A cooler bag is a brilliant way to keep your food and drink fresh on the way to work, a summer picnic, or a beach barbeque. To make the shopping process easier, we've put together a buying guide and a list of our top ten favourites, rated according to practicality, capacity, and value for money.
Whether you're after a small lunch bag to take to the office or a large backpack that can fit enough food for the whole family, check out our recommended products to buy at Amazon and eBay. We'll help you find the coolest cooler bag on the internet this year!
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This section will explain all about the different types of cooler bag you can buy, including their pros and cons. Follow our advice to find the bag of your dreams, suited to your personal picnicking needs.
Firstly, let's think about how you plan to carry your cooler bag around. Will you be walking far with it or using a car to get to your destination? If you'll carrying it for most of your journey, you'll want to consider the style of strap(s) it has and how well the weight is distributed.
Many cooler bags have a simple handle that allows you to transport them by hand from a car to a picnic bench. While this type of strap is fine for a short walk, handles like this just won't cut it when it comes to longer distances.
On the plus side, some styles have a soft fabric covering and velcro wrap so that two separate handles can be fastened together easily, keeping the weight of the bag balanced and easing friction on your palms. Definitely look out for this type of strap if you require a bit of added comfort for your hands!
Cooler bags with shoulder straps are perfect for carrying on slightly longer journeys, as they distribute the weight more evenly across your body. Look out for straps that fasten with metal clips, as these are less likely to buckle than ones that are stitched on.
You may also want to keep an eye out for a strap with an adjustable length if your cooler bag will be carried by different family members over the course of the day.
Backpack-style cooler bags are great for travelling really long distances on foot, especially if you suffer from a bad back. They're also ideal if you're carrying a whole picnic's worth of food rather than just a sandwich!
With two straps, they're worn exactly like a normal rucksack and allow you to comfortably move around with the weight carefully distributed across your torso. No pulled muscles or pain for you if you opt for one of these bags!
For those who love to sneak an extra bottle of booze into a gig or garden party, we think a specially-made wine cooler bag is a fantastic invention! These long, thin bags are designed to look like a stylish handbag, but are insulated so they'll keep your bottles chilled until it's time to drink.
As we're sure you can imagine, this type of cooler bag isn't suitable for travelling long distances, due to its short handle and fragile contents!
Next up, let's think about the dimensions of the cooler bag, to ensure that it can accommodate everything that you need it to. This will also help you to work out if it'll fit into your car boot or bicycle pannier.
Cooler bags around 15cm wide are best for personal use - lunch on the go for just you, in other words. Tall, thin cool bags with a height of 30-35cm are a good call if you want to transport wine bottles to a picnic rather than food.
Bags with a length and width of around 30cm are essential if you have a large family to feed - they're spacious enough for several tupperware snack boxes and a few drink cans, plus they usually have space at the sides for sweets, cutlery, and other small bits.
Sometimes it can be easier to work out how practical your cooler bag will be based on its capacity rather than the dimensions.
Bags with a capacity of up to 5 litres are best for individual use or a simple packed lunch for two. If you're travelling with a larger group, aim for a capacity of 15-30 litres. 15 is about right for a smaller picnic, 25 gives you room for some extra beers, and 30 is plenty for a picnic party with family and friends.
It's worth bearing in mind that a cooler bag with a larger capacity will be pretty heavy though, especially if you pack lots of booze!
You can never go wrong with extra spaces for additional bits and pieces, right? Netted side pockets are a great place to store a can of Coke or your child's water bottle. A zip at the front can also provide space for cutlery - check out our product reviews to see which of our picks come with elasticated space for knives and forks, making life even easier!
Of course, while having a designated space for every part of your picnic suits super-organised folks a treat, many of us are totally content with a cooler bag that has just one large compartment for everything. So, have a think about what you prefer before you start shopping!
Click to purchase
Insulated Cool Bag Rucksack
Insulated, Ergonomic, and Sturdy
Insulated Soft Cooler Bag with Hard Liner
An Adjustable, Leak-Proof Design
Insulated Wine Tote Carrier
Sneak Wine Into Events Without Losing Your Cool
Individual Cool Bag
Keeps Your Lunch Fresh and Secure
Radiance Cooler - Navy
A Durable, Water-Resistant Bag
Large Insulated Lunch Cooler Bag
Spacious and Super Lightweight
Small Insulated Cool Lunch Box Bag
Small Enough to Fit Your Sandwich and a Few Snacks
Lunch Box Insulated Cooler Bag
A Smart, Streamlined Design With Extra Pocket Space
Recycled Insulated Lunch Box Tote Cooler Bag
A Bold Pattern That'll Bring Cheer to Your Picnic
Large Insulated Foldable Cooler Bag - Navy
Sleek and Secure, With a Foldaway Handle
For an even distribution of weight that won't cause you any issues when walking around, we recommend this sturdy cooler backpack with padded straps. It can hold 4 large bottles of wine, 24 medium beer cans, or a whole feast in terms of food. There's plenty of room in the top, side, and front zip pockets for extra items too!
We love the fact that one strap has a multi-functional bottle opener attached, while the other has a spacious zip pocket for your bank card or smartphone. Best of all, the simple colour scheme and minimalist design mean you'll always look stylish with this bag on your back!
This cooler bag is undoubtedly built to last, with sides that are seamlessly hot-pressed together rather than sewn. This means there's absolutely no chance of leaks, even if ice cubes melt or lids come unscrewed on your pre-picnic journey!
The soft velcro cover keeps the straps of this bag conveniently together and is gentle on your palms. There's also an adjustable shoulder strap, so you can use your whole body to take the weight if that's easier. The netted side pockets are a brilliant extra feature and the ultra-thick lining keeps food beautifully cool for hours.
This is the ultimate gift for any wine lover - it's just a shame it doesn't come with a complimentary bottle of vino! Though it won't be able to hold your entire picnic, it really is perfect for taking extra alcohol along to special occasions without raising too many eyebrows.
If you do choose to opt for one of these bags, you'll be able to carry two large bottles of wine at a time, supported by a strap that clips into place using reliable metal fastenings that won't buckle or weaken. The sailor stripe pattern adds a whimsical touch too!
To transport your chilled treats around without any trouble, pick this nifty cooler bag. The firm walls mean it holds its shape better than other products on our list, and the zip-up lid makes it practical too.
As well as an adjustable shoulder strap, this bag has a heat-sealed lining - so it'll keep the temperature of your food and drinks the same for long periods of time. Just the ticket for avoiding warm yogurts and melted choc!
Probably the biggest selling point of this cooler bag is the fact that it's made from insulated polythene, so it's wonderfully durable. The rectangular shape also means it can fit neatly into the boot of a car if you're going on a road trip.
The simple shoulder strap makes it convenient for walking around with once you've reached your destination, and the front zip is ideal for storing cutlery, napkins, and other accessories. This water-resistant bag is practical and ideal for adventures in the great outdoors!
This cooler bag is not only a bargain, it looks funky too! It has a large main space that's insulated with a thick aluminium layer, plus stretchy net side pockets for cans or small bottles. It also has a front zip area that's useful for tucking away cutlery or napkins.
Transportation-wise, this bag has two handles which can be connected together using velcro for ease of use, as well as a long, adjustable shoulder strap if you'd prefer to distribute the weight across your body. All in all, it's very convenient and spacious, whilst being incredibly lightweight.
If you want an eye-catching bag for your personal nibbles, this should be your go-to pick! Just the right size for alfresco dining alone or keeping your packed lunch cool at work, this product looks fab and serves its purpose perfectly.
This bag is available to buy in a range of designs and can either be carried around handbag style or slotted into a larger bag, but it's so lovely that we reckon you'll want to keep it on display!
This cooler bag has enough space for 12 cans and can be carried either by hand or using the shoulder strap. The adjustable straps click firmly into place with metal hooks, meaning you can walk a decent distance knowing that your snacks will sit tight.
Another benefit of this bag is the fact that it has additional storage space in the form of a handy front zip with three elastics for a knife, spoon, and fork. It also has side pockets where you could pop a water bottle or a folded anorak.
How cute is this cheerful floral cooler bag? It has one main compartment that you can fill with up to 8.5 litres of food or drink. The textured handle may not be the comfiest to carry on long walks, but we'd say the colourful design makes up for that!
The aluminium foil lining keeps the contents nicely chilled, and the small dimensions mean this bag could easily fit in a bicycle basket if two wheels are your jam. Available in a range of patterns, this cooler bag would make a charming gift for an outdoorsy friend.
Lightweight and stylish, this 30 litre capacity cooler bag can be filled up with enough treats and drinks for the whole family. The sturdy metal handle folds away, making it very practical - but this also means that it's not necessarily the most comfortable bag to carry around all day.
With just one large compartment for all of your food, this bag won't suit those who like a meticulously organised space. Still, it's a reasonably-priced product from a top outdoor brand.
You can never have too many picnic accessories, especially if you've got lots of mouths to feed! Check out the links below for more of our favourite products designed especially for outdoor dining.
Well, now we've come to the end of our guide to buying a cooler bag. We hope you've been inspired to get outdoors and enjoy some tasty nibbles in the warmth of the sun - when it comes out, that is! Using our tips, you'll be able to find a practical, affordable bag that'll keep your snacks nice and chilled.
Author: Annie Hopkins
No. 1：Pengda｜Insulated Cool Bag Rucksack
No. 2：Lifewit｜Insulated Soft Cooler Bag with Hard Liner
No. 3：Kato Tirrinia ｜Insulated Wine Tote Carrier
No. 4：Thermos｜Individual Cool Bag
No. 5：Thermos｜Radiance Cooler - Navy
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