Over the past few years, one of the outdoor market segments that has really taken off is the premium cooler industry. This movement was led by Yeti, of course, but recently several other brands have thrown their hat in the ring as well, proving that this is a segment that isn’t defined by a single company.
One of those brands is none other than Pelican, which has made a reputation for building some of the most rugged and dependable gear cases on the market. Now, it brings that same focus on quality and performance to its premium coolers and offers both hard and soft models that are outstanding in their own right while charting a different course from the competition.
I’ve recently had the chance to try out the Pelican Dayventure backpack cooler, and while I have to say that I was a bit skeptical at first, I’ve become a true believer.
This soft cooler brings a lot to the table that allows it to create its own identity in an increasingly crowded space while showing off a few features that will be welcomed additions to your next festival, an outdoor concert, campsite, park, or even just an outing to the backyard.
Made from super-durable, puncture-proof fabrics, the Dayventure is instantly recognizable as a soft cooler that has been made for outdoor adventure. In fact, the materials used in its construction are so good that my test unit doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear, even after extensive use.
Since the outer shell is also designed to be easy to clean, even though it has been in the dirt, mud, and sand, it still looks practically brand new. That bodes well for its long term durability, which should come as no shock if you’ve used any of pelican’s products in the past.
Wear it like a Backpack
Built to be worn like a backpack, the Dayventure also features a set of padded shoulder straps that actually manage to hold the cooler in place, even while hiking over rough ground.
Ventilated back panels also help keep the wearer cooler and more comfortable, which actually makes you want to wear this bag on the way to your picnic spot or campgrounds. While not quite as comfortable as a dedicated backpack, the Dayventure is nonetheless easy to wear. Besides, how long can your daypack keep your favorite beverage cold?
Built-in Cooler Compartment
Speaking of which, the Dayventure actually comes with a built-in cooler compartment that sits just below the main compartment. Access to the cooler can be gained via a large, easy to pull, waterproof zipper.
Plenty of Room for a Six Pack of Cans
Inside, you’ll find space for up to six cans of whatever beverage you want to carry with you, plus some ice. If you decide to go ice-free, you might be able to squeeze another can or two inside the cooler, but that’s about it.
In other words, you’re not going to transport massive amounts of beer with you on your hikes, but you’ll have enough cold drinks to enjoy your outing. Thankfully, the pack does a great job of keeping those drinks as cold as you want them.
All Day Cooling
In fact, it has never failed to keep my beverages cold for an all-day outing. Pelican doesn’t offer a rating on how many hours or days it should maintain ice or cold temperatures, but for what this bag is designed for, it more than meets the needs.
Large Main Compartment
In addition to the cooler on the bottom, the Dayventure has a large main compartment that features a roll-top closure.
This makes it a wet/dry storage area as well, meaning it can keep the interior completely dry if you need it – handy at the beach or on a paddling excursion – or you can put more beverages, ice, or other items in there without fear of damaging the pack.
This compartment is not insulated enough to serve as a cooler per se, but it does lend a nice versatility to the bag that comes in handy for casual outings. Another large pocket is found on the bag’s front, which is good for storing things like keys, wallets, phones, or other small items.
Overall Build Quality
The entire Dayventure backpack screams quality. The shoulder straps, grab handles, and zippers are all top-notch, and the double-coated 840D TPU fabrics not only look and feel great but are practically bulletproof too.
That provides a nice sense of confidence that you can take this cooler with you into the backcountry just as easily as you would the park or beach and still have it live up to your exceptions.
My Thoughts on the Dayventure
One of my favorite things about the Dayventure is that it seems to have been purpose-built for day outings. While some soft coolers focus on bringing as many cans or bottles of beverages as possible, this pack is much more focused.
It is perfect for filling up with snacks or lunch, a few drinks for everyone coming along, and still having enough space left over to haul a few other items – like a Bluetooth speaker or a USB battery pack – along as well.
Sure, you can squeeze a few more beverages into the bag if you want to, but it is at its best when used as a highly-mobile picnic basket that was designed for rugged environments.
Keep in mind, thanks to its durable fabrics; the Dayventure isn’t a lightweight backpack.
Pelican says that it tips the scales at 9.3 pounds (4.4 kg), although it feels lighter in hand. By the time you load it up with a six-pack, some food, and other items, it can start to get heavy, however, which could be a consideration if you plan on using it on a longer hike.
On the other hand, it should get significantly lighter after you’ve emptied it of some of its precious cargo so that the return trek won’t be quite so rough.
The Dayventure’s price tag may cause sticker shock for some shoppers, but that is fairly competitive in the premium soft cooler market. Similar bags from the competition are priced about the same, although they may have very different designs.
However, for what it is built to do, I haven’t seen another soft-cooler backpack that matches what Pelican has put together here. It is the perfect balance of size, comfort, durability, and capacity to make it a popular option for festival-goers, day hikers, and beachcombers alike. Yeti offers another model of the backpack; check out our Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23 Review.
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