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OtterBox Trooper 20 Review

An easy opening cooler that offers pretty high-quality insulation in an interesting design and comes with its own multi-tool
OtterBox Trooper 20
Photo: OtterBox
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Price:  $250 List | $179.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Unique leak resistant lid, no difficult-to-use zipper, good insulation, external pocket, included bottle opener/multitool
Cons:  More rigid shape, heavy, no top handle
Manufacturer:   OtterBox
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 15
  • Insulation Value - 30% 8
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Portability - 25% 6
  • Durability - 20% 8

Our Verdict

The OtterBox Trooper 20 joins the growing ranks of soft coolers ditching the tough waterproof zippers for alternative, still watertight, closures. With a latching, plastic flip-top lid, this semi-rigid bag reminds us more of a hard cooler — in a good way. It put up some impressive figures during our insulation testing, proving that it's more than just a cool bag. The Trooper comes with some handy features, like a good-sized external pocket and a bottle-opening multitool. Though its oddly shaped more rigid body isn't the ideal configuration for maximizing the number of cans you can bring, and we wish it had a top handle for easy grabbing, there's much to love about this distinctive model.

Compare to Similar Products

 
OtterBox Trooper 20
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $179.99 at Amazon$238.21 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$100 List$78.95 at Amazon
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Pros Unique leak resistant lid, no difficult-to-use zipper, good insulation, external pocket, included bottle opener/multitoolVery durable construction, excellent insulation, useful handles and features, comfortable shoulder strapDurable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensiveWatertight fabric and zipper, good insulation value, great size to capacity ratio, convenient top handle, great valueSimple and easy to use, decent insulation, folds flat for storage, duffel handles
Cons More rigid shape, heavy, no top handleZippered exterior pocket not waterproof, very largeLearning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pocketsNo external storage options, plastic D rings twist, doesn't come with zipper lubricantShoulder strap a little short, zipper and exterior fabric are not waterproof, less durable materials
Bottom Line An easy opening cooler that offers pretty high-quality insulation in an interesting design and comes with its own multi-toolWhen it comes to the best performance, this model takes home the well-chilled trophyThis backpack-style cooler is our favorite model to carry over longer distancesA watertight cooler that's convenient to use, with above-average insulation for a below-average priceA solid performer that's simple to use, easy to carry, and costs less than most
Rating Categories OtterBox Trooper 20 Engel HD30 IceMule Pro Igloo Reactor Porta... 24 Pack Canvas Cooler
Insulation Value (30%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Portability (25%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Specs OtterBox Trooper 20 Engel HD30 IceMule Pro Igloo Reactor Porta... 24 Pack Canvas Cooler
Measured Capacity (qt) 19.5 qt 32 qt 25 qt 26.5 qt 24 qt
Measured Capacity (cans with no ice) 28 cans 48 cans 39 cans 30 cans 39 cans
Carry Style Messenger Bag Messenger Bag Backpack Messenger Bag Duffel Bag
Internal Maximum Height (in) 12" 13" 17" fully closed
23" max
9.5" 11" fully closed
12.5" max
Fits Standard Wine Bottle Standing Upright? Yes Yes Yes No - will fit on side Yes - some flex required, no zipper strain
Shelf Life of Food (Measured Hours Below 40ºF) 57 hr 73 hr 52 hr 51 hr 55 hr
Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Hours Below 50ºF) 70 hr 79 hr 55 hr 54 hr 63 hr
Measured Weight (lb) 6.8 lb 5.9 lb 3.0 lb 3.1 lb 2.7 lb
Exterior Fabric TPU coated nylon Abrasion-resistant fabric Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon Unspecified water resistant polyester exterior, nylon interior 1000 x 1300D heavy duty polyester with vinyl coating
Closure Method No-zip flip top Zippered top, watertight zip Roll-top Zippered flip top, watertight zip Zippered top
Handles and Straps Shoulder strap, end handles Shoulder strap, end handles, duffel handles Backpack straps, sternum strap Shoulder strap, end handles, top handle Shoulder strap, duffel handles
Additional Storage Yes; 1 medium zippered exterior, daisy chain on back, 2 attachment clips for additional accessories Yes; 1 larger exterior zippered (meant to be waterproof but isn't) No; exterior shock cord panel No Yes; 1 very large zippered exterior pocket
Removable Liner? No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The OtterBox Trooper 20 is a messenger bag style soft cooler with an adjustable padded shoulder strap and two end handles. It has a unique, plastic flip-top lid and latch and features an external 3D zippered pocket and removable multi-tool.

Performance Comparison


Side handles, abrasion resistance, and a flip-top lid make the...
Side handles, abrasion resistance, and a flip-top lid make the OtterBox Trooper a pretty unique cooler
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Insulation Value


Among stiff competition, the OtterBox Trooper holds its own when it comes to insulation. It managed to maintain food-safe temperatures below 40° F for an impressive 57 hours during our intensive hot room testing, simulating real-world use and conditions. This impressive 2+ day performance is well above average across the soft coolers we tested. It then went on to maintain temps below 50° F for a full 70 hours — just shy of 3 full days. Though this doesn't quite live up to OtterBox's claim that the Trooper will "keep ice up to 3 days", we also treat these coolers pretty harshly in our testing, so we think this claim isn't terribly far off, depending on how carefully you prep your contents. The unique plastic lid is fully rimmed by a rubber gasket, effectively sealing in your contents and keeping meltwater contained within.

Comparing results during insulation testing of models 20L and...
Comparing results during insulation testing of models 20L and smaller. The REI Pack Away 24 fits in this group because we tested it in its most convenient configuration -- a cube -- which we measured just under 20L.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


If you've ever tried to operate a waterproof zipper, you know firsthand that they can be difficult to maneuver and often require two hands. OtterBox has done away with the zipper in the Trooper 20, and we love how easy the flip-top lid is to use. We had a few struggles at first, understanding how the latch works, but once we caught on, this cooler is a cinch to open and shut; easily one of our favorites to access its contents. It also has a decent-sized zippered pocket sticking out from the front of the cooler for those extra items that don't need to be chilled. But you won't have to worry about packing a bottle opener, as the Trooper comes with a clip-on multi-tool, including a bottle opener, various sized wrenches, and a regular screwdriver head. It also has a short daisy chain on the back of the cooler, but clipping anything to it interferes with your ability to comfortably carry it. The only thing we miss that the Trooper doesn't have is a handle on top for easier snagging when you're ready to go. When packing this soft cooler full of all our picnicking essentials, we also discovered its shape isn't particularly conducive to maximizing space when loaded full of cans. For mixed food and beverage needs though, it works great.

It took a bit to get used to it, but we really like the easy-to-use...
It took a bit to get used to it, but we really like the easy-to-use plastic latch and flip-top lid on the Trooper.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


The Trooper 20 weighs about 6.8 pounds when empty. This makes it one of the heaviest models we tested, even compared to much larger coolers. We can't say we noticed it too much though, and its medium capacity helps keep it fairly reasonable to carry when it's full. However, the Trooper is more rigid than many other soft coolers we tested and always seems to find a way to bump into some part of our hips or sides in an uncomfortable way when we carried it. Its shoulder padding proves to be less conducive to comfort as well — the bottom section is a thick, water-resistant material that bunches up when bent over the top of your shoulder, creating tall stiff ridges that don't feel particularly pleasant. The side handles are a great alternative to carrying the Trooper for longer distances more comfortably.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Durability


The Trooper is right up there close behind some of the most durable models we tested. It's made of TPU-coated nylon that effectively keeps contents insulated and protected and resists abrasion. The bottom is covered with reinforcing rubber-like material that wraps around the bottom edges, offering additional protection against the bumps and scuffs of life. The plastic lid, latch, and hinges all seem solid and sturdy, as does the rubber seal running around the inside. Even the minor components performed well in our testing, with beefy shoulder strap clips and thick webbing with reinforced seams. We read several online testimonies saying that other users had issues with the plastic lid starting to peel when left in the sun. We left ours sitting in the hot, high-altitude sun for several days to test it and didn't notice any change in the cooler's integrity or appearance.

The bottom of the Trooper is reinforced with abrasion-resistant...
The bottom of the Trooper is reinforced with abrasion-resistant material to help it withstand regular use.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


While we really like the OtterBox Trooper, it's also one of the most expensive models we tested. If you're absolutely in love with this cooler's overall look and performance, its price may be worth the investment for its novel flip-top lid and easy usability. If having the best insulation is most important to you, there are other better insulating soft coolers in our impressive lineup.

Conclusion


The Trooper 20 is a durably built, impressively insulated soft cooler that stands out from the rest for its easy-to-love plastic flip-open lid. If you're all about user-friendliness, the Trooper impresses us and just might be worth the extra investment for something we think you'll love to use.

We greatly appreciate the convenience of the Trooper's lid.
We greatly appreciate the convenience of the Trooper's lid.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg