YETI Portable Cooler
Last updated date: November 16, 2019
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We looked at the top Small Soft-Sided Coolers and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Small Soft-Sided Cooler you should buy.
In our analysis of 194 expert reviews, the YETI YETI Portable Cooler placed 6th when we looked at the top 14 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
Editor's Note May 29, 2020:
Checkout The Best Small Soft-Sided Cooler for a detailed review of all the top small soft-sided coolers.
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From The Manufacturer
SOFT COOLERS The Hopper was built for those adventures where you want to grab your gear and go. It’s the original 100% leakproof, ice-for-days portable cooler. And because we used materials found in things like HazMat suits and whitewater rafts, it’s also tough as nails. The Hopper is made in sizes to fit any adventure, whether that’s on a wild river in a kayak or a floatplane trip to remote salmon streams. FEATURES DRYHIDE SHELL The Hopper’s high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. The liner is made from an FDA-approved food-grade material. COLDCELL INSULATION Closed-cell rubber foam offers far superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers. HYDROLOK ZIPPER The toughest, highest-performing waterproof and leakproof cooler zipper in the world. HITCHPOINT GRID Easily attach pretty much anything, including the MOLLE Zinger, MOLLE Bottle Opener and SideKick. SOFT COOLER ACCESSORIES YETI Sidekick Dry YETI ICE MOlle Bottle opener Molle Zinger YETI Sidekick Dry The SideKick Dry is designed to keep the important things accessible, secure, and 100% dry. This waterproof gear case is the best way to carry your keys, wallet, fishing license, and phone in the wild. YETI ICE YETI ICE is filled to the brim with science, dialed in to the most effective temperature to maximize the ice retention of any cooler, with a durable design that is break-resistant. Its custom shape reduces freezing time and comes in multiple size options. MOLLE Bottle Opener The MOLLE Bottle Opener attaches directly to your Hopper, meaning you’ll never again be without a way to crack into those frosty brews. MOLLE Zinger Bottle Opener Keep your multitools or bottle openers within arm’s reach with the MOLLE Zinger. The MOLLE Zinger easily attaches to your YETI Hopper HitchPoint Grid. Its retractable cord is made from braided bomber cord for maximum strength and durability.
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An Overview On Small Soft-Sided Coolers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Buying Guide
- 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