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 marine coolers can be quite high tech these days and are packed with so many great features.
To find the best marine 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 boating cooler reviews.
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.
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 marine cooler. It all really comes down to the size of your boat and the storage options at play.
Hard marine coolers are harder to store and require more space. Soft sided ones can usually be shoved into gaps or under boat seats quite easily.
Wheels and a pull handle will come in handy if you tend to fill your arine 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.
When looking for the right sized marine 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.
Depending on the length of your boating excursions you may need to invest in more than one marine cooler. For longer fishing 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.
Electric marine 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 marine cooler long in advance to your boating excursion.
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.
Here are our picks for the best boat coolers you can buy:
- Igloo Polar Cooler - Best cheap marine cooler
- AO Coolers Stow-N-Go Cooler - Best cheap soft cooler
- YETI Tundra 35 Cooler - Best high end cooler
- Moeller Deluxe - Best boat seat cooler
- Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler - Best cheap electric cooler
- ACOPOWER P40 Cooler - Best high-end electric cooler
- YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler - Best soft cooler
- Coleman Cooler - Best retro styled cooler
- Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler - Best zipperless hardbody cooler
- Coleman Rolling Cooler - Best cheap rolling cooler
1. Igloo Polar Cooler
BEST CHEAP MARINE COOLER
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.
2. AO Coolers Stow-N-Go Cooler
BEST CHEAP SOFT COOLER
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!
3. YETI Tundra 35 Cooler
BEST HIGH END COOLER
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!
4. Moeller Deluxe
BEST BOAT SEAT COOLER
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.
5. Igloo Iceless Thermoelectric Cooler
BEST CHEAP ELECTRIC COOLER
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.
6. ACOPOWER P40 Cooler
BEST HIGH-END ELECTRIC COOLER
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.
7. YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler
BEST SOFT COOLER
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 Hopper 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.
8. Coleman Cooler
BEST RETRO STYLED COOLER
This Coleman Cooler is perfect for people with retro-themed boats and a mighty thirst to quench. Made with premium rust-resistant stainless steel, this unit will provide you with years of use—its 6-year warranty makes sure of that.
Comfort-grip handles mean that lugging this 20-pound cooler around is made as easy as possible and increases the ease of carrying & level of control. Its sturdy design also makes for an unofficial additional use: it’s strong enough to double as a seat!
This retro-inspired boat cooler isn’t all about the looks though, it retains its coldness in temperatures up to 90°F for up to four days. It’s also dry-ice compatible; just remember to add plenty of newspaper and you won’t experience any hiccups.
The Coleman Cooler can hold up to 85 cans at a time, which is perfect for bigger onboard get-togethers and longer excursions out on the water.
9. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler
Best Zipperless Hardbody Cooler
The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler is first and foremost a cooler, but it is so much more than that. The cooler’s easy-clean exterior is constructed with Rhino-Tech technology to provide it with water and stain resistance.
A padded, adjustable Backsaver shoulder strap makes this cooler double as a backpack, which is all kinds of convenient. Not only will you be able to easily transport ice but you’ll also be able to bring aboard food and personal belongings at the same time.
A triple layer ColdBlock base ensures that your ice stays cold for long—we’re talking up to three days! The zipless flip-open lid means you’ll never worry about zips getting caught and the zippered pocket means you can safely secure your belongings.
Up to 30 cans can be stored in the Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler. If you’d like to chuck in some soft foods like sandwiches you can use the SmartShelf to make sure they don’t get crushed by the cans.
10. Coleman Rolling Cooler
BEST CHEAP ROLLING COOLER
Another Coleman product to find its way onto our list is the Coleman Rolling Cooler. All Coleman Rolling Cooler components are made from durable hard plastic, so you won’t even need to think about rust problems occurring. An EZ-clean lid means that this cooler is always just a wipe away from being ready to rumble out on the water.
This boat cooler is all about your comfort and convenience. Transporting the cooler back and forth is a breeze thanks to its telescopic handle & its heavy-duty roller wheels mean you can confidently tackle any terrain. It has four 2” deep built-in cupholders molded into its Have-A-Seat Lid that’s capable of withstanding up to 250lb.
The Coleman Rolling Cooler features such a high level of insulation that it can keep ice-cold for up to five days in temperatures rising up to 90°F. That’s thanks so Coleman’s clever addition of Xtreme Technology.
Taking your boat out on an extended trip? Or do you have a large group of friends heading over to your boat for a day of fun in the sun? Fill this cooler up with 84 cans to make sure you don’t run the risk of getting dehydrated during your adventures aboard.
Pardon the pun, but with features like those, it’s safe to say that boat coolers are COOL. We’ve let you in on the best of the best boat coolers that the market has to offer. All that’s left for you to do is pick the one that will meet your needs.
Even though boat coolers won’t break the bank, it’s still important to know all of the information to make sure the investment is worth it.
Before wrapping this article up, we thought we’d provide you with the answers to the most frequently asked questions our team receives. And remember—if your question isn’t answered here, drop it in the comments section down below and we’ll do our best to answer it.
What’s the difference between a regular cooler and a boat cooler?
There are many differences between regular coolers and boat coolers. For starters, boat coolers are insulated much better than their regular counterparts, which means they keep ice colder for longer.
Boat coolers have built-in UV protection features so you won’t need to worry about the cooler getting discolored by the sun. Other differences between a boat cooler and regular cooler include the anti-rust properties, non-slip characteristics and the fact that it’s almost always white in color.
Do boat coolers come with drain plugs?
Yes, the majority of boat coolers come with drain plugs for easy drainage. It’s recommended that for your own convenience and to keep the unit hygienically clean, you should always opt for a boat cooler with a built-in drain plug.
If the boat cooler you select does NOT have a drain plug, you can watch this video to find out how to change that.
Are boat coolers compatible with dry ice?
Yes, most boat coolers are compatible with dry ice. Given that boat coolers have better insulation than regular coolers, dry ice will also keep for much longer in a boat cooler than in a regular cooler.
This is ideal for longer fishing trips or excursions out on the boat. Wrap dry ice in lots of layers of newspaper, place your cans, food, or freshly caught fish in the cooler and fill the cooler up with more newspaper.
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 marine cooler will provide years of security when it comes to the transportation of food and beverages.
From this roundup of the top marine coolers available today you can see there’s an option to suit any budget.
Don’t hit the water without one!