Do you love outdoor activities? Whether you are a fishing enthusiast, someone engaged in watersports like kayaking or simply wish to spend most of your free time being with nature, then, this indispensable product should always be present, the marine cooler. A marine cooler is a basic necessity for fishing or watersports activities including other outdoor expeditions. Why? Aside from preserving the freshness of your catch, a marine cooler comes in very handy every time you wish for a cold drink.
If you plan to purchase a marine cooler, perhaps this complete guide to the best marine cooler will help in the selection process. Keep in mind, you will come across different marine coolers as you shop around and decision-making can be really tough. So, find a comfy seat and let me give you everything you need to know about the best boat cooler for your fishing trip.
Let’s move forward to the different types of marine coolers in the market. I have narrowed down the list and choose the 10 best marine coolers for your convenience. So, take a closer look at each model or brand and discover which one is the perfect match for you
Table of Contents
Best Marine Cooler Reviews in 2021
1. Pelican Elite Cooler
Another large-size cooler suitable for fishing enthusiasts is the Pelican Elite 30 Quart Cooler. What makes it one of the best fishing coolers? The sufficient space of Pelican Elite 30 Quart Cooler allows you to store your freshly caught fish including chilled food and drinks. It has also robust built, which means it can withstand the toughest beating.
One of the features that I liked most in this particular cooler model is its dual system. Even though it comes in huge size, this cooler can be carried easily on both hands. It also boasts of latches that have press and pull mechanism. With this press and pull latches mechanism the user can have immediate access to the cooler anytime without any struggle. The best thing about the latches is that it functions as strong reinforcement for the lid and the base closure. Other unique features of the Pelican Elite 30 Quart are the non-skid and non-marking raised feet.
According to reviews made on marine coolers the Pelican Elite has been proven to be effective in retaining ice for longer periods (5 to 7 days).
If you prefer a marine cooler that has a lockable ice chest and has many added features, then, you should take into consideration the Pelican Elite is an excellent choice because it is very convenient to use with the press and pull latches, no-skid, non-marking feet, stainless steel plate, built-in can opener and cup holders. This is indeed a good investment for all your outdoor activities.
2. Coleman 120 Quart Coastal Xtreme Marine Cooler
When it comes to a good deal for the money, I think the Coleman 120 Quart is my best product. It’s reasonably priced, plus with many features. This could be probably one of the reasons why it is rated to be an outstanding cooler. So, let’s take a look at what this cooler has to offer. First of all, this cooler got more space than you need and guaranteed to keep your fish, food and other chilled items for approximately 6 days even if the temperature is 90F.
Another impressive feature which I truly like with the Coleman 120 Quart is that you can literally sit on it if you got a small boat. The built of Coleman 120 is designed to support anything weighing 250 lbs. The other feature that Coleman 120 Quart is proud to have is the drain plug wherein it allows the user to drain melted ice easily. The Coleman 120 Quart is also rated by users to be the best marine cooler for camping trips and long weekend explorations.
The only drawback I noticed with Coleman 120 Quart Coastal Xtreme Marine Cooler is the non-availability of fish measuring tool. This is not a big deal if you will weigh the awesome features it has to offer.
I just hope the manufacture of this cooler will take into consideration integrating wheels on their oversized coolers because it will be a big challenge to lift it when fully loaded.
3. Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler
If you are really serious in retaining the freshness of your fresh catch during a fishing trip the Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler is a top choice. Why? It has superb insulation that can prevent ice from melting for approximately 36 hours. For me, this is indeed an incredible feature, plus the Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler has a fish measuring tool, making it a fishing buddy while on open water.
What else I like on this particular marine cooler? Well, it is made from top quality polyethylene material, which makes Igloo Marine Ultra corrosion resistant. In fact, even the steel screws securing the hinges in place are corrosion resistant.
The Igloo is still worth your money because it has UV protection, hinges made from stainless steel, easy-grip handle and base with the anti-slip feature. It also has a fish measuring tool which is very useful in determining which catch to keep or throwback.
If your concern is portability the Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler saves you and your back from any strenuous lifting because it got wheels. So, you are free to move it around on even ground. It also has metal handles mounted on brackets, depicting of fine craftsmanship. And, if you worry about having that fishy smell, this particular model is odor and stain resistant. The Igloo Marine Cooler comes with variety of designs and sizes.
4. YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
The next marine cooler I’m going to reveal has the best insulation because its insulation wall is thicker and a lot durable when compared with other marine coolers. Aside from that, this product is certified “bear-resistant”. Why? It more than 3 inches in thickness, so rest assured this product is not prone to damage. YETI Tundra 45 cooler could be a prefer cooler for any outdoor activity because it got enough space of 45 quart. In addition to its awesome insulation performance the YETI Tundra 45 Cooler has the No Sweat design, meaning the cooler remains dry and would not accumulate moisture even during hot weather conditions.
This model of marine cooler also comes with other add-on features such as anti-slip, anti- slide and non-marking. You can rely on the YETI Tundra for stability even while fishing on rough open water. If your concern is the drainage system the YETI Tundra 45 Cooler is designed to have a drain plug with gasket, ensuring easy drainage. It also comes with a dry good basket wherein you can store sandwiches and other non-chilled food products.
When it comes to portability the YETI Tundra marine cooler is considered to be on top because it can be easily carried and moved around, both on open water and ground. In fact, you can bring your stuff without fear of loss with its T-rex latches, made from rubber. The YETI Tundra is definite one of the best coolers that you can enjoy for life.
5. RTIC Cooler
If you prefer a premium cooler with heavy-duty features, then, the RTIC Cooler should be on your priority list. Why? Based on my initial inspection this cooler is created to withstand any tough environment or rough handling with its 3 inches thick walls.
Another plus point of this cooler is its dependable insulation feature because the RTIC Cooler 45 Quart can store and keep the freshness of food including chilled drinks during expected longer expeditions. It also has latches made from silicone rubber material, making it an ideal cooler for all kinds of weather conditions.
The latches are made from UV protected material, which means it can perfectly coper with salt sea environment. This particular marine cooler offers two options on handle. You can opt for the slide handles or rope handles. Both these handle options allow the user to carry the RTIC Cooler 45 with ease. The side handles are molded on each side of the cooler, allowing the user to carry it conveniently. If you want a sturdier look, then, the high quality made ropes can be installed as handles for the RTIC Cooler 45.
The final effect on its physical appearance with rope handles is a robust look. The good thing about the rope handles is that two persons can carry the RTIC Cooler 45 with ease even when fully loaded.
6. Engel Ultra-Cooler UC30 Ultimate Cooler
Do you prefer a marine cooler that can keep the bad smell out? Well, I just found the right cooler for you the Engel Ultra Cool UC30. This model is categorized as among the cooler dry boxes designed and built to have a distinctive feature of blocking any bad smell or harmful fumes from entering the storage space. For some this special feature of preventing harmful fumes may not be as important, but it can be beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
The airtight gasket of Engel is truly impressive because unlike the gaskets of other high-end coolers, the Engel’s EVA Foam Gasket has the ability to expand, depending on how much you load. Expect it to provide a tight seal even when accidently submerged in water and ability to float.
How about its insulation performance? The Engel Ultra Cooler UC30 is built with a core insulation. Unlike the other branded premium marine coolers made from roto-molded polyethylene material the Engel Ultra Cooler UC30 uses the Polystyrene shell, rated as super durable material that is better for dry box.
Other distinct traits of the Engel Ultra Cooler UC30 are the carrying handles and availability of notches for provision of shoulder strap. This model of cooler may also come with modular cylinders mounted on each side, which makes it easy for a fishing enthusiast to insert the fishing rod of the side.
So, if you are looking for a marine cooler that can store efficiently chilled drinks or fresh catch and easy to transport, the Engel Cooler is definitely the top choice.
7. Coleman 200-Quart XP H2O Marine Cooler
Are you up for long fishing trips? Well, the next cooler that I’m sure will delight all fishing fanatics is the Coleman 200-Quart XP H2O Marine Cooler. Yes, this is definitely a must-have if you are bringing with crew or friends. This huge marine cooler is designed to store plenty of food and keep them chilled for up to 6 days even on hottest days with 90F temperature.
What else does the Coleman 200-Quart XP H2O have to offer? I must say it indeed impressed me with the extra insulation feature, UV guard protection, rust proof hinges, plus it has a spring that allows the lid to stay in place and close on its own when your hands are full.
Other cool features include cup holders on the lid for your chilled drinks. This cooler model may be added with accessories like cargo kit and strap, sold separately.
8. CreekKooler Outdoor Insulated Floating Cooler
Yes, as the name itself CreekKooler is definitely one of the best floating coolers available in the market. It has multi-purpose because the CreekKooler can serve as cooler for your drinks and fishing cooler for fishing enthusiasts. What makes it a standout? Well, first of all it has a locking lid system and O-ring design, meaning it can be effective dry storage and floating cooler while on open water. The hands are made from heavy-duty ropes, which make it ideal for tying your canoe, kayak or SUP.
The CreekKooler has 30 quarts storage capacity which allows you to store approximately 30 cans of drinks with 12 oz weight each including 20 lbs of ice. Among the other features that I think would convince potential buyers to consider this cooler is the 1.75 inches foam insulation making it efficient for ice retention for 48 hours while fishing on the warm water. You can rely on the CreekKooler for a long weekend fishing trip to keep your chilled drinks at their coolest temperature.
If you want a durable cooler the CreekKooler is a good bet because it can be used anywhere, both on land and on open water. In fact, you can easily drag it on any surface like snow or uneven ground while camping. Why? Its body frame is built strong enough to withstand any beating. This is indeed a good investment for your money’s worth.
9. Coleman Xtreme Cooler
Do you want a cooler that can be used anywhere? Whether you are heading for fishing, camping or weekend family barbecue party at a local park the need for a cooler is a must. I suggest you take a closer look at the Coleman Wheeled Cooler. Why? Well, it definitely stores a lot of food and drinks, plus it has wheels making it easy to move and transport anywhere you wish. Here are some of its top features:
Yes, if you want a dependable cooler that can be brought anywhere you go, the Coleman Wheeled Cooler is your best buddy because its wheels are extremely durable. I managed to do a test drive and I must say these wheels easily glided even when fully loaded.
Built-in Cup Holders
One of the unique features that I find very useful is the built-in cup holders on board which give the user the privilege to relax without having to hold the drink.
For your planned long weekend outings like camping or fishing, the Coleman Wheeled Cooler will not let your down in keeping your food and drinks chilled for 5 days. Its superb insulation is designed to delay the ice melting process.
Storage room is one of the vital features that a cooler must have. Coleman Wheeled Cooler has got this covered because it has 50-quart storage capacity, allowing you to store both for enough food and beverages for longer trips.
10. Moeller Deluxe Permanent Mount Swing Back Cooler
The last cooler that made on the list of the best marine coolers available in the market is the Moeller deluxe Permanent Mount Swing Back Cooler. What made it on the top 10 list? First, you can conveniently sit on it and feel secured while fishing on open water, watching a game or hosting a weekend barbecue party at your backyard.
Second, it has a very efficient insulation feature that can retain ice for up to four days. When it comes to size the Moeller deluxe Permanent Mount Swing is one of the biggest with its 50 pounds weight alone, plus 72-quart storage capacity.
The Moeller Deluxe Permanent Mount Swing Back Cooler is regarded as a multi-purpose cooler because it can be used anywhere you go like fishing, kayaking, camping or weekend get-togethers, enjoy cool drinks while at the same time functioning as a spare seat.
What to Look for When Buying a Marine Cooler
Shopping for a marine cooler can be truly stressful, especially if you are presented with a long list of models. If your goal is to buy the right cooler, then, might as well come up first with questions that you can ask yourself such as:
- Would you need a bigger or smaller marine cooler?
- Is quick access your priority?
- How much are you willing to spend?
- Do you want a cooler that is easy to move around like the marine cooler with wheels?
- Should it have a waterproof feature?
These questions can go on and on until you have addressed all your needs as well as personal preference regardless you will only use it for occasional fishing trips. If at this point you are still clueless about what should the best marine cooler have, I have personally prepared for you the following criteria on what to consider as you start shopping:
Yes, definitely one of the things that any potential buyer of best fishing coolers should prioritize before heading to any retailer of marine coolers, the size. Of course, when determining the size of your cooler you have to factor in storage requirements as well height and width.
Next, let’s move to the storage capacity both for insulated and non-insulated. Again, ask yourself, “Would you want a marine cooler that can store approximately 50 quarts of items?” Or, perhaps you want a smaller marine cooler that has partitions for chilled and non-chilled items. Remember, it would be practical and economical to invest in a cooler that can serve a dual purpose. Another issue that must be brought out is the storage of items with odd shapes. So, how to maximize storage capacity? For example, if you plan to bring a lengthy bread like a baguette, would you think it will fit inside a small marine cooler with 6-quart size? This is why it’s crucial that you also take into account the items you need to bring to prevent the issue of lack of storage space.
Among the other aspects that I reckon will matter most when browsing from a long list of best fishing coolers is the cooler size. It’s a fact that coolers, in general, come in bulk sizes, which make them quite heavy when transporting as well as storing. Imagine trying to fit inside your car’s trunk a huge size of the marine cooler. I’m sure you will find it a struggle trying to close your car’s trunk.
The materials used in the production of marine coolers like the yeti marine coolers or boat ice chest coolers may vary. For your convenience I have simplified the choices of materials for easy referencing:
This is the common type of material used by manufacturers for the production of coolers the plastic material. Why? Plastic is durable, lightweight, waterproof, cheap and has efficient insulation characteristic. Although, you may find different brands of marine coolers to be made from plastic not all of them are entirely alike. Some marine cooler reviews made on high-end coolers claim to have multiple lining of plastic material while other cheaper models only have a single lining. When considering plastic made cooler you have to be prepared to deal with its weakness such as less life expectancy as compared to marine coolers made from metal.
Based on my personal experience I only encountered few marine coolers to be built with metal walls. The usage of metal on coolers is mostly on the hardware itself, handles, hinges and zippers. It’s very common nowadays to see marine-grade coolers have metal zippers. When it comes having metal hardware this is only available on premium and branded marine coolers. So, expect the price tag of a marine cooler made from metal material to cost more than plastic cooler, but has a higher life expectancy and aesthetically appealing.
Among the fishing coolers I have come across are coolers made from fabrics, commonly referred to as soft-sided coolers. Fabric made coolers may vary based on the type of fabric used for the exterior lining. Fabrics are also rated based on their strength performance, level of insulation and waterproofing. Of course, expect a cheaper fabric cooler to be prone to wear and tear when compared with a premium branded cooler like Engel Marine Cooler. If you prefer a cooler made from fabric, I highly recommend you go for a trusted high-end brand and check on the type of fabrics used. For example, a nylon intertwined fabric is extremely durable.
Rubber made marine coolers are tough because of the ingenuity of technology applied in the production. I have read some marine cooler reviews like the Coleman Marine Cooler review mentioning about rubber seals are effective air-tight barriers when used on lid and box of coolers. Other coolers have also rubber composition like the drain plugs.
Another important consideration that you should pay close attention when searching for a cooler regardless it the portability, both for carrying and transportation. Even a rated best boat cooler when fully loaded with ice and other foodstuff is hard to carry or transport. The access to multiple carrying methods is a basic necessity to coolers. Below are some of the common carrying and transportation methods that I’ve seen on coolers.
- Side handles
This is the most basic carrying method that is available on coolers regardless it’s a marine cooler with cushion or rubber cooler, the side handles. Where do you normally find them? Well, these side handles are located on both sides of the cooler to provide easy handling of one or two people. These side handles may come as pivoting plastic handles or mold as built-in cavities on the cooler’s body on both sides.
- Lid handle
The lid handle is usually a single handle and found on the lid of a cooler. This part is intended for a single person to carry the cooler on one hand and ideal when walking. However, this lid handle is not as durable as the other carrying methods and commonly found on smaller built coolers.
- Shoulder strap
Another carrying method that I find handy on coolers, specifically on smaller coolers is the availability of shoulder strap. Here, the person can carry the smaller cooler using the shoulder strap with both hand-free to carry other items. The shoulder strap is also available on soft-sided coolers.
Yes, you heard it right wheels are normally found on big and hard-sided coolers. This type of marine cooler offers more mobility as you are free to move with ease even with a loaded cooler. However, having wheels on coolers can be quite a challenge when walking on rough terrains or higher grounds.
Every cooler must offer effective insulation, meaning it should be able to store and retain the temperature of chilled or cold items. For your guidance I have some pointers on what to look when it comes to the insulation ability of coolers:
- Few hours
A reliable cooler must at least offer few hours of insulation before adding in ice. In fact, a branded cooler according to the marine cooler reviews I have read states that a decent cooler with good insulation must do the work with the need to add ice.
- A day
Bigger coolers made from plastic have better insulation than the soft-sided and smaller coolers because they can maintain the insulation for at least a day.
- 2 to 3 days
Only a few of the premium branded coolers can comply with the 2 to 3 days insulation. In fact, cheaper coolers including soft-sided will struggle in maintaining the ideal insulation of stored items in a span of 2 to 3 days.
- 4 to 5 days
If you are going to ask me which cooler can offer the best insulation for 4 to 5 days, then, the high-end versions of coolers are on top of the list. Why? Well, due to their robust method of production, plus materials used and add-on special features. Expect the 4 to 5 days insulation ability to be only available on premium quality branded coolers.
- 6 days
I reckon only a few brands can comply with this longest insulation ability the 6 days period and you will normally find this innovative feature on expensive coolers with bigger sizes.
It is very rare to find a cooler that will last a lifetime. However, those that have been rated by quality assurance to be stronger than cheaper coolers are expected to provide a good number of years of service. When scouting from different brands of coolers check on the materials used. For example, expect the metal hardware cooler to last longer than a plastic or soft-sided cooler.
One of the important features that a cooler should function well is its waterproofing ability. We all know for a fact that coolers of any size, type or brand is heavily exposed to tremendous amounts of water coming from melted ice including unforeseen water form such as heavy rainfall. So, regardless of the marine cooler you will buy, it should have waterproofing feature. Of course, this waterproofing issue would not be a problem with hard-sided coolers.
It is very common for owners of coolers without external storage to deal with storage problems for non-chilled items like car keys, towels, wallet, and other personal stuff. For your peace of mind that you will not face this scenario in the near future, better find a cooler that will prevent any of these episodes from arising:
- Occupy space needed for items needing insulation.
- Reduce the insulation ability of the cooler if you need to frequently open the lid to get these non-chilled items.
- Result to spoilage of chilled items because of melted ice.
- Quick access to items may be a challenge because both chilled and non-chilled items are mixed together.
I strongly suggest if this is your first purchase of a marine cooler that you consider one with external compartments for non-chilled items. This feature is common mostly to soft-sided coolers. However, you can also find high-end hard-sided coolers to have this add-on feature.
Some of us may prefer coolers with cool designs. If you are on the lookout for a stylish cooler that will represent your personality or favorite sports team color, then, check out Coleman marine Cooler review and learn about the availability of colored or patterned coolers sold in the market.
Other add-on features
As I have said coolers come in a variety of sizes, designs, built, materials as well as additional features. You may find a fellow fishing enthusiast to own a cooler with a can opener, base risers or slots for ice packs. The key when searching for the best marine cooler for you is to identify your specific needs and use them as your reference when comparing coolers.
Other Important Factors to Consider
What is a marine cooler?
Let’s say you have set your mindset to invest in a marine cooler and this is your first purchase. So, your concern could be, “Are all coolers the same?”. For your information coolers may differ. For example, the picnic cooler you usually have at home is quite different from a marine cooler. A marine cooler is specifically designed and built for outdoor use and can cope with all types of weather both on land and on open water.
Apart from that, marine coolers have stronger exterior and have undergone a special treatment to withstand odors. This is why you can store your fresh fish inside the marine cooler today and next day use it as storage for chilled items with the assurance of no fishy smell.
Since the overall build of marine coolers is stronger, they are regarded to have excellent insulation features wherein both the premium and cheaper models can keep your chilled items cool.
Why do you need a marine vs. regular cooler?
As I have mentioned a marine cooler is different from a regular cooler. Here’s why:
- A marine cooler is purposed for outdoor and has the ability to cope with all types of weather conditions such as extreme heat, salty water and heavy rainfall. The built is designed to withstand any type of beating.
- A marine cooler has a higher ice retention performance than an ordinary cooler. It can literally keep and store the freshness of fish including chilled products for prolonged periods.
- A premium marine cooler has a more efficient insulation system because it has a thicker wall lining than a regular cooler.
- Marine coolers are built with UV protection features, allowing them to be sun-proof even on extremely hot weather conditions. Expect a marine cooler to have its original white color even for prolonged exposure under the sun.
- Rust-resistant is one of the distinct features of a marine cooler. The hardware components of a marine cooler are basically made from stainless steel. So, expect the latches to be rust-proof even when exposed to salty sea, humid or hot weather conditions.
- Most of the models of marine coolers have an anti-slip feature. This means you have peace of mind that the marine cooler will not slip away even while fishing on rough waters.
- Measuring marking tool is one of the features that you will only find on marine coolers, particularly on high-end brands. This is an effective tool for fishing enthusiasts to determine the actual size of their catch.
- A padded cushion is something you will not find on a regular cooler. But, with the many models of marine coolers, you will have the luxury to invest on one with built-in seat cushion.
Having said all these amazing features, I think anyone will opt for a marine cooler than a regular cooler because of the multi-function it can provide to any user, regardless you are a fishing enthusiast, a family that loves to camp out or host weekend barbeques. This is indeed indispensable for all sorts of outdoor activities that you, your loved ones, friends and colleagues from work can benefit most.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most trusted marine cooler brands?
Does the boat cooler come with the basket inside?
Boat coolers in general do not come with a basket. The basket is sold separately as an accessory.
What is the warranty?
The warranty of marine coolers depends on the brand and model of the product.
Where to buy?
What is the ideal size of a marine cooler?
The decision on the size of a marine cooler really depends on the user and the length of usage. If you plan to use it for personal use, then, might as well invest in a small or medium-sized marine cooler. However, if you are a fishing fanatic with a large crew to worry about, the bigger the size of the marine cooler the best to ensure your freshly catch remains chilled and the entire fishing team is well fed.
How to maintain or clean a marine cooler?
Proper care and cleaning should be observed to preserve the good condition of a marine cooler. For cleaning, you can simply use a mild cleaning agent to clean the external and interior surfaces of the marine cooler. Your ordinary dishwashing soap with a dash of baking of soda is an effective cleaning mixture. This cleaning mixture will thoroughly clean the marine cooler and get rid of any bad smell.
How long can the marine cooler stay cold?
The average insulation performance of a marine cooler is three days. Of course, you will find a high-end marine cooler to offer longer days up to 7 days of cooling retention capacity with its extra-thick insulation feature.
If you will ask me personally, would you really benefit from buying a marine cooler? Well, it really depends on you, your personal needs and available money to spend. Marine coolers are in huge demand right now not only for their amazing features such as flexibility of using both for land and open water, but also the comfort it gives to the user. So, while you are still assessing whether you need a marine cooler or not yet, go over the above ten best coolers I have mentioned. Then, from there identify carefully your needs including features you want your marine cooler to possess. Once you made up a final decision to buy, read more reviews, customer testimonials and ratings.
Finding the right marine cooler can be truly overwhelming, but, if you are well informed and guided, the buying process will be easy. After all, at the end of the day, it is you alone and your decision on which marine cooler to buy will matter most.
I am Dave, Marine Talk’s content creator. Boating experiences matter when planning a boat trip for your family or going by yourself. Therefore, I am here to tackle all things relevant to boating so even the inexperienced ones can start their boating safely.