The YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Backpack Cooler is one of the best backpack coolers available today: It’s big without being too big. It’s surprisingly comfortable to carry. It’s super durable and has excellent cooling capabilities.
To get us a closer look, YETI sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. This is what we learned:
YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Review
The YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 is basically the backpack-style cooler sibling to the also great YETI Hopper series, which is one of our favorite best soft-sided coolers.
The only real downside the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 is the sturdy waterproof zipper — which is also sort of an upside. Basically, you need two hands to effectively use the YETI Hopper waterproof zippers — they are stout, but they’re made to be stout, which makes them waterproof. That’s the tradeoff. If you want a great waterproof zipper that will last, it’s going to zip open and closed a little harder than most people expect.
If you’re on board with the waterproof zipper system, the YETI goes from great to fantastic pretty fast. First, let’s talk about the durability. While you can get cheaper soft backpack coolers, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that’s any sturdier than the YETI.
The manufacturing standards are excellent overall. For instance, you can load up the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 with 20 cans and some ice and still pick it up by the grab handle on top of the lid. Most large soft coolers don’t include handles into the lid because that means pressure will be exerted upon the zipper. YETI isn’t worried. Better yet, in real-world use, that top handle is awesome — you can grab and move the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 with ease. If you’re loading stuff into a boat or tossing the cooler into the back of your pickup, having multiple grab handles, in addition to the straps, is handy.
Meanwhile, the handles and attachment points are welded and stitched to the main body of the cooler.
YETI Hopper BackFlip 24: Cooling Power
YETI doesn’t make any ice-retention claims for the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 . . . which isn’t particularly surprisingly because if your ice-to-beverage ratio is low on ice . . . and you leave the cooler in the open sun on a 100-degree day . . . and your kids leave the lid open . . . your ice isn’t going to last. There are many user error variables, including people who throw warm beverages in a cooler and then top it off with ice.
On the other hand, properly used, the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 will keep your beverages cold for more than 24 hours, if not a bit longer. Our rule of thumb is pretty simple: start with beverages that are already cold and use as much ice as you can given the available leftover space. And don’t leave the lid open or partially unzipped. Soft coolers just don’t have the insulation packed into the best hard-sided coolers, but for day and weekend trips, we prefer taking soft coolers whenever it makes sense.
The insulation uses YETI’s ColdCell rubber-foam insulation. While it does a good job of keeping your stuff cool, we really like how the construction is relatively rigid: The YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 stands on its own and maintains its shape. You’ll appreciate the rigidity when you load cans in the bottom, throw in some ice, then top it off with a few sandwiches (the sandwiches go in a sealable plastic container, of course).
YETI Hopper BackFlip 24: The Backpack Straps
The YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 backpack straps are reasonably padded and pretty durable. It’s hard to get excited about them, really, but they do have a sternum strap. Sternum straps cross over your chest and add stability and another adjustment point for comfort and fit. They make packing most any backpack easier, and when you overload the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24, you’ll appreciate the sternum strap as you slog your way to the beach.
There is also a waist belt, which I only used once — you only need the waist belt for long hauls or if you’re going to be stepping over things in the trail or scrambling around steep banks or rocks. The waist belt will help keep the pack on your back if you’re on a very active haul. Most people won’t use it, but if you need to, you’ll appreciate it.
Another nice backpack design element is the choice to build a taller, narrower pack rather than a chunky cube. The elongated rectangular design maximizes volume for your beverages but helps make the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 feel reasonably nimble. When you’re ducking under bushes and branches, the less bulk the better. Again, most people will use this backpack cooler on open trails or across wide-open sandy beaches, but when you’re trying to get to a hidden swimming or fishing hole, the size of the YETI Backflip is pretty good.
YETI Hopper BackFlip 24: The Verdict
We’re big fans of the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 — it’s a can’t-go-wrong backpack cooler that is durable and comfortable to carry. Properly loaded with beverages and ice, it’ll keep your drinks cold well over 24 hours, if not longer. If it tips over, the zipper is waterproof and it won’t leak. For this class of durability and design, the price point seems a bit steep, but it’s competitive and fair — in fact, the price point and overall quality make the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 a great gift for outdoor adventurers who want a YETI but hesitate to make the purchase.
All-in-all, if you appreciate high-quality gear that’s built to do the job right and last for years, the YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 should be on your shortlist. Very highly recommended.
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YETI Hopper BackFlip 24:
YETI Hopper Flip 18 (non-backpack ‘Hopper’ cooler):