The Greatest Gentle Coolers of 2022

A gentle cooler is a light-weight, easy-to-transport resolution for preserving fare on street journeys, boats, campouts, trailheads, and park picnics. Listed below are our favourite iceboxes for the outside and journey.

We’ll at all times have a spot in our gear closet for a tough cooler, however gentle coolers have confirmed an equal utility. These designs weigh much less and are straightforward for one particular person to seize and rapidly transport from the deck to the truck mattress.

There’s a broad vary of sizes and softness — a few of these designs are literally very inflexible, stout, and stackable. Others are absolutely collapsible and pliable, and we have a good time the space-saving choice for storage.

For day-long roams, weekend adventures, street journeys, or working errands, these gentle coolers saved our provisions chilled and match the invoice. For extra details about gentle coolers, try our purchaser’s information and FAQ on the finish of this text. In any other case, scroll by way of to see all of our really helpful buys or leap to the class you’re searching for:

The Greatest Gentle Coolers of 2022

Greatest Total: OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler

The OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler ($250) bummed us out at first as a result of it lacks a cushty deal with on the lid like its smaller discontinued model. However it aptly redeemed itself as hardy, reliable, and simple to function.

We took this cooler on a two-person, 3,400-mile street journey from Colorado to Washington for ski mountaineering adopted by ocean browsing. Then we linked up river surf spots by way of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, tenting alongside the way in which.

The cooler was hauled out and in of the open truck mattress numerous occasions, confronted torrential downpours, withstood sunshine, didn’t collapse below different stacked gear, and sat in mud at camp. The cooler didn’t take up an excessive amount of area within the backseat, both. When posted up, we used the cooler for day journeys. However on the street, we packed it filled with drinks and snacks.

This cooler’s dimension, form, and rigidity are handy. The broad opening is nice for fast, quick access. The leakproof seal prevented melted ice from dripping out, and no rain seeped inside throughout storms.

The flat bottom wall alleviates bounce after we’re utilizing the shoulder strap. We admire the waterproof exterior pocket, which is simple to open and shut. We miss the highest deal with, however the two facet seize handles are sturdy and ergonomic.

We had been shocked how nicely the cooler retained ice regardless of being out within the components, because of the premium thermal insulation. The heavy-duty base additionally elevated the coolness issue whereas stabilizing the cooler throughout transport and beneath gadgets. The staunch base additionally allowed us to set the cooler on variable floor and was straightforward to wash.

In line with our ice retention check, this cooler is able to holding ice for as much as 78 hours, which is what the model claims. To place the scale in perspective, this cooler might match 28 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 14.3″ x 17.5″ x 10.25″
  • Capability: 19 L
  • Weight: 3,175 g (6.5 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~3+ days
  • Sturdy cooler in sunshine or downpour
  • Leakproof lid
  • Straightforward to move
  • Retains ice nicely
  • We’d like a streamlined top-of-lid deal with like on the discontinued smaller model
  • Closing the lid’s clasp requires consideration to verify it’s absolutely clamped

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Greatest Ice Retention: YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler

YETI Hopper M30 Soft Cooler

We took the YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler ($350) on a Southwest Colorado street journey to Hardrock 100 to race volunteer and automobile camp. We additionally used the cooler for picnics on the park.

The shoulder strap is actually comfy to slip over the shoulder, doesn’t slip round, and holds the cooler near your facet to forestall bounce. The outside high-density material shell feels robust and is immune to punctures in addition to mildew. It’s a bonus that it doesn’t sweat like just a few of the opposite gentle coolers.

We had been blown away by the ability of the HydroShield closure, which makes use of magnets to create a leak-resistant seal alongside the highest. No water can exit the tote. When the cooler is open, the mouth is broad.

We additionally give kudos to the closed-cell foam insulation of the tote. For the ice retention check, the cubes melted after 4 days. Inevitably, we needed to be strategic with how we packed issues, because of the tall, slim form. This cute cooler might match 20 12-ounce cans.

Now we have two critiques. There are two buckles that snap throughout the magnetic closure, and we want these had been extra adjustable and simpler to function. If the cooler is actually packed to the brim, we are able to’t shut them.

And we’d like to see YETI improve the cooler with an attachment system that retains the magnetic closure open if you’re loading the cooler. As is, the closure slams shut until you could have two arms on — however then you may’t seize your foodstuff.

The highly effective closure can also be a difficulty for cleansing the cooler and letting the within dry and air out. The one factor we might discover that might maintain the cooler open was a 5-pound water jug, and two individuals had been wanted to get it contained in the cooler.

  • Dimension: 25″ x 12″ x 17.5″
  • Capability: 30 L
  • Weight: 3,175 g (7 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~4 days
  • Magnet closure is leakproof
  • Extraordinarily sturdy materials
  • Sturdy base and talent to sit down upright
  • Massive quantity
  • Magnet closure wants latch system to be propped open — it slams shut

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Greatest Price range: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Bucket Tote

arctic zone titan deep freeze bucket tote

The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Bucket Tote ($53) is a superb price range cooler that retains our ice chilly for lengthy durations. A trio took the cooler fly fishing on Colorado’s Gunnison River, carrying alongside water and varied canned drinks. The temps that day hovered round 80 levels.

Regardless of being left within the automobile for a full day following the river outing, the cooler nonetheless had ice and felt chilly. That well-founded retention is due to the model’s mix of proprietary insulation, inside radiant barrier, and thick base product of three layers of SuperFoam. We additionally discovered the water- and stain-resistant exterior very sturdy. The within was simpler to wipe clear.

The form and weight really feel straightforward to maneuver round, and the handles are comfy. We admire the entire pockets to assist us maintain odds and ends organized. There are two zippered pockets, together with one that matches a cellphone, and two big, broad mesh pockets.

In line with our ice retention check, this cooler is able to holding ice for as much as 70 hours. This cooler might match two dozen 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 15″ x 10″ x 13.5″
  • Capability: 33 L
  • Weight: 816 g (1.8 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~3 days
  • Nice ice retention
  • Two over-the-shoulder straps Velcro collectively plus a detachable longer shoulder strap
  • Contains bottle opener
  • Just a few of us don’t choose the look
  • The lid’s zipper shouldn’t be waterproof

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Greatest Massive Gentle Cooler: Snow Peak Gentle Cooler

snow peak soft cooler

One in all our favourite merchandise was the Snow Peak Gentle Cooler ($170). Even given its massive dimension, it was nonetheless very comfy to move, because of the gentle, malleable partitions. With the straightforward, broad handles Velcroed collectively, we might sling the cooler over our shoulders when it was absolutely loaded.

A tough cooler this dimension would require two arms to maneuver. The versatile partitions enable us to flatten and fold the cooler for straightforward storage, saving us area in a decent condo.

The outside is product of artificial plastic and nylon, so it’s not resilient for a rugged whitewater journey however is appropriate for basecamp. There’s ample area to hold a number of meals for a number of individuals. The insulated partitions have an inside aluminum coat that helps lure chilly air, and the ice retention is sufficient for single- and 2-day adventures.

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The cooler did nicely on a weekend street journey to climb Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains and camp out, however wouldn’t be capable of retain ice for lengthy durations. Our ice retention check corroborated that have, exhibiting the cooler is able to holding ice for almost 2.5 days.

  • Dimension: 19″ x 12.5″ x 12.5″
  • Capability: 38 L
  • Weight: 1,724 g (3.8 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~2.5 days
  • Massive capability
  • Supple and simple to hold
  • The lid’s zipper shouldn’t be waterproof
  • A bit overpriced for the low ice retention however value the price for collapsibility

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Most Compact Gentle Cooler: Mountainsmith Takeout

mountainsmith takeout soft cooler

The Mountainsmith Takeout ($25) accompanied us on a standup paddleboard session down Colorado’s Slate River, a mellow run sans whitewater. This cute cooler carried and chilled a number of cans of microbrews and a number of other glowing waters. We additionally used it day after day on drives to deliver alongside lunch, snacks, and drinks.

The design is tremendous light-weight and felt comfy to hold round. It was straightforward to sling over our shoulders with the detachable strap. The fabric dried surprisingly quick after it wetted whereas paddling. This design is simply too small for an all-day journey, however for a lunchbox or outing, it’s nice. And the broad form permits quick access to the grub contained in the cooler.

In line with the ice retention check, this cooler can retain ice for 21 hours. To place the scale in perspective, this cute cooler might match six 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 8″ x 9″ x 6″
  • Capability: 7 L
  • Weight: 363 g (0.8 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~21 hours
  • Two tote straps comfortably slide over the shoulder
  • Inside zippered mesh pocket in lid for utensils
  • Zippers are substantial
  • Exterior pocket is nice for a cellphone however lacks zipper for safety
  • Lid’s zipper leaks

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Most Eco-Pleasant: Cotopaxi Hielo

Cotopaxi Hielo

The Hielo ($100) is amongst Cotopaxi’s (Re)Function Assortment, so every bag is constructed with leftover high-quality nylon and polyester material from different corporations’ manufacturing runs, saving these scraps from going to the landfill.

On the model’s associate manufacturing facility within the Philippines, the designers and sewers select mixed-and-matched material for every pack. No two coolers baggage are the identical — each is creatively distinctive.

What’s the similar: Every pack contains a roll-top closure that’s secured with a buckle. The inside liner is waterproof and the froth insulation, which is likewise repurposed, retains the products chilled. And there’s a water bottle pocket (as much as 3 inches in diameter) on the facet.

For grab-and-go, there’s a deal with on the again and a carry tote-style strap. For scale, the bag can carry as much as a dozen 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 18″ x 14″ x 5.5″
  • Capability: 12 L
  • Weight: 708 g (1.6 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: Unavailable
  • Saves throwaway scraps from the landfill
  • Every cooler bag is one-of-a-kind
  • The design course of empowers workers behind every cooler pack
  • The zippers, zipper pulls, buckles, and thread are tailor-made to every bag — so that you’re not completely certain what to anticipate

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Greatest for Tight Storage: REI Co-op Pack-Away Gentle Cooler

rei co-op pack-away soft cooler

If in case you have restricted cupboard space, think about the REI Co-op Pack-Away Gentle Cooler ($50). This origami-inspired design collapses and folds flat when it’s not a dice or a tote. When reworked right into a field or bag form, the cooler is gentle, nimble, and malleable. No different cooler would’ve match into the awkward ground area behind our seats.

We loaded the Pack-Away into our jeep for navigating Colorado’s high-altitude Alpine Loop, a 65-mile route that circumnavigates outdated mining roads by way of the San Juan Mountains. The cooler held lunch meats, cheese, veggies, darkish chocolate, and seltzer waters.

The eco-friendlier design contains a recycled polyester higher and recycled nylon backside, plus it’s Bluesign-approved, which we admire.

Total, we discovered the Pack-Away sturdy, given it’s made with a tricky polyester shell and abrasion-resistant nylon backside. It additionally had respectable ice retention. The dimensions and insulation are perfect for a single day trip. In line with the ice retention check, this cooler can retain ice for 57 hours and match 24 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 10″ x 11″ x 15″
  • Capability: 32 L
  • Weight: 680 g (1.5 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~2+ days
  • Daisy chains and spacious exterior pocket with a zipper
  • Transforms right into a tote, dice, and flat for storage
  • Light-weight
  • Can’t stack any gadgets on prime of this gentle cooler
  • Tote is wobbly and doesn’t dependably stand upright
  • Prime zipper shouldn’t be waterproof

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Better of the Relaxation

Orca Walker Cooler

orca walker cooler

We used the Orca Walker Cooler ($250) for tailgating at trailheads after hikes and park BBQs. In the end, this is a wonderful cooler for single-day adventures. Our group was most impressed by the 840-denier textile exterior, which is hard and doesn’t get banged up.

The insulation is a metal-coated plastic mix, which did a strong job of preserving the ice and items. We liked the gentle inside liner and the waterproof zipper that stops any leaks from the highest.

The 2 facet handles aren’t probably the most comfy to seize, and we want they weren’t adjoining to the shoulder straps’ attachment factors. The middle magnetic deal with is easy and good to seize. However when the handgrip is indifferent into two separate items, they’re not comfy to know.

In line with our ice retention check, the Walker is able to holding ice for as much as 70 hours. This cooler might match 20 12-ounce cans.

We additionally examined the Orca Walker Tote ($200), which is equally well-made however in a barely totally different fashion. It additionally retained ice for almost 28 hours. Try the total assessment.

  • Dimension: 14.5″ x 11″ x 13.25″
  • Capability: 33 L
  • Weight: 1,633 g (3.6 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~3 days
  • Cooler gained’t leak by way of waterproof prime zipper or seams
  • Small stretch exterior pocket
  • Bungee cords to carry down gadgets
  • Magnetic cut up deal with shouldn’t be comfy to seize when divided as two straps

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Hydro Flask Day Escape Gentle Tote Cooler

Hydro Flask Day Escape Soft Cooler Tote

The Hydro Flask Day Escape Gentle Tote Cooler ($150) is a streamlined, light-weight, and sturdy design. We used this cooler for park BBQs and love how comfy it was to slide over our shoulders and carry.

The outside is product of a 600-denier polyester shell that’s waterproof. The zipper is totally watertight with welded seams, so leaking isn’t on the menu. We observed the zipper is tough to tug one-handed, and we sometimes have to counter-pull the facet handles to open or shut it.

We had been shocked to see the cooler’s exterior sweat fairly a bit in the course of the ice retention check. The ice melted at a sooner price in comparison with different coolers, lasting for about 60 hours, however nicely above the model’s 36-hour stamp. This cooler might match 24 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 12.2″ x 20.5″ x 7.8″
  • Capability: 18 L
  • Weight: 1,134 g (2.5 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~2.5 days
  • Tote straps comfortably slide over the shoulder
  • Waterproof zipper
  • Cooler is totally leakproof
  • Exterior pocket is nice for a cellphone however lacks zipper for safety
  • No built-in pockets

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Mountainsmith Sixer

mountainsmith sixer soft cooler

The Mountainsmith Sixer ($35) was an incredible cooler for lunch on the go. Our tester, a Colorado-based electrician and mountain biker, packed it with a canned drink, sandwich, fruit, and chocolate. The cooler’s form and dimension had been straightforward to slot in a messy work truck.

In and out, the cooler is simple to wash. It appears sturdy, and we just like the classic look. The haul deal with is ergonomically sound and cozy to seize. Nevertheless, our ice melted quick on scorching days, and with minimal room within the cooler, the meals can get moist. However, the seamless liner did maintain the water and confirmed no signal of leaks.

In line with the ice retention check, this cooler can protect ice for 25 hours. This cooler might match one dozen 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 11″ x 11″ x 6″
  • Capability: 12 L
  • Weight: 499 g (1.1 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~25 hours
  • Two tote straps comfortably slide over the shoulder
  • Nice for park concert events
  • Zippered inside mesh pocket inside cooler lid for utensils
  • Two flat pockets on cooler’s facet however not very spacious
  • We’d just like the light-weight detachable shoulder strap to be burlier
  • Cooler backside can take up moisture
  • Lid’s zipper shouldn’t be waterproof

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Igloo Pursuit Tote

Igloo Pursuit Tote

The Igloo Pursuit Tote ($120) preserved our bubbly water, hummus, pepperoni, peppers, and arugula whereas automobile tenting and crewing the Hardrock 100. It was straightforward to hold round from the van to the resort porch. We most appreciated the light-weight design and malleable material.

We might stuff plenty of items inside or squish down the cooler for storage. The slender form doesn’t bounce round and feels easy to hold over the shoulder.

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We actually like the outside entrance zipper pocket. However we want the facet mesh water bottle pockets had been hardy like the remainder of the cooler — they felt flimsy and simply snagged. Additionally, we liked that the highest entry opened broad and had a two-way zipper, however the broad rim made drying out the cooler a problem.

In the end, because of the ice retention, this tote is a strong choice for errands and small journeys however you should definitely cool the bag earlier than use. In line with the ice retention check, this cooler can retain ice for 40 hours. It might probably match 30 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 22.4″ x 3.7″ x 15.7″
  • Capability: 21 L
  • Weight: 907 g (2 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~1.5 days
  • Two tote straps comfortably slide over the shoulder
  • Padded detachable shoulder strap
  • Ice melts quick in a scorching automobile or sunny circumstances
  • Prime zipper shouldn’t be waterproof and might leak
  • Truthful quantity of condensation appeared on cooler’s exterior

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REI Co-op Cool Haul Gentle Cooler

REI Co-op Cool Haul Soft Cooler

Our group loudly applauded the REI Co-op Cool Haul Gentle Cooler ($100), which was a reliable software for whitewater rafting Colorado’s Gunnison River, automobile tenting, and crewing the Hardrock 100. We discovered the scale good for a duo.

The cooler’s exterior is made with stout ripstop nylon that simply wipes down. Inside, the insulated polyester liner is sturdy and detachable. It’s tremendous straightforward to tug out and clear.

Whereas adventuring, this cooler did a noteworthy job of preserving ice in sunny circumstances and exceeded the capabilities of different coolers we examined. The seams are sealed to forestall leaks. A two-way zipper supplies straightforward prime entry, and the dice form properly slides into tight areas on a ship or within the truck mattress.

In line with our ice retention check, the REI Co-op Haul is able to holding ice for as much as 60 hours. To place the scale in perspective, this cooler might match one dozen 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 14″ x 11″ x 11″
  • Capability: 15 L
  • Weight: 1,415 g (3.12 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~2.5 days
  • Daisy chain webbing and bottle opener included
  • Inside zippered pocket inside lid retains meals gadgets above ice
  • Robust, easy facet and prime handles
  • Useful cooling ideas are listed contained in the pack’s lid
  • The dice form bounces off your again when utilizing the shoulder strap
  • Prime zipper shouldn’t be waterproof, so look ahead to leaks
  • Exterior entrance pocket lacks zipper to safe gadgets

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KULA Gentle Cooler

KULA Soft Cooler

In an unusual and enjoyable form, the 5-gallon KULA Softy Cooler ($240) is spherical with a zipper and development that’s nonetheless bomber. Whatever the playful look, the outside is heavy-duty. The cooler continues to be comparatively gentle to hold round, too.

The smaller choice is 2.5 gallons, which is best fitted to one or two individuals on a day outing or for a extra compact vessel like a SUP.

Primarily based on critiques, the ice retention labored nicely even whereas street tripping in Texas, in 90-degree warmth, whereas offshore fishing, and in Florida’s scorching and humid circumstances boating all day lengthy — the ice was even reusable the next day.

  • Dimension: 15.25″ x 14.5″
  • Capability: 18 L
  • Weight: 2,041 g (4.5 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: Unavailable
  • Ample daisy chain attachment factors
  • Fashionable
  • Doesn’t fill or slot in angular corners
  • The zipper will be robust to tug, so use the included lubricant
  • Some people want the cooler was 1 inch taller so it might match a bottle of wine

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Hobie Gentle Cooler Fish Bag

Hobie Soft Cooler Fish Bag

We wished the group — and particularly our anglers — to like the distinctive Hobie Gentle Cooler Fish Bag ($125), however the design allow us to down in additional methods than one.

On the optimistic facet, the cooler is conveniently formed to suit contained in the bow recess of a ship. We took this cooler out boating, fishing, and standup paddleboarding at Taylor Reservoir within the Elk Mountains of Colorado.

The supplies are high-quality with closed-cell foam insulation, a vinyl-coated polyester exterior, and snazzy YKK zippers. We favored the 2 muscular handles. However and not using a shoulder strap, it wasn’t splendid to move the Hobie Cooler greater than quick distances.

Sadly, the seams leaked water everywhere in the rig earlier than we even acquired to the water’s edge after which drained inside solely a few hours of use. We noticed the identical outcomes throughout our ice retention check — on a wooden ground.

Our different grievance is the zipper solely goes round midway, stopping at an ungainly spot that limits entry and talent to wash the within of the cooler. Plus, the zipper isn’t waterproof. So, if you seize one of many two handles to hold the cooler, it leaks everywhere.

In the end, the ice retention shouldn’t be as reliable as different coolers, partially as a result of the chilly water all drains out. In line with our ice retention check, this cooler is ready to maintain ice for almost 45 hours.

  • Dimension: 18″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Capability: 19 L
  • Weight: 2,721 g (6 lbs.)
  • Ice retention check: ~1.5 days
  • Slim design suits nicely on or in a ship
  • Bungee cords to carry down gadgets
  • Seams leak
  • Zipper doesn’t go all the way in which round so entry is awkward
  • Lacks attachments factors for whitewater journey
  • Wants a detachable shoulder strap to conveniently carry to and from water
  • Bungee cords are at every nook — not D-rings — for tiedown factors

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Fishpond Blizzard Gentle Cooler

fishpond blizzard soft cooler

We took the aesthetic Fishpond Blizzard Gentle Cooler ($100) out fly fishing with two anglers. The compact cooler was filled with brews, glowing water, and lunch meals. We actually favored the contact of the facet rope handles — they’re easy, robust, and simple to seize and maintain.

We additionally admire the 2 broad pockets on all sides. One has a zipper closure for safety, and the opposite latches by way of Velcro.

The lid has a small pop-up Velcro door to offer quick access when the cooler is zipped shut. We want that small entrance was a tiny bit larger. It’d even be nice to see the door and lid closures upgraded so that they don’t leak.

The cooler’s multilayer insulation didn’t maintain the ice very nicely, and the waxed canvas is fashionable and gentle however soaks up water and will get heavy. In line with our ice retention check, this cooler is able to holding ice for near 45 hours. It might match one dozen 12-ounce cans.

  • Dimension: 11.5″ x 9″ x 10″
  • Capability: 17 L
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Ice retention check: ~1.5 days
  • YKK zippers
  • Comfy padded, detachable shoulder strap
  • Small Velcro lid permits quick access when cooler’s lid is shut
  • Materials absorbs water and feels heavy

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Purchaser’s Information: Learn how to Select a Gentle Cooler

Storage Capability

Select a gentle cooler based mostly on the storage capability and kind of assist you want for the load. An excellent malleable product just like the Snow Peak Gentle Cooler won’t be the perfect for carrying dozens of heavy cans in comparison with a extra inflexible design just like the YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler.

The bigger the group, the extra cargo area you’ll want. The gentle coolers in our information vary from the Mountainsmith Takeout, which may match six cans, to the 38L Snow Peak Gentle Cooler. Most of our selection gentle coolers are both bigger — 30 L to 38 L — for group multiday journeys or extra compact, starting from 12 L to 19 L.

Compartments & Pockets

Most gentle coolers are easy with a central insulated compartment for meals and drinks. A handful have an inside zippered compartment contained in the lid.

Varied exterior pockets can be found on some designs, together with streamlined material and mesh pockets with no closure or bungee straps. Different coolers have exterior pockets with a Velcro latch, zipper, or waterproof zipper for safety.


The weights of soppy coolers are sometimes mirrored by their dimension and capability. The smallest design in our information is the Mountainsmith Takeout, which weighs lower than a pound. The heaviest gentle cooler is the 7-pound YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler, which has a 30L capability and the perfect ice retention.

Even the heaviest gentle cooler in our information is lighter than a tough cooler. For comparability, the YETI Tundra 45 Cooler weighs 23 kilos, and the RovR Merchandise RollR 45 weighs greater than 37 kilos.

best soft coolers stacked by a lake
Testing gentle coolers; (picture/Eric Phillips)


Gentle cooler totes are lengthy, slender, and streamlined in opposition to your facet. They’re comfy to hold over a shoulder. Nevertheless, taller coolers get trickier with entry to buried gadgets, so it’s important to be aware when packing the cooler.

Gentle coolers which are wider or extra bucket-style are simpler to entry, so far as discovering a selected merchandise. However, they will really feel extra cumbersome to hold over a shoulder. Coolers just like the OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler with a broad, flat floor that rests in opposition to you may assist take up that swing and bounce.

Boxier coolers will be simpler to stack — so long as the partitions and base are inflexible — whereas sleeker coolers can extra probably slip behind a seat in your automobile. Shorter, extra compact coolers are simpler to slot in tight areas on a ship.

See also  The Finest Coolers of 2022


A gentle cooler’s supplies embrace the outside, insulation, inside liner, and handles. A variety of prime closures exist. The most typical are waterproof and leakproof zippers or non-waterproof and leakproof zippers.

We take note of that variable to know if a cooler must at all times be upright. Some distinctive closures embrace the highly effective magnetic seam of the YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler and clasp of the OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler, which don’t enable leaks. Welded seams additionally assist stop leaks.

Gentle coolers could have shoulder straps — that are sometimes detachable — buckles, attachment factors, and inside or exterior pockets. Some pockets have sturdy, waterproof zipper closures, however many should not weather-resistant or secured with a closure.

The standard of supplies influences the waterproofness, sturdiness, insulation worth, and whether or not or not the face material produces condensation. The supplies additionally decide the consolation, breathability, assist, and total value.

Straps & Handles

Handles and straps are constructed with quite a lot of supplies. Some are extra ergonomic, comfy, and sturdy than others.

Most gentle coolers have facet or prime handles, two straps that swing as much as safe collectively above the cooler, or a detachable shoulder strap. A bunch of designs have a mixture of handles and straps, too.

In our testing, we discovered the facet handles of the Fishpond Blizzard Gentle Cooler and OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler had been stalwart and cozy to seize. We favored the broad, gentle materials of the 2 swing-up straps on the Snow Peak Gentle Cooler.

The handles on the Hydro Flask Day Escape Gentle Tote Cooler had been an incredible size and simple to slip over one shoulder. We additionally appreciated the comfy cushion and traction of the shoulder strap on the YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler.

Ice Retention

We accomplished our ice retention check with managed variables. Every gentle cooler was stationed indoors round 65 levels, shaded, and stuffed with the identical ratio and kind of ice.

Ice Retention Take a look at Outcomes

For quite a lot of circumstances, the gentle coolers on this information present sufficient cooling energy to serve a spread of recreation wants.

Once you use a cooler outdoors, many elements affect a pack’s ice retention, together with frequency of opening the cooler, direct daylight, and ambient temperature. As an illustration, the REI Co-op Cool Haul Gentle Cooler preserved ice for 60 hours throughout our check however just for 18 hours throughout one toasty automobile camp journey.

woman showing contents of soft cooler
(Photograph/Eric Phillips)


The costs of soppy coolers in our information vary from the $25 Mountainsmith Takeout, which is the smallest cooler, to the $350 YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler with top-shelf ice retention.

The worth of a gentle cooler is mirrored by the scale, sturdiness, high quality of supplies, design options, and ice retention.

In that higher tier, you’ll additionally discover the OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler ($250) and Orca Walker Cooler ($250). Gentle coolers within the medium value vary embrace the Snow Peak Gentle Cooler ($170), Igloo Pursuit Tote ($120), and REI Co-op Cool Haul Gentle Cooler ($100).

Loads of gentle coolers are pretty comfy to make use of and dependable (so long as it’s not too sunny or scorching scorching out) within the less-than-$100 class. These selection designs embrace a spread of designs such because the Mountainsmith Takeout ($25), REI Co-op Pack-Away Gentle Cooler ($50), and Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Bucket Tote ($45).

The extremely well-constructed, premium Hydro Flask Day Escape Gentle Tote Cooler is accessible at a average value ($150).

Further Options

Extra options on gentle coolers embrace laborious clip factors, daisy chains, webbing straps, and bungee cords for carrying additional gear. Some packs additionally embrace a reflective emblem or bottle opener.

Many gentle coolers don’t have tiedown factors, which might be a great characteristic for river or motorbike journeys.

Why You Ought to Belief Us

Our group has developed cooler guides for a number of years, objectively testing dozens of soppy, laborious, and backpack coolers within the area from whitewater raft journeys to fly fishing adventures. For this gentle coolers information, we examined the most well-liked, extremely acclaimed, and bestselling merchandise with various capacities, ice retention skill, and value spectrum.

Our crew took these coolers by way of a myriad of circumstances from summertime park BBQs to tenting in Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains and road-tripping to ski mountaineer within the Pacific Northwest.

We additionally carried out a managed in-house ice retention check to confirm model claims. For the experiment, we stuffed every precooled cooler roughly 70% with recent, frozen cubed ice and set them in a shaded, dry indoor area at a gradual common of 65 levels.

We periodically checked, making notes concerning soften price, condensation, and leaks. Every reported time is predicated on when 100% of the ice is transformed to water.

This information supplies a benchmark. However when touring open air, these managed variables disappear and the ice will probably soften sooner.

women taking drinks out of soft cooler
(Photograph/Eric Phillips)


Are Exhausting or Gentle Coolers Higher?

There’s utility for each designs. Exhausting coolers are extra sturdy and stout and have a bigger dimension vary, given they will maintain extra weight with out collapsing. Exhausting coolers may also protect ice for longer durations. If you happen to’re happening a weeklong automobile tenting journey with restricted entry to ice, it’s advantageous to have a tough cooler for recent meals.

However, a gentle cooler is a most well-liked selection for being light-weight, straightforward to hold — particularly for one particular person — and easy to move. The compact sizes are nice for picnics, day journeys, in a single day tenting, and grocery purchasing. One other profit is a few gentle coolers are collapsible, so that they occupy much less area in storage than a tough cooler.

For street journeys, you may separate daytime drinks and snacks right into a gentle cooler, which limits opening of the laborious cooler and preserves ice.

Do Gentle Coolers Leak?

If the cooler’s seams should not welded and leakproof, they will leak. Gentle coolers may also leak by way of the lid closure if the zipper isn’t waterproof or the clasp isn’t leakproof.

How Efficient Are Gentle Coolers at Retaining Ice?

Some gentle coolers are superior at ice retention, which is usually mirrored within the price ticket however not at all times. Some pricier coolers provide sufficient ice retention combined with different qualities like sturdiness and capability.

In our side-by-side ice retention check, the gentle cooler that retained ice the longest was the YETI Hopper M30 Gentle Cooler at a whopping 98 hours. The following chilliest gentle coolers had been the OtterBox Trooper 20 Cooler, which reached 78 hours.

It was adopted by the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Bucket Tote and Orca Walker Cooler, which held ice for 70 hours. The bottom ice retention recorded was 21 hours for the small Mountainsmith Takeout.

In each day adventures, soften velocity barely fluctuates based mostly on the frequency of opening the cooler, how lengthy it’s open, ambient warmth, and direct daylight. A bunch of different variables affect ice retention too, together with the sort and amount of ice, additional area within the compartment (which decreases effectiveness), and if the cooler was prechilled.

Can You Put Dry Ice in a Gentle Cooler?

For many gentle coolers, dry ice will burn the inside supplies. As a substitute, you must use freshly frozen cubed ice, ice blocks, or reusable ice packs.

How Can I Make My Gentle Cooler Keep Colder, Longer?

For the longest-lasting ice retention and cooling functionality, purpose to make use of a 2:1 ratio of ice to contents. You possibly can rapidly prechill your cooler with a sacrificial bag of ice just a few hours earlier than loading it up, particularly if the cooler was saved in a scorching place. Or, deliver the cooler inside a cool room to decrease the temperature the night time earlier than use.

The kind of ice makes a distinction. Block ice and recent cubed ice from freezers are denser than chipped ice or crushed ice from ice machines. If you happen to get tremendous strategic, you should utilize a mixture of block ice — which melts slowly — and cubed ice — which cools down the container rapidly.

Because the ice melts, it’s splendid to retain the ice water, which helps the opposite ice keep chilly. Restrict your entry to the cooler as a result of opening it up releases the chilly air.

Preserve your cooler within the shade to delay that low temperature. If you happen to’re below direct solar, toss a towel or blanket over the cooler to assist alleviate a warmth spike.

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