Best Fishing Coolers: No Fishing Trip Is Complete Without A Reliable Cool Box

best fishing coolers
Joe
Written by Joe

Wondering what type of cooler you should get? We’ve field tested dozens of models & finally built a list of the best fishing coolers available.

A fishing cooler ensures that you catch remains fresh and chilled, it is an important piece of equipment to bring with you on fishing trips. It offers a better preservation alternative to other methods like UV light and spraying salt, which can affect the taste of fish. A good cooler prevents the growth of bacteria without compromising the natural taste. Fishing coolers come in different designs and sizes. The majority of this post will review the best fishing coolers on the market. We will also discuss the criteria for finding a model that satisfies your needs.

ImageNameFeature
YETI Tundra 65 Cooler WhiteYETI Tundra 65 Cooler White

joe's top choice

YETI Tundra 65 Cooler White
    Special Features
  • 3” of PermaFrost insulation
  • Rotomolded construction
  • T-Rex lid latches
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ENGEL COOLERS 30 QUART COOLER/DRY BOX - TAN W 4 ROD HOLDERSENGEL COOLERS 30 QUART COOLER/DRY BOX - TAN W 4 ROD HOLDERS

excellent mid range buy

ENGEL COOLERS 30 QUART COOLER/DRY BOX - TAN W 4 ROD HOLDERS
    Special Features
  • 30 quart cooler box
  • ¾” foam insulation on all six sides
  • Exterior made from molded plastic
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Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler, 120 QuartColeman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler, 120 Quart

for the budget minded

Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler, 120 Quart
    Special Features
  • 120 quart cooler with CO2 insulations
  • Insulated lid and walls provide 6 days of ice retention
  • Stainless steel hardware and UVGuard sun protection
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Surf To Summit Insulated Fish Bag, Fish Cooler Bag For Kayak Or Boat, Angler Fish BagSurf To Summit Insulated Fish Bag, Fish Cooler Bag For Kayak Or Boat, Angler Fish Bag
Surf To Summit Insulated Fish Bag, Fish Cooler Bag For Kayak Or Boat, Angler Fish Bag
    Special Features
  • Extra wide mouth for easy access
  • Clear vinyl map pocket and multiple external storage pockets
  • 23” capacity
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IceMule Coolers Pro Catch CoolersIceMule Coolers Pro Catch Coolers
IceMule Coolers Pro Catch Coolers
    Special Features
  • Keeps ice intact and fish fresh for more than 24 hours
  • Padded carrying straps, bungee webbing and multiple tie-down clips
  • Patented insulated dry bag design
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The Original Boozie Bucket - Bait Bucket/Cooler System
    Special Features
  • Built-in rod holders, tie-downs, pouches, shoulder straps, molle straps
  • UV and water treated fabric
  • Heavy duty, foam reinforced lid
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IceMule Pro Cooler - LG (23L) - Realtree Camo (Xtra pattern)IceMule Pro Cooler - LG (23L) - Realtree Camo (Xtra pattern)
IceMule Pro Cooler - LG (23L) - Realtree Camo (Xtra pattern)
    Special Features
  • Keeps ice intact for more than 24 hours
  • Patented insulated dry-bag design
  • RealTree Xtra Design
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AO Coolers Water-Resistant Vinyl Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, 12-Can to 48-CanAO Coolers Water-Resistant Vinyl Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, 12-Can to 48-Can
AO Coolers Water-Resistant Vinyl Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, 12-Can to 48-Can
    Special Features
  • Soft sided cooler with vinyl exterior
  • Has a 12-can capacity
  • Removable shoulder strap and side pocket
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Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20
Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20
    Special Features
  • Thermally efficient
  • Super convenient access for stowing
  • Heat reflective exterior
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Personlized 12-Pack khaki Cooler Tote - Custom Cooler Bag - Personalized Cooler Bag - Monogrammed Cooler Tote - Set of 5Personlized 12-Pack khaki Cooler Tote - Custom Cooler Bag - Personalized Cooler Bag - Monogrammed Cooler Tote - Set of 5
Personlized 12-Pack khaki Cooler Tote - Custom Cooler Bag - Personalized Cooler Bag 
    Special Features
  • Personalized for free with up to 7 characters
  • Includes 12-pack insert
  • Zippered closure to insulated compartment
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YETI Tundra 65 Cooler WhiteYETI Tundra 65 Cooler White

The Yeti Tundra 65 is extremely durable and an excellent cooler for long fishing trips. It is made from rotomolded polyethylene and filled with 3” of PermaFrost insulation. The result is a cooler that feels more like fiberglass than plastic. It has a one-piece lid with molded-in full hinges and a rubber gasket to ensure a tight seal. The plastic handles do a good job of easing portability but cannot sustain heavy loads.

When it comes to performance, the PermaFrost insulation helps keep the contents cool regardless of the external temperature. The thick rubber seal locks in the cooler temperature and further improves the efficiency of this unit. Unlike other traditional coolers that sweat when exposed to the elements, the Tundra 65 keeps fish dry. It is equipped with Bearfoot Non-Slip Feet that ensure the cooler stays in place regardless of how slippery the surface is.

Pros:
  • Keeps the ice intact longer than most
  • Fitted with non-slip feet
  • Full-length hinges and rubber seal for security and better cooling
  • High 65 quart capacity
Cons:
  • Rope handles have a tendency to slip
ENGEL COOLERS 30 QUART COOLER/DRY BOX - TAN W 4 ROD HOLDERSENGEL COOLERS 30 QUART COOLER/DRY BOX - TAN W 4 ROD HOLDERS

Most coolers are simple plastic boxes with a small amount of foam on the sides for insulation and an air gap. Then there are super fishing coolers made from rotomolded plastics and the ability to keep ice intact for several days. The Engel USA Cooler/Dry Box offers a good balance between cheap and super-coolers. Available in three sizes, it serves both as a watertight dry box and an insulated 24-hour cooler.

It comes with stainless steel latches that lock down the lid tight. A thick and airtight EVA gasket keeps air and cold out, ensuring optimal preservation of the catch. The unit uses ¾ inches of foam insulation on all of the six sides, which is more insulation than that offered by typical coolers. It is watertight and includes a small plastic tray for food. The carrying strap is connected to the Drybox in four points and fully supports the bottom.

Pros:
  • Exterior is sturdily made with injection molded plastic
  • Self-stopping hinges held in place by stainless steel screws
  • Plastic handle allows easier portability
  • Ample insulation to keep fish fresh for 24 hours
Cons:
  • Slight insulation gap where the handle is causing sweating
Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler, 120 QuartColeman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler, 120 Quart

The Coleman Coastal Extreme Series Marine Portable Cooler certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to design, durability or performance. It is offered by a brand that many have come to trust when it comes to the outdoors. The cooler is available in multiple sizes and you can go as small as 28 quarts or as high as 150 quarts depending on your needs. The 120 quarts model is large and ideal for long fishing trips.

One of its major selling points is the use of Xtreme 5 Technology, which ensures that ice stays intact for up to five days. The use of low CO2 insulation helps reduce carbon emissions from foam production while additives prevent the growth of battery. This unit incorporates UVGuard protection and stainless steel hardware to provide years of reliability. It has a leak resistant drain that empties excess water without tilting.

Pros:
  • Ice retention for five days
  • Includes leak-resistant drain for emptying excess water
  • Can withstand years of rough use
  • Comes in multiple sizes
Cons:
  • Denting on lid reported
Surf To Summit Insulated Fish Bag, Fish Cooler Bag For Kayak Or Boat, Angler Fish BagSurf To Summit Insulated Fish Bag, Fish Cooler Bag For Kayak Or Boat, Angler Fish Bag

The Surf to Summit Insulated Fish Bag is particularly useful for those who love kayak fishing. It is made to last and comes packed with nifty features. Available in two sizes, this insulated bag attaches to all kayaks with heavy-duty buckles and strong Velcro straps. Cleaning it after you are done for the day is quite easy, thanks to a large opening at the front and a smaller one at the rear that allows you to flush out water.

It offers ample storage for your catch with 2900 cubic inches volume. The semi-circular front unzips to a full 180-degree opening to give you unhindered access to the main compartment. Getting small and large fish into the bag has never been easier. There is a separate internal pocket that you can use for storing reusable ice as well as a generous opening at the tapered end for easier cleaning. You get ample external storage in the form of a bungee lattice overlay and a large contour pocket.

Pros:
  • Attaches securely to kayaks with Velcro straps and heavy-duty buckles
  • Easy to clean thanks to the presence of two openings
  • Top opening offers unhindered access to the main compartment
  • Plenty of interiors and external storage for fish and other essentials
Cons:
  • Zipper opens all the way to the bottom, causing some water to leak
IceMule Coolers Pro Catch CoolersIceMule Coolers Pro Catch Coolers

The Ice Mule Coolers Pro Catch is specially designed for use on stand up paddleboards and kayak fishing. It boasts an interesting tapered design with a wider top and narrow bottom. It comes with welded straps, elastic strings, and clips that allow you to secure to the vessel in a thousand different ways. What we love most about it is that it offers the performance of a hard cooler and flexibility of a soft-sided catch bag. It keeps the ice intact and your fish fresh for up to 24 hours.

Portability is easy because the cooler rolls up into a stuff sack when not in use. It is available in three sizes to accommodate different needs. The bag also features a 1000 denier MuleSkin™ exterior and an IM AirValve™, which allows air to be completely squeezed out of insulation for optimal preservation.

Pros:
  • Excellent coolers for paddleboard and kayak fishing
  • Plenty of ways to secure it to kayak
  • Can keep ice intact for up to 24 hours
  • Sturdy construction with 1000D MuleSkin™
Cons:
  • Inner layer material has been known to tear easily

The Original Boozie Bucket is your absolute best friend if you love fishing, camping, tailgating, hunting and other outdoor adventures. It is designed to withstand rough abuse for years to come with 1000 denier fabric. The fabric is waterproof and so are the zipper closures, ensuring that the wet things stay wet and the dry ones stay dry. You can use it for more than just storing fish because it comes with built-in rod holders, MOLLE straps, and pouches.

Another notable feature is that the Original Boozie Bucket offers all-around insulation with closed cell foam. The lid is filled with foam and the top has a padded cover to further boost insulation. The rugged and adjustable straps are padded to help with comfort and easier transportation. Boozie Bucket also added a clip to keep the lid open so that the wind doesn’t mess with you.

Pros:
  • Offers all-around insulation to keep fish cold
  • Comes with built-in rod holders, MOLLE straps, and pouches
  • Made of water-resistant 1000D fabric
  • Suitable for all kinds of outdoors activities
Cons:
  • Quality issues cited by some customers
IceMule Pro Cooler - LG (23L) - Realtree Camo (Xtra pattern)IceMule Pro Cooler - LG (23L) - Realtree Camo (Xtra pattern)

The Ice Mule Cooler Pro Cooler was developed by James Collie as a portable unit to carry food and drinks. It is a soft-sided 20-liter cooler with ample padding for comfortable transportation. It features a three-layer construction and a controllable air element via the IM AirValve. The TriFold DriTop™ System provides a foolproof seal to keep air out and the ice intact for up to 24 hours. The cylindrical cooler has a perforated foam back panel and padded shoulders straps that offer a serviceable suspension system. You can certainly push the limits of your accouterments thanks to RF welded seams, which have a 65-pound rating.

There are two insulation layers including a protective MuleSkin ET outer layer made from tough 1000 denier fabric. The inner layer is made up of heavy-duty fabric that is 2x thicker than most. The cooler uses a ComfortCarryIMP System for maximum comfort during long excursions. It includes reinforced back straps and a ventilated back.

Pros:
  • Foolproof seal keeps air out and ice in
  • Made with tough materials for exceptional strength and durability
  • Can keep ice intact for 24 hours
  • Allows air removal from the insulation layer
Cons:
  • Can be awkward if not fully packed
AO Coolers Water-Resistant Vinyl Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, 12-Can to 48-CanAO Coolers Water-Resistant Vinyl Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, 12-Can to 48-Can

AO Coolers is a brand dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts who need quality equipment for their excursions. This particular model uses TPU liners to ensure you end up with a heavy-duty cooler instead of a leaky faucet. The lining creates an extra barrier between the inner and outer layers, thus preventing the development of moisture on the outside of the cooler. A soft yet durable material that doesn't scratch up your car or boat is used for the exterior layer.

This unit can keep ice intact for more than 24 hours in 120-degree weather. It is perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities including fishing, camping, and parties. It is available in four sizes to cater to different user needs. The cooler features a removable strap that allows for comfortable transportation as well as a side pocket for small dry items.

Pros:
  • Offers ice retention for more than 24 hours
  • Comes in several sizes
  • Soft-sided cooler with tough, waterproof vinyl exterior
  • Removable strap for improved portability
Cons:
  • Customer service is wanting
Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20

The Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20 is a low profile fish bag specially designed for kayak and paddleboard fishing. It boasts a top deck design that fits perfectly onto the deck of a kayak. It can also be secured behind the seat. The exterior layer consists of a reflective material that keeps the inside cold by reducing heat absorption. A zippered insulation chamber is responsible for keeping your catch fresh and chilled. You can remove that chamber for easy cleaning after a fishing trip.

The Kayak Catch Cooler 20 uses zipper closures that are identical to what you would find on standard dry bags. It has adjustable carry straps for improved portability and is available in two sizes to accommodate anything from trout to bonefish.

Pros:
  • Roomy interior for different sized fish
  • Offers maximum thermal efficiency
  • A deck-side cooler that offers convenient access
  • Easy to clean pull out fish bag
Cons:
  • Metal tabs on zipper break off easily
Personlized 12-Pack khaki Cooler Tote - Custom Cooler Bag - Personalized Cooler Bag - Monogrammed Cooler Tote - Set of 5Personlized 12-Pack khaki Cooler Tote - Custom Cooler Bag - Personalized Cooler Bag - Monogrammed Cooler Tote - Set of 5

If you want something that replicates your personal style, this Personalized 12-Pack Khaki Cooler Tote is an excellent purchase. It makes a great gift for groomsmen and personalization adds a special touch to your gifts. It is a good cooler that will stand out at sporting events, cultural offerings within the community or outdoor adventures. This cooler is personalized with up to 7 characters in any of 20 signature colors. It boasts a sturdy and durable leather top handle with an adjustable strap that makes portability easier. The strap has a convenient bottle opener and the 12 pack insert allows for neat organization. The antimicrobial liner is leak resistant and prevents absorption of heat.

Pros:
  • A memorable and personalized gift for groomsmen
  • Zippered closure to the insulated main compartment
  • Durable leather top handle with adjustable strap
  • Fitted with convenient bottle opener
Cons:
  • A little small

How to Choose a Fishing Cooler

There are multiple factors to consider when shopping for a fishing cooler.

Type of cooler

There are three main types of coolers i.e. basic, soft side and heavy-duty. Basic coolers are the ones you grew up seeing in at family outings or picnics. They use minimal insulation and come at a negligible price. Soft-sided coolers are designed for space-conscious customers and use more insulation than basic ones. Heavy-duty coolers use thick insulation, tight seals and locking leads. They are excellent options for longer fishing trips.

Storage capacity

This is measured in quarts and determines how much can fit inside. Smaller models with 25 quarts capacity are ideal for individuals on an overnight excursion. The 40-quart range will suffice for couples on a weekend fishing trip or a single person for a few nights. Consider a model with at least 70 quarts capacity if going on a long family trip.

Draining convenience

Coolers that offer complete drainage without having to elevate one end reduce aggravation while those with recessed channels and lower drain holes require minimal effort. Avoid a model that splashes a lot unless you are draining from outside.

Insulation performance

The main purpose of a cooler is to keep things cold and as such, insulation performance is an important factor to consider. The models on our list can keep ice intact for 24 hours or longer. Depending on how long your fishing trip will last, a few extra days of insulation may prove beneficial.

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