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9 Best Backpack Cooler Bags

Bryce Emley

March 11, 2024

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If you’ve ever carried a cooler full of ice, drinks, and snacks from a parking lot to the perfect spot a mile down the beach, you know the value of a couple of padded straps.

Traditional, bulky coolers have done their jobs for decades, but they could also use a more modern update. Our picks for the best backpack cooler bags are comfortable, durable, and — best of all — portable. Each is also customizable (with minimum quantities), so you can add custom branding, making it a perfect gift or promotional product.

Our Picks for the Best Backpack Coolers

  • Best Overall Backpack Cooler Bag: Arctic Zone® Titan Deep Freeze® Backpack Cooler
  • Best Large-Capacity Backpack Cooler Bag: NBN Whitby 24 Can Backpack Cooler
  • Best Small-Capacity Backpack Cooler Bag: Merchant & Craft Revive Recycled Backpack Cooler
  • Best 2-in-1 Backpack Cooler Bag: High Sierra 12 Can Backpack Cooler
  • Best Lightweight Backpack Cooler Bag: Excursion Recycled 20 Can Backpack Cooler
  • Best Custom Backpack Cooler Bag: 20 Can Backpack Cooler
  • Best Leakproof Backpack Cooler Bag: Arctic Zone® 18 Can Cooler Backpack
  • Best Backpack Cooler Bag for Gifting: Golf Bag 6-Can Event Cooler
  • Best Backpack Cooler Bag for Hiking and Camping: Arctic Zone® Repreve® Backpack Cooler with Sling

Best Overall Backpack Cooler

Arctic Zone® Titan Deep Freeze® Backpack Cooler


  • Key Feature: Deep Freeze™ high performance insulation

If you want performance, this custom cooler bag from Arctic Zone pulls out all the stops. Featuring multiple levels of cold-sealing technology like SuperFoam® insulation, Ultra Safe® leak proof interior lining, and Deep Freeze™ high performance insulation, the Titan Deep Freeze keeps a full two dozen cans cold for a long, long time. It’ll even show off your company logo on one of its three exterior pockets.

16.5” x 10.8” x 7.5” (2 lbs)

Capacity: 24 cans

Minimum Order: 12

Best Large-Capacity Backpack Cooler

NBN Whitby 24 Can Backpack Cooler


  • Key Feature: USB port

Big enough for 24 cans but surprisingly compact, the Whitby backpack cooler offers the best combination of capacity and size. It’s also perfect for travel, with an interior ID label, lash tab, USB port, and mesh pocket that’s perfect for water bottles. You can even add your custom design to both the front pocket and oversize zipper.

15” x 10” x 7”

Capacity: 24 cans

Minimum Order: 12

Best Small-Capacity Backpack Cooler

Merchant & Craft Revive Recycled Backpack Cooler


  • Key Feature: Made from recycled plastic

Materials matter, and the materials making up this cooler bag are made from recycled plastics. The aptly named Revive features RPET 600d construction and dynamic design, with a convenient non-insulated top portion and PEVA-lined bottom that can hold up to 12 cans.

Dimensions: 16” x 11” x 6.5” (1.43 lbs)

Capacity: 12 cans

Minimum Order: 20

Best 2-in-1 Backpack Cooler

High Sierra 12 Can Backpack Cooler


  • Key Feature: Lunch bag + cooler

Looking for a custom backpack that serves multiple purposes? This option from High Sierra doubles as both a lunch bag and a small-capacity cooler, making it ideal for picnics, hiking, and quick trips. Pack your shelf-stable snacks in the top and a few cans in the bottom — and place your custom design on the front.

26.5” x 11” x 9” (1.75 lbs)

Capacity: 12 cans

Minimum Order: 6

Best Lightweight Backpack Cooler

Excursion Recycled 20 Can Backpack Cooler


  • Key Feature: Weighs 0.5 lbs

When you need to carry around a healthy stock of ice-cold beverages, one way to lighten your load is to pick a carrier that’s as light as can be — and the Excursion fits the bill. Made from sustainable RPET and weighing in at just a mere half-pound but still boasting a 20-can capacity, it’s impressively efficient.

13” x 10” x 6.25” (0.5 lbs)

Capacity: 20 cans

Minimum Order: 25

Best Custom Backpack Cooler

20 Can Backpack Cooler


  • Key Feature: Available in three colors

When you need options, this custom bag fits the bill. Available in black, orange, and royal and boasting a padded back panel, this comfortable option is ideal for those who need to create just the right palette for their custom design.

15” x 11” x 8” (1.32 lbs)

Capacity: 20 cans

Minimum Order: 12

Best Leakproof Backpack Cooler

Arctic Zone® 18 Can Cooler Backpack


  • Key Feature: Ultra Safe® leakproof lining

Sometimes, what’s more important about how much a cooler bag can hold is how well it keeps it all inside. This compact Arctic Zone option uses Ultra Safe® leakproof technology and high-density thermal insulation to keep spilled liquids and melted ice secure in its PEVA-lined interior. It’s also got a convenient external pocket for holding your favorite water bottle.

Dimensions: 14” x 12.5” x 6.50” (0.65 lbs)

Capacity: 18 cans

Minimum Order: 12

Best Backpack Cooler for Gifting

Golf Bag 6-Can Event Cooler


  • Key Feature: Golf bag-style design

Want something that’s less of a traditional backpack? This golf bag-style cooler has a single removable strap, tiny profile, and spacious canvas for displaying custom logos, making it a perfectly novel yet utilitarian option for company swag or corporate gifting

Dimensions: 11” x 6” x 6” (0.48 lbs)

Capacity: 6 cans

Minimum Order: 38

Best Backpack Cooler for Hiking and Camping

Arctic Zone® Repreve® Backpack Cooler with Sling


  • Key Feature: Removable insulated sling

Some cooler bags are meant for short jaunts to a relaxing spot by the water, while others are meant to get your snacks and drinks a long way from your car. The Repreve from Arctic Zone is the latter. This eco-friendly RPET option has extra-padded hiking-style straps, multiple pockets, a padded back panel, and a bonus removable insulated sling.

Dimensions: 17” x 11.5” x 8” (1.6 lbs)

Minimum Order: 8

What Is the Best Cooler Backpack?

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Soft- vs. Hard-Side: Which Is Best?

Another factor you might consider when making your pick is one most people don’t think about — soft-side vs. hard-side bags.

Soft-side cooler bags don’t hold their shape when empty, so you can easily press their walls in. This isn’t necessarily a question of quality — some soft-side cooler bags can have superior design, construction, and materials to hard-side options. However, they do have some drawbacks.

Hard-side cooler bags are more rigid and don’t have any “give” when you apply pressure to their walls. However, they typically have softer external materials and may even have padding, so they can still be relatively soft from the outside. These are more like traditional coolers, but with padding and shoulder straps.


Tips for Improving Backpack Cooler Performance

Not every cooler bag is created equal — but even if you don’t have the best cooler bag out there, there’s a lot you can do to maximize performance. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of any cooler.

  • Fill the bag with ice at a 2-to-1 ratio.
  • Pre-chill all items before you place them in the bag.
  • Pre-chill the bag itself if you can fit it into a refrigerator.
  • Keep the bag completely shut and only open it for as long as absolutely necessary.
  • Pack the bag as full as possible, filling empty space with added insulation, cold packs, or ice.
  • Try to keep the bag out of the sun in cool, shaded places.

How to Care For and Maintain Your Backpack Cooler

Even the best cooler backpack with the most rugged construction needs a little TLC now and then. Here are a few tips for helping your bag keep its cool for years to come.

  • Follow recommendations: Your bag will come with its own recommended care instructions based on its materials. Always follow these first.
  • Clean regularly: Following care instructions or using a mild detergent, spot clean after each use and wash as necessary.
  • Let dry: Always allow your bag to dry completely — ideally by hanging in a dry, well-ventilated space — before storing away. This helps prevent mold, mildew, and bacteria growth.
  • Store it: Store the backpack cooler bag in a cool, dry place when not in use to prevent damage to the materials and insulation.

Why Trust RushOrderTees?

RushOrderTees has over 20 years of printing and delivery experience. With over half a million customers and one of the largest printing facilities in the US, this custom printing company has expertise with a wide range of product types, including backpack coolers.

What Makes the Best Backpack Cooler?

The best backpack cooler bags may not all have the same thing in common, but they should have at least one of the following characteristics that aligns with your needs:

  • A balance of holding capacity and compact size
  • Plenty of exterior storage opportunities
  • Enough insulation to keep contents cold
  • Leak-proof construction
  • Eco-friendly materials like RPET
  • Soft-side or hard-side build, depending on your preference

When you’ve made your pick, you’re ready to start designing so you can add your logo or custom design to the exterior. If you’re looking to carry items you don’t need to keep cold for hours on end, check out our list of the best custom backpacks.

Best Backpack Cooler FAQ

Are backpack coolers allowed on planes?

You can bring backpack coolers on planes — if they meet TSA carry-on size restrictions and can safely fit beneath the seats. These bags are also subject to TSA carry-on guidelines, so they also can’t hold any banned items or substances.

Do you put ice in a backpack cooler?

Yes, you should put ice in a backpack cooler. It’s recommended to apply a 2-to-1 ratio in favor of ice to maximize the amount of time your items will stay cold.

What is a good backpack cooler?

The best overall backpack cooler bag on our list is the Arctic Zone® Titan Deep Freeze® Backpack Cooler. However, there are many other great options depending on your needs and preferences.

Bryce Emley

About the Author

Based in New Mexico, Bryce Emley holds an MFA in Creative Writing and works as a content writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and eCommerce. When he isn’t writing content, he's probably writing poetry, screenplays, or creative nonfiction, or shopping for vintage anime t-shirts.