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11 Best Soft Sided Coolers: Compare & Save

soft sided cooler


Sometimes your outdoor adventures call for a soft-sided cooler rather than a hard-sided option.

The insulating ability of many soft cooler designs has become wildly impressive, some are even able to hold ice for days at a time. If you’re in the market for a soft-sided cooler this season, our guide runs down the best options regarding both quality and overall value.

Hydro Flask 24 Liter Soft Cooler Tote Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great shape and overall design for easy cooler access
  • Comfortble and durable carry straps
  • Impressive insulating ability
Price: $197.96 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
yeti hopper flip Amazon Customer Reviews
  • ColdCell Insulation holds ice for days
  • DryHide Shell is totally waterproof and super durable
  • HydroLok Zipper is 100% leak proof
Price: $449.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler Amazon Customer Reviews
  • DryHide Shell is remarkably durable
  • Holds ice for days
  • 100% leak proof
Price: $999.97 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Kelty Folding Cooler Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Collapsible design is great for travel!
  • Integrated molded cup holders
  • Fair price point
Price: $119.11 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Pelican Cooler Sling Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Insulated with high density closed cell foam
  • Highly water resistant
  • 840D Double coated TPU material is tough as nails
Price: $175.98 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
TOURIT 30 Can Soft Cooler Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Three ways to carry
  • Full zip top for easy access
  • Integrated bottle opener
Price: $139.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
TOURIT Soft Sided Beach Tote Bag Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Inner and outer bags can be used together or apart
  • Effectively leak proof
  • Waterproof, no sweat design
Price: $10.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Mountainsmith Cooler Cube Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Holds 24 cans or 12 bottles
  • Compact 11 by 13 by 9 inch design is great for transport, travel and storage
  • Includes a key clip, stash pockets on front and back and dual internal organization pockets
Price: $49.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Highly portable
  • Nice organization potential for its size
  • Hard liner is removable
Price: $44.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 30 Can Insulated Tote Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent price point!
  • Easy to clean
  • Rhino-Tech water and stain resistant, wipe clean exterior is abrasion and puncture resistant
Price: $39.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Clevermade soft cooler Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Collapses down to less than 3 inches wide
  • Impressive 50 can capacity
  • Excellent price point
Price: $40.26 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Hydro Flask 24 Liter Soft Cooler Tote

    • Impressive insulating ability that truly holds ice for 48 hours
    • Great shape and overall design for easy cooler access
    • Comfortble and durable carry straps, even for heavy loads
    • 840D nylon FDA food grade, BPA-free liner is super durable, mildew resistant and easy to clean
    • Effectively leak proof
    • Front zippered pocket is great for utensils
    • Multiple color options
    • 5 year warranty
    • Expensive price point
    • Minimal exterior storage/geat attachment points
    • Solid capacity at 24 liters, but you might find it a bit too small if you pack a BIG picnic for two

    The Hydro Flask 24 Liter Soft Cooler Tote is the perfect sized unit for single person use or a picnic for two. This soft sided cooler insulates remarkably well, carries nicely even when fully loaded and is built to be super durable.

    Hydro Flask recently sent me out this unit for field testing, and I’ve been very impressed with its performance. The cooler truly holds ice for 48 hours and is very easy to get in and out of unlike many soft coolers with leakproof zippers. 

    The shoulder strapping is quite comfortable and the carry handles are stitched and oriented for longterm durability. The 840D nylon construction furthermore ensures this tote can take a heavy beating, while the interior liner wipes clean with ease!

    I personally love the size for a day at the beach. I can fit a six-pack of beers, a sandwich, fruit, and snacks along with some ice or ice packs easily! For groups greater than two, however, you’ll likely want something with a bit more capacity.

    There are two additional slim zippered pockets on the front and backside of the tote that are perfect for stashing your keys, utensils or phone adding a bit of organization potential to this cooler-system. It’s too bad there’s not a larger mesh pocket or interior lid pocket for further organization, but all things considered, the cooler is not large enough for you to realistically need a lot of utensils/accessories. 

    A bit on the pricey side, yes, but this soft cooler from Hydro Flask is well worth the cost considering its insulating ability, long term durability and ease of operation!

  2. 2. YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler

    • ColdCell Insulation holds ice for days
    • DryHide Shell is totally waterproof, resistant to mildew and super durable
    • HydroLok Zipper is 100% leak proof
    • Zipper pulls all the way around the cooler top for easy access
    • Compatible with some nifty YETI accessories
    • Nice quality shoulder strap for carrying heavier loads
    • Sharp color choices and several sizes available
    • Quite expensive, especially for the size (all sizes are not very large)
    • Minimal external storage
    • Zipper requires some force to open and close, consider buying some zipper lubricant

    The YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler is without a doubt one of the top standards when it comes to soft sided insulation. If you’re interested in a better than great cooler that will last a lifetime, this is an awesome go-to.

    YETI builds their gear with some serious durability. Their DryHide Shell is totally waterproof, resistant to mildew and super tough against puncture and abrasion. The bottom of the Hopper Flip is also built for maximum abuse and sits nice and flat. Good luck trashing one of these coolers.

    The ColdCell insulation employed in the design of this unit is essentially unmatched in the industry. While there are plenty of competitors within this list that feature totally comparable insulating power, (see the tote options by Hydro Flask and TOURIT) YETI’s products will likely outperform them when it comes to ice retention and beating the heat.

    The question is, are you willing to spend even more than the already high price point of the competition? If an extra few hours of ice is worth the high cost to you then this is where you should be spending your money.

    There is unfortunately little organization potential with this option. There is some attachment points on the outside of the cooler, but no real sleeves or mesh pockets for storing utensils or other items. The Hopper is, however, compatible with an array of highly practical YETI accessories.

    The shoulder strapping and carry handles on this unit are built for longterm use and carry great even when the cooler is fully loaded. There are furthermore several sizes available to choose from.

    The HydroLok zipper is another feature that makes YETI soft coolers worth the cost. You won’t have to worry about any water getting in or escaping with this system!

    All things considered, there are totally comparable options for a far lower price point, but if you’re interested in a truly high-performance option that will last a lifetime, definitely look into this one!

  3. 3. YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler

    • Advanced insulation holds ice for days
    • DryHide Shell is remarkably durable
    • 100% leak proof
    • Comfortable and rugged carry straps are great for carrying heavy loads
    • Tapered body carries easier than traditional coolers
    • Compatible with an array of YETI accessories
    • Quite expensive
    • The opening can be a pain to pull awkwardly sized food/drink items in and out of
    • No real exterior storage

    The YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler is another excellent quality soft sided option that’s more of a “bag” than a zippered tote with a flip-top.

    This style soft cooler can be more convenient to transport and store depending on what you’re up to, but it’s otherwise highly comparable to the Flip previously listed. Same DryHide Shell, HydroLok Zipper and accessory compatibility, the Hopper TWO is a highly versatile alternative to the more “boxy” options on the market.

    The inside dimensions are 9 by 14 by 17 inches, so there’s a good amount of space in there, but this isn’t the unit for big group beach days or picnics. 

    The real advantage of this style soft cooler is that it carries nicely when fully loaded compared to some bulkier, less slim options. If you don’t mind not having ‘flip-out’ access to your cooler contents, you’ll likely love the function and convenient portability of this option.

    The perfect cooler for days out on the boat, camping trips, tailgates and beyond – another winner from YETI!

  4. 4. Kelty Folding Cooler

    • Collapsible design is great for travel!
    • Integrated molded cup holders
    • Removable liner cleans up easily
    • Several sizes available
    • Fair price point
    • No real exterior storage
    • Although it's collapsible, the hard top may make it difficult for transport or storage depending on the context
    • No real color selection

    The Kelty Folding Cooler is a simple, but highly practical soft cooler option. It is great for road trips, campouts, and other outdoor events where you need a highly transportable cooler before or after use.

    This option simply collapses flat when not in action. The top of the cooler (with integrated molded cup holders) is hard, so that may limit how packable the Folding Cooler is depending on the context. It “tetris’s” nicely into an already loaded car or pickup, but it’s not stuffable like some other soft-bodied tote options.

    If you drive a sedan and have a hard time transporting a cooler of any real size, this unit should be able to slide right behind one of your front seats when collapsed. 

    This cooler is quite simple and straightforward other than its unique folding design. Kelty has not included any fancy bells and whistles as to keep the cost down. The integrated cup holders set into the top of the cooler however are a wildly underrated feature in my opinion – who couldn’t use a place to set their beer down!?

    The insulating ability of this cooler is good, but not great. It’s absolutely adequate for holding ice through long days boating, beaching or camping, and perhaps even overnight depending on the context, but don’t expect it to have the ice retention of a high-performance (and high-cost) unit.

    Kelty has built this soft cooler with the average joe outdoorsman in mind. The price point on all available sizing is totally reasonable, while the brand has not cut any real corners when it comes to quality. This cooler is everything you need, putting necessity over luxury when it comes to incorporated features.

  5. 5. Pelican Cooler Sling

    • Insulated with high density closed cell foam
    • 840D Double coated TPU material is tough as nails
    • 8.5 liter capacity is great for a picnic for two
    • Low profile design is highly packable
    • Carry handle as well as shoulder strapping
    • An external zippered pocket and D-rings add organization potential
    • Fairly expensive for the capacity
    • Limited color selection
    • Cannot be worn as a backpack, although it's not reallh large enough to pack super heavy

    The Cooler Sling by Pelican is a minimalist in style soft-sided cooler option that features advanced closed-cell insulation and multiple ways to carry.

    Pelican recently sent me out a Cooler Sling for field testing, and I love how low profile and easy to carry this unit is. It’s a great size for both casual hikes, and for bringing out on my kayak while fishing.

    This 8.5-liter option cannot load a ton of food and beverage, but it’s great as a solo cooler, or for packing a picnic for two. There are also a few external attachment points for securing additional food items or gear, which could potentially add a bit of storage potential.

    The 840D double coated TPU material that makes up the exterior of this cooler is exceptionally tough, so good luck wearing this one out. The zipper is unfortunately not 100 percent waterproof, but it shouldn’t leak on you or take on any water unless you really abuse it.

    This cooler stands upright due to the compression-molded base, an underrated feature for soft coolers in my opinion. The opening is a bit unique in the sense that you access the Cooler Sling from the narrow end, but it’s a neat system that takes little getting used to.

    All in all, a highly practical soft cooler system with impressive insulating power that’s great for active outdoorsmen. No doubt a well-made product from Pelican built with a long lifespan in mind!

  6. 6. TOURIT 30 Can Soft Cooler

    • Effectively leak proof
    • Full zip top for easy access
    • Tough against abrasion, puncture and UV damage
    • Three ways to carry
    • Exterior mesh and zippered pockets
    • Fair price point
    • Integrated bottle opener
    • Can hold ice for up to three days
    • Three year warranty
    • Fairly expensive for it's size, but you get what you pay for
    • Complaints about the longterm integrity of the zipper
    • Although there's three ways to carry, the strapping is not great if carrying a heavy load alone

    The TOURIT 30 Can Soft Cooler is a brilliant option for those seeking a quality soft cooler, but don’t have the budget to spend the BIG bucks.

    This unit totally holds its own. I own an insulated bag from TOURIT that holds ice really well for beach days and boating sessions. This unit will keep your food and beverage effectively insulated and hold ice for days like some of the astronomically priced options you’ll find on the market. 

    The 30 Can Soft Cooler has awesome carry handles if you’re hauling it with a friend, but it might be a bit difficult to carry on your own when fully loaded depending on your strength. 

    The durability of the entire cooler is impressive, but there are some customer complaints about the long term integrity of the zipper. If you occasionally lubricate the zipper and treat it with care, it shouldn’t give you any issues. 

    I love that there is an external zippered pocket, as well as a backside mesh pocket with this option. It’s astounding to me that some of the highest-end coolers out there lack a simple pocket schematic for stashing utensils and other small items and accessories – TOURIT has not skipped out on this detail. There’s even an integrated bottle opener so you never forget yours!

    High puncture and UV resistance, a highly practical pocket schematic, three ways to carry and impressive insulating ability – it’s tough to beat the value of this soft cooler when you compare the price point to the competition. TOURIT even includes a three-year warranty so you can buy in confidence!

  7. 7. TOURIT 2 in 1 Soft Sided Beach Tote Bag

    • Inner and outer bags can be used together or apart
    • Effectively leak proof
    • Waterproof, no sweat design
    • Works great as a tote bag
    • Sharp aesthetic
    • Three year warranty
    • Not terribly high capacity - inner cooler holds 15 cans with ice
    • Strapping is not great for carrying heavy loads
    • A bit of webbing for gear attchment, but otherwise no external storage

    Here’s a unique soft sided cooler system that is highly versatile in function, allowing you to utilize it as a gear tote, cooler, or both!

    The TOURIT 2 in 1 Soft Sided Beach Tote Bag is great for those outdoor enthusiasts who have a wide array of passions and therefore many different needs and applications for their cooler. This unit can be split into a tote and cooler bag, the interior insulating bag capable of carrying 15 cans with ice.

    Load up your food and drink into the insulated cooler component, and then remove it from the tote shell when you arrive at your destination so you can pack the tote with your other essentials for whatever it is you’re up to! The applications are endless with a system like this, and the price is surprisingly reasonable!

    The exterior material is quite durable against punctures and is furthermore UV resistant, so you should own this one for quite some time. This soft cooler is furthermore totally waterproof, leakproof and will not sweat – a nice added touch if you ask me!

    The strapping is totally tough and attached effectively for long term durability, but it will be difficult to carry this cooler when fully loaded due to the lack of a shoulder strap. 

    There is no real exterior storage other than some gear attachment points on the strapping, but there is however a small zippered interior pocket that could stash your keys or other small essentials.

    All in all, this is a great soft sided cooler option at a more than fair price point that will excel in a ton of different contexts! Another stellar choice from TOURIT!

  8. 8. Mountainsmith Cooler Cube

    • Holds 24 cans or 12 bottles
    • Compact 11 by 13 by 9 inch design is great for transport, travel and storage
    • Includes a key clip, stash pockets on front and back and dual internal organization pockets
    • Small exterior pockets are great for stashing utensils and other small items
    • Includes a removable shoulder strap
    • Durable waterproof seam-sealed liner
    • Dual rope handle features an awesome aesthetic
    • Multiple color options available
    • Insulating ability is not recommend for extended trips - but this should be a non-issue considering the capacity here
    • Shoulder strapping is adequate, but not ideal for carrying particularly heavy loads
    • Longterm integrity of the stitching and exterior material is questionable if you're particularly hard on your gear

    Here’s a fairly compact, budget option that’s perfect for smaller groups, days out on the kayak, and packing a personal lunch to name just a few applications. The Mountainsmith Cooler Cube is a stellar choice if a cool aesthetic, portability, and low cost are what you’re seeking.

    Featuring a 24 can or 12 bottle capacity, the Cooler Cube maintains nice and packable dimensions at just 11 by 13 by 9 inches. While this is not an especially large cooler, a key clip, stash pockets on both the front and back, and internal dual organization pockets offer loads of stash spots for your essential personal items, cutlery, snacks, and more.

    A durable waterproof seam-sealed liner ensures this bad boy won’t leak, while a removable shoulder strap is included for making those longer treks out to your favorite beach spot. 

    Our personal favorite feature – the dual rope handle features an awesome head-turning aesthetic that’s both unique and functional. Available in a few different color options, there’s bound to be a Cooler Cube up your alley!

  9. 9. Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner

    • Three mesh pockets, front zippered pocket and a lid bungee for securing gear/accessories
    • Excellent price point
    • Hard liner is removable for easy washing and in case you want the cooler to be less rigid
    • Antimicrobial-treated lining
    • Several color options
    • The strapping is not ideal for carrying heavier loads
    • 16 can capacity is greatly reduced if adding ice - and you'll need ice!
    • Insulating power is good, not great

    Here’s a great little budget option from Coleman for those looking for a simple and affordable casual soft cooler option.

    The Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner is a brilliant solution for beach days, kayak sessions, picnics at the park any virtually any context where you’re short on packing space and don’t need a multi-day insulating system.

    My household shares this model cooler, and I love utilizing it as a lunchbox when I go fishing and boating! We’ve owned this one for three seasons now, and it’s holding up great so far. 

    This is not a high-performance soft cooler capable of truly long term ice retention, nor is it a high capacity option (about 13 by 12 by 9 inches) but it is however perfect for more casual outdoor (or indoor) endeavors. Why spend the big bucks on a top-quality soft sided cooler if you simply need a unit to keep a 12-pack cold for the duration of your beach day? 

    For such an affordable cooler, this unit by Coleman has some radical features. There is a removable hard-bodied liner that cleans up super easily, a nice array of exterior and interior pockets and bungeed storage. There’s not a ton of capacity with this one, but Coleman has sure made the most of the space!

    For the budget buyer not interested in obscene ice retention times, this trusty Coleman option will fit the bill just fine!

  10. 10. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 30 Can Insulated Tote

    • Excellent price point!
    • Therma-Flect radiant barrier helps to effectively insulate for hours
    • Exterior zippered pocket greatr for stashing on-hand essentials
    • Rhino-Tech water and stain resistant, wipe clean exterior is abrasion and puncture resistant
    • Easy to clean
    • Strapping is not great for carrying particularly heavy loads
    • This tote won't hold ice for days like foam, and ColdCell insulated soft coolers
    • Capacity is not terribly impressive if you're adding ice

    The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze 30 Can Insulated Tote is the perfect soft cooler companion for those seeking an affordable soft cooler for small to medium-sized groups.

    This unit has a generous capacity and comes at a very reasonable price point, but don’t let the cost fool you – this is a highly capable insulator.

    The exterior Rhino-Tech fabric is tough against abrasion and puncture, while the interior of the tote features a Therma-Flect radiant barrier to effectively insulate for hours. This tote is furthermore insulated with three thick layers of SuperFoam, so it will hold ice for up to an impressive three days!

    Because there’s no real organization potential, this soft cooler is best utilized as a big bag for assorted drinks, or as a carrier for all of your cook-out essentials to name a few applications. There is at least an external zippered pocket for stashing some personal items, or cutlery. Whatever you decide to use it for, the interior conveniently cleans up easily.

    The carry handles are the only real downfall of this tote. If you’re fully loaded, hauling this unit around may be difficult without a partner. 

    For the cost, this is a soft cooler worth owning for all sorts of contexts. No doubt an excellent value buy from Arctic Zone.

  11. 11. CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

    • Collapses down to less than 3 inches wide for easy transport and storage
    • Impressive 50 can capacity
    • Front zippered pocket and rear mesh pocket
    • Integrated bottle opener
    • Effectively leak proof
    • Excellent price point
    • Strapping is not ideal for heavy loads if you're carrying this tote alone
    • Long term durability of the polyester blend is questionable
    • Complaints about this cooler sweating

    The CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag is an unsung hero in the soft sided cooler world that sports impressive ice retention, overall capacity and integrated features for the cost!

    If you’re looking for something that can handle a lot of food and beverage without a steep price tag, this one should definitely be on your radar! It can hold up to 50 cans and then collapses down to less than three inches when not in use making it an excellent group road trip or travel option.

    This tote is effectively leak proof, includes both zippered and mesh external pockets, and features an integrated bottle opener. Considering its versatility and capacity, the price is staggeringly low on this one. 

    Collapse this soft cooler and stuff it into a suitcase for your next vacation, or store it out of sight, out of mind during the off-season. The portability and storability of this option is not to be overlooked when you really consider how much space a cooler of this capacity would otherwise occupy.

    Surprisingly, this option can hold ice overnight and keep drinks ice cold for up to 36 hours. Once again, pretty impressive stats for a soft cooler at this cost. 

    The polyester blend that makes up the exterior of this option is not nearly as rugged as some of the nylon and PVC alternatives, but if you’re not too hard on it, this cooler should none the less hold up for at least a few seasons. It all depends on how much you abuse your gear!

High Capacity Soft Coolers

Seeking a larger sized cooler for group use and high storage capacity?

There are a variety of soft-sided cooler details to consider when buying big. Consider the internal dimensions, added pockets and accessories, as well as the way it will carry! Soft coolers can be awkward to tote if they aren't designed with practical carry handles/straps, so be mindful of that!

Some of our favorite high capacity soft-sided options include:

Medium To Small Soft Coolers

Seeking a smaller sized soft cooler for personal or small group use? There are plenty of options that will pack nice and compact while still insulating your snacks and beverages for the day. 

Our top picks for smaller, yet still adequately sized soft coolers include:

Cooler Backpacks

Sometimes toting a cooler just isn't realistic, especially if you have a large gear load that requires the use of both of your hands. An insulated backpack is the perfect solution for those challenging walks down to the beach or the campsite where you wish you had an extra pair of hands!

Make sure to check out our post on the best-insulated backpacks if you like the idea of a hands-free cooler system

YETI Cooler Bags

YETI coolers are renowned in the industry for their superior insulating ability and innovative designs. While the brand is quite expensive and while there are certainly alternative (much cheaper) brands that are comparable in performance, nothing really beats a YETI cooler. 

Those seeking the best of the best when it comes to soft-sided insulation should check out the following YETI cooler bags:

  • Collapsible Coolers

If you're seeking a cooler option that packs down especially small when it's not in use, you should consider the benefits of a collapsible cooler. This style of insulation enables you to easily store and transport your cooler when it's not full, and many options feature an impressive capacity. You can check out our favorites within our list of the best collapsible coolers.