The 12 Best Insulated Cooler Bags of 2023

RTIC’s Soft Cooler is our best overall insulated cooler bag pick.

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Best Insulated Cooler Bags


Not all insulated cooler bags are created equal — and neither are your needs. While some may be seeking a bag that will keep their lunch fresh after their morning commute, others may be heading out on a long trek through the wilderness.

In choosing this list of the best insulated cooler bags you can buy right now, we’ve taken bag type, durability, and ice retention rates into consideration. We also looked at how useful the bags’ features were for different situations and needs. Is the cooler bag waterproof? Is it leakproof? Does it have extra storage pockets or the option to add additional accessories?

The RTIC Soft Cooler snagged the spot for best overall because of its versatility, durability, and relative price-point in the market, though we do wish it had a bit more temperature retention. Since retention depends on a number of factors, like how much ice or how many ice packs you use, we’ve listed ice retention for our picks as low (less than 10 hours), medium (up to 24 hours), or high (over 24 hours).

Here are the best insulated cooler bags right now:

Best Overall

RTIC Insulated Soft Cooler Bag

RTIC soft cooler bag


Why We Love It: It’s lightweight yet durable and can be used for a slew of different types of trips.

What to Consider: You may have to wrestle with the zipper at times.

The RTIC Soft Cooler sports a tough nylon exterior and tear-resistant interior lining with two inches of closed-cell foam to keep items cold for up to 24 hours, depending on the amount of ice or ice packs used. This cooler bag comes in five different sizes that can hold from eight to 40 12-ounce cans. The smaller 8-can size is great as a lunch box, while the larger sizes are great for things like picnics, fishing trips, parties, and boat days. The cooler floats and is made from 100 percent waterproof material, so don’t be shy whipping it out for days spent on the water.

All in all, this is a durable soft-sided cooler that can handle bumps and jostling without breaking. It can be carried either by the crossbody shoulder strap or two handles that come with a slightly padded carrying grip. It’s a cinch to clean (just wipe it down with a wet cloth). But a word of warning: the zipper is water-tight, which means you may have to struggle a bit to get it closed (or use zipper lube — yes, that’s a thing).

Price at time of publish: $130 (for 30-can size)

Capacity: 8 to 40 12-ounce cans | Weight: 2.3 to 7.6 pounds | Ice retention: Medium

Best Budget

Tourit Lightweight 30-can Cooler Backpack

Tourit Lightweight 30-can Cooler Backpack


Why We Love It: This is a compact cooler backpack that works with hot or cold items and is designed with plenty of storage compartments.

What to Consider: It’s recommended to only use frozen cold packs, not ice.

The Tourit Lightweight 30-can Cooler Backpack is a compact backpack that can be used as a lightweight day bag. When loaded up with freezer packs, it will hold temperature for up to 16 hours. The thick insulation also works to keep hot foods hot. We love this backpack because it’s a great bang for your buck loaded with several storage pockets and straps, including two mesh side pockets and two front zippered pockets. The front strap can be used to hold a rolled-up blanket, hat, or shirt or can be used to add accessories. The bag comes with a built-in metal bottle opener on one of the padded shoulder straps. Note that the company warns against using actual ice in this bag as it can damage the waterproof interior.

Price at time of publish: $37

Capacity: 30 12-ounce cans  | Weight: 1.1 pounds | Ice retention: Medium

Best for Lunches

Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz Lunch Box

Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz Lunch Box


Why We Love It: It’s a stylish take on the classic lunchbox form — and it’s made from recycled materials.

What to Consider: This cooler is not made to have high ice or temperature retention.

Herschel’s Pop Quiz Lunch Box is a stylish pick for keeping food cold or hot for midday eats. The classic rectangular lunch box shape comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and prints that appeal to kids and adults alike and is made from recycled materials. The cooler can be carried via a reinforced fabric handle, though it’s small enough to fit into most backpacks or briefcases. The interior of the lunch box has enough space to hold six 12-ounce cans without ice. There’s also an exterior pocket with a waterproof zipper. The padded insulated liner is food-safe and leakproof — but the main zipper is not, so you may have to think twice about items that may break open or leak out of the lunchbox, like ice. Keep in mind that this cooler isn’t designed for long-term temperature retention; it’s designed to hold food until lunchtime.

Price at time of publish: $30

Capacity: 6 12-ounce cans  | Weight: Not listed | Ice retention: Low

Best Ice Retention

OtterBox Trooper Cooler

OtterBox Trooper Cooler


Why We Love It: This cooler (and its high ice retention) is a great companion for long weekend trips.

What to Consider: There have been issues with the clip latch and/or strap breaking.

If you’re looking for an insulated cooler that can go the distance — or rather keep your food and beverages ice-cold for the distance — Otterbox’s Trooper 20 is a solid choice. Food-grade interior lining, top-notch thermal insulation, and a leakproof seal work to keep ice intact for at least three days. This is key for road trips, long hikes, and short camping trips. The flip top makes it easy to grab what you need quickly, and the included bottle opener accessory means you won’t have to McGuyver anything. There’s also an exterior pocket with a water-resistant zipper for storing smaller, necessary items like keys and your phone, and the cooler is outfitted with several loop straps for adding additional accessories as needed. Unfortunately, there have been reports of this cooler having broken parts, so some people may not find it worth the investment.

Price at time of publish: $250

Capacity: 19 liters | Weight: 6.5 pounds | Ice retention: High

Best Backpack

Yeti Hopper M20 Soft Backpack Cooler

Yeti M20 Soft Backpack Cooler


Why We Love It: This cooler backpack has superior ice retention and a durable design.

What to Consider: The high price makes this cooler an investment for some.

The Yeti M20 Soft Backpack Cooler is a top-loading, durable backpack from one of the most respected cooler brands on the market. This bag’s unique MagShield access uses a strip of magnets to seal-in interior temperatures while providing easy access to contents without having to fiddle with straps and buckles. Both the outside and the interior of the bag are treated to be mildew-resistant, so you can trek with this bag in all weather conditions across a few days without worrying about ruining the pack. The puncture-resistant, UV-blocking fabric adds extra protection and helps the cold-cell insulation keep things cooler longer. This versatile bag can be used to hold food, ice, drinks (including upright wine bottles), or fresh catch. However, all these perks come at a cost and you’ll likely want to consider this bag as an investment.

Price at time of publish: $325

Capacity: 18 12-ounce cans with ice | Weight: 4.8 pounds | Ice retention: High

Best for Groceries

Hydro Flask 20L Insulated Tote



Why We Love It: This lightweight tote stores flat or rolled and features a waterproof exterior and water-resistant zippers.

What to Consider: The low temperature retention rate is only reliable for up to four hours.

Available in five solid colors and three different sizes, the Hydro Flask Insulated Tote is our go-to pick for groceries or quick take-out grabs for picnics. Although insulated and capable of keeping your food and drink chilled for up to four hours, this tote remains slim and is easy to slip on and off the shoulder. The 8-liter size is great for packing lunches, while the 20-liter and 35-liter sizes are better for shopping trips. This totes stands out by standing up — the molded base keeps the tote from collapsing and holds the bag upright, making it easier to load and unload. The waterproof exterior and water-resistant zippers are clutch for rainy day transports, though we do wish the temperature retention lasted more than just a few hours.

Price at time of publish: $65

Capacity: 8, 20, or 35 liters | Weight: 15.8 ounces | Ice retention: Low

Best Soft-sided with Wheels

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze


Why We Love It: It’s a rugged cooler bag that takes the weight off your back and keeps your items cold from the ground up.

What to Consider: The exterior zippers are not leakproof.

Sturdy, all-terrain wheels help keep the weight of this insulated cooler bag’s 60-can capacity off your back and on the ground for easier portability, especially when you’ve got a bit of a walk. The 300D Poly Ripstop with TPE coating material means it can take a few scrapes and small beatings with no problem. An insulated heat barrier keeps things cooler longer by reflecting heat instead of absorbing it, and there’s an additional insulated, expandable front pocket too for smaller items. The bottom of the cooler bag is triple-thick with Superfoam insulation to protect your goods from the ground's heat. The bag itself is collapsible and — bonus! — you can actually use the cart on its own. It comes with a built-in shoulder strap, which we recommend only using when the cooler bag is empty. Sadly, while the bag interior is leakproof, the zipper is not.

Price at time of publish: $65-$85

Capacity: 60 12-ounce cans | Weight: 6.75 pounds | Ice retention: Medium

Best Individual

Igloo Fanny Pack Cooler

Igloo Fanny Pack Cooler


Why We Love It: It’s a personal cooler bag that kicks up ‘90s nostalgia and is totally hands-free.

What to Consider: The temperature retention is one of the lowest on the list — but it does work.

With the Igloo Fanny Pack Cooler, you don’t have to sacrifice style for function. We love the bright and bold ‘90s look of this waist-wearable cooler bag that holds up to three 12-ounce cans of your favorite beverage and a handful of ice to keep it cold. There’s also a front zip pocket for your keys, lip balm, or other small accessories. The thin lining and proximity to your own body heat means it's best for quick cooling needs, such as lake parties, short hikes, beach days, and parties where you want the freedom to roam around without being too far from your drinks. This cooler bag’s ice and temperature retention may only last a handful of hours, but at least it’ll keep you looking cool.

Price at time of publish: $20-$40

Capacity: 3 12-ounce cans | Weight: 0.28 pounds | Ice retention: Low

Best for Six Packs

Yeti Hopper Flip 8

Yeti Hopper Flip 8


Why We Love It: This is one tough personal cooler.

What to Consider: It’s an investment for a small cooler.

The Yeti Hopper Flip 8 can hold up to eight 12-ounce cans with ice, making it a solid pick for a snack and six pack or lunch for two. Cold cell rubber foam insulation provides superior ice and temperature retention, perfect for long or overnight travels. You’ll also be getting Yeti durability with mildew-resistant fabric that blocks warming UV rays and can stand up to rugged environments. We like this cooler bag because it’s so reliable and is designed to add additional accessories when needed. Are there less expensive personal cooler options out there? Yes, but considering this cooler bag’s features are designed to protect your precious cargo and the bag’s longevity, you won’t have to replace it as often.

Price at time of publish: $200

Capacity: 8 12-ounce cans with ice | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Ice retention: High

Best Collapsible

CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

Clevermade Collapsible Cooler Bag


Why We Love It: It’s made from recycled plastic bottles, has a built-in bottle opener, and folds flat for storage.

What to Consider: In order to fold flat, it needs to be secured with a band (included).

This insulated cooler bag is our favorite collapsible because it folds down flat but has a wire frame that snaps into place and keeps the bag shaped and sturdy while in use. There’s also extra-thick insulation padding, and a boarded base to keep things level inside and support its 35-pound weight capacity. Two sizes allow you to fit up to 30 cans or 50 cans inside the bag, including ice, either on your back or as a tote. We love that it’s made from recycled plastic and has a secret bottle opener built into one of the straps, as well as external pockets and loops for hooking in any accessories. We’re less excited that it requires an elastic band (called the WireStrap) to keep it flat when folded down. If you lose the band, it’ll puff up beyond the compressed three inches.

Price at time of publish: $39-$50

Capacity: 30 liters | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Ice retention: Medium

Best for the Beach

Creative Green Life Jumbo Insulated Cooler Bag with HD Thermal Foam Insulation

Creative Green Life Jumbo Insulated Cooler Bag with HD Thermal Foam Insulation


Why We Love It: It keeps items hot or cold and can double as a grocery tote.

What to Consider: It can keep things cold for hours but doesn’t retain actual ice very well.

The Jumbo Insulated Cooler Bag with HD Thermal Foam Insulation is an ideal grab-and-go way to keep things hot or cold on a quick daytime outing. The reinforced bottom helps to keep the bag upright, making it a natural pick for days at the beach. Convertible straps can be worn as a backpack or over-the-shoulder (but, beware, there’s no padding), and contents are accessible through the main top zippered compartment. Interior spills and condensation are contained thanks to the heat-welded seams, and the bag itself is machine-washable on the gentle cycle. As a bonus, you can use this lightweight bag as a grocery tote to keep your hot items hot and your cold items fresh on the way home from the store. A major downside is the unstable temperature retention rate and that you’ll likely need to use ice packs over fresh ice.

Price at time of publish: $27

Capacity: 30 liters  | Weight: 1.32 pounds  | Ice retention: Low

Best for Water Activities

IceMule Jaunt 15L Soft-sided Cooler

Icemule Collapsible Backpack Cooler


Why We Love It: It’s waterproof and can hold multiple wine bottles upright.

What to Consider: No chest strap means all the weight is on your shoulders and back.

The Icemule Jaunt’s insulated cooler bag’s dry bag design, welded seams and straps, and waterproof MuleSkin fabrics work together to make it a waterproof, floatable cooler bag to take with you on the boat and in the water. It’s also got an air valve to help with full collapsibility, make it easy to pack-down for trips, and to store until the next time you need it. It also has a separate zippered front pocket for things like keys and phones. The company claims its PolarLayer insulation can keep the goods ice-cold for 24 (or more) hours. The small 9-liter size keeps it from being too cumbersome on your back while still providing storage for a six pack plus ice or three 750-millilter bottles (upright!). The Jaunt is also available in a 15-liter size that can hold up to 12 12-ounce cans or four bottles of wine. That said, we do wish the design had a chest strap to help support heavier hauls.

Price at time of publish: $80-$159

Capacity: 9 liters | Weight: 1.6 pounds | Ice retention: Medium

Tips for Buying an Insulated Cooler Bag   

Carefully consider capacity and size needs

Insulated cooler bags come in all shapes, sizes, and capacities. Think about what you’ll need or want to pack inside the cooler, now and in the future. Remember to factor ice or ice packs into your capacity needs (capacity is often advertised without ice included).

Anticipate the appropriate accessories for your needs

Consider your insulated cooler bag as an investment. Think of different ways you will need to use the insulated cooler bag down the line. Buying a bag that can be accessorized may prevent you from having to purchase a different bag in the future. Some common accessories include ice packs, carabiner clips, and extra storage pockets.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are insulated coolers as good as hard coolers?

    The answer depends on your specific conditions and needs. Hard coolers are known for having better durability in rugged scenarios and providing longer ice retention than soft, insulated cooler bags. Hard coolers are best for lengthy trips, like camping, while insulated cooler bags are better for portability and organization.

  • Will insulated cooler bags leak?

    Finding a leakproof cooler bag is key for preventing spills and for temperature retention. Lower-end cooler bags are less likely to be equipped with water-tight, leakproof zippers and closures. If you’re concerned about leaks, make sure to pick cooler bags with leakproof closures and lining.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure?

Katherine Alex Beaven has over 10 years of experience as a travel, food, and culture writer. For this list, she researched dozens of insulated cooler bags to find the ones most worthy of transporting your temperature-controlled cargo.

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