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What is a Backpack Cooler?

By R. Anacan
Updated May 16, 2024
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A backpack cooler is an insulated portable storage bag designed to keep food and drinks hot or cold. A conventional cooler is generally not conducive to portability as it is usually larger in size, made of rigid materials and can be inconvenient to move. A backpack cooler combines the functionality of a conventional cooler with the convenience of a backpack that is easily carried by the user.

A backpack cooler is ideal for those who engage in activities such as hiking, camping, attending or playing in sporting events, and picnicking that require food and drink to be kept at a certain temperature but need the ability to carry and transport it easily and conveniently. The disadvantage of a backpack cooler is that it does not hold as much as a traditional cooler and is generally not as effective in keeping food or drink hot or cold for extended periods of time. For those who want a portable insulated cooler in something other than a backpack, they are also made in a variety of styles such as duffel bags, messenger bags, over the shoulder collapsible models, and rectangular beverage can coolers.

The exterior of backpack coolers are typically made of nylon or polyester with an insulated interior made of a waterproof or water resistant material. The backpack may be constructed with a one strap "sling style" or a more traditional two strap design. Other common features include multiple insulated compartments, removable interior liner, exterior storage pockets, auxiliary carry straps and waist straps to more evenly distribute the weight of the bag.

Buyers of an insulated backpack cooler bag should consider the following factors. Does it sit well on the body when worn? Are the straps adequately padded? Are the compartments easy to open and use? Are the compartments large enough for the intended use? Will the liner contain liquid and moisture to prevent exterior leaking? Does it appear to be well constructed?

Another consideration when considering a backpack cooler is price. Backpack coolers can be found at all ends of the price spectrum. Many well known outdoor and sporting goods companies manufacture coolers that tend to be more expensive than "no-name" insulated coolers. For the increased price, the coolers are often made of higher quality materials, have more features and also have the panache of a brand name.

Coolers made by "no-name" manufacturers are often cheaper and can be found in almost any general purpose store. The quality of these no-name portable coolers may be less than those made by brand name companies but the lower prices can make them an attractive option.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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