We love long days out kayaking in the sun but there’s nothing worse than swigging a hot or luke-warm drink in 90+ degree heat. It’s moments like this you wish you had a cooler to keep everything cold and refreshing. Whether you’re just looking to keep some beers on ice or even keep your fish you just caught fresh to cook later that evening, having a kayak cooler to keep your food and drink fresh can come in handy out on the water.
In this post, we’ll walk you through some of the best kayak coolers for keeping your supplies ice cold throughout the whole day.
Best Rated Coolers For Kayaking
How to Choose A Kayak Cooler: A Guide For Buyers
Before we move on to our list of the top rated coolers to use when kayaking, first we’ll walk you through some of options. We’ll look at the different types, some of the unique features certain models have as well as other factors that could affect which one will be best suited for you.
Different Types of Kayak Coolers
When it comes to keeping things cold while out on a paddle, you have a few different options.
The first type of cooler is an ice chest. These are the sterotypical cooler that you’ll often see at picnics or beach trips.
They are hard shelled which has a number of benefits. The first is that they are a lot more durable. The hard materials that they’re made of mean they can take more of a bashing while also protecting what ever you have stored inside. It also means they will typically have very good insulation, keeping their contents cold for longer. A lot of kayaks will have a designated spot built for storing an ice chest cooler too which is another benefit.
There are a few downsides however, the main one being size. Ice chests are usually quite large so there’s not always room for them. Their large size also means more weight. This can get annoying if you’re having to carry it and it will also slow you down.
The second type we’ll look at is a kayak cooler bag. These are the lightweight counterpart of an ice chest that is made with a soft shell exterior.
They have a number of advantages the first of which is that they are a lot easier to carry. Some models come as backpacks or with an easy to carry shoulder strap meaning they’re very portable. The fact that they’re made out of softer materials also means they don’t weigh as much as chests. They will typically have more compartments than an ice chest too with zippered pockets to store other items.
The last type is a towable cooler or floating cooler. As the name suggests these are coolers that you attach to the rear of your kayak and tow along behind you.
These are best for those of you who don’t have much room onboard your kayak. This way you can take all the supplies you need without giving up any space. Plus, they also have the added benefit of being cooled by the water keeping their contents cooler for even longer.
These days, coolers are more and more advanced when it comes to the materials they’re made out of. The soft shell coolers are made from a number of different materials like foam and rubber that are used for their strong, durable qualities but also their insulating properties.
A big consideration when it comes to choosing your kayak cooler is their capacity. Coolers come in a number of different sizes and are able to store very different amounts of items.
Before you purchase you cooler, have a think about how you’re going to use it. Will you be using it to keep your lunch and a few drinks cool on your own? If that’s the case you’ll be find with a smaller cooler.
Perhaps you’ll be going on weekend long kayak camping trips, in which case you’ll need a cooler with a lot larger capacity. Or maybe you’re looking for a cooler to keep your catch on ice on your next fishing trip. If that’s the case then you’ll want to look for one that’s designed to hold fish and ice.
As we covered briefly earlier in this article, how much space you have to store you cooler on your kayak will determine which one might be best suited for you. If you have a very narrow kayak with not much space on board, you’ll probably be going for a soft case or towable. But, if you’re got a larger one with lots of extra space then an ice chest won’t be a problem to take aboard.
A key feature of kayak coolers has to be that they are waterproof. It’s almost inevitable that your cooler is going to get wet whether that be from waves or splashes from your paddle. All the coolers we’ve listed below are waterproof but ensure which ever one you choose that it’s not going to ruin its contents if it gets wet.
Maintaining Their Temperature
The last, but by no means least feature to look for is how long good the cooler is at keeping its temperature. If it doesn’t stay cold then it’s not worth it. Of course no cooler is going to stay cold forever but make sure you read the reviews to see how long other customers report that it stays cold for.
The Best Rated Kayak Cooler Reviews
Now that we’ve looked at some of the important features to consider when buying a cooler, let’s take a look at our reviews of some of the best rated kayak coolers on the market.
#1. YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler
- The Hopper Flip 12 has ColdCell Insulation, a closed-cell foam that offers superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers, with a...
- The Hopper Flip 12 features a 100% leakproof HydroLok Zipper and the wide-mouth opening means great accessibility and visibility...
- Its DryHide Shell is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and abrasions so it will hold its own when faced with the...
If you’re looking for the best cooler for kayaking then you have to check out the Yeti Hopper Flip portable cooler. YETI are one of the best known brands when it comes to high quality coolers. The Hopper Flip is a completely waterproof, high density fabric that’s also resistant to mildew, punctures and even the sun’s UV rays so it won’t fade over time.
We love the look and design that not only looks great but is really practical and easy to carry. The interior is kept cool by the closed-cell rubber foam that definitely excels compared to other soft coolers we looked at. It comes in a few different sizes from the Hopper Flip 8 which can hold around standard 8 cans and ice, the Hopper Flip 12 (which can hold around 12 cans) and the Hopper Flip 18 (18 cans) so no matter how much you plan to take with you you’ll find one to suit your needs. The only down side is the price which is a little more than the others but well worth it in our opinion.
#2. YETI Hopper Backflip Backpack Cooler
- Part cooler, part backpack, the Hopper BackFlip 24 is the perfect reason to extend your trek. It’s sizable enough to fit a...
- DRYHIDE SHELL - The Hopper’s high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. The liner is...
- COLDCELL INSULATION - Closed-cell rubber foam offers far superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers.
A great alternative to the Hopper Flip is the YETI Hopper Backflip which is the backpack version. It has all the same features as the regular model like the durable fabric, cold-cell insulation technology, waterproof zip and sleek design but adapts it to be a backpack that’s more convenient to carry.
It utilises a slight design change to distribute the weight to suit being carried on the back and features ergonomic shoulder straps to ensure comfort plus it has a waist strap to keep it stable. A great option for kayakers who don’t necessarily have spare hands free when carrying their kayak to the launch spot.
#3. IceMule Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler
- RUGGED AND BUILT FOR THE OUTDOORS: Engineered for portability and high-performance, this soft-sided cooler bag makes your next...
- EFFORTLESS HANDS-FREE CARRY: Lightweight, backpack-style cooler with a double padded and ventilated sling strap leaves both your...
- EASY ACCESS INTERIOR: Accessible roll-top design opens wide, letting you load up and find what you're looking for easily; Fully...
Sticking with the convenient kayak backpack cooler theme we have the IceMule Classic, an inexpensive and portable cooler ideal for days out on the water. As you’d expect, it’s completely waterproof being designed with no zip, it even floats so is a perfect choice for paddlers.
It’s available in multiple sizes: 10L, 15L and 20L so if you plan on taking more with you they’ve got you covered. IceMule are designed with great insulation in mind and they claim to be the coldest coolers in the world keeping ice solid for over 24 hours.
#4. Seattle Sports Catch Cooler for Fishing
- KEEP YOUR CATCH FRESH - Deck Top Cooler Allows You to Keep Your Catch Fresh During a Day on the Water
- EASY TO CLEAN - Removable Internal Liner for Easy Cleaning
- EFFICIENT - Heat Reflective Body and Closed Cell Foam Insulation Keeps Your Goods Cool
If you an angler and looking for a cooler to keep your catch cool and fresh on your way home then check out this cooler from Seattle Sports. It’s specifically designed to keep fish cold and can hold up to 18L, but is also fine to keep drinks and lunch in for those long days of paddling.
The main reason we like it is that it has a removable internal section that the fish go in which is incredibly easy to clean. Pop some ice in and it’ll stay cool for hours with its heat reflective exterior and closed cell foam insulation.
#5. CreekKooler Floating Cooler
- FLOATING COOLER - Save space in your small watercraft and tow the CreekKooler.
- INSULATED DESIGN - Two inches of insulation is injected into the hull and deck, giving CreekKooler an ice retention of 48 hours....
- TOWABLE - Tow the CreekKooler behind small watercrafts, float in the water or drag across dry ground.
Last, but by no means least is this floating kayak cooler from CreekKooler. If you don’t have much space on board then this one could be the answer as you tie it behind your kayak and it floats behind you. It very well insulated plus the water keeps it even cooler. It has a big 30 qt capacity or the equivalent of 30 12oz cans with 20lbs of ice.
Depending on your preference, it’s available in five different colors and we also like that it has four cup holders so when you stop for a dip in the water you can just grab your drinks without having to open it up. Completely water tight and even has a flag holder to display stars and stripes proudly.
#6. The YETI Tundra 110 Hard Cooler
- The YETI Tundra 110 was designed specifically with the rafting community in mind, it’s sized to fit all major raft frames...
- Ice stays ice thanks to up to 3 inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an extra thick FatWall design is certified Bear-Resistant
- The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra armored to the core and virtually indestructible so wherever you decide to take it,...
The last cooler that we’ll look at in this post is the YETI Tundra 110 Hard Cooler. If you’re looking for one of the best coolers and need a big one to store a lot of stuff, then this is the one for you. It can hold a massive 74 cans of beer so is perfect for a larger outing with friends and family or for a longer weekend camping and paddling trip.
It’s great at keeping its contents cold due to the 3″ PermaFrost insulation to ensure ice stays ice. The outer shell is one of the most durable coolers we’ve come across with Rotomolded polyethylene construction which is the same material used to make whitewater kayaks. It’s even certified to be Bear Resistant!
Conclusion: Which one Should you get?
We hope that’s helped to break down some of the features you need to look out for when purchasing a cooler for your next kayaking trip. As we mentioned, which one is best for you will depend on what you’re going to be using it for.
If in doubt though we’d highly recommend the YETI Hopper Flip Soft Case Cooler. The durable build quality, fantastic temperature control, sleek design and amazing reviews all point to it being one of, if not the best kayak cooler on the market today. We highly recommend it. For more information and to get the best price click the button below.