Best soft sided cooler?

Discussion in 'Camping & Outdoor Gear' started by patrickfinley, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. patrickfinley

    patrickfinley

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    I'm looking for a soft cooler about 24 can size. I want it to be soft so I can fold it down when not in use. No hard liner inside a soft cooler, that won't work for me. I know the soft sides don't keep things as cold as a hard side. In general I just need cooling for a few hours.

    I've heard that Polar Bear and Norchill are the best. Has anyone had any experience with these? Any other brands?
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  2. IdahoDoug

    IdahoDoug

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    I've also used two different folding soft side coolers and have nothing good to say about them. First, the folding ability is more of a theoretical advantage because the need for an open and functioning cooler doesn't end until I'm back home and can unload it of the uneaten supplies, the milk, the condiments, etc. So I never ended up emptying the cooler, folding it up and saying "Wow, glad that's out of the way for the rest of the trip."

    Secondly, they both leaked fairly soon after buying them. And that is a major, major sin. In bear country, it makes everything smell wildly attractive to bears. It sucked to empty the truck and leave it opened up to air dry. And another time it did this in the boat, so the bilge had crud in it for a while.

    DougM
     
  3. patrickfinley

    patrickfinley

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    Hey Doug, I hear you on the leaking coolers in bear country. Certainly don't want burgers and hotdogs giving off odors.

    I guess I should clarify my needs. The family and I just moved to Florida. It's damn hot down here. My wife goes to the grocery store and then will run errands all day. We wanted a cooler bag to keep it all good for the day. It'll all be wrapped so it won't leak. We'll have freezer blocks so no leaking water. We'll be out probably for no longer than 3-4 hours so we wanted to have a cooler to leave in the vehicle all the time. That's why we wanted soft, we can just stuff it somewhere in the car for next time.

    How about those flexible freeze sheets, anybody use them?
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012
  4. Bogo

    Bogo FOOF

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    I used to use a soft side for that. Now I use a Coleman 5 day hard side cooler. It stays in the 4runner. When I leave on a shopping trip, I put a few freezer packs in it. I get plenty of them with vaccine deliveries so I have a large supply.

    I can see going for a soft side in a car that has more limited space. I'd think that most any of them would work fine. You can always pitch the hard plastic liner.

    Ultimately I think I'll get a compressor based cooler.
     
  5. IdahoDoug

    IdahoDoug

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    Oh, got it. Yeah, I see why you're thinking soft sided. Getting frozen stuff home is a challenge on a hot day. Let us know if you find a quality version.
     
  6. Fly Rod

    Fly Rod

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    I have been using the fishpond boat coolers for the past 4 years. They get used hard guiding and for 3 hour drives to trader joes. One started leaking three years in and the other is still leak free. I will buy them again.
     
  7. patrickfinley

    patrickfinley

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    I picked up one of these, here are my first impressions:
    Polar Bear Coolers, Soft sided cooler, soft side coolers, monogrammed and personalized coolers.

    -It's very rugged construction, much better than any of the other soft coolers I've owned.
    -Thick insulation, most soft sided coolers have about 1/4" insulation. This one is about 3/4" thick
    -Better interior fabric. It's a heavier gauge textured interior waterproof fabric.
    -Folds up pretty flat, it will tuck away nicely.
    -Included bottle opener on the zipper, major plus!!

    I have not tested it's waterproof abilities. I probably will never use loose ice, but ice packs instead.
     
  8. Bogo

    Bogo FOOF

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    After reading up on the Polar Bears, I picked up a 12 can one for taking my cold stuff to the weekend cookouts. Works nicely, but is on the small side for 12 soda cans. More like 9 cans plus 2 freezer packs. In use, basically very slow temperature rise even when it's dark blueness is sitting in the sun. The freezer packs still have a hard core after sitting in the sun all day. I stick my 6 drinks, a couple thawed steaks, and a couple cooler ice packs in it. Frozen steaks thrown in in the morning don't thaw by dinner time.

    Mechanically. The zipper is stiff to open and close due to the tightness of the fabric. You need the bottle cap opener zipper fob to get enough grip to move the zipper. Hopefully it will loosen up over time. The zipper is straight across from one side to the other down the center line of the bag. There are two buckles that pull the ends down to neaten up the ends of the bag and make it more rectangular. To have good easy access you need to unlatch them when opening the bag. The shoulder strap is detachable and I put mine into the side pocket so it doesn't get lost. The handles are very sturdy, and likely you could fill the bag with lead before they would be strained.
     
  9. ghstdanc

    ghstdanc

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    I love my Polar Bear. I have a 12 and 24 pack. I use it all the time in my Kayak. We took the big one to South Africa for a month last Sept. I knew we would need a cooler and I didn't think that an el cheapo styro wouldn't last at all, so we put my travel bag into the Polar Bear, tied the handels off and put it through as checked baggage. It made it there and back, including a 12 day treck through Kruger in the back of a 4X4. It's with me now on a month long vacation on the east coast. 2 years use, no leaks.
     
  10. sandrat62

    sandrat62

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    In my humble opinion the best soft side cooler money can buy is AO Coolers by American Outdoors. I have three of them for years and can honestly say I have not had a problem with any of them.
    Check em out!
     
  11. gisham

    gisham

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    I actually work for the company that manufactures the NorChill Soft Coolers- Funny this thread popped up when doing some SEO work- I own a 40 and have owned an 80 in the past- Needless to say a cruiser head- That said i hope some of you choose to try our brand- We consider them the best on the market and warranty them against leaks, rips or zipper damage for 2 years- no questions asked- They truely are excellent coolers and i keep one in my 40 at all times!
     
  12. BluewaltFJ60

    BluewaltFJ60

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    Unless Norchill has changed its construction and zipper....Polar Bear the best and most durable. I did get many years out of a Norchill however.
     
  13. doug720

    doug720

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    I have a Polar Bear also and it has worked well for many years. We bought it for use in our whitewater kayak, it's tuff and has been used and somewhat abused, but still functions like new.
     
  14. andhop72

    andhop72

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    Yeti Hopper!
     
  15. Stevesnj

    Stevesnj

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  16. INsr5Runner

    INsr5Runner

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    I know this thread is old, but I just picked up the Brute Softpack.

    https://www.bruteoutdoors.com/shop/brute-softpak/

    $89.00 and 100% made in USA. It's pretty bad ass but since it's -5° here now, I haven't been able to truly test it out. It is decently sized though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  17. Ed B

    Ed B

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    I have one of the AO coolers also and very happy with it.
     
  18. cartercd

    cartercd SILVER Star

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    Assassin likes this.
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