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Expert Shopper Camping & Outdoors

10 backpack coolers you can take just about anywhere


From concerts to the park to the playing field, these backpack coolers are perfect

Now that we have recognized the health benefits associated with staying hydrated, many people seem to keep a beverage in hand no matter where they go. And to be sure the temperature is to their liking, they place their favorite drink in an insulated tumbler, such as a Stanley. But when you will be gone for more than an hour or two, one cup isn't enough. That's when a backpack cooler becomes essential.

These hands-free totes, such as the RTIC Backpack Cooler or the Tourit Cooler Backpack, ensure you always have your favorite beverage with you (at your preferred temperature), no matter where you go. To help you get the right model for your day-trip needs, we've handpicked 10 options that we believe are some of the best models on the market.

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What is a backpack cooler?

A backpack cooler is a cooler that you strap to your back, so you can transport your beverages (and other items that are best when chilled) without tying up your hands. A backpack cooler is great for picnics, hiking, camping, biking, tailgating and more. Anytime you need to travel with beverages, a backpack cooler is a recommended option.

Four key characteristics of a desirable backpack cooler

There are four things to look for when shopping for a backpack cooler: capacity, comfort, insulation and leakproof design.


Capacity works both ways. You want a backpack cooler that is large enough to carry all the beverages you need, but not so large that it becomes too heavy to transport when it is full.


Adjustable padded straps are essential for comfort. Twenty cans of beer weigh at least 12 pounds. If your backpack doesn't feature a comfortable design, the straps will cut into your shoulders, making it more of a burden than a benefit.


If your backpack cooler doesn't keep your beverages adequately chilled, then it is merely a backpack. 

Leakproof design

At some point, your beverages are going to sweat and the ice is going to melt. If your backpack cooler leaks, it's quickly going to become an uncomfortable carry.

Backpack cooler tips

  • Prechill the backpack cooler. 
  • Prechill (or freeze) the beverages. 
  • Remember that large ice melts slower than smaller ice.
  • Custom make your ice using sealable plastic bags or balloons.
  • Pack the ice on top.
  • Remember that a fully packed cooler has less air pockets and will stay cold longer.
  • Keep the cooler closed whenever it is not in use, as an open cooler allows warm air to enter.
  • Place your backpack cooler in a shaded location to extend the life of its chill.

Best backpack coolers for every adventure

RTIC Backpack Cooler

The RTIC keeps beverages chilled for up to two days and features a leakproof design with a waterproof zipper. It holds 24 cans, has a puncture-resistant inner lining and adjustable, padded straps. If you want to carry this cooler by hand, it also features built-in convenience handles.

Tourit Cooler Backpack

This Tourit backpack has an extra-large capacity, allowing you to pack up to 30 cans of your favorite beverage inside. With freeze packs, you can keep your food and beverages ice cold for up to 16 hours. The backpack also features several smaller exterior pockets for quick-access items.

Coleman Chiller Series Insulated Soft Cooler

The main compartment in this soft backpack cooler can hold up to 28 cans. The heat-welded seams provide insulation and prevent leaks. Coleman has incorporated multiple strap adjustment points to ensure maximum comfort when carrying, and the large front pocket offers convenient quick-access storage.

Tourit Cooler Backpack Double Deck

This Tourit features a clever double-decker design that gives you two storage compartments. The larger bottom one can keep up to 16 cans cold for up to 16 hours. The upper compartment, as well as the multiple exterior pouches, let you easily carry all your other essentials, such as snacks, utensils, plates, water bottles and more.

Matein Cooler Backpack

Matein's double-decker design can hold a maximum of 26 cans — 16 in the bottom and 10 in the top. It features a breathable padded back, along with adjustable shoulder straps and an adjustable waist strap for a secure fit. The side mesh pockets are excellent for quick-access storage.

Columbia PFG Thermal Pack Cooler

This hard-body backpack cooler has a reflective barrier that helps prevent heat absorption. The leakproof lining keeps the wearer dry while the antimicrobial additives help protect against odors and make the backpack easier to clean. The padded back and padded adjustable straps ensure comfort.

Maelstrom Cooler Backpack

The Maelstrom backpack cooler is made using ripstop nylon for durability. It is fully leakproof and features several zippered pockets and storage compartments. The large-capacity main compartment can hold up to 35 cans, while the ergonomic design makes for comfortable wear.

Carhartt Insulated Two-Compartment Cooler Backpack

The base of this backpack can keep up to 12 cans of your favorite beverage chilled for up to eight hours. The top can be used for other essentials. It is made using rugged 600-denier canvas with a water-repellent coating. The contour-fit shoulder straps provide a comfortable wearing experience.

Icemule Classic Collapsible Backpack Cooler

This simple, soft, collapsible sack is a great choice for people who want a space-saving option. The convenient air valve lets you inflate the sack to create a firm insulated carrier that can keep your beverages cold for up to a full day. The floating, leakproof design makes the Icemule ideal for water-themed adventures.

Sparter Backpack Cooler

This Sparter backpack cooler has five layers of insulation. The main compartment can keep up to 33 cans cold for up to 20 hours. The durable waterproof nylon fabric ensures this backpack is suitable for even your wildest outdoor adventures.

Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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