I have used a lot of soft sided coolers with varying degrees of pricing and overall quality. There is no one cooler that is perfect for everyone but there are ones that just have better quality in many aspects. I have used all of these coolers for each a lengthy time to give the most fair and accurate round up as possible.
There are some features and elements that need to be considered for every single cooler I have used; they are:
Portability: Of course portability is one of the most important features when choosing one of these coolers. How easy are they to carry? Is their form factor convenient for easy transport? These are the sort of questions I am asking myself when considering them.
Ice Retention: Another very important quality of any cooler is how well it retains ice. Of course the longer the better.
Material Quality and Durability: When I am looking at the build quality of these units I am looking at the materials used and if they are strong and durable. I am also looking at the zip(s) and how they function, they can sometimes be a problem on lower quality units.
Value for money: The final thing is the value for money. What is the quality relative to the price you have to pay. I will always keep this in mind when considering all of the coolers I have tested.
So after considering all of the above elements for all the coolers I have used, I have rounded up the best soft sided coolers. I have included a variety of products with different price ranges, always choosing the best from each price range in my experience.
My Favorite 5 Coolers
Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler With Hard Liner
First thing I noticed about this Coleman cooler is the weight of it. It’s extremely lightweight and comes in a tried and true design which works very well when carrying from one place to another even when full.
As you can tell from the product title it can hold 16 cans inside, so this cooler is quite small but this can be a benefit if the size if enough for your needs. In terms of ice retention this Coleman cooler does a solid job in my experience it retains ice well for 12 hours fairly easily. One final thing to mention about this cooler is its affordability, this cooler is insanely affordable in comparison to the competition. This is the best soft cooler which is the most affordable.
IceMule Coolers Pro Coolers
If you are looking for portability with your cooler is a great option. In terms of actually carrying the cooler, it was the most convenient and most comfortable cooler I have ever used. If you are the type of person who is constantly on the move and have to carry your cooler a lot this one is brilliant.
I have carried this for 3 hours on my back and didn’t have issues whatsoever. In terms of the ice retention with the cooler it can comfortably hold ice for 24 hours and I could imagine 36+ hours if you aren’t in a very hot climate.
Yeti Coolers – Yeti Hopper Cooler
If you didn’t know Yeti are basically the Rolls Royce of cooler manufacturers. If you are looking for a premium product that is not only brilliant at ice retention but is made from the finest of materials that will last you a life time, this is one of the best options for you.
The ice retention in this cooler is amazing, it can hold ice for 72+ hours, it has the best ice retention on any soft sided cooler I have ever used! I just want to emphasize the quality of materials used on this cooler, you will just know when you have it in hand that the quality is amazing, not only does the material feel strong but it’s also lightweight which makes carrying this cooler a breeze. The cooler is a great example of a soft cooler with a hard liner.
AO Coolers Canvas Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, 12-Can to 48-Can
This AO cooler comes in variety of sizes though I personally used the 36-Can variant. In terms of value for money this cooler has to be the best. It offers solid ice retention that can hold ice for 36 hours in my experience. I also really like the form factor of the cooler, I like its overall design which isn’t too big but makes for a solid amount of space inside.
I like the materials they have used, they seem to be quite premium especially considering the price of this unit. It’s also great that they have the different sizes available which gives you the option to choose the size that best suites your needs.
NorChill 24 Can Marine Boatbag Soft Cooler, White
While this cooler is branded towards boat owners you can easily use it for anything you desire, I have personally used it for camping and it worked like a dream. Let me start of by saying I love the overall style and design of this bag. Not only does it look the part but its design also makes it more comfortable and practical to carry, mainly due to being about to be more narrow at the top and having a well-padded handle for carrying. This cooler can also retain ice for up to 36 hours very well.
I also like the PVC shell material, I imagine it will be very durable in the long run. The final thing I would like to mention is the warranty included with this cooler, it a year 2 warranty which is absolutely brilliant. Not only does this cover you if a problem did occur with the cooler but it shows the manufacturer is confident standing behind their products reliability which is even more reassuring that the cover itself in my opinion.
My Personal Favorite
Yeti Coolers – Yeti Hopper Cooler
Everyone has different requirements when it comes to choosing a cooler depending on their needs. But if you are looking for the best ice retention insulated cooler and overall quality product this Yeti Hopper Cooler is definitely the best option for you. It is my personal favorite soft sided cooler and I use it for every adventure that I go on!
PS. Don’t forget to check out our roundup on the Best Camping Cooler
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