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This is my new favorite on-the-go cooler

Yeti's backpack cooler is built to go the distance

The Yeti Hopper M12 Backpack Soft Cooler sitting against a tree.
Sam Hill / The Manual

Every soft cooler I’ve ever used has had one of two problems — it doesn’t keep things cool as long as it promises or it’s an awkward shape and absolute pain to lug around. This goes for both entry-level coolers at retail and the one-off promo insulated coolers (I’ve admittedly used too many of these because my wife works in event management and is constantly accumulating them somehow).

Thankfully, I’ve finally found a cooler that will forever dodge both issues: . From one of the most popular cooler companies out there, it’s no surprise that this backpack is ultra-comfy to carry around, keeps everything cool and extremely stylish.

Just the right size

Beers and ciders in the Yeti Hopper M12 Backpack Soft Cooler.
Sam Hill / The Manual

The Hopper backpack cooler comes in two sizes — the M12 and M20, which are large enough to hold 20 and 36 standard canned beverages sans ice, respectively.

The M20 seems a bit excessive (if you’re going to an event with 36 beverages, you’re probably going to be sitting long enough to take a hard top) to me, but the M12 is the absolute perfect size for my typical summer outing. When I’m hitting the Oregon coast for the afternoon or taking a hike under five or so miles with my wife, the Hopper M12 gives me space to carry an ice-cold water bottle along with a small lunch and some extra beverages. I’ve always been a summit beer enthusiast and a big fan of a scenic meal looking out on the Columbia River Gorge, but carrying anything extra in a typical hiking pack doesn’t always work out — sandwiches get smashed, drinks get warm and get everything else wet. Packing the Hopper M12 is a bit like a game of Tetris due to its shape, but once you realize every run is going to look a little different, you’ll get the hang of what it can carry safely.

The Hopper M12 has also been a great cooler for picnics in the park with friends. While it may not have room to pack an entire spread, it has more than enough capacity to contribute to the party.

It can go the distance

Author carrying the Yeti Hopper M12 Backpack Soft Cooler.
Sam Hill / The Manual

My other big gripe with more portable coolers is how uncomfortable some are to carry any significant distance. The more boxy-designed sling coolers are always bouncing against you while you walk, tote coolers require a lot more effort, and some backpack coolers are just too rigid.

While the Hopper M12 does feel tough, it doesn’t fight against you when you’re carrying it. I was surprised at how ergonomic the fit was for carrying the pack an extended distance — it really doesn’t feel much different than the average pack you’d take on a casual hike. The adjustable straps are a tad finicky and it might take you a minute to find the right fit, but once you do, you’ll be set to never adjust it again. I’ve read some reviews online that suggest the pack might be a bit unwieldy for smaller-bodied individuals, so be sure to check the dimensions on Yeti’s store and make sure it works for you.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill is a journalist and editor based in Portland, Ore. When he isn't playing video games for Digital Trends, he's…
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