Lugging a cooler to the beach or park can sometimes be a challenge depending on how much other gear you have with you. More and more beach goers and lovers of summer are making the transition to insulated backpacks rather than dragging along a bulky cooler or ice box.
An insulated backpack, or cooler backpack keeps your picnic nice and cool and also your hands free! You’ve got lunch on your back and two hands still available for a picnic blanket, umbrella, surfboard or whatever it is that you bring along for days of summer fun.
The internal schematic of a lot of these backpacks are quite impressive — there’s all sorts of storage as well as configurations to pack your picnic so nothing gets damaged before lunch. Most of these units are not just an insulated backpack and even provide some additional space to stash a towel and extra gear.
Load up the beers and foot-longs and get out there! Happy Summer from all of us here at Heavy!
1. Igloo 28 Can Switch Marine Backpack
Igloo has built a high quality insulated backpack with this 28 can model. The Switch Marine Backpack is thoughtfully designed for high organization and also built rugged for years of use.
The 600-denier polyester fabric with TPE coating is durable enough to stand up to sun, salt and whatever summer shenanigans you have planned. The design is inherently simple and therefore less prone to malfunction despite its awesome array of pockets and storage space.
There’s a large main compartment, side sleeves, front zippered pocket and even a thin zippered sleeve against the back. If organization is important to you then this might be just what you’re looking for — there’s a spot for everything with this one. Cutlery, ice and drinks, sandwiches and snacks can all be stowed separately for those that prefer not to just stuff their cooler.
One cool feature Igloo included with this insulated backpack is that the straps can be collapsed into the back zippered pocket in order to be carried like a regular cooler. When you’re using it as a backpack, you have an extra compartment — pretty neat.
For a cooler backpack in the $50 range this unit is no doubt built tough and built smart adding up to a great value!
Price: $38.65 & Free Shipping (23 percent off MSRP)
- Lots of separate storage space for a high degree of organization
- Fabrics used are built tough to last through many summers of use
- Straps can be folded into a back zippered compartment in order to use this insulated backpack as a regular cooler
- Given the quality of the materials used and mindful schematic this is an awesome value buy
- Inherent shape is a bit cumbersome for long walks on the beach — but then again it beats lugging a traditional cooler!
2. Coleman 28 Can Soft Backpack Cooler
Here’s Amazon’s Choice of insulated backpack. This 28 can cooler backpack is a reliable and affordable option built from some decent materials that comes very highly recommended.
There’s a front zippered pocket for dry storage and a larger main pocket for your ice and drinks totaling to some decent storage capacity. There’s ample space for one or two people to pack a full lunch, and even a waist strap to help carry the load. Elastics on the front of the pack provide a bit of extra stash space for a bag of chips or something of relative size.
The back strapping is all nicely padded and the fit is inherently pretty low profile. This is a solid bag to do some trekking in — if you’re planning some long walks on the beach or hikes into the wilderness definitely check this one out.
Price: $23.11 & Free Shipping on orders over $25 (23 percent off MSRP)
- Very reasonably priced
- Great organization potential
- Amazon’s Choice of insulated backpack — this is a trusted crowd favorite
- Good quality strapping for the price
- There’s not a ton of capacity in this pack — this will fit lunch for one or two people
3.YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Sided Cooler/Backpack
If you’re looking for the best of the best — this is it. Yeti is renowned for their insulating technology and build some of the very best coolers on the market. Their products are wildly overpriced in my opinion, but then again there’s no equivalent to this level of insulation. Bottom line — if you have the funds to shell out for a Yeti backpack you should absolutely snag one, but if you’re tight on cash this price tag is not at all necessary.
This unit has internal dimensions of 12 ½ by 6 ½ by 15 inches. There’s room for 20 cans with a two to one ice to can ratio. There’s furthermore plenty of external loops to secure other gear and food that doesn’t require insulation.
The high-density fabric used to build this pack is waterproof and highly resistant to mold, UV rays and abrasion. The hydrolok zipper is also built to be super heavy duty and totally waterproof — it won’t fail you. This is a tough as nails insulated backpack you’ll own for years and years of summer sessions.
The price may be steep, but this is a quality product built from quality materials that won’t let you down.
Price: $299.99 & Free Shipping
- Exterior of the pack is resistant to mold, abrasion/punctures, UV rays and of course waterproof
- Lined with an FDA approved food grade material
- Super reliable waterproof zipper
- Closed cell rubber foam insulation is the best money can buy — your lunch will be ice cold all day long with this bad boy
- Quite expensive
- Not a whole lot of organizational potential
4. TOURIT 28 Can Insulated Cooler Backpack
Here’s a straight forward insulated backpack from TOURIT that will do the trick just fine. This is another 28 can cooler that has some impressive capacity despite its 17.7″ by 13″ by 7.5″ dimensions.
It has a sporty, low profile cut yet is also built somewhat boxy for easy packability.
This is a similar unit to the 28 can backpack listed at #2 by Coleman. There’s a large main compartment, smaller front zippered pocket, side sleeves and elastic bungee system. For how low profile this bag is there’s some solid space for one or two people to pack a big lunch.
The inside is effectively leak proof and insulates just fine — the two most important qualities of an insulated backpack. It’s a standard unit that isn’t particularly high quality but will none the less perform great for you for at least a few seasons.
Price: $39.99 & Free Shipping (15 percent off MSRP)
- Great size for one or two people to pack a big lunch (28 can capacity)
- Nice array of external and internal pockets/storage space
- The fit is somewhat low profile and sporty despite it’s boxy design
- Very affordable — you could spend more on a mediocre traditional cooler
- Quality of the fabrics and strapping likely won’t last a lifetime — go easy on this one
5. North Coyote Hiking Backpack Cooler Bag
Here’s an insulated backpack that’s up for some actual trekking. This cooler pack by North Coyote is a well built hiking backpack that’s been designed with some solid organization potential. The main cooler compartment, front zippered pocket and side mesh pockets combine to a total of 42 liters! There’s also a few clips and zipper loops that can work as effective attachment points for other beach/picnic items.
The insulated space is fairly large on this one, totaling 17 liters! The cooler compartment is furthermore collapsible so you can keep this pack particularly low profile when you don’t have a full lunch packed.
The strapping is also of nice quality for some rigorous hiking and the fabric is rugged enough to handle some regular abuse. This is a solid option for fishing, hiking, beaching or whatever else your summer plans entail! For a pack in the $40 range this is a serious steal.
Price: $39.99 & Free Shipping
- The rest of the backpack has quite a bit of combined storage (42 liters total)
- Includes two bonus ice packs
- 17 liter cooler section is collapsible
- Very reasonably priced for the quality
- The cooler compartment does not have much rigidity so you have to pack it mindfully so it doesn’t flop around
- Not many external points to attach gear
6. MIER 24 Can Insulated Cooler Backpack
Here’s a slightly smaller insulated backpack great for personal use or perhaps for picnic dates with your partner. With a 24 can capacity, this is more of a “grab and go to the beach” option than a full blown cooler.
The interior size of the main compartment is 10.6” by 7” by 11.8″, so it’s not super tiny by any means. I find it to be the ideal size for when you want to throw together a quick lunch and hit the road.
The design of this one is pretty neat — there’s top access to the main compartment as well as several zippered sleeves, interior mesh netting and side pockets. It’s a mindful schematic that really utilizes the whole pack. Perhaps the best feature (especially if you’re planning some romantic outings) is the side pockets that can accommodate a bottle of wine.
I find this pack to be a bit more durable than a lot of the other budget insulated backpacks. I imagine you’ll get an extra season out of this one compared to most of the $20-$30 range options. Reviews also insist the interior cleans up nicely which is a great added touch!
Price: $29.99 & Free Shipping
- Highly affordable
- Tougher built than most other budget insulated backpacks
- Side sleeves can fit a wine bottle
- Nice array of side sleeves, zippered pockets and mesh netting for organizing your picnic
- Complaints about the zippers snagging the interior insulating material
7. Coleman Soft Can Cooler Sleeve
Planning on leaving the sandwiches behind and just carrying along some beers? This six can insulated cooler sleeve from Coleman is perfect for those minimalist beach goers who want to bring some cans along.
What you see is what you get with this one. There’s room for six cans and not much else. Reviews claim that you can slide a few thin gel packs into the sleeve with your beers, but the sleeve also insulates fairly well on its own. If you packed five cans rather than six then you’ll have some additional space for snacks.
This is no doubt a head turner from Coleman that’s bound to get some jealous looks on the beach — and the price is right!
Price: $10.99 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
- Super low profile way to bring a six pack on the go
- Hilarious but effective design that will no doubt turn heads
- Slightly insulated and can also accommodate for some thin ice/gel packs
- Adjustable strap
- There’s not really room for much else other than six cans with this one!
8. Arctic Zone Ultra 24 Can Backpack Cooler
Here’s an insulated backpack for the beach-badass who wants a sharp looking cooler system. This 24 can unit from Artic Zone is a great personal use pack and comes with all sort of storage options. It has the look and feel of a high performance backpack compared to most other units.
There’s four main compartments with the Ultra 24 Can Backpack Cooler — a large main pocket, front zippered pocket, top storage space and side sleeves. It all adds up to some solid organizational potential and can really be masterfully configured if that’s what you’re into.
There’s even an internal sleeve for tech items like a tablet or smartphone!
I really like how the strapping is built as well as the inclusion of a sternum strap. The purpose of owning an insulated backpack rather than a traditional cooler is defeated if it doesn’t carry heavy loads well — Artic Zone has though this detail through.
All in all, this is a tough looking and feeling cooler backpack that should hold up great long term without breaking the bank!
Price: $45 & Free Shipping
- Bad ass look and profile to this insulated backpack
- Awesome array of pockets/storage space including a space for your smart phone or tablet
- Includes a sternum strap for assistance carrying those 24 beers!
- This pack is built taller than wide so you’ll have to go digging for items in the bottom
9. Hap Tim Waterproof Fully Equipped Picnic Backpack
Here’s an insulated backpack that comes with just about everything you’ll need for a hell of a picnic. If you love to outdoor picnic alone or with a group then this bag and accessories is a must have. Made of high quality nylon fabric, this insulated backpack has high wear and deformation resistance as well as being pretty dam waterproof against the elements.
The main storage compartment is built over sized and crafted with a premium insulation lining for keeping food and beverages either hot or cold. It’s a thoughtful design that you will no doubt be impressed by.
A detachable wine bottle holder is also built into the side of this pack, so don’t forget the included corkscrew! I really love how Hap Tim configured the included cutlery set, wine glasses, corkscrew, cutting board, and plates — it’s a truly effective bag for hiking into your favorite lunch spot to dine in style.
Hap Tim even includes a fleece picnic blanket — it’s an excellent value for a unit in the $40 range! Customer reviews insist the quality of the included accessories is totally adequate and that there’s no need to replace anything! It’s the perfect insulated backpack for romantic beach dates and strolls through the park.
With all the included gear, this bag is truly an incredible value that you will no doubt make many memories with.
Price: $46 & Free Shipping
- Includes a fleece blanket, cutlery set, plates, corkscrew, chopping board, salt/pepper shakers and wine glasses!
- Wine bottle sleeve makes bringing a bottle easy
- Excellent value considering everything that’s included
- 185 day warranty
- Reviews claim difficulty rolling up and securing the picnic blanket into the side sleeve
10. GigaTent Folding Cooler and Stool Backpack
Here’s an insulated backpack that’s designed to operate as a cooler as well as a seat while you’re in the middle of your summer fun. Great for fishing, boating and beach days there’s a cooler compartment for storing food and beverages as well as a cup or bottle holder on the front of the pack.
It’s a nice and compact size that allows you to pack a nice sized lunch and plenty of beers without becoming too cumbersome to actually hike and move around with. Customer reviews state this pack can handle a maximum of about 24 cans — hope you’re thirsty.
The fabric is double layer oxford fabric that will hold up just fine to at least a few seasons of heavy use. This isn’t a high quality backpack by any means, but it performs better than the price tag suggests and won’t fall apart on you after a few beach days.
For the summer champion who wants a seat and a cold one ready in the cooler, this is the ideal style of insulated backpack.
Price: $39.99 & Free Shipping
- Converts into a stool with a 400 pound weight limit!
- Super affordable
- Several color options available
- Internal schematic doesn’t allow for much organization