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Dave's Take: Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler


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Dave's Take: Yeti's Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler

Yeti Hopper M20 - 4.jpeg

How was your 4th?

Welcome to the fifth of July. For those of you who couldn’t get today off, I feel your pain. July 5th is the second worst day of the year to work, surpassed only by Super Bowl Monday. Today one must focus on survival, not gains in the workplace.

Speaking of survival, how did your beverage transporting go this past weekend? Did your cooler keep its cool, or are you spending the morning at work searching for a new ice chest?

If you have no cooler needs, I appreciate you reading this recreationally. Should you need a new cooler though, I have a good one to share with you today.

Yeti Hopper M20 Backpack Soft Cooler

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It’s been a while since anything Yeti has come my way. In fact, it was almost a year ago when I ran the Yeti Rambler bottles through their paces. I thought the bottles were solid, and I’m still using them a year later. Truth be told I felt quite validated when the Rambler bottles finished near the top of the 2021 Water Bottle Buyers Guide a few months later. Nice to know my takes are shared.

Anyway, what I have for you today is Yeti’s latest version of their backpack soft cooler, the Hopper M20 Backpack soft cooler. I reviewed the previous model, the Yeti Backflip 24 back in 2018. Crazy to think that 2018 was four years ago...

The Yeti Backflip 24 was a taller, and narrower version of the popular Hopper line of coolers. It looked like the other coolers in the line, even sharing the large zipper at the top its boxy body. Overall, it worked well, with its capacity and backpack straps placing the Backflip into its own niche.

Since 2018, Yeti has moved away from the zipper closure in their larger soft coolers. In 2019, they released the new Hopper M30 cooler. This new cooler sealed with magnets instead of a zipper. The crazy thing was that the magnets sealed the cooler like the zipper did in the Hopper Two 40 and were way less likely to take arm hair when you reached in for a beer.

I bring up these other coolers because the Hopper M20 Backpack cooler I have for you today is a marriage of the original Backflip and the M30. The backpack straps are still there, but the closure is now magnetic. Has Yeti combined the best of both worlds?

MagShield Access

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The opening for the Hopper M20 Backpack cooler is probably the best part of the design. Not only do we lose the yard of zipper, but this magnetic top does one thing better than the one found on the original M30. This opening stays open. When you separate the magnetic edges, they stay apart. This makes loading and unloading much less of a bear trap experience.

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Overall, the top works like a dry bag. The magnets seal the airspace in the cooler, and then you fold over the top to secure the magnets. Add a couple of buckles and you have a top that is essentially air tight. I can attest to this as I saw the empty cooler swell up when I left it sealed in the back of my car.

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When the top is sealed, it is sealed. Should the Hopper M20 Backpack cooler top over in your trunk on your way to the course, it won’t get a single drop of water on your Cameron. I pressed on the sealed cooler, somewhat vigorously even, and I was not able to pop that seal.

Reduced Capacity?

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The Hopper M20 Backpack cooler carries eighteen beers and ice at the standard Yeti 2:1 ice to can ratio. This means it holds a sixpack less than the Backflip 24. Typically, I am not supportive of less beer. Like ever. However, dropping the capacity drops the size of the cooler, and the weight of a full load. My back has welcomed the change. Plus, at eighteen beers, it's still beer-a-hole golf ready.

The Hopper M20 Backpack cooler is still on the bulky side of things but is so much more streamlined than the Backflip. When full, it still packs a bit of a wallop on your back, but it feels more ergonomic than the Backflip. That cooler’s rectangular profile always made me think I was a 1960’s astronaut. The Hopper M20 Backpack cooler feels like a backpack.

Straps

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The backpack straps are wide and padded enough to be comfortable. They are still simple in construction compared to most golf bag straps. Your bag’s straps are likely a bit more cushioned.

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The Hopper M20 Backpack cooler includes a removable chest strap to cinch up the system a bit up top. Missing though is the waist strap. This is too bad as one of the best ways to take the weight of a pack off your shoulders is to belt it at the waist. Perhaps the smaller profile of the Hopper M20 Backpack cooler didn’t allow a waist belt to properly hit the waist, so it was not included.

Yeti Hopper M20 - 11.jpegYeti Hopper M20 - 10.jpeg

Yeti did include a top handle and side handles though, and these are so helpful when transporting the bag. I could also see this bag as a shoulder bag like the M30, ditching the backpack straps all together. That said, it is nice to have the backpack straps in situations where you need your hands free.

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One of my favorite features of Yeti soft coolers in general is their HitchPoint Grid. You can attach all kinds of stuff to be outside of the cooler. My favorite thing to attach is the SideKick Dry. The Sidekick Dry gives you a waterproof pocket for storing your gear that you can access without opening the cooler to the elements. I seem to buy a new Sidekick every time I get a new Yeti.

On The Course

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So how does the Hopper M20 Backpack cooler work on the course? In a power cart, it’s perfect. The cooler slides easily into the rear basket. The magnetic top is significantly easier to access in the cart than the long zipper of the Backflip 24.

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My other go to Yeti cooler, the Hopper Flip 12 also fits in the basket, but not all the way to the bottom. The Hopper M20 Backpack cooler goes to the bottom of the basket and won’t bounce out unless you are driving the cart like a maniac. Even then, you’ll likely lose your golf bag before the Hopper M20 Backpack bounces out.

What’s with all the yellow?

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So, you may have noticed that the Hopper M20 Backpack cooler is yellow. It’s Alpine Yellow to be exact. Every now and then, Yeti rolls out their coolers and tumblers in limited edition colors. Alpine Yellow was released earlier this spring. The two current limited run colors are Nordic Blue and Nordic Purple. It has taken all my restraint not to pick up a Nordic Purple Roadie 24 hard cooler...

Anyway, I love the yellow color, so I upgraded my Hopper Flip 12 to Alpine Yellow. Naturally, I needed a color coordinated Sidekick Dry as well. How could I not grab matching Rambler 20 and Lowball 10 tumblers?

Yeti Hopper M20 - 5.jpeg

Impulse control issues aside, the Lowball 10 is my favorite insulated tumbler. It has a great weight and can hold twelve ounces without the lid. It’s my summer workhorse tumbler.

By the way, there may be some room for speculation with the limited run colors. I noticed that some of the previous colors show up on eBay and Amazon for close to $500. If you have room to store a few coolers for a spell, you could likely turn a profit flipping coolers. How crazy is that?

Dave’s Take on the Hopper M20 Backpack Cooler

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Overall, I think that Yeti did a great job with the Hopper M20 Backpack. It is a huge upgrade over the Backflip 24. Sure, it’s smaller than the Backflip, but I think that the size is ultimately more manageable. I’ve taken to the golf course, backyard barbeques, a winery, and on my back while riding my bike. It will be heading with me to the lake when I go camping and kayaking later this month. All in all, it is a great out-for-the-day cooler.

No, it’s not cheap. Yeti products never are. A Hopper M20 Backpack cooler will set you back $325. Obviously, that’s quite an investment for a cooler. Investment is probably the way I look at Yeti products. I’ve had Yeti coolers and tumblers for years now and have yet to have one of them fail.

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Yeti construction is amazing. For their hard coolers, maybe this is not that big of a deal as those coolers can be thick and heavy. Basically indestructible. For the soft coolers, ultimately the construction comes down to fabric and flexible plastics. Both textiles seem way more prone to failure than hard rotomolded plastic, and yet they have yet to do so for me.

Did the yellow color of these Yeti products catch my eye? Of course, but the reason that I ultimately bought them is that I know the quality that comes with the Yeti name.

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Volvo Intorqueo

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Thanks for the review Dave!

Quick follow up: one of the themes I've seen in the negative reviews on the M20 is a potential lack of insulation. Some folks reported the ice melting in ~4 hours, even in shaded or cool conditions. This isn't what I'd expect from Yeti, or at this price point. Can you share your experience on it's insulating properties, especially in comparison to your Hopper Flip 12? It would be a shame if the cooler held enough beers for beer-a-hole but couldn't keep them cool for the entire round.

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7 hours ago, mynerds said:

Thanks for the review Dave!

Quick follow up: one of the themes I've seen in the negative reviews on the M20 is a potential lack of insulation. Some folks reported the ice melting in ~4 hours, even in shaded or cool conditions. This isn't what I'd expect from Yeti, or at this price point. Can you share your experience on it's insulating properties, especially in comparison to your Hopper Flip 12? It would be a shame if the cooler held enough beers for beer-a-hole but couldn't keep them cool for the entire round.

So far I'd put it on par with the Flip 12 for ice retention. I took it to a winery last Sunday with a 4 pound Yeti ice block and a couple layers of cube ice. By the time we got home in the evening, the cube ice was still frozen to the Yeti block.

You've piqued my curiosity though. I'm going to buy a block of ice tomorrow and see how long it takes to melt. I'll let you know how it works out.

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Volvo Intorqueo

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  • 1 month later...

Nice review.  I have been using the Yeti Flip 12 for about 2 years and it seems to do the job but the limited capacity can be an issue on hot days (which we have quite a few of here in Georgia).  I use the Yeti blocks instead of real ice and winder if that might be a negative.  This backpack might be a better option because of the additional space for wet ice and more drinks.  

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