Whether it’s going out camping or heading to the next backyard barbecue, having a sturdy cooler handy is always a good thing. However, when most people imagine a cooler, they assume that it has to be hard and stiff and made of plastic.
Thankfully, that’s not always the case, as we are about to see with these best soft sided coolers. So, if you’re interested in bringing drinks and snacks to the party in something that won’t be huge and cumbersome, then check out what these coolers have to offer.
Comparison on 5 Best Soft Sided Coolers
Starting us off is this durable and rugged canvas cooler from AO Coolers. Part of the reason that soft-sided models are better than plastic is that they are much easier to carry since they don’t have hard, stiff edges.
In this case, you will get a cooler that not only performs well in hotter temperatures but won’t scuff or mark any surface as well.
What I like about this cooler is that it’s customizable. There are six different color options, ranging from black to red to blue, so I can pick the one that looks the best to me. Not only that, but there are multiple sizes as well, meaning that I can bring anywhere from 12 to 48 canned drinks if I want to. Best of all, the size also leaves plenty of room for ice, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Speaking of ice, this cooler is double insulated and won’t leak, so you can load it up with as much ice as you want. It can keep the inside cool for up to 24 hours, even when outside temperatures exceed 100 degrees. All of that coupled with a zipper enclosure and an adjustable shoulder strap make this a remarkable cooler for any occasion.
- Durable polyester and canvas design
- Six color options available
- Can keep ice cold for up to 24 hours
- Multiple sizes available: 12-48 cans
- Padded shoulder strap for comfort
- Side pocket for dry items
- Leak proof liner inside
- Twice as insulated as other models
- Hook and loop handle for easy carrying
- Stays cool even in 120-degree heat
- Rip and tear resistant
- Lightweight and collapsible for easy storage
- Won’t scuff or mark any surfaces
- In rare cases, water may leak from the bottom
- Opening is not square, which can be a problem for some users
Next, we have a decent sized cooler from Coleman. As far as cooler brands go, I really like what Coleman has to offer.
I’ve never seen a product that wasn’t high-quality, and this cooler continues that tradition.
What I like about this model is that it comes with a hard plastic liner on the inside.
This helps keep the cooler upright while loading, and it’s also removable so that you can clean it much easier. Finally, the whole thing is antimicrobial so that you don’t have to worry about odors.
The other cool thing about this model is the top closure. The zipper is on the side, meaning that you get a couple of extra inches on top, which is helpful if you are transporting bottles, such as wine.
- Durable plastic and canvas construction
- Removable hard liner interior for easy cleaning
- Insulated to keep ice cold
- Holds up to 30 cans
- Zipper on the side for extra storage space on top
- Side handles for more comfortable carrying
- Padded shoulder strap for convenience
- Side pockets for dry storage
- Liner is antimicrobial to prevent odor
- Does not leak water
- In rare cases, the shoulder strap may break off under pressure
- Mesh pockets are relatively shallow
Although the AO Cooler above was pretty awesome, I really like the craftsmanship of this model from Homitt.
While there are only one size and color option (30 cans, gray), it comes with three layers of insulation, meaning that you can hold ice inside for up to five days, provided that things don’t get too hot outside.
The interior liner is the best thing about this cooler, as it is both food grade and antimicrobial. This helps prevent odors and ensures that you can clean it much easier than most other cooler models.
Not only that, but it’s 100% waterproof, so leaks are never an issue. Overall, this is the perfect size for most backyard events or trips, and it will last for years to come.
- Durable construction
- Extra thick insulation keeps food cold for longer
- Thick foam protects against bumps and bruises
- Inside liner is 100% waterproof
- Keeps ice up to five days in moderate conditions
- Removable shoulder strap for easy carrying
- Holds up to 30 cans
- No sweat exterior
- Anti-microbial liner prevents odors from forming
- Food grade interior coating
- Side pockets for dry goods
- Easy to clean
- Lightweight for easier storage
- More expensive than other coolers
- Limited room for additional ice when full
The final soft-sided cooler we’re going to look at is this lunch-sized model from Mountainsmith.
Overall, if you want a personal cooler to hold your snacks and drinks, this is much better than the family-size options I’ve shown you above.
Features that I like about this cooler are the removable liner and the fact that it comes with a bottle opener.
The liner is both waterproof and antimicrobial, meaning that leaks and odor are never a problem with this cooler.
- Durable canvas construction
- Top handle for easy carrying
- Side zipper for easier loading
- Two color options available
- Waterproof interior lining
- Bottle opener included
- Ideal for lunches and quick trips
- May be smaller than it looks
- Does not fold or compress for storage purposes
If you love to bring food and drinks to the party, then you will appreciate this cooler from CleverMade.
Not only is it one of the largest models I’ve seen (capable of carrying 50 pounds), but it also comes with some really incredible features that make the life of any get-together you attend.
First of all, the inside is completely waterproof and insulated. While it doesn’t keep ice cold for as long as some of the other models I’ve seen, it’s more than enough for a day trip.
Secondly, the cooler stays in shape even when empty, which means that loading and unloading is a breeze. The top is also flat to make sure that you can maximize every inch of storage space.
The best part about this cooler, however, is that it snaps flat for easy storage. It folds up to just three inches thick, which is nothing compared to the full size. Overall, this is the perfect party accessory.
- Durable polyester, plastic, and canvas construction
- Extra-large design holds up to 50 cans
- Waterproof inside liner
- Two side handles for easy carrying
- Side pockets for dry goods
- Heavy duty fabric is weather and tear resistant
- Design stays in shape, even when empty
- Built-in bottle opener on the handle
- Flat top for easier loading
- Holds up to 50 pounds
- Snaps into a flat shape for easy storage
- In rare cases, the zippers may have problems closing
- Ice melts faster than other cooler models
First and foremost, when picking out any kind of cooler, you want to make sure that it’s large enough to carry everything you want. Whether you’re just bringing drinks for the squad or packing lunches for the family, you don’t want to be smashing everything in just to get the whole thing closed.
What’s also important to remember about sizing is that you want to figure out the ice capacity as well. Sometimes, coolers will state what amount of ice you can put along with your other items, but many times they will not, so it’s up to you to do the math.
Finally, when dealing with larger coolers, consider how much weight you will have when the whole thing is full. As such, you may need side handles so that you and someone else can carry it together. If there are no side handles, then it may be difficult to transport, as these kinds of coolers don’t have wheels.
Pretty much every soft-sided cooler that I’ve seen has a zipper to close it up, but what’s important is the placement of it. On some models, it may be on top, meaning that you may have trouble closing it when the whole thing is full.
On other versions, the zipper could be on the side, which enables you to fit more inside without causing problems. As such, it’s imperative that you choose wisely.
Finally, sometimes you want to bring other items besides beverages and food, so having some side pockets can make things easier for you when that happens. When looking at side pockets, though, pay attention to how well they work when the cooler is full, as some models may be exceptionally tight under those conditions.
After looking through each of these coolers, I have to say that my top pick is either the Coleman or the Homitt 30 models. I like the materials used in the Homitt Cooler, but I also love the design of the Colement. Both can carry about the same amount, however, so it’s up to you to decide which feature is most important for your needs when you are going to choose th best soft sided cooler for you.