Pelican Soft Cooler Review
Last Updated by Brandon F. on January 6, 2022
Pelican is mostly known for the high-end hard-sided coolers. But they also offer soft coolers and drinkware. This review will be focusing on the Pelican Soft Coolers. With these products, Pelican has attempted to harness its industry-recognized quality and performance into a softer and smaller package.
We will be breaking down the features, ice life, styling, cost, and more for these soft coolers. Also, we will give you our TheCoolerZone.com rating for these products.
But first, here is a list of our favorite Pelican Soft Coolers.
- 1 Pelican Soft Cooler Review
- 1.1 Pelican Soft Cooler Lineup
- 1.2 Pelican Soft Cooler Features
- 1.3 Pelican Soft Cooler Ice Life
- 1.4 Pelican Soft Cooler Aesthetics
- 1.5 Pelican Soft Cooler Price
- 1.6 Pelican Soft Cooler vs. Yeti
- 1.7 Pelican Soft Cooler Review
Pelican Soft Cooler Lineup
The Pelican Soft Cooler lineup consists of 3 models: the SC12, SC24, and SC48. As you might have guessed, the number after “SC” designates how many 12-ounce cans the cooler can hold. In other words, you can hold between 12 and 48 cans depending on which model you go with.
Typically, soft coolers are measured in can designation rather than quarts of storage volume. However, these values convert into quarts roughly as follows: SC12: 8 quarts, SC12: 18 quarts, and SC48: 38 quarts.
These sizes, while limited, hit all of the popular sizes that we have seen. You have small, personal sizes for individuals, a larger size for a couple of small families, and an even larger size for a group or 4 to 5.
As for features (which we will discuss next), the design approach and rough shape of each product seem to be consistent with the others.
Pelican Soft Cooler Features
While Pelican’s hard-sided coolers are adorned with various features, their soft-sided coolers take a more simple approach. Pelican’s focus is on convenience so rather than overwhelm the user with tons of accessories and features, they stick to quality construction and proven performance.
The foundation of their soft-sided coolers lies in the double-coated 840D TPU material. This fabric is extremely resilient to cuts, scratches, and tears and is perfect for taking into challenging outdoor environments. It will remind you of a mix of denim and wool. This type of material is found in many high-end soft coolers on the market but Pelican has dialed in their recipe and came out with a quality example of it.
To provide some rigidity, the base of Pelican Soft Coolers is compression molded in anti-slip material. We love soft-sided coolers but they can be a bit flimsy at times. Including this base helps to keep the product upright, particularly when you start filling it up with ice and items.
You will find this same rigid material on the lid of the cooler. This does the same thing as the base does, but for the top side of it. It is also firm enough to be able to stay some lightweight items on top. This is a rarity for most soft-sided coolers.
To keep the lid and the body nice and snug, you will find a quick-access dual-locking buckle system. This works in conjunction with the zipper to ensure a tight seal. This assists in both waterproofing as well as retaining cold air inside. Pelican has always impressed us with their great latching system (both on their hard-sided and soft-sided coolers) and there is no exception here.
And speaking of zippers, the zippers you will find on these soft coolers are excellent. They are leak-proof TIZIP Zippers and help to keep outside water from coming in and inside water from coming out.
You will also find stainless steel tie-downs, bottle openers on the latches, and molle webbing on the latches for hanging additional items that you don’t want to store inside. This provides a lot of places to hang items that you don’t want to store inside the cooler.
As for additional storage, all models come with a small separate front pocket. This is good for storing items such as cell phones, keys, and wallets.
When it comes to transporting these coolers, you will find that they come with an adjustable and removable overhead shoulder strap. While it isn’t the most comfortable or most padded that we have seen, it does the trick. The small side handles can also make do as a way to carry it, but they aren’t very large and, quite frankly, aren’t the most ergonomic features in the world.
Pelican Soft Cooler Ice Life
While soft coolers will rarely have the ice life of a hard cooler, there can still be quite a range depending on the model. Soft coolers are also becoming more and more popular for short outdoor excursions due to their increased mobility and lower costs. Because of this, having a capable cooler that can hold ice for acceptable periods is quite important.
Pelican believes that they have the answer to this. And it is achieved through a combination of the insulated shell, water-tight zipper, and latch system discussed above.
As for specific ice times, they advertise that their soft coolers can keep ice for up to 48 hours. But the best way to verify this is to put it to the test!
We filled our coolers up with around 1/3 of ice and then ½ full of ice, left them in the outdoor heat, and occasionally accessed them. This gives a much more accurate representation of real-life use than filling to the top with ice, leaving indoors, and never opening it.
The results we found can be seen below:
Overall, we were pretty pleased with the results. We got very close to the stated 2 days of ice life Pelican said. Of course, this was with the largest-sized soft cooler and filled with ½ ice, but it is still quite good. This is enough ice life a typical weekend trip to the lake or pool.
As is typical, the larger coolers performed better than the smaller coolers. And increasing the ice from 1/3 full to ½ provided a slight boost (but not as large as we might have expected).
Specifically, you can anticipate ice life to be as follows (approximately):
SC12: 16 to 26 hours
SC24: 20 to 36 hours
SC48: 30 to 44 hours
Pelican Soft Cooler Aesthetics
Pelican’s Soft Coolers take a much more traditional approach when it comes to their styling. While their hard-sided coolers are known for their aggressive, jagged edges, Pelican’s soft coolers are much smoother and simple. You won’t find contouring patterns or fabrics. You won’t find bright features or eye-catching accessories.
Rather, these coolers are strictly designed to “blend in”. This might be a good thing for some people and a negative for others.
We prefer a bit more vibrancy in our soft-sided coolers. When you are spending a good chunk of change on a premium soft cooler, you want something that will stand out. Also, there is only one color to choose from. And it is a black/gray color combo.
The SC24 and SC48 do manage to stick out a little bit more than the SC12 thanks to the stainless steel bottle openers on the latches but beyond that, there isn’t much that will attract the eyes.
Pelican Soft Cooler Price
Typical of other Pelican products, you pay a premium for them. For the high asking price, you do get to enjoy a proven, American-made product that not only keeps ice for long periods but is also extremely durable. You also get to enjoy the great Pelican warranty which further protects your investment. But simply put, these products may be out of budget for a lot of people.
Despite the high price, we feel that you get a lot for your money here. Yes, it is expensive. But quality components and manufacturing aren’t cheap. And you are likely to go through 2 or 3 cheaper soft coolers in the time that you will go through one of these.
Pelican Soft Cooler vs. Yeti
Pelican vs. Yeti is a common source of discussion and a question that we have been asked time and time again. Up until recently, these discussions revolved around the Yeti and Pelican hard-sided coolers. But now that Pelican has a series of soft coolers, it is worth comparing them as well.
Yeti’s soft coolers are dubbed the Yeti Hopper. And similar to the Pelican Soft Coolers, the Hoppers are a premium cooler that is designed to compete at the top tier of the soft cooler world. They come in a variety of sizes, promise fantastic ice retention, and also come with various features that make them more versatile.
In terms of selection, Yeti has Pelican beat easily. You will find a much larger selection of sizes, configurations, and colors to choose from. Also, Yeti has Pelican beat on the feature front.
But Pelican is no slouch. While their soft cooler lineup is limited, all of them are of high quality. And the ice retention is among the best we have tested for soft coolers. And similar to Yeti, with Pelican Coolers you get to enjoy a quality American-made product with a great warranty.
So which is better?
It is too close to call. We would lean towards whichever you can get for a cheaper price. And seeing how their prices are very similar, it is a toss-up. If you do prefer to have a more eye-catching cooler or are picky about colors, then go with the Yeti (since it has a better selection). But if you want something simple and proven to perform, Pelican is a fine choice as well.
Pelican Soft Cooler Review
Pros: Awesome build quality, Great Ice Retention, American-made
Cons: Limited features, Few color choices/sizes, Expensive
Features: Quick access dual-lock buckler, TIZIP Zipper, Compression-molded anti-slip base, stainless steel tie-down/bottle opener, internal front pocket
Pelican’s soft coolers follow their reputable hard coolers in offering proven reliability and competitive ice life. The approach is much more straightforward, however, and the eye-catching visuals of their hard coolers are missing. The feature list is also a bit lacking, but for many, that isn’t a concern. Size options include 12 can, 24 can, and 48 can models.
Insulation Ability –
You will find an acceptable level of insulation (considering that these are soft coolers). Also, the insulation that is used is of high quality and quite efficient at what it does. But the real star here is in the zippers and latches. The watertight TIZIP zipper and the overlapping latch system help to create a great seal. This maximizes the ice life that you will enjoy. The result is up to 2 days of ice life in the largest model. And even the smallest size will enjoy well over half a day of ice life, which isn’t too shabby.
Mobility and Durability –
The Pelican Soft Coolers will already be quite mobile thanks to their smaller stature and lighter size. The overhead shoulder strap is adjustable and easy to use. There are additional side handles but we aren’t huge fans of them.
As for build quality, it is excellent. The robust double-coated 840D TPU fabric is extremely strong and quite tear-resistant. The metal components are stainless steel and zipper, as we mentioned above, are incredibly durable. For added support, the base and lid are comprised of compression-molded material. You also have the Pelican warranty to stand behind any quality issues that may arise (which likely won’t happen).
The feature list is a bit lacking, however. You won’t find a ton of additional storage options or quirky accessories here. There are bottle openers on the latches in the larger sizes and there is a separate pocket on the front of the cooler for non-chilled items but that is about it.
Visual Appeal –
The Pelican Soft Cooler is a quality-looking product. The material looks and feels the part and the lack of cheap plastic all over the outside doesn’t go unnoticed. But the overall styling is very tame. This product is, more or less, a solid-colored box. And speaking of colors, there is only one to choose from. And customization options are lacking as well. For someone who likes to keep things simple, this is a good look but for someone who is after something more stylish, you may be a bit underwhelmed.
Pelican products utilize high-quality components, are proudly made in America and promise excellent performance. But all of this does drive up the cost and you will feel it in your pocketbook. But similar to their hard-sided coolers, these soft-sided coolers will last for many years. And you may end up finding out that this cooler will last as long as 2 or 3 cheaper products from other brands. So the up-front costs might be higher but over the long run, you may save money going with a Pelican Soft Cooler.
Overall Rating –
The Pelican Soft Cooler is a solid contributor to the storied Pelican lineup. It has great performance and excellent construction that we are used to seeing from this company. But its approach is very straightforward and you won’t find a ton of fancy features or eye-catching aesthetics. Also, the asking price can be quite high. If all you are concerned about is performance and durability, this is a solid choice.