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The Best Small Soft-Sided Cooler - 2021

Last updated on September 13, 2021

We looked at the top 15 Small Soft-Sided Coolers and dug through the reviews from 211 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Small Soft-Sided Coolers.

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Our Picks For The Top Small Soft-Sided Coolers

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  Top Pick

Coleman Removable Liner 16-Can Soft Cooler

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Coleman

Removable Liner 16-Can Soft Cooler

Overall Take

Removable LinerThe removable liner in this soft cooler is a really handy feature that will let you use this cooler for a long time while keeping it fresh.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Outdoor Gear Lab, Coolers Junkie, The Cooler Zone, WFMY News 2, Dotbeasts and 5 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot.
Pros
" Durable and well-made. Ideal for travel; keeps food cold. A great value."
Cons
"There are several mesh pockets, one on each side and one under the lid, which aren't big enough for much more than wrappers."
  Runner Up

CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

CleverMade

Collapsible Cooler Bag

Overall Take

Large Collapsible Soft CoolerThis cooler bag is large enough to hold a lot of cold groceries or beverages and it collapses when not in use.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus BestReviews, Cooler List, Business Insider, Globo Turf, Coolers Junkie, Gear Diary and 32 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Target.
Pros
" Leak proof so you can add ice without worries. Includes side and top handles as well as the bottle opener."
Cons
"Single day ice retention"
  We Also Like

Lifewit Collapsible Leakproof Portable Insulated Soft Cooler

Lifewit

Collapsible Insulated Soft Cooler

Overall Take

Fancy DesignThis is a nice-looking soft cooler that gets the job done and collapses to stow away neatly.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus In Stash, TenBestProduct, Ey Yaa, Products Browser, The Best Reviews, Fish Findly and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" It can store both beverages and food, and you can keep these separate with dual insulated sections to keep them cool without interfering with each other and getting jumbled, and the total capacity is 23 liters, if you don’t want..."
Cons
"We think, though, that [the straps are] not wide enough, which causes you to feel the pressure on your shoulder when carrying a really heavy load."
  Strong Contender

AO Coolers High-Density Insulation Original Soft Cooler

AO Coolers

High-Density Insulation Original Soft Cooler

Overall Take

Great Thermal PropertiesThe wide mouth makes getting things out of the cooler a breeze, but the thoughtful design of the folding top flap really stands out.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, BestReviews, Coolers Junkie, WFMY News 2, Dotbeasts, New York Mag and 8 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The AO Canvas Series 24-Pack Soft Cooler has decent insulation, fine construction, and a flexible design similar to that of the Polar Bear at a reasonable price."
Cons
"A few users feel the shape is awkward. Occasional reports of quality issues with zipper and lining."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
22

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the small soft-sided coolers available to purchase.
15

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

211

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Gear Junkie, The Cooler Zone, Best Cooler, Switchback Travel, Coolers World.

53,790

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 15 Small Soft-Sided Coolers and also dug through the reviews from 211 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Small Soft-Sided Coolers.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

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Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Coleman Removable Liner 16-Can Soft Cooler


Our Expert Score

6.5
11 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.0
3,579 user reviews

Our Take

We love how easy it is to keep this cooler clean as you can remove the liner and wash it thoroughly when needed. The side mesh pockets and large zippered-pocket in the front give you great places to quickly stash things like your keys or phones.

What other experts liked

Durable and well-made. Ideal for travel; keeps food cold. A great value.
- BestReviews
It's simple, easy to use, and doesn't hold any surprises. It's a solid choice for an indoor lunchbox.
- Outdoor Gear Lab
Another great thing is the heat-welded seams, not only are the seams appropriately stitched but resist leaks too.
- Coolers Junkie
For carrying, you will find an adjustable shoulder strap that should be able to meet everybody’s needs no matter what their size is.
- The Cooler Zone
What’s unique about this product is its removable hard plastic lining, which can hold up to 16 cans!
- WFMY News 2
For ease of cleaning and extra hygiene, the removable antimicrobial lining makes this cooler simple to maintain.
- Smoked BBQ Source
One of its amazing attributes is its ability to resist odors. The interior liner is antimicrobial, therefore no more fungus or mold.
- Dotbeasts
Its interior hard shell is removable, so you can use either ice or ice packs to keep drinks cold.
- Wilderness Today
Lots of reviewers talk about how it’s great for kids and journeys. “We got this for a trip to Disney World, to stick in our stroller for the babies milk, drinks, and snacks for the rest of the family and...
- New York Mag
The FDA-approved lining material is safe for food contact. This liner can be removed for easy cleaning in between uses and provides antimicrobial protection to resist odors, mold, and mildew
- Upgraded Points
Like it’s smaller model, the liner is removable, and the antimicrobial treatment ensures the safety and a complete lack of mold and mildew, odor, or anything else that can grind a picnic to a halt.
- In Stash

What other experts didn't like

Occasional issues with the interior hard liner cracking.
- BestReviews
There are several mesh pockets, one on each side and one under the lid, which aren't big enough for much more than wrappers.
- Outdoor Gear Lab
While we love the shoulder strap, we think this model could be improved with the additional option of a grab handle for those who may find bearing weight on the shoulders uncomfortable.
- Smoked BBQ Source

Overall Product Rankings

Coleman Removable Liner 16-Can Soft Cooler

1. Coleman Removable Liner 16-Can Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 9.8
Reviews Included: 15

CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

2. CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

Overall Score: 9.5
Reviews Included: 41

AO Coolers High-Density Insulation Original Soft Cooler

4. AO Coolers High-Density Insulation Original Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 15

LUNCIA Waterproof Insulated Soft Cooler

5. LUNCIA Waterproof Insulated Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 5

YETI Portable Cooler

6. YETI Portable Cooler

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 12

Coleman Soft Cooler, 30 can

7. Coleman Soft Cooler, 30 can

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 19

Coleman 9-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner

8. Coleman 9-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 22

AO Coolers Soft Cooler

9. AO Coolers Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 14

Lifewit Large Lunch Bag Soft Cooler

10. Lifewit Large Lunch Bag Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 5

MIER Large Soft Cooler

11. MIER Large Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 9

Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner

12. Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 37

YETI Hopper Backflip Small Soft-Sided Cooler

13. YETI Hopper Backflip Small Soft-Sided Cooler

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 30

Thermos Under Armour 24-Can Soft Cooler

14. Thermos Under Armour 24-Can Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 4

MIER 24-Can Soft Cooler

15. MIER 24-Can Soft Cooler

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 10

Our Small Soft-Sided Cooler Findings


Coleman Removable Liner 16-Can Soft Cooler

What We Liked: We love how easy it is to keep this cooler clean as you can remove the liner and wash it thoroughly when needed. The side mesh pockets and large zippered-pocket in the front give you great places to quickly stash things like your keys or phones.

Simplemost Media


Lifewit Collapsible Leakproof Portable Insulated Soft Cooler

What We Liked: We like how sophisticated this small cooler looks with the small leather logo on the front. The cooler collapses when you don’t need it, meaning it won’t be in the way as you store it between uses.

Simplemost Media


AO Coolers High-Density Insulation Original Soft Cooler

What We Liked: Zip the top shut and fold the corners down for a low-profile look that actually removes some of the thermal inefficiencies of a wide-mouth cooler. The larger opening makes it really convenient to grab things out of the cooler and the straps and hardware are built to last through lots of use.

Simplemost Media


LUNCIA Waterproof Insulated Soft Cooler

What We Liked: Throw this cooler right in the river with your kayaks and tubes, as the fully-waterproof construction makes it great for having with you in the midst of the excitement. Molle-style webbing and bungee straps on the outside let you hold onto other items as well, making it a convenient tote for outings.

Simplemost Media


CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

What We Liked: This cooler bag is fantastic for toting large quantities of food for a picnic or to bring back from the grocery store. The cooler can collapse so it doesn’t take up much space when it’s not in use. During our testing, we liked this cooler’s external mesh pocket, zipper pocket and snap hinges.

Our Small Soft-Sided Cooler Buying Guide

Soft coolers need to keep cold things cold, they need to be easy to use and durable as well. Some small soft coolers might be able to collapse for storage or traveling and it always helps if they have an aesthetically pleasing design since you might have one sitting next to you as you peer out over some otherwise beautiful views. Soft coolers offer plenty of advantages over hard coolers and if you’re in the market for a cooler to hold your cold drinks and food while you’re on the go, a soft cooler might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Simplemost Media

A soft cooler is usually made from a durable fabric material with flexible insulation on all the sides that give the entire cooler enough flexibility to fit into weird shapes that aren’t exactly square. This flexibility allows them to be packed in with other gear more easily than similarly-sized hard coolers. This construction style means there are seams at the edges though and those seams can be prone to leaking if the cooler isn’t designed to account for that. A cooler that is soft and still leak-proof needs to have some kind of inner lining that is waterproof. An added benefit of having a liner that’s removable is the ability to take it out and thoroughly wash it after you inevitably spill something inside of it.

Simplemost Media

Soft coolers range in size quite drastically and they are often categorized by how many standard 12-oz cans they can hold. A small soft cooler can sometimes hold 6 or 9 cans and will have an incorporated handle to grab with one hand while walking out the door. These smaller coolers are great for times when you might want a few drinks while you’re out doing something like bird-watching or sitting on the beach, or they can be used as insulated lunch boxes for the frugal and health-minded meal-prepper.

Simplemost Media

While the internal liner on soft coolers will keep the ice from soaking into the fabric of the cooler, we might sometimes find ourselves in a situation where the outside of the cooler is getting wet the outer material is absorbing all that unwanted water. If you see yourself using this soft cooler while you’re fishing or kayaking, or even if you know you’ll have it out in the rain or snow every once in a while, you might want to look into waterproof coolers. These waterproof coolers will be coated in some kind of vinyl material that is entirely waterproof and the hardware and zipper will be waterproof as well.

Simplemost Media

A shoulder strap is one accessory that can be a game-changer if you’re concerned with the weight of a completely full cooler. Once you add ice and fill the cooler with drinks or food, it can become pretty heavy. A padded shoulder strap distributes that weight in a place that allows you to carry it more comfortably and it also frees up your hand so you can have more dexterity while carrying the cooler. A common size for a soft cooler is one that can hold a case of 24 cans, so having the added shoulder strap means that this cooler won’t be such a burden when you are carrying it from your car to your campsite.

A soft cooler has a lot of useful functions on its own merit, but sometimes a cooler can be the only thing you take with you when you go somewhere like the beach. To add more utility to the outside of their soft coolers, some companies add bungee straps to the outside so you can conveniently stuff a wind-breaker or a towel in to take with you to your destination. Some designs even have exterior zippered pockets that you can toss your keys or wallet into and know that they will stay securely in place. These small coolers are a great carry-all for those who think they want that benefit, so it’s good to keep in mind when you’re searching for one.

The last major spec to look for in a soft cooler is how much insulation it offers. A thinner cooler will be a little bit easier to break down for flat storage, but it might only keep your ice solid for half a day or so. Generally, the thicker the insulation on a soft cooler is, the longer it will keep your cold items cold. If you are using one for an activity that lasts for just a portion of one day, you can get away with the thinner coolers on the market. If you’re hoping to go camping for the weekend and want to keep your food and drinks cold for a couple of days, you will really want to lean towards finding a thicker cooler that is rated for keeping things cold that long. These thicker coolers are a bit bulkier than the thinner soft coolers, but they still pack into your trunk with a lot more flexibility than a hard cooler while often keeping ice for just as long.

DWYM Fun Fact

On a hot summer day, the temperature in the direct sunlight can feel like it’s hotter than the temperature in a shaded area. The fact is that the temperature is the same in both places, but the fact that it feels hotter in the direct sunlight is due to a phenomenon called solar radiation. The direct sunlight heats your clothes and skin which makes you feel hotter. The solar radiation heats your cooler as well, if it’s in direct sunlight, effectively increasing the temperature of the outer material of the cooler which will then try to work its way into the cold contents inside.

The Small Soft-Sided Cooler Tips and Advice

  • Keep your cooler out of direct sunlight if at all possible. This not only helps the contents of the cooler stay colder for a longer time, but it also helps the fabric or material on the outside of the cooler retain its original color and strength since direct sunlight will slowly erode the finish over time.
  • Put your cans in the cooler before your ice. Heat rises, so placing warm beverages on the bottom of the cooler with ice on top of them is the most efficient way to chill the drinks

About The Author

Russell Hinkle 

Russell Hinkle is a writer and engineer based in Longmont, Colorado. He has worked professionally in a capacity of facility and farm management, including oversight and application of gardening for aesthetics as well as food growth. He enjoys finding unique and creative DIY solutions to home improvement and landscaping. His wealth of knowledge in the home and garden area allows him to make critical reviews and decisions with confidence that only comes with years of experience.