Best Boat Coolers: Reviews and Buying Guide for 2020

Food and refreshments are essential for a successful boat outing. Having some snacks and cold drinks will make relaxing on your boat even more enjoyable, and keeping cold water close by is important for preventing dehydration.

A boat cooler is a must-have accessory, whether you’re planning a week-long fishing trip or like to go on shorter outings.

What to Consider When Shopping for a Boat Cooler

The best boat cooler should be easy to use and be large enough to store the food and beverages you need for your trip or outing.

Ask yourself how much storage space is available on your boat. Choose a cooler that is easy to store and access, but avoid coolers that would get in the way or take up too much storage space.

The capacity of the best boat cooler depends on how many people are on your boat and how long your outings typically last. Keep in mind that you can complement your boat cooler with other storage options if not all your food and water needs to remain cold at all times.

Insulation is one of the most important features to consider. The insulation quality and thickness will impact the price of your boat cooler, and it will also determine how well the cooler keeps food and drinks cold.

Inspect seals and hinges carefully. A low-quality seal can let out a lot of cold air and impact the performance of your cooler. You should also look for a cooler with sturdy hinges.

You might want to look for features that make your cooler more portable, like a handle, straps, or a sturdy base to set the cooler down. A collapsible design can be convenient if you are shopping for a soft-sided boat cooler.

Different Types of Boat Coolers

The best boat cooler type depends on how much food and water you need to keep on your boat and how long you will need to rely on your cooler for cold water.

A soft-sided cooler is a choice that makes sense for short outings. These boat coolers are lightweight, portable, and versatile. They typically come with handles or straps that allow you to carry your cooler like a backpack. Some soft-sided coolers have additional pockets you can use to keep your belongings organized.

A hard-shell cooler will provide you with more durable and reliable insulation. You should use a hard-shell cooler if you need to keep food and water cold for more than a few hours. These coolers are heavier and less portable, but they will protect your food and drinks from shocks.

Electric coolers are another option to consider. You can find 12V coolers that keep food and water cold for days or even weeks. It’s an interesting alternative to having a mini-fridge on board, even though these coolers take up more space and require more maintenance.

Best Boat Cooler Under $100

These no-frill coolers will keep your food and drinks cold during a short outing.

CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

We like this cooler bag because it’s lightweight, sturdy, and has a large capacity. The soft-sided construction uses polyester and other synthetic materials. You can collapse the cooler to save up space when it’s empty.

The cooler has dimensions of approximately 12x12x12.” It has a total capacity of eight gallons, and you can use it to store up to 50 cans or 50 pounds of food and drinks.

This cooler uses hinges that you can snap on if you need more structure and fold if you need to collapse the bag. We like the convenient carry handles, the sturdy zipper closure, and the outside pocket.

All you have to do is add a couple of ice packs, and this cooler will keep your food and drinks cold for the entire day!

Pros:

  • Affordable option
  • Collapsible design
  • Large capacity
  • Five colors available

Cons:

  • Does not protect food and drinks from shocks
  • Limited support

Igloo Polar Cooler

This hard-shell cooler is easy to store, thanks to its horizontal design. You can add a cushion on top of the cooler and use it as a seat.

The insulation and reliable seal create a cold environment. This cooler can keep ice at a temperature of 90°F for up to five days. We think this cooler is an ideal choice if you need a boat cooler that will keep food and drinks cold for a few days.

The cooler features sturdy collapsible handles. These handles make the cooler easy to transport. The secure lid closure prevents the cooler from opening accidentally and ensures that the seal is in place when you close the cooler again. The cooler has a drain plug you can use to easily get rid of water or melted ice.

The total capacity of the cooler is 120 quarts or 188 cans. The exterior dimensions are approximately 38x17x17.”

Pros:

  • Sturdy hard-shell design
  • Drain plug
  • Large capacity
  • Collapsible handles

Cons:

  • Takes up space
  • Only one color available

Best Boat Cooler Under $150

If you’re planning a longer trip, we think the best boat cooler for your needs could be one of these electric coolers.

Coleman 40 Quart Powerchill Thermoelectric Cooler

This thermoelectric cooler is a versatile addition to your boat. You can use it to chill food and drinks up to 40°F below the current temperature. It’s best to pre-chill your food and drinks in advance.

You can also use this thermoelectric cooler to warm up your food up to 40°F above the current temperature. It’s a fun addition to your boat if you like to cook or grill onboard!

The cooler takes three hours on average to reach the desired temperature. It’s an interesting alternative to a hard-shell cooler or refrigerator. The cooler has a total capacity of 40 quarts.

The eight-foot power cord allows you to plug the cooler into a 12V car or boat outlet. This cooler is a flexible option since you can mount the door to open from the left or right, depending on the space available on your boat.

Pros:

  • No need for ice packs
  • Chill or warm up food and drinks
  • Lightweight design
  • Runs on 12V

Cons:

  • Limited capacity

Koolatron Travel Cooler and Warmer

We like this compact boat cooler because you can use it to chill or warm up your food and drinks. It uses a thermoelectric cooling system to keep things cool. A thermoelectric cooler is an excellent choice for your new boat cooler since there is no need to replace the coolant and no risks of leaks.

The dimensions of this electric cooler are approximately 17x16x15.” You can use it to store up to 48 cans.

The compact design is an advantage if you don’t have a lot of space on your boat. The cooler opens from the top, so you don’t have to worry about clearance for the door.

Pros:

  • Chills or warm up food
  • No need to use ice
  • Energy-efficient design
  • Opens from the top

Cons:

  • Takes up more space than other coolers

Best Boat Coolers Overall

After comparing different products, we think these two coolers are excellent choices.

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler

This performing cooler is an ideal compromise between a soft-sided and hard-shell design. It mixes that hard and protective structure of a hard-shell cooler with the lightweight design of a soft-sided boat cooler.

The quality of the insulation is one of the features that make this cooler stand out. There is a leak-proof lining that provides an additional layer of insulation while making the cooler easy to clean. There is a removable shelf you can use to store your food and drinks separately.

This cooler uses a seal rather than a zipper to create an airtight environment that prevents cold air from leaking. There is a shoulder strap you can use to carry the cooler and some outside pockets for keeping a few essential items accessible.

The cooler comes in four different sizes, and there are three colors available. It can keep ice cold for two to three days, depending on the size you choose.

Pros:

  • Lightweight design
  • Airtight seal
  • Quality insulation
  • Different sizes available

Cons:

  •  No carrying handles

Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler

We think this hard-shell cooler is an excellent option for a boat outing. The hard-shell design will protect your food and drinks from shocks.

The lid uses two sturdy latches and a rubberized design to create an airtight space. The cooler uses UV-resistant materials for durability.

The foam insulation can keep ice cold for up to four days. The base of the cooler is one of the standout features because it uses a molded design to create an additional layer of insulation and keep food and drinks cold even if you set the cooler down on a hot surface. The dimensions of the cooler are 19x15x13.”

Pros:

  • Sturdy hard-shell design
  • Carry handle
  • Airtight lid
  • Molded base

Cons:

  • Bulky design

Conclusion

If you want a lightweight and portable boat cooler, we recommend the Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Zipperless Hardbody Cooler. This cooler is easy to carry and delivers excellent insulation.

If you don’t mind using a bulkier cooler, the Igloo BMX 25 Quart Cooler delivers the best insulation and uses a sturdy and durable design.