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Best Soft Sided Cooler

Best Soft Sided Cooler

What are the Best Soft Sided Coolers to Buy?

Soft-sided coolers are generally small in size, making them easy to store.  

Their small size does not necessarily mean that they have a limited storage capacity; to the contrary, they offer enough storage space of up to forty cans. More so, soft-sided coolers are highly portable; this may explain why many folks prefer such ice chests.

With the ability to store beverage and foodstuff cold and fresh, respectively, many people find it hard to resist having one of these. You might be wondering occasions when the soft-sided ice chest is often used.

They come in handy in picnics, hiking, or camping trips; you can use the coolers in any outdoor activity where there is a need to keep drinks cold.

In this article, we have reviewed only five of the best soft-sided coolers currently available. We have also gone a step further and recommended the product we think is the best. 

Top Soft Sided Cooler List

RTIC Soft Cooler Bag -TOP PICK5 out of 5 stars
YETI Hopper M30 Soft Cooler 4.9 out of 5 stars
AO Soft Coolers4.7 out of 5 stars
BISON Coolers4.6 out of 5 stars
SCOUT Soft Cooler Bag4.5 out of 5 stars

RTIC Soft Cooler Bag


Are you thinking of going on a camping or hiking trip with your buddies? Then, this is the cooler for you. It has a capacity of about thirty cans with ice included; the available storage capacity is enough to carter to the needs of a small group of people.

The material used in making the exterior of the cooler is sweat-proof, this means that when you are carrying it, you won’t have to deal with the messy situation where water condenses on the surface of the cooler.

One feature that makes this product stand out is its ability to hold ice for days, and this can be attributed to the two-inch insulation foam. Remember, a cooler is only as good as its insulation.

Also, the cooler is made using highly durable material, and this guarantees you long service life and reduced maintenance cost. In the long run, you are going to save some money.

Best of all, the cooler is light in weight, so, you can comfortably carry it even on long-distance trips without straining much.


  • The exterior of the product is sweat-proof.
  • The product is highly durable.
  • The cooler is fitted with leak-proof zippers.


  • You may find the product to be highly-priced.
  • It is not the cooler with the longest ice holding capabilities.

YETI Hopper M30 Soft Cooler


The engineering skills devoted to making this cooler is fantastic; there are no zippers; instead, the zippers have been replaced with magnets. You might be wondering why they choose to use magnets, well it’s because they form a shield that makes it impossible for any leakages to pass through. 

Accessing your essentials is not going to be a problem if you have this cooler because of the wide top opening that provides easy access. Many peeps have a hard time transporting their coolers; YETI has seen this, and the problem has been addressed.

You can carry the cooler; you can either use the shoulder strap, which is padded for extra comfort, or use the hand handles. Using shoulder straps allows your hands to be free, and you can carry additional items at the same time.

The two buckles will ensure that the cooler does not open accidentally. Perhaps the reason you should buy this product is the welded seams, which have eliminated the need for stitching. Also, the continuous joints resulting in no leakages. 

The waterproof exterior is made using a special material that resists harmful Ultra-Violet rays and mildew growth.


  • The cooler is UV ray protected.
  • The exterior surface of the cooler is mildew-resistant.
  • It has a padded shoulder strap for easy transportation.


  • The cooler is hard to open and needs regular lubing.
  • The magnets are very strong, making it difficult for one person to load food inside the cooler.

AO Soft Coolers


These coolers come in different sizes and colors like black, silver, orange, and charcoal, and you can choose depending on your taste. One distinctive feature that makes them stand out among other similar coolers is the side pocket, which provides additional storage space.

With the capability of storing about ten pounds of ice and more than thirty cans, the ice chest can keep food for a small group of people fresh all day long. And it is perfect for most outdoor activities like fishing, hunting or kayaking where the temperatures are about 120 degrees.

Leakproof TPU lining is also a plus for this cooler and a reason why you should purchase it. Padded hand handles will allow you to carry the cooler around easily, and if you are not comfortable with that, there is also a removable shoulder strap with a soft pad. 

Don’t worry; this product will serve you long because it is made using soft but tough canvas material. Buy this soft-sided cooler, and you will not regret it. 


  • It can be used to store cold or hot foodstuffs.
  • It comes with a shoulder strap that can be removed.
  • It has an external pocket for additional storage space.


  • Some find the size of the product to be too big for a soft-sided cooler.
  • The manufacturer can still improve the zippers.

BISON Coolers


If you are wondering why the BISON Coolers have managed to stand the test of time in the market, then you have to purchase this cooler model and see it for yourself. With an insulation wall of less than one inch, the cooler will keep your drinks cold for 24 hours.

BISON Coolers are highly durable because they are made using 1000 denier vinyl cover, which is sturdy compared to other materials used in making soft-sided coolers. You won’t have to worry about the cooler fading its colors, due to UV resistant exterior.

Manufacturing of coolers comes with its problems, and a faulty product may be shipped to you unintentionally. To avoid such stressful situations, the manufacturer of BISON soft cooler has granted each of their products a two-year warranty with a one month trial. 

If you feel like you made the wrong decision on the product within one month, you can always return it and receive a full refund. As a bonus, the cooler comes with a free bottle opener saving you the cost of having to buy one.


  • Extensive insulation techniques.
  • Has a two-year warranty and a month trial.
  • A bottle opener is included in the package.


  • The interior lining material looks low-end and loosely fit the insulation.
  • The white interior color is not the best.

SCOUT Soft Cooler Bag


The insulated soft cooler bag by SCOUT is another excellent product for you if you are looking for a soft-sided cooler. Do you love the beach? If you do, then this is a soft cooler meant for you.

It has a sturdy base that allows it to sit on any ground, whether it is a solid surface or beach sand. The cooler also has handles to help you easily transport it; besides, the handles are padded. 

As far as the storage capacity is concerned, this particular cooler will provide you with all the space you need to carry all your essentials. It has two exterior pocket chambers; one is zippered while the other is open.

You can use these pockets to safely keep your additional gear like keys, knife and bottle opener. Another feature that makes this cooler your best choice is the water-repellant exterior. 

As you might be aware, food storing equipment with PVC lining results in cases of food poisoning. You will be relieved to hear that the SCOUT soft cooler’s interior has no PVC components and is, therefore, safe for food storage.

You should find cleaning the cooler to be pretty easy and convenient for anyone who dreads cleaning chores you definitely should consider buying this cooler. Lastly, the cooler is leak-proof, another reason as to why you need to have it.


  • Leakproof
  • It comes in different colors
  • The simple design makes it easy to carry around


  • It could have been much better if it had a shoulder strap.
  • Few complaints about the shipment of faulty coolers.

 Factors To Consider When Buying A Soft-Sided Cooler

Just like other coolers, soft-sided coolers come in different brands and models. These products may have either similar or varying features depending on the manufacturer’s design and target market. Therefore, knowing the qualities of an excellent cooler is very important.

Some of the features that distinguish coolers include storage capacity, price, the duration they can keep ice, their appearance in terms of design and color. It is vital to know what to look for in a product as this will save you time and money.

I have discussed some features that might guide you in selecting a product that will meet your needs. I trust that this will make your shopping experience enjoyable.

Storage Capacity

 An excellent product should offer enough storage space for your items. Soft-sided coolers come in various sizes ranging from small-sized bags with ten cans to large bags that can hold up to 30 beer bottles with enough ice to keep them cold. 

It is important to note the product’s shape and design, especially the unit allocated for storage. Regularly shaped units tend to be more versatile as they can fit various items compared to oddly shaped units, which might give you trouble fitting items.

You should ensure that the product has plenty of space for the storage of ice. This is because the ice volume in the cooler is directly proportional to the product’s chilling effect; therefore, if you pack more ice, your items will remain cold for an extended duration.

Apart from the chilled storage section, a good product should also offer you dry storage where you can store other items free from moisture. In most products, this feature is incorporated in the form of external storage where you can store electronic gadgets or even books.

Another important storage feature is the ability of the product to fold when not in use. Some products can be folded to occupy very small space while others are huge and bulky, therefore fold less. If you are keen to save on space, then perhaps a small bag is the way to go.


A soft-sided cooler will serve you better if you can move around with it when the need arises. Most, if not all, of these products, have at least one feature that allows you to either carry it on your shoulders or use in your hands. Some well-designed products even have both features.

Check the weight of the product when empty. This should be minimal as a heavy product when empty is almost impossible to carry when fully loaded. Working with such a product can be frustrating and tiresome as you will use a lot of energy to move it around.

Handles are the most commonly used features to enhance portability. There are three major categories of handles based on their location on the bag. All these handles can be used to carry the bag even though they are specifically designed to handle different scenarios.

Shoulder straps are the most common type of handles. These are used to carry the bag by strapping it on your shoulders. A well-designed cooler should have them in place to help you easily move it around. Shoulder straps are convenient for carrying light weight across a long distance.

On the other hand, side straps are ideal for supporting maximum weight but can only be comfortably used under a short distance. Good side straps should be strong and sturdy enough to support the bag’s maximum load. Check the material to be sure that the straps won’t pull out easily.

Although uncommon, some products have lid handles. These are located on top of the bag’s lid. I love these because they only need you to use one hand. You can, therefore, use the other one to carry additional luggage. However, this type of handle mostly features in small-sized bags.

Cooling Capability

The primary role of any cooler product is to keep your item cold until you are ready to use them. Therefore, any product needs to be able to keep ice for a reasonable time for it to pass as a cooler. The same case applies to soft-sided coolers.

Some products can keep ice for just a few hours, while others can hold for even days. When it comes to this feature, your intended use should guide you on what product to choose.

 For instance, if you love hiking for more than just a few hours, you should go for a product with maximum ice retention time. So what makes coolers have different ice retention times? 

The thickness of the wall and insulating material used are the two major factors that affect a cooler’s ability to keep ice. Many insulating layers mean an increased thermal barrier; therefore, your items in the bag will not be affected by ambient temperatures.

Thick walls provide more space for fitting more insulating layers. For this reason, products with thick walls can retain ice for many hours, some even days. One shortcoming of having thick walls is increased bulkiness, which makes the product take up too much space.


Buying a durable product can save you a lot of money, which would have otherwise have been spent on repairs in the event of a breakdown. The durability of a product can be affected by its material, condition of use, and frequency of use.

Coolers made of heavy-duty material like reinforced plastic or nylon tend to last longer than those made of light-duty material like fabric. If the product is to be used regularly under extreme weather conditions, then perhaps you should select a high-end heavy-duty product.

Some high-end heavy-duty products are tough enough to handle almost any extreme temperature conditions and keep your items chilled. However, a common problem with such products is that the tough material might be uncomfortable against your skin.

Check whether the product’s exterior is made of stainless material. This is important as it protects the cooler from picking stains, making it easy to clean. Waterproof material makes it easy to keep the cooler free of moisture, reducing the rate at which it wears out.

The product’s handles are also another area you should pay attention to. Take your time and look at the material used to make the handles. A good cooler should have strong straps but should be padded to ensure they don’t hurt your skin when carrying them.


Soft-Sided coolers come at different prices, some retailing for a few dollars while others cost a fortune. You should select a product depending on your budget. The good thing about these products is that you don’t  have to part with a chunk of money to get a reliable one.

You ought to be wary of the cost of acquiring the product. The goal here is to minimize both the cost of buying and that of maintaining the product. Buying a durable product will greatly reduce the cost of maintenance, as it will hardly break down.

Suppose you are ordering online, check whether there are additional shipping charges and customs duty. If there is make a comparison and select an option that will cost you less money.

If you plan to use your soft-sided cooler frequently under extreme conditions, then the right decision would be to go for the most durable product. These might cost you more, but at least you will be guaranteed for many years of use.

Most standard products can be suitable for occasional users. There is no need to part with a considerable amount of money for a high-end product when standard ones can serve you well.


Having a product warranty is a big win for any customer as this can save you money. Most soft-sided cooler brands have warranties, some covering a duration of less than a year while others go up to two years with a month of free trial within which you can return the product if it breaks down.

Additional Features

Lastly, you might want to look for any additional features the product comes with. Though neglected in many cases, these features play a big role in offering you a great experience by supplementing the product’s delivery. Some of these features include:

Bungee cord, which gives you an easy way of carrying along with you extra pairs of clothing. You can hang on it a jacket or even bulkier accessories like speakers. You might also find external pockets that you can use to carry your accessories or snacks, saving you a lot of space.

Removable liners are also a common additional feature put in place to ease the cleaning task. These waterproof liners protect your bag from getting soaked by melting ice. Some liners are made of tough material that adds another layer of protection to your goods.

My favorite addition is a bottle opener attached to the cooler’s zipper. Having such a feature is invaluable, especially when you have a habit of carrying drinks in sealed bottles. 


The benefits that we reap from using soft-sided coolers are many. They are the best substitutes for refrigerators. If you are here, with no doubt, you must be aware that the market is full of all kinds of soft-sided coolers.

To realize the benefits of using a cooler, you need to select the one that meets your expectations and demands. If you are still having trouble with which cooler to purchase, we would like to recommend the RTIC Soft Cooler Bag.

It has a leak-proof zipper and a storage capacity of up to thirty cans to store food and drinks for a small group of people. Also, the exterior of the ice chest does not sweat.

With an insulation thickness of about two inches, your drinks will be kept cold for days. Finally, the cooler is light in weight, and moving around with it shouldn’t be hard. If you are looking for a soft-sided cooler, we recommend ordering the RTIC Soft Cooler Bag now!

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