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If you're looking for a day trip cooler for water play, the RTIC Soft Pack Coolers 20, 30, and 40 Cans are a reasonable choice. All three of these options float like a buoy and are sized for everyday carry. However, the hard-sided RTIC 45 QT and 65 QT are a much better choice for multi-day ice retention.
For day trips, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20, 30, and 40 Cans offer midrange performance at a comparable price. The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans holds 15 quarts, so you can eat lunch on the go. The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 30 Cans has a 22-quart capacity. This is enough to feed a kayaking couple enjoying a day paddling the lake. Meanwhile, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 40 Cans features a 35-quart capacity making it a better fishing buddy.
RTIC is transparent about the capacity of the Soft Pack Cooler 20, 30, and 40 Cans. I greatly appreciate this considering I don't have to waste time scrolling through endless specs to find out.
Considering you're likely to use these coolers for more than just beverages, let me translate the can capacity lingo.
For the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans, you can squeeze in 15 quarts or 20 pounds of ice. That's good enough to hold your lunch and pack in some ice to keep the contents cold.
Meanwhile, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 30 Cans bumps up the storage capacity to 22 quarts or 30 pounds of ice. This lets you squeeze in an extra meal for yourself or a fishing buddy.
The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 40 Cans offers the highest capacity at 35 quarts or 40 pounds of ice. Allowing for more food and more ice, you can stay out all day on the kayak with this amount of storage space.
To find the best capacity for your needs, the RTIC cooler finder can help.
The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20, 30, and 40 Cans all come in convenient sizes for everyday carry.
The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans packs down to 11.5 x 7 x 10 inches. This is a handy size for replacing any lunch box with lackluster performance. However, the height is too small to hold taller contents.
The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 30 Cans offers a midrange size at 13 x 9.4 x 9 inches. That's still compact enough to fit anywhere in the vehicle and not think twice about taking up too much space.
The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 40 Cans features a 16 x 9.5 x 13 inches exterior. This bulkier size will cost you a bit more retail space, but not much. It will also hold a bottle of fine wine if you're into that sort of thing.
Speaking of taller food items, the thing you need to consider is what you plan on packing inside. If you need more height, go with the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 40 Cans. Otherwise, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 and 30 Cans should suit you just fine.
If you're investing in a soft-sided cooler, you're likely looking for increased portability. Which the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20, 30, and 40 Cans are all decent for.
Due to the compact size, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans has a better dimension to weight ratio. Pair the 3-pound empty weight with your food contents, and you'll find this to be the least burdensome option.
With a 4 pound empty weight, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 30 Cans offers about the same portability as the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans.
The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 40 Cans is the most likely to cause an unbalanced load at 5.5 pounds. That said, this cooler is still light enough for a single person to haul around without having to switch arms every 20 feet.
As for design, all three of these coolers are built the same. The grab handles and shoulder straps offer several ways to carry. This is a feature I highly appreciate considering it adds to the grab-and-go portability.
I find the sling-style shoulder strap provides easy access for fishing, but not so much for toting around. All three coolers rest awkwardly at the hip, making the grab handles a better carrying solution.
The trouble with that is the more weight you add, the more unbalanced you'll feel. So if portability is a big concern, I'd stick with the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans.
Let's get one thing straight, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20, 30, and 40 Cans all offer similar performance. They are more durable and better insulated than a low-budget knockoff brand.
However, they won't excel enough to match a premium choice. The zippers are a bit of a pain, and RTIC states they need to be lubricated every 6 months.
Also, the glued seams are not designed for hot ground. Meaning they may not hold up well over time. Given the price, I would expect more.
What these coolers do offer are a waterproof, floatable, and decently portable design. This makes them better for paddle trips, fishing, or lakeside picnicking.
Having said all that, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans is the better value. It's more portable, compact, and lower priced.
If I'm going to spend more on either the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 30 or 40 Cans, I want to know these coolers will last with some rugged outdoor abuse. Which quite frankly, I don't think any of these coolers will do.
Floatable and waterproof, the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20, 30, and 40 Cans are average coolers for those who enjoy water recreation.
The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 20 Cans is good for single use. The RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 30 Cans is better for couples. With the RTIC Soft Pack Cooler 40 Cans, you can get the party started.
Unfortunately, due to durability concerns, I would recommend looking into a better-built option like the YETI Hopper Flip 8 or 12.