Chill Out and Fish On: The Best Coolers for Kayaking

Matt Johnson
Matt JohnsonPublished: February 26, 2023
Chill Out and Fish On: The Best Coolers for Kayaking

Whether fishing, picnicking, or just out for a day of fun in the sun, having a reliable cooler is essential. The good news is that many coolers are designed explicitly with kayaks and other water activities in mind. To help make your decision easier, we've tested some of the top coolers for kayaking and have compiled our results here.

We considered their material, capacity, design, and features when making our rankings from 1 to 6 so you can easily find the perfect cooler for your needs. So let's get started!

Why do you need a kayak cooler?

The real question is - why would you think you don't need a kayak cooler?

For those that are veteran kayak anglers, then you know how essential coolers are for kayaking. Not only do they keep your catch cool and fresh, but you need something to keep the ice-cold beer nice and chilled when you're paddling down the river.

Some kayaks come with built-in coolers, which is nice and convenient, but they're typically not the best coolers for kayaking. You can keep your fish in the built-in cooler as a live well and get one of these kayak coolers to keep your snacks and drinks ice cold for your fishing trip.

What to look for in the best kayak coolers.

Before we tested these coolers, we wanted to ensure that coolers for kayaking were worthy of being on our list. To do this, we considered several factors.

  • Material.
  • Storage capacity.
  • Design.
  • Features.

Material.

For material, we looked at coolers made of rotomolded plastic or polyethylene, as these materials are designed to be solid and durable. Sure, we considered some other materials, but if you want to keep food cold, and increase ice retention, then you need the best materials.

Cooler capacity.

Another critical area when searching for coolers for kayaking is cooler capacity. Some coolers are huge and can hold a lot of food and drinks, which is great when you’re on the water for long periods. But if you don’t need that much storage space, then choosing a cooler with a smaller capacity could be more practical and easier to carry around.

Design.

There are plenty of coolers for kayaking available in the market, but not all coolers are designed with your needs in mind. We looked at coolers with a design focused on conveniences and keeping the drinks cool, such as closed cell foam insulation, storing fish, and keeping contents cold during your entire kayaking trip. After all, what's the point of a cooler if it will let the cold air out and the warm air in?

Features.

Then we looked at all the features from coolers that could keep ice longer, coolers with a drain plug, coolers with insulation, coolers with built-in shelves, and coolers with compartments for food and beverages. Do they have backpack straps? How about rod holders? These are all things anglers and fishermen would want when patrolling the waterways in a kayak.

Here are the best kayak coolers for your next trip.

Whether you're looking for kayak cooler bags or something more robust such as hard-sided coolers, we've compiled a list of our six best kayak coolers that we've tried and tested. After all, we wanted to make sure that these coolers can really handle the elements and keep your food and beverages cold, no matter how long you stay out on the water.

Venussar Kayak Cooler

Venussar Kayak Cooler Bag

First on our list of kayak coolers is the Venussar kayak fishing cooler. We were impressed by both the design and features when we tried this cooler out. So much so we think this is the best kayak cooler on the market right now.

The first thing we noticed with this lightweight cooler is that the high-density insulation material and leak-proof liner kept our food and drinks cold for 8 hours while we were out on the water. That's right, 8 hours! We enjoyed ice-cold beverages even after a long day of kayaking under the hot sun. It even kept our ice frozen for that entire time.

As for the capacity, this cooler bag does not disappoint. This cooler can hold up to 24 cans of beer (ahem, beverages) or 12 bottles of mineral water. It's a snug fit, but you can get 24 standard cans in without problems. There's even a little extra room for ice, but we would've preferred more room. Plus, a zippered waterproof pocket can store small valuables like keys and your mobile phone. And if you need to bring snacks along, mesh pockets are perfect for storing them.

What we really loved about this kayak cooler was its convenient design. The top opening zipper made accessing my drinks easy, even when seated in my kayak. And the padded shoulder straps were adjustable and detachable, which meant we could use them on one or both shoulders as needed.

Installation was a breeze too. All we had to do was attach the bungee cord to fasten the cooler to the kayak seat securely  - it fits all models of seats! And because it's so versatile, we can take this portable cooler with us on different activities such as boating, camping, hiking, fishing, or even parties.

Yakhacker Waterproof Kayak Cooler

Yakhacker Waterproof Kayak Cooler

Have you ever gone on a lengthy kayaking fishing excursion and wished you had a cooler that wouldn't take up too much space?

We have. That's why you need to check out the Yakhacker Waterproof Kayak Cooler. We recently tried this product and were impressed with its materials, capacity, design, and features.

The material of the Yakhacker is high-density insulation which kept our food and drinks chilled from morning to night! We didn't have to worry about leaks either since the liner inside the insulated backpacks worked together with the insulation to ensure anti-leaking.

We loved how easy it was to access our food and drinks while seated in our kayak. The top opening zipper provided ultimate convenience for us. Plus, when we were off exploring on land, we simply removed the bungee balls from the cooler bag, which made carrying it around so much easier.

One thing that really impressed us was how universal this cooler was. It fits perfectly for all models with lawn chair seating thanks to its strong bungee ball system. But what's even better is that it can be used beyond just a kayak. We took it with us for shore fishing as well.

Not only does it come with an adjustable and removable padded shoulder strap for easy carrying, but it also has multiple pockets, such as a net pocket to hold water bottles or umbrellas and even a water-resistant pocket to store small items like snacks or phones.

Suppose you're looking for a compact yet efficient cooler for your next kayaking adventure or outdoor excursion in general. In that case, we highly recommend giving the Yakhacker Waterproof Kayak Cooler a try. And don't worry about taking any risks - they offer a 100% risk-free satisfaction guarantee.

Freshie Insulated Kayak Cooler Bag

Freshie Insulated Kayak Cooler Bag

The soft-sided cooler by Freshie ranks number three on our list of best kayak coolers, but it was a strong contender for the first and second spots.

One of the standout features of this product is its material. The polyethylene foam and aluminum foil interior provide fantastic insulation, keeping food and drinks hot or cold for extended periods. We found that this feature made it an excellent choice for transporting food during deliveries, as well as for grocery shopping or storing items in general. Of course, we used it for fishing in our kayak, but the point is that you can use it just about anywhere.

In terms of capacity, the bag did not disappoint either. Its spacious interior allows you to fit almost all items you can think of, making it incredibly versatile. Additionally, we appreciated that the bag had large cup holders that could fit bottles, cups, containers, and more - eliminating the need for a separate caddy. After all, space is valuable when you're on the water in your kayak.

The design of the Freshie Insulated Kayak Cooler Bag is also noteworthy. It has premium zippers and sturdy handles that make it perfect for use as a professional hot box or carrying heavy loads. We could tell that this bag was built to last all day on the job - great news if you're someone who delivers pizza or catering and needs commercial-grade quality.

Finally, cleaning up after using the bag was a breeze thanks to its aluminum foil interior. It's waterproof, leak-proof, portable, reusable, and foldable - making it an excellent option for those on the go.

AMURS Kayak Cooler

AMURS Kayak Cooler

When it comes to kayaking, having a reliable cooler can make all the difference in your experience. That's why the AMURS Kayak Cooler made #4 on our list, as we were pleasantly surprised with its performance.

The material of this cooler is top-notch. The high-density insulation and leak-proof liner kept our food and drinks at the perfect temperature for 11 hours while we were on the water (that was an exhausting day, but we caught some decent bass). Thanks to the thick foam insulation and heat-welded seams, we didn't have to worry about any leaks or spills either.

The capacity of this kayak cooler is also impressive. We could fit 24 cans of drinks along with ice cubes in the inner compartment, making it perfect for long days on the water or even a day trip to the beach.

One thing we appreciated about this cooler was its design. The detachable shoulder strap made it easy to carry and adjust while paddling, and there's even a foil-insulated top compartment for storing utensils or anything else you can imagine. Plus, the kayak cooler comes with two detachable rod holders and bungee balls for added convenience. If you're like us, we have a multi-pole fishing license, so we had a bait line in from the rod holder while casting with another.

Cleaning up after our adventure was a breeze, too, since the interior is dirt-proof and easy to wipe down. Overall, while it may not be our top pick, the AMURS Kayak Cooler definitely holds its own among other kayak coolers on the market.

CreekKooler Floating Cooler

CreekKooler Floating Cooler

While the other kayak coolers we tried were all designed to strap onto lawn chair-style seats on a lawn chair-style kayak, we wanted to try something else. Maybe you don't have lawn chair-style seating?

So we added the CreekKooler Floating Cooler to our list of coolers for kayaks and were pretty impressed with its features. The first thing that caught our attention was its unique design. It's a hard-sided cooler that floats next to you in your kayak. It's like a mini-kayak following you wherever you go.

The dual-wall, blow-molded construction not only looks sleek but also adds durability to the overall build of the cooler. Additionally, there are four drink holders located on the deck, which is great for when you're out on the water and want to keep your drinks within reach.

The insulation of this cooler is also worth mentioning. With two inches of insulation injected into the hull and deck, we were able to keep our drinks cold for 48 hours. Why would you keep drinks cold that long? We don't know, but we wanted to test it out, so we put a bunch of ice and drinks in and left it sitting for a few days in the Texas heat. We can confidently say that this is one of the best hard-sided coolers on the market.

With a 30-quart capacity, it can hold up to 30 cans and 20 lbs of ice - perfect for a group outing. You and a buddy don't need to bring your own soft-sided coolers; you can share this one between the two or three of you.

The CreekKooler Floating Cooler is one of the best floating coolers on the market and a great choice for those looking for a versatile cooler that can keep their drinks cold.

YETI Hopper Flip Cooler

YETI Hopper Flip Cooler

If you've followed the Fish and Game Report for any amount of time, then you'll know we're not the biggest fan of YETI coolers. Why? Well, they do an excellent job at keeping things cold, they're expensive, and there are plenty of other coolers on the market. However, we really liked this one during our testing.

So with that, when it comes to keeping things cold on the go, the YETI Hopper Flip Cooler is a great option. While it may not be the biggest cooler out there, with a capacity of 15 pounds or 12 cans plus ice, it definitely gets the job done. The ColdCell Insulation technology ensures that your drinks and snacks stay chilled for hours on end, even in hot weather.

One thing we really appreciate about this cooler is its design. The HydroLok Zipper system keeps everything securely in place and prevents any leaks from occurring. This feature has come in handy during long car rides when we've had to navigate bumpy roads or sudden stops. Plus, the high-density fabric used in the construction of this cooler makes it durable enough to withstand punctures and UV rays.

Another selling point for me is how versatile this cooler is. It's perfect for a day trip to the beach or park, but it can also hold up during full days spent hunting or fishing. Its compact size makes it easy to carry around while still providing enough space for all your essentials.

While the YETI Hopper Flip Cooler may have less capacity than some other coolers on the market, its durability and insulation make it a reliable choice for anyone looking to keep their food and drinks cold on the go.

Where can you get these coolers?

When shopping for the best coolers for kayak fishing, you can find any of these and more at Amazon, Dicks Sporting Goods, or Academy Sports.

We purchased ours for this test at Dicks (they had a great sale going on at the time, and we didn't want to pass it up), but we saw them all at the other places as well.

If you're not in a hurry, take your time and wait for a good sale or coupon before making a purchase.

That said, don't let price be the only deciding factor, as coolers come in all shapes and sizes and offer different features. Make sure you compare coolers on their performance first before looking at the price. You don't want to pick up a soft cooler that doesn't do the trick, even though it was the cheapest option.

What's the best cooler for you?

That really depends on what you're after and how you plan on using it.

Since everyone's situation is different, it's essential to weigh up all the factors before making a decision. Some anglers are fine with a compact cooler bag they've been using for years, and some need a top-of-the-line soft shell cooler bag or ice chest as they spend hours on the water doing some competitive fishing.

Whether you're looking for capacity, portability, or insulation, there's sure to be something that fits your needs.

Don't get just any cooler; ensure you get the right kayak cooler for your needs.

Keep your drinks ice-cold with one of these kayak coolers.

That wraps up our rundown of the top coolers for kayak fishing. We tested six coolers and examined their materials, capacity, design, and features to decide which ones were the best of the bunch.

Whether you're after a soft-sided cooler or a hard-shell one, any of these coolers ensure that your drinks stay ice-cold during your time on the water.

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Master Outdoorsman

Matt is a seasoned outdoorsman with expertise in fishing, hunting, and wildlife. With a Master's degree in Wildlife Science, he combines his passion for nature with conservation efforts, sharing his knowledge through his writing for Fish and Game Report.

We may be compensated through the links you find on this page.

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