With its new SoftPak line, RTIC is trying to offer a low-cost alternative to the Yeti Hopper line, and from our point of view, they've largely succeeded. The SoftPak 20 provides about 80% of the insulation performance and 90% of the durability of its Yeti counterpart at just over 35% the price. The SoftPak 20 does have some downsides: its zipper tends to stick and can be annoying, and the boxy shape can be a bit awkward to carry when fully loaded. Sold in several sizes, the SoftPak is a pretty good choice for keeping your beverages cold - at a fraction of the cost of the high-performing coolers from Yeti. For a very similar cooler with one of the highest overall performances in this review, check out the Best Buy award winner, the Homitt 30 Can.
RTIC SoftPak 20 Review
Cons: Frustrating zipper
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RTIC SoftPak 20
|Price||$128.95 at Amazon||$199.99 at Amazon||$299.99 at Backcountry|
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|$99.95 at Amazon||$117.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Good insulation, durable||Very durable construction, excellent insulation, useful handles and features, comfortable shoulder strap||Extremely durable, easy to use, great insulation||Durable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensive||Lid opens fully for easy access, very stable, excellent insulation, comparatively very low cost|
|Cons||Frustrating zipper||Zippered exterior pocket not waterproof, very large||Very expensive, awkward to carry when full for longer distances||Learning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pockets||Boxy construction is less comfortable to carry, zipper is very hard to pull|
|Bottom Line||Great durability and insulation power at a relatively low price.||If you’re looking for the best soft cooler on the market today, look no further than this outstanding model from Engel.||If you're ready to step up your cooler game and you're willing to shell out the money required, this is a good choice.||A very different design than most, but by far our favorite to carry over long distances.||If you’re on the prowl for a cooler that will keep your drinks cold for days and not clean out your bank account, you’ve found a winner!|
|Rating Categories||RTIC SoftPak 20||Engel HD30||YETI Hopper Two 30||IceMule Pro||Homitt 30 Can|
|Insulation Value (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (25%)|
|Specs||RTIC SoftPak 20||Engel HD30||YETI Hopper Two 30||IceMule Pro||Homitt 30 Can|
|Style||Lunch-box||Shoulder Bag||Shoulder Bag||Backpack||Shoulder Bag|
|Capacity||20 cans||48 cans||24 cans||24 cans||40 cans|
|Measured Weight (lbs)||3 lbs||5.9 lbs||5.3 lbs||3 lbs||4 lbs|
|Exterior Fabric||Thick Nylon Shell||Abrasion-resistant fabric||YETI "DRYHIDE" heavy duty rubber||Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon||840D TPU|
|Handle/Strap Design||Carry strap and shoulder strap||Carry handles and shoulder strap||Carry strap and shoulder strap||Ventilated backpack strap||Carry strap and shoulder strap|
|Other Pockets?||Yes, small exterior||Yes, 1 larger exterior zippered (meant to be waterproof but isn't)||No||No; exterior shock cord panel||Yes, 2 small exterior; one mesh, one waterproof zip|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The RTIC SoftPak 20 offers similar functionality to higher-performing, more expensive models like the Yeti Hopper Two 30 and Engel HD30, but at a much lower price. While the Editors' Choice Engel and previous Editors' Choice Yeti are undoubtedly better overall, the RTIC offers a decent product for a much lower cost. Take a look at the overall scores and metrics to determine if the price is worth what you'll sacrifice in performance.
The SoftPak 20 did well in our insulation testing, earning it an above average score. Not nearly as impressive as the Yeti coolers we tested or the incredible top performers, the Engel and Homitt coolers, the RTIC still does a decent job of keeping our refreshments chilled. It still had a good amount of ice left after 48 hours, and even some tiny flecks remaining after 72 hours. The Polar Bear and Yeti models maintained ice-cold temperatures for three days, and the Engel and Homitt both lasted four full days! Though it wasn't the very best, the SoftPak is still plenty capable of keeping a bunch of cans cold during a hot, summer outing, or even for a weekend camping trip.
Ease of Use
The SoftPak 20 earned an average score in our ease of use testing, which is actually among the lowest scores earned in this metric. This fact is for one single, glaring reason: the zipper. The zipper is completely watertight, but it sticks quite spectacularly when you try to move it; it was so sticky that we couldn't get it opened after a few burns on a bouldering project. This issue forced us to stew in the displeasure of our failure while we waited for the pump to subside, unable to get to the frosty conciliation prize the cooler contained. Once we bought some zipper lube, this problem was largely solved. The SoftPak that we purchased did not include any zipper lube; we had to buy it separately. However, some of our readers have reported that RTIC just started including some lube with their recently shipped soft coolers. If you do end up with a SoftPak that doesn't have any zipper lube, you can get some M Essentials Zip Care Liquid Zipper Cleaner.
Apart from the frustrating zipper, the SoftPak 20 is very easy to use. The boxy shape and large opening make packing and unpacking a breeze. In our testing, it also never leaked a drop.
The SoftPak 20 is again one step behind in our portability testing, picking up a slightly above average score, alongside the similarly-shaped Homitt 30 Can. For a cooler, you can hike five miles with without complaining (too much), check out the backpack-style, IceMule Pro, our Top Pick for Long Distance Carrying. The SoftPak 20 isn't particularly hard to carry around, and it has a nice, padded should strap, but its shape can make things a bit awkward if it's fully loaded. A box isn't exactly the most ergonomic shape, and the corners of the cooler can dig into your hip a bit when fully loaded. The comparably sized YETI Hopper Two 30 uses a more tapered shaper that hangs at the waist more comfortably. Below you can see how the SoftPak 20 (left) and the YETI Hopper Two 30 (right) fall when carried using their shoulder straps.
The SoftPak 20 is well constructed and earned a high score in our durability testing, right alongside our Best Buy award winner, the Homitt 30 Can. The only models that scored higher were the Engel and the two Yeti models. When it comes to overall construction, the SoftPak 20 is well-designed and durable. It sports a waterproof liner with thick helpings of closed cell foam insulation, and ruggedize nylon and rubber exterior. Here again, the difference is in the zipper. The SoftPak's zipper sticks so much and requires so much yanking that we have doubts about its longevity.
The RTIC is a pretty versatile and durable cooler that doesn't make you ask "how much??" three times before you buy it. Though it didn't score as well as the similarly sized and shaped, Homitt 30, the RTIC is still a pretty good option for all kinds of things like car camping, road trips, and taking frozen treats to the kids when you pick them up from summer camp.
The SoftPak 20 offers decent value if you want something super durable and don't want to pay the Yeti, or even the Engel premium for a nicer zipper and better insulation. However, the very similar Homitt 30 Can offers better insulation and a less obnoxious zipper - at a slightly lower price.
The RTIC SoftPak 20 is a great Engel or Yeti alternative, though it does have a couple of shortcomings in terms of insulation performance and zipper design. If you want something incredibly durable that can live in the back of your truck or car, this is a relatively inexpensive option.
— Maggie Brandenburg