We might earn income from the merchandise accessible on this web page and take part in affiliate packages. Study extra ›

Up to date Jan 6, 2023 11:52 AM

After I started boating with my dad and mom within the Seventies, boat coolers have been both plastic or metallic. There weren’t that many choices, and regardless of the development, contemporary ice was wanted on a close to day by day foundation. Boaters in the present day have a big selection of choices accessible to them, and that’s a very good factor, given the variety of folks taking to the water. One factor that hasn’t modified in all these years is the situations on the water. Direct daylight, warmth, wind, waves, and sudden cloudbursts are all nonetheless a part of the equation. The perfect boat coolers in the present day face up to these situations, hold the contents chilly, and are able to doing so day after day.

How I Made My Picks 

For this assessment, I thought-about coolers from 10 totally different producers. I judged every cooler based mostly on the next standards.

  • Capability: how a lot can the cooler maintain; meals, drinks, ice, and so on?
  • Ice Retention: How lengthy does the cooler maintain ice?
  • Publicity: how do the coolers maintain as much as the weather, particularly direct daylight?
  • Sturdiness: How do the coolers deal with abuse? Every cooler examined was dropped greater than as soon as, from the boat deck to the bottom. And in a couple of instances, from the boat deck into the water.
  • Cleanup and Storage: Is the cooler straightforward to wash? Is it a ache to retailer? I thought-about weight, dimensions, and supplies when evaluating this class.  

Finest General

Why It Made the Lower: This cooler has set the bar by which all different coolers are measured. It is without doubt one of the most versatile in the marketplace.

Key Options

  • Exterior Dimensions: 16.1” x 15.4” x 25.8”
  • Weight (Empty): 23 lbs
  • Capability: 28 12-oz. cans (utilizing 2:1 ice-to-can ratio)


  • Three inches of Permafrost insulation
  • Coldlock freezer high quality gasket
  • Neverfail hinge system 
  • Molded handles for single individual transport


Handing out the  finest general boat cooler award was kind of like deciding what’s the finest YETI cooler. For me, it was a toss-up between the Tundra 45 and Tundra 65 – I’ve each and use every extensively. However in terms of boating, I exploit the 45 probably the most. Why? Versatility and match.

Like most individuals, nearly all of my boating is completed in small boats and this cooler suits effectively in all however the smallest and most specialised craft (assume fishing kayaks and private pontoon fashion kick-boats). I’ve used this cooler for a number of days floating rivers in our drift boat and whereas fishing from small motorboats. 

This cooler simply holds sufficient meals and beverage for a household of 4 on an all-day outing. On the finish of the day, it’s not a query of “Is there ice left” however fairly, “What number of days till I would like extra ice?” Due to this, it’s the cooler I exploit most frequently as an ice chest for preserving catch contemporary. (In case you’re concentrating on bigger fish species you may wish to take into account the Tundra 65 – I advised you it was a toss-up).

I significantly just like the T-Rex heavy obligation rubber latches. I can function these with one hand but when latched, they safe the lid and benefit from the Coldlock gasket.

As is the case with rotomolded coolers just like the YETI, the tradeoff for the superior insulating efficiency is weight. The 45 weighs 23 kilos empty, and the 65 is available in at 29.  When absolutely loaded, I’m certain to watch out lifting mine from automobile to boat.

Finest Cooler Bag

Engel HD30 Heavy-Duty Soft Sided Cooler Tote Bag is the best cooler bag.

Why It Made the Lower: Shockingly good ice retention for a smooth cooler, with glorious worth and building.

Key Options

  • Exterior Dimensions: 20.5” x 9.5” x 17”
  • Weight (Empty): 5.25 lbs
  • Capability: 32-quarts
  • Supplies: 840-denier fiber outer shell


  • Welded seams (versus sewn)
  • Closed-cell foam insulation
  • Welded waterproof and air resistant zipper
  • Single padded shoulder strap or tote handles for transport


  • Entry to principal compartment

That is one of the best boat cooler bag I’ve come throughout. A go-to for solo or duo outings, in addition to the cooler I attain for after I’m doing a shorter household outing with drinks and snacks. Merely put, that is one unimaginable cooler bag. Welded seams hold out heat air higher than stitched seams. A premium shell supplies sturdiness and closed cell foam supplies glorious insulation. The welded waterproof, air resistant zipper is the true deal. A be aware on optimum perform: Chances are you’ll must lubricate the zipper; Engel supplies lubricant for this function.

Surprisingly, I’ve discovered ice retention to be higher with this bag than a few of the finest arduous coolers that aren’t getting used accurately. This comes all the way down to packing the cooler and utilizing the precise measurement instrument for the job at hand. 

Oftentimes, the will to make use of my favourite arduous cooler would lead me to make use of a instrument too huge for the job. Even when it was simply myself and a pal out for a few hours of fishing, I’d use the bigger cooler to maintain a couple of cans or bottles and a few lunches chilly. The ice field wasn’t full, and the ice melted pretty rapidly. Not the cooler’s fault, this was operator error.

Now, take the very same state of affairs however insert the Engel HD30 cooler tote bag. I can pack the identical gadgets and fill it to capability with ice; this effectivity coupled with the superior design of the bag make for higher ice retention.

My solely criticism of this smooth bag cooler is comparatively minor however price noting. When opening arduous or smooth (however inflexible) coolers, the lid lifts like a door, leaving the entryway open. In distinction, the zipper opening on this cooler bag requires you to slip your hand between the perimeters of the open zipper. In case you don’t concentrate or higher but, use two fingers, you’ll be able to find yourself with scraped knuckles.

Finest Small

Pelican Elite Cooler is the best small boat cooler.

Why It Made the Lower: This cooler is simply the precise measurement for all day journeys with small teams of 1 to 3 folks.

Key Options

  • Exterior Dimensions: 25.3” x 19” x 18.5”
  • Weight (Empty): 25.5 lbs.
  • Capability: 30 quarts


  • Freezer-grade seal and a couple of.1 inches of insulation
  • Three days of ice retention
  • Non-skid & non-marking raised ft
  • Lifetime guarantee


  • Lid peak might be problematic in tight areas

One of many first issues I seen concerning the Pelican 30-quart Elite was the press and pull latches. A number of of the highest tier arduous coolers make the most of rubber T-style latch programs; if you happen to don’t like these latches, the Pelican’s Elite collection is price contemplating. 

Ice retention has been glorious, and this cooler has proved a winner for full days on the water with one to 4 folks. It has a properly sloped inside backside, permitting it to self-drain. When the drain cap (which has a gasket seal) is unscrewed, there’s no want to fret about dropping it, because it’s tethered to the cooler. 

The Pelican Elite consists of a few good further options, with a built-in stainless-steel bottle opener, built-in cup holders and a fish ruler on the lid.

Finest with Wheels

Coleman 316 Series 100-Quart Marine Wheeled Cooler is the best boat cooler with wheels.

Why It Made the Lower: After I want a giant ice chest, I don’t wish to throw my again out getting it from truck to boat and again. This cooler with wheels checks all of the bins and does so at an inexpensive worth. 

Key Options

  • Exterior Dimensions: 18” x 18.5” x 37.5”
  • Weight (Empty): 20.4 lbs
  • Capability: Holds as much as 160 cans or a restrict of lake trout…with room to spare


  • 5-day ice retention
  • Heavy obligation 6-inch wheels & swing-up tow deal with for simple transport
  • Anti-microbial and stain resistant liner, UV coating on the outside
  • Inexpensive worth


  • Deal with design may very well be extra rugged

Let’s face it, carrying a totally loaded cooler even a comparatively quick distance, is solely no enjoyable. When the cooler measurement reaches triple digits, a enjoyable day of sailing can flip into days of again ache. So after I’m trying to make use of my Coleman marine cooler, I’m ever grateful that the 316 Collection 100 Quart is on heavy-duty six-inch wheels. This Coleman marine cooler is the large gun in my cooler arsenal; I don’t use it as usually as I do smaller coolers, however there are some conditions when that is the instrument I would like. 

The Coleman 316 Collection is a basic fish field that may maintain the most important catch. If it’s a family and friends boating regatta, this one cooler will maintain meals and beverage for all. In need of seats for the group, no downside. The lid of this behemoth will assist as much as 250 kilos. The UV coating protects towards prolonged photo voltaic publicity and the anti-microbial, stain-resistant liner makes for simple cleanup after your day on the water. 

Finest for the Cash

RTIC 20 Qt. Hard Cooler is the best boat cooler for the money.

Why It Made the Lower: The perfect worth high-end grab-and-go cooler accessible, sized to suit nearly wherever.

Key Options

  • Exterior Dimensions: 11.75 in. x 13.25 in. x 20 in
  • Weight (Empty): 19 lbs
  • Capability: as much as 24 12-oz.cans plus ice


  • Rotomolded building
  • Heavy obligation rubber T-latches
  • 5-day ice retention
  • No fail hinges


  • Deal with susceptible to coming out

In case you’re searching for a fantastic small cooler however don’t wish to pay the premium worth for a YETI, the RTIC 20 Quart is a good purchase. It’s not the most cost effective cooler, however I believe it’s one of the best worth. This cooler is available in $100 lower than the highest tier competitors, but the ice retention is comparable. 

My 20 to 30 Quart coolers are my day-to-day workhorses, whether or not pleasure boating, fishing, or a combination of the 2 and the RTIC 20 Quart suits in fairly properly. Its measurement makes it straightforward to tuck out of the best way, even in smaller craft. Regardless of its compact design, the inside is surprisingly spacious, even with the three inches of insulation. Lunch and drinks for one or two folks and the suitable quantity of ice suits simply. With cautious packing, I’ve even been in a position to make it work for a household of 4.

The freezer-style lid gasket and rubber T-latches are the identical options you discover on dearer fashions. Like on these fashions, they supply the added contact wanted to make sure that the chilly stays in whereas the warmth stays out. Heavy-duty building makes this a fantastic further seat or step stool in these instances when nothing else is available.

If there’s one notable tradeoff for the worth, it’s within the general sturdiness class. This cooler will final for years however indicators of wear and tear and tear present, within the type of dents and scrapes.

Issues to Take into account Earlier than Shopping for a Boat Cooler

Days afloat require a supply of chilly drinks and meals. In case you’re fishing and preserving your catch, the one probability of getting these fish dwelling in one of the best situation for very good desk fare is on ice. For both of those eventualities, my pre-departure guidelines consists of at the very least one cooler. To determine which cooler is true to your boat, we have to take into account our wants by way of measurement, building, function and ice retention.


In the case of boating and boat coolers, measurement issues. On this case, we’re speaking about each the boat and the cooler. The dimensions of our vessel, whether or not it’s a fishing kayak or a 26-foot motorboat, will dictate how a lot house now we have for the cooler. This in flip makes evaluating the exterior dimensions of coolers to contemplate straight ahead. 

The opposite consideration is what I seek advice from because the “measurement of the job.” If a pal and I are floating the West Department of the Delaware River, our wants are pretty minimal. We don’t want something greater than a small cooler for drinks and lunch. Nonetheless, if I’m boating with household and mates, our meals and beverage wants enhance dramatically. So too does the dimensions of my cooler or coolers wanted for such an journey. 


Boating means publicity to the weather: solar, wind, and wave motion on the boat. Fortunately, one of the best boat coolers made in the present day are constructed to resist these situations. Issues to search for embody superior insulation, UV safety, anti-slip ft and anti-corrosion {hardware}. 

Rotomolded shells for arduous coolers and welded building (fairly than stitched) for smooth coolers contribute to the general sturdiness of the cooler, whereas additionally maximizing its cooling effectivity. Hinge programs which might be molded into the cooler and latches which might be robust but function easily spherical out the development elements to search for in your subsequent boat cooler. 

Boating coolers are also known as “marine coolers.” I do make a slight distinction, in that true marine coolers are constructed to be used in saltwater environments. Although nearly all of my boating is in freshwater, I purchase gear that’s as much as the oceanic take a look at. Corrosion resistant stainless-steel {hardware} is normal on one of the best boat coolers. On this approach, my bases are coated wherever I boat.


Do you personal one of many 17 million leisure boats that the Nationwide Marine Producers Affiliation says are at the moment in use in the USA? Are you fishing or just having fun with a day of leisure boating? If I’m fishing and planning on preserving my catch, I pack accordingly. So long as house permits, I carry two coolers: one bigger arduous cooler prepped and appropriately iced as a fish field and a second smaller smooth cooler for meals and beverage.

In case your boating is concentrated on fishing, try one of the best fishing coolers to see some nice choices that covers each functions. In case you’re heading out for a wilderness journey, assessment our listing of prime coolers for tenting and finest ice chests. For a extra cell choice, try one of the best cooler backpacks.

Ice Retention

The coolers we used within the 70s and 80s held sufficient ice for a day on the water. However by the point the solar began happening, drinks have been removed from the optimum temperature, and saved fish have been fit for human consumption however removed from peak freshness. That is in all probability the place one of the best boat coolers of in the present day shine the brightest. Superior insulation, usually 2-3 inches thick, goes a great distance to make sure the chilliest of environments for a chronic interval. These days, ice retention will get measured in days, not hours. Past simply the insulation, further issues embody freezer-style sealing gaskets on the lid and safe latch mechanisms that maximize the advantages of those gaskets. 


Q: What’s the distinction between a cooler and a marine cooler?

A marine cooler differs from extra generic coolers in that it’s particularly designed to deal with the marine setting. These typically harsh situations embody excessive air temperatures, prolonged durations of direct daylight publicity, seawater corrosion, rainfall and wind. Design options to search for in your marine coolers embody UV safety, rotomolded or different heavy-duty building and anti-corrosion stainless-steel {hardware}.
Moreover, marine cooler design takes into consideration the erratic and typically violent methods these situations can have an effect on the boat, because it rolls over waves, in flip inflicting free gadgets to shift. The perfect marine coolers have non-skid ft to maintain the cooler from sliding round and/or tie down factors for securing the cooler in place on the boat.

Q: What measurement cooler is nice for fishing?

The perfect measurement cooler for fishing depends upon a number of variables. Ask your self these questions:
– How giant is the group? 
– What number of days will you be fishing: single or multi-day fishing journey? 
– Will the first function of the cooler be chilling meals and beverage, or will it function a fish field to maintain your catch contemporary? If the latter, how huge will the fish be?
Most of my boating time is spent fishing, both from a drift boat (rivers) or small motorboat (lakes). These outings are sometimes day journeys with one to 4 anglers complete. Like all different actions the place I would like a cooler, I strive to not use a instrument that’s too huge for the job. I launch a lot of the fish I catch, so the first job for my fishing coolers is preserving meals and beverage chilly. For this, I make the most of 20-to-30-quart coolers.
On the events after I do plan on preserving fish, considered one of these smaller coolers will nonetheless perform effectively for panfish. If bigger species comparable to lake trout or different salmonids are the quarry of the day, I’ll go for both a 45- or 65-quart cooler. 

Q: Is a forty five Qt. cooler sufficiently big?

In most boating conditions, a 45-quart cooler is sufficiently big. Of my bigger coolers, that is the one I exploit most steadily. Nonetheless, you probably have a big group, say six or extra folks, or if the cooler’s main function is preserving huge fish contemporary (assume lake trout or bigger), then it’s in all probability not sufficiently big. Step as much as one thing bigger, round 65 quarts or so.
My private unfold of coolers is heavy within the 20-to-30-quart class, with one 45-, 65- and 100-quart cooler to spherical out the system. This supplies most flexibility, whether or not it’s for boating, fishing, or tenting. All my bases are coated.

Closing Ideas

Shopping for a premium cooler is an funding I averted for years. Buying cheaper coolers that wore out and wanted to get replaced was the arduous solution to be taught the worth of one of the best boat coolers. They could be dearer, however you want solely purchase them as soon as. In case you rigorously take into account the questions of measurement, building, function and ice retention, the cooler you select won’t solely serve for a lifetime, however it will likely be a greater worth and improve the enjoyment of all of your boating adventures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *