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The Best Soft Shell Coolers for Summer Adventure

The Best Soft Shell Coolers for Summer Adventure

With summer full on sprinting at us, it’s about that time to yank the coolers out of storage and prep them for camping season. Hard shell coolers are excellent for backyard cookouts and tailgating, but if you’re trying to set up something on the go or just want something a little less cumbersome than a traditional hard shell, soft shells are the answer to all your problems. There are a lot of options out there, so we decided to sift through the muck for some of the most worthy.

YETI Hopper Two 30

YETI is known the world over for their awesome coolers and thermoses, and the Hopper Two is one of their most popular coolers ever. Based off of their also-legendary original Hopper, the Hopper Two is a badass, tough-as-nail portable cooler built for the long road ahead—wherever that road may be. The Hopper Two comes in a few different sizes, included the Flip 12, the Two 20, the Two 30, and the Two 40. We chose the Two 30 because it’s just large enough to hold a case of beer, and isn’t too cumbersome to be carried. It features a tapered body for comfortable carry, ColdCell Insulation that’ll keep ice cold for days, and a DryHide Shell that’s both waterproof and leakproof. It ain’t cheap, but it’s definitely best-in-class. $350

IceMule Pro Cooler – XX Large

Definitely appropriately named, the IceMule Pro is an extraordinary backpack soft cooler that’ll make carrying heavy loads an absolute breeze. It’s the perfect example of how a proper soft shell cooler can outgun a hard shell. It can fit a staggering 36 beers (plus ice!), and also features heavy duty inner and outer skin, seams rated to carry 65 pounds, and a padded ventilated backpack strap system so you don’t sweat through everything you’re wearing. It packs the performance of a hard shell right into the package of a backpack. $140

Koolatron 25D Soft Bag Cooler

What separates the Koolatron D25 from the rest of the entries on this list isn’t its mesh pockets, or the zippered front and side storage pockets, or the soft mesh exterior made of durable nylon… It’s that this thing cools all your stuff using solid-state thermoelectric technology—meaning it plugs into any 12-volt outlet (also comes with a 110-volt adapter for regular home use) to keep your stuff cold without the hassle or mess of using ice. Just fill it up, plug it in, and go. And because you’re saving space on ice, you can fit more inside this tiny little space—32 cans, to be exact. $110

Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack

The 24 Pack Nylon Soft Cooler by Polar Bear is an excellent option because aside from looking about as stylish as a cooler can, it’s also convenient and comfortable to carry, features durable nylon outers and TPU Double-coated nylon interiors, and can hold a case of beer plus ten pounds of ice. That’s what we’d guess we go through in a month, so that should be plenty. $90

14 Can Rugged Lunch Cooler

Coleman is a legendary outdoors company that doesn’t just manufacture its own coolers and canteens, but also everything from stoves and grills, to lanterns, sleeping bags, and survival equipment. They are the outdoor company. Their coolers are no exception to their standards of quality, and of them, we love the 14 Can Rugged Lunch Cooler. It’s lightweight, compact, durable and yes, inexpensive. It has plenty of compartments and pockets (including an easy-access bungee cord on top), and the liner is made of FDA-approved material that is melded together with antimicrobial properties to help keep odor and mildew away in between uses. It comes with a durable top handle for easy carrying, holds 14 beers, and for 20 bucks, it’s awesome. $20

Igloo Marine Ultra Square Cooler

If you’re in the market for a cooler, you’ve surely heard of Igloo—they’re one of the biggest cooler companies in the world, and they didn’t get there by offering crappy products. Their Marine Ultra Square Cooler fits 36 cans, with ice, and features a 1.1-inch-thick insulation that’ll keep ice for up to two days, anti-mildew and UV-protective material, non-corrosive hardware to handle the elements, and it’s completely leak resistant. Rough and tough is the name of the game, and for the price, it’s an excellent, excellent deal. $37

OA Gear Backpack Cooler

We really love cooler packs because they make our lives so, so much easier. This soft-shell backpack cooler by OA Gear is perfect for a hike or overnight camping trip, and features a heat-sealed no-leak liner, two mesh side pockets, and padded straps, and will hold 20 cans plus ice. And it don’t look too bad, either! $20

Mountainsmith The Sixer Cooler

If all you’re looking to do is enjoy a small afternoon on the canoe with friends, a relaxed day hike, or a nice afternoon picnic with the missus, The Sixer from the folks at Mountainsmith is definitely your huckleberry. It’ll handle food, snacks and up to six beers (with room for ice), in a package that’s sleek, attractive, and will neither break your back nor your bank. It features both a removable strap as well as a haul handle for easy carrying, a waterproof and seam-sealed PEVA lining pad, PVC-free interior, and even comes with its own damn bottle opener. If that’s not a grade-A product, then just fail us right now. $22

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