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Hydro Flask Backpack Cooler Review – Is It Good?

The Hydro Flask Backpack Cooler is a logical addition to the product range of a company known for producing top-quality insulated water bottles. It’s a 20L bag that can hold up to 36 12oz cans. This is a cooler that has been requested frequently, so we picked one up and ran it through our testing process.

Let’s take a look and find out if the Hydro Flask 20L Backpack Cooler is actually any good.

Hydro Flask Backpack Cooler 20L

Hydro Flask 20L Backpack

A backpack cooler from the company renowned for double walled, vacuum insulated water bottles. If their bottles can keep liquid cold for up to 24 hours how will their cooler perform?
  • Ice Retention - 8/10
  • Design - 8/10
  • Construction - 8/10
  • Durability - 7/10
  • Comfort - 9/10
  • Versatility - 7/10
  • Features - 7/10
  • Can Capacity - 9/10
  • Value for Money - 8/10
  • Real World Performance - 8/10
  • Great price point 💵
  • Multiple carry options 🎒
  • Doesn't pull you off balance
  • Strap system & backplate are really comfortable
  • Great option for day trips
  • Narrow opening 🤌
  • Hard to find what you want when full 🙈
  • Hard to pack as it doesn't stay open 📦
  • Zipper isn't as heavy duty as other coolers (RTIC or Tourit) 🤐
  • Dry storage pouch is an additional cost 💸
Final Rating

Technical Details

  • Capacity
  • Weight
    3lbs when empty
  • Exterior Dimensions (H x D x W)
    17.70″ H x 7.80″ D x 13.00″ W
  • Materials
    600D polyester shell, BPA free-liner
  • Warranty
    5 year
  • Returns
    30 days
  • Colors Available
    2 different color options – Peppercorn (gray) or Talus (blue/green)

Full Review

Hydro Flask Cooler on beach
Hydro Flask 20L

Ice Retention Tests

We have yet to run our ice retention test for the Hydro Flask backpack cooler. This section will be updated with the results showing how long the cooler can hold ice for as soon as we have performed our tests.

Hydro flask claim that the backpack cooler can keep your items cold for 36 hours.

Design, Construction & Durability


The whole Hydro Flask cooler range is styled very similarly to the more expensive, Yeti soft coolers. Two-tone color scheme, exactly the same strap setup, and similar size options. That being said they do not have the matte look that is present on the Yeti bags, they have gone for the shiny, waterproof material look that looks and feels similar to the material used for rubber boats.


– The main body of the cooler is made from 600D polyester.

– The base of the bag has a slightly tougher, skid plate to protect it from the ground.

– TRU® Zip zipper – A waterproof, dust-proof zipper system that does not have teeth, like a regular zipper but is engineered to require less pulling force while letting less heat in. Some customers seem to have had issues with the zipper coming apart but Hydro Flask claim it’s easy to realign the zipper and slide it back on. We didn’t experience any issues but the zipper loop is a lot less sturdy than those found on the RTIC or Tourit models. 

Carry Options

The bag features 3 carry strap options including:

  • Nicely padded backpack shoulder straps with chest clip.
  • Sturdy, top level single handle with comfortable grip.
  • Double, top handles for maneuverability.
Hydro Flask cooler features

This backpack cooler has a durable baseplate to protect from skids and scrapes during use. 

The material has lasted really well despite regular usage. 

Comfort While Carrying

Hydro Flask backpack cooler straps
Hydro Flask backpack cooler padding

The 20L Hydro Flask backpack cooler is very comfortable to carry, even when full. 

  • The chest strap height is adjustable
  • The main straps are not detachable (like the Tourit Voyagers are)

I really like the fact that the bag narrows at the top so it feels a lot less bulky than similarly priced options from RTIC and Tourit. Although the RTIC backpack cooler does offer a waist belt and has a lot more padding to that bag is still top of our most comfortable backpack cooler list.


  • TRU® Zip zipper is watertight and the welded seams make sure that no water can get in and no water can get out.

  • I haven’t done the float test yet but it should float.


Every backpack cooler has a different set of features, from dry storage pockets, unique zipper options, additional carry straps, etc. Let’s take a look at the most notable features of the Hydro Flask 20L cooler.

Detachable Dry Storage Pouch
Zipper not as heavy duty as other bags

*Additional Cost*

Hydro Flask Dry Storage Pockets

While I love the idea of providing dry storage for your non-chilled goods, I do not like that this doesn’t come as standard with the bag. 

They offer three sizes: small, medium, and large. 

Priced at $39-95 – $49.95 its simply too expensive for an add-on. 

In my opinion for a cooler in this price range it should come with at least the small size and then offer the larger sizes as an upgrade.

With all that being said, the pouch itself is great quality.

A logical addition for a bag from a company known for it’s water bottles. 

While this side pocket can be used for several things it is clearly designed for a large (up to 64oz) water bottle.

True Can Capacity

How many cans will it hold? A key deciding factor when choosing a cooler. Manufacturers make claims that can sometimes be confusing, does the number include ice, is that using special cool packs? We test our coolers to give you can totals for different can sizes and varying levels of ice included. So how many drinks can the BackTap hold?

Their website states that it can hold 36 cans without ice.

Hydro Flask cooler 36 cans

12oz Beer Cans

No Ice
5lbs Ice
10lbs Ice

12oz Skinny Cans (Truly, White Claw etc)

No Ice
5lbs Ice
10lbs Ice

Value For Money

At the time of writing, the Hydro Flask 20L Day Escape Cooler is priced at $199.95 on both their website and Amazon. 

This price point puts it slightly more expensive than two of our favorite options – the RTIC Backpack Cooler ($179.99) & the Tourit Voyager ($179.99).

The price positioning in the market is in line with the premium pricing of Hydro Flasks water bottles. That being said it still puts it a whole $125 cheaper than the Yeti equivalent.

This bag is worth the money but if I had to choose, personally I would save $20 and pick the RTIC or Tourit as I prefer the flip top style of backpack cooler.

backpack cooler 36 cans

Real World Performance

The biggest thing that will probably be an issue for people with this bag is the opening at the top. 

Here are the issues I’ve found:

  1. The zipper just feels strange and not sturdy.
  2. The zipper handle is just string whereas most bags these days have a solid plastic/rubber zipper grip.
  3. The opening is too narrow – this causes issues when filling and when looking for specific food/drink items.
  4. The lack of insulation at the top (and no roll top) hurts the bags ability to keep heat out.

Outside of that the bag itself feels like it’s built to last, it’s one of the lighter bags at the in this tier of cooler, and it’s very comfortable to carry.

I also like the fact that it’s not particularly deep and narrows towards the top so it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to pull you over as can be the case, at times, with the RTIC Backpack Cooler when it’s full. As you can see from the comparison below, the Hydro Flask is over 2 inches narrower at the base than the RTIC.

Can you bring a hydro flask bottle on a plane

Hydro Flask Cooler Depth Comparison

Hydro Flask Backpack Cooler Vs Yeti

Hydro Flask Backpack Vs Yeti

As with most of the backpack coolers that we test, most people want to know how the Hydro Flask Backpack stacks up against the similar offering from the market leaders, Yeti.

Yeti has recently discontinued what most people think of as the Yeti Backpack Cooler (the Yeti Hopper BackFlip 24). You can still purchase them from secondary retailers so we’ll compare the Hydro flask to both options. 

The current backpack cooler from Yeti is called the Hopper M20 and is one of the best (and priciest) options on the market.

Hydro Flask Backpack vs Yeti Hopper M20 (current model)

Hydro Flask

  • Price


  • Can Capacity

    36 cans with no ice

  • Weight (empty)


  • Keeps Ice For:

    30 hours

Yeti Hopper M20

  • Price


  • Can Capacity

    36 cans with no ice

  • Weight (empty)


  • Keeps Ice For:

    36 hours

Hydro Flask Backpack vs Yeti Backflip 24 (old model)

Hydro Flask

  • Price


  • Can Capacity

    36 cans with no ice

  • Weight (empty)


  • Keeps Ice For:

    30 hours

Yeti Hopper Backflip 24

  • Price

    Discontinued but if you can find it - $300-400

  • Can Capacity

    30 cans with no ice

  • Weight (empty)


  • Keeps Ice For:

    26 hours

Performance Over Time

Bottom Line

A very well-manufactured backpack cooler that is fitting of the Hydro Flask brand.

I like the form factor, the quality of materials, and stitching, and that there are options for additional dry storage pockets. I’m also not the biggest fan of the zipper (especially the part you grasp to open), or the narrow opening.

I don’t like that the additional storage is extra (it should come with at least the smaller dry pocket for this price). 

Ultimately, I do think there are better options at this price point but if you are a fan of the brand and are looking for a backpack cooler for day trips to the beach, a day hike, or even to go to Disneyland/Disneyworld (it is under the size limit) then this will work for you.

Initial Usage

  • Quality feel
  • Tight connective points
  • Tap button pops back nicely

After 2 Weeks

  • No new issues

After 1 Month

  • No change – Bag is holding up well after multiple uses.