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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
12oz Beer Cans
12oz Skinny Cans (Truly, White Claw etc)
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.
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.
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:
- The zipper just feels strange and not sturdy.
- The zipper handle is just string whereas most bags these days have a solid plastic/rubber zipper grip.
- The opening is too narrow – this causes issues when filling and when looking for specific food/drink items.
- 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.
Hydro Flask Backpack Cooler 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)
Yeti Hopper M20
Hydro Flask Backpack vs Yeti Backflip 24 (old model)
Yeti Hopper Backflip 24
Performance Over Time
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.
- 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.