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The Best Backpack Coolers

Last updated on July 30, 2020

We looked at the top 12 Backpack Coolers and dug through the reviews from 115 of the most popular review sites including Best Reviews Guide, BestReviews, Top 5 Critic, Industry Ears, Trip Savvy, Top Ten The Best and more. The result is a ranking of the best Backpack Coolers.

Best Backpack Cooler

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Our Picks For The Top Backpack Coolers

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best Overall

TOURIT Insulated Leak-Proof Soft Backpack Cooler

TOURIT

Insulated Leak-Proof Soft Backpack Cooler

Overall Take

Lots of ExtrasIn addition to seven extra pockets, this backpack cooler has a beer can opener.

  Large Can Capacity

Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler

Coleman

Soft Backpack Cooler

Overall Take

Holds 28 CansThis backpack cooler is not only insulated to keep food and drinks cold, but it also has an outer pocket for dry items.

  Lightweight Pick

TOURIT Lightweight Leakproof Insulated Backpack Cooler

TOURIT

Insulated Backpack Cooler

Overall Take

Great for Day TripsThis backpack cooler is lightweight and an excellent choice for day trips.

  Most Versatile

MATEIN Insulated Laptop & Backpack Cooler

MATEIN

Insulated Laptop & Backpack Cooler

Overall Take

Fits a 17-Inch LaptopIdeal for college students, this backpack cooler has an insulated cooler compartment for your lunch and a pocket for your laptop.

  Two Ways to Carry

MIER Insulated Leakproof Soft Backpack Cooler

MIER

Insulated Leakproof Soft Backpack Cooler

Overall Take

Padded Grab HandleAlthough this backpack cooler is constructed from a heavy-duty fabric, it's still lightweight and easy to carry.

Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, Simplemost analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
19

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the backpack coolers available to purchase.
12

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

115

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources.

10,892

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart and 5 others.

The Best Overall

TOURIT Insulated Leak-Proof Soft Backpack Cooler

Our Expert Score
9.7
Our Take

This backpack cooler is perfect for everything from a picnic for two at the park to a family hike through the mountains. The insulation keeps drinks and sandwiches cold and also works for hot items, such as pizza or hot dogs. The outside of the pack features multiple pockets and even a beer can opener.


The Best Bang For Your Buck

Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler

Our Expert Score
9.7
Our Take

Not only is this backpack cooler the top in its class, but it's also affordable. The inner compartment is able to keep 28 cans cool at once and features a leak-proof lining to protect against ice melt. The handy outer compartment holds dry items, like picnic utensils and energy bars. Backpackers will also love the well-padded shoulder and waist straps that adjust for proper back support.

Our Backpack Cooler Findings

TOURIT Insulated Leak-Proof Soft Backpack Cooler

What We Liked: This backpack cooler is perfect for everything from a picnic for two at the park to a family hike through the mountains. The insulation keeps drinks and sandwiches cold and also works for hot items, such as pizza or hot dogs. The outside of the pack features multiple pockets and even a beer can opener.

Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler

What We Liked: Not only is this backpack cooler the top in its class, but it’s also affordable. The inner compartment is able to keep 28 cans cool at once and features a leak-proof lining to protect against ice melt. The handy outer compartment holds dry items, like picnic utensils and energy bars. Backpackers will also love the well-padded shoulder and waist straps that adjust for proper back support.

TOURIT Lightweight Leakproof Insulated Backpack Cooler

What We Liked: Outfitted with a deep main compartment, this backpack cooler is big enough to store your lunch, snacks and drinks. In fact, it is capable of holding as many as 23 soda cans. The high-density insulation and leak-proof lining keep your food and beverages the ideal temperature.

MATEIN Insulated Laptop & Backpack Cooler

What We Liked: This oversized backpack cooler has a multitude of compartments to meet all of your needs. Use the back compartment to store a 17-inch laptop, the middle slot to store your school books and the insulated front pouch to keep your lunch cool. The backpack’s straps are padded and adjustable, which means you’ll be able to customize the backpack for a comfortable fit.

MIER Insulated Leakproof Soft Backpack Cooler

What We Liked: There are two ways to carry this backpack cooler. You can use the padded grab handle on top of the cooler, or slide the padded shoulder straps over your back and adjust them to match your height. The backpack itself has an inner cooler, a front storage pocket and two mesh side pockets.

Our Expert Consultant

Brittany Anas
Travel journalist

Brittany Anas is an award-winning investigative journalist turned freelancer who now specializes in travel and lifestyle topics. She is a former reporter for the Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Her travel writing has been featured in American Way, USA Today, AAA magazines, Simplemost, Better, Livability, Apartment Therapy, Men’s Journal, Austin-American Statesman, TripSavvy and other outlets. She’s carved out a niche in adventure travel writing and has a column with Forbes that’s focused on outdoors travel. She logs about 75,000 airline miles a year and has mastered the art of napping in airports and finding the best spicy cocktails in whichever city she visits. She treats travel like a scavenger hunt, finding what makes cities special. Brittany is based in Denver, and loves exploring Colorado’s hiking trails with her gremlin that the rescue described as a “Boston Terrier.”

Our Backpack Cooler Buying Guide

Backpack coolers give families and outdoor adventurers a handy way to bring their food and drinks along for a day of fun. They are excellent for picnics in the park, soaking up the sun at the beach or taking a hike up a mountain. If you’re in the market for a backpack cooler, there are a few things you’ll want to look for before making a selection.

Determine what size backpack cooler would be best based on the number of people traveling with you and how much they drink. Most models list how many cans they hold. A smaller family or group would do better with a backpack cooler that holds 20 cans. The TOURIT Insulated Backpack Cooler is a better choice for larger groups because it has a 30 can capacity.

“You’ll want to make sure the backpack cooler is multi-functional, with enough exterior pockets to stash extras like granola bars or your cell phone,” says travel expert Brittany Anas. This will separate your essentials from the cooler’s ice and water.

Next, review the materials used to construct the backpack cooler. Some models are waterproof for use near a pool or beach, while others are made to withstand coming up against brush in the wilderness. “Look for a well-constructed exterior that’s puncture-proof so it doesn’t get ripped up by branches,” says Anas.  “Leak and mildew-resistant features will also help keep your backpack cooler in good condition,” she adds. The MATEIN Insulated Laptop & Backpack Cooler, with its durable scratch-resistant outer layer, is an example of a model best used in forests and along nature trails.

Don’t forget to examine the inside materials used to create the cooler as well. You want to make sure they are leak-proof, non-toxic and made from an FDA-approved food-grade material. Remember, this is where you will store all your refreshing beverages and tasty treats.

Review the backpack cooler’s straps to make sure they are padded and comfortable. The Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler has an additional set of straps that go around your waist. Both the shoulder and waist straps are adjustable, so you’re sure to get the perfect fit, which is important when it comes to back health.

Finally, you’ll want to check the backpack cooler for any extras. See if there are enough outer pockets to hold your dry items. Look for side pockets that can hold extra water bottles. Some models even offer hooks for hanging little canteens and other gadgets. Others have built-in beer can openers. It’s all about which features best fit your specific needs and the needs of the group you’ll be traveling with.

Simplemost Fun Fact

Did you know that portable coolers have only been around for 60 years even though iceboxes were invented in 1802? It was the invention of Styrofoam in 1944 that made portable coolers a possibility, although the first model wasn’t available for sale until 1957. Not only was the Styrofoam able to provide the insulation needed to keep drinks cold, but it was also light enough to lift without difficulty. That meant it could be loaded with sodas and sandwiches and easily placed in the trunk of a car and transported to the nearest beach or public park.

Some of the first portable coolers were made with a hard outer plastic shell. A few of those models were even on wheels that featured a handle for pulling to make moving the cooler a breeze. Companies quickly discovered, however, the value of portable coolers constructed of softer plastics, as these models were lighter and easier to carry.

Today, portable coolers have evolved a great deal. There are models made from waterproof materials, such as neoprene, models with solar panels on top and even models you can ride on. Smaller portable coolers are designed for student lunches, and others are made to be worn like backpacks for outdoor adventures.

The Backpack Cooler Tips and Advice

  • After each use, you’ll need to clean your backpack cooler. Start by dumping any remaining ice or melted water into your kitchen sink. If the cooler isn’t dirty, you may be able to get away with simply drying the inside with a towel. Should the cooler need a cleaning, wipe it down using a soapy dish rag. Rinse it clean with a little water and then towel dry.
  • Follow the instructions on the product label when it comes to cleaning the outside of your backpack cooler. The cleaning method used will be determined by the type of fabric the outer shell is made out of.
  • Your backpack cooler may build up an unpleasant odor over time. This can be removed by filling the cooler with cold water and one cup of white distilled vinegar. Let the mixture sit for an hour before dumping it out and cleaning it as you normally would.
  • Whether you are using a traditional backpack or a backpack cooler, it is recommended that you pack the lightest items at the bottom of the pack and that you wear the pack on the lower half of your back. This will help prevent back strain or possible injuries.
  • For additional safety, weigh your backpack cooler after it’s packed. The total number of pounds should not exceed 20 percent of your total body weight. If the number happens to be above that, you’ll want to take a few things out of the cooler to bring the weight down.
  • When comparing backpack cooler prices, you’ll need to take into consideration the materials used to make the pack, how many cans the cooler holds and whether there are any extra pockets or accessories. While the Coleman C003 Soft Backpack Cooler, TOURIT Insulated Backpack Cooler and TOURIT Insulated Leak-Proof Soft Backpack Cooler have similar features and pricing, the MATEIN Insulated Laptop & Backpack Cooler costs a bit more. This is because the MATEIN is TSA checkpoint friendly, has a considerable number of pockets and is bigger than other backpack coolers on the market.

About The Author

Alicia Bodine
Alicia Bodine 

Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in gardening. She enjoys spending time learning about the latest gadgets that make designing, planting and maintaining a garden a breeze. With more than 15 years of experience, her work has appeared on leading home improvement publications.