Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Welcome to our big cooler bag test 2022. Here we present all the cooler bags we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best cooler bag for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a cooler bag.




The most important facts

  • Unlike a refrigerator, a cooler bag is a mobile container for cooling food, drinks, fruit or other items that need to be kept cool.
  • Cooler bags are practical cooling aids – at the beach, on car journeys, at picnics, when the power fails or the refrigerator needs to be cleaned extensively.
  • They have a very good cooling capacity thanks to rechargeable batteries or a power connection, offer many storage options and have a low tare weight.

The best cooler Bag: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a cooler bag

How does a cooler bag work?

The cooler bag works according to an insulation system: Inside, the cooler bag is equipped with insulating material to keep the temperature inside as long as possible and to protect the contents from the outside temperature. The cooling itself can be done via cooling packs or also with electricity. With each of these cooling systems, there are differences in handling and cooling duration. Each system has individual advantages and disadvantages.

Cooler bag with cold pack keeps cold for two to four hours

The cold packs are frozen in the freezer beforehand and then simply packed in the bag. They are ideal for two- to four-hour trips and when there is no electricity available. When buying, make sure that the lid closes tightly and that the cooler bag is well insulated. The larger the volume of the cooler bag, the more batteries you need.

Cooler bag with electricity for long-lasting cooling

If you are on tour for a longer time, cooler bags with an active cooling system are suitable. These work with a 12-volt power connection and can be used via the car battery (cigarette lighter) or for the campsite connection. As long as electricity flows, the snack stays fresh. The contents of the cooler can also be cooled passively with rechargeable batteries.

What material is a cooler bag made of?

A cooler bag is usually made of flexible and soft fabric, such as synthetic or cotton, and an insulating material. This has the advantage that the cooler bag is both elastic and robust and hard-wearing. The selection of sizes, shapes, colours and patterns is diverse. There is something for every taste.

To ensure good insulation, the cooler bags are equipped with cold-reflecting silver foil on the inside. Good models also have foam insulation. The cover of the cooler bag is usually made of water-repellent and hard-wearing materials such as nylon fabric or similar plastics.

The advantage of these flexible and soft materials is a real space-saver: when not in use after the picnic or after the party, you can fold it flat, easily transport it and also store it easily. This is especially useful where there is no space for storage.

There are also many options when it comes to design and colour choice. With a really stylish cooler bag, you’re ready for adventurous trips or romantic dates in the countryside. Thanks to the practical handles, you can either carry it by hand or sling it casually over your shoulder.

Kühltaschen in der Wiese

The material of cooler bags is very well insulated to keep the contents fresh for as long as possible. It is usually still soft and flexible so that the bag can be easily stowed away. (Photo: Alexas_Fotos / pixabay.com)

How much do cooler bags cost?

Even if you first think of cooling bags as a cheap product, there are price differences. Depending on the model, you can buy a cooler bag for less than 10 euros. For a large and stylish model, the price can rise. The price differences are mainly due to the material, the volume and the cooling technology.

Inexpensive cooler bags start at 10 euros each. However, these offer a rather small cooling volume and or inferior insulation quality. On the other hand, cooling bags made of high-quality material with foam insulation can also score points with an active cooling section – i.e. a power connection. These are somewhat more expensive, but the additional functionality justifies the price.

How much does a cooler bag hold and what does it weigh?

Depending on the purpose and how many things you need the cooler bag for, the volume will also depend. Small cooler bags start at 6 litres, large cooler bags offer a volume of up to 40 litres.

Do you only want to cool two or three drinks during the car journey or do you want to supply a football team with cool drinks during training? For what purpose or occasion and how often should the cooler bag be used? You should think about these questions before buying. Especially if the cooler bag is too small or underpowered, you can be very annoyed.

The capacity or volume is an important point for your purchase decision

The weight differs according to the shape of the bag. There are large and small cooler bags – from the “shopper” to the classic “box”.

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

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of cooler bags:

  • Cooler bag with passive cooling elements
  • Thermoelectric cooler bag

It is hard to imagine outdoor activities without cooling bags, especially when they are cosy. However, there are other factors, such as the cooling technology, the size, the available resources and the areas of application that should be taken into account. There are also additional functions that some models have to offer and that could influence your decision.

The following section briefly explains the differences between the various types so that you can decide for yourself which cooler bag is right for you. The advantages and disadvantages of each bag are also described in detail.

How does a cooler bag with passive cooling elements work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

If you want to be extremely flexible in your choice of location and can also compromise on the cooling time, then the cooler bag with passive cooling elements offers you particular advantages.

It is particularly characterised by the fact that it is very uncomplicated during and before use. With good quality models and conscious handling, drinks and food stay cool and fresh for many hours.

The cooler bag will also not show any defects so quickly. After all, without built-in electronics, there is nothing that could break quickly.

However, when buying, you should pay attention to the material the cooler bag is made of and whether there is a water drainage system integrated in the bottom. If a non-water-repellent material is used and water accumulates at the bottom of the bag, this will promote the formation of mould in the long term.

With passive cooling, only cooling pads and cooling packs are used. These contain a liquid that achieves its cooling effect through a phase change. The phase change is exploited in the cooler bag by placing the cooling element from the freezer into the cooler box.

In this way, the cold pack or the cooling pad has its greatest heat absorption power and, accordingly, its greatest cooling effect.

The heat is distributed in the colder environment, which in turn cools down the air inside the cooler. It is important to mention, however, that a temperature below 0° Celsius can rarely be reached in this way.

Advantages
  • Flexible and can be used independently
  • Simple operation and functionality
  • Very robust and resistant
  • Long durability
  • Little effort required for maintenance
Disadvantages
  • No permanent cooling possible
  • Cooling batteries require a lot of space
  • Some models favour mould growth

How does a thermoelectric cooler work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The thermoelectric cooler bag convinces many consumers with the possibility of being able to cool drinks and food for a long time and without tedious preparations.

In most cases, these cooler bags have a large capacity and are usually very stable due to the materials used. With this bag – thanks to a flexibly selectable power connection – chilled refreshment can be provided for a long time even on long car journeys.

However, it should not be forgotten that the cooler bag taps into the car battery and could put it out of action if used for a long time. However, the thermoelectric cooler is inflexible in its choice of location because it requires a power socket, cable reel or car nearby.

With thermoelectric cooling, as the name suggests, there is an interaction between the electricity and the temperature.

In the case of a cooler, two semiconductors with different energy levels sit inside the lid. Due to the flow of electricity, one semiconductor heats up and transfers energy in the form of heat to the other semiconductor.

In the process, the other side cools down. To intensify the effect, the side to be heated is connected to a heat sink, which is simultaneously cooled by a fan. This effect is transferred to the entire cooler and ensures chilled drinks and food as long as it is connected to a power source.

Advantages
  • Long-term and constant cooling
  • Often large capacity
  • No preparation required
  • Power connection can be flexibly selected
  • Stable and resistant
Disadvantages
  • Always requires a power source
  • Inflexible in choice of location
  • Start-up time is required

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate cooler bags

By listing the buying criteria, we want to make it easier for you to decide whether a particular cooler bag is suitable for you or not.

Here is a list of our buying criteria:

  • Type / connection
  • Cooling capacity
  • Volume / Dimensions
  • Weight

If you read on, you will find out what the individual purchase criteria are and how you can classify them.

Type / connection

There are cooler bags that work with cooling batteries (passive cooling elements) or with a power connection (active connection). Simple cooler bags with a rechargeable battery are usually cheaper than those with an external connection. The big difference is the cooling time.

Cooler bags with a rechargeable battery keep cold for two to four hours. To do this, freeze the cold packs in the freezer beforehand and then pack them in the cooler bag – preferably above the products to be cooled. The more volume the bag has, the more batteries you need.

Cooler bags with a power supply keep the contents cool for longer. When you are on the road, you can plug the bag into the cigarette lighter in your car or – with the appropriate adapter – into the socket at the campsite. These models are usually a little more expensive.

The decisive factor is how often and for how long you need the cooling power. This forms the basis for your choice of model.

There are different types of cooler bags: On the one hand, there are bags with shoulder straps, bags with different storage compartments and bags with dividers.

Cooling capacity

The cooling capacity depends on the type: passive coolers cool for as long as the cooling element cools, while active coolers with an external connection cool within a cooling range for several hours. The manufacturers specify a temperature range for the cooling capacity.

The decisive factor is the use for which you need the cooler bag. Think about what the cooler bag will be used for – if you only have a picnic now and then, a passive cooler bag with cooling batteries is sufficient.

However, if you have frequent picnics or camping trips and need the cooling power constantly over a longer period of time, then it makes sense to opt for a cooler bag with an external connection.Most models have a 12-volt connection for the car battery. With an additional adapter, many cooler bags can also be connected to the mains.

Volume / dimensions

How much space do you need in your cooler bag? How much you can store is indicated in litres. Sufficient volume with practical compartments create space for bottles and food in many models.

From bottles, snacks, fruit or even medicines… In some models, a high volume offers enough storage space for many different things. Of course, the volume also depends on the dimensions. The smaller the bag, the less volume it offers.

In any case, the advantage of the cooler bag lies in the flexible material with insulating properties, which can be conveniently stowed away even when empty.

Weight

How heavy your cooler bag is depends not only on the things you want to store. You should also consider the weight of the bag. On long walks or romantic picnics in undiscovered places, the weight can put a strain on your muscles.

Usually, the first thing you think about is the weight of the food you want to store. However, when transporting it, you also have to add the weight of the cooler bag. Practical handles and adjustable shoulder straps make transport easier.

Trivia: Interesting facts about cool bags

5 tips – how to keep a cooler bag cold longer

In addition to a good cooler bag, you can also do a few things yourself to extend the cooling capacity:

  1. Store food in the fridge for as long as possible. If the food is well cooled, the cooler bag will also keep it cold longer.
  2. Cool packs or cold packs should themselves be very well chilled. Put them in the freezer for a few hours and take them out just before you need the cooler bag.
  3. Storage: First fill the food and products you want to cool. Put the cold packs on top. This keeps the cold longer in the inner compartment.
  4. Avoid opening and closing the cooler frequently. Every time you open it, the cool air inside gets a little warmer due to the warmer temperature outside. Therefore – only open when you are hungry or thirsty.
  5. A cooler bag with a power connection extends the cooling time. This way you can take advantage of the batteries and the power connection.

And here’s another clever idea for cool packs that will do you double duty: Frozen Capri Sun – 1) stays in shape and doesn’t expand 2) cools first and is then delicious to drink

Can cool bags also be used for warming?

The insulating material keeps the air inside insulated from the outside temperature. So inside can be cool food or warm food. – Depending on what is inside, the cooler bag insulates the heat or cold for as long as it can.

However, you should not expect miracles. However, a cool bag with good insulating material can certainly be suitable for keeping baby food warm. The best thing is just to try it out.

Image source: Andreas / pexels.com

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