At Rokslide, we have proven why roto-molded coolers are a must-have on your western adventures. They are an invaluable piece of equipment on bringing home that elk you burned your vacation on and crossed three state lines to get. But what about a cooler that you can use on that long drive? Or better yet, on every outdoor adventure, whether it is your kid’s soccer game or a trip up to the lake? This year, we decided to look at the latest offerings of soft-sided coolers.

Soft Sided Coolers

For those who do not know, a soft-sided cooler is designed for short trips where you throw in your drinks, snacks, and ice, and then go. I find using them in conjunction with commercially bought “Blue Ice” packs work well as you are not making a mess with water. Generally speaking, Soft-sided coolers are usually waterproof, keeping the cool in and the heat out. They take up little space and are great for short adventures.

We looked at Canyon Coolers’ latest Nomad 30 (LINK), AO Coolers Hybrid 24 V2, Yeti Hopper M30 (LINK), and Siberian Coolers new Sidekick Soft 32. All four coolers were roughly the same size. We wanted them to be big enough to hold a few days worth of drinks and snacks, but be small enough to throw in the back seat of your truck. Here is a closer look at each of them.

Canyon Coolers Nomad 30- MSRP $170

Canyon has always been one of the best bang-for-the-buck coolers on the market. This Nomad 30 is no exception. Being the least expensive in the lineup, it also came in holding the most volume inside. The center-zip on the top design I thought was going to create a problem with visualizing items inside, however, they added two large buckles on the side that opens the top up quite a bit. The front of the cooler features a zip pocket that can hold your licenses and wallet, and the back sports a bungee system to keep loose items such as a light jacket. They also include a bottle opener and shoulder strap. More info here.

AO Coolers Hybrid 24 Cooler- MSRP $200

The big open-top design makes it very convenient to see what is inside of the cooler, which makes it one of my favorite in the lineup as far as practicality is concerned. The Hybrid cooler holds a lot of volume for its footprint. It has three pockets, with two of them being big enough for your phone, keys, and other personal items. The third pocket I found pretty small and can’t hold much. I also like the multiple tie-down locations if you wanted to mount it to your UTV.

Yeti Hopper M30- MSRP $300

The Hopper M30 has a tall, slender approach making it the easiest to carry on your shoulder out of all of the coolers tested. Yeti got rid of the zipper on this year’s Hopper and went with magnetic strips. I find this to be a double-edged sword. It makes it a pain to find what you are looking for inside the cooler, but on the flip side, the lid automatically closes, preserving your ice. Yeti also offers several accessories you can attach to the Molle style webbing on the outside. This includes anything from bottle openers, can holders, and waterproof pouches–convenient! More info here.

Siberian Coolers Sidekick 32- MSRP $180

At just ten bucks over the cheapest cooler, the Siberian is a well thought-out design with the zip open lid, and it is tall enough that a 2-liter bottle can stand up in it. On the outside, you will find a relatively large zippered pocket on the front and a small mesh pocket on the back big enough for a phone and your keys. It is the simplest designed cooler out of the bunch, providing a good bang for your buck.

Soft Sided Cooler Testing

We decided to fill these to the brim with ice and let them sit out in the blistering heat to see which one held ice the longest.

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It took four days, but mother nature finally prevailed like she always does. Succumbing to heat first was the AO coolers at four days. Not long after, The Yeti, followed by the Siberian.  The Canyon came out on top for ice retention at 4.8 days.

These coolers endured some significant heat, and external temps hit 166 degrees when measured on the lids. I also filled these coolers to the brim with water and weighed them to get an actual capacity in quarts. You can find the data below.

All in all, a soft-sided cooler should find its way into the back seat of your truck on your next scouting trip. They are an excellent resource to keep drinks and your lunch cool when you don’t want to take a large roto-molded cooler.

Dry Weight Actual Capacity Ice Retention (in days)
Canyon Nomad 30 5 lbs 10oz. 30.2 Quarts 4.8 days
AO Hybrid 24 4 lbs 10oz. 27.6 Quarts 4 days
Yeti Hopper M30 6 lbs 11oz. 29.7 Quarts 4.2 days
Siberian Sidekick 32 4 lbs 5oz. 21.8 Quarts 4.5 days

 

You can comment on this article or ask Travis questions here.

Check out these other cooler tests if you’re looking for a hard-sided cooler.