The Engel HD30 is the best soft sided cooler and it can hold ice for up to 4.5 days and sometimes even longer. This is better than a lot of hard coolers of the same size. The Polar Bear Deluxe coolers come close with up to 4 days ice retention followed by RTIC and TOURIT with up to 3.5 days.
If you're looking for the soft coolers that keep ice the longest then you've come to the right place.
In this article I will be ranking coolers based off their ice retention, with coolers that can hold ice for longer being ranked first and coolers where ice melts quicker further down the list.
How Do I Know Which Soft Coolers Hold Ice The Longest?
While I don't personally own every single one of these coolers I have done research and written reviews of every single cooler on this list.
I've also taken the time to compare each of these coolers to the Yeti Hopper, which is arguably the most popular high-end soft sided cooler.
I've done my research into all of these coolers and watched every ice test video and read up on all the specs about all the different coolers.
I know things like RTIC SoftPak coolers have 2.25 inches of insulation in the lid compared to 1.5 inches of insulation in the lid of the Yeti.
Basically I know the ins and outs of all of these soft sided coolers and based on research, looking at specs as well as some testing myself can tell you with confidence which soft sided coolers keep ice the longest.
Some of These Coolers Perform Extremely Similar
While some of these coolers are standout performers (like the Engel HD30) a lot of these coolers have very similar performance.
This means that the order of coolers may not be 100% perfect for some coolers and you may get differing results.
This only really applies to Grizzly, Yeti, Pelican, Hommit and Otterbox which are all really close in ice retention performance. So allow for a bit of a margin or error but mostly this order should be pretty accurate.
The 15 Best Soft Sided Coolers For Ice Retention
Below I've ranked this 15 best soft sided coolers for ice retention. Starting with the cooler that keeps ice the longest and ending with the cooler where ice melts the quickest.
This list doesn't feature every soft sided cooler out there, however it does feature every major brand of high-end soft sided coolers. If one is missing please let me know in the comments section down below.
Here you have the soft sided coolers that can keep ice the absolute longest:
1. Engel HD30: 4.5+ Days
Without a doubt the Engel HD30 is THE BEST soft sided cooler at holding ice. It far surpasses any other soft sided cooler and can even hold ice a full day (or more) longer than Yeti, which is seen as the benchmark cooler by a lot of people.
There have been multiple ice tests pitting the HD30 against other brands and time and time again the Engel HD30 wins the challenge.
Whether it be an ice challenge with the cooler completely filled with ice, or it be an ice challenge where each cooler gets the same amount of ice Engel seems to always come out on top. Click here to see my full Engel HD30 vs Yeti Hopper soft cooler comparison.
Customer reviews as well as customer videos on YouTube support the idea that this soft sided cooler can keep ice for up to 4 days and potentially even longer than that.
This sort of ice retention is actually incredible and I'm shocked that it's possible.
How Do The Engel HD30 Keep Ice So Long?
Engel achieve this through thick high-quality closed cell insulation, waterproof and airtight zippers as well as a unique and patent pending vacuum seal technology.
It's very difficult for heat to pass through as vacuum so Engel created a way for you to suck out the air in the insulation making it closer to a vacuum and therefore making it harder for heat to get it and melt your ice.
It's a strange mechanism and requires you to use your vacuum cleaner to do it, but obviously it seems to do it's job and increase the ice retention. Read more about it in my full Engel HD30 cooler review.
The Engel HD30 Is Also A Really Good Cooler
Not only does this cooler hold ice longer than any other cooler on the market but it's also one of the best made coolers too.
It's so good I listed it as #1 in my list of the best soft coolers like Yeti Hopper but cheaper.
It is super durable and made from heavy duty nylon that is TPU laminated to make the exterior waterproof and also abrasion and puncture resistant. It uses RF welding for extra strength, has a heavy-duty and long lasting waterproof zipper and is backed by a 1-year warranty.
Engel also has a solid reputation for making high-quality coolers and this cooler continues that reputation.
It also happens to sell for about $100 less than the soft Yeti Hopper cooler of a similar size. This is a great cooler and I highly recommend it.
To see the latest prices of the Engel HD30 as well as read other customer reviews simply click the image link below to see the cooler at Amazon:
2. Polar Bear Deluxe: 3-4+ Days
This one totally shocked me. I did not expect this cooler from a relatively unknown brand to be able to hold ice for up to 4 days.
Polar Bear make two types of coolers. Their Original range can only hold ice for around 24 hours however their Deluxe coolers are better insulated and can hold ice for 3-4+ days. Read about the two coolers and the pros and cons of each in my full Polar Bear soft cooler review.
Polar Bear Deluxe coolers use a full inch of insulation in the walls, base and lid of the cooler (in comparison Yeti only have 0.75 inches of insulation in it's walls). Polar Bear Deluxe coolers use a closed cell insulation like other top performing coolers on here but they do apparently have a patent pending on their insulation.
I'm not sure what makes their insulation unique or if it is unique, but whatever they are doing it seems to be working.
The coolers come in 12, 24 and 48-can sizes with the larger size keeping ice the longest if filled to capacity.
These coolers sell for a decent discount when compared to Yeti coolers and come in multiple sizes. To see the latest prices and sizes click the linked image below:
3. RTIC Soft Pack: 3.5+ Days
RTIC are one of Yeti's biggest competitors and they sell a cooler that is one of the most affordable coolers on this list.
Even though it's affordable it packs a punch and can hold ice for 3.5+ days outperforming Yeti, Pelican and a bunch of other high-quality coolers. See my full RTIC SoftPak vs Yeti Hopper soft cooler comparison to see all the differences and which cooler I recommend.
RTIC Soft Pak coolers have 1 inch of closed cell insulation in the walls of their coolers plus they have an extra thick lid, fitting in 2.25 inches of insulation in the lid. This extra insulation is what allows it to keep ice so long.
I really like this brand and I really like just how cheap these coolers are compared to other high end coolers on this list. To see just how affordable they are click my affiliate link below to see the prices on Amazon:
4. Tourit Soft Coolers: 3.5+ Days
The Tourit is a lesser known brand but it has a very similar build and similar insulation specs to the RTIC Soft Pak cooler.
The Tourit soft sided coolers have about 1 inch of insulation in the walls of their cooler and around 2 inches of insulation in the lid. Read more about this cooler in my full Tourit soft cooler review.
You can expect this cooler to keep ice for up to 3.5 days and maybe even a little bit longer.
This cooler is more expensive than the RTIC coolers for the same ice retention, but it seems a little more durable and it is still sold at a large discount when compared to Yeti.
5. Grizzly Drifter: 2-3+ Days – VALUE FOR MONEY PICK
The Grizzly drifter, in my opinion, is one of the best value-for-money soft sided coolers on the market.
It is made with ballistic nylon so it is very tough and it features multiple external pockets for extra storage as well as a stretchy top canopy for carrying even more items.
The interior is leak proof and it can hold ice about the same length of time as a similar sized Yeti Hopper cooler, maybe even slightly longer than the Yeti – but its really close. See more details in my Grizzly Drifter vs Yeti Hopper comparison.
The only downside of this cooler is that the top zipper isn't waterproof, so if the cooler tips on its side water will leak out. But this can actually be a positive as it makes the zipper easier to open and closed when compared to other coolers with waterproof zippers. I talk more about the zipper and other features in my Grizzly Drifter soft cooler review.
This cooler, like the RTIC, is significantly cheaper than Yeti as well as much cheaper than a bunch of other coolers on this list. At under $100 I think this cooler offers great value for money.
6. Yeti Hopper Coolers: 2-3+ Days
The Yeti Hopper has set the standard in soft coolers and is generally the cooler that everyone compares themselves to.
They were the first to release a high-end soft sided cooler back in 2014 and have innovated and introduced multiple types of soft-sided coolers to the market since then.
Most other brands are a copy of Yeti in some way or heavily take inspiration from this cooler.
The ice retention on this cooler is really good at 2-3+ days and something I love about Yeti is that they are known for quality and consistency. It's highly unlikely you'll get a dodgy Yeti cooler and even if you do it's covered under a 3-year warranty.
The Yeti Hopper is also one of the best made and more durable coolers on the market. They have a high attention to detail and these coolers are made super tough and made to last.
They are waterproof, scratch and puncture resistant and have a reinforced base for extra durability. Everything from the side handles to the shoulder strap to even the Hitchpoint grid accessory straps feel high quality and well made.
If you want good quality ice retention and best-in-class build quality as well as best-in-class branding then Yeti is going to be the cooler for you.
To see all the different types of soft coolers Yeti sells as well as their prices click the affiliate link below to see Yeti soft coolers on Amaozn:
7. Pelican Soft Coolers: 2-3+ Days
Pelican are another brand known for making high-quality products and their line of soft-sided coolers are extremely similar to Yeti in both design and ice retention.
They can hold ice for 2-3+ days and are made from a similar ultra-durable construction just like Yeti Hopper coolers. Read more about the differences and similarities of the Pelican and the Yeti on this page.
They sell for a little bit cheaper than Yeti and have a few extra features that Yeti doesn't have like easy open buckles so you don't always need to use the zipper as well as an external pocket and built in bottle openers.
Their prices are about $50 or so cheaper than Yeti's so you can get similar ice retention, similar build quality plus extra features all for a fraction of the cost.
To see the latest prices of Pelican soft coolers click the links below:
8. Hommit Soft Coolers: 2-3+ Days
Hommit coolers are a no-name brand of cooler sold primarily on Amazon but they have a great reputation for ice retention.
This brand sells a bunch of random items on Amazon – from magnetic fly screens to water bladders and of course soft sided coolers.
The cooler can hold ice for days and has many of the features of high-end coolers. There is a bit of a question mark around the quality of these coolers though with some customers reporting the coolers seams becoming unglued as well as the zipper breaking.
So this cooler has good ice retention but I don't know enough about the brand to be able to confidently recommend it.
9. Otterbox Trooper: 2-3 Days
Otterbox originally started out making phone cases and now have a range of soft and hard sided coolers.
The Tropper soft sided coolers are like a mixture of hard and soft sided cooler. They have a soft exterior that is high-quality and well made but then they have a hard plastic lid which allows you to open and close the lid AND keep it waterproof without having to have zippers.
This lid mechanism makes it more practical to open and close the cooler but the half hard/half soft design isn't everyone's cup of tea, but will be loved by some. Read more about the hard/soft design of Otterbox Tropper coolers in my full review.
The cooler is packed with insulation in the walls, lid and base of the cooler and features external pockets and a free bottle opener. You can expect this cooler to hold ice for 2-3 days in warmer weather.
10. AO Coolers: 1-2 Days – BUDGET PICK
AO Coolers are a high-quality budget cooler that can hold ice for over 24 hours in 100 degree heat.
With normal usage you can expect about 1-2 days of ice retention for this cooler.
This brand has been around for over 25 years and their soft sided coolers are cheap compared to other coolers but still tough as nails. See how tough they are in my full AO Cooler review, you'll be surprised at the punishment they can handle.
Their zipper and inner lining comes with a lifetime guarantee and the exterior is made of heavy duty nylon that can handle the wear and tear of your outdoor adventures.
These coolers have a good build quality and decent ice retention all for a budget price. That's why I often suggest AO Coolers as the best budget soft sided cooler.
To see the latest price of AO coolers click the link below:
11. HydroFlask Coolers: 1-1.5+ Days
Hydro Flask coolers are high-end expensive coolers that can keep ice for 1-1.5+ days. 2 days would be pushing it with these coolers despite them being almost as expensive as Yeti.
These coolers are well made though and they also come in a really fun design with some really bold colors (like bright yellow).
They also have a lot of practical features like external pockets as well as water bottle holders and the zipper is fairly easy to open and use. Learn more about Hydro Flask Unbound coolers in my full review.
They aren't as robust as something like the Yeti or the Pelican but they are build well and I can really see these coolers appealing to a younger audience.
To see the latest price of Hydro Flask coolers and if they are currently on sale (as they often go on sale) click the affiliate link below to see them at Amazon:
12. Ozark Trail (Walmart’s Brand): 1-2 Days
Ozark Trail coolers have similar features to Yeti Hopper coolers and other high-end soft sided coolers. They have thick insulation, a waterproof zipper as well as removable shoulder straps, handles and a waterproof exterior.
The insulation isn't quite as thick as other brands and it's unclear if they use a similar style of insulation or if they use something different to save on money so they can offer these coolers for so cheap. For this reason you can expect ice retention of about 1-2 days from an Ozark Trail soft cooler.
Like these coolers are crazy cheap for the features they offer. The downside of these coolers is that the quality is questionable. You can read more details about these coolers in my full Ozark Trail cooler review.
But if you're looking for a cooler that can hold ice for 1-2 days and one that is super cheap then this cooler is worth considering.
To see the latest prices of these coolers at Walmart (where they are often the cheapest) click the link below:
13. Bison Coolers (USA Made): 1-1.5 Days
Bison coolers are one of the very few soft sided coolers that are made in the USA.
Unfortunately this is one of the coolers I was unable to find any direct ice test comparisons on comparing the performance of this cooler to other similar brands.
However, the company rates it as holding ice for up to 24+ hours in 120 degree heat and customer reviews talk about getting up to 2 days of ice retention or definitely at least a full day's ice retention even when only partially filling it.
The Bison SoftPak cooler has nearly an inch of insulation in the walls of the cooler and features a tough vinyl exterior that is made from 1000 denier vinyl and it is also UV protected. Read more about the quality of these coolers in my full Bison SoftPak cooler review.
If you're looking for a high-quality soft cooler that is made in the USA then Bison coolers are what I would recommend.
They also sell for a fraction of the cost of other high-end soft sided coolers so you can save a bit of money too. Click the link below to see the latest prices on Bison SoftPak coolers at Amazon:
14. IceMule Coolers: 1-1.5 Days
IceMule coolers are lightweight durable cooler that are capable of holding ice for 1-1.5 days.
They use a roll-down design like a dry bag to make the cooler leak proof and the exterior of the cooler is heavy duty and waterproof as well.
The Classic versions have a shoulder strap sling while the Pro version have backpack straps for even easier carrying.
These soft coolers are super affordable and super portable. To see the latest prices and size options of the IceMule coolers click the links below:
15. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze: 0.25-0.5 Days
The Titan Deep Freeze cooler is a budget cooler with budget ice retention. It features thin foam insulation as well as an internal plastic container that adds some ice retention but not a lot.
The zipperless lid is easy to open and close but it isn't airtight or watertight and so can let heat in.
The company claims 2-3 days of ice retention but regular everyday use and customer reviews put it more at 3-6 hours of ice retention. Maybe up to 12 hours of ice retention but I think it would struggle to keep ice for a full 24 hours unless the conditions were really good.
Still it's a good budget cooler with some nice features like external pockets, bottle opener, shoulder strap, handles and top budgee chord for carrying extra items.
To see the latest prices of these budget coolers click the links below:
Ice Retention Isn't The Only Thing That's Important
While ice retention is an important factor to consider when looking at a soft sided cooler it isn't the only thing to consider.
You also want to consider things like build-quality, durability, design, portability, weight and extra features like pockets and bottle openers.
You can have a cooler with good ice retention but poor quality and I personally wouldn't recommend you buy it.
You can have good quality, like the Yeti, but a really high price and that might not fit into your budget.
You need to find the cooler for you that matches your needs for ice retention, quality and durability as well as price.