Coolers have long been associated with those big cumbersome boxes that are difficult to carry but it doesn’t always have to be like that. Whether you’re heading out to the beach, a kayak or a boat, a backpack cooler means that you can easily carry those cold drinks to wherever you need to be.

Finding the best backpack cooler though means taking plenty of things into account such as how big it is going to be, what it is made of and how much it’s going to insulate the items that are on the inside. After that you have to worry about such things as additional features, warranty, pockets and many others.

That’s where we’re here to help as in order for you to find the best insulated backpack for you we have created a buying guide for all of your questions and have also looked through the backpack cooler reviews to show you the best items on the market. Once you’ve finished reading you’ll have full confidence in buying exactly what you need.

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How To Choose A Backpack Cooler – Buying Guide

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Size

When it comes to most products there is a tendency to think that bigger is better but when it comes to backpacks this is not always the case as there is plenty to consider before you make that decision to buy one.

A lot of this depends on exactly how you aim to be using your backpack as if you want it for one specific activity then you will have to choose a backpack which fits most closely with that activity or you might want a bag they will be equally suited to a number a different situations, it all depends on your hobbies and interests.

If you’re going to be hiking, then size really is a crucial factor as weight is going to be a big issue. If you get a huge cooler which is able to hold a vast amount of items then this is going to be very difficult to carry for a whole day and will take a heavy toll on your shoulder and your back. You wouldn’t want to too small either as then you might be limiting the number of items you can carry, here is where you need to look at your own strength to determine what weight you could comfortably carry and how long for.

If you’re just heading from the car onto the beach then you are going to have a different set of requirements as you won’t be bothered too much about the weight of the backpack as you’ll be carrying it for a much shorter distance and therefore you’ll be more inclined to be happy to burden that extra bit of weight as you know that you won’t be doing it for very long.

If you intend to be using a backpack cooler for a number of different uses then it might be best to err on the slightly larger size. The reason for this is that if you do have to walk a long distance then you obviously would have to fill it up to the full capacity so you’ll be able to save weight that was as well. The size of a backpack cooler should be measured in liters which can be a large figure to grasp but some will also give you the figure in the number of cans which can be an ideal reference point.

If you are getting a larger backpack then it makes to comfort features such as straps even more important so if you’re going to be carrying a lot of weight then you want to ensure that you’re getting a suitable amount of support to match it. Of course the size of your bag is a personal choice but just make sure that you factor in its use before you go to buy your product. You don’t want to be left in a situation when you’re on a hike and you find your backpack is far too heavy and equally you don’t want to be at the beach and run out of drinks knowing you could have packed a lot more.

Construction Material

More than most backpacks, the construction material of your backpack is crucial as it has to serve a number of different uses to make an effective backpack. First and foremost, you want to ensure that your backpack is highly durable against any bumps and scraps as over the course of its life it will go through a lot of usage to put up with that.

The material on the outside of the backpack needs to be durable enough to resist any cuts or scrapes but it also needs to be light enough so that it remains easy to carry and flexible enough so that it doesn’t become difficult to use. Added to this the zips and the buckles have to be strong enough to be able to absorb the weight and the straps have to be made with comfortable padding as well.

On the inside of the bag you need to look for a product which is going to be water resistant as this is vital in ensuring that you have a comfortable bag, especially if you plan on storing ice in the cooler section. As well as a water resistant material you need to look out for the seams being welded shut as this can often be a source of weakness for products which try and protect themselves from water.

A backpack cooler has to be made from the highest quality materials or there isn’t going to be much point in buying one, as it will most likely fail or not provide you with the right type of support that you need. Before you buy a backpack cooler you need to check that it’s well-made and is built to last you for a very long time.

Insulating Material

If you’re looking for a cooler which is going to provide you with a high level of ice retention then it’s highly likely that you’re going to be left disappointed as the products which look like traditional backpacks won’t keep things frozen but will instead keep them cooled as they try to retain as much of the temperature as they can.

There are products out there on the market which are able to offer a good amount of ice retention such as the IceMule Coolers Classic Cooler but these are more specialized products which don’t look like a standard backpack and instead is hung over the shoulder with no additional features. Most of these backpacks instead will have a foam or foil wall around them which will be able to keep the temperature as stable as possible.

These products won’t be able to offer any significant form of ice retention but they will still keep the temperature inside of the cooler backpack as low as possible. These backpacks have to consider weight and flexibility but also have to be highly portable as well which is why they can’t offer the same level of protection as a traditional cooler box.

If you are playing on going hiking then having ice in your backpack wouldn’t be practical as not only would it be a waste of space but it would also use up far too much weight as well. If you’re only traveling a short distance then it might be best to look into getting a more traditional cooler if you wanted those ice cold drinks.

Warranty

When it comes to having a warranty it can be seen as a great thing to have on any product as it will give you assurances about the products quality and you know that you’ll be covered if anything is wrong with it.

With a warranty though it’s not just that as for some people it can be the difference between buying a product or not as they may feel that a company has a lot more faith in their product if a warranty is offered on it. This can give you more confidence that the backpack is going to last for a long time and continue to be durable for many years.

There is a word of warning, however, when it comes to warranties. As many people may know, it’s not always as friendly as it seems as companies will offer a limited warranty which will only cover any defects that are in the manufacturing of the product. This can mean that you’re not covered for a lot of problems that can come from regular backpack use.

If you see a company offering a warranty then it’s important to look into it further to see what it actually covers or you may end up being a little disappointed, especially if you’re sending back a broken product which was clearly a result of the backpack not being very high quality, only to find that you will have to purchase a new one.

Due to this it’s important to inspect and test your bag before you use it. This way you’ll be able to see if there is anything wrong from the production process. This could save you time and effort as not only do you not want it to break when it’s out of warranty but you also don’t want it to break when you’re out there doing to activity that you love either.

Uses

One of the great things about these backpack coolers is that they have multiple different uses so you’ll be able to use them for a variety of different reasons so you are bound to get an incredible amount of value for money after you buy one, especially if you pick a model that ranks high in durability as well.

Hiking is one of the most popular uses for these types of backpacks as you are able to have amenities that you might not otherwise be able to enjoy such as cold food and cold drinks. If you’re going for a day out then you could carry the cooler backpack while someone else carried your equipment or if no other equipment is required you could share the load of carrying the bag. The adjustable straps and padding that is associated with most bags will ensure that you can easily carry it for long distances.

The beach is another common place to find coolers which can often be very difficult to carry. While with some beaches you might be able to park close by or even on the beach, with others you might have to park a lot further away and therefore have to carry your cooler a long distance. In these situations having a backpack cooler can make your life a whole lot easier as you can put it over your shoulders and make your way to the beach a lot easier.

These backpacks can also be great for activities such as fishing and hunting as well where you might be away from amenities for a long time and need to have everything that you need with you so you don’t have to abandon what you’re doing in order to grab a drink or have something to eat. The cooler is a great way to be able to commit to a whole day of something without breaking your concentration.

There are plenty of other uses that you can have as well such as general travel, picnicking, heading out on a boat and they are able to be securely fastened enough so that you’re able to cycle with them as well. Whatever you plan to be doing with your backpack with cooler you’ll find the experience will be made all the more easier by what is on your back. These are great products that you can take out with you every weekend, whatever you plan to be doing.

Features

Whatever product you get, it’s always great to have a list of useful features which can make the experience better, whatever you’re doing. With these backpack coolers there a few added extras that they can have which will be able to increase the amount of use that you can get out of your backpack but also make them easier to use as well.

One big feature which might not always be so obvious is the type of material that the inside of the bag is made from as this can have a huge consequence on how easy they are to own. A lot of the interiors for these types of bags is polyurethane which is the exact type of material that you should be looking for. This is due to the fact that that they are easy to clean but also durable as well.

An additional feature that these bags come with are secure pockets where you will be able to place your valuables. Even though you are buying this bag mainly for the purposes of the cooler, there is still the matter of the other things that you have to carry so having little pockets where you keep such items can be extremely useful to keep everything safe and secure.

While there are some features which can be nice extras, there are others which are absolutely vital for the long-term comfort and effectiveness of your cooler and one such feature is that the bag will need to be water resistant both on the inside and the outside. You want to make sure that water doesn’t get into your other items and you want to ensure that the water inside the cooler doesn’t get out.

Another such essential feature are the straps, as you need to know that you’ll be able to carry it for a long time as sometimes these bags can get very difficult if you fill them up with heavy content. Due to this, getting any bag which has an unpadded strap would be a huge no but thankfully all the products that we have shown in this list have that option.

If you want to use your backpack cooler for storing drinks for example, then you might quickly lose the temperature and the cooling ability of the bag if you are constantly opening and closing it to get to your drink. Having mesh pockets on the sides of your bag can be a great way of storing your bottle without having to constantly go back into your bag.

Before you purchase your bag it’s important to look at all of these features and see which ones for the most important to you. Not all of the bags have the same types of features so figuring out what is an absolute must and what is just a useful extra can be very important. Even though features can be important, you also need to ensure that you remain focused on the core aspect of your bag and that is to cool the contents.

Functionality

When you are buying a product such as this it’s important to know exactly what function you want it to serve so you can work towards getting the product that is going to be the best fit for you and your situation. The primary function that you need this product to serve is to keep your contents cool but even that can depend on your own personal needs.

It could be just that you want a bag which is going to keep your drinks cool for long enough so that they are still enjoyable throughout the day, or it could be that you want a bag which is going to be able to give you a lot of ice retention so that you can constantly keep your items as cold as they were when you first placed them in the bag.

It’s important therefore to check the bag to see which type of cooling it will provide. Cooling boxes generally work by having rigid walls with a vacuum layer inside which obviously wouldn’t be practical for a backpack coolers so a compromise has to be made but the degree of that compromise is up to you.

Another key function of these backpack coolers is the ability to retain everything that is in the cooler section to ensure that it doesn’t leak. Whether you are packing ice into there or you know there is going to be some condensation from your drinks, it’s likely that the product will get wet from time to time and keeping that water in the backpack is a key function of them.

Whilst these are key functions in relation to the cooler section, you also want to ensure that the product will be able to function effectively as a backpack too. This means being able to be comfortable enough to carry for long periods while also being able to carry a large number of items. Backpacks have to deal with a lot of rough terrain and use as well so having a bag which is able to be durable is another key function.

Style

Even though you want a bag which works perfectly the way that you want it too while also having the features that you need, you also want it to look great too, style is a very important buying consideration for many people and a lot of these products will look great when they are around your shoulders.

One of the key aspects which can affect the style of a product is the color. Some companies offer their product in just one color while others will offer it up and a few different options. If different options are what you are after then the Dakine Prom Woman’s Backpack would be one to look at, as with its 41 different designs it would be very difficult to not find one that you liked the look of.

With backpacks you also have the option to have a one strap model or a two strap model. While this can be a style issue, there is also a big issue of practicality too. One strap models can look great as you throw them over one of your shoulders but if you’re carrying it over a long distance then it’s not going to have the same level of support as a two strap bag.

Size can play an important role when it comes to style, if you’re a smaller person then it makes sense to get a slightly smaller bag. This isn’t just an issue of style as it also makes sense. Carrying a bag that is too large can be very uncomfortable but it could also cause issues such as back pain too.

Aside from these features, style is often a personal choice but it’s clear that some companies put a lot more effort into their designs than others. There are some products on this list which look great and there are others which simply look function but there’s nothing wrong with that if you don’t care too much about style. One thing is clear though and that is the fact that you shouldn’t sacrifice functionality for style. There’s not much use having a bag that looks great if it’s unable to do its primary job.

Comfort/Straps

There are times where the comfort level and the straps of a product are going to be more important than others. If you’re only going to be carrying your bag for a short distance then its ability to comfortably carry the weight it’s going to be much of an issue.

If you’re looking at backpack coolers though then it’s more than likely because you want a cooling option for a bag which is going to be on your back for a significant period of time. The straps need to be thickly padded so that they are able to protect your shoulders and it also helps if they are thick as well because this will be able to equally distribute the weight.

If your backpack is going to be particularly heavy then you don’t just want straps around your shoulder either, as a strap around your waist can add additional support. Not only will this help keep the backpack tight to your body but it will also help take some of the weight off those shoulder straps. A fully loaded bag can be very heavy so having this additional support can be crucial.

With those straps you also need to look at how adjustable they are too, as loose straps will make the backpack move around more freely on your shoulders which can quickly make it feel more uncomfortable. A backpack that is tight to your body will be a lot easier to carry than one which is loose, therefore adjustments need to be quickly made to that it’s not going to be an issue.

Weight Capacity

Weight is a key issue when it comes to backpacking as you want a product which is going to be able to be as light as possible while still carrying plenty of gear. It’s perhaps even more important for a backpack cooler to be light in weight due to the heavy contents that it is likely to carry. A light weight shouldn’t be seen as a given which makes it an important aspect to check with each product.

With weight capacity this often largely comes down to the size of the bag, as the bigger it is, the more it’s going to be able to hold. If you’re taller with strong shoulders then the natural inclination is to look for a backpack cooler which is the biggest you could possibly find in order to carry as much stuff as possible

When you are packing your backpack it’s important to distribute the weight evenly throughout the bag to make sure it stays as comfortable as possible. If you don’t do this then the bag will be lopsided and a lot more difficult to carry. This is especially important if you’re carrying a bag with a high weight capacity as it would only make the problem worse.

Weight capacity though is a decision that you need to make based on how much you think you can carry. If you are able to carry a lot of weight then by all means look for a bag which is at the top end of the scale but if you’re smaller then it’s probably for the best to dial it down a few sizes to make it more comfortable.

Pockets

With a traditional cooler you wouldn’t be thinking about having any additional pockets as they have one use and one use only and that is to keep the contents ice cold. With a backpack cooler though it’s not just one function that you are trying to serve as it’s likely that you’ll be wanting to take more equipment with you.

It could also be that you are looking for a cooler which has more than one cooling compartment which can be a useful feature as then you would be able to split the items that you wanted to cool such as food and drinks. In respect of internal pockets there are some backpacks which have secure pockets where you are able to store valuable items which can be a very useful feature.

One the outside of the backpack there should also be a few pocket options and a lot of the backpacks follow the same format in this respect as they will have another product on the front as well as having two mesh pockets on the sides. The front pocket can be great for storing multiple different things and is often referred to as a dry pocket in contrast to the wetter items that you will be putting in the main cooler compartment.

The mesh pockets on the sides are great as well for storing such things as water bottles and other items that you want quick access to. Overall with your backpack you want it to be highly convenient and having these additional products can really help to make it a product which is going to be able to give you everything that you need.

FAQs

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Q: Do I Need To Cool The Backpack Before Use?

A: When you’re using a backpack cooler it’s obvious that the contents that you put into it aren’t going to get any colder than what they already are, so therefore it makes sense to give it a cold starting point so that you’re contents are going to be at the temperature you want for as long as possible.

This can be done in a few ways with one of them being to stick the bag somewhere that’s cold so that when you come to use it your contents aren’t being placed in a warm bag. Another way to do this would be to fill out your bag with ice packs which will immediately be able to bring the temperature of your bag right down.

This isn’t too crucial though as if you’re putting cold contents into the bag then they are going to quickly cool it right down. It also depends on how long you intend to be staying out as well, if you’re going to be out there for a whole day then it probably makes sense to cool it as much as possible.

Q: How Long It Will Keep Cool?

A: This entirely depends on the type of product that you have and also varies based on other factors such as how many times you will be opening it. These backpacks aren’t meant to function on the same level as a box cooler though so you need to lower your expectations if that’s what you’re looking for.

The IceMule Coolers Classic Cooler will be able to retain ice for 24 hours in perfect conditions so is one of the products on the market which have this higher level of cold. For the other backpacks they simply aim to keep your contents cold which they do a great job of. As long as you limit the times when you use the bag and open the bag and close it quickly, then these bags will keep your contents cool for a whole day.

Q: What Size Should I Buy?

A: This generally depends on how big and strong you are as it makes sense to get a bag which is as big as you are able to carry as this will give you the opportunity to pack more things should you need them. Of course you don’t always have to fill your bag to full capacity but at least you’d have that option.

It could be though that you are buying your bag for a specific use and know that you’ll never need a huge amount of cooler space for your trip. If this is you then you can just get the bag which is going to provide you with the space that you need for your specific trip. This just requires a common sense approach to your backpacking needs.

The size options that are available will be shown in a few ways. Firstly you want to look at the physical dimensions of the backpack and see the height, width and depth of it. This might not always give you the best idea though as if you had a bag which was big but light, then it’d still be easy to carry. You want to see how many liters it will be able to hold as this will give you a better idea of capacity and therefore its weight when fully packed.

Q: How Do I Keep My Cooler Clean?

A: Whether it is a backpack cooler or it might be one which comes in the traditional box form, they will always get a little messy and they will always have to be cleaned. If you’ve ever split something inside a normal rucksack then you’ll know how difficult they can be to clean but thankfully backpack coolers are going to be a little easier.

The cooler section of your backpack should be made from a water resistant material such as polyurethane which will be able to be easily wiped down with a cloth after each use. It’s important to get rid of any odors and it’s best to clear out your coolers with fresh water and be left out to fully dry in the air.

If there is anything that has been spilled or anything else which might cause an odor then you can add a little soap to your cloth to give it a more thorough clean. Due to the type of material these coolers are made out of the cleaning process should be quite simple and a lot easier than with regular backpacks.

Q: Do Backpack Coolers Come With Accessories?

A: Generally backpack coolers don’t come with many accessories as they have their soft cooler backpack as their main focus point and then will have a few additional pockets to go with that. It’s a product which you buy so that it will perform in its primary function so there isn’t much need for accessories.

A few do some with aspects like a detachable water bottle which can be useful as you need to restrict the number of times that you are going into your bag. Some of the bags also have D-strings or other attachments where you can put additional items on the bag to make everything easier to carry.

Q: Can Backpack Coolers Hold Ice?

A: Some can hold ice for a significant period but the general answer then this question would be not really as they are able to keep cool but don’t offer a great deal of ice retention. If you have a backpack cooler then it’s probably for the best to avoid placing ice directly in there as this will mean that you don’t have to clear any water out or have water swilling around your bag.

Instead it’s a better idea to invest into some ice packs which will be solid blocks of ice but which are self-contained in a plastic casing than therefore won’t spill out into your bag. This will be able to keep your contents cold while not worrying about a mess.

Q: Can A Backpack Cooler Hold Hot Food?

A: As a cooler works by insulating what’s on the inside and protect it from the outside then the answer would be yes. You just need to be extra careful when doing this as hot food needs to be kept in a more sensible manner. You also have to appreciate that it’s likely to chill to some degree so won’t stay as how as when you put it in.

Globo Surf Overview

A backpack cooler is an innovative solution to having a great cooler on the go as you can just throw it over your shoulder and head out onto your trip. Whether you wanted a hiking cooler backpack or one that you can simply take to the beach, these products can be used for multiple different occasions.

Using an insulated backpack cooler can transform your trip and make it into a much more enjoyable one as you have access to cold drinks and food that you otherwise wouldn’t have had. Choosing a cooler backpack though involves making sure that you choose the right size for you and the one that is going to most closely match the use that you’re going to have for it. Once you know that then you can look into other aspects such as its features, style and the comfort it will provide.

Hopefully this buying guide has given you all the confidence that you need in order to make a great buying choice for you and your trip. You just need to know what your requirements are and get a product to match that. Once you know that then you can head to the great outdoors knowing that you’ve got the top rated backpack cooler for you and enjoy cold food and drinks all day long.

Globo Surf Backpack Coolers Reviews

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I was just getting ready for a 4 days hiking/backpacking trip and since it's my first time I was worried how I will keep my food fresh. My friend recommended this article to me and I am very grateful for your great product reviews.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!