Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Whether you’re going hiking, barbecuing or grocery shopping. On hot summer days, it’s difficult to keep food and drinks from home cool when you’re out and about. A cooling backpack not only offers plenty of space for food, but can keep a cold or a warm temperature for hours. In addition, the backpack is very comfortable to carry.

With our cooling backpack test 2022 we show you which cooling backpacks are available and which one suits you best. We have compared different cooling backpacks and listed their advantages and disadvantages. In our comprehensive guide you will find many other interesting tips on the subject of cooling backpacks.




Summary

  • Refrigerated backpacks are backpacks that are clad with a special insulating layer. This can keep food and drinks cold or warm for hours. The backpack is therefore ideal for transporting food.
  • Especially on hot summer days, it is often a challenge to keep your food and drinks cool when you are out and about. Food can spoil in the process. Cooling backpacks can ensure a cool place to store your food.
  • The cooler backpack can be used for different outdoor activities. The outer casing is usually water and dirt repellent. Therefore, the cooler backpack is easy to clean and may even get wet.

The Best Cooler Backpack: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for cooler backpacks

In this section we show you how individual cooling backpacks can differ from each other. There are different aspects to consider.

The criteria you can use to compare cooling backpacks include:

In the following paragraphs, we explain in more detail what is important in the individual criteria. This will give you a better overview of the distinguishing features of cooling backpacks.

Size

Cooler backpacks are available in different sizes depending on your needs. Refrigerated backpacks for drinks are somewhat smaller than backpacks for food.

The filling quantity of refrigerated backpacks is measured in litres or in volume. For example, 1 litre corresponds exactly to 1 cubic decimetre of filling volume, which is also the volume of a conventional milk carton. There are different sizes for small to large models:

size from to unit
small 8.5 15 litres
medium 15 30 litres
large 30 40+ litres

You can differentiate how much you want to cool. If your cooling backpack is only intended for you, then a small to medium size may be sufficient.

Canned food needs more space. Larger backpacks are better suited for this.

If you are often travelling with friends or family and the backpack is designed for everyone, then a larger model will be suitable for you.

Depending on the model, measurements such as length, width and height can vary. This is because the backpacks have different shapes. Two different cooling backpacks with the same capacity can therefore be of different heights or widths.

Electric drive

Most cooling backpacks do not have an electric drive. This is more common for coolers and mini-fridges for the car. However, there are also a few backpack models that have an electric drive.

If the cooler backpack can be operated electrically, then it has a power connection. For this purpose, the car’s cigarette socket is used, which supplies the backpack with electricity. This has the advantage that the cooler backpack can cool on its own.

Battery or solar-powered cooling backpacks are not yet available.

Therefore, the cooling backpack can only be cooled while driving. Although the cool temperature remains on the inside of the backpack thanks to the insulation material, it dissipates over time.

If you are looking for a large cooler backpack, you can also consider getting a cooler box. This offers even more space for your food. The only advantage of a backpack over a box is that it is more comfortable to carry.

Material

Every cooler backpack should have an insulating material on the inside. This ensures that liquids cannot leak out.

As a rule, cooling backpacks are equipped with a cold-reflecting silver foil. Backpacks without the foil have no cooling function. The foil ensures that the temperature stays cold or warm for longer. Foam insulation can help keep the temperature even longer.

Synthetic materials are easy to clean.

Synthetic fabrics are waterproof and dirt-repellent both inside and out. This means that no liquid can penetrate or leak into the cooler backpack. Therefore, the cooler backpack can be ideally used for outdoor activities.

Cooling backpacks made of natural ingredients are rare, but they are available on the market. Here, the insulation consists of sheep’s wool. This material serves as thermal insulation and can keep the temperature both cool and warm. Cotton is suitable for the outer material.

However, cooling backpacks made of natural materials cannot be made entirely of natural materials. The backpacks must be equipped with a plastic film on the inside. This prevents condensation from getting into the fabrics.

Carrying comfort

To make transporting the cooler backpack easier, different models may have different straps and handles:

  • Shoulder straps are worn by both shoulders. These ensure a straight posture of the back and can distribute the weight of the backpack evenly.
  • A shoulder strap is only worn by one shoulder. Therefore, the weight is also on one side at a time. This variant is quick and easy to put on. However, a permanent, one-sided weight can have a negative effect on back posture.
  • In addition to the shoulder straps, a waist, chest or hip belt can make transporting the cooler backpack easier. The backpack is also attached to the body. This shifts the overall weight. The shoulders are thus relieved somewhat.
  • Handles are used to carry the cooler backpack quickly and easily. If you don’t want to carry your backpack, you can simply carry it with one hand. The handles are intended to provide additional support for carrying. Carrying with handles is not suitable for long journeys.

Different models can have combinations of these straps and handles Shoulder straps and waist straps can be combined with handles. The combination of shoulder and shoulder straps is rather unlikely.

Price / performance

Very inexpensive cooler backpacks are available starting at a price of about 10 Euros. Most models are priced between 30 and 50 euros. With higher quality or brand preference, the price can also be higher.

Furthermore, the price depends on the quality of the materials. Well-insulated products are usually more expensive. Better insulated cooler backpacks can keep the temperature cold or warm for longer.

In addition, the size of the cooler backpack matters.

Larger models can be more expensive. Nevertheless, products with higher filling volumes can be cheaper than smaller models. In this case, however, the product may be of poorer quality.

The brand of the model can also be responsible for the price. High-priced and established brands may charge a higher price for the product. However, with a higher price, you can expect better quality.

Cooler backpacks made from natural materials are usually more expensive than synthetic models. Sheepskin and cotton as raw materials are more expensive than synthetic materials anyway. Furthermore, natural products can be sewn by hand, which can increase the price of the final product.

Decision: What types of cooler backpacks are there and which one is right for you?

There are different types of cooling backpacks to choose from. Depending on the purpose, a different variant is suitable for you.

Type suitable for
Cooling backpack for drinks barbecues, hiking, sports, festivals
Cooling backpack for food grocery shopping, barbecues
Multifunctional cooling backpack work

No matter which version you choose, you can cool and transport both drinks and food in any cooler backpack. However, the versions suitable for this offer you significant advantages.

To help you decide which version is best for you, we will show you the most important aspects. In this way, we want to help you make your decision easier.

Cooler backpacks for drinks

Cooler backpack for drinks

Cooler backpacks for drinks are available in rather smaller sizes. However, they offer sufficient storage space. They are often available in a cuboid shape. This ensures that the backpack is stable. Furthermore, you can stack your drinks more easily.

The inner lining of the backpack is fully insulated. This ensures that your drinks stay cold or warm. Thanks to the insulating material, the temperature can be kept constant for hours.

Advantages
  • light weight
  • integrated features
  • high wearing comfort
Disadvantages
  • small
  • no separate compartments

Cooler backpacks for drinks often come with a bottle opener or a separate drinks compartment. Beer and certain soft drinks need a bottle opener to open. This means you always have it with you.

In addition, the cooler backpack for drinks has shoulder straps and can be transported hands-free. Due to its light weight, the backpack is ideal for hiking or festivals.

Even though the backpack itself has a light weight, the cooler backpack for drinks can carry a lot of weight. Therefore, many drinks can be cooled.

Cooler backpack for food

Cooling backpack for food

The cooling backpack for food is equipped similarly to the cooling backpack for drinks. However, it is somewhat larger and has no other features. The insulation and the stable side walls ensure constant temperatures and hold the rucksack in place.

Due to the large capacity, many foods can be cooled. Not only drinks, but also food has enough space in a refrigerated backpack for food. Here, too, the cuboid shape ensures that you can stack the food well.

Advantages
  • light weight
  • spacious
  • versatile
Disadvantages
  • little carrying comfort
  • no separate compartments

Due to the large interior space, larger containers can also be cooled and transported. Therefore, this version is ideal for picnics where you are transporting several meals and drinks. Furthermore, this design is ideal for grocery shopping, as there is plenty of space.

The refrigerated backpack for food tends to come in bag form and is therefore impractical to carry. Refrigerated backpacks for food often have a shoulder strap, but no shoulder strap. The shoulder strap shifts all the weight to one side and is therefore more difficult to carry.

Multifunctional cooler backpack

Multifunctional cooling backpack

The most common representative of the multifunctional cooling backpack is the laptop backpack with cooling function. This is specially padded and therefore well insulated. This keeps food and drinks hot or cold for longer. In addition, the multifunctional cooling backpack offers space for other items.

In most cases, the cooling function is a separate compartment in the backpack. This means that not the whole backpack is insulated. The cooling takes place due to the special insulation, which keeps the temperature constant for hours.

Advantages
  • spacious
  • many compartments
  • comfortable to carry
Disadvantages
  • little cooled storage space
  • separation by compartments reduces space

This version is particularly suitable for you if your work or leisure time means you are out and about all day and you want to stock up on food from home. The spacious backpack offers room for your food and drinks. There is also enough space for a laptop, books or other items.

Multifunctional cooler backpacks often have back padding and can be carried hands-free. A waist belt usually reduces the weight at one point. This makes for a pleasant and light carrying comfort.

Guide: Frequently asked questions on the subject of cooling backpacks answered in detail

Once you have found the right cooler backpack for you, there are a few aspects you should consider when using your cooler backpack. In the following sections you will learn the most important facts about cooling backpacks.

In addition, we have answered the most important questions about cooling backpacks in our guide. For comprehensive instructions, we refer you to external links that you can find in the section “Further reading: Sources and interesting links”.

Who is a cooler backpack suitable for?

A cooling backpack can be the ideal companion for you if you are often out and about all day. The backpack is suitable for both work and leisure activities. Waterproof cooling backpacks may even get wet. This makes it ideal for outdoor activities.

kühlrucksack-1

Cooling backpacks can keep food and drinks cold or warm for hours. Therefore, these are ideal for day trips, hikes and for work.
(Image source: Markus Spiske / Unsplash)

The cooler backpack also supports a small budget. If you don’t feel like going out to eat every day at work, you can simply take your food and drink with you. It stays fresh.

Whether it’s hot or cold food, the cooler backpack keeps it at the desired temperature. As a rule, you don’t need electricity.

However, it is advisable to have a freezer at home. So-called cold packs support the cold temperature in the cooler backpack. This means that the cooling backpack stays cool for longer with cooling packs.

How can I use a cooler backpack?

You can use a cooler backpack to cool or warm your food for different occasions. You can use the backpack exclusively for yourself. Or you can share your advantage with your friends or family.

Any drink is suitable for a cooler backpack. It just has to be smaller than the backpack.

If you’re having a barbecue with your friends or going to festivals, you can make full use of the space in the backpack. Your beer cans will fit in perfectly and stay cool. By stacking the cans, you can make full use of the space.

In addition to beer, you can of course also cool wine, lemonade and many other drinks in your backpack. Although cans stack well, you can also refrigerate bottles.

To use as much space as possible, it’s best to stack bottles horizontally. If bottles are too long, you can refrigerate them standing up.

What activities is a cooler suitable for?

The cooler backpack allows you to take your food and drinks with you from home. Your food will be kept cool or warm. The practical backpack can be used for many activities.

The cooler backpack is practical if you are on the road all day because of your work. With your food and drinks from home, you save yourself from eating in restaurants or going to the supermarket during your break. This gives you more time to relax during your break.

Whether you’re hiking, playing sports or barbecuing, this cooling backpack will keep your drinks cool.

Especially when barbecuing, it is important that the food is cooled. If meat gets warm, for example, you can get sick from it.

The cooler backpack is also suitable for a visit to the beach. The backpack protects your food from the sun. In addition, chilled drinks provide sufficient refreshment. Especially at the beach, supermarkets are far away, so you have to take your own food with you anyway.

In summer it is often too hot to carry food for long periods. The cooler backpack can also cool your shopping. This keeps your food chilled on the way home, so it stays fresh.

What are the alternatives to a cooler backpack?

Besides the cooler backpack, there are other alternatives for keeping your food and drinks cool or warm:

Alternative Description
Cooler bag The way a cooler bag works is the same as a cooler backpack. The inner lining is lined with an insulating material. Unlike a cooling backpack, the bag differs in shape and is less comfortable to carry. Cooler bags only have handles or a shoulder strap.
Cooler box The cooler box is a sturdy plastic container. It is very spacious. The weight of a cool box is higher than that of a backpack or bag. In addition, the container is inflexible and rigid. Coolers are often equipped with a power connection that is compatible with a conventional socket and the car.

The biggest difference between all the alternatives is their respective shape. Backpacks and bags consist of an insulating material and a fabric lining. The box, on the other hand, is a rigid container.

The common feature of all alternatives is the recommended use of cold packs. Each variant keeps food cold for hours. However, the temperature warms up when the backpack, bag or box is opened.

What do I need to keep in mind when using a cooler backpack?

If you are filling your cooler backpack with contents, there are a few recommendations we would like to give you:

  • Stack your food neatly. Place your food and drinks next to each other. If there is not enough space, you can stack your food. Prevent your items from sliding around in the backpack.
  • Use the side pockets for small items. Candy bars, fruit or anything else that can be easily crushed should be stored in one of the separate compartments. This can be on the outside or inside.
  • Store the cool packs in the right place. Cooling packs should never be on the floor because cold air sinks. Place the cold packs on top of or next to your food. If there are compartments, it is advisable to use them. The compartments also ensure that the cold packs do not slip.
  • Use the straps and handles as they are intended. Shoulder straps should be worn with both shoulders. A waist or chest strap provides even better weight transfer.

How can I cool my cooler backpack?

For the cooling backpack, it is advisable to freeze the cooling packs two to three hours before you need them. The prerequisite for this is that you want to refrigerate your food. You should also pre-chill your food and drinks. If they are warm when you freeze them, the temperature will also warm up.

The opposite is true for warm food. A warm thermophore can help to maintain a warm temperature.

For warm food, you should put something warm in your backpack. For cold food, you should put something cold in the backpack.

Do not mix hot and cold food. The hot food will cool down and the cold food will warm up. This will have a negative effect on your food and drinks.

Electric cooler backpacks do not need cold packs. For food shopping, it is also advisable to refrigerate the rucksack during the journey there and home by car. You should disconnect the rucksack from the power supply while the car is stationary, otherwise the car battery can run down.

What do I need to keep in mind when caring for my cooler backpack?

To make sure your cooler bag lasts longer and doesn’t start to stink, you should wash it regularly. Make sure that you wash it gently.

Basically, you should wash your cooler bag by hand in lukewarm water. Some models can even be washed in a washing machine. Make sure that your cooler bag is suitable for the washing machine and use a gentle programme.

It is important to keep your cooler bag in good condition so that it does not start to stink.

It doesn’t matter whether you wash your rucksack by hand or in the washing machine. Make sure that you do not wash your cooler backpack too hot. It is also important to air dry the rucksack. Never use a tumble dryer. Otherwise you can ruin your cooler backpack during washing.

For a comprehensive guide on how to properly clean your cooler backpack, we refer you to an external source. You can find it in the section “Further reading: Sources and interesting links”

In addition to cleaning, you should wipe out the inside of your cooler after each use. You can use a damp cloth to wipe out condensation and any residue. Then wipe the inside dry with a soft cloth.

How can I carry my cooler backpack properly?

Cooler backpacks that have shoulder straps can be adjusted to your body size. This ensures that the weight does not put so much strain on your back.

When adjusted correctly, the result is weight distribution. The weight can be carried by the shoulders and, if a waist belt is available, by the hips. This means that the back can be completely relieved, no matter how much weight is being carried. This saves agonising back pain.

When all the straps of the backpack have been adjusted to your body size, you should carry your cooler backpack with both shoulders. Wearing it with only one shoulder can have a negative effect on your health. Furthermore, you should use all straps correctly for optimal weight distribution.

kühlrucksack-2

The correct adjustment of strap lengths is important for a healthy back posture. This can relieve the strain on your back when wearing a cooling backpack.
(Image source: Cody Black / Unsplash)

For a comprehensive guide on how to properly adjust your cooling backpack, we refer you to an external source. You can find it in the section “Further reading: Sources and interesting links” You can adjust your cooler backpack in exactly the same way as a conventional backpack.

How long does a cooler last?

It depends on how you cool your cooler backpack. You can simply fill your backpack with pre-cooled food or use cold packs. Some models can even be powered by electricity.

If you just fill your cooler with cold food, it will only last a few minutes. The cold food and drinks quickly lose their cool temperature. Therefore, this variant is only intended for very short transport distances.

For longer cooling, you should use cold packs. You will need a freezer or a chest freezer. Put the pre-cooled batteries in your cooling backpack with your food. Depending on the size of the battery and the outside temperature, they can cool for four to eight hours.

Before using the cold packs, freeze them for two to three hours.

For maximum effect, the batteries should be thoroughly frozen. The more cold packs you use for your cooler, the better your cooler can be cooled.

You should also pre-chill an electric cooler before adding food. This will ensure a better effect and longer cooling of the rucksack. You should follow the instructions of the respective cooling backpack.

Image source: Pawlak/ 123rf.com

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