7 Cooler Backpacks That Can Easily Double as Daypacks

With style that looks like a backpack and insulation that keeps food and drink cool on the go, these cooler backpacks could be your best vacation purchase yet.
Young woman sitting in mountain meadow with a cooler backpack and a water bottle
Photo: @lena_viridis via Twenty20

When it comes to packing food for a day out, not all options are equal. Throw your food into a regular backpack and it’s going to heat up fast. And sweaty cheese? Yuck. A picnic basket is charming, but it’s neither comfortable to carry or practical when you’re traveling. The best option is a cooler backpack, which offers an easy way to tote food, drinks, and everything else you need for a fun day. 

The best cooler backpacks look enough like regular backpacks that you can even use them as daypacks—just the sort of multipurpose item that earns insulated backpacks a spot on your vacation packing list. 

What Are the Best Cooler Backpacks for Travel?

Here are our favorite cooler backpacks with key features like padded straps, extra-cooling insulation, and additional organizational pockets. 

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1. Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler

front view of a Yeti Hopper cooler backpack and sideview of the same cooler backpack in dark blue
Yeti’s Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler (Photo: Yeti)

Ultra ergonomic and serious about keeping things cool, Yeti’s Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler is the Cadillac of cooler backpacks. Magnets keep the pack sealed and an ultrawide opening makes it easy to access everything when you’re ready to eat and drink. An external loop grid makes it easy to attach accessories like Yeti’s Dry Gear Case for additional storage.

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The interior is roomy (even with a 2:1 can-to-ice ratio, the pack can still hold 18 cans), and padded and adjustable straps make it comfortable to carry even when it’s full. 

Where to Buy: YETI 

2. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Backpack Cooler

two Titan Deep Freeze 24 Can backpack coolers, one in dark green and one in aqua
Arctic Zone’s Titan Deep Freeze Backpack Cooler (Photo: Arctic Zone)

Affordable, no-nonsense, and built to last, Arctic Zone’s Titan Deep Freeze Backpack Cooler earns its fan base. This 24-can backpack cooler is lightweight, and though it doesn’t have the extended cooling power of some of the pricier backpack coolers, it’s a great option if you’re looking for something simple and roomy that will keep food cool for a few hours.

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It’s a relatively leak-proof cooler bag, and the interior can be easily wiped down between uses. I’ve had one for years and continue to be impressed with its durability. 

Where to Buy: Arctic Zone | Amazon

3. Carhartt Cooler Backpack

Carhartt Cooler Backpack, front view in tan and side view in black
Carhartt cooler backpack (Photo: Amazon)

This genius Carhartt cooler backpack is truly both a cooler and a backpack. The insulated cooler compartment is roomy enough to hold up to 12 cans (or a whole mess of sandwiches), and the large main compartment can hold whatever else you have that doesn’t need to stay cool.

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Though this insulated backpack was designed with the job site in mind, it’s a perfect option for travel since it really does double duty. External netted water bottle pockets and padded shoulder straps multiply the utility even more. 

Where to Buy: Carhartt | Amazon

4. Igloo Ringleader Rucksack Cooler Backpack

Igloo Ringleader Rucksack Cooler Backpack, front and back view in Olive green
Igloo Ringleader Rucksack Cooler Backpack (Photo: Igloo)

Rucksack style meets insulated cooling with the Igloo Ringleader Rucksack Cooler Backpack. Zippered side pockets separate items from the main compartment, bungee cording on the front offers more space to stash items, and a 32-can capacity main compartment leaves plenty of room to stash both necessities and items that need to stay cool.

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The design includes extra insulation to keep items cool for longer. And padded air-mesh straps make for comfortable carrying. 

Where to Buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods

5. Coleman Backpack Soft Cooler

Side view and front view with items peeking out of the Coleman 28-can soft backpack cooler
Coleman’s Backpack Soft Cooler (Photo: Amazon)

Want a backpack that just happens to also have serious cooling action. Coleman’s Backpack Soft Cooler has got you covered. The 28-can cooler looks like a standard backpack, but is actually a cooler backpack in disguise.

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Its low-profile approach makes it a perfect fit for vacation, since it looks at home in both a museum and on a picnic. Heat-welded seams prevent leaks, and adjustable padded straps keep things comfy. Reviewers say this backpack really shines at all-day outdoor events and trips to theme parks. 

Where to Buy: Amazon

6. Everlasting Comfort Insulated Cooler Backpack

Everlasting Comfort Insulated Cooler Backpack
Everlasting Comfort Insulated Cooler Backpack (Photo: Amazon)

So you need a cooler backpack with lot of room? Like, a lot? Then meet the Everlasting Comfort Insulated Cooler Backpack. To give you a sense of how much it can lug, check out the external pocket that holds not one but two bottles of wine. The main compartment is sized to carry 54 cans plus four pounds of ice.

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Thick insulated foam keeps this cooler backpack’s contents cool for up to 24 hours, and a big front pocket easily stashes wallets, keys, and other travel or beach essentials. This pack looks more like a cooler than some on the list, but if you’ve got a lot of food and drinks to carry and want backpack comfort, this is a standout option. 

Where to Buy: Amazon

7. Otterbox Backpack Cooler

Otterbox backpack cooler in grey, front view and side view
Otterbox Backpack Cooler (Photo: Otterbox)

Sleek, efficient, and as ready for both urban sightseeing and a day at the beach, the Otterbox Backpack Cooler is a great all-arounder. It shines with a 24-can capacity and the power to keep things cool for nearly two full days. Two exterior pockets plus a water bottle holder makes good use of every inch, and it comes with a reusable ice pack and built-in bottle opener.

Both the back and shoulder straps are padded, which offers a comfortable carry even when it’s fully loaded up. And the wide opening at the top makes it easy to get your food and gear in and out. 

Where to Buy: Otterbox

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Christine Sarkis is a traveling parent and longtime travel writer and editor. The former executive editor for TripAdvisor travel magazine SmarterTravel.com, Sarkis has spent nearly two decades finding and sharing the best places to go with an audience of enthusiastic travelers. Her stories have appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her expert advice has been quoted in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her stories have been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008, and she is working on a travel memoir.

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