Best Kayak Cooler [Top 9] – Best Coolers For Kayaking

Best kayak cooler

The best kayak cooler may be found here for those who are looking. One of the most popular accessories is kayak coolers, with many (if not too many) alternatives to pick from. However, it would help if you studied to find out the best cooler for kayaking before buying any old ice chest.

Table of Contents

Quick Comparison Of The Best Kayak Coolers

Product imageProduct nameEditor's ratingPrice
Arctic Zone Titan4.9See pricing details
ENGEL 194.8See pricing details
YETI Roadie 244.8See pricing details
YETI Hopper Flip 124.7See pricing details
Polar Bear4.7See pricing details
IceMule Pro4.7See pricing details
CreekKooler PuP4.6See pricing details
Perception Splash4.6See pricing details
YETI Hopper4.5See pricing details

Review Top 9 Best Kayak Coolers

1. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Coolers

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This bad boy can keep your items ice-cold for up to 36 hours for a cheap cooler. Additional benefits include numerous more compartments, elasticized gear straps for increased storage, a cushioned shoulder strap, and side carry handles. It also has a divider plate to separate food and ice from beverages and meals.

This hybrid design from Arctic Zone is the most affordable choice on our list of the best coolers for kayaking. The hardbody liner is not exceptionally durable, which is a drawback of this less expensive kayak cooler. It has a maximum capacity of nine cans and, when fully loaded, has very little space for ice.


2. ENGEL Cooler/Dry Box 19 Qt – White

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This kayak cooler is 100% waterproof thanks to the airtight top, and despite its size, it’s very light. The insulation does not keep items as cold as other coolers on our list. Neither the straps nor the insulation is renowned for being pleasant or long-lasting.

This 19-quart model has a detachable tray so you can keep certain items dry and away from the ice, and it can store up to 30 cans of ice. If you have the space for it, this is an excellent alternative for people searching for a kayak cooler that can carry a lot. Although it is one of the bigger hard sides on our list, this one is great for bringing a lot of food and drink.


3. YETI Roadie 24 Cooler

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This cooler can hold up to 18 cans with a 2:1 ice-to-water ratio. Even at the warmest temperatures, the permafrost insulation will keep your food and drinks cold for days. This is one of the best coolers for kayaks since it won’t take up a lot of space on board while not being tiny enough to fit inside a storage hatch.

The YETI Roadie 24 is one of the market’s small, hard-sided kayak coolers. When it comes to going it down, this kayak cooler’s one handle makes it unpopular. The non-slip feet should keep it in place. This updated version is now higher, making storing large bottles of wine or other beverages easier.


4. YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler

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The Yeti Hopper Flip is an excellent option for fishermen who want to keep themselves and their cars dry. The waterproof zipper is nicely made, although it might be challenging. It works well; however, for a little cooler, the price is absurd.

When prepared with an arduous amount of water and ice, you may anticipate all-day cooling regardless of how strongly the sun beams down on this cooler. It is easy to reach from the seat and can accommodate up to 12 cans, perhaps less, and lunch.

The Hopper Flip is an excellent option for kayak fishermen going for a hard-sided cooler that will keep their lunch cold all day. The coolers fit easily into the stern well and keep their car or vehicle dry on the trip to and from the water. From the Keys to Kodiak Island, Yeti’s high-end, expensive coolers have shown their dependability and efficiency.

The hard-sided version fits in most kayaks at 14 x 11 x 14,” but you should measure beforehand due to the hard sides. The soft-sided arrangements are made for riding in the stern and having a different design for different water temperatures.


5. Polar Bear Coolers 12 Pack Original Nylon Soft Cooler

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After using the cooler for a year or two, several customers have complained about leaks in the bottom. The disadvantages are that the outside may get wet and may be more challenging to store in your boat due to the hard sides.

An easy-to-transport cooler designed by Polar Bear features a typical shoulder bag aesthetic. It has carry handles, an adjustable shoulder strap, and a practical outer pocket. The bag is 7x14x12 and has insulated, semi-rigid sides. The substance is durable and resistant to wear.


6. IceMule Pro Collapsible Backpack Cooler

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This kayak cooler bag can fit into most hatches or bungee decks and doubles as a dry bag thanks to its roll-top and waterproof construction. As long as you don’t fill it up, there is also an air valve to release extra air, allowing you to roll it down to an even smaller size.

This kayak cooler bag can keep your belongings ice-cold for up to two days while being incredibly portable and buoyant. It can carry 18 beers and ice if you want to cram as many insides. The best feature of this bag is that it can simultaneously hold a liter of water and an entire bottle of ice-cold beer.

The 23-liter backpack cooler from Ice Mule takes top place for being the best cooler for kayaking. The company has a reputation for producing soft-sided coolers of the highest quality. The pro model is no exception to the company’s reputation as an excellent product manufacturer.


7. CreekKooler PuP Floating Cooler, Tow on Rivers and Lakes, 15 Quart

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Some paddlers claim they had to play Tetris to fit 15 cans with ice in this pull-behind cooler, even though it has space for up to 15 cans. This innovative floating cooler from KreekCooler is perhaps the best kayak cooler for those very low on space in their vessel.

Two can holders integrated into the top of this kayak cooler are among our favorite features – talk about practical! Thanks to the two walls and foam insulation, your beverages will keep cold all day, and the durable material will keep them safe from roadside debris.


8. Perception Splash Seat Back Cooler

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However, I would not advise using this cooler for fish since the inside would probably be harmed. The seams of this cooler will ultimately split if you strap it down too firmly. Durability is the only drawback I can see with the Perception seat back being more relaxed.

The Splash Seat Back Cooler from Perception is the perfect solution for kayak fishermen who want to keep their lunch and beverages cold. This might be an excellent choice for fishermen who need to keep drinks and lunch cold but are limited on space in the stern well.

The Splash seat back is more relaxed, easily connected to any lawn chair-style kayak seat, and provides the necessary insulation while saving valuable deck and stern good space. It fastens using an easy and effective bungee ball technique. Once in position, this cooler is relatively easy to use, albeit getting to the bottom might be challenging.

Fabric loops on the exterior make it great to attach Perception’s Splash rod holders and provide other organizational choices. You can depend on me to be impressed, from the additional rod holders to the pliers on a lanyard.

Perception’s YKK zipper opens to reveal a roomy inside with enough for 10 to 12 cans and enough ice to keep them chilled all day. Since Perception employs waterproof material and welded seams, rain shouldn’t leak inside when the ice melts, which is crucial for efficient cooling.


9. YETI Hopper Two Portable Cooler

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This cooler is made to be durable and sturdy, including zippers and waterproof lining. It weighs six pounds, which is a lot, but it won’t be a huge deal if you’re paddling with it. Due to its flatter design, the bag can easily fasten to the kayak’s deck or be tucked behind the seat.

This cooler has a sleek bag construction and can hold a good quantity (18 cans or 20 pounds of ice). It is also about as durable as they get. However, the ice does not often remain for very long, according to several customers’ complaints. In terms of quality and style, this cooler goes above and beyond.


How To Choose The Best Kayak Cooler? Buying Guide

What Justifies the Need for a Kayak Cooler?

The best kayaking coolers provide extra storage space, which is sometimes hard to find on tiny boats. After a long paddle, nothing is less enjoyable than cracking up a warm beverage or devouring a melting sandwich. A kayak cooler is a must-have if you’re going on a long kayak trip. You’ll need something to keep your beverages and snacks cold for days. If you’re going out for the day, you’ll need a cooler to keep all of your food and drinks cool.

Keeping composure

The environment is not favorable for kayak coolers – they will be exposed to the sun as a kayak has no shade. The amount of insulation that may be incorporated into their walls and lids to reduce them to fit a stern well has a strict upper limit. Therefore, you often start in a less-than-optimal condition.

If you have extra ice cubes, combine them with frozen plastic bottles and bagged ice to extend the duration of the cold. If you’re storing fish in a cooler, cram it as tightly as possible. Air is the enemy of cold; therefore, keep space to a minimum. Don’t drain the water since frozen water preserves the ice and keeps items cold for a more extended period. Keep the cooler’s lid shut; only open it when essential.

If you have a spacious kayak or one that is used for fun

Because of the broad hulls and spacious deck, you may bring practically any hard shell ice chest and more great space. Look for an ice chest with a large storage capacity if you plan to be out all day or want a lot of space. Kayaks are ideal for transporting coolers since they are sit-on-top and recreational vessels.

Check if your boat is a sit-on-top and if there is space for a hard shell ice chest. If it’s not, you’ll have to use a smaller cooler bag to store the ice inside. Find one that will fit safely and without obstruction on your boat. Make sure it doesn’t end up in the water in the middle of your journey.

If your kayak is narrow and has little room for storage

Most sea kayaks include bungee cords and deck lines, making it simple to fasten a compact cooler bag to the kayak’s deck. Look for a cooler bag with a soft shell. These adaptable backpacks may fit inside your kayak or even rest on top.

Choose a cooler bag that can fit inside your kayak’s hatches for added stability and security. Look for long, flat designs or coolers with soft sides that can be fastened beneath bungee cords. You may even be able to put your cooler beneath your seat in certain boats. For this, soft shell cooler bags will work best.

How can I choose the best kayak fishing cooler?

Fish are cooked well before dinnertime as the sunbeams on the plastic boat, turning the kayak hold into an oven. Additionally, washing blood and fish slime out of a sit-inside kayak is a pain in the back, and you’ll never get all the muck to drain out the drain plug. The failure of your last journey will serve as an unpleasant memory the next time you open the hatch.

Size and weight are crucial when choosing the best kayak cooler. Fortunately, the most recent super coolers are designed to keep cold contents effectively. With less ice to transport and a smaller cooler to utilize, fisherman can still keep their catch fresh.

Keeping fish in the cockpit exposes them to direct sunlight and creates a mess. The solution is to use a kayak fish bag or a small kayak fishing cooler. Improved cold storage may be achieved by adding ice to the cooler or pre-freezing the fish bag before the journey. Finding a paddleboard cooler that can store rods or keep them as gear storage is your best choice.

Once you’ve secured an ideal cooler for your water-bound escapades, it’s time to think about additional gear that can elevate your kayaking experience. A key piece of equipment to contemplate is lighting for your kayak. Picture yourself gliding across the waters as the sun dips below the horizon or embarks on its daily ascent. Effective kayak lighting can truly transform these moments.

Similar to picking the right cooler for your needs, finding the right lighting setup requires thought and consideration. You’ll need to weigh aspects such as luminosity, the lifespan of the battery, how it attaches to your kayak, and its resilience to water. Stay with us as we navigate through a selection of best kayak lights, shedding light on options that can brighten your path and keep you safe on your water-bound adventures.

Kayak Coolers Types

Kayaking coolers come in two varieties: soft-sided and hardshell. Before deciding which kind is best for your requirements, remember that both are great for various reasons.

Soft-sided coolers

Soft-sided coolers have come a long way in the last few years and are often just as good as hardshell coolers. Many kayak cooler bags are designed to fit in tight locations, including hatches and even the back of chairs. Another benefit is a softshell’s standard inclusion of shoulder straps, which make transit simple.

Floating Coolers

Floating coolers are an excellent option for paddlers who want to keep as much deck space and area for gear open as possible. While leisurely paddle-goers might like something to drink, fishermen with lines out might not appreciate the concept of a tied item surrounding their boat in case of line snags.

Cooler chests

They are typically smaller than ice chests, have soft sides, and may not have as much carrying capacity. Custom-made kayaks can also be tailored to fit in kayaks or accompany you on trips.

Hardshell Coolers

If you have the space, hard-sided coolers are great for kayaking. They can store more and keep things cooler longer than their soft-sided equivalents. Many sit-on-top kayaks have a big enough tank well to house a hardshell cooler. If you’re paddling with a smaller yak or a SIK, it could be hard to find space for one.

Tankwell Coolers

Coolers that nestle into your tank well at the stern of your boat are convenient since they are out of the way and easy to reach while you are sitting. Kayakers who carry a lot of gear may discover that they can’t give up this much deck space for a cooler. Bigger tank well coolers are great for keeping collected fish due to their spacious dimensions.

Ice chests

An ice chest is an extension of the soft-sided cooler, which allows you to store items like sandwiches and snacks without worrying that they will be crushed. Although they have a lot more space, they are less portable. They have the same appearance as the conventional coolers but are typically larger square or rectangular coolers with hard sides.

Greater Boat Coolers

You could have space for a bigger boat cooler if you have a vast, robust kayak for offshore applications or spend your days fishing, shooting pictures, etc., with all the gear. Some paddlers may even like taking the lawn chair-style seats off their sit-on-top kayaks and replacing them with a large cooler.

These coolers are unsurpassed in their adaptability since they are also ideal for extended beach days, camping vacations, and more. If your vessel has room for a large cooler, think about how you may use it to store bait and caught fish, as well as a cooler of drinks and food.

Coolers for kayak seat backs

A cooler that connects to your seatback is a clever way to carry food and drinks on the water, which optimizes deck space and reduces clutter. You’ll appreciate how much space this kind of insulation frees up if your kayak has a lawn chair-style seat or a similar high-backed seat.

Seatback coolers are a great option if you only need water and ice for lunch and drinks. They’re also great for carrying to the beach, park, and other locations so that you can use them for various purposes. Due to their small size, these coolers often don’t have as much capacity as different types but are still great for transporting food and drinks.

Consideration Factors When Choosing Coolers For Kayaking

There are a few things you should think about before buying a kayak cooler, so we have put together a guide for you on how to choose the best one for your trip.

The capacity

It’s crucial to plan where you’ll store your cooler after you’ve got it on board. If you’re buying a hard-sided cooler, be sure the dimensions will fit into your tank well or underneath your seat. Many soft-sided kayak cooler bags may fit inside a hatch. Get a cooler that can work on your ‘yak and has a considerable capacity if you want to down a 12-pack while out on the water.


Some people believe soft-sided bags are the best coolers for kayaking because they can easily be fastened to the kayak’s hull. You may also want to search for a design that will fit on the back of your seat, in open storage spaces, or even one that can be dragged behind your boat on the water – ideas are endless.


Most stern wells are designed to accommodate a typical milk box with a base dimension of 13″ x 18.25″. Be sure to measure correctly! Hard-sided coolers may be challenging to fit depending on the size and form of your stern well. Therefore many fishermen choose soft-sided ones.


Less space indicates less frequent maintenance requirements, which is advantageous if you are always on the road. Changing the ice every one to two hours on a kayaking excursion that lasts four hours or more would not be practicable. Choose models with high insulating capacities and other characteristics like waterproofing capacities.

If you’re looking for a kayak cooler to keep ice in your vessel, you need to consider how much space you have in your kayak and how often you want to use it. You should consider your cooler’s size when comparing the various kayak coolers on the market since some are specifically designed to fit in small places.


There are two main types of kayak coolers – hard-sided and soft-sided. Hard-sided coolers are larger, heavier, and more costly, but they provide more space for your food and beverages and often have superior ice retention. A soft-sided cooler is often more portable, smaller, and lighter.


One of the most popular forms of closures is the zipper, and as long as you have a nice one, you may use it as a closing. On many hard shell coolers, latches are standard, making it easy to access your food and beverages. To avoid digging around after you’ve opened the cooler, go for one with a big opening.


You need the best cooler for kayak camping, kayak fishing, or day outings. Are you keeping food and beverages cold in your kayak cooler? Or do you keep your fish fresh in a different cooler to keep them complex and fresh?

You may want to seek separation between your fish and your food if you keep the day’s catch in your cooler. These coolers, designed to keep fish fresh, are longer and narrower than conventional coolers. You may also want a fish bag if you’re looking for the best cooler for kayak fishing.

Does it float, then?

Having flotation devices is always convenient while spending the day on the water. It is entirely up to you whether you want a cooler that floats or one explicitly made to float behind your boat. They are pretty awesome, and some kayak coolers float. Your ship may also tow them – it’s about personal preference.


When choosing a cooler for kayaking, weight is a crucial consideration. Soft-sided coolers are often more portable since they are less weight and frequently incorporate comfortable shoulder straps. It would help if you thought about how much the cooler will weigh when it is complete and how you’ll move the cooler in addition to the weight of your kayak.

Most individuals may consider price points, particularly novices who might not want to spend much money on something they will only use sometimes. Although there is always a trade-off between quality and cost, cheaper goods are not always of worse quality – it’s just a matter of preference.

A kayak cooler’s weight is additional since it should have room for other items like water bottles, a first aid kit, a lunchbox, and anything else you would bring with you. Most importantly, it must balance at sea and fit into a compact space in your kayak. In this situation, smaller coolers are preferred over large ones.

Retention of ice

It’s common for coolers to be rated according to how long they can maintain ice at a specific temperature. For instance, a cooler that can keep ice for up to 30 hours in temperatures as high as 95 degrees may be seen. How long ice will survive depends on many weather factors and the items in your cooler.


Cold-sided coolers win out here since they are easy to clean, but it might be challenging to locate one that is large enough for colossal fish yet fits in your ‘yak. If you can be flexible, you’re set. If not, carefully examine your bow storage alternatives. Whatever you choose must be easy to wash with soap and water.


The insulating materials used in kayak coolers are vital to ensuring that your belongings will remain ice cold in any condition. The two best kayak insulation materials are closed-cell rubber foam and injected polystyrene insulation. If you find a cooler using these materials, you can be sure it will keep your belongings cold in all weather conditions.

A cold-quality cooler, whether hard or soft, will at least keep the water of your food and beverages over a full day of boating. Hardshell kayak coolers are often considered to be better insulation and ice retention, although soft-sided coolers have significantly improved in recent years.


Construction is crucial for kayak coolers, particularly ones with soft sides. You want your cooler to be durable and withstand frequent usage. A cooler with welded seams prevents warm air from entering, extending the life of your ice. If the cooler is soft, check for stitching and other signs of reinforcement.

Roto-molded coolers are great for storing ice for an extended period. Pay close attention to locks, hinges, and wheels for a hard plastic cooler. The cooler walls are guaranteed to be the same thickness throughout the more fantastic, thanks to roto molding. This information may be more than you want, but it’s wise to keep it in mind.

Quality of Construction and Waterproof Level

The insulating material inside a kayak cooler comprises layers of polystyrene foam, which is extremely light but also absorbs water. The thickness of this insulating substance determines how thick these layers are. It is best to opt for a cooler that has thick insulation material to prevent the fabric from being wet or absorbing humidity. Some insulated versions employ polystyrene foam as an alternative insulation material, while others have an inner shell constructed of fiberglass.

What’s the material?

Small, transportable kayak coolers are available in various forms, dimensions, and materials. Hard coolers and soft coolers have advantages and cons. A hard cooler might be better insulated, keeping your food, drinks, and ice colder for longer. Soft coolers may fit in spaces where a hard cooler cannot.

The quality of the materials and construction makes a tremendous soft-sided cooler stand out from the competition. Look for a cooler constructed from high-denier nylons, PVC, or TPU. Check the cooler to determine if it has a coating that would make it waterproof.


Stern well soft coolers are known for leaking while they stand upright. In a kayak, that’s not much of an issue, but when you raise the cooler to move it or put it in your car’s backseat, leakage becomes a significant concern. I highly advise you to carry this kind of cooler in a vehicle while keeping it enclosed in a large plastic bag.

Keeping Their Temperature Consistent

Check reviews to determine how long previous buyers say the item keeps food cold. The cooler bag’s ability to maintain temperature for an extended period is the final, but certainly not the least, characteristic to consider. It isn’t worth it if it doesn’t remain cold. Even the best cooler bags won’t keep food cold indefinitely.

FAQs About Kayak Coolers

Do you have a small amount of space in your kayak?

A floating cooler might be a solution if you want to keep fish, lunch, or drinks cold but don’t have space on the kayak for a cooler. Look for a sleek, watertight floating cooler for kayaks with a tight top that won’t let cold air or water in. Unless they are specifically made to decrease drag, trailing the cooler behind your kayak diminishes efficiency and interferes with fishing efficiency.

Are you searching for a kayak fishing cooler with rod holders?

Some fishermen desire the best kayak cooler that can also serve as a storage space for their gear since not every fishing expedition is centered on keeping the catch. Look for a cooler with strong rod holders since they will eventually take some hard hits, just like everything else on a kayak. Anglers are seeking fishing equipment that can simultaneously do two or more tasks to make the most of the tiny space on a fishing kayak and cooler.

What cooler maintains ice the longest?

Best kayak coolers for ice retention include a rubber seal between the lid and box and robust latches to produce an airtight closing. The layers of plastic will insulate the contents without increasing bulk or weight thanks to high-quality foam insulation that has been vacuum sealed within. A roto-molded kayak with robust construction is the best kayak cooler for keeping your catch cold.

What kayak cooler has the best ice retention?

A new super cooler generation that can keep ice frozen for days comes to the rescue. The problem is choosing a kayak fishing cooler that will last years of outside exposure and misuse. Super coolers are equivalent in cold retention to ice cubes in a coffee cup.

Want to keep your fish in a kayak fish bag?

A kayak fish bag may be stowed in a hatch or fastened to the bow. It is lined with vinyl and insulated with flexible closed-cell foam. They provide significantly more space for colossal fish than a typical kayak cooler. The bag should be frozen before the trip and packed with ice until it is complete.

What kind of cooler can I fit in a kayak?

A kayak tank well makes the most sense as a location for a cooler. Soft coolers may be strapped to a kayak’s bow or tank well or folded to fit inside. A big kayak hatch should accommodate a folded or rolled-up 15-quart soft cooler. Check the cooler’s specifications after measuring the available space in your kayak to be sure it will fit.


It would be best if you considered designs made specifically for kayaks based on the requirement to save space while delivering enough cooling. While we cannot choose the best kayak cooler for your fishing expeditions, we can assure you that any of the items on our shortlist will function by our evaluation.

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