The Basics Bar Tools

The 9 Best Soft Coolers of 2020

Just add ice and your favorite beers.

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Headed out into the great outdoors? You’ll need a beverage-chilling bag to help fuel your next barbecue, picnic, canoe trip or outdoor concert. There’s plenty of great hard coolers on the market, but they don’t offer the lightweight portability that a soft-sided cooler does. Here are the best soft coolers available today, ranging in price and size, as well as the activity they're suited for. All that’s left to do is to fill up your bag and hit the road. 

Best Overall: Bison Coolers Insulated Cooler Bag

Bison Coolers Insulated Cooler Bag

Amazon

Bison Coolers packs a lot of value into this bag. First off, it can keep drinks cool for 24 hours in up to 120-degree weather. An inch of insulation protects your drink from the heat of the outdoors, too. Even more, its heavy-duty nylon shell is stronger than most other soft-sided coolers, keeping all contents cool and protected through off-roading, hiking or backyard chilling. Twelve cans fit in this cooler bag, plus an additional 5 pounds of ice for frosty beverages. 

The design-forward construction is also a plus, with versatile handles, a sleek finish and a range of colors to choose from. When you get to your destination, simply unzip the top of the bag and fill it with more ice. The bag even expands to make it easy to grab beverages—acting as a make-shift ice bucket.

Read Next: The Best Coolers

Best Tote: Yeti Camino Carryall

Fill this Yeti tote bag with ice or freezer packs, add beverages, swing it over your shoulder, and head to the lake, pool or beach. Easy to haul around, it has several sturdy handles and shoulder straps to offer a variety of carrying options. A waterproof interior and exterior also means you can simply rinse or wipe down the bag to clean.

Still, this tote doesn’t lack in durability. A thick-skinned shell keeps contents safe from punctures and scrapes, while an abrasion-resistant surface provides a barrier against sharp hooks or objects. Unlike a standard tote bag, the EVA-molded base is sturdy, keeping the bag upright.

Good to Know: Unsure of how much ice to add? A 2:1 ice-to-can ratio will yield the best results. 

Best Insulation: Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Series Tote

Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Series Tote

Amazon

This Polar Bear Coolers bag is a convenient option for travel: just use the double handles to carry, or swing it over your shoulder with the adjustable shoulder strap (complete with a pad for added comfort). A less-rigid build helps eliminate hard angles that make it uncomfortable to tote around. 

Superior, 1-inch thick insulation will keep ice frozen for over 24 hours, even in 100-degree heat. Melted ice or spilled cans will also be contained, thanks to leak- and sweat-proof design. Puncture-resistant TPU-coated nylon keeps the bag’s contents safe, as does a heavy-duty zipper. With enough room for 12 cans, this cooler even comes with four ice packs.

Read Next: The Best Ice Cube Trays

Best for Durability: IceMule Backpack Cooler

For a heavy-duty option, look no further than this soft cooler from IceMule. It's designed to be completely hands-free, thanks to the ventilated backpack design, double-padded back straps and a sternum strap to help distribute weight. 

The bag features a layer of super-tough MoleSkin fabric, with another layer of PolarYear insulation that retains cold ice for over 24 hours. It’s 100 percent waterproof with welded seams, while the top of the cooler rolls down to protect its contents, even when fully submerged. All in all, it's an enticing option for surfers, skiers, campers or boaters.

At full capacity, this cooler backpack can hold 12 cans or 15 liters of wine, in addition to ice. When it’s empty, it can also be rolled up and packed for storage or travel.

Best Large: OtterBox Trooper Cooler

OtterBox’s cooler bags are crafted with top durability: the TPU-coated nylon exterior is water- and puncture-resistant, while the interior is leak-proof. This bag is also one of the most spacious soft coolers on the market, with room for 50 cans (or 30 quarts) with ice. Best of all, its heavy insulation can keep ice chilled for over three days. 

This isn’t the most lightweight bag, but its large capacity makes it ideal for camping trips or drinks with a crowd. A sturdy bottom means you can set the bag down and use it as an ice cooler. 

Read Next: The Best Flasks

Best Backpack: Tourit Cooler Backpack

This Tourit backpack is designed to lug all your drinks and snacks to any destination, be it a picnic, camping, hiking or day trip. It's constructed from high-density insulation and finished with a leak-proof liner. The bag will also keep its contents' temperatures (both hot or cold) for 16 hours. 

Even more, this backpack-style cooler has two straps to distribute weight, making it easy to haul beverages in long distances. Note that it can hold 30 regular-sized cans. Additionally, this multifunctional bag has several, various-sized pockets to store your keys, wallet, clothes, utensils and more. Plus, a beer opener is attached to the strap. 

Best Compact: Coleman 9-Can Soft Cooler

Coleman's budget-friendly soft cooler will hold everything you'll need for a quick day out. The zippered main compartment has space for keeping nine cans chilled throughout the day. Better yet, it has the basics of a great cooler bag: extra zippered pockets, a dry storage pouch and additional room for exterior storage. Heat-welded seams also keep drips and leaks to a minimum. 

We recommend placing a liner in the bag if you're packing it with ice cubes or else it may leak. Lightweight and spacious enough for snacks and sips, this cooler is ideal for work lunches and drinks at sports games.

Best for Picnics: Lifewit Collapsible Cooler Bag

Lifewit’s 32-can cooler bag is perfect for picnics. With two handles and a padded shoulder strap, it’s easy to sling over your shoulder and haul contents to wherever you're headed. A flat bottom allows you to stack tupperware, wines and beers, making this an excellent outdoor lunch bag. 

The exterior is made with high-density, water-resistant and dirt-proof fabric that makes the bag resilient to spills, rough handling and the general forces of nature. It’s constructed with 210D fabric and high-insulation foam to keep items safe and chilled. Waterproof front pockets are also perfectly sized to hold a phone or wallet. 

Read Next: The Best Beer Growlers

Best Wheeled: Coleman Soft Cooler Bag

From groceries to a case of cold ones, a wheeled cooler ensures you won't strain your back hauling heavy bags. This Coleman bag offers an extendable handle and a two-wheeled design, making it easy to tug behind you—plus a side handle if you prefer to carry it.

There are front zip pockets and side mesh pockets, as well as removable bungee straps for securing extra items on the lid of the bag. Available in various sizes, the wheeled version can hold an impressive 42 cans, though smaller versions (including a 24-can backpack) can hold between 16 and 30 cans. Best of all, the bag will keep drinks frosty for 42 hours.

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