Updated May 2017
We recently tested the new Yeti Hopper Two 30, which replaced the old Yeti Hopper 30. The new model provides similarly stellar performance with a better zipper design. We also tested the new Yeti Hopper Flip 12, which can either serve as the most rugged lunchbox you've ever seen, or keep a 12 pack cold for days. Finally, we added the eBags Crew Cooler II to our test. It was an overall average performer that would be great for taking your lunch to work.
Best Overall Soft Cooler
YETI Hopper Two 30
Easy to use
Awkward to carry when full for long distances
With impressive insulation performance, a nearly indestructible construction, and comfortable shoulder strap, the Yeti Hopper Two 30
was far and away our favorite soft cooler. In our testing it kept drinks cold for a full three days, and was comfortable enough to carry that we didn't mind trekking it along the beach or even for short hikes, even when it was totally loaded with cans and ice. This new version also features a redesigned zipper that makes loading and unloading much easier. Seeing as this was our only gripe with the old version of the Hopper
, this new version feels near perfect.
Read full review: Yeti Hopper Two 30
Best Bang for the Buck
Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack
Amazing insulating power for the price
The Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack
was the underdog of our tests. It is moderately priced and simple in build and appearance. The old adage "don't judge a book by its cover' certainly applies here. When tested head-to-head against the almost 4.5 times more expensive Yeti Hopper Two 30
, the Polar Bear was able to hold its own better than any other model tested. It held only five fewer ounces of ice over a 72-hour period than the Yeti. The other coolers that we compared in this category held onto no ice after the same 72-hour period. This is one solid cooler and the other features of the Polar Bear weren't lacking, either. Easy to use and relatively comfortable shoulder strap and carrying handles plus a quality zipper added to the positive attributes, and the included bottle opener sealed the deal. For the price you will not find anything that insulates as well and is as easy to use. The Polar Bear 24 Pack is the proverbial everyman's cooler, and earned its Best Buy Award.
Read full review: Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack
Top Pick Award for Long Distance Carrying
Ice Mule Pro
Relatively inexpensive for the whole package
Extremely easy to carry when full
Awkward if not fully packed
Not as insulative as other coolers.
The Ice Mule Pro
was the lead tester's personal favorite. What it didn't have in insulation power it made up for with highly useful portability and long haul design. The Ice Mule is made for multi-mile hikes, and easy comfort while doing it. Equipped with padded backpack straps and a padded and ventilated back panel, it has more of a backpack feel than that of a cooler. The Ice Mule surprised and surpassed testers' expectations and out-performed others for ease of use and portability at every turn. The roll top is quick and easy, and when closed properly is leak free. The air release valve helps keep loads secure and tight, and the durability is top notch. If you are looking for something to take out to more remote country, or even something that is just easy to carry, the Ice Mule is for you.
Read Full Review: Ice Mule Pro
Great Insulation in a Small Package
YETI Hopper Flip 12
Easy to use
Due to inch thick insulation, a cubic shape, and relatively small size, the Yeti Hopper 12 Flip
was the top performer in our insulation test. It's a bit small for picnics or carrying drinks for a group of people, but can keep a 12-pack ice cold for days. It's perfect for those sweltering summer days where having a few chilled drinks can mean the difference between a nice day out and googling 'heat stroke symptoms' on your phone.
Read full review: Yeti Hopper Flip 12
eBags Crew Cooler II
Not as insulative as other models
Not as durable as other models
If you're looking for something that can ferry your lunch to work, the eBags Crew Cooler II
strikes a near perfect balance of performance, portability, and features. It wasn't a standout in our insulation testing, but still has enough power to keep your cold cuts cold until your lunch break. It also has separate compartments for utensils and water bottles, and has a liner that can be removed for cleaning when the mustard leaks out of your sandwich.
Read full review: eBags Crew Cooler II