Inspired by packs, a new breed of coolers are on the rise.
Mountainsmith Cooloir 24 ($140)
Pairing a removable insulation box with an outer shell, the Cooloir was a breeze to hose down and dry out after a trip. It’s large enough to pack lunch for four, but we wouldn’t trust it to keep cheese cold for more than 48 hours.
Dakine Party Block ($100)
While the Party Block lacks the cooling chops of others on this page, we found it perfectly adequate for trips to the lake. It’s large enough to swallow 18 cans, and the strap converts into a portable beer belt.
Yeti Hopper Backflip 24 ($300)
Of the many coolers we tested, the Backflip was the most comfortable to carry. Credit the just-right minimalist hipbelt and padding on the back and shoulders, which helped support the load without feeling squishy.
Mountain Khakis Compass Six Pack ($50)
Stylish colors make the 8.5-liter Compass our go-to for carrying lunch to the office. But there’s substance to go along with that style—the 840-denier exterior is burly enough to throw it into the belly of a kayak for a day running rapids.
L.L. Bean Zipperless ($90)
The Zipperless made it to the top of testers’ lists because of its handy solar-powered internal light, which put an end to fumbling for a headlamp when grabbing a beer in the dark. And the name? It uses a latch instead of a zipper, so it’s easy to open with one hand.
Hydro Flask Unbound Soft Cooler Pack ($275)
With a slim profile and matte exterior, the Unbound resembles a top-shelf commuter pack more than a cooler. Its comely looks were achieved by adding insulation to the bottom while keeping the sides tall and slim.
Otterbox Trooper LT 30 ($300)
The best insulator here, the Trooper let us enjoy 42-degree beers at the end of a three-day river trip. Loading it with ten pounds of ice, drinks, and burger fixings was no problem with the wide mouth and plastic lid, which locks open.