Gear | Updated August 5, 2022 10:27 am

Best Backpack Coolers of 2022

Emphasizing comfort and portability, these coolers are ready for any adventure

The Icemule Boss, Yeti Hopper M20 and Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler on a grey and white textured background.
One (or all) of these should meet your needs.
Courtesy of brands/Nenov

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

I started using backpack coolers after my beloved hard cooler lost a wheel while traversing bumpy terrain.

Tired of hauling food and drink by hand, I was eager to adopt something more mobile and functional; the novel backpack cooler, which positions an insulated backpack on your shoulders, much like a traditional hiking pack, fit the bill. Unlike bulky hard-sided coolers that can retain ice for days, these more streamlined options from brands like Yeti and Icemule prize comfort and portability above all, helping you carry supplies to the beach, park, trail and all points beyond.

Over the years I’ve tested dozens of the best backpack coolers. Some are entirely insulated, while others divide space between food and gear. My favorites are made with lightweight but durable materials, have enough space for a day’s worth of food and drink, and provide support even when loaded with ice and a 24-pack of cold ones. Perfect for shorter outings from the backyard to the backcountry, one (or all) of these should meet your needs.

The Best Backpack Coolers

The Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler is the best overall backpack cooler of 2022, perfect for beach trips, camping adventures and more
Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler

Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler: Best Overall

The Yeti Hopper M20 is the Texas brand’s latest iteration of the backpack cooler, improving upon the original Hopper Backflip we loved not long ago. Like all good Yeti products, the M20 is exceptionally durable but its heavy-duty status doesn’t come at the cost of comfort. The DryHide shell is puncture- and UV-resistant, and the entire surface is treated to withstand mildew both inside and out. Inside, Coldcell insulation performs admirably to retain ice and prevent food from getting warm, even as temperatures approach triple digits. Adding to its comfort, the BackFlip employs a chest strap to center the load across your torso, a feature we love when hauling lots of grub. But perhaps its newest feature of note is the redesigned closure system that uses powerful magnets across the top to stay closed (or open) no matter the task at hand.

Hydro Flask Day Escape Backpack Cooler in light blue
Hydro Flask Day Escape Backpack Cooler
Hydro Flask

Runner Up: Hydro Flask Daytrip Bundle

Hydro Flask is well-known for its iconic insulated bottles, but the Oregon brand also knows a thing or two about backpack coolers. The Day Escape maintains key features from the original Unbound Cooler Pack: comfortable backpack straps, a stretchy mesh side pocket and a food-grade liner. But it replaces the flip-open lid with a wider opening that features a toothless waterproof zipper as well as lashing handles on either side. The compression base is molded to keep the pack upright when it’s not being worn, and it’s also beefed up with more insulation. Hydro Flask maintains the Day Escape will keep everything cold for up to 36 hours, making it a steal in comparison to costly rivals. We recommend picking up the Daytrip Bundle that includes the Day Escape cooler and a dry storage accessory pouch that delivers waterproof protection to your essentials.

Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler in sand
Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler

Best Backpack Cooler for Massive Loads: Icemule Boss

The Icemule Boss is one of the roomiest backpack coolers on our list. It’s also one of the heaviest and most expensive, making it the best backpack cooler when you’re simply carrying a ton of stuff. To maintain comfort, the pack’s shoulder straps and back pads are ventilated, while the hip belt is outfitted with a little extra padding. Icemule integrates a tri-fold top that seals out water like a traditional dry bag, and the shell fabric feels durable enough to handle backcountry wear and tear. For those looking to bring extra gear, three exterior pockets are a welcome addition; each one features a waterproof seal, extra padding and insulation. This pack can handle 60+ pounds, but we can’t recommend lugging that much food and drink for more than a mile or two before discomfort sets in.

The Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler is one of the best backpack coolers in 2022
Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler

Best Basic Design: Stoic Hybrid Backpack Cooler

Sure, the Stoic label is technically one of Backcountry’s more affordable in-house brands, but the Salt Lake City designers did well to outfit this cooler with a basic, boxy profile that’s easy to pack and equally comfortable. The 24-can capacity delivers more than enough space for a few drinks and while the insulation isn’t incredibly effective, it’s capable of handling an afternoon in the sun. Stoic adds waterproofing, a compression-molded base and even a bottle opener, all of which make it a solid contender. Consider this if you’re looking for a simple, no-frills backpack cooler that’s built to get the job done.

Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler
Coleman Soft Backpack Cooler

Best Backpack Cooler for Under $50: Coleman Soft Pack

The Coleman Soft Pack isn’t winning any coveted awards this year, but it also won’t burn a hole in your pocket unlike other noteworthy options on this list. Capable of hauling up to 28 cans of your favorite beverage, it looks and functions like a traditional school backpack. Shoulders straps are adjustable, side pockets store bottles, and the front pocket offers quick access to utensils, supplies and essentials. For added peace of mind, Coleman heat-welded the seams and introduced an antimicrobial liner to prevent mold and mildew from collecting where it shouldn’t. While it isn’t the most luxurious model, it gets the job done in a pinch.

The REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler is the best backpack cooler for various items in 2022
REI Co-op Cool Trail Split Pack Cooler
REI Co-op

Most Versatile Backpack Cooler: REI Cool Trail Split Pack

Nobody likes a difficult decision. For instance, should you swap out a few beers to make room for a cozy fleece? Or should you ditch extra layers to make room for more brews? With REI’s Cool Trail Split Pack, you don’t have to decide. The 32-liter design features a lower compartment for ice and a top compartment for daily essentials. To prevent your gear from getting wet, REI outfits the lower compartment with a “leakproof cooler insert,” but it’s essentially just a rebranded lunchbox. Should you choose to forgo snacks, simply remove the cooler insert for additional space. And if you need a little more room, external pockets and lashing straps are quick to lend a hand. As for comfort, padded shoulder straps pair with a chest strap to dial in the perfect fit.

Icemule Pro Backpack Cooler
Icemule Pro Backpack Cooler

One More Great Backpack Cooler: Icemule Pro

It may be the younger sibling of the Icemule Boss, but the Icemule Pro is no slouch. As one of our favorite alternative backpack coolers, the Pro is extremely comfortable over long distances (unlike its sibling) and just as capable when the time comes to manage heavy loads. Wide shoulder straps are soft and the cooler’s flexible shell molds around your back, creating a proper fit. It doesn’t boast the best insulation, which explains why it’s a little lower on our list, but the roll-top design features an air valve for additional insulation if need be. Plus you can roll it up completely when you return home for easy storage. The bungee cords on the front are also helpful in a pinch, though most coolers have one or several pockets to store everyday carry items and we wish this thing had at least one zippered pocket.