HydroFlask 26L Day Escape Tote Review


Our HydroFlask 26L Day Escape Tote Review details a high performance insulated cooler from the leading masters of insulation.  We hope you find it useful.

The HydroFlask Brand

Perhaps HydroFlask don’t need much of an introduction.  After all, they are a dominant force in the world of insulated drink bottles and related insulated products and accessories.  For a bit more background, it might not be so widely known that they are based in Bend, Oregon (USA). 

The company focus is to build top quality products that offer the best function.  To do this, they take their inspiration from the natural world where every feature has a reason.  Their design philosophy is that nothing is superfluous and everything has a purpose.  HydroFlask feel that gaining design inspiration from nature helps them focus their design and helps them produce the best product. 

Beyond all that,  HydroFlask also believe in using their company to help fight the climate emergency and to improve the lives of all.  Initiatives like their Parks For All programme and #RefillForGood campaign are examples of this commitment.  Parks For All is a charitable programme created to benefit public green spaces.  #RefillForGood is the HydroFlask campaign to encourage people to make the switch from single use disposable containers.


The HydroFlask Day Escape Tote is an insulated cooler bag designed to deliver 36 hours of cold insulation.  The totes are available as the 26 litre model tested as well as an 18 litre tote and 20 litre rucksack style option.

The tote, as do all the other cooler options, utilises HydroFlasks Smart Insulation concept.  This puts thicker insulation in the base where cold is most susceptible to loss.  The shell is manufactured from durable 600D polyester with an FDA food grade BPA free liner.  All seams are welded to offer a watertight construction.  

The bags feature two shoulder straps and two grab handles positioned at the ends.  An additional included removable shoulder strap offers an alternative carrying option.  There are also laser cut welded gear attachment loops on the side and loops designed to work with HydroFlasks Dry Storage accessory cases.

A substantial TRU Zip waterproof zipper offers a secure and watertight closure.  TRU® Zip are engineered to require less pulling force and is self-healing.  If the zipper separates it can be realigned.  An exterior stretch pocket allows storage of smaller items. 

The tote tested comes in a deep blue colour which HydroFlask call Harbour.  It weighs 1.54kg and the dimensions are 35cm high x 60cm width x 25cm depth. The 26 litre cooler retails for £158.  HydroFlask offer a limited 5 year warranty with their products. 


In Use


Firstly, for my HydroFlask 26L Day Escape Tote Review it is worth commenting on the appearance of the Day Escape Tote.  Like all things HydroFlask, this is a really nicely designed item.  The dark blue looks great while having a darker colour also resists marking and dirt marks appearing.  I also really like the shape.  There is a broad base meaning it will stand ups easily combined with a wider top for easy accessibility.  It looks quite sleek given it is, at 26 litre capacity, fairly large overall.


The 600 denier polyester fabric is also proving to be extremely durable.  A few marks and scuffs have appeared with use, but nothing that is anything more than cosmetic.  Like all Hydroflask products, it looks built for a long and active life.  

The small exterior pocket is made from a stretchy mesh fabric.  This is only small but would hold items like keys, a wallet or sunscreen.  If you want more exterior storage you could attach anything from a dry bag to any other accessory bag.  For this, there are two loops at the top and gear attachment loops.  HydroFlasks Dry Storage bags are designed to attach but I haven’t had the chance to try them.  They look very functional though.  I would have liked the front storage pocket to have a closure facility incase it is being used to store valuable items.  Even so, it is a very useful addition. 


The bag opens via a chunky TRU Zip waterproof zipper.  This is the style you may have come across on dry suits.  Similar to dry suit zips, you have to pull quite hard to close it despite HydroFlask saying it is easy to operate. This isn’t  a problem, just an observation.  Infact, compared to my drysuit you actually don’t have to pull anywhere near as hard.  HydroFlask also say that these zips are self healing. I haven’t had call to test this, but apparently if the zipper separates it can simply be realigned.


Once you delve inside you’ll see this bag is cavernous.  HydroFlask say it will hold 42 cans without ice.  I haven’t tested this, but certainly imagine they have.  In reality, this has been the perfect cooler bag for weekend trips away and for picnics where you’ll want it to store both drinks and food.  I don’t really see any disadvantage in having the larger capacity bag unless you plan to carry it a long way or storage space is limited. If there is spare space you can simply add more ice blocks.

The cooler has a very light blue liner colour which makes it easier to find things. You will also notice the welded seams.  On the sides you’ll notice a chunky layer of insulation and on the bottom an even chunkier layer.  I’m not sure what the type of insulation used is, but as this is a soft sided bag the insulation is flexible.  


The base features thicker insulation which HydroFlask have added on purpose.  This is what they call Smart Insulation.  This puts a thicker insulation layer in the base where cold is most susceptible to loss.  It is hard to feel that the insulation is thicker here as the bottom has a durable hard base, but of course it will be.

Loading up the cooler is simple as the top opening is large and has the flexibility to move apart.  The oval internal shape also allows items to be stacked while leaving plenty of room for ice or cool blocks. Having mainly used rectangular shaped coolers before I wasn’t sure how this would work.  The reality is I really needn’t have wondered.  It works superbly.  


Once loaded up and a cool source is added you can let the cooler do its work.  HydroFlask say it will keep items cool for 36hrs but there isn’t any data provided on what this really means.  Surely the time it will do this depends on the ambient temperature and the temperature of the items added.  Of course, the amount of cold source added inside the cooler will also have a big impact.  Oh, and how many times you open and close the bag will also affect it.  

So, I can’t stack my own findings ups against the HydroFlask claim.  The best I can do is share my own findings.  If the items added are cold to start with and the cooler has a substantial amount of cold source (most times I just use blocks of ice) then it easily keeps items cold over a 24hr period.  Of course, the outside temperature has a significant impact on this, but this is what I’ve found over the UK summer months.  

During the very hot spell at the end of July I found that after a day the contents were still cold enough. I wouldn’t have then expected them to be much colder than the surroundings if left overnight.  So, I can say it’s still an excellent performer, but I would say it is a stretch to expect 36hours in most situations.

Carrying Comfort

For this HydroFlask 26L Day Escape Tote Review the other things to comment on are the carrying comfort.  HydroFlask supply the cooler with a detachable shoulder strap.  There are also the side straps which can be used to sling it over a shoulder.  Finally, there are grab handles at either end.  All work well although my favourite are definitely the grab handles.  in reality I would never be carrying a bag like this very far and it is mostly lifted into or out of a vehicle.  The grab handles work a treat.  

However, if you were carrying the tote to a more distant picnic spot or any similar distance then the shoulder strap will undoubtedly be your friend.  It’s nice to have options and HydroFlask have certainly thought of all the possibilities.  


As with every HydroFlask I’ve used, I hope my HydroFlask Day 26L Day Escape Soft Cooler Tote Review has made my thoughts on this bag clear.  It is a very well designed and extremely well constructed cooler that will suit a huge range of users.  From a picnicking family to a weekend climbing trip, this will keep your food and drink in good shape.  There are, of course, many other cooler bag options out there, but in terms of performance and style this is the best I’ve ever used.  Full details are available on the HydroFlask website here.  

We wrote about the HydroFlask #RefillForGood campaign here.  Paul’s review of the HydroFlask Trail Series bottle is here.