Earlier this summer, Larry and I (Stella) set out to find a small day-size cooler that could be used for kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and biking. And, because it would be used for watersports, the need for the pack to be waterproof was a necessary qualification. Larry had come across an ad for the RTIC brand of coolers, whose website touts, “Over Built – Not Over Priced.” The RTIC brand of coolers only has one significant competitor, whose products have a higher price tag. We have compared the two brands, and found RTIC to be just as high in quality as the other brand.
Initially, we explored the RTIC Day Coolers because of the various food compartments that they offer. However, the Day Coolers are not made to be waterproof/leakproof, and they are not intended to be exposed to the sun for extended periods of time. Instead, they are primarily a lunch type of pack with some light insulation.
We then explored the RTIC Soft Packs. But please do not let the term “Soft Pack” lead you to believe that the packs are “soft,” because they are not. They are a solid structure, and do not collapse. They remain in the same shape that you see in the pictures, and have a hard bottom so that they always remain upright (but they can be laid on their side). The Soft Packs are designed to be puncture proof and waterproof/leakproof. This cooler is also designed to provide superior insulation due to the two-inch thick foam layering the interior of the pack, which is covered with a thick mildew-resistant material.
SIZE: as of now, the smallest Soft Pack size offered on their website is an 8 can. The other Soft Pack sizes are 20, 30 and 40 can. The overall size of the 8 can looks really big (from the exterior view), but the interior is much smaller because of the two-inch foam layer. So the RTIC Soft Pack 8 can is perfect for packing lunch/snacks for two people, considering we also include two small square reusable icepacks in the cooler.
FREEZING CAPABILITY: the website states that the RTIC Soft Pack 8 keeps ice cold for up to five days. We are unable to confirm that for ourselves because we always use reusable icepacks instead of traditional ice. However, we have used our pack many times while kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and biking, where the pack has been completely exposed to direct sun for six hours at time. And each time, the interior of the pack is always cool at the end of the day, and the icepacks are only half thawed.
DURABILITY: these packs are tough! The mildew-resistant liner has not been scratched from our silverware/food containers, and the exterior is made with a heavy-duty nylon shell that also has not obtained any scratches despite how often it gets banged around inside of the Tahoe. Both the interior and exterior are easy to clean by simply wiping down with a damp cloth.
The carrying straps on the sides have been tugged on during use, and are still in tact; they combine with a Velcro strap that turns into a comfortable carrying handle at the top of the pack. The pack also comes with a long shoulder strap, which we have not used. But I imagine that the shoulder strap would turn this into a convenient pack to take hiking.
The zipper is ultra tough, providing a complete seal on the pack. As other people have mentioned, it is very difficult to zip/unzip, but RTIC provides a lubricant to assist with this (it is included with purchase); we have not used it yet. This pack has had significant water exposure during our activities, and it has always remained completely dry inside.
TRANSPORTABILITY: on each side of the pack, where the shoulder strap hooks are, we use bungees to attach the pack to our bikes and stand up paddle boards. Larry has a cargo rack behind the seat of his bike, and this pack fits perfectly onto it using the bungees that came with the cargo rack. For stand up paddle boarding, I put the pack on the front of my paddle board, and place a mini bungee cord on each of the shoulder strap hooks, which then attach to the bungees on my paddle board. While in the kayak, the pack can either be stowed in the front of the kayak under the bow, or behind a seat.
The RTIC Soft Pack 8 is overall great! It looks awesome and fits the bill in every way for us and all of our activities!
Overall: Excellent Purchase
Price Paid: $69.99 plus tax & free shipping.
Place Purchased: RTIC Website
Link to RTIC Outdoors Website: RTIC Outdoors
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