Travel Tips

This Spacious Cooler Backpack Will Save Your Back and Shoulders From Lugging Around Drinks and Snacks All Summer Long

Photo: W+G Creative
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Spring has sprung across the country, which has many of us daydreaming about outdoor adventures galore. Sun-drenched beach trips, hikes on shady trails, warm strolls in the park—Spring Fever has officially set in, and we can't wait to get outside again.

What we can wait for? Lugging a heavy cooler full of snacks and beverages to all of these outdoor festivities. Few things kill a vibe quicker than dragging a cooler loaded with ice, drinks, food, and other provisions across a hot, sandy beach or up a rocky mountain trail. Not unless you don't mind arriving drenched in sweat with a sore back and even more sore shoulders... Ouch.

Do yourself a favor and don't do the dreaded "drag" this summer. Save your bones and get the Yeti Hopper M20 Cooler Backpack ($325) instead—your shoulders and sanity will thank you. Read our full review below.

Yeti, Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler — $325.00

Load this baby up with snacks and drinks, throw it on your back, and go on your merry way. Your stuff will still be cold by the time you get wherever you’re going, and your body won’t ache. Available in navy, yellow, and hot pink.

Yeti M20 Hopper review: Why we love it

I don't know how you'd miss it, but ICMYI, Yeti reigns supreme over all of cooler land for its ridiculously tough, cold-conserving products. While its classic hard coolers really do keep ice frozen and provisions cold for—no exaggeration—days on end, they're heavy as hell. Filled with ice, and you better be strong (or have a strong buddy) to get them where you need to go.

For the day hikes and last-minute picnics where you need something less bulky but just as cold, you simply can't go wrong with the Hopper M20. With a 20 liter capacity (or a 30, if you want its big brother, the Yeti Hopper M30 ($350)), it's roomy enough to stash a day's worth of water, spiked seltzers, or whatever else you want to pack along on your trek. Only it fits on your back, freeing up your arms and balancing your body weight for maximum comfort. So long, sore shoulders.

Most of its comfort comes from its lightweight, soft design. It swaps the hard, molded plastic for a durable soft shell that's water-resistant, UV-proof, and easy to clean. Its body fits comfortably against your back, giving you hands-free access on your park stroll or trail hike, while its padded shoulder straps keep them from digging in or weighing you down in the wrong places.

Fit aside, it gets the job done. Even on hours-long road trips or treks through the woods, you can expect your food and drinks to be just as cool when you put them in as when you're sitting down for lunch. That's thanks to the closed cell-foam technology each M20 Hopper is insulated with that keeps cold temps from thawing en route.

Arguably our favorite part has to be the magnetic top that keeps the cold (and melted ice) inside the cooler where it should be. Yeti's first model of the Hopper featured a sealed zip-up top that definitely did its job of keeping things cold, but was tough to unzip. (These sealed zippers are infamously difficult to open across models and brands for similar reasons—they're so warmth-proof, you have to grease them with an ointment just to get the zipper to slide.)

Your muscles will be glad to know that the M20's zipper has been replaced with a simple magnetic closure that seals closed with a light push. It can be rolled down and buckled shut for extra protection on the road, too, never leaking or letting in air while you move.

The only downside to this bright and beautiful backpack? It's on the expensive side. The Hopper M20 starts at $325, a pretty penny for any accessory. But given its integrity and Yeti-ingrained toughness, it's well worth the splurge. Well+Good Senior Growth Editor Jamie Thilman has had an older model (the one with the zip) for a few years now, and it still gets the job done, no matter where he brings it.

"Yeti's backpack cooler fits a full picnic, including a bottle of wine standing upright, and keeps everything ice cold even on the hottest summer day," says Thilman. "If I need to carry food and drink for a larger crowd, I take my rolling Tundra Haul ($400), but the Hopper M20 backpack cooler keeps my hands free—to hold a dog leash, to push a stroller, or to help keep my balance while hiking—and easily goes wherever I can go. It's ergonomically designed with thick straps for easy carrying and a flat bottom that keeps it upright while loading and unloading."

If your Spring Fever-induced planning is well underway, don't forget to add this cool cooler to your list. Your back and shoulders will thank, as will your spiked seltzers.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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