Are you looking for a lightweight yet practical cooler for your picnic needs? Are you looking for storage space for your food when you go on an outdoor excursion? What better way than to invest in a soft cooler!
The world of coolers features a variety of models that can keep your meals cool. If you're used to traveling light, it's obvious that a compact cooler will do the trick. In fact, there is always a soft cooler bag for almost any occasion when you are going out and carrying food. Even if they're considered less spacious, you can still find something you like if you choose the right model.
To that end, the best soft-sided cooler is one that has the size to hold all your groceries. Then, it must offer excellent cooling time as well as portability with carrying accessories.
And to give you access to quality, our editorial team will offer you in this guide its reviews and comparisons of the best soft coolers on the market. At the end, you will be entitled to the details related to the above-mentioned selection criteria.
What is a soft cooler?
Simply put, a soft cooler is a softer, more compact version of a hard cooler. On the market, it can come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the user's requirements. For example, you can find soft coolers in the form of an insulated bag or a backpack for long trips.
Technically, this type of cooler is made from soft materials such as nylon or vinyl. These are clearly in contrast to the harder materials like metal or rotomolded plastic found in rigid coolers. Generally, some believe that the lack of such design materials impairs the strength of soft coolers. This isn't always the case, as some soft-sided cooler models don't fall short when it comes to toughness.
With an excellent choice, you can use your food box while camping, festivals, road trips, hiking, etc.
Top 5 Best Soft Coolers
In order to give you a real feel for the real thing, we're taking a look at 5 models of soft coolers. They aim for perfection and are all marketed by the eco-friendly brand Healthy Lunch.
Grey Soft Cooler 9L: the choice of elegance
Our team highly applauded this soft cooler for its unique design. First of all, its exterior is made from a waterproof layer, which means it's completely waterproof. Technically, you can keep all your food and drinks in it without fear of leaks. Even in rainy weather, your meals will not be damaged by water.
Inside, there is a compartment reinforced with layers of insulation capable of keeping the temperature of your meals for 6 hours. The design material is 600D Oxford, a premium quality not found in all brands. In total, you can carry up to 6 liters of food. In addition, the cooler bag offers external zippered pockets to keep some snacks or cutlery if needed.
Finally, its transport is totally easy thanks to the presence of a shoulder strap. We welcome and appreciate this feature, as it meets the portability concerns of users.
- Size: 25 cm x 16 cm x 21 cm
- Capacity: 9L
- Thermal performance: 6h
The Black Jungle 10L Soft Cooler: the isothermal container for your long journeys
Do you have a taste for aesthetics? We highly recommend this beautiful multi-colored soft cooler. Like its predecessor, it uses high quality materials for better resistance. Indeed, the 600D Oxford that adorns its walls makes it waterproof and perfectly isothermal.
Indeed, the Black Jungle benefits from a multi-layer insulation that takes into account two waterproof layers and an insulating foam. According to our tests, you can keep your drinks cold for 6 hours; they will always keep their freshness. And if you have ice packs, this storage time can be greatly increased. At the same time, the cooler can also hold hot meals and keep them at the right temperature during the same time frame.
Further, we appreciate its multiple large pockets on each side. They have a zipper system for more security. Finally, you will have a real pleasure to carry and transport this lunch bag, because it benefits from a carrying handle as well as a solid shoulder strap.
- Size: 24 cm x 16 cm x 26 cm
- Capacity: 10L
- Thermal performance: 6h
The 30L Grey Flexible Cooler: the container with variable thermal insulation
You liked the previous models, but think they offer less storage space? This grey colored tote will certainly meet your expectations.
Obviously, it has a single compartment with a large capacity of 30 liters. So you have enough for picnics with friends or family. Specifically, this beautiful cooler can hold a lunch for 4 people and more.
As for its portability, we tested all the accessories and they are all operational. Specifically, there are side pockets with a velcro closure. In addition, there is a double carrying handle and a strap to facilitate your movement.
In terms of refrigeration, the insulating quality of the cooler allows it to keep your cans cool for a minimum of 6 hours. And if you prefer to travel with hot meals, they will maintain their temperature for at least 4 hours.
- Size: 37 cm x 22 cm x 28 cm
- Capacity: 30L
- Thermal performance: 6h for cold and 4h for hot.
Pink Flower 12.5L Soft Cooler
Initially, this reusable soft-sided cooler should not be in our top 5. At first glance, it's easy to think that it's an ordinary bag that the designers wanted to unify with a colorful design. However, the various tests proved that the quality that the Pink Flower exudes will convince you.
First of all, we notice that it has a unique compartment of 12.5 liters. Between your water bottle, your plate of fruit salads and some snacks, you will be able to enjoy a great lunch. However, what catches the eye is the design of the walls. They incorporate a triple lining completely insulated. These include:
- Pearl cotton;
- Polyester fabric;
- Premium aluminum.
With all this arsenal, you are sure to keep your foodstuffs warm and cool for up to 6 hours.
Moreover, the maintenance of the food box is easy. Just clean it well with clean water and a cloth after use.
- Size: 25 cm x 20 cm x 25 cm
- Capacity: 12.5L
- Thermal performance: 6h
Dark Blue Soft Cooler: the small, sturdy bag for the beach
Even though it is not as large as the previous cooler, this insulated lunch bag is no match for it. In fact, it is a cooler with one of the best temperature retention, the most durable and one of the best waterproof.
In fact, it is the perfect size and design for long days at the beach whether on the shores of Nice or Saint-Tropez. We will focus on this environment. If you're planning to set up shop in a shady location, the bag's handle and shoulder strap are removable and allow for easy walking. Plus, its zippers are strong enough to keep beach sand from seeping inside.
A little further down the road, the soft cooler is also waterproof so no water splashes can get inside. Conversely, your drinks won't be able to escape even if the cooler spills in the car.
- Size: 22.5 cm x 18 cm x 22.5 cm
- Capacity: 9L
- Thermal performance: 6h
How to choose a soft cooler?
If you want to go a little further in your search for the best soft cooler, here are some criteria not to be overlooked.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a soft cooler (besides temperature retention) is its capacity. Almost all other features are determined by it: weight, design, compartments, etc. So remember to choose a cooler with a capacity that will fit your needs.
At Healthy Lunch, we have a wide variety of capacities. Better yet, all of the brand's models offer side pockets as storage options. They are fully secured with zippers.
This criterion refers to the container's ability to maintain the temperature of meals without affecting their quality. Most brands present models with a temperature retention of up to 24 hours, regardless of the ambient temperature. Often, this information is false and is simply advertising.
In fact, the retention of heat or coolness depends mainly on the type of material the cooler is made of. The more layers of insulation in the material, the longer your meal will stay warm or cool. As you may have noticed earlier, Healthy Lunch products have a rich isothermal coating and can offer between 4 and 6 hours of preservation.
It's an open secret that soft coolers are designed for easy transport.
As a result, some models feature backpack straps, shoulder straps, adjustable handles and lightweight materials. While hard coolers also have handles, they are generally bulkier and heavier than their counterparts. This is definitely not the option you are looking for when visiting this page. So focus on those features that make your life easier and make sure they are durable.
This may not be a big deal for an afternoon picnic. However, if you're planning a road trip, making sure your cooler doesn't leak is a must. All of our coolers have performed extraordinarily well, even in the intense shaking and hydraulic passage test. This is understandable, as they are all supported by waterproof layers on both the inner and outer walls.
Conclusion: what is the best soft cooler?
The number of soft coolers available on the market can be overwhelming. So it's only right that we've put together the top 5 best offerings for you. Each of them shares common characteristics. These include thermal performance (6h) and portability (straps, shoulder straps, carrying handles). We wanted to minimize the risk of embarrassment of choice. Now, all you have to do is choose the soft cooler that fits the capacity of your choice. And if you want to know more, we have the best guide to the different types of coolers on the subject.