Best Kayak Cooler for Beginners

CreekKooler Floating Cooler [email protected]

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When you are in the water for hours on a hot summer, try getting a kayak cooler. Chill your beers or store your catch during kayak fishing. It will make a world of difference, making your time in the water more enjoyable.


As there are so many options out there, we have spent time researching and created the ultimate guide for the best  coolers that are designed for kayaking. If you are hard pressed for time, and want to get the best kayak cooler, we recommend CreekKooler Floating Cooler as the best kayak cooler in the market.

Table of Contents

Best kayak cooler

If you are out of space in your kayak, consider floating coolers for kayak. This float ice chest is a total game changer. This kayak ice chest is designed to look like a mini kayak which tows behind you. 


This floating ice chest features an aerodynamic design which can handle waves and rapids well. When used, it is partially submerged in the water, which helps to keep your items cool. Its double walled construction and 2 inches of insulation, enables it to keep ice frozen for up to 48 hours.


This is a big cooler that is watertight, so you can safely store your other items like clothings, bags, and tents for kayak camping. It has a great capacity of 28 liters, sufficient to store up to 30 12 oz cans and another 20 lbs of ice. 


Alternatively you can use it to keep your fresh catch on fishing trips. Even when loaded to the maximum, it does not create a lot of drag and still floats very well.


The lid opens by twisting the top, and it opens up to a spacious insulated storage area. This avoids having your kayak being cramped up and allowing you to comfortably stretch out.


There are 4 cup holders which you can use as a floating table when you just want a lounge in the river or lake. It will be a big hit for pool parties as you will not need to get out of the pool to grab a drink or snack. 


There are 2 rope handles which are attached on both ends, for easy carrying. It comes with a heavy duty rope for tying it close to the kayak within arms reach.  If you tie it close, it will prevent it from swinging around behind you.


The downside is that the rope connecting the cooler box to your kayak, could be hard to see causing other watercrafts to tangle over the rope. But this can be solved by just fitting a warning flag. 


CreekKooler Floating Cooler is a wonderful addition to your kayak if you have loads to carry and lack of space to your existing kayak.

Best kayak cooler
CreekKooler Floating Cooler [email protected]



  • Spacious
  • Durable
  • Extra storage space
  • 4 drink holders
  • Watertight
  • Great ice retention 
  • Tow rope may not be visible 
  • Less affordable

This is a very popular watertight kayak cooler bag, built with waterproof zippers. It comes with a stick of lubricant for regular maintenance, which makes a difference on how it opens. Constructed with puncture and tear resistant heavy duty nylon shell, it is a super durable container. 


It features up to 2 inches of closed cell foam insulation, providing great ice retention. It can keep your items cold up to 5 days. 


It is advisable to keep it cool with ice to content ratio of 1:2. It is 100% leak proof and does not condensate on the outside. So you will not find the interior of your kayak being in a wet mess. It also comes with an antimicrobial liner which prevents mildew.


This soft ice chest is compact, so you have no problem storing it in your kayak. However, do not be fooled by the size of this cooler, as it is able to store up to 20 cans sized drinks. It is perfect for packing lunch for a fishing trip. 


This canoe cooler weighs only 3 lbs on its own.There are padded shoulder straps which are adjustable and long enough for crossbody wear. This is one of the best small coolers for lugging to the beach, or go on for motorcycle camping.

RTIC Soft Cooler 20 Credit@adrifonseca
RTIC Soft Cooler 20 [email protected]



  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • Superb ice retention
  • 100% leak proof
  • Does not sweat
  • Zippers can be tough  

If you plan to do fishing, this will make a great fishing cooler, as this cooler comes with 4 fishing rod holders. This kayak catch cooler  comes with a shoulder strap, so you can sling it over your shoulder and take off. There is a recessed overhead carrying handle for easy carrying. If you have a 3 person kayak, or a kayak with extra leg room, this cooler will sit in perfectly.


It is basically an ice chest box which can be used as a cooler as well as a dry box. This kayak fishing cooler is built with a secure lid with solid stainless steel latches to ensure that nothing will spill out and waterproof that no water will come in. Its use of stainless steel makes it tough and rust proof, which is useful especially in salt water.


This cooler keeps moisture and dust out, in case you plan to store your electronics such as your cameras or fish finders. Engle Cooler has a special EVA Foam Gasket that will expand, and create an extremely tight seal that will keep out water up to depths of 3 feet. The air tightness feature is useful because if the box accidentally goes overboard, it could float.


There is a slider tray at the top to separate the dry items from your cold stuff. You can store your camping food and fishing gear together in 1 box. There are 3 sizes to choose from, 13, 19 and 30 quart options depending on your kayak size.


Putting ice alone is not the most effective way to keep your stuff cold. The best way is to use freezable ice packs and it will be able to keep your drinks cold even longer. This kayak fish cooler uses Polystyrene shell as its core insulation, which is an extremely tough material usually used for a dry box. However, we noticed that it is built with below average wall thickness, so it does reduce the ice retention.


The only concern coming from other cooler reviews, are the hinges. When the lid is opened, there is no chain to ease the pressure from the hinges. Otherwise, Engel 19 quart is great for kayak fishing and needs a place to store your cool beers or catch.

Engel 19 quart leak-proof air-tight drybox Credit@hensean
Engel 19 quart leak-proof air-tight drybox [email protected]



  • 4 fishing rod holders
  • Waterproof
  • Leakproof
  • Floats
  • Stainless steel hatch
  • Slider tray
  • Available in 3 sizes
  • Hinges have no chain to ease pressure
  • Less ice retention

This is a backpack style cooler, which makes it super portable to be carried over longer distances. It is one of the most comfortable coolers to carry around. Besides kayaking, you can use it as a bug out bag for activities like hiking, cycling and camping.



It comes with high quality, padded straps that help distribute the weight. It has a ventilated cushion for your back, so it feels comfortable carrying for long hours. If you have no space in your kayak, you can strap the bag over your shoulders and paddle freely. 



It has a roll-top design rather than a zipper, so you will not need to worry about problematic zippers. Its wide opening allows easy access to put in large items. It uses 1000 denier Muleskin ET layers which are super durable to withstand knocks and tear. The seams are well welded so there is buoyancy as there are no leaks.


It is designed to use air as insulation, thus, its ice retention is less impressive compared to our other recommended coolers. Nevertheless, it can keep your items cool for at least 28 hours. Whenever you do not need it, you can just collapse it and roll it up for easy storage during your trip.


Initially you may find the material rather stiff to roll up, but overtime, the material softens up and works fine. If you are looking for waterproof bag packs not specifically for kayak, read here.



It has a decent capacity of 23 litres or 18 cans and ice. You can store heavy glass wine bottles due to its flexible shape. There is an elastic mesh pocket located in front to toss in your small items.


We find this a great choice as a carry on cooler if you have insufficient space in your kayak, or you wish to store large wine bottles which are usually difficult on other types of coolers.

IceMule Pro Cooler Credit@tonydewey19 (3)
IceMule Pro Cooler [email protected]



  • Affordable
  • Backpack style
  • Roll-top design
  • Flexible shape allows storage of larger items
  • Leakproof
  • Waterproof
  • Buoyant
  • Less pockets

One thing you are always assured of when buying a Yeti is the durability. Yeti Hopper uses Dryhide shell for its exterior, which is made of high density fabric also used on white water rafts. The fabric has welded seams instead of stitching, creating a leak proof cooler. This makes the bag super tough, waterproof and mildew resistant. You will need to worry about your food going bad, thanks to its built in FDA-approved food-grade liner. 


One of the top features is its HydroLok zipper, similar to what is used on hazmat suits where nothing gets in or out. Initially, you will find the zippers tough to open. The reason is it is built to be tight, so air or water to seep in and out of the bag. A zipper lubricant is included with the purchase so that the zippers are always maintained in tip top condition throughout its lifetime. 


There is certainly no doubt on its ice retention capability. The minimum ice retention is at least 1 day. If you did not open the bag too often or leave it directly in the sun, it could retain ice for at least 3 days. 


The bag is super portable as there are shoulder straps long enough to wear across your body. There are side handles, back handle and also a top handle for more portability.You will love that it comes with a series of MOLLE webbing on the cooler to hang your bottle openers, multi tools, or storage add ons to extend your storage space.


The only setback is this cooler cannot compact down or fold down to store in your cupboard. We think it is only a small sacrifice in view of the great performance of the bag. 


What we like about the design is, that as soon as you open the bag, you can access all the contents immediately without rummaging around the bag. You can clean it easily and your stuff will fit pretty well.


YETI Hopper Flip Portable Soft Cooler is definitely a cooler that is built to last.

YETI Hopper Flip Credit@skiandtennisstation



  • Durable
  • Tough waterproof and leak proof zippers
  • MOLLE webbing
  • Great ice retention
  • Portable with shoulder straps
  • Less Affordable
  • Cannot compact down

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Buying  Guide


IceMule Pro Cooler Credit@kenjisytz (1)
IceMule Pro Cooler [email protected]

If you just need a cooler to sit in your kayak and not worry about the weight, then an ice chest is a great choice. Otherwise, if you need a multiple purpose cooler on the go for kayaking, hiking or camping, then a portable one with shoulder straps works better.


Some cute coolers have buoyancy, in case it falls in the water, it floats. Ideally, the cooler should be lightweight for better portability.

Ice Retention

Do you plan for multi day outings or just a day outing? If your activities are mostly for longer periods of time, then you need a cooler that has maximum ice retention. There are heavy duty coolers that can cool items up to 5 days.


Usually hard sided coolers tend to provide longer lasting cold compared to soft sided coolers. Foam and injected polystyrene are the best insulating materials. 


A cooler with lighter colors are usually better choices as they absorb less heat.

Multi usage


Do you plan to keep your fish, beer and ice together? Some cooers have separate compartments to separate your fish from your prepared food.

Waterproof / Leakproof


Get leak proof and waterproof coolers to prevent water from seeping through and soaking the interior of your kayak. Check that the zippers are made to be water and airtight so that the coldness is kept in and nothing can go in or out.


Engel 19 quart leak-proof air-tight drybox [email protected]

Do take measurements of your kayak, to ensure the cooler you buy can fit your kayak. A larger kayak or a SOT (sit on top) kayak, usually has ample deck space which is suitable to attach an ice chest. 


For narrower kayaks with limited space or Sit In Kayaks, cooler bags with flat or soft sides are a great choice. This is because you can utilize the bungee cords to secure your cooler bag, or use your dry hatch to store your cooler. 


Alternatively, if there is literally limited space on your kayak, you can get a floating cooler that attaches to the back of your kayak. 


You cannot go wrong in investing in any of our top 5 picks for the best cooler, as it has many amazing features to offer. You can prevent your food supplies or catch from being spoilt by the scorching sun and yet enjoy a wonderful time kayaking. 


If you still cannot decide and need a final recommendation, then we would recommend CreekKooler Floating Cooler  as the best cooler for the money. This enormously popular cooler has everything you need, additional storage space, high ice retention capability and durability that will see you through many trips.

What’s next

If you are looking to upgrade your kayak seat for better comfort, then check out our recommended Kayak Seats. Or if you are interested in inflatable kayaks, read our reviews.

I hope you enjoyed this review and if you have questions about any of the 5 best kayak coolers, or want to leave your own personal review, feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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