Choose the right isothermal backpack

How to choose an isothermal backpack?

Are you planning a hike or camping trip? Find out what you need to know about isothermal backpacks to conserve your food.

More and more trendy, the isothermal backpack has made its way into the daily life of the French who have adopted it for many occasions. Indeed, both practical and efficient, it’s ideal for camping and bivouacking as it has also proved itself for picnics or even work days. When it’s worn for several hours, it must be chosen with care, in order to combine practicality with comfort. Today, Decathlon guides you in the purchase of your isothermal backpack, so that you can choose a model perfectly adapted to your use and preferences.

Choose the right isothermal backpack

Why go for an isothermal backpack?

If the isothermal backpack has now become an integral part of our daily lives, it’s because of the many advantages it offers. The primary objective of this type of bag is to keep your food and drinks cool for several hours, regardless of the outside temperature. Indeed, in order for you to be able to go hiking for a whole day without worrying about your food or water getting hot, it’s essential to use a suitable storage system. Just like a cooler, your isothermal backpack will keep your meals at an ideal temperature, wherever you are.

For many years, many of us have opted for a rigid cooler for a hike or a family picnic, for lack of an alternative. Since its arrival on the market, the isothermal backpack has proved to be a convincing choice, particularly because of its practicality. Unlike a cooler, which would take up a lot of space and require a certain amount of physical effort, not only because of its empty weight but also because of the way it is carried, a backpack offers you total freedom.

Is an "isothermal" backpack actually "cool"? 

At the risk of disappointing you, "cool" is not the same as "isothermal". Unless you're walking around with a mini fridge on your back, with a power source, you won't have a "cool backpack". Why? Well, "refrigerating" means (according to the online Petit Robert dictionary): "Used to produce cold". An isothermal backpack will keep its contents at their current temperature (sometimes helped by ice packs). But your backpack will not be able to lower its internal temperature by itself. Basically, it "keeps" the cold in, but it does not "produce" cold.

Which size cooler backpack should you choose for hiking?

Choose the right isothermal backpack

The size of a cooler or isothermal backpack is expressed in "litres": 10 L, 20 L, 30 L, etc. But which capacity to choose?

Are you wondering how to choose an isothermal backpack? Decathlon will guide you in your purchase so that you can be sure to find the right model. Among the first criteria to take into account, we note the size, and in particular the capacity offered by the model. Indeed, the purpose of an isothermal backpack is to carry all your supplies, both in terms of food and drink, in order to stay in shape all day long. It must be able to hold everything you need, while remaining comfortable to wear so that you can continue your activity without constraint.

Typically, an isothermal backpack has a capacity of between 10 and 40 litres, giving you a wide choice of sizes to suit all situations. There are a number of important parameters that need to be considered when choosing a backpack. First of all, you should consider the length of your journey, especially if you are hiking. The longer you travel, the more meals you will need to carry and the greater your hydration needs will be, requiring a greater capacity.

Are you going alone or with your clan? Take this factor into account when making your choice. If you're only carrying enough for one person, a smaller capacity will do the trick. And if you don't want to combine a cooler backpack and a classic backpack, at Quechua we have thought of adding an isothermal compartment to our classic 20 L and 30 L backpacks, so that you can carry everything you need for your hike in a single bag.

How to choose a cooler backpack?

Is there a cooler backpack size for kids?

There aren’t really any "ergonomic" cooler backpacks specifically designed for kids. However, the straps on our cooler backpacks are adjustable, so if your budding hiker wants to take on the task of carrying some of the food, you can give them an isothermal backpack with the smallest possible capacity: 10 liters. Another option is to give them the compact 10 liters cooler as a shoulder strap (without overloading it, as it doesn't distribute the weight as well as a backpack).

Choose the right isothermal backpack

What thermal performance should I expect from a cooler backpack?

As you will have understood, the primary objective of your isothermal backpack is preserve your food well, whatever the outside temperature. Thus, such a capacity will depend on the performance of the model; a criteria that should not be overlooked. From one backpack to another, the proposed storage time is likely to vary, ranging from about 5 to 8 hours. Note that this estimate does not take into account the possible addition of ice packs, which can extend the storage life.

Depending on your use of the isothermal backpack, your needs in terms of conservation, and thus performance, may be impacted. For example, if you are having a picnic close to home, a long storage life is not required. On the other hand, for a long trekking route or a bivouac outing, it is advisable to choose a model offering better performance.

Choose the right isothermal backpack

Why choose a backpack with compartments?

When choosing your isothermal backpack, you will be faced with different types of models, offering various shapes and layouts. While you may find simple models with just one main pocket, the majority of bags on the market have been designed to make your life easier, offering additional compartments and pockets. Whether you want to compartmentalise the inside of your backpack or add side pockets, there are many options for organisation.

Although they are not compulsory, the additional compartments and storage compartments let you organise your supplies as well as possible. You can separate food from drinks, or even sweet from savoury. Such an arrangement will give you optimal storage, for unparalleled practicality. You will know where each item and enjoy saving time.

At the same time, when you are going away for several hours or days, and you are taking a pharmacy with you, certain products sometimes need to be kept at low temperature. The compartments of your isothermal backpack mean you can separate them from your food. Not only is this practical, it will ensure easy access without losing time in case of injury.

Choose the right isothermal backpack

Choosing a backpack according to its use

Regardless of the outside temperature, it’s essential to be able to properly store your food when you aren’t consuming it until several hours after you leave. In hot weather, such as summer heat waves, your food can quickly perish and make you ill.

Keeping your food cool will ensure that your meal is delicious and at the right temperature. We note, however, that depending on your use, your needs may vary. Depending on your type of activity, you will need to adapt your choice.

- Bivouacking and hiking: When you venture out for several hours or even days, there is a greater chance that your food will spoil. Exposed to heat, food can become harmful, so it’s essential to store it properly, no matter how long you are out. To make sure that your food remains edible and your drinks stay fresh until the evening, it’s essential to choose a high-performance isothermal backpack model that will offer excellent preservation.

In addition to performance, your isothermal hiking and bivouac backpack should also have plenty of room for all the essentials for an outing in optimal conditions, so you won't lack anything. At the same time, when worn for several hours, during physical activity, it’s essential that your isothermal backpack demonstrates a certain comfort.

- Work: Today, more and more French people are choosing to cycle to work. To be able to carry their lunchtime snack with ease, many people opt for an isothermal backpack, which can be placed on the luggage rack or simply kept on their back for the duration of the journey. In this case, a smaller model will suffice, such as a backpack with a capacity of 10 litres.

Choose the right isothermal backpack
Choose the right isothermal backpack

How to choose an isothermal backpack that is comfortable to wear?

When hiking or biking, it's essential to take along something to keep you hydrated and nourished. An isothermal backpack is one of the most practical items you can carry.

However, in addition to the size of the backpack, it’s essential to choose every aspect of the backpack so that it’s as comfortable as possible to wear. Indeed, worn for many hours, the bag should not cause any pain or discomfort so that you can practice in optimal conditions.

The two elements of the bag that should be checked first for optimum comfort are:

- The back of the bag: If it’s made of foam, it will be more comfortable for you. You will feel less of its contents against your back. Indeed, who has never felt the corner of a glass lunch box "digging into their back", even after playing Tetris so that nothing sticks out or distorts the bag between the food boxes, apples, cereal bars, etc.?

- Straps: If these are foam-lined and adjustable, you should be able to adjust them to your body shape without any problem. As for the foam, you'll appreciate it all the more in the summer, when you go hiking in your t-shirt!

What accessories should I choose to improve the performance of my isothermal backpack?

Whichever model you choose, your isothermal backpack has been designed to keep your food and drinks fresh for several hours, effortlessly. Generally offering 5 to 8 hours of coolness, they can be improved by adding the right accessories. So that you can enjoy a meal worthy of the finest restaurants, wherever you are, find out our tips for adding to your isothermal backpack.

- Ice pack: Also known as an "ice block", the ice pack will increase the performance of your isothermal backpack, by making the cold last longer. Usually placed at the bottom of your bag, or between items, these take up little space and greatly improve the efficiency of your bag.

- Isothermal bottle: Especially on summer hikes, staying hydrated is a must. For fresh water in all circumstances, you can add an isothermal bottle to your backpack that will keep your drinks at a low temperature for several hours.

For your bivouac outings, it should be noted that your isothermal bottle will also be able to keep the temperature warm, should you wish to carry coffee or tea. In this case, the isothermal bottle should be placed on the outside of your backpack, in one of the side pockets.

Choose the right isothermal backpack
Choose the right isothermal backpack

How to clean a Quechua cooler bag?

Underneath its gentlemanly appearance, a Quechua isothermal backpack is a technical backpack, which must be cared for to maintain its insulating performance for longer. Unless otherwise indicated on the product sheet, our isothermal bags should preferably be washed by hand: no washing machine or tumble dryer! Go for very simple but regular maintenance, with a damp sponge (don't drown your isothermal bag, it didn't ask you for anything), and elbow grease. Dry it and leave it open to air out before storing it carefully in a clean, dry place.

Some cooler backpacks have a removable, waterproof and therefore machine-washable inner pocket. But in any case, to make sure you don't damage your cooler backpack, look for the washing instructions on the (old school) label and follow them to the letter.

How to choose a cooler backpack?


Picnic enthusiast!

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