7 Ice Cold Kayak Coolers For All Kayak Styles

7 Ice Cold Kayak Coolers For All Kayak Styles

Kayak Cooler 45L Desert Camo

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 6/23/2022

A kayak cooler is a must when it comes to ensuring your beverages and daily catch are kept as cool as they can be before you get back to the car. There are so many great coolers for kayaks that finding the right one can be difficult due to the vast options available. Fortunately, we are here to help you find the perfect cooler for your kayak.

We know how difficult it is to find the perfect kayak cooler for your needs, so we have created this ultimate guide to help you find the perfect cooler. Here is a list of our picks of the best kayak coolers on the market today to spend less time researching your gear and more time enjoying it when you're out on the water.

You'll also learn how to choose a cooler for kayaking and get answers to some of your top questions.

Kayak Coolers: The Best Options

At the moment, the following seven kayak coolers are the best on the market:

Yeti Hopper Flip 12 Is The Best for Sit-On-Top Kayaks.

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 10″ x 11.5″ x 12.6″
  • Weight: 3.4 lbs
  • Capacity: 13 cans

YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler
4.8/5
94%
Sturdiness
92%
Leak proof
92%
Durability
82%
Giftable
80%
Value for money

Highly Portable Insulation

A well-insulated cooler and a portable model are crucial when shopping for a cooler for your sit-on-top kayak. Yeti delivers both with its Hopper Flip 12 cooler. Yeti's SoftSide Cooler features DryHide Shell fabric, which is waterproof and UV-resistant. Hopper Flip is also resistant to punctures and mildew buildup, thanks to its uber-durable material.

ColdCell technology is used for insulation on the Hopper Flip. High-end insulating material made from closed-cell rubber is far more effective at retaining ice than traditional closed-cell foam. Hopper Flip also comes with a Hydrolok Zipper, a tough-as-nails waterproof zipper that seals the bag shut without leaking. In this way, the cooler is entirely waterproof, preventing leaks from happening, which can certainly ruin a kayaking trip.

Oh, and did I mention the Hopper Flip comes with a HitchPoint Grid system? With this attachment system, it is super easy for you to strap the cooler down to the back of your kayak without interfering with your ability to access the drinks.

Bottom Line

If you have a sit-on-top kayak, it is essential to invest in a cooler that can keep your drinks cold while being exposed to the elements. The Yeti Hopper Flip 12 is a lightweight cooler that can accommodate enough food and drinks to last a full day on the water and easily be transported from one kayak to another. Is there anything not to love about this cooler?

Best For Sit-In Kayaks: IceMule Classic Cooler

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 16″ x 10″ x 10″
  • Weight: 2.8 lbs
  • Capacity: 12 cans

Functional Performance

A cooler can be a challenge to find for a sit-in kayak, especially if you are working with a limited amount of cargo space, which isn't very accommodating of large, bulky items. While paddling your sit-in kayak, you may find it challenging to keep your drinks cold. However, there are ways to keep your drinks cold, such as the IceMule Classic Cooler.

IceMule Classic Cooler, with its dual-purpose design, which functions as a dry bag, backpack, and cooler at the same time, is a revolutionary soft-sided soft-sided cooler. For a day at the lake, this cooler can easily hold 12 cans, some ice, and 15 liters of storage space.

This container can keep ice-cold for up to 24 hours despite its lightweight. A large portion of the insulation is made up of PolarLayer insulation, which is a high-end material. Furthermore, this cooler's IM AirValve enables you to add air into the insulation layer to ensure better heat retention. As a result, it is also possible to release air from the interior compartment, making it easier to store things in the boat's dry hatches.

We also like that the IceMule has two extra-thick layers of MuleSkin fabric, which provides a durable exterior for use in harsh environments. Moreover, the IceMule includes a comfortable shoulder strap that can be used as a backpack. There's also a roll-top design on the cooler that's completely waterproof, so you can easily fit it into your kayak's dry storage hatches, allowing you to carry it anywhere.

Bottom Line

IceMule's Classic Cooler is the perfect solution for sit-in kayaks that don't have room for bulky coolers. Because of its roll-top design and ample insulation, it's an excellent choice for storing inside your kayak's dry hatches for longer days of paddling because it's a perfect option for kayak cooler bags.

Best For Fishing Kayaks: Wilderness Systems Catch Cooler

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 29″ x 16″ x 7″
  • Weight: 5.26 lbs
  • Capacity: 27.6 L – fish up to 25″ long

Keeps Your Catch Ice Cold

Kayak enthusiasts need a cooler that will protect their catch from the elements to enjoy their time out on the water. With the Wilderness Systems Catch Cooler, you can carry a fishing-specific cooler on the deck of most sit-on-top kayaks that can easily be strapped down.

It has an interior constructed of 420 deniers ripstop nylon that is explicitly designed to resist punctures from sharp fish fins thanks to its extra-durable 420 deniers construction. Moreover, it is additionally coated with a TPU coating that makes this cooler extra durable and waterproof.

A unique feature of the Wilderness Systems Catch Cooler is its two storage areas. A highly-insulated compartment keeps your catch cold while another compartment holds your drinks and snacks. Each compartment of your cooler has a different access point, and the fish storage compartment has a rigid bottom with high beams that make it easy to drain the water away from your cooler.

With the Catch Cooler, you'll be able to keep your catch ice-cold with the help of built-in pockets that will be able to store ice packs and save the day's catch fresh. As well as being easy to strap onto a kayak, this cooler bag has a dual shoulder strap carry system so you can transfer from your car to your kayak without hassle.

Bottom Line

What is the bottom line? In terms of features, the Wilderness Systems Catch Cooler is a versatile option for paddlers who need to keep both their catch and their cold drinks while on the water. The number of fishing-specific features and its easy transport system make this an excellent choice for paddlers looking for gear with a high level of functionality.

Best Pull Behind Cooler: CreekKooler Floating Cooler

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 39.5″ x 21″ x 12″
  • Weight: 17lbs
  • Capacity: 30 cans

Endless Fun On The Water

You simply need a friend to accompany you on some of your adventures. At this point, the CreekKooler Floating Cooler comes into play. It is easy to maneuver and convenient to use, making the CreekKooler Floating Cooler a great companion for paddling excursions during the summer. A unique cooler shaped like a tiny kayak, this cooler features a design that allows it to attach to the back of your boat so that it can tag along with you as you paddle around.

For durability, it is made of blow-molded plastic, just like many kayaks, and it has a thick layer of close cell foam insulation for ice retention. With its kayak-shaped design, the CreekKooler Floating Cooler is capable of tracking on the water, so it doesn't throw you off your course as you paddle. Furthermore, the cooler's reinforced tow points provide plenty of durabilities and a strong connection while paddling through rough waters.

There is no doubt that the best feature of the CreekKooler Floating Cooler is its large opening. After removing the cooler's lid, you will find an interior that is spacious enough to hold up to 30 cans of a beverage of your choice and 20 pounds of ice. Additionally, it includes four molded cup holders that will provide you with even greater convenience during your on-the-water pit stops.

Bottom Line

Many types of kayak coolers are available today, but the CreekKooler Floating is an excellent option if you are looking for one that can easily be attached to your kayak. It is a great companion on the water, especially when paddling in large groups and carrying a large gear is essential.

Best For Live Bait: Engel Live Bait Cooler 7.5 Quart

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 11.5″ x 10″ x 8″
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Capacity: 8 cans

Engel 7.5 Qt Live Bait Cooler & Minnow Bucket - ENGLBC7-N
4.7/5
100%
Sturdiness
100%
Durability
82%
Value for money
66%
Giftable

Keep It Reel

Keeping live bait alive is no easy task when you're out on the water, and a good cooler is essential. The Engel Live Bait Cooler 7.5 Quart will not break the bank despite its high quality. It is designed with an injection-molded copolymer exterior and stainless steel fittings to provide a durable carry-case for your live bait.

Engel Live Bait Coolers don't disappoint when it comes to insulation. Molded polystyrene foam and an airtight EVA gasket help keep cold air in and heat out. An aerator is built into this cooler to ensure your bait stays fresh. Engel also equipped this cooler with a pullout net to make it simpler to access your bait as you fish.

In terms of its portability, this cooler shines for kayak anglers. Additionally, it is both small and lightweight, and on top of that, it also comes with two attachment points (one on either end) that can be used to attach it to the deck of your kayak. By doing so, you will be able to focus more on fishing and less on your equipment.

Bottom Line

If you're out on the water with some pricey live bait, you don't want to take the risk of ruining them before you even have a chance to cast your lines. Paddling coolers such as the Engel Live Bait Cooler can be a great option for kayak anglers who want their kayak coolers to provide performance and portability.

Best Cooler For Ice Storage: Yeti Roadie

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 17.5″ x 16.5″ x 15.25″
  • Weight: 12.8 lbs
  • Capacity: 18 cans

YETI Roadie 24 Cooler
4.8/5
94%
Sturdiness
92%
Durability
90%
For traveling
82%
Value for money
78%
Giftable

Keeps Ice Seriously Cold

The Yeti Roadie is a fantastic choice if you need a cooler to keep your drinks cool and your ice has frozen in the middle of a sunny bluebird day as you cruise around the lake. Yeti's burly cooler is the smallest hard-sided cooler they make, making it perfect for ice storage for long trips on the water.

Our award for the best kayak cooler for ice storage goes to the Yeti Roadie cooler, thanks to its high-end Permafrost Insulation technology. As a standard feature on all of the company's award-winning hard-sided coolers, this insulation provides its customers with the convenience of keeping ice cold for days, even under sweltering conditions.

Additionally, the Roadie is built with a rotomolded construction, which is highly durable and can withstand the wear and tear of frequent use. With its NeverFail hinge system, the cooler is designed with an interlocking design that eliminates weak points between the lid and the cooler, preventing severe damage.

Added convenience is provided with this Yeti cooler by having the QuickLatch system allow for easy access to the cooler with one hand. As a result, it can be beneficial when kayaking, especially if you need to keep one hand on your paddle while the other is reached back for a refreshing drink.

Portability is assured by the Roadie's HeftyHauler handle, which allows it to be easily carried. Sadly, it does not come with side handles, making it easier for a kayaker to strap down a cooler to the boat. However, it is true that with some ingenuity, it is possible to attach the Yeti to a kayak while still allowing it to be accessed quickly during a paddle.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, if you want insulation that can keep ice cold for hours and days, the Yeti Roadie is a great choice. Generally, Yeti coolers are expensive, but the durability and insulation you get might be worth it, given the price.

Best Cooler For The Money: Polar Bear Coolers Eclipse

Key Specs

  • Dimensions: 18″ x 10″ x 12″
  • Weight: 6.2 lbs
  • Capacity: 24 cans

Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Original Nylon Soft Cooler
4.5/5
100%
Value for money
96%
Sturdiness
90%
Durability
88%
Leak proof
86%
For traveling

High-Value Performance

You don't always have to pay a lot for quality. The Polar Bear Coolers Eclipse is an affordable alternative for kayakers looking for performance without breaking the bank. This soft cooler is made with 840 denier TPE for long-lasting durability, which is waterproof and UV-resistant. In addition to being leak-proof and sweat-proof, the Eclipse is also sweat-resistant, which helps prevent messes on the water.

Polar Bear Coolers did not design the Eclipse with a waterproof zipper to save money. Flipping it upside down will result in leaks, but keeping it upright will not. It also comes with a 1-inch thick layer of closed-cell foam to provide adequate insulation during long days on the water.

On this cooler, there is a single padded shoulder strap, which can assist you in transporting your drinks to and from the car. It also has two grab handles and a variety of daisy chains that allow you to secure the cooler to your kayak quickly.

Bottom Line

There is no need to spend your life savings to get a quality cooler bag for a kayak. With the Polar Bear Coolers Eclipse, you don't have to. For day trips, the Eclipse ice chests feature a top construction that provides enough insulation to keep ice nice and cold and is portable enough to strap down to your boat quickly.

A Guide To Selecting The Right Kayak Cooler

Even though a cooler might appear like a simple piece of gear, a lot goes into creating the ideal storage system for keeping food, drinks, and ice as cold as possible. There are a few things that you should think about when choosing your kayak cooler, so take a look at this list.

Soft-Sided VS Hard-Sided

Hard-sided or soft-sided coolers are the two types of modern coolers. Your choice of kayak cooler will significantly impact its performance in real life. A soft-sided cooler is typically lighter and more portable than a hard-sided cooler. In addition, they fit better into your standard kayak dry hatch, making them a better choice for sit-in boats. They are also less expensive than hard-sided coolers.

On the other hand, hard-sided coolers are challenging to beat in terms of their overall insulation and ability to keep drinks ice cold. Hard-sided coolers are bulky, heavy, expensive, extensive, sturdy, and heavy. However, they are often the better choice when it comes to long-term ice retention because they are jam-packed with insulation. Just keep in mind that their size makes them a better option for sit-on-top kayaks rather than sit-in kayaks.

Size/Capacity

Depending on what you need to keep cold when paddling, you need a kayak cooler with a specific capacity. Larger coolers can hold more, ideal for large groups looking to pack food and drinks.

As a result, you must also remember that the size of your kayak limits you. This is particularly true if you have a sit-in boat, where the best storage spaces are in your dry hatches. Kayak owners with sit-on-top kayaks have somewhat more wiggle room in size, but you must measure the amount of storage space available before purchasing a kayak cooler.

Insulation Abilities

A cooler is essential if you want your foods and drinks to remain cold, even in hot weather. The insulating ability is, therefore, a significant factor to consider.

While each company uses its unique insulation system, hard-sided coolers tend to be more effective at retaining cold for an extended time than their soft-sided counterparts. Foam and injected polystyrene are two of the best insulating materials available, so keep your eyes peeled for them as you shop.

Attachment Systems/Transportation

When it comes to kayak coolers, one of the most important things to consider is how to use them when you are on the water. With sit-on-top kayaks, things are more accessible as these boats are better equipped to handle a bulky cooler on their rear deck than stand-up kayaks. The cooler must still have an attachment system to attach it to your boat with straps or ropes as you paddle so that you can secure it as you paddle.

As a general rule, it is recommended that owners of sit-in kayaks opt for soft-sided coolers that can easily be tucked into the day hatch or day well of their kayak. Depending on the size of your boat and the cooler in question, you may need to adapt. 

You might also be able to incorporate it into the cockpit itself, either behind your seat or a bit farther to the boat's bow. It's essential to find a cooler that's just the right size for the storage spaces on your boat.

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