When it comes to keeping drinks cold on a trip to the beach or when you go camping, hard coolers are often the go to storage devices because they let you pack a lot of ice as well as drinks and food in them.
The downside to the bigger, hard coolers is that they’re bulky as well as heavier. A good alternative to these ice chests is the best soft sided cooler.
Often available in smaller sizes, these soft coolers can be more ideal if you’re only going for a short trip, like maybe a day trip to the beach or 2 to 3 days with a small group.
They let you bring enough drinks and save you from having to carry that much of weight. Plus you save a lot of space in the car.
Here are the best soft coolers available. Do note that they have different capacities, so we’ve included the number of cans each of them can hold to make searching for the one you need much easier.
Best Small Soft Cooler: The Coleman Soft Sided Cooler features a removable hard plastic liner that provides extra support and protection for food. This liner ensures that the contents stay safe from any bumps even with a soft exterior.
You can likewise remove the hard liner if you’re looking for more flexible packing and filling. This takes out the protection they offer but lets you squeeze in a bit more stuff into the cooler.
This unit has a 16 can capacity and features additional zipper and mesh pockets that provide convenient storage for smaller items. In total, there are:
- two side mesh pockets,
- one front zipper pocket, and
- a mesh pocket on the inside of the lid.
It also has two bungees across the outside of the lid for extra storage.
These add a lot of extra holding space for your accessories and belongings in addition to the internal capacity.
It also comes with an adjustable shoulder strap with soft shoulder pad allows for convenient and comfortable transport. The soft PEVA liner is easy to clean and FDA approved for food contact. This cooler also provides anti-microbial protection that helps reduce mold, mildew, and odors.
Those who prefer being able to carry their coolers by the hand instead of strapping it over the shoulder may prefer this. In the form of a carry bag, it measures 18” long and is 10” wide. When on the ground, it stands 12” tall.
The Polar Bear Cooler provides a lot of versatility for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. In 100 degree heat, it can keep ice for up to twenty-four hours. This offers a good amount of insulation so you have enough time to enjoy your sodas or beer cold.
As for food, it can preserve food in heat as high as 200 degrees hot for many hours. This lets you carry sandwiches and other frozen food to the beach or camp.
The heavy-duty outer shell is made of luggage grade 1000 denier cordura nylon and specialized open-cell foam for superior insulation. This is what gives it the ability to keep its contents cold.
It also features a leak proof and sweat proof dura-temp inside liner. While nearly an inch of foam insulation helps keep the temperature from ice or cold contents in.
This soft cooler has a large side pocket with rubber coated zipper, side release buckles, and a pull tab on the zipper that doubles as a bottle opener. The adjustable shoulder strap has a soft shoulder pad and there is a velcro wrap around for the two side handles.
Best Rolling Soft Sided Cooler: This Coleman cooler comes with wheels making it more convenient to bring around compared to the others. It also allows you to lug more cans with you when you go to the beach or on road trips.
Offered in 2 colors, this cooler offers large carrying capacity with the convenience of a telescoping handle and wheels for easier maneuverability.
It fits as many as 42 cans, be it soda or beer in their 12 oz. form. It also has a removable hard plastic liner to offer protection to food and extra durability. This is very similar to the smaller Coleman cooler above, except you have a bigger content capacity and wheels for easier mobility.
For extra storage outside the cooling area, it has a number of pockets:
- a large front zipper pocket,
- two mesh side pockets,
- mesh pocket on the inside of the lid, and even
- two bungees across the outside of the lid.
There are also two side handles for easy carrying for when you need to lift or get it up stairs or into the trunk of your vehical.
The inside liner is soft PEVA and removable for easier cleaning. This provides sweat and leak proof performance while properly in place. This is the best soft sided cooler for family outdoor gatherings.
Very similar to the Polar Bear cooler above this is another carry bag that offers excellent insulation for when you need to keep your food and beverages cold.
It offers more sizing options as you can choose from 4 of them:
- 12 can capacity pack
- 24 can capacity pack
- 36 can capacity pack
- 48 can capacity pack
This gives you the option of getting the one that fits the size of your family or group.
The AO Coolers Soft Cooler can be used to keep drinks cool or to even keep foods warm, thanks to 3/4 inch thick high-density, closed foam insulation.
The interior liner is guaranteed to never leak or sweat and is made of the same high quality material as water beds and above ground pools. In 120 degree heat, it can hold ice for up to twenty-four hours.
It also has a zippered side pocket to hold dry items, which is also a convenient place to stash your car keys when swimming or out fishing.
Finally there are side release buckles, an adjustable shoulder strap, and two side straps with a velcro wrap around for easier hand held carrying.
Easier to carry or transport and less bulky, soft sided coolers are a good alternative if you don’t need to pack a lot of items for a long trip. While soft on the outside, these carrying cases have hard liners on the inside to keep your soda cans or food protected in case the cooler gets bumped.