Choose Between A Soft-sided and Hard-sided Cooler for Ice Cold Drinks

A cooler is one necessary item to have in your kitchen or when going on a trip outside of the home. There are basically two types of coolers you can choose from. They are the Soft-sided and Hard-sided coolers.

But, coming to a final decision on the type of cooler to buy can have you in a state of dilemma. However, the decision on whether to get a soft-sided or hard-sided cooler dependent on one factor: What will you use the cooler for? Sure, a cooler is typically used to keep things cool.

But then, you must look at the other side: how long will you keep your items cool? Which do you need to cool? You need to answer these questions must before making that final decision on the cooler type that suits your needs.

To get better insight before choosing which type to buy, let us look at the functions of each cooler type and their characteristics.

Soft-Sided Coolers

Soft-sided coolers are not constructed from hard plastic components according to the Cooler Talks website. Hence, the name soft coolers. They can function in so many ways, hence their versatile features. This type of cooler is used in your daily routine environment. Be it the rugged conditions of the jungle during a camping trip, the excitement of a sports event, or the physical training atmosphere of a gym, a soft-sided cooler fits in.

In short, their versatility makes soft-sided rollers popular among folks who engage in a lot of outdoor activities. A soft-sided cooler, however, cannot keep your drinks cool for long periods.

In addition to versatility, other great features of soft-sided coolers are:


This is closely intertwined with the lightweight design of soft-sided coolers. Soft-sided coolers also comes along with quality shoulder straps which makes it even more portable.

Soft-sided coolers are akin to the typical backpacks you carry around on a trip. The weight is evenly spread, so you do not feel the pinch on your shoulders when carrying it about. The shoulder straps make for easy carriage and free your hands to carry additional items you might need. Portability and convenience in one cooler.

Lightweight design

It goes without saying that soft-sided coolers are lighter in weight than hard-sided coolers. The outside of soft-sided coolers is made from vinyl or fabric materials. This contrasts with the rotomolded plastic components of hard-sided coolers.

The lightweight design means that soft-sided coolers are not ideal for carrying too many items for cooling. In other words, their weight capacity is very small. The small weight capacity of this type of means you can carry it about easily.

Easy Storage

A soft-sided cooler has one feature that makes it a popular choice over the hard-sided cooler. They can be folded easily. In other words, they are collapsible. The bulky and rigid construction of hard-sided coolers make them quite cumbersome to carry around and they take up so much storage space. If you have a small space, you would want to get a soft-sided cooler. You can easily fold or roll up a soft-sided cooler. This ensures that you can store more of your stuff in a small storage space unlike when you purchase a hard-sided cooler.

Hard-sided Coolers

Hard-sided coolers are the exact opposite of soft-sided coolers. They are more suited to very rugged environments and can keep the items you need to stay cold for very long periods of time. This makes them the best option when embarking on lengthy trips. The unique characteristics of hard-sided college are:

Durable Construction

Hard-sided coolers are constructed from rotomolded plastic components. This makes them last for a good number of years in comparison to soft-sided coolers. The hard-plastic material used in their construction makes them the perfect choice if you spend a lot of time on camping trips or outdoor adventures.

This is because they can withstand impacts from harsh, tugged terrains than soft-sided coolers.  Overexposure of soft-sided coolers to the extreme climatic conditions results in wear and tear within a short period of time. In contrast, hard-sided coolers can last for long even when put through the same conditions.

Greater Cooling ability

Unlike soft-sided coolers, hard-sided coolers can keep the items you want to be cooled for a very long period. In other words, they have a much better ice retention ability than soft-sided coolers. This greater ice retention ability is generally taken for granted when it comes to hard-sided coolers, but it depends on the brand you buy. However, hard-sided coolers are better ice retainers.

More Weight Capacity

One great feature of hard-sided coolers is their above-average weight capacity. A standard hard-sided cooler is designed to carry a good amount of food and drinks without bending or breaking from the load pressure. This is unlike the soft-sided coolers that are very light and portable. Overloading a soft-sided cooler would only result in the shoulder belts getting spoilt and your shoulder muscles been strained. That is why soft-sided coolers have a particular weight capacity. This is in terms of how many bottles or cans they can carry on the average.

Hard-sided coolers are ideal when you want to go for big crowd events, as you can keep many drinks cool for very long periods. Hard-sided coolers come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small to very large. So, you choose which size best suits your needs best.

Which to Choose?

Making a decision on choosing between a soft-sided and a hard-sided cooler is usually down to what your needs are. Before coming to a final decision on your personal choice, you must consider factors such as ice retention ability, size, durability, weight capacity, and ruggedness.

Most importantly, after taking note of these factors, be sure you always go for quality above anything. Irrespective of whether you buy a soft-sided or hard-sided cooler. The factors we have covered above will be helpful in making your choice easier.


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