What’s The Best Kayak Cooler You Can Buy?
If you’re tired of having lukewarm drinks and stale sandwiches while you’re out enjoying a kayaking trip, then it might be time to invest in a kayak cooler. But with so many coolers on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one to buy.
You want to invest in something that meets your needs, fits your kayak, and suits your budget too.
After having been through a good deal of kayak coolers, time and time again I come back to my favorite cooler, the Yeti Hopper Flip. This cooler delivers incredible performance and is perfect for long-distance adventures on my sit on top kayak.
If the Yeti Hopper Flip isn’t ticking all the right boxes for you, read on to discover the other kayak coolers that are worth your consideration. I’ve rounded out my list of the best soft sided cooler bags, budget cooler options, and ice chests – so you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.
Read on to find out which one is right for you.
RELATED: 23 Must Have Kayak Accessories You Can’t Do Without
Best Overall Kayak Cooler – Yeti Hopper Flip 12
The Yeti Hopper Flip does not disappoint as a hard shell ice chest. This kayak cooler is a must if you’re someone who loves the outdoors and enjoys packing along snacks and drinks.
This cooler will keep your drinks cold and ice frozen thanks to its ColdCell insulation technology. It measures how to12.62 inches by 10 inches by 11.5 inches. It’ll fit snugly on your kayak without fuss. Plus, with all the different colors it comes in, you can really customize this cooler to your style as well.
Best Floating Cooler – Creekkooler Pull Behind Cooler
The CreekKooler Floating Cooler is a must have if you are someone who enjoys lazy river days.
This kayak cooler attaches to your kayak through grip handles and will follow along behind you as you paddle. It has a really easy to open yet airtight cover system that will keep your drinks nice and cold all day long.
It also features four cup holders on the top so that you can quickly grab and go as a paddle downstream. Whether you’re a leisurely kayaker or a recreational one, the CreekKooler Floating Cooler is a great option if you’re limited on space but want to venture around plenty of drinks and snacks.
Best Value Cooler – Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler
If you’re all about practicality and don’t need additional bells and whistles, then this cooler is the one for you. The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze cooler will store all your snacks and drinks and keep them cool all day long.
The cooler features a nice liner that will allow you to store softer items like sandwiches and soft snacks. Also, much like the Yeti Hopper, the Arctic Zone is pretty compact as well. It measures out to 20 inches by 13 inches by 12.5 inches and can fit in several different spaces throughout your kayak.
Kayak Coolers Compared
What are the Best Kayak Coolers?
Let’s dive right in and take a look at the best kayak coolers available to buy right now.
1. Yeti Hopper Flip 12 – Best for Sit on Top Kayaks
Yeti has grown to be one of the best performing cooler brands on the market. Their top-notch installation, dynamic construction, and rugged yet stylish build have made the brand synonymous with top quality. The yeti Hopper flip 12 is no different. This compact cooler is perfect for bringing along with you on a kayaking adventure.
The Yeti Hopper Flip features the brand’s impressive ColdCell insulation. This insulation offers a closed cell foam that allows the coolers to hold ice anywhere from two to four days. If you’re someone who enjoys kayaking on long summer days, you’ll have no problem keeping your drinks ice cold even on a hot afternoon.
You’ll find a variety of impressive features with the Yeti Hopper Flip. There’s the hydrolock zipper with a wide opening hardcover that helps to trap cold air.
Underneath the soft cover, there’s Yeti’s DryHide Shell that is both waterproof and puncture and abrasion resistant. The cover is also UV resistant, so whichever of the over 20 color options you choose, the color won’t fade or discolor over time.
If you already own a Yeti, you probably know about the different awesome accessory attachments you can choose from. With this kayak cooler, you’ll find two hitch point grids that allow you to tack on additional gear. A great add-on to opt for is the MOLLE Zinger bottle opener can be a great add-on. You can up cap any bottle in an instant.
Check Price of the Yeti Hopper Flip 12
2. CreekKooler Floating Cooler – Best Pull Behind Cooler
The best coolers are the ones that make your kayaking adventures that much more enjoyable. The CreekKooler Floating Cooler is one such model that does just that. This is the best kayak cooler for someone who does a lot of lazy river rafting or even light recreational kayaking.
This cooler offers a lot of neat features that come in handy if you are someone who enjoys kayaking or tubing down slow currents. It measures out to almost 39.5 inches in length, 21 inches in width, and 12 inches in height. It has a unique design, sort of like a mini kayak, and you can attach it to your kayak’s stern handle with either of its two durable grip handles.
Another great feature of the CreekKooler Floating Cooler is that it has a pretty large carrying capacity. It offers up to 30 quarts of storage and can easily pack away 30 12-oz cans and 20 pounds of ice.
Because if it’s kayak-like shape, the CreekKooler is incredibly sturdy too. You won’t ever have to worry about it flipping over. Even in a worst-case scenario if it were to flip, the large watertight locking lid will keep everything safe and secure.
When it comes to insulation, the CreekKooler is pretty impressive as well. This cooler has an ice retention capacity of up to 48 hours and has a foam insulated coverage that ensures food, snacks, and drinks don’t spoil on hot summer outings.
Once you do find a nice spot for you to lounge around in, you can take advantage of the four built-in drink holders on the top of the cooler. Lounge around in style and comfort with what is arguably the best floating kayak cooler on the market right now.
Check Price of the CreekKooler Floating Cooler
3. Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze – Best Value Cooler
If you’re looking for an all-around great kayak cooler that keeps your drinks and snacks cool without any added bells or whistles, then this might be a great option to consider.
The Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze is a fantastic soft shell cooler with a durable hardshell interior. It’s incredibly practical in that it’s modest in size, measuring out to 20 x 13 x 12.5 inches, yet totally dependable.
This outdoor cooler features high-performance insulation with a radiant heat barrier. Instead of absorbing heat, this heat barrier reflects it, helping to keep the contents cooler for longer. In fact, this cooler allows you to keep ice for up to three days.
This Arctic Zone cooler features a really neat flip-open zipperless lid, giving you quick access to the contents so that you spend less time shuffling around for your drinks when you’re out kayaking. Once you close it up, the cold air will continue to stay insulated, and with the easy yet secure closure, you don’t have to worry about your contents falling out.
Outside of the cooler, you’ll also find a zip-up pocket if you want to pack away smaller, quick reach snacks. This zipper pocket is also great for storing smaller items like your keys or phone.
Inside, there is a smart shelf liner that helps you keep softer items like sandwiches and snacks separate from your hard items like drinks and cans. This will keep your soft food items from being crushed during transport or while you kayak. If you want to use the interior without this shelf, you can easily remove it and you’ll have more space.
What’s great about the Arctic Zone cooler is how easily you can store it. It fits without fuss in a small storage space like your cockpit or behind your seat. If you have bungee cords on the deck of your kayak, this is another great place to store the cooler as well.
Check Price of the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze
4. Ice Mule Pro Cooler
What makes the Ice Mule Pro Cooler such a great kayak cooler is that it can also serve as a really well insulated dry bag too. The IceMule Pro cooler features a really rugged construction complete with two comfortable shoulder straps, and a front bungee cord storage compartment.
Although it features a soft shell design, it offers an impressive performance. The ultra tough muleskin exterior that is resistant to the elements conceals the interior brand’s PolorLayer Insulation. This impressive insulation allows you to keep your drinks cool for up to 48 hours.
When it is empty, this cooler is completely collapsible so you can fold it up and put it away right in your kayak storage compartment. Before you set out on your adventure, you can fill up your cooler and then easily close it via the roll up and buckle strap closure system. This is a closure system that you typically see with kayak dry bags.
Once it’s closed, the Ice Mule becomes both waterproof and buoyant. If you’re kayaking in cold waters, you can even throw this bag out of your kayak so that it can float right alongside you as you paddle.
The bungee straps in the front of the cooler are great for hitching additional gear like kayak shoes or fishing rods. And if you’re going camping or hiking up to a remote location to paddle out, the shoulder straps allow you to comfortably carry this cooler for long distances.
Check Price of the Ice Mule Pro Cooler
5. Perception Splash Seat Back Cooler
The Perception Splash Seat Back Cooler is perfect for kayaks that have a lawn chair type seat. This cooler is really well designed because it’s not too bulky, and it’s meant to take up very little space so that it doesn’t interfere with the rest of your kayaking gear.
If you enjoy kayak fishing, then this cooler is perfect to have on board because it won’t take up much room and you can still carry around your fishing gear as usual. The brand even offers cooler attachments that lend well to fishermen too.
The Perception Splash Seat Back Cooler measures out to 21 inches by 14 inches by 6.5 inches. Their cooler attaches to your seat via bungee ball cords that secure the bag nicely.
Once it’s attached, you can conveniently reach back and unzip the cooler to take out snacks. The cooler itself features a closed cell foam with RF welded internal seams. This insulation will keep your drinks cold all day long.
Inside the cooler, you have enough space to store up to 12 cans. While I’d like to see some sort of liner that allows you to store sandwiches, you can still set soft food on top of your cans without worrying about it getting smashed.
Check Price of the Perception Splash Seat Back Cooler
6. Engel 19 Qt. UC Series Drybox Cooler
If you really like the build of hard shell kayaks, then the Engel UC Series Drybox Cooler might be a great kayak cooler for you.
This kayak fishing cooler was built to last and made for rugged outdoor adventures. The construction of this cooler is really impressive in that it is the ultimate leak proof cooler. Your drinks and your food will stay nice and cold thanks to the marine-grade stainless steel latches that keep things airtight.
Plus, with its unique insulation, this cooler keeps out moisture as well. This cooler also serves as a dry box so it’s a great place to store items of value like camera gear, electronics, and even an emergency kit. The cooler also comes with an accessory tray so you can store items separately within the cooler as well.
The cooler comes in four different sizes ranging between 3 and 7 pounds. If you want to use the cooler for food storage only, you may want to opt for the 19-quart option. If you’re looking to use it as a dry box, then the 13-quart could serve you well and easily store in the back of your kayak’s seat.
What makes the Engel UC Series Drybox Cooler such a great option as a kayak cooler is how versatile it is. Whether you enjoy hunting, camping, or fishing with your kayak, this cooler can serve you in all capacities. Plus, it comes in several fun colors so that you can find the best one for your style.
Check Price of the Engel 19 Qt. Cooler
7. Perception Splash Tankwell Cooler
If you like using your kayak space wisely, then you may want to take a look at the Perception Splash Tankwell Cooler. This cooler fits really well in the stern or deck of your kayak. You can secure it down easily with a bungee cord attachment for extra security.
This soft shell cooler bag also offers an adjustable back strap that allows you to wear it like a backpack. This can come in handy if you’re someone who enjoys kayaking and outdoor adventures like hiking and camping.
When it comes to the cooler itself, it offers you a 40-liter capacity and can hold up to 20 cans. It features a zippered closure system that allows you to quickly get to your snacks.
You’ll find a half inch foam insulation that keeps your drinks cold throughout the day. However, this might not be the best cooling system to use if you need something that will hold ice well. An easy enough trick, however, is to use ice boxes along this soft sided cooler if you need to keep things extra cold.
There are four D rings along the edges of the cooler if you need to tack on additional gear. Plus, it comes in the classic Perceptions brand design so it’s really sporty yet sleek.
Check Price of the Perception Splash Tankwell Cooler
8. Wilderness Systems Oval Orbix Hatch Cooler
If you have a Wilderness Systems kayak already, then it would only make sense to look into a Wilderness system cooler like the Oval Orbix Hatch Kayak Cooler.
The cooler is really neat because it features an oval construction and fits really neatly into Wilderness Systems kayak models (2015 and newer). There are some kayak models outside of this brand that have an oval storage hatch where it can fit as well.
If you don’t have a storage hatch, you can easily tuck this cooler behind your seat or strap it in through a bungee cord system.
Wilderness Systems put some neat features into this cooler. The Orbix Hatch Cooler features a half inch thick foam insulation that helps keep your drinks and snacks cold throughout your kayaking adventures.
While this cooler is not submersible in water, it does feature a waterproof zipper and waterproof covering. It has fry-welded seams and is resistant to any leaks both in and out.
Measuring in at 12.5 inches in length, 7.8 inches in width, and 5.5 s in height, this is a great cooler to pack along if you’re a solo kayaker.
Check Price of the Wilderness Systems Oval Cooler
9. Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler
Kayak fisherman, this next cooler is for you. The Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler is made for kayakers who are looking for fishing coolers that keep their catches nice and cool on hot days.
This is one of the best fishing coolers because it features a really rugged design and a unique insulation system. It measures out to 20 inches in height, 12 inches in width, and 5 inches in depth. It also touts a carrying capacity of 18 lbs.
On the outside, this cooler has three durable buckle attachments to keep the cooler security attached to your boat. The straps are compatible with a variety of fishing kayaks. There’s also a bungee cord system on the top of the cooler if you want to attach additional gear.
The cooler features a zipper closure system and once you open it, there is a removable internal liner that acts as the actual storage system. The liner closes much like a dry bag would via a roll up and buckle closure.
This removable liner makes cleaning really easy as you can take the liner out and leave the shell on the boat.
When you store fish, it will stay cold until you get back to shore. The exterior shell is made out of a closed cell foam insulation which helps keep your catch cold all day.
If you’re going out for a leisurely paddle, then this cooler can keep your drinks and snacks cool all day as well. The Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler is Incredibly versatile for all sorts of kayaking Adventures.
Check Price of the Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler
Find the Best Kayak Cooler With Our Buying Guide
Need a little more help in picking out the best kayak cooler? Check out our handy buyer’s guide to help you find the best fit. Whether it’s for a fishing trip, or a lazy day on the river, know what to look for when picking the best kayak cooler.
Why Buy a Kayak Cooler?
If you go out kayaking for long periods of time even on a mildly sunny day, it won’t take long before thirst and hunger kick in. Sure you can pack along food and drinks, but as the day goes on, those snacks and drinks will become less appetizing as they settle to room temperature.
A kayak cooler can keep your food and drinks crisp and cold. Because the best type of kayak coolers are airtight, it’s as if you pulled the snack right out of the refrigerator.
If you go out kayaking with kids, having cool snacks on hand like ice pops and frozen drinks can especially be helpful in keeping your children happy and hydrated.
Find the Best Fit: Types of Kayak Coolers
As you start your hunt for the best kayak coolers, you’ll find that kayak coolers fall into two camps; hard shells and soft shells.
As the name suggests, hard shells have a solid construction and are often in the shape of a portable box. Their solid construction allows the use of reinforced foam insulation, keeping your food cooler for longer. Hard shells may also offer liners that allow you to stack your contents.
Soft shelled coolers are more flexible and act as insulated bags. They pack down nicely and can take on different shapes.
There are three types of styles of coolers; Ice chests, kayak cooler bags, and towable coolers. Some styles are only available in hard shell constructions while others offer both.
Ice chests are hard shell coolers that are typically cubicle in shape. Ice chests like the Yeti Hopper Flip and the Engel UC Series Drybox Cooler are ideal for kayakers who want to keep their contents cold for longer.
These chests hold ice really well and some can even hold ice for several days. The only downside to having ice chests as kayak coolers is that they can be a little tricky to store on board.
Kayak cooler bags are a little more versatile in that you can play around with the shape just a bit to make it fit where you want. Quality-built cooler bags can hold ice for long periods of time with some being able to match the quality of insulation that ice chests offer.
Cooler bags are great for kayakers who are limited on space. Often the best place to strap down your cooler bag is on the deck of your kayak using a bungee cord system.
Towable Coolers (Floats)
Towable coolers, or coolers that float in the water alongside your kayak, are really fun to use. However, this type of cooler system is not ideal for everyone. If you enjoy cruising down the river with minimal paddling ever, then his cooler might be for you.
How to Pick the Best Kayak Cooler
The right cooler depends on what you need it to do for you. Here are some features you should pay particular attention to.
Size and Capacity
The size of the cooler will impact the capacity it can hold. Don’t take a kayak cooler at face value. Coolers that offer long-lasting cold retention and heavy-duty insulation can often appear larger than they actually are.
The average size of a kayak cooler should be roughly 14 x 12 x 20 inches. Anything larger can be a little bit cumbersome. If you need a larger kayak cooler, then you may want to consider a floating cooler.
The good news is, outdoor gear companies tend to offer the same kayak coolers in a variety of sizes. If you like one of the kayak coolers on our list, chances are you can find it in a smaller or larger size.
Kayak coolers are all made from very similar material. . The main differentiator is whether it’s a hard shell cooler or a soft shell cooler. Hard shell kayak coolers are typically made out of a high-density plastic or rubber. Some may even offer heavy-duty metal hardware like stainless steel latches as well.
Soft shell kayak coolers are more lightweight and flexible than hard shell coolers. The material used can vary but will typically include some sort of ripstop, nylon, laminated fabric, or even flexible rubber material.
The cold retention of your kayak cooler depends on what it’s made out of and the insulation type. Quality built colors that have advanced insulation will offer better cold retention. For some brands like Yeti, they can keep ice cold for an impressive 2 to 4 days. Of course, the way you use your kayak, and the weather can all impact cold retention.
When choosing the best kayak cooler for your adventures, consider how cold you want to keep your snacks and drinks. If you’re going to be out on the water all day, then good cold retention will be an important feature to shop for. This feature will be even more important if you’re someone who likes kayaking out to different camping sites and staying the night.
Not all kayak coolers are waterproof, however, the well crafted kind will usually offer that feature. If you are someone who has a sit in hardshell kayak or recreational kayak and tends to get wet while they’re out paddling, then you may want to opt for a waterproof cooler.
If you enjoy letting the current take you and are not so much into extreme kayaking where the backsplash is an issue, then having a waterproof kayak may not be such a big deal.
When you’re shopping around, you’ll notice that there’s not much difference in price between the best waterproof kayak coolers, and non-waterproof ones.
Therefore, you may as well opt for a waterproof cooler, as they really aren’t that much more expensive.
If you’ve never considered a kayak cooler, then you are missing out on kicking up your kayaking game.
Not only does having one of the best kayak coolers on board like the Yeti Hopper Flip give you access to ice-cold drinks on a hot summer day, but it allows you to kayak for longer. You can extend your adventures by bringing along lunch and even dinner while not having to worry about it spoiling because of the heat.
If the Yeti Hopper Flip offers too much for your needs, I hope you’ve found some of the other kayak cooler bag options on this list to be helpful. A kayak cooler bag like the Ice Mule Pro Cooler, for example, is another great option if you’re looking for something with backpack straps.
What are some of your favorite coolers for kayaks? Are there any you think I should add to this list?
Be sure to share in the comments below.