Best Boat Cooler - Buying Guide | Best Marine Products

Best Boat Cooler

Best Boat Cooler

A warm beer? On a hot day? While on a boat? No thank you! We’ll take a six-pack and a boat cooler to go, thanks! 

Who would have thought that there was such a wide market for these nifty little devices? It turns out that boat coolers can be quite high tech these days and are packed with so many great features.  

To find the best boat cooler for you, let’s break down the market a bit and look at all the things your cooler should & shouldn’t have. Read on to see our reviews of seven of the top units. 

Boat Coolers - Buying Guide

Since nourishment and hydration are so important while out on the water, a boat cooler really is a necessary investment. 

They’ll store your food and drinks; keeping them safe from the heat of the sun & at a healthy temperature for later consumption. They’re also handy for storing fresh fish should you manage to catch one while out and about.  

There are some big brands in the industry that are not to be missed, namely Yeti, Igloo, and Coleman. For years they have been the industry leaders in delivering quality, thoughtful units that are great additions to any boating gear. 

YETI Hopper Flip 18 Portable Cooler Fog Gray/Tahoe Blue

Specs

Before we get into the reviews of our top seven best boat coolers let’s take a look at the various specification options that you’ll have to decide about when buying.  

Soft vs Hard

The perplexing question of whether to invest in a soft or hard-shelled boat cooler. It all really comes down to the size of your boat and the storage options at play.  

Hard coolers are harder to store and require more space. Soft ones can usually be shoved into gaps or under boat seats quite easily.  

Portability

Wheels and a pull handle will come in handy if you tend to fill your cooler to the brim with heavy cans or food items.  

If you’re only catering for yourself or a small family, then regular carry handles will suffice.  

Size

When looking for the right sized cooler, remember that ice takes up 30-50% of the interior space before anything has been put inside. Adjust your size preference accordingly so you can take enough items as well as the ice itself. 

Quantity

Depending on the length of your boating excursions you may need to invest in more than one cooler. For longer trips, two or three units would be a safer bet and allow you to have extra food & drink on hand in case of an emergency.   

Electrics

Electric coolers are practical because they save you the space that would have originally been used to hold ice. 

You will, however, have to make sure to charge your cooler long in advance to your boating excursion.  

Price

How much you should spend on a boat cooler depends on a few things:

  • The first and most notable is how long you intend for your cooler to last. Spending a bit more on a device naturally means it’s of better quality and should last longer.
  • You also need to consider the climate and weather you’ll be using your cooler in. Harsher weather patterns demand a more sound quality unit & thus the more expensive ones become preferable. 
  • Splurging a bit on a quality cooler also means you can make use of it when not on your boat. You’ll be able to keep things cool while camping, having a barbecue or taking a drive, to name a few examples.

Best Boat Coolers You Can Buy in 2019

1. Igloo Polar Cooler - Best Cheap Cooler 

Igloo Polar Cooler (120-Quart, White)

This style of cooler by Igloo has been around since the beginning and has proven consistent performance throughout the years. The heavy-duty plastic has insulation ability to keep ice frozen for up to five consecutive days - that’s impressive! 

When the ice does finally melt, there’s a drainage hose as well for easy draining. 

This hard-shell Polar Cooler is virtually impenetrable and can double as an extra seat on the boat. 

PROS

  • Durable
  • Classic design
  • Affordable

CONS​​​​​​

  • Difficult to carry; no wheels

2. AO Coolers Stow-N-Go Cooler - Best Cheap Soft Cooler 

AO Coolers Stow-N-Go Cooler, Black, 38-Pack

This soft cooler by AO is innovative because it technically doubles as a cooler and a warmer. It will keep ice frozen for up to 24 hours, or it can keep a cooked dish warm for a number of hours as well. 

The cooler is of compact nature and easy to carry around using the attached handles or shoulder strap. A great addition to any boating, camping or hiking trip!

PROS

  • Versatile (can be used to cool or warm)
  • Affordable

CONS​​​​​​

  • No wheels

3. YETI Tundra 35 Cooler - Best High End

YETI Tundra 35 Cooler (Ice Blue)

The coolest of all coolers! This sturdy, high-end unit by Yeti comes in an array of interesting colors so your cooler can stand out from the crowd as well as keep your beverages icy cold.

It has the capacity to hold 14 cans at a time. There’s built-in drainage and tie-down system so it will never go flying overboard. The feet are also nonslip which will hold the cooler in place during times of intense wake. 

Yeti prides itself on the exterior of its coolers as being “virtually indestructible”. This is the best high-end unit by far!

PROS

  • Well made, quality materials
  • Variety of colors
  • Large holding capacity

CONS​​​​​​

  • Expensive

4. Moeller Deluxe - Best Boat Seat Cooler 

Moeller Deluxe Permanent Mount Swing Back Cooler or Livewell Boat Seat (72-Quart, 37

We love this innovative cooler by Moeller. The device doubles as both a drink/food cooler and a boat seat. 

The design is modern, featuring a sleek white finish all round that will be complementary to most boating interiors. 

The only downside to this unit is that it features no convenient methods of carrying or transporting. Getting it to & from said boat may be a bit of a mission - particularly if it’s full of ice and cans. 

PROS

  • Additional seat on your boat
  • Attractive design

CONS​​​​​​

  • Difficult to carry
  • Pricy

5. Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler - Best Cheap Electric Cooler

Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler (Silver/White, 28-Quart)

Finding an affordable electric cooler isn't easy, so this unit by Igloo is a welcome surprise.

The cooler works off electricity via a car or boat cigarette lighter socket. There’s no need to add ice inside the box, it will generate cold air by itself. This leaves you more space for food and drinks inside the cooler. 

This is a versatile unit if you intend to make use of your cooler both on and off the boat. Taking it on road trips, for example, would be easy to do. 

It’s also comforting to know that as long as a charging socket is nearby, your food is always kept cool. You’re not reliant on ice at all. 

PROS

  • Iceless cooling
  • Multiple uses
  • Affordable

CONS​​​​​​

  • Requires a cigarette lighter socket at all times

6. ACOPOWER P40 Cooler - Best High-End Electric Cooler 

ACOPOWER P40 DC12V Compressor Fridge/Cooler Portable 42 Quart Freezer for Camping, RV, Boat, P-Basic (No Battery Design)

Now, this is a boat cooler that packs a punch. The higher end of the iceless cooling coolers, the ACOPOWER is a welcome addition to anyone who needs to feed a large number of people on their boat. 

The holding capacity of this unit is a whopping 64 cans at a time. That is significantly more than any of the other coolers in this roundup. 

The ACOPOWER is powered by either solar or gas. The attached wheels make it really easy to move around, which is helpful considering the large weight the cooler can hold. 

PROS

  • Large holding capacity
  • Wheels for portability
  • Iceless cooling

CONS​​​​​​

  • Expensive
  • Takes up a lot of space 

7. YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler - Best Soft Cooler

YETI Hopper Flip 18 Portable Cooler Fog Gray/Tahoe Blue

Another impressive boat cooler design by Yeti, but this time a soft shell instead of hard.

The exterior, despite being soft, is as impenetrable as the hard one we looked at earlier. The unit is entirely leakproof and resistant to mildew & punctures. 

The Yeti holds up to 12 cans plus ice, which is a worthwhile amount of space for singles or couples spending a day out on the boat. 

Like most Yeti coolers, this one comes in your choice of an array of colors. The matching shoulder strap makes each one easy to take with you. 

PROS

  • Variety of color options
  • Superior quality material

CONS​​​​​​

  • Expensive
  • Can’t freeze ice for long

Final Thoughts:

A boat cooler is a necessity to any daytime boating excursion. Everybody enjoys a cold drink and a freshly made food on a boat grill. Investing in a quality cooler will provide years of security when it comes to the transportation of food and beverages. 

From this roundup of the top boat coolers available today you can see there’s an option to suit any budget.

Don’t hit the water without one!

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