Kayak Coolers: The Ultimate Guide To Choose The Best One For You

This guide will break down some of the most sturdy and efficient coolers on the market so you can see which is best for your needs.

7 Best Kayak Coolers to Take on Your Next Kayak Fishing Trip

kayak coolers

Kayak fishing is great fun, but it does come with a few issues. One of the biggest is that the cramped space does not allow for a lot of storage.

To fix that, there are kayak coolers.

The compact devices are incredibly effective at keeping your food and drink safe as you move through both calm and rough waters.

Kayak Coolers for Every Purpose

There are many kayak coolers out there right now. Some are large and sturdy, while others are much smaller for easy portability. Some keep your food cold for extended periods of time, and some are focused on extreme durability.

The following seven options all bring something different to the table, ensuring at least one will suit your taste.

The first kayak cooler on this list is the Yeti Roadie 20. Yeti is one of the better-known cooler brands out there, a mark that is largely due to their excellent quality and high-production.

The Roadie 20 is a fantastic kayak cooler because, though it is incredibly compact, it is able to hold a range of different items.

Not only is it, like so many of Yeti’s product, made with high quality materials, but it also comes with a patented No Sweat design that keeps the inside cold for extended periods of time.

Nothing is worse than spending time on the water only to find out that your ice melted. This cooler prevents that issue and ensures your food stays on ice during the entire trip.

The heavy-duty latches stop it from popping open in rocky water, while the 3-inch permafrost insulation and unique handles ensure that nothing, even bears, will be able to break into it. That type of durability is not easy to come by in today’s market, and shows why the Roadie 20 is such a great choice.

Adding to that strength, this kayak cooler also comes with rot molded construction, t-rex lid latches, as well as heavy-duty rubber. If you want something that can hold your contents and stand up to the trials of the great outdoors, this is the best choice.

Just be sure to go with Yeti’s recommended 2 to 1 ice-to-content ratio when using the cooler. That will ensure you get the maximum amount of cooling possible.

AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation,...
  • Soft-sided cooler with high-density insulation, a removable shoulder strap, and side pocket
  • Twice the insulation of other soft-sided coolers; guaranteed to hold ice for 24 hours in 120-degree weather
  • Perfect for boating, fishing, hunting, parties, sporting events, and picnics; keeps things cold or warm

The next kayak cooler on this list is AO Coolers Canvas Soft Cooler. While not as popular as the Yeti brand, AO Coolers makes quality products.

There are various reasons to choose this cooler over other options, but its biggest draw is the ability to store both hot and cold items.

Typically, coolers are meant for cold food. That’s all fine and well, especially when out on a kayak, but having the ability to branch out and store warm or hot food is quite handy. Even if you only use it a few times, you’ll be happy to have it when you do.

Though you may worry about a cooler that is meant to keep food warm, but that simply shows off the model’s incredible insulation.

This soft cooler keeps ice solid for 24 hours no matter what the weather is outside. That makes it a great choice for those who like to kayak during the warmer months of the year.

In addition, the kayak cooler comes with a handy removal shoulder strap that makes it simple to get on and off the kayak. This is another easy-to-overlook feature that you’ll be glad to have, especially during a long journey.

There are four sizes available for the Soft Cooler (12, 24, 36, 48 can), and that spread enables you to pick the size that best fits your kayak.

The incredible interior and ease of use make this a perfect kayak cooler for short weekend trips.

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For number three we go back to Yeti. The Hopper Flip 12 Cooler, like the Roadie 20, is an incredibly durable device made to handle everything nature could throw at it.

While there are more casual coolers for easy trips, the Yeti Hopper Flip 12 is a kayak cooler made for tough and rugged terrain. Not only is it both leak and waterproof, it is also naturally resistant to punctures, cuts, hits, and mildew.

That ensures you’ll be able to take it down on any ocean, river, or lake time and time again. It is made for constant use, and can withstand whatever comes its way.

However, this kayak cooler is not just about durability. Of course, it also does a great job of storing food.

The Hopper Flip 12 comes with a special closed-cell foam known as Cold Cell Insulation that helps keep heat out of the device. It also comes with a unique wide-mouth opening so that you can easily load and take food or drinks out of it with little hassle.

All of that is then pressed into an incredibly efficient, compact design that takes up minimal space when put on any kayak. Even so, despite the space-saving design, the kayak cooler still holds up to 12 cans and offers plenty of room for food.

Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Series Soft Cooler Tote Size 12 Pack Red &...
  • Polar Bear Coolers Bundle Includes:
  • 1 x Polar Bear Coolers Nylon Series Soft Cooler Tote Size 12-Pack
  • "Nothing Keeps Cool Like A Polar Bear" (CAPACITY: 12 cans + 5lbs. of ice.) 1000 Denier Luggage Grade Nylon Outer Shell....

Moving away from Yeti, we have the Nylon Series Pack from Polar Bear Coolers. This soft kayak cooler line comes with many advantages that push it above the competition.

First, it is able to keep the items inside it cold for 24 hours, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the water without worrying about your food or drinks getting hot.

In addition, it also comes in 12, 24, and 48 can variations, enabling you to perfectly fit the size to your needs.

As with the above Yeti, this kayak cooler is also ready for the rough outdoors. It is made with a rugged 1000D nylon material that is specially treated so that it won’t rip, scratch, or tear.

Even if you take an unfortunate fall or an accident occurs, you’ll still be able to enjoy your meal later on that day. The reinforced zipper is practically unbreakable as well.

In fact, the company is so sure the cooler will stand the test of time they offer a limited lifetime warranty. That type of confidence shows you’re buying a solid product.

You can even have fun with this kayak cooler because Polar Bear Coolers will embroider it for you. All you have to do is send them what you want it to say and they’ll put it on the bag.

That customization is a great touch that helps make the cooler your own.

Stanley Adventure Cooler 16QT Green, Stanley Adventure Easy Carry...
  • STAYS ICE COLD: The adventure cooler has double-wall foam insulation that keeps this ice box cold for up to 36 hours -...
  • TOUGH AND DURABLE: The high-density polyethylene outer shell, sturdy latches allow this cooler to take a beating with...
  • EASY TO TRANSPORT: The heavy-duty top handle makes this cooler easy to grab and carry. The strings along the top can...

All of the above coolers come with their own pros. Some are compact, some are durable, and others help fight the elements. The Stanley Adventure Cooler is all about keeping your food and drinks cold for as long as possible.

Stanley, like Yeti, is a well-known and well-respected brand. They have been around for years and, in that time, they have learned how to make incredible products.

The Adventure Cooler is perfect for kayak trips for various reasons. Not only does it have a leak resistant lid to make sure nothing gets in or out while you’re on the water, but it also comes with special double wall foam insulation.

That is the cooler’s most important characteristic because it enables the kayak cooler to keep your food cold for 40 percent longer than most coolers on the market. In fact, it will chill your food for up to 36 hours at a time.

While most people don’t need that much time, the extra hours make the Adventure Cooler a perfect companion for longer kayak trips or overnight camping ventures.

The latches and hinges are extremely well-made (as you would expect from a company like Stanley) and the kayak can store up to 21 cans.

If you’re looking for something that has a lot of space for a much longer trip, this is the best option to go with. There is even a lifetime warranty just in case anything goes wrong.

The IceMule BOSS Cooler is a bit different from some of the other items on this list because, rather than being outfitted with shoulder straps or kayak shapes, it has a backpack build. Even so, the tight size means you can throw it on your boat with little worry.

This is a different brand of kayak cooler, but it is still fantastic for your journeys. Not only does the BOSS come with a fantastic suspension system for when you’re carrying it off the water, but it also has multi-day ice retention to keep the interior as cold as possible.

The BOSS has 3-centimeter closed-cell PolayLayr XT Insulation foam to provide you with the maximum amount of ice retention. In fact, the product can keep ice inside it for days at a time without melting.

You also have the option to add in air with the IM AirValve for further insulation if you so wish, and the wide-mouth makes it easy to access when on the water.

Take all of the above features and combine them with the easy carrying capabilities of a cushioned backpack and you have a home run. While this is a bit off the beaten bath, the IceMule BOSS is one of the best options around.

Feelfree 25 Liter Cooler (Blue Camo)
  • Comfortable EVA pad on the lid to double as a seat
  • Tie-down attachment points and front-mounted bottle opener
  • Heavy-duty latches and comfort carry handles

The final kayak cooler on our list, the Feelfree Kayaks Cooler 25 Liter – Pistol Pete, is perfect for the waterways because of its strong exterior and compact size.

Though not as large as the above options, if you want a cooler for a smaller trip or if you don’t need a lot of cooler space, this is one of the best ways to go.

The model is made with rotomolded polyethylene, which means it will be able to take every single bump, scrape, or hit with ease. That is then backed with a cable lock port (if you want to use one) and heavy-duty closures.

This is not a cooler that will pop open at the first sign of trouble. It won’t even pop open at the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth. This is a device made to last through the years, and it will if you take proper care of it.

Another incredibly handy feature of this kayak cooler is the camo-patterned EVA foam pad on its lid that enables it to be used as a comfortable kayak or camp seat. This may not seem like a huge deal up front, but it simply adds to the ways the model can save you space.

In fact, the seat capabilities, mixed with the front-mounted bottle opener, make this one of the best camping kayak coolers on the current market.

To add to that, the cooler also has 2 comfort grip handles, tie-down attachment points, and a high-flow drain. It also comes with a flip-up “pistol grip” handle that folds neatly out of the way when not in use, as well as a 25-liter capacity that is perfect for both long and short trips across any waterway.


Keeping Your Food Protected

Kayak coolers vary in many ways. However, do not let the sheer number of options and choices out there overwhelm you.

First, think about the features you need to have, and then use that to narrow down your search. Employing that metric with the above seven coolers will lead you to the best one.

It is always hard trying to pick one item out of a large group, but choosing a single cooler from a group of seven incredible ones is much easier. Do your research, analyze this guide, and you’ll end up happy.

Janice Friedman

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