Soft coolers are a man’s best friend in the summer; where else can you keep your drinks ice cold when you’re outside enjoying the sun? Nothing says summer better than an ice cold drink while you’re beside the water with the sun beating down.

Soft coolers are portable boxes that will keep your drinks cold despite the warm temperatures outside. You can take them with you to the beach, or even on your kayak. Before you head out on your next summer adventure, pick up a soft cooler!

With so many different options to pick from, it’s hard to choose the best soft cooler on your own. That’s why this guide will help you decide what soft cooler to get, as well as tell you about the best soft coolers in 2018!

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

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How To Choose A Soft Cooler – Buying Guide

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Use

With so many different uses for soft sided coolers and situations where ice cold drinks are lovely to have, there’s a ton of different scenarios where soft sided coolers are needed. Most companies that create coolers recognize this and make coolers for certain situations, so you’ll need to think about this whenever you go to buy the best soft sided cooler.

There’s large coolers that are meant for groups of people. These coolers are large and can hold dozens of drinks and snacks for days at a time. Coolers like this typically mention that they can be used for lots of people, or they mention the fact that they can hold so many drinks. These coolers are harder to transport because of their size, but they make up for it with the amount of drinks they can carry.

There’s your standard cooler size that’s ready to be carried anywhere for a small group of people. These coolers hold anywhere for 15 to 25 cans and are easier to carry around compared to coolers meant for large groups of people. You’ll be able to take this farther out in nature as long as you need to.

Personal soft pack coolers are another way soft sided coolers can be used. There’s plenty of soft sided coolers that exist for individual use; these are typically extremely small and work for one person. While they’re small and can’t hold as much as standard coolers, they are significantly easier to carry and typically last longer than other coolers because of the smaller design.

Size

Size has a lot to do with the soft sided cooler that you’re buying. There’s different sizes for coolers that also have to do with their use and portability, so thinking about size is a very important aspect of a soft sided cooler.

There’s large coolers that are meant for groups of people. These coolers are huge and can hold dozens of drinks and snacks for days at a time. Large coolers are easy to tell their size by the sheer number of things they can. These coolers are harder to transport because of their size, but they make up for it with the amount of drinks they can carry.

There’s your standard cooler size that’s ready to be carried anywhere for a small group of people. These coolers hold anywhere for 15 to 25 cans and are easier to carry around compared to coolers meant for large groups of people. You’ll be able to take this farther out in nature as long as you need to fairly easily. They might get a little heavy, but with several people you’ll easily be able to carry it around.

Small coolers are typically personal coolers that are meant for a day out on your own adventure, whether you’re on the beach by yourself or just wanting to be outside alone for the day. These cooler are extremely small and meant for one person to use for up to a day, so they don’t hold as much. However, they’re much easier to transport and typically keep drinks colder for longer because of their smaller size.

Durability of the Material

Soft coolers classify as any cooler that’s made out of a soft material; that means that soft coolers can vary in the material they’re made out of, and they do. Different companies use very different materials on their soft coolers depending on what they want to focus on. That leads to thinking about the durability of a soft ice chest before you buy one.

Depending on what you want to do dictates how durable you want your soft cooler bag to be. It’s typically a good idea to get the most durable soft cooler there is just to be on the safe side, but sometimes durability comes with a price that a lot of people don’t want to pay for. However, if you’re going anywhere out in nature, keeping a durable soft cooler is extremely important.

Durability can mean that your soft cooler bag is nature proof. This is when the material your soft cooler is made with is harder to rip, tear, or puncture than typical material. If you’re out in nature, then these hits can cause your soft sided cooler to bust, leaving you with warm drinks and spoiled food.

Durability can also mean that your soft sided cooler is waterproof. If you’re someone who plans to take your soft cooler sailing with you, then you’ll want a soft cooler that’s waterproof. If you plan on keeping food in your soft cooler, then it’s extremely important to make sure that no water can get into your soft cooler no matter what you’re doing.

Ice Retention (How Long it Stays Cold)

Soft sided coolers are meant to trap cold air and keep your food and drinks cold. This is typically done by having an airtight bag with ice in it so that the ice can keep producing cold air for the items to sit in. It’s a good idea to see how long ice can stay inside of your soft cooler before choosing one.

Some soft sided coolers focus on keeping ice longer than others. These soft sided coolers are great for long trips or for trips that take longer to get to. The longer the trip, the longer you’ll want your ice to stay ice so that your drinks will stay as cold as possible.

If a soft sided cooler says that it has a no leak zipper, or that the seams are welded or put together with heat, then it’s better at retaining ice than others. The reason that ice melts is because the cold air that it produces leaks out, and hotter air invades. The more ways that cold air is trapped inside the soft cooler makes it better at retaining that cold air.

Some coolers also help this process with an electric fan. Because of how heavy the electric fan can be, and the fact that it needs some output of electricity to work, these soft coolers are meant for car use. If you’re traveling across the country, or even just traveling for the day, then these coolers are perfect for keeping car snacks and drinks cold. The ice will stay cold for an extremely long time because of the fan.

Cleaning

There’s different ways to clean a soft cooler, and ease of cleaning is another thing to look at when you’re buying one as well. Cleaning your cooler is extremely important, especially if you keep food and snacks in it, so it’s an essential part of having a soft cooler.

Because food can start to smell over time, you’re going to want to clean your soft cooler regularly. Many are odor proof, but even those can start to smell like spoiled food after not being cleaned out whenever you use it. Over time, your soft cooler can develop a permanent unpleasant smell that makes no one want to use it.

The inside of the soft sided cooler can typically be cleaned just like any dish can be. However, some companies make this easier by making the lining removable so that you can pull it out and wash it instead of trying to maneuver a cooler in your sink. These are easy to clean and lets you clean better as well, making them natural winners in the cleaning area.

You’ll also want to think about cleaning the outside of your soft cooler. While food smells won’t reach the outside, the natural world does, and over time dirt can build up. You’ll want to at least spray down your soft cooler after using it to make sure you’re not letting mud or any other kind of worldly mess accumulate on it.

Leakage

There’s a few things to keep in mind when it comes to leakage areas on soft coolers. However, you never want any part of your soft cooler to leak, so look on product descriptions of soft coolers to see what they say about leakage before purchasing one. You can look at this as air or water leakage!

Leaking air in a soft cooler is an issue as it will make your cooler not as cold. Soft coolers are meant to trap cold air and keep your food and drinks cold. This is typically done by having an airtight bag with ice in it so that the ice can keep producing cold air for the items to sit in. If your soft cooler is leaking cold air, then your stuff isn’t staying as cold.

You can typically tell if a soft cooler will leak cold air because it’ll say how the seams are put together. You’ll want a soft cooler that’s seams are put together by heat, or welded together, because that means there’s no room for air to escape between fabrics. The only thing you’d need to worry about releasing air is when you open it.

You also want your soft cooler to not leak water either. It’s inevitable that the ice will melt, whether it completely melts or slowly melts over time. Either way, you want that cold water to stay inside your cooler. It’ll keep your drinks and food still warm, and you won’t have ice cold water running down your arm or leaking from your cooler while you’re carrying it.

Some soft coolers prevent this by having a lining on the inside that works to stop leaking as well as makes it easier to clean. This is a major difference between soft pack coolers and hard coolers, so make sure that you choose one that won’t cause any issues for you.

Zipper

While the zipper may not seem important at first glance on a soft cooler, the zipper has a lot to do with how well your soft sided cooler actually stays cool. There’s different zipper designs that help trap cold air in, as well as keep warm air out. You’ll want to make sure that the soft cooler advertises that the zipper is airtight, and you’ll be set to go!

Also, there’s nothing worse than a cheap zipper. If the soft cooler doesn’t say anything about how well the zipper works, it’s probably not a good idea. Cheap zippers are an easy place for companies to skip over and cut costs, and there’s a hoard of problems with ad zippers.

A bad zipper won’t keep your soft sided cooler airtight. This means that your food and drinks will start getting warmer faster, and with food that can cause bad smells and spoiling. You don’t want to haul around a soft cooler just to find out that everything in it is warm by the time you get ready to use it!

Bad zippers can also run off track. When a zipper runs off track, it’s basically broken forever. If your soft cooler has a zipper that runs off track, there’s no way you can use it anymore. Cold air will be leaking constantly, and there’s no way to close it up once the zipper has broken. Make sure to read the description of the zipper on any soft cooler.

FAQs

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Q: Will a soft cooler work at the beach?

A: Soft coolers work great at the beach! Some people like soft coolers better than hard coolers at the beach because of how flexible the fabric is; it’s easier to sit in the sand compared to a cooler that doesn’t move when you set it down.

Soft coolers are meant to keep your stuff cold no matter the weather conditions, so grab your beach chair and head on down to the sandy shore for a day out in the sun with some cold drinks in tow. You’ll be able to keep drinks for your entire group easily despite the hot sun.

If you’re still worried about how well the cold will stay in your soft pack cooler, then there’s two options for keeping it cooler. You can invest in a beach tent to store your cooler in. Most everyone can feel how much cooler the temperature gets in the shade; if you keep your soft cooler in shade, then it’ll stay colder for longer.

You can also look into buying the best soft sided cooler that keeps ice colder for longer. The longer a soft cooler keeps ice cold, the better it works. So that means even on a day trip, a soft cooler that can keep drinks cold for five days will keep your drinks cold longer than a soft cooler that retains ice for one day. The longer a soft cooler can keep things cold, the better it works, so they’re useful for hot climates as well.

Q: What is a soft cooler?

A: Soft coolers are coolers that have soft sides, or sides made from a fabric instead of hard plastic. The traditional cooler uses foam or plastic to keep your drinks and food cold, but soft coolers have different approaches because of their different materials. They’re great for a variety of reasons.

Soft coolers, or soft pack coolers, are easier to transport than hard coolers. They are easier to carry since they’re typically lighter than the traditional cooler, so you can carry them to more obscure places. They also typically fit in cars better since the sides are flexible and can fit wherever you need it to. Standard coolers can’t be forced to fit in between seats, but most soft coolers can be.

Soft coolers also have a zippered opening, meaning that they’re typically more airtight than the standard cooler. The standard cooler has a plastic lid that closes down on the cooler itself, which works well but it isn’t completely airtight. It’s also a bit harder to push down and close to make as airtight as possible, so being around kids means that they probably aren’t going to close it all the way, so you’ll have warm drinks and spoiled food.

Because they’re more airtight in most cases, soft coolers typically work better. Since they don’t let air escape, they keep your drinks colder and for longer as well. Soft coolers are great things to bring with you anytime you’re out for the day and want to bring along waters or snacks for you or the family.

Q: How do I clean a soft cooler?

A: There’s different ways to clean soft coolers that vary depending on the soft cooler itself. Considering that soft coolers can be made with a variety of materials, cleaning them can vary as well. While most can easily be cleaned with warm water and soap, make sure to check the cleaning instructions that come with whichever one you choose to make sure that there aren’t any special conditions.

Cleaning your soft pack cooler is extremely important, especially if you keep food and snacks in it, so it’s an essential part of having a soft cooler. Food and snacks can start to smell, especially if they’ve been sitting in your cooler all day, so cleaning your soft cooler after every use is important.

Because food can start to smell over time, you’re going to want to clean your soft cooler regularly. Many are odor proof, but even those can start to smell like spoiled food after not being cleaned out whenever you use it. Over time, your soft cooler can develop a permanent unpleasant smell that makes no one want to use it.

The inside of the soft cooler can typically be cleaned just like any dish can be. However, some companies make this easier by making the lining removable so that you can pull it out and wash it instead of trying to maneuver a cooler in your sink. These are easy to clean and lets you clean better as well, making them natural winners in the cleaning area.

You’ll also want to think about cleaning the outside of your soft cooler. While food smells won’t reach the outside, the natural world does, and over time dirt can build up. You’ll want to at least spray down your soft cooler after using it to make sure you’re not letting mud or any other kind of worldly mess accumulate on it.

Q: How do I keep a soft cooler from leaking?

A: Most soft coolers are made to not leak. If your soft cooler is leaking, then it probably isn’t doing its job very well, and you’ll want to think about getting a new one. However, if a new soft cooler doesn’t fit in your budget, then there are a few ways to keep your soft cooler from leaking.

Any way that you can add in a layer to the inside is one way to stop your soft cooler from leaking. Things like aluminum foil or a towel that absorbs water can stop water from leaking through the bottom. These things are easy to find around the house and work well to stop water from coming out the bottom.

If your soft cooler bag is leaking, then there’s probably a leak on the inside liner somewhere. Most soft coolers have a lining on the inside that keeps water and air in and cold, so a leaking soft cooler means that there’s an issue somewhere. If you can find that leak and fix it, then that’s another way to stop the leaking!

Some soft pack coolers don’t have that additional layer in it. These are typically cheaper ones that aren’t going to work as well; if you use your soft cooler often, then you’ll want to think about replacing it with one that’s slightly better quality wise to help stop any unwanted leaking that naturally happens with those kinds of soft coolers.

Q: How do you keep ice from melting in a soft cooler?

A: There’s not much you can do yourself to keep ice from melting in a soft cooler. Soft coolers are made to retain ice, and if you’re having an issue keeping ice in your soft cooler, it could just be that your soft pack cooler isn’t working very well. However, there are a few small things you can do that can help you keep ice in your soft cooler.

The first thing to avoid with your soft pack cooler is opening it frequently. Opening it lets out all that cold air that’s essential to keeping your soft cooler cold, so if you open it again and again, that ice is going to melt faster to try and keep the cooler cold. Try opening your soft cooler less, and opening it quickly, to avoid letting out as much cold air as possible.

Another handy trick is to not let the soft cooler touch water. While many people use soft coolers for things like romantic paddle boarding activities, there’s nothing worse than letting it be in constant contact with water. While the water may feel cold, it’s definitely hotter than the ice inside your cooler and will cause it to melt faster.

Q: How do I best use a soft cooler?

A: There’s a ton of different things to use a soft cooler for, and there’s not a best among them! Whether you’re going for a hike, taking the family to the local pool for the day, or spending a day on the lake with your significant other, soft coolers are useful in every situation.

Because soft coolers are so easy to manipulate into different positions, you can bring one with you wherever you go. There’s different sizes and kinds that work differently to adapt to whatever situation you’re in, but there’s one for everything!

One handy soft cooler tip is to pack your soft cooler before putting any ice in it. Once you’re done packing everything in, put ice over the top of it. While it seems like ice would melt quicker this way being exposed to the top of the cooler, some of the ice will fall down between your stuff and keep it cold. Having it on top also makes it less tempting to keep the cooler open for long periods of time to find what you want.

Globo Surf Overview

The RTIC 20 Soft Pack Cooler is the best soft cooler in 2018! With its standard size, you’ll be able to use it with most groups you go with. It also offers a no sweat exterior, so you won’t get wet carrying it around. It also won’t make the ground wet, so you won’t have to worry about a muddy soft cooler either. Since it can hold ice for five days, this soft cooler is a cut above the rest, earning it it’s place as the best soft cooler in 2018!

Globo Surf Soft Coolers Review

★★★★★
5 5 1
Excellent product review. I found just what I needed. Thank you!

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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!