Cordova Soft Cooler Review

cordova soft cooler review

Last Updated by Brandon F. on October 7, 2022

Cordova was nice enough to send us a couple of their soft coolers to test and review.  As you may have seen from our review of Cordova’s hard-sided coolers, Cordova has really figured out what it takes to stand out in what is a very competitive premium cooler industry.  But how does that translate to their soft coolers?

In this review, we will test out the Cordova Soft Coolers and see if they are worth your hard-earned money.  We will break down their various features, put them to our popular ice tests, and talk about other metrics such as their styling and asking price.  Finally, we will give them an overall rating so that you can have an easier time comparing them to other soft coolers on the market.

Cordova Soft Cooler Lineup

cordova soft cooler lineup

Cordova currently has two soft cooler models to choose from.  These include the Cordova Backpack Cooler and the Cordova Portable Cooler.  Both models are designed to find a happy medium between being portable enough to carry while still being large enough to hold plenty of ice and drinks.

You will be particularly impressed with the storage capacity of the Backpack Cooler.  This sucker is huge for being a backpack!  It has nearly 24 quarts of internal storage thanks to its impressive 8.25” x 12.50” x 14.50” dimensions.  And this makes it one of the largest backpack coolers that we have ever tested.  Specifically, you can expect it to hold around 36 cans in addition to 15 pounds of ice

The soft cooler, while a bit smaller, is still no slouch.  It comes with around 19 quarts of storage volume and has internal dimensions of approximately 14.50” x 7.75” x 10.50”.  This makes it capable of holding around 16 cans and 10 pounds of ice.

What this means is that you should have plenty of storage to put your (and several of your friends!) drinks and food for a typical day excursion or even a short weekend trip. This helps to make these soft coolers extremely versatile.

Cordova Soft Cooler Features

These days, simply being a quality cooler isn’t enough.  While high-level materials and proven construction are extremely important, people are demanding additional features that make their cooler stand out from the rest of the competition.

Cordova believes that they meet both requirements in their soft coolers.  So let’s go over some of these features.

Starting with the build quality, you will find that both soft cooler models are extremely well built.

cordova soft cooler material

First is the outer fabric on Cordova Soft Coolers.  This material feels great to the touch.  Specifically, it is comprised of 1000 Denier Nylon.  And if you know anything about nylon of this caliber, it is extremely resilient to cuts or tears.  This is important for a soft cooler that is intended to be used in outdoor settings where rocks and trees are aplenty.

cordova soft cooler seams

And to attach these various pieces of nylon are heat welded seams.  This type of connection has proven time and time again to be much more durable than typical stitching.  You won’t have to worry about the stitches unfurling over time.

In addition, these quality seams combine with a robust zipper to make a waterproof zipper area.  Combined with the waterproof liner, you have the perfect soft cooler to take to the lake or river.  It is worth mentioning that the zipper will give you a bit of resistance when trying to unzip and zip it.  But that is the price that you pay to enjoy the waterproof capabilities (and you get used to it over time).  In addition, it helps with ice life (more on that in the next section).

We have handled plenty of high-end soft coolers in our time and the fit, finish, and feel of Cordova Soft Coolers are up there with the best.  And they stand behind their products: you will find a 3-year warranty on their soft-sided coolers.  This is among the longest warranties that we have seen for soft-sided coolers.  Our only (minor) complaint is that these aren’t made in the USA.  However, nearly all soft coolers are constructed outside of the USA and we have found that the build quality can still be fantastic (as is the case here).

cordova soft cooler molly clips

In regards to usability features, Cordova has a few tricks up its sleeves as well.  Both the soft cooler and the cooler backpack come with a host of molly clips located on the front (in addition to clips on the back of the soft cooler).  These provide plenty of places to hang lanyards, keychains, or anything else that you would prefer not to carry inside the cooler itself.

As for carrying, the soft cooler comes with both attached overhead carrying handles in addition to a removable shoulder strap.  We always like when coolers have more than one way to carry them.  It means that you will be able to hold onto it with either a spare hand or a spare shoulder.

cordova cooler backpack straps

The cooler backpack, as you might have guessed, comes with shoulder straps.  For such a large backpack cooler, having large and comfortable shoulder straps was essential.  And Cordova answers this need with their extremely comfortable large shoulder straps.  Even when loaded up, the shoulder straps were still quite comfortable.

cordova cooler backpack straps closeup

In addition, you will find some pads on the body of the cooler backpack that will help to make it more comfortable on your lower back.  There is also a strap that can be wrapped around your waist area and snapped closed, providing additional support while carrying.  Inside the cooler backpack, there is also an additional optional strap that you can also attach to the back face of the backpack to give you another point of support.

cordova cooler backpack top pocket

The soft cooler doesn’t come with any sort of additional external storage: its sole purpose is to carry ice and chilled items.  But the Cordova Cooler Backpack does offer up some additional storage compartments in the form of 1 small zippered pocket on the front of the backpack, two larger pockets on the sides, and an additional dry goods compartment on the top.  All of these pockets utilize similar zippers to the lid compartment.  But they are much easier to open and close since the rubber lip isn’t as prevalent.

Cordova Soft Cooler Ice Life

A high-end soft cooler needs to be able to hold ice for long periods of time.  It is what makes them stand out from the plethora of cheaper coolers and helps to justify their higher asking price.

Cordova has implemented some helpful features to maximize its ice life.  As we discussed in the feature section above, the zippers provide a great nearly air-tight seal that helps to keep cold air in and warm air out.

cordova soft cooler insulation

But in addition to this, you will find a surprisingly thick layer of insulation.  Obviously, most coolers will not have the level of insulation thickness of your typical hard-sided cooler.  But Cordova has really pushed this theory and offered up some of the thickest walls that we have seen on soft coolers.  When measured, they were anywhere from around an inch up to well over 2 inches.  And much of this can be directly attributed to the insulation layer.  That is some serious insulation!

But how does this translate to ice retention?  To answer this question, we put these soft coolers through some of our own in-house testings.

We loaded them up with the recommended amount of ice (10 pounds in the soft cooler and 15 pounds in the backpack cooler), left them outside in the Texas heat, and occasionally opened them.  This gives us a good “real life” simulation of the sort of ice life you should expect in the real world.

Check out our results:

cordova soft cooler ice life after 24 hours

cordova soft cooler ice life after 36 hours

cordova soft cooler ice life after 48 hours

cordova cooler backpack ice life after 2 days

As you can see, both models easily held plenty of ice for a full day.  On day 2, the Cooler Bag’s ice melt became more significant and sometime between 36 hours and 48 hours in, all of the ice had melted.  This isn’t bad at all considering its size.

The larger Cordova Cooler Backpack trekked on, keeping plenty of ice after the 2-day mark.  At nearly 3 full days in (or around 72 hours), all of the ice finally melted in the Cooler Backpack.  This is very impressive for a soft cooler, no matter what the size.

You can see this in a chart format below.  We applied a healthy time range above and below our personal results since many different variables will play a role in whether your personal results are longer or shorter than ours.

cordova cooler ice life chart

Overall, we are very content with these results.  When it comes to soft coolers, we like to see ice life that allows it to be a viable candidate for a weekend excursion.  And in both cases, you should expect a solid 2 days of ice retention if you fill it with the recommended amount of ice.

Cordova Soft Cooler Aesthetics

The styling of a cooler may not be a huge priority to some, but it is still worth discussing.  With so many different coolers to choose from, having something that not only performs well but also stands out from the crowd can be a nice bonus.

cordova soft cooler aesthetics

Cordova’s soft coolers currently only come in one color combo and it is the one that you have seen in this review.  But if we had to be stuck with one color to choose from, the attractive gray/black color scheme is a great choice.  However, those wanting something with more “pop” or, for instance, a camouflaged option, will be out of luck.

cordova soft cooler zippers

For a bit of extra “bling”, you will find neon green zipper cords.  This, along with the mountain range façade and Cordova emblem on the face of the cooler, does give these a unique look that will stand out from the likes of Yeti, RTIC, and Orca.  And for an added surprise, you will be welcomed with a bright blue interior.

At this point in time, there is also nothing in the way of custom color options or specialized decals.  But we understand that those types of custom choices come with a much larger overhead and Cordova appears to be starting out simple here.

cordova cooler backpack size

Finally, it is worth stressing again the size of these.  In particular, the Cordova Cooler Backpack is quite large.  This is the price you pay for the enormous amount of storage space that it has.  But if you happen to be a petite person, carrying it on your back might not only look a bit strange but also be challenging (filled up with ice + tons of cans can make it pretty heavy).  The Cooler Bag, however, is much more manageable for someone of any size.

Cordova Soft Cooler Price

Price is always an important metric to consider.  Let’s face it: high-end coolers can be quite expensive!  But while they may fetch a higher price tag, you usually get a much better product that will outperform and outlast much of the cheaper competition.

And that is exactly the case here.  Cordova Coolers certainly aren’t the cheapest soft coolers on the market but they will outperform just about every cooler available that is at a lower price point.

But how do they compare to other premium cooler brands that offer soft coolers?  Compared to the likes of Yeti, RTIC, Engel, Orca, etc., Cordova seems to be on the lower end of the price spectrum.  You will find that they are typically priced in the vicinity of RTIC (a known value premium brand) while being noticeably more affordable than Yeti and similarly-sized soft coolers from other premium brands.

In other words, you get a lot of value for your money.

Cordova Soft Coolers vs. Yeti

The big question that many people ask us is “How does X compare to a Yeti?”.  In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if cooler companies sometimes ask themselves that same question!

Yet is a known leader in the cooler world.  Their reputation and product selection are unmatched and many cooler brands dream of someday achieving half of the success that Yeti has.

Cordova’s Soft Cooler and Backpack Cooler compare extremely well to Yeti’s similar products, the Yeti Hopper Flip 18 and the Yeti Hopper Backflip 24.

Both of these Yeti models utilize similar dimensions and layouts.  And both of these models offer up great ice retention and exceptional build quality.

In regards to ice retention, it is too close to call.

As for features, we have to give a slight nod to Cordova.  The Yeti models offer molly straps for hanging items in addition to a great zipper and thick insulation.  But what they are noticeably lacking is any additional storage pockets.  The Cordova Backpack Cooler clearly stands out thanks to the inclusion of four additional external pockets.

Looks are subjective but we also personally prefer the styling of Cordova.  Neither the Yeti models nor the Cordova models have much in the way of color options so given what we have to work with, the Cordova is simply a more attractive cooler to us.

And the most noticeable edge for Cordova comes with the asking price.  The Yeti models are noticeably more expensive.  And considering that the performance and storage capacity of them are similar (if not a bit below) to the Cordova models, it makes a strong argument for Cordova coming out on top.  And the Yeti warranty, which is commonly out-pacing other brands, is evenly matched here.  Both Cordova and Yeti have 3-year warranties on their soft coolers.

Because of this, we are going to have to choose Cordova.  Both companies offer up some fantastic products that deliver serious performance and reliability.  But Cordova manages to do what Yeti does for a much more reasonable asking price.  We understand that the Yeti name carries a premium but for people who simply want the best cooler for their money, the Cordova makes a stronger argument.

Cordova Soft Cooler Review

Cordova Soft Cooler Review

Pros: Tons of storage, Great construction, Attractive styling, Reasonable cost

Cons: May be simply too large for some, Limited color options

Features: 1000 Denier Nylon Shell, Waterproof Zipper and Liner, Molly webbing, Multiple carrying options, Thick insulation, Padding on the backpack for added support

Cordova’s small lineup of soft coolers is comprised of a capable cooler bag and a huge cooler backpack.  Both models offer up plenty of storage volume in addition to great insulation and build quality.  Asking prices, while certainly not in the budget category, is fair considering what all you get with the purchase.

Features/Build Quality – Cordova Soft Cooler Review

We are very impressed with the overall construction of Cordova Soft Coolers.  The high-quality nylon fabric used on the shell works well with the thick waterproof zipper and inner liner.  This results in a tough package that can handle typical wear and tear with ease.  And Cordova stands behind their soft coolers with one of the best warranties in the industry: 3 years.

There are a few helpful features that will help with both transportation as well as usability.  We appreciate Cordova added quite a few molly webbings on the front of both models and the back of the cooler bag to help you hang various items.  And seeing how these are very large soft coolers, having a comfortable and reliable way to carry them is important.  There are two methods of carrying the soft cooler and the cooler backpack comes with an extremely comfortable padded shoulder strap with a waist strap for added support.

The cooler backpack also comes with four help storage pockets designed for dry goods and/or items that you simply don’t want to keep cold.  Lack of external storage is a common complaint of ours when it comes to premium coolers and we are glad that Cordova took care of this.

Ice Retention – Cordova Soft Cooler Review

Ice retaining ability comes thanks to the impressive zippers as well as the thick insulated walls.  Depending on the model and which wall you are looking at, we saw wall thicknesses that ranged from anywhere from an inch up to well over 2 inches.  This is extremely helpful when trying to make the most of your ice.

This translates to an ice life of around 2 days in the Cooler Bag and almost a full additional day in the Cooler Backpack.  Compared to other models in the industry, these numbers are very competitive.  And it makes both of these products fine choices for any sort of full-day or weekend trip that you might have in mind (as long as you fill them with the proper amount of ice).

Visual Appeal – Cordova Soft Cooler Review

We find these soft coolers to be quite attractive.  But they are lacking in color options.  At the time of the writing of this article, Cordova only had one color to choose from.  But if you are going to have just one color choice, you better make it a good one.  And Cordova has done just that.  The nice gray/black combo works nicely and you get just enough “pop” thanks to the neon green zipper cords and the bright blue inner liner that welcomes you when you lift up the lid.

Cost – Cordova Soft Cooler Review

Cordova believes that they have found the secret formula for making high-end coolers that can compete with the best but for a more reasonable asking price.  These products certainly aren’t cheap.  But compared to other models with similar performance, they are certainly among the most affordable.  You should notice a clear price edge on Cordova coolers when compared to quite a few other high-end soft coolers that you may be shopping around for.

Overall Rating – Cordova Soft Cooler Review

We were quite satisfied with our experience trying out Cordova’s Soft Cooler Bag and Cooler Backpack.  Both models have plenty of space (in fact, they may simply be TOO large for some people!).  But despite their large stature, they are still designed in a way to make transportation as effortless as possible.

The combination of build quality, ice retention, and feature lineup is among the top in the industry.  And when you consider the price, they are about as good of a “bargain” as you will find in the premium cooler world.

We hope that Cordova considers expanding their soft cooler lineup in the future to other sizes as well as widening their color choices.  But either way, they are already off to a great start.  If you are shopping around for a top-tier soft cooler, then you should definitely consider adding Cordova to your list of potential prospects.

Cordova Soft Cooler Review
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