10 Best Must-Have Soft Coolers Reviews

Now we will move to the soft-sided coolers, which form their own functional territory and is a very popular form for carrying food and drinks among the population. These coolers are very useful for short outdoor trips because of their light weight and good portability, which gives them an edge over the hard-sided models. The wide variety of products with an even wider price range can be confusing, especially for first-time buyers. So I will review some of the best products in the market to give you an idea about the top models but before that, I will share some of the prime features of soft-sided coolers.

Soft-sided Coolers

While hard-sided models are taking the market by storm but still the value of the traditional soft-sided coolers cannot be underestimated. They also use ice packs to cool the content and are ideal for a day-long picnic or shorter excursions with less number of heads. Moreover, they are light and easy to carry around. So if you want to carry lunch to office or want a few energy drinks after a hard gym session, these coolers can be the perfect cost-effective solution.

The soft coolers will not be able to match the hard ones in thermal efficiency and rugged built but you simply cannot ignore the ease of carrying them on our shoulders or as a backpack. They are also more economical than the hard-sided models and are a good option for those who do not venture for outdoor trips frequently. So before you chose a cooler it is best to study your usage pattern and then decide.

Advantages of soft-sided coolers

  • These models are lighter than any hard-sided model as their outer shell is made us of fabric and vinyl material. So the weight that you have to carry is basically the weight of the food items that you need to put inside.
  • It is no wonder that these models are easier to carry and transport even if you are going for a short hike. They come with shoulder straps or as a backpack making it easier for you to move around freely with the cooler securely attached to your body.
  • Unlike the hard-sided models, these models are easier to store whether in your car or in your home when not in use. This makes these collapsible models extremely storage friendly which is a very important feature in today’s world.

A Guide to Buying soft Coolers

Portability

This is a major factor for choosing a particular soft-sided cooler for your use. Most of these models come with a shoulder strap and some of them even have a backpack like carrying arrangement so that your hands are free for any other use. So whether you plan to go to the day-long picnic with your children or for a weekend hiking trip, will decide the type of model you choose. Also, these coolers do not have a hard body and hence are easier to store, especially when they are not in use. Many of the units are totally foldable, making it very easy for storage in a small space. So while buying you need to keep an out for the ease of carrying of the cooler and the quality of the straps and handles.

Cooling factor

In case you are going for hunting or a fishing trip and plan to carry fish or raw meat in the cooler, a soft cooler is definitely not recommended. Soft coolers will not be ideal for multi-day trips through the backcountry but a very good option for day or overnight trips. A trip to a sports match or packing a few cans of beer for a beach trip can be the ideal use for soft coolers. The insulation quality does play an important role in this regard, and if you are looking at a time period for a day or slightly more, you should choose a cooler with high quality insulation.

Price

The price is always an important factor when you are choosing a model and more so because these coolers are available in a variety of prices. When you are interested to buy a high-end backpack model, it can also serve you as a dry bag or even a floatation device. A costlier model can even compete with hard coolers in terms of ice retention. If you plan to buy a cheaper model do keep in mind the cost of ice that you may need for refill purposes which can be significant in the long run. On the other hand for short time usage with small capacities, the cheaper coolers offer more value for money.

Size

A size of a soft cooler is mostly measured in the number of cans that it can store but in addition, it has to store the ice packs also. Any food or drink going into the cooler in the frozen state can be counted as ice to buy packing in a few frozen drinks, you can utilize more space. Most cooler models are available in multiple sizes and depending on your need you can pick the right size. It should also be kept in mind that a tight packing will help retaining the inner temperatures much better.

Ease of use

Any cooler model you choose, it should be easy to use so that you need not to wrestle with the zippers or have a hard time keeping the cooler upright when you are loading it. From extra pockets to bottle openers, the useful features should definitely influence your choice. It is best that you go through each of the features and assess the practicality of the model from your perspective.

So before going into the reviews, I will share another simplified chart to give some elementary ideas about the various models that has been chosen for the review. After a glance through the chart, you surely will be able to form a basic idea about the various categories of soft coolers.

S no. Product name Capacity in cans Empty Weight (Pounds)
1 YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler 13 3.7
2 Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler 16 1.7
3 Polar Bear Coolers The Original PERFORMANCE Soft Cooler 24 4
4 YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler 18 4.4
5 Pelican Elite Soft Cooler 48 8
6 CleverMade SnapBasket 50 Can, Soft-Sided Collapsible Cooler 50 2.1
7 AO Coolers Canvas Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation 24 2.5
8 Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Cooler 16 2.25
9 Coleman C006 Soft 40 Can Collapsible Cooler 40 1.5
10 Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Line 12 2

YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler

This high performing, soft-shelled cooler from Yeti is a portable and durable option which you can carry effortlessly into the roughest of adventures without a hitch.

YETI Hopper 40 Portable Cooler Fog Gray_Tahoe Blue _ Sports & Outdor

Overview:

This small but portable unit is a great choice when you are out on a hot day and need some desperate cold drinks in a midway stop. The cooler is soft inbuilt but not at all soft in its overall performance, as it is able to retain ice very effectively and built to withstand all your rough journeys. It has a nice volume and can hold up to 12 cans of beer along with the ice and it closes with a zipper instead of an old school flip type cover. So can this unit be the ideal new companion for your next outing? Take a look through the features listed below and decide for yourself.

Feature and Benefits:

Great insulation

Yeti knows its trade well enough to pack this unit with high-quality cold cell insulation made up of rubber foam.  The high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew and UV rays. The inner lining is made up of food grade plastic and antimicrobial making it very safe. This makes the unit retain the inner temperatures quite effectively for around two days. Therefore, whether you want to carry your drinks or your lunchbox, this unit will serve you well.

Easy to carry and operate

It is very easy to use the cooler that can be handled by anyone. The shoulder straps are padded and removable and are quite comfortable to use. There are side handles, which you can use to tie this unit with your bike or boat. The zippers are very heavy but there is a lubricant available with the package that makes them smooth to use. Overall, this is a very user-friendly and portable unit which will easily fit into your outdoor vacations.

Build and zipper quality

In case you are worried about the zipper connection and any heat leakage through that, you can rest easy. The Hydrolok zippers are waterproof, leak proof, and guarantee a long life. These zippers increase the durability of the product by quite a few notches. The overall build is very good and though it is not bear proof, you have no reason to fear from the heavy-duty outer material eroding away any soon.

The value factor

This is a unit that carries a higher price tag but it gives you great quality and durability for a compact and versatile model. In case you need a lunch box or a small cooler this is not the right choice but when you need your food and drinks to last through a hot day and still remain fresh and crispy, this soft model is one of the best.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Dimensions: 6 inches x 10 inches x 11.5 inches (LxWxH)
  • Shell Material:
  • Empty Weight: 3 pounds 7 ounces.
  • Capacity: 2 gallons.
  • Warranty: Three years.

Pros and Cons:

Pros
  • Light and portable.
  • Great ice retention for a soft-sided model.
  • A portable personal cooler.
  • Built to last.
  • Good to look at.
  • Multiple carrying options.
.
Cons
  • The price is very high.
  • Some users found the chain bulky.

Yeti has created one of the best soft-sided coolers in the present market that is perfectly portable and durable and if you make the investment, you will not regret it.

Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler

 When you are out on a hot afternoon or watching the game with your friends, this cooler will be the right choice to serve you those chilled cans you desire.

Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner, Blue - 3000001313

Overview:

Coleman maintains a good standard about their products along with a very decent price tag, which makes their coolers good value for money options. This unit is a light and simple cooler that can carry up to 16 cans and has a removable hard liner in it. The design is traditional and it is very easy to carry around with a comfortable shoulder strap. When you consider the fact that it is inexpensive and will serve your purpose for short trips, this is a good cooler to purchase. Going into the review, we will discuss a few more benefits that this model has to offer.

Feature and Benefits:

Sufficient insulation

This cooler does not make any high claims about storing ice for long periods and is ideal for short trips for two or three people. It has been designed for that purpose and it serves nicely within that range and can hold 16 cans along with the standard ice pack. If you are out for longer periods then it is best you put in fresh ice into the pack after a few hours.

Nice build quality

The outer material of the cooler is nylon canvas with a liner that will be durable enough for light uses. The seams have been hot welded to prevent any leakage and there ate mesh pockets on the sides to store miscellaneous items that do not need any cooling. This makes the unit ideally suited for carrying around in a variety of places.

Excellent portability

This is one soft cooler that is easier to handle than most of the other models you will find in the market. The shoulder handle is padded and easy to use and the fact that the cooler is compact in size makes things even easier. There are side handles as well and hence, when you are on the run this unit is ideal for just grab and go.

Good quality liners

The soft and hard-liners in this cooler are made of FDA approved material for food contacts and they have anti-microbial linings. Now you do not need to worry about the incursion of fungus or mildew inside the cooler unit.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Dimensions: 8 inches x 11.8 inches x 6.7 inches (LxWxH)
  • Shell Material: Nylon canvas.
  • Empty Weight: 7 pounds.
  • Capacity: 16 cans.
  • Category: Shoulder bag.

 

Pros and Cons:

Pros
  • Light and compact.
  • Easy to carry around.
  • Ideal for a couple.
  • Available in multiple colours.
  • Inexpensive model.
.
Cons
  • The built quality is not of high standards.
  • The insulation is not good for long ice retention.

This model is ideal as a lunch box or carrying drinks for a picnic and provides you with a good solution for short term cooling requirements without pinching your pocket.

Polar Bear Coolers The Original PERFORMANCE Soft Cooler

This cooler unit performs like a champion even in the summer heat and it provides you with a durable and colourful model at a very reasonable price.

Polar Bear Coolers - H2O Waterproof Line - Quality Like No Other Fr

Overview:

The vibrant outer design of this cooler unit will definitely catch your attention with the first glance and once you look inside; you will be impressed by its built and features. Polar Bear specializes in making soft coolers and they are noted for providing high-end features at a reasonable price and this unit is a prime example of that. From the outer and inner materials to the zipper quality, everything is designed keeping the performance and durability in mind. The ice retention capability is also very commendable and this could very well be the cooler you need to carry on your multi-day car trips. So should you buy this cooler for your weekend trips? Let us take a look at the best features that this unit has to offer.

Feature and Benefits:

Top quality materials

The outer shell of this cooler is made up of waterproof tarpaulin and the inner fabric TPU double-coated nylon. Both these fabrics are built to last for years so you can easily depend on the longevity of this cooler. In addition, the inner lining is also consumer safe with anti-microbial lining to keep your food items totally safe.

High-grade insulation

You may find it hard to believe that this soft cooler can retain ice for up to three days, but, it actually does so! The lining of 1.5 inches of closed cell foam insulation can work out this wonder and the unit also features a heavy-duty zipper to prevent any thermal gain from the outside. So if you are looking for a flexible soft cooler that can serve you for a multi-day trip, you now have one great choice in your hands.

Superior hardware

The hardware quality is important in determining how long a cooler will last and this cooler uses heavy-duty alloys to get full marks in that segment. There are eight stainless steel tie-down attachment points and four carabiner bow-tie attachment points for various uses. The side release buckles are also very sturdily made and they also serve as bottle openers. The zipper is weatherized which means that it will not allow any water penetration inside the cooler.

Useful features

The additional features in this cooler make are, even more, user-friendly and suited for a variety of occasions. It is compact and easy to carry and the waterproof construction prevents any leakage and you will not find your car floor getting wet. If it gets dirty on your adventure trip, you can easily wash it down without any fear. It has a side pocket which many will find useful and a skid-resistant bottom saddle which will keep it steady wherever you place it. Overall, this cooler offers great usability on all fronts.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Exterior Dimensions: 21 inches x 13 inches x 13 inches (LxWxH)
  • Product Interior Dimensions: 19 inches x 11 inches x 11 inches (LxWxH)
  • Shell Material: Waterproof tarpaulin.
  • Empty Weight: 4 pounds.
  • Capacity: 48 cans.
  • Chill time: 3 days in 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Superb built quality.
  • Great ice retention.
  • Optimized for usability.
  • Good grade hardware
  • Bright colours.
  • Value for money product.
.
Cons
  • Some users found the size smaller than required.
  • The interior design is not ergonomic.

This is one of the best soft coolers in the market with premium features and great performance and if you select this model, you will get full returns for your money.

YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler

The Yeti Hopper excels with its durability and portability and will keep you perfectly happy when you are in need of some chilled drinks to beat the heat.

YETI Hopper Two 20 Portable Cooler, Field Tan_Blaze Orange _ Sports

Overview:

These particular cooler from Yeti is targeted at those people who spend a lot of time in the outdoors like the hunters, backpackers and the fishermen. The portability and the durability of this unit are complemented by its functionality, making it one of the best models in the market for soft coolers. The price is kept at the higher end but you get good value in return for your price making it a great investment for all outdoor enthusiasts. The unit is easy to use and carry and is provide very good users experience from all aspects, staying true to the market reputation developed by Yeti.

Feature and Benefits:

Insulation quality is premium

The unit carries the Coldcell rubber foam insulation which is a typical feature of Yeti models. The users are very satisfied with the ice retention and moreover, this unit can be packed to its fullest without any issues. If you are planning for a long weekend of outdoor adventures you can carry all your food and drinks in this cooler and rest easy.

Durable shell

The outer shell is made up of Dryhide and is waterproof and mildew resistant. In addition, the high density of the material prevents punctures and is also UV ray proof. Even if you drag it through the dirt and over a rock face, it will show no sign of wear or tear. The handles and plastic clips are also durable and will easily accompany the bag for a long time.

Easy to Use

This bag offers nothing fancy but the essentials that you need for an outdoor trip are all there. There are a plethora of daisy chains and loops that can be used to attach all kinds of gear and utilities. The handles and loops are all solidly built and the zipper is Hydrolok type providing great insulation and preventing any chance of leakage. In case you find the zipper somewhat stiff, there is also a zipper gel included with the model to make it smoother. The body is designed in a tapered shape which makes this cooler more easy to store and carry around and if you have a small space in your car, storing this cooler will not be a problem.

A versatile cooler

This is a unit that can be used in a variety of situations and then some more, You can use this to store your groceries and picnic food items and also all the bear that you need for a multi-day car trip. The side and shoulder handles make it easy to carry around and portability, which is a great advantage of soft coolers, is always easy with this cooler.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Exterior Dimensions: 22 inches x 10 inches x 16.5 inches (LxWxH)
  • Shell Material: Waterproof Dryhide.
  • Empty Weight: 4 pounds.
  • Capacity: 18 cans.
  • Warranty: 3 years.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Built to last long.
  • Superior insulation quality.
  • A versatile cooler.
  • Can handle rough usage.
  • Easy to use.
.
Cons
  • An expensive model.
  • Not suitable for long hikes.

This is a solid product from a top brand which will perform wherever you take it and is durable enough last for years without losing its capabilities.

Pelican Elite Soft Cooler

This is a no-nonsense soft cooler that is built to perform at all levels and provide a first-rate user experience whether on a beach or on a boat.

Pelican Elite Soft Cooler (48 Can) _ Sports & Outdoors

Overview:

Pelican has always designed their soft-sided coolers by keeping them simple at one hand and offering useful features the other and this model is developed in the same line. The durable outer material ensures a long life while high-grade insulation makes sure that the food you put in it will remain fresh for long. The high quality and the top performance comes with a high price tag but this is definitely an investment that will serve you for at least a decade, so it is surely worth it. This is a very reliable model and after going through the features, I am sure you will appreciate this cooler as much as I do.

Feature and Benefits:

High-quality outer shell

The soft cooler is made durable by an outer material build by an 840D TPU material which is double coated. So no matter how challenging the outdoor situations are, this cooler will not get scratched or punctured at any moment. If you are out fishing, you will find the inner lining in anti-bacterial, does not hold odours and is washable; making it perfect for carrying fish.

Good ice retention

The cooler is perfectly designed to hold the ice as it is packed with high-density insulation and a superior zipper and latching.  The unit can easily retain ice for about two days in a hot summer environment and that is a very good performance from a large sized unit.

A rigid unit

Soft-sided coolers are not known for having a rigid built lid but this cooler gives a rigid top and bottom making the loading and unloading very convenient. The bottom is made up of anti-slip material and helps to keep the cooler steady and upright. The top is similarly made and offers a firm surface which can be used for some light works. Now this is one feature that is hardly found in soft coolers and does make this unit stand out from the rest.

Useful features

The buckle system is easy to use and give a very tight shape to the cooler body. There are other useful features like stainless steel tie downs, bottle openers and molle webbing on the latches. In case you need to store some small objects, there is also a front pocket attached. The shoulder handle is very comfortable and there are additional side handles too. Pelican has designed this cooler with care and it ticks all the right boxes.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Exterior Dimensions: 20 inches x 13 inches x 16 inches (LxWxH)
  • Product Interior Dimensions: 19 inches x 10.5 inches x 10 inches (LxWxH)
  • Shell Material: Double-Coated 840D TPU.
  • Empty Weight: 8 pounds.
  • Capacity: 48 cans.
  • Warranty: 3 years.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • A durable build.
  • Provides good ice retention.
  • Well suited for outdoors.
  • A relatively rigid frame.
  • Easy to use.
.
Cons
  • An expensive model.
  • Not suitable for long hikes.
  • No top handle.

The build quality of this Pelican model places it as one of the top models in the soft cooler market and when you are planning to buy one you can definitely check this unit out.

CleverMade SnapBasket 50 Can, Soft-Sided Collapsible Cooler

This is one cooler unit that can easily pack drinks and edibles for a small family and keep it cold for long and is available at an unbeatable price.

CleverMade SnapBasket 50 Can, Soft-Sided Collapsible Cooler_ 30 Lite

Overview:

A cooler that is collapsible is a perfect unit to have when you are packing light for an outdoor trip. This soft cooler is designed like a bag and folds down to a small, flat unit when empty thus making it very useful in a variety of situations. The volume is large enough to carry 50 bottles and the insulation quality is good enough to keep things cools for some hours. So when you are an infrequent outdoor traveller and do not want to spend a lot of money on a cooler, this is a very good choice that will meet most of your needs. There is no point comparing this unit with the high-end soft coolers in terms of performance and durability but this unit offers great value for money and ease of use that cannot be ignored.

Feature and Benefits:

The compact size

This is definitely the key feature of this unit and without doubt, this feature makes it a great choice for anyone with space constraints. When collapsed and strapped down, the height of this model is just under three inches and you will have no problem sliding it into any corner for storage. When you need it, take it out and it opens into a large bag that can hold up to fifty cans which is perfectly good enough for an outdoor picnic with the family.

Durable build

The exterior is made up of rip-stop fabric which is tough and provides water resistance. The interior is lined with insulation on all sides including top and bottom and has a leak-proof construction. These features will ensure that the unit does not get damaged easily and you do not face any water leakage issues from it.

Multiple carrying options

We all know how difficult it is to carry a fully loaded cooler for long stretches through the shoulder handle. CleverMade has shown thoughtfulness here by providing a padded shoulder handle as well as two side handles for heavier loads. So you can easily carry it alone or in tandem with someone else without any problem.

Useful additional features

Even at this price point, the cooler packs a few additional features which is very commendable. There is an integrated bottle opener which is definitely a must for any cooler model. There is also front and back zipper pockets for storage so that you can put in your mobile or keys for added convenience. In addition, the model is available in multiple bright colours and you can pick your favourite.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Interior Dimensions: 25 inches x 12.25 inches x 12 inches (LxWxH)
  • Product weight: 1 pound.
  • Weight Capacity: 55 pounds.
  • Capacity: 50 cans.
  • Collapsed Height: 75 inches.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • A simple an effective cooler.
  • Collapsible and easy to store.
  • Good volume capacity.
  • Easy to carry.
  • Integrated bottle opener.
  • Great value for money.
.
Cons
  • Not suitable for rough use.
  • Ice retention not remarkable.
  • Some users complained of zipper handle breakage.

This is a unit that is easy on the pocket but high on the utility front and will serve the purpose of anyone who is not an outdoor enthusiast.

AO Coolers Canvas Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation

 A very effective and well-designed cooler that can be an integral part of any outdoor trip without the need to stretch your budget.

AO Coolers Canvas Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, Charcoa

Overview:

The portable and easy to use soft coolers are quite effective in a wide variety of situations and this unit from AO coolers can be a perfect choice as it is in tune with every required aspect. There are quite a few competitors in this cheaper and effective segment of soft-sided coolers and this model has all the features to outshine them all. From a durable exterior to effective insulation, this cooler has been packed very well and while it is not a high-end model the positive features it has will silence most critics. This model is available from 12 can to 48 can size and you can pick as per your requirements. You can take a look at this next segment and judge for yourself, whether this model will be the one that you need.

Feature and Benefits:

Effective ice retention

The cooler has a durable outer shell which is lined with lined with a high density closed foam insulation on ¾ inch thickness. The interior is covered with high-grade polyester on top of which there is a leak-proof lining. As per the company statements, this features help the cooler to retain ice for 24 hours even in a 120- degree temperature which is quite impressive in its category.

Durable outer shell

No matter which cooler you buy, the outer layer needs to be durable enough for outdoor use and the heavy-duty polyester that makes up the outer layer of this model serves the purpose very well. It is resistant to abrasions and tears so you do not need to carry it around gingerly. It also has an outer vinyl coating and a layer of polyethene film on the inside. This film prevents accumulation of moisture so you can be assured that this cooler will not sweat.

Easy to carry

This is a light model and the handles and shoulders traps provide a very effective means for carrying it around for short distances. The handles are of durable quality and the shoulder strap is adjustable for length. There is also a small but effective pocket where you can store a few items that you need.

Value for money

This is a cooler that will not break your bank and you will get what you pay for. It can be easily used for day long in a car or a boat and it will keep your food and drinks warm or cold as you need it. It can be easily loaded and packed away, making it easy for anyone to load and unload. Overall, it is a simple and compact cooler that does its job efficiently.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Exterior Dimensions: 17 inches x 10 inches x 12 inches (LxWxH)
  • Product weight: 5 pounds.
  • Shell Material: Heavy duty polyester.
  • Capacity: 24 cans.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Well packed cooler.
  • Good for daily use.
  • Very easy to use.
  • Good portability.
  • A well-priced cooler.
.
Cons
  • Not suitable for prolonged outdoor use.
  • Some leakage around the zipper.

If you are looking for a decent cooler for short time usage with an easy price tag, you can always choose this model. This will serve your daily needs efficiently without giving you much to complain about.

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Cooler

This is a cooler that not only looks trendy but has quite a few smart features built in it to give the users a very good and convenient experience.

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 16 Can Zipperless Cooler, White _ Spo

Overview:

This is a cooler which has a few innovative features built into it, along with very good ice retention ability. The deep freeze insulation used by the brand promises a very good thermal efficiency and it also has a useful Smartshelf feature. It stands out from the other models by doing away with the conventional zipper and provides a zipperless lid for easier handling. The model is very attractive in appearance and it comes in three sizes. So, does the attractive appearance guarantee a good performance? Let us look into the details of this unit and find out.

Feature and Benefits:

A durable outer shell

The company uses Rhino-tech material in the exterior shell construction and it is water and stain resistant. It also resists UV rays so you can place the unit in the sun without any worries. The interior has a Hardbody liner which is removable and the soft liners in the interior are made up of food grade materials and are easily washable when needed. Overall, the entire unit is nicely put together and you will not find anything disappointing here.

Zipper-less lid

The unit has a zipper-less lid which makes it stand out among the other models in its category. Now, this design makes access into the inner chamber quite easy and the patented locking mechanism perform well enough to prevent any heat from leaking into the unit.

Smartshelf feature

When you can separate the wet and dry food items from each other inside the cooler body, it gets really convenient. This unit achieves just that with a hard shell so that the softer food items do not get crushed by the heavier drinks cans. This is really innovative and a very user-friendly feature that this cooler can boast of.

Good insulation

The insulation in this unit works in three layers along with Deepfreeze insulation with a radiant heat barrier. The overall insulating performance is good enough for a day-long outdoor activity and a picnic.

Easy to carry

The cooler is easy to carry around with the comfortable shoulder strap. As another effective feature, the strap has back saver technology to put less stress on your shoulder muscles. I am sure that you are aware that carrying a loaded cooler for long hours, on one shoulder can be tough; so this comes as a welcome benefit.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Exterior Dimensions: 25 inches x 8 inches x 12.25 inches (LxWxH)
  • Product weight: 25 pounds.
  • Shell Material: Rhino tech.
  • Capacity: 16 cans.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Light and well designed.
  • Good insulation.
  • Smartshelf feature.
  • A convenient lid.
  • Easy to carry around.
  • A good looking unit.
.
Cons
  • Not ideal for long term ice retention.
  • The strap is not detachable.

This smartly priced model can be an ideal companion for day-long trips and its multiple smart features are definitely praiseworthy.

Coleman C006 Soft 40 Can Collapsible Cooler

This cooler from Coleman can be a good choice for anyone looking for an easy to use and collapsible model with enough space to cater to an entire family.

Coleman Soft Collapsible Cooler with Flexible Liner _ Portable Cool

Overview:

Collapsible cooler models may not give you the tough build but they are undeniably easy to use and store away when not needed. To give you the ultimate advantage, this model can be folded, collapsed and rolled to save your valuable space when you are packing tight. Coleman has made this model very user-friendly so that it can be quickly loaded and easily carried by any of the multiple handle systems provided. The ice life is not long but due to its large volume, you can easily pack in some extra ice to make your drinks stay colder for longer periods.

Feature and Benefits:

Collapsible model

This unit does not have a rigid inner frame but you can roll it up and store it into the smallest available space giving it a great advantage over the hard-lined models. This also makes it easy to carry it around for longer trips and use it just when needed without having to bother about storage space.

Multiple storage options

With this cooler around, you will get sufficient storage space to put in all the small objects of use. It has a top, back and front pockets which can be very convenient for a wide range of users. So if you need storage space apart from the main chamber, this cooler has plenty of options to keep you satisfied.

Good internal features

The inner liners in this model are of with anti-microbial lining thereby helping to preserve the food. The seams are also heat welded to prevent any leaks from any part of the unit. One feature of this cooler that I appreciated is the flap at the top which can be used to access the interiors, without opening the main lid. This helps the unit preserve the inner temperature more efficiently.

Easy to carry around

This is one of the lightest models that I have checked and the shoulder straps are sturdily built to help in carrying it around. If it is fully loaded, no problem; the large side handles will help to carry it around quite easily.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Exterior Dimensions: 14 inches x 11.4 inches x 12.3 inches (LxWxH)
  • Product weight: 5 pounds.
  • Shell Material: 40D Dobby.
  • Capacity: 40 cans.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Collapsible and easy to store.
  • Large volume.
  • Multiple storage pockets.
  • Leak-proof built.
  • Easy to carry around.
  • Economically priced.
.
Cons
  • Not built for rough usage.
  • Suitable for short time ice retention.

In case you are looking for a back-up cooler or a compact model that will serve you for a half a day of outing with your family without burdening you with a high price, this is one model you can surely opt for.

Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Line

This cooler is designed with the motto of providing good performance at a reasonable price in mind and it is a strong contender in this range of coolers.

Polar Bear Coolers - Nylon Line - Quality Like No Other From the Br

Overview:

This model may look like the many other soft coolers in the market but once you take a look at the unit, you will notice that it beats many of them with its top class features. The three main aspects of any soft cooler is the capacity, portability and the insulating efficiency and this cooler do very well in all three fields. The built quality is of high standards and the insulation is one of the best in the category. Considering the price you pay for it, this model offers very good performance and portability making it one of my favourite models. So let us check out the features of this cooler in more detail.

Feature and Benefits:

Strong built

The outer shell is superbly crafted by 1000D luggage grade nylon which is extremely durable. The seams are vulnerable points in any cooler and in this model they are double hemmed and anchor stitched to last longer. The interior is also made of anti-microbial food grade TPU double-coated nylon. So you can be certain that this is one model which is rugged enough to endure rough usage.

Very good ice retention

This is one area where many soft-sided coolers falter with their performance but this unit from Polar Bear performs really well even in the hot afternoons. The company declares that it can retain ice for 24 hours in 100 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to the 1-inch thick high-density foam insulation. The feedback from the users substantiate this claim and this model will keep your food and drinks cold for exceptionally long periods.

Simple to use

This model is utilitarian in its built and design and all the features are extremely user-friendly. The shoulder pads are nicely built and the handles are of great help when you have loaded it to its full capacity. You will find carrying it around for short distance is just as easy as any other model and in addition, its rectangular shape makes it easy for storage in tight spots. The bottom saddle is rigid and gives very good support to the cooler when placed on any surface. The zippers are of heavy duty and you can rely on them to last for years.

Useful features

The metal bottle opener attached with the chain is a welcome addition in this model and you will surely find it useful. There are strong tie-down points attached for securing the unit to any vehicle which is an additional advantage. If you have had poor experiences with the buckles and zippers of other coolers you will be happy to learn that the ones in this unit are built for long time performance.

Key Specifications:

  • Product Exterior Dimensions: 7 inches x 14 inches x 12 inches (LxWxH)
  • Product weight: 2 pounds.
  • Shell Material: 1000- denier Nylon.
  • Capacity: 12 cans.
  • Warranty: 1 Year, Limited.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • A well-built unit.
  • Compact in size.
  • Very good ice retention.
  • Simple and easy to use features.
  • Leak-proof and sweat proof.
  • Easy to handle.
  • Very well priced.
.
Cons
  • Not built for prolonged rough usage.
  • Not ideal for long hikes.

This cooler is a great blend of price and performance presented in a compact and well design model which will keep you fully satisfied whether you need fresh food or cold beers.

Electric Coolers

In addition the two main types of coolers there are also electric coolers in the market offering their own advantages. The electric coolers can give you the best long term cooling on one hand while on the other hand, they provide the least amount of mobility. With these models in use, you can be independent of ice packs and hence you can easily use the power source from your vehicle to keep the unit cool while you drive.  Once the power is off, so is the cooling ability but modern day electric coolers can keep its contents cool for some time as they are insulated. But the time of that will depend heavily on the ambient temperatures.

A standard 12 Volt electric coolers can be powered from your vehicle as well as from an AC wall socket.  Though not light and durable as the other cooler models, electric coolers are dependable units and are great solutions for long term storage of your food and drinks.

Advantages of electric coolers

  • With these models, you do not need to depend on the ice packs to keep your food items cool. Just turn on the power and the cooler will do its job as long as it is plugged in.
  • They can store quite a good volume of food items and so if you are going for a long drive and have sufficient space in your car, this can be a very good choice for you. This can also be a good choice for a large family with a variety of food choices.
  • With an electric cooler in operation, you have no need to worry about the ambient temperatures, nor do you need to worry about the draining of the molten ice from the cooler body.

A brief history of the Portable Cooler

The Beginning

The charm of relaxing on a sunny beach or beside a mountain lake with a cooler full of beers is undeniable. The cooler unit has become extremely popular through the years and at present, there is hardly any household which does not possess one. The ease of sipping a chilled drink in the backyard while having a great time is a great idea but just imagine having to go back into the house every time you need a fresh drink. The convenience of filling up a cooler with food and drinks and taking it along with you for any outdoor trip is a great gift of modern technology but you will be surprised to know that even sixty years ago this convenience was not available.

Various types of ice boxes and chests were tried out in the previous centuries and they were made from materials like wood and metal with a wide variety of liners. Surely we can appreciate the old adage “better late than never” but the late entry of the portable cooler into our lives was because of the absence of proper insulating material. Styrofoam was the first insulating foam substance that was patented by DOW chemicals. With this came the “portable ice chest” which received a U.S. patent in 1953 and Coleman introduced the first commercial light and portable cooler with a plastic body in the U.S. market in 1957. This was the first model which provided a suitable alternative to the metal ice chest of earlier times.

The subsequent developments

The first designs became so popular that they lasted for a few decades without any major changes and brands like Igloo and Coleman sold millions of units in a single financial year. The innovations started pouring in for the late nineties and the early half of the subsequent decade with new portable models of basket coolers and thermal bags coming up in the market. Brands like Yeti came up making the structure of the cooler more durable and providing more thicker insulation that kept the cold items cold for longer periods and the hot items hot. They changed the make and built of coolers thereby giving the customers a better and a long lasting unit at a good price.

Today, we can say that we are in the golden age of portable coolers where there are a wide variety of models in the market that provide great features with a wide price range. In addition, there are also electric coolers which you can plug in in your vehicle without bothering about ice. But in the end, it all comes down to one man’s effort; the engineer from Dow Chemicals, Otis McIntire who mixed isobutylene and styrene to produce Styrofoam. It is because of his invention that today we are able to enjoy the fresh delicacies and chilled drinks anywhere we want and so it is definitely worth raising a toast to the man who made these drinks cold for us.

The story behind the testing of bear-proof coolers

It must have come to your notice that many of the top brands have certified their coolers as bear proof and some of them even have videos posted where they show the Grizzlies wrestling with the cooler unit. You must have wondered how and where they do that? We surely cannot expect the cooler manufacturers running into the wild for a testing session with a bear family so they depend on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC). The IGBC is formed by members of various wildlife agencies and government bodies of the USA and they carry out the testing and grant the certifications.

The testing procedure

The IGBC was set up in 1983 and its primary work is to check the Grizzly bear population and ensure that they recover in those areas where they have been diminishing in numbers. The IGBC takes the help of The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center (GWDC) located in West Yellowstone for the actual testing part. The GWDC has eight rescued adult bears who range from 500 pounds to 1000 pounds in weight. The coolers are filled with food items like fish heads or dried dog kibble and they are put in the den of a few really hungry bears.

Only those coolers that can stand the pounding from a bear for a full sixty minute is given the bear-proof certification. According to the officials, the bears are very clever in using various methods to crack open the box in pursuit of the food. The total number of products tested is between 40 to 80 different models in a year. The passing rate, which was a dismal 10 per cent 15 years ago, has now risen to around 60 per cent.

Why use a Bear-proof Cooler

With various hard-sided coolers available in the market the purpose of the bear-proof ones is to reduce the contact of bears with campers and travellers in the wilderness, thereby protecting both. The behaviour of any bear in unpredictable and once it gets the smell of food, it will definitely be attracted towards it. When the food is easily available at an unattended camp, the bear will be tempted to return again to that site which will increase the probability of it being put down. A bear-proof cooler lessens that chance and will discourage the bears from raiding the campsites in search of food in future.

A full-grown bear needs an astonishing amount of around 10000 calories in a day and almost three times that number in a day before it prepares to hibernate for the winter months. Bears are very smart creatures and a hungry bear can go to extreme lengths in search for food. So when they are able to find food from an uncertified cooler unit or a trash can in a camp it can result in some serious misfortune for the campers and the bear.

The number of Grizzly bears that put down in a year is quite a lot and the bears in the GWDC were all rescued from such situations. The number of black bears that are put down is even more and these are definitely very unfortunate situations. There is also the human safety factor involved and hence, using bear-proof coolers while on the outdoors in a bear-prone belt is definitely a great way of decreasing the chances of an unfortunate encounter.

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