Hands-on Gear Review

RTIC SoftPak 20 Review

Price:  $110 List
Pros:  Good insulation, durable
Cons:  Frustrating zipper
Bottom line:  Great durability and insulation power at a relatively low price
Editors' Rating:   
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Style:  Lunch-box
Capacity:  20 cans
Exterior Fabric:  Thick Nylon Shell
Manufacturer:   RTIC

Our Verdict

With its new SoftPak line, RTIC is clearly trying to offer a low cost alternative to the YETI Hopper line, and from our point of view they've largely succeeded. The RTIC SoftPak 20 offers about 80% of the insulation performance and 90% of the durability of its YETI counterpart at just 30% 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. These are problems that YETI has already solved, but you'll have to decide whether those solutions are worth the premium price. If you don't mind putting up with some minor annoyances, you can get a very durable and very capable soft cooler in the SoftPak 20.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Soft Coolers of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
OutdoorGearLab Review Team

Last Updated:
Thursday
January 11, 2018

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The RTIC SoftPak 20 offers similar functionality to the YETI Hopper Two 30, but at a much lower price. The YETI is certainly a better overall cooler, but for many having to deal with the relative shortcomings of the SoftPak 20 will be well worth the cost savings.


Performance Comparison


The RTIC SoftPak 20's durability and good insulation performance earned it a fairly high overall score in our testing, as you can see above. We used four different testing metrics to determine those overall scores. You can read about how the RTIC SoftPak 20 performed in each of those metrics below.

Insulation Value


The SoftPak 20 did quite well in our insulation testing, earning it a score of 7 out of 10. This put it just behind the Polar Bear 24 Pack, and a bit further behind the YETI models. It still had a good amount of ice left after 48 hours, and even some tiny flecks remaining after 72 hours. This was far better than most of the models we tested but was bested by a few other coolers. The Polar Bear 24 Pack had about 9 oz of ice left after 72 hours, while both YETI models had about 14 oz. Though it wasn't the very best, the SoftPak 20 is still plenty capable of keeping a bunch of cans cold during a hot, summer outing, or even for a full weekend camping trip.

The SoftPak stayed chilly for 3 days in our testing.
The SoftPak stayed chilly for 3 days in our testing.

Ease of Use


The SoftPak 20 earned a 6 out of 10 in our ease of use testing, which is the lowest score we awarded in this metric. This is for one reason: the zipper. The zipper is completely watertight, but it tends to stick when you try to move it. To the point where we couldn't get it opened after a few burns on a bouldering project. This 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 ponied up and 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 here.

The SoftPak's zipper was the one feature we particularly disliked.
The SoftPak's zipper was the one feature we particularly disliked.

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.

Durability


The SoftPak 20 is well constructed and earned a high score of 8 out of 10 in our durability testing. The only models that scored higher were the two YETI models. In terms of overall construction, we think the YETI models and the SoftPak 20 are nearly identical. Both sport waterproof liners, thick helpings of closed cell foam insulation, and ruggedize nylon and rubber exteriors. Here again, the difference is in the zipper. The SoftPak's zipper sticks so much and requires so much yanking that we have doubt's about its longevity. The YETI, on the other hand, has a smooth zipper that feels like it could keep zipping for years.

The SoftPak's a similar rugged exterior and high quality stitching is similar to those of competing YETI models.
The SoftPak's a similar rugged exterior and high quality stitching is similar to those of competing YETI models.

Portability


The SoftPak 20 was again one step behind the YETI in our portability testing, picking up a score of 7 out of 10. 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 respective shoulder straps.

The Hopper Two 30 feels nearly indestructible.

Value


The RTIC SoftPak 20 lists for $110. This is a great value if you want something super durable and don't want to pay the YETI premium for a nicer zipper and slightly better insulation. However, if you don't need over the top durability, the Polar Bear 24 Pack offers better insulation at a slightly lower price.

Conclusion


The RTIC SoftPak 20 is a great YETI alternative, though it does have some compartive shortcomings in term 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 realtively inexpensive option.

OutdoorGearLab Review Team

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Most recent review: January 11, 2018
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