipes to clean your backpack cooler. Ensure that the inside is completely dry before storing your backpack cooler.
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Nikki Goddard is a wine writer with 14 years of industry experience as well as CSW and WSET Diploma certification. She is passionate about taking the intimidation out of wine education and has taught classes for WSET levels 2 and 3. In 2019, Nikki was named a top young wine writer by Vinous Media.
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