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The backpack cooler from RTIC is renowned for being one of the best innovations in camping and picnicking in recent years.
The RTIC backpack cooler is manufactured and distributed in the United States by the American company RTIC Outdoors.
Based in Houston, Texas, and founded by brothers Jim and John Jacobsen, RTIC quickly became the leading direct-to-consumer company, in the field of insulated coolers, drinkware, travel bags, tumblers, bottles, and other outdoor products for adventure enthusiasts.
In 2020, RTIC Outdoors was involved in an acquisition by Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm.
RTIC Lightweight Backpack Cooler
RTIC Backpack Cooler
Perhaps one of their most well-known products is the backpack cooler, a hard-bodied cooler that has adjustable straps to be carried on the back like a pack.
A perfect accessory for camping, going on picnics, hiking, and attending events like music festivals and beach parties, the backpack cooler means food and drink can be transported at the right temperature, without having to carry a cumbersome chest cooler on your trip.
Of course, the backpack cooler has many features that make it truly unique as a product.
RTIC backpack coolers can generally hold around 20 cans of soda or beer, or the equivalent amount of small food items, snacks, or small sandwiches, including room for ice packs and cubes.
This makes them perfect for day trips to the beach or other family activities which could otherwise be hampered by having your hands full with a large cooler.
Of course, one worry might be that the cooler is uncomfortable to carry on your back. However, the backpack cooler is specifically designed by RTIC to not only be comfortable to carry but also ergonomically designed for the human back for better weight distribution.
This makes it feel more like a high-end backpack, as opposed to a cooler.
Available in six colors, including seafoam green, black, coral, blue/gray, tan, and slate blue, the backpack cooler looks attractive, whilst weighing only 8 pounds when unfilled.
The backpack is compact and simplistic, blending style with substance to make it as ergonomic as it is an effective cooler.
It also boasts a highly durable construction, made from hard-wearing materials (like a nylon shell) to ensure longevity, protection from damage and falling over, and that your food and beverages don’t get broken or smashed after any potential impacts.
The backpack is also 100% waterproof, with the welded seams ensuring no unexpected spillages ruin your day or your wardrobe. This also makes it a suitable choice for adventure hikes, where there is a need to wade through deeper waters, like rivers, lakes, and streams.
Perhaps the most important thing, the backpack remains cool and holds ice for up to 24 hours, giving you ample time to travel, trek, or hike, and still have cool refreshments at the end of the trail.
The weight of the cooler without food or drinks inside of it comes to 8 pounds.
The dimensions, in terms of length, width, and height, are 16 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 6.25 inches high (from back to front).
20, 30, Or 40 Can Backpacks: Our Review
As well as the above-mentioned 20-can backpack cooler, there are also larger models capable of holding 30 and 40 cans of soda or beer.
But what are the differences?
Of course, most people aren’t likely to use the coolers just for beer or soda, which is where the price differences become more useful.
For carrying food items, as well as the ice required to cool them down, the larger models might be more efficient, especially for larger families with children who may have more snacks throughout the day.
The sizing guide can be unusual, as it is qualified in the number of cans it can hold, but this roughly equates to:
- 20-can backpack – The 20-can pack can hold 20 pounds of ice, as well as have room for a sandwich and snacks.
- 30-can backpack – The 30-can pack can hold 30 pounds of ice, and allows room or another substantial amount of food – perhaps equivalent to two or three people.
- 40-can backpack – this holds 40 pounds of ice, and has enough room to cater to a family of four, or a couple with a whole day’s hike and several meals ahead of them.
All three variations of the backpack look alike and are built to the same specifications. This means that whichever you choose, you are getting the same promise of quality and functionality.
There are also several ways to carry them to suit any eventuality. This can be like a backpack, handheld using the top handle, and the shoulder strap allows you to easily carry it and keep hold of it when sitting down (such as on public transport).
Value For Money Comparison
As the performance is equally as good on all three variations, this can’t be the qualifying factor in terms of value.
This ultimately comes down to your personal needs as the consumer. As I have already mentioned, a single user might find the 30 and 40-can backpacks too big, and thus ineffective for the money they will have paid.
Similarly, a family of 4 would find the 20-can backpack too small, and equally unsuitable for their needs.
What has to be assessed is your family size, the type of activity you want to use it for, and the frequency of trips you will be taking it on.
If it is something you and your family will use regularly, then spend the money and buy the large one, as it will pay dividends.
However, if you are planning to only use it on rare occasions when you need to pack some snacks for a walk or day trip, maybe just manage with the smaller backpack, pay the lower price, and use it as an emergency cooler for snacks and drinks.
RTIC Soft Pack Sling Cooler 15 Can
Ultimately, I think it can be said that the 20-can backpack is the best of the three, as it provides ample storage and cooling capabilities to suit most day trips and hikes.
Coolers are generally required for day use, and not multiple days, and as such the need for a large, more cumbersome model is diminished.
The 20-can model is not only capable of most storage and cooling needs, but it is compact, sturdy, lighter, and much cheaper than the larger models, making it a great all-rounder to suit most eventualities.
Frequently Asked Questions
To sum up, the review, let’s go over some frequently asked questions to cover all the bases.
How Long Does It Stay Cold?
The 20-can backpack can hold ice for a total of 24 hours. This is guaranteed, and whilst it might last longer, that should not be relied upon.
That being said, 24 hours should suit most requirements.
Is Price Important?
Price is certainly a deciding factor in most people’s purchasing decisions, and the RTIC backpack cooler is no different.
However, whilst it is possible to find cheaper coolers on the market, few promise the ease, usability, storage options, and longevity of the RTIC.
Ultimately, it is important to once again weigh and assess your needs by how much you are prepared to spend.
If you are going on hikes or long day trips (like Disneyland), then a backpack is more suited.
However, if you are requiring something for an occasional camping trip where the cooler will remain in the tent, then there are certainly cheaper alternatives available that offer ample cooling and storage capabilities.
Is Durability Important?
That too depends on the criteria you have. There are plenty of soft-bodied coolers on the market, and they are perfect for keeping your lunch cool at work, or for small day trips where you would need cold drinks or snacks.
However, hikers and campers should opt for something sturdy and durable that will stop their food and drinks from getting damaged when walking over rugged terrain and inclines.
And there you have it, everything you need to know about RTIC backpack coolers.
The main takeaways from this are preferences, plans, and research.
If you need it for personal use, then opt for the smaller size (or vice versa). If you plan to use it for outdoor use and adventure vacations, then this might be for you. And finally, always conduct your research and read the views.
When put against your own needs, the reviews can be helpful to see whether a product will be right for you, and could save you a boatload of money in the long run.
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