12 Best Backpack Coolers in 2017

Coolers are not easy to carry, even if we’re talking about a smaller one. We’re all trying to con ourselves into not taking a cooler with us because it’s bothersome to carry around, but what if we didn’t have to carry it anymore while STILL managing to keep our foods and drinks cool?

That’s exactly what the best backpack cooler is for. This guide will show you some good options of backpack coolers so that you no longer get tired from carrying regular coolers by hand. Your arms will finally be able to rest, and your food will still be fresh.

Top 12 Backpack Coolers Chart

DesignName DimensionsTotal PocketsRating (1-5)
  1. Backpack Cooler – Gray 12 x 16 x 7 4 4.3
  2. Ultimate Backpack Cooler 14 x 10 x 12 4 4.3
  3. AO Coolers Backpack Soft Cooler 16 x 7 x 14 4 4.3
  4. Picnic Time ‘Zuma’ Insulated Cooler Backpack 11 x 8 x 19 7 4.2
  5. Polar Bear Coolers Backpack 12 x 7 x 18 4 4.2
  6. ENGEL USA Cooler Bag Backpack 17 x 8 x 19 4 4.2
  7. Picnic Time ‘Turismo’ Insulated Backpack Cooler 12 x 7 x 16 9 4.1
  8. Picnic Time ‘PTX’ Insulated Backpack Cooler 11 x 7 x 12.5 5 4.0
  9. Igloo Real Tree Softside Hunting Cooler 14 x 20 x 10 5 4.0
  10. Igloo MaxCold Coolers 6 x 8 x 10 5 4.0
  11. Picnic at Ascot Diamond Collection Cooler 11 x 8 x 14 5 4.0
  12. Igloo Marine Ultra Square Coolers 8 x 16 x 12 6 3.7

It’s not easy to find the best backpack cooler out there since everyone has different tastes and requirements. What’s certain, however, is that no matter what preferences we may have, we all have one thing in common: we want our food and drinks to be fresh and cool.

Even so, some small details may come in handy, which is why you may want to keep in mind a few details.

Pockets and Storage

The reason why you are buying cooler backpacks is that you want to take as much food and drinks as you want with you, without worrying that it won’t fit or that it hangs too loose.

  • Size – Do you need to carry a lot of items, or just a few? Is it for one person, or are you carrying the food for the entire group? Depending on how many items you plan on taking, you may opt for a larger or a smaller backpack.
  • Pockets – Generally, we’d go by the saying “the more pockets it has, the better.” But keep in mind the following: do you need to carry only food and drinks? What if you need extras such as papers, napkins, or whatever else that should be put on the table? Choose the number of pockets accordingly.

The dimensions of the backpack and the number of pockets is something that you should consider first and foremost.

Keeping Comfort in Mind

Comfort is always key when you’re wearing a backpack, regardless if you use it for school or carrying around food and drinks!

Think about where you plan to take this backpack; will you have to be carrying it around for hours or have a lot of items in it?

Constantly having straps burying in your shoulders is very uncomfortable, especially when you notice the pain and know you have no way of ditching the source of your discomfort.

In that case, you may want to look for a backpack cooler that has more padding on their straps, so that you will not feel you are cut in half by your backpack.

You may want to keep weight distribution in mind as well. Some people choose one-strap cooler backpacks simply because “they look cool,” but if your plan is to take it on a longer trip, your hunched back will not be as cool.

Look for a cooler backpack that has two straps, and that will distribute the weight equally on your back.

Materials and Durability

The durability of the backpack cooler is generally set by the materials used to create the product. Most of the backpacks will be made from nylon and polyester, but you will also find a few backpacks made of canvas and fabric.

Still, when it comes to durability, nylon should be your best bet. Indeed, it is the more expensive version of polyester, but it’s also more durable and leak/waterproof.

While there may be some brands that use high-quality polyester that is as waterproof as nylon, it may not be as durable (although, sometimes, there may be exceptions when the polyester is combined with nylon).

Canvas and fabric are generally the types of materials you’ll want to avoid since they don’t really help keep the warm air out and aren’t exactly leak-proof either. There are some exceptions, so you may not want to discard them completely.

Top 5 Best Backpack Cooler Reviews

1. OAGEAR Backpack Cooler

This backpack is large enough to hold around twenty cans, plus the ice. It’s perfect if you want to go on a journey somewhere and you need to keep your items cool for a longer time.

Imagine that you were to go on a trip to Disneyland. Stroller or classic coolers would be pretty inconvenient, as you would have to carry them around in your hand at all times, restricting your movements. Such a backpack, however, will allow some movement freedom – you will be able to eat that ice cream in peace.

While at first, it may seem heavy (with all the cans in it), you won’t have to worry; the weight is distributed perfectly, so it will not cause any discomfort at all. The extra padding also adds to the comfort.

It also has enough storage places for you to pack your essential. The main compartment is fairly large, and you also have two side pockets where you can store water bottles. There’s also a small pocket in the front where you can put other small items such as papers, keys or napkins.

2. OAGEAR Ultimate Backpack Cooler

This heavily insulated backpack is the ultimate travel cooler. It’s the perfect thing to keep your drinks cool while you go hiking, camping, or wherever you may go. Just place in your items, throw in a bag of ice or frozen water and hit the road.

The construction is that smart that you may actually miss the front pocket – therefore it looks nice and simple. The main one will keep all your sandwiches, snacks, beers, or whatever you plan to carry, and in the front pocket, you may add maps, cell phones, keys or whatever else.

You also have two side pockets where you can put some easy-to-reach water bottles.

Two hours in the bag will be enough for your drinks to be cold, and the best thing is that the insulation will not let the ice melt away.

The padding is also great, and you won’t have any problems carrying it around. It’s heavily reinforced, and it’s durable enough to become a faithful companion on all of your travels.

3. AO Coolers Backpack Soft Cooler

As opposed to most backpack coolers, this one is made from fabric. Even so, it provides twice the insulation properties, and it has a leak-proof liner that prevents water from coming out in the case of spilling.

This can be used as both a duffel bag and a backpack. If putting it on your back is not an option, you can attach the removable shoulder strap and carry it around in a classier manner.

This backpack will keep your food cold in hot weather, and it can hold the ice for 24 hours easily. You’ll be the lifesaver of any festival or camp since you will be the hero coming there with the cool drinks!

The exterior pockets are also convenient; not too many, but definitely enough. One main pocket and three side ones that can keep papers, keys, passports, cell phones or any other extras that can’t go in the cooler.

It’s also pretty large, and you can easily fit 18 cans in it. Regardless if you are going alone or with a crowd, there is definitely enough space in there for you to store the essentials.

4. Picnic Time ‘Zuma’ Insulated Cooler Backpack

If you are looking for more pockets and compartments in your backpack, then the Oniva Zuma is the perfect one for you.

It has two main compartments which will make the order-obsessed person in you happy: one insulated that can keep the food cold and one regular that will keep towels and any other items, plus many side pockets for your extras.

The backpack is waterproof, so if the ice packs and drinks get any leaks for whatever reason, it will not spill out from the backpack. The outside will remain dry until the moment you go out and spill the contents – including the leaks.

5. Polar Bear Coolers Backpack

This is a classic example of backpack meets handbag. In some cases, you’ll have no choice but to take the backpack off and carry it by hand, which is why the Polar Bear may literally come in handy.

The insulation is one of the thickest you will find in any item of its kind, and your food is guaranteed to stay fresh for a whole day, regardless of the weather.

It’s sized for an adult, and it’s very spacious, meaning that you can carry lunches for the entire family.

The padding on the straps is also thick, so there won’t be any discomfort as you’re carrying the cooler. It also has many pockets in which you can store your extras, so it’s definitely a backpack cooler you may want to keep in mind.

Final Thoughts

The best backpack cooler is one that will keep your items fresh throughout the entire day, regardless if the weather is that of a hot summer season.

So far, OAGear seems to be the leading brand in backpack coolers, and there’s no surprise there. They may not have so many pocket options other than the standard “one main pocket – three side ones,” but they definitely provide superior insulation.

Even so, the other mentioned backpack coolers are just as excellent, so the rest will depend on your personal preferences in style and storage.