Discover the 3 Best Types of Backpack Coolers for Your Next Adventure

The right gear can make or break your next outdoor adventure, and a backpack cooler might be just the item you’re missing. Whether you’re hitting the beach, hiking a mountain trail, or planning a picnic in the park, having a convenient and efficient way to keep your food and drinks cold is essential. From a backpack with cooler on bottom to heavy duty options backpack cooler, there’s a cooler backpack designed to meet your specific needs.

Today, we’ll explore the three best types of backpack coolers in the market, including 2-in-1 models and thermal cooler backpacks, to help you make an informed decision for your next purchase. Enjoy chilled beverages and fresh snacks on your journeys, no matter where you roam.

What Features to Look for When Choosing Backpack Coolers

Types of backpack coolers


Backpack coolers, being a type of soft cooler, often employ open-cell foam for its flexibility, albeit with less insulation compared to the closed-cell foam found in hard coolers. Nevertheless, there are some backpack coolers that utilize closed-cell foam, which offers superior insulation at the expense of increased cost and weight.

So, before you commit, consider whether you’re willing to invest both literally and figuratively for enhanced performance.


When considering the insulation of your backpack cooler, there are two crucial factors to consider: thickness and evenness. It’s no surprise that thicker insulation provides better cold preservation, regardless of the insulation type. Additionally, it’s important to examine any weak areas in the insulation.

For optimal effectiveness, the insulation should completely surround the inner compartment. If there’s insulation on only three sides, the fourth side becomes a vulnerable point that can significantly reduce chill time, especially if it’s the side in contact with your back.

Intended Activity

The realm of backpack coolers is surprisingly sophisticated. Modern advancements in design and fabric technology have elevated these once seemingly ordinary purchases. When choosing your cooler, consider the features that align with your needs and activities.

Multiple storage compartments for cutlery, anti-mildew fabric, and even an attached bottle opener are among the many extras available.

Moreover, there are coolers explicitly crafted for specific pursuits, such as overnight hikes, picnics, beach outings, water adventures, and even hunting trips. Ponder on your intended use and seek out models that cater to your unique preferences.


When considering a cooler, it’s important to think about your primary usage and desired level of padding. For extended hikes, opt for lighter-weight packs with hip and sternum straps, along with extra padding. However, if you’re only going to the beach or a nearby destination, where you won’t be carrying it for long distances, you can prioritize other features over comfort.


Durability is a crucial factor to consider. While a cheaper option may seem tempting at first, it’s important to think long-term. Imagine if it tears or leaks with minimal use, or fails to hold up when tipped or inverted.

In such cases, you’ll end up buying another cooler sooner than expected. Here’s our humble advice: invest a little more in durability. Look for waterproof materials, puncture- and scratch-proof materials, and a robust zipper (or any other dependable closure method). By doing so, you’ll ensure that your cooler stands the test of time.


The size of your cooler should be based on your desired capacity and your ability to comfortably carry the backpack. As you add items, the weight will naturally increase. When we tested backpack coolers, they could hold anywhere from eight to 24 cans when filled â…” with ice.

Recommended Types of Backpack Coolers Reviewed in This Article

ICEMULE Classic Collapsible Backpack Cooler

Types of backpack coolers
  • Durable Construction: Made from tough MuleSkin fabrics with welded seams, ensuring longevity for various outdoor activities.
  • Innovative Cooling: Equipped with PolarLayer Insulation and Muleskin interior/exterior, capable of maintaining ice-like temperatures for over 24 hours. It has a 20-liter capacity or space for 18 cans plus ice.
  • Hands-Free Convenience: Features a lightweight, backpack-style design with a padded and ventilated sling strap.
  • Collapsible & Portable: Easily rolls up when empty, making it compact and travel-friendly.
  • Waterproof: Welded seams and zipper-less closure ensure waterproofing and floating capabilities. The IM AirValve allows for the addition of air to the insulation layer.

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Introducing this ultra-tough cooler, designed for your next adventure! With 24+ hours of cooling capability, the Muleskin Exterior and Interior combined with PolarLayer Insulation ensure superior strength and ice retention. This spacious cooler can hold 20 Liters or 18 cans plus ice, measuring 11.50†L x 11.50†W x 18†H.

Experience the convenience of a hands-free cooler with its lightweight, backpack-style design. The padded and ventilated sling strap allows you to keep both arms free for grabbing your surfboard, fishing pole, or any other adventure gear. This portable cooler is perfect for both men and women.

When you’re on the move and your cooler is empty, simply roll it up and pack it with you to your next destination. The collapsible design makes it easy to carry, making it an ideal carry-on for traveling parents or for those who want a cooler to use when landing in paradise.

With welded seams and a zipper-less closure, this cooler is not only waterproof but also buoyant. Enjoy peace of mind knowing your belongings stay dry and afloat.

RTIC Backpack Cooler 30 Can, Insulated Portable Soft Cooler Bag

Types of backpack coolers
  • Hands-Free Convenience: This insulated cooler straps comfortably to your back, freeing both arms for your adventure’s needs.
  • Premium Insulation: Built with premium insulation, available in two sizes: 20-can and 30-can capacities, keeping items cold for days.
  • Floats Anywhere: It’s not just a cooler; it’s a floating companion.
  • Waterproof Assurance: Versatile for various uses—ice cooler, drink cooler, travel companion, beer cooler, lunch bag, camping essential, and beach buddy. Plus, it’s entirely waterproof.
  • Durable Zipper: Equipped with a sturdy zipper to safeguard your drinks and snacks, preventing spills and leaks. This portable cooler measures 12 x 10 x 16 inches, offering ample space.

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The RTIC Backpack Cooler – the ultimate hands-free solution for keeping your drinks and snacks cool on any adventure! This insulated cooler bag comfortably straps to your back, leaving your arms free for whatever the day has in store.

With premium insulation, it can keep your items cold for days, and it comes in two sizes: 20-can and 30-can capacities.

But that’s not all – this versatile cooler also floats! Take it to the pool, lake, or beach, and let your drinks and snacks go wherever you go. With its 100% waterproof design, it’s perfect for any outdoor activity.

The RTIC Backpack Cooler features a durable zipper that keeps your items secure and prevents spills and leaks. Measuring 12 x 10 x 16 inches, this portable cooler bag is the perfect companion for your next adventure.

ORCA Walker 20 Can Soft Cooler Bag

Types of backpack coolers
  • Magnetic Split Handle: Features an easy-to-open magnetic split handle for convenient access.
  • Extended Cold Retention: Capable of maintaining cold temperatures for multiple days when packed correctly with ice.
  • Highly Insulated: Equipped with 28mm of durable Meta-Polymer insulation within the walls for superior insulation.
  • Comfortable Carrying: Includes a padded shoulder strap for enhanced comfort while carrying.

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The Orca cooler bag is designed to make your outdoor adventures even more convenient and enjoyable. With an easy open magnetic split handle, accessing your refreshments has never been easier.

Experience exceptional cold retention for days with proper ice packing, allowing you to keep your beverages and food items at the perfect temperature throughout your trip.

The insulated inner walls, made with 28mm of tough Meta-Polymer, ensure maximum insulation and durability, so you can trust that your items will stay cool and fresh.

This cooler comes equipped with a comfortable padded shoulder strap, making it effortless to carry even when fully loaded. Whether you’re heading to a picnic, camping trip, or tailgating event, our cooler is the perfect companion to keep your drinks cold and your adventures unforgettable.

Types of Backpack Coolers

When it comes to backpack coolers, there are several types you can choose from, depending on your specific needs and preferences.

Types of backpack coolers
  1. Backpack With Cooler on Bottom: This is a versatile choice for those who need both a backpack and a cooler. The bottom compartment is insulated to keep your drinks and snacks cool, while the upper part works as a regular backpack where you can put your other essentials.
  2. Heavy Duty Backpack Cooler: If you’re planning a long trip or an outdoor adventure in harsh weather conditions, a heavy-duty backpack cooler is a perfect choice. These are designed with robust materials and superior insulation to withstand tough conditions and keep your items cold for a longer time.
  3. 2-in-1 Backpack Cooler: These models are designed to serve dual purposes. They work both as a cooler and a backpack. You can carry your food and drinks in the insulated compartment, while the other compartment can be used for storing essentials such as clothes, gadgets, or camping gear.
  4. Thermal Cooler Backpacks: Thermal cooler backpacks use thermal insulation technology to keep your food and drinks chilled. They are lightweight and portable, making them ideal for day trips, beach outings, or picnics.

Remember, the best backpack cooler for you depends on your specific needs, preferences, and the nature of your adventure. Always consider the duration of your trip, the amount of food and drinks you need to carry, and the weather conditions when choosing a backpack cooler.

Common Questions About Types of Backpack Coolers

Types of backpack coolers

Will water leak out from the backpack cooler as the ice melts?

The answer may vary depending on the product, but if the product description doesn’t explicitly mention features that prevent water leakage (or entry, for that matter), there’s a high possibility of leakage. Look for features such as a waterproof cooler compartment, watertight zippers, and sealed seams to ensure protection against leaks.

Is it hard to clean a backpack cooler?

When it comes to cleaning and storing a backpack cooler, the process is similar to that of a regular hard or soft cooler.

Usually, a simple rinse and dry before storage is sufficient. However, if there are substances other than water that need to be cleaned out, it is advisable to use disinfectant wipes after a thorough cleaning with water and soap. Finally, make sure to rinse the cooler to remove any remaining debris.

Are all types of backpack coolers heavy?

Backpack coolers tend to be heavier than typical soft coolers due to their construction and potential contents. The most effective coolers are typically the heaviest, although it’s important to note that they are not designed for overnight or long-distance hikes.

While the backpacks themselves are heavier than average, the weight is also contributed by the ice and liquids carried inside. A quart of water alone weighs over 2 pounds, not including the weight of the water bottle. However, it’s worth noting that soft coolers generally weigh less than hard coolers.

How to pack a backpack cooler the right way?

To ensure proper packing of a backpack cooler, follow these simple steps.

  • Begin by placing large food and drink items that won’t be needed immediately at the bottom.
  • Then, add a layer of ice, followed by other items you’ll require sooner, prioritizing the heaviest ones.
  • On the top, carefully position delicate items like fruit and crackers. Remember to minimize excess air and space by filling any empty areas with ice or ice packs.
  • By following these guidelines, you can optimize your backpack cooler packing and maintain the freshness of your food and drinks.

Video Top 5 Best Backpack Coolers

Want to know more about the different types of backpack coolers available on the market now? Watch this video and learn from experts about which coolers are the best for your outdoor adventures.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right backpack cooler can significantly enhance your outdoor adventures, whether it’s a day at the beach, a picnic in the park, or a multi-day hiking trip. Remember to consider factors like durability, comfort, and the specific type of cooler that best suits your needs, be it a versatile backpack with a cooler on the bottom, a hardy heavy-duty backpack cooler, a convenient 2-in-1 option, or a lightweight thermal cooler backpack.

With the right choice, you’ll be well-equipped to keep your food and drinks chilled while also carrying all your essentials. Happy adventuring!


Photo of author
Hey there, I'm Chris. I love hitting the road for some adventure on the weekends. I believe in buying the absolute best, which led me to a quest for the perfect cooler. Frustrated with the lack of reliable info, I started reviewing coolers myself. At, I dive into the nitty-gritty details so you know exactly what you're getting. So stick around, get the facts, and let's stay cool together.
Photo of author
Hey there, I'm Chris. I love hitting the road for some adventure on the weekends. I believe in buying the absolute best, which led me to a quest for the perfect cooler. Frustrated with the lack of reliable info, I started reviewing coolers myself. At, I dive into the nitty-gritty details so you know exactly what you're getting. So stick around, get the facts, and let's stay cool together.