What’s a good beach party or picnic without chilled, icy beers and sodas?
Problem is, carrying a 40-pound cooler isn’t the easiest job. And honestly, neither is lashing out hundreds of dollars on a cooler.
So can you really buy an awesome cooler that’s both lightweight and affordable?
Absolutely. After lots of research, we’ve come up with the top 7 soft coolers on the market under 100 dollars.
But more so, we’ve also made a special buyer’s guide so that you can pick out the best soft cooler according to your requirements.
With that in mind, let’s jump into the reviews!
The Best Soft Coolers Under $100
|Top Products||Capacity||Ice Retention|
|1. Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner||16-cans||24 hours|
|2. Grizzly Drifter Flip-top Soft Cooler||12-quarts||2-3 days|
|3. RTIC Insulated Soft Cooler Bag||20-cans||3-5 days|
|4. AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler||24-cans||24+ hours|
|5. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Hardbody Cooler||30-cans||1-3 days|
|6. IceMule Classic Coolers Blue||6-cans||24 hours|
|7. Polar Bear Coolers Original Nylon Soft Cooler||12-cans||24+ hours|
1. Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner
The Coleman Soft Cooler is a sturdy, reliable, and well-constructed cooler by one of the best brands in the market. It holds up to 16-cans at a time and features solid insulation, which works best when you’re spending lots of time outdoors.
It’s main compartment sports leak-proof welding to prevent spills and dripping water. It also has a removable liner that can be washed and has been treated with antimicrobials. The cooler also features customizable shoulder straps and numerous other storage options, such as side mesh pockets. Overall, it’s a great soft cooler for long outdoor trips such as fishing, hunting, or camping.
2. Grizzly Drifter Flip-top Soft Cooler
The Grizzly Drifter Soft Cooler is by far the strongest contender in terms of value for money. It contains nearly every single feature of higher-end, more expensive soft coolers at almost half the price.
In terms of construction, it sports a super-sturdy ballistic polyester shell that can stand years of pounding without breaking a sweat. The cooler compartment features closed-cell EVA foam insulation, which can keep ice from melting for days. It’s also convenient and has soft shoulder straps and side carry handles.
The cooler also comes with a waterproof bag to store liquid or ice to prevent leakages. The Grizzly Drifter nails almost every single feature and is the perfect cooler for every occasion.
3. RTIC Insulated Soft Cooler Bag
The RTIC Insulated Soft Cooler is yet another outstanding cooler with plenty of storage and rugged construction. However, this cooler goes beyond and even provides a leak-proof zipper so you’ll never have leakages ruining your adventures.
But the surprises don’t stop there. The RTIC has 2-inches of closed-cell foam insulated walls, which can keep ice frozen for a good 2 to 3 days. Its built-quality is on par with some of the best in the market, with a puncture-resistant waterproof vinyl shell that also has an antimicrobial liner to resist buildup of mildew.
Quality and feature-wise, the RTIC Soft Cooler can easily compete with some of the most expensive soft coolers in the market. But its price is half, or even less than half than those coolers.
4. AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler
Every cooler from AO Cooler oozes craftsmanship of reliability, mostly because the company has been in the business for over 25 years. The overall construction of the soft cooler is quite rugged, but what’s unique is that the zipper and inner lining is backed with a lifetime warranty.
As for insulation, the cooler boasts a 24-hour ice retention guarantee in temperatures up to 120-degrees. It has a removable shoulder strap, as well as a carry handles for easy transportation. And even though the zipper isn’t waterproof, the rest of the soft cooler is thanks to its premium leak-proof TPU liner.
Considering the price and overall build quality, the AO Original Soft Cooler is an excellent choice for day-long trips with 2 or 3 people, such as sporting events, parties, and picnics.
5. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Hardbody Cooler
If you’re looking for a combination of hard cooler capacity and soft cooler practicality, the Arctic Zone Titan is for you. Featuring a massive 30-can capacity, the cooler’s heat barrier insulation allows it to retain ice for up to 1.5 days with a 50/50 ice and consumables ratio. The removable liner features a shelf design for separating drinks and food.
On the outside, the lid uses a unique ‘flip-open’ zipper-less design for easy access. The exterior shell is solid and is both water and stain-resistant. With a promise of practicality, the cooler features an adjustable shoulder strap and an exterior zipper pocket and side mesh pockets.
The Arctic Zone Titan packs a ton of features, and for the price, it’s a real deal-breaker. It’s excellent storage capacity and practicality makes it perfect for families who want to pack lots of consumables for outdoor adventures.
6. IceMule Classic Coolers Blue
Carrying a humongous 50-can cooler isn’t very ideal for single adventurers. So if portability is your top priority, the IceMule Classic Cooler is the way to go. From the outside, the cooler has a leak-proof exterior with a single shoulder strap to carry like a backpack.
But inside, the IceMule still packs a ton of space despite its compact size. Its 15-liter capacity allows you to carry up to 18 cans or six bottles at once with ice. The cooler’s multi-layer insulation system prevents ice from melting for up to 24 hours. And even if it does, its folding seal design keeps water from leaking out.
It’s available in numerous color options and has a roll-down design so you can easily pack it in your luggage. IceMule’s ergonomic design and portability make it perfect for single travelers.
7. Polar Bear Coolers Original Nylon Soft Cooler
The Polar Bear Nylon Soft Cooler has one of the most impressive build quality we have seen in the market. From the insulation to the exterior, each piece is built to last a lifetime. On the inside, the full-inch ten gauge foam insulation does an excellent job of retaining ice. The antimicrobial food-grade level interior lining adds another layer of protection from mildew.
Outside, the exterior shell is built from luggage-grade nylon and is stitched with a double-hem further strengthen the cooler. It has a YKK rust proof zipper solidified by a special stitch so that it never rips out. The cooler also features side zipper pockets for convenience and extra storage space.
It’s the perfect choice for people that don’t treat their coolers very nicely but want convenience and portability alongside.
When buying a soft cooler, you have to scramble your way through thousands of different brands and types of coolers. And if anyone who has no experience purchasing a soft cooler before, choosing the right one can become extremely complicated, especially if you’re on a budget.
That’s why we have made a specialized buyer’s guide just to help you through this process. We’ll explain all the essential factors you need to consider in detail to pick the best soft cooler under 100 dollars for your needs.
One of the first decisions you need to make is what capacity suits you best. There’s a lot of variety, even in the soft cooler market. You can get anywhere from 12-can coolers, up to 30-can coolers that will still fall under the soft cooler category.
If you’re someone who usually goes alone on trips, such as fishing, hiking, sporting events, a smaller capacity might suit you best. Not only are they lighter and transport-friendly, but their small size also makes it easy to carry them with other luggage without sacrificing space.
But if you travel with your family or plan to use the cooler for more than three people, you’d be better off investing in a larger cooler. Despite their large size, these coolers still have plenty of carrying options and are light and compact enough to carry around easily.
Having the stitching on your soft cooler coming off just after one trip is one of the worst things that can happen. Since soft coolers are meant to be taken on adventures and fun trips, they’re bound to suffer a good amount of abuse. But any solid and well-built cooler will stand up to years, or even decades of torture without showing any major signs of mistreatment.
While purchasing a soft cooler, one of the first things to consider is the material which the outer shell is made from, since this is the region that will suffer the most abuse. Most soft coolers on our list are made from toughened waterproof nylon, which can easily last for several years before showing any wear and tear.
Also, look at the build quality of the interior of the cooler. The liner should be robust and removable if possible. This is particularly useful when you want to wash your cooler.
Another weak point in most soft coolers is the zipper. Most cheap soft coolers have zippers that break or rust. But if you buy a good-quality cooler, it will probably have a YKK zipper, which is the best in the business. Remember that if the zipper breaks, you probably won’t be able to use it unless it’s repaired.
Performance can be defined as how efficiently and for how long a soft cooler can retain its temperature. And this is directly dependent on how well the soft cooler has been insulated.
The way the performance of a soft cooler is tested is by seeing how long it can keep ice frozen. Most good-quality coolers can retain ice for 24 hours, at least. However, there are some coolers that can retain ice for up to 3 days.
Ideally, you should try to purchase a cooler with the highest amount of ice retention. But if you are compromising, make sure it can retain ice for at least 24 hours.
If you ever survey the cooler market, you’ll find at least more than 100 brands selling the exact same thing. However, these coolers will vary dramatically in terms of quality and performance.
When you purchase from reliable brands, you get excellent customer support and different warranties in case you’re dissatisfied with your purchase. Coolers from well-known brands are also more long-lasting and are made to last a lifetime.
While you’re purchasing a soft cooler, always look at the average customer ratings and the total ratings. If too many people complain about a particular product or are pointing out the exact same flaw, try to stay away from that brand and product.
Why are cooler lids hollow?
Most manufacturers make the lids of coolers hollow to reduce the weight of the cooler. This increases practicality and makes the cooler more comfortable to carry.
Are soft coolers better than hard coolers?
Soft coolers are much more lightweight and convenient to carry around, but they can only retain ice for 2 to 3 days at most. Hard coolers tend to be bulky and heavy, but they can retain ice for much longer, typically 5 to 7 days.
Do soft coolers work?
Yes, soft coolers are fully insulated with closed-cell walls, which allows them to retain ice and internal temperature. For short trips like picnics and fishing, soft coolers are the ideal choice.
Are soft coolers durable?
Yes, most soft coolers are constructed from extremely rugged nylon fabrics that are also water and tear proof, making them perfect for outdoor trips even in wet conditions.
How long does dry ice last in coolers?
Dry ice lasts roughly 18-24 hours in most coolers. An advantage of using dry ice is that there’s no danger of spills if your soft cooler isn’t water-resistant.