When you’re preparing for a day out kayaking, you’ll most likely be looking forward to enjoying the warm weather and a day out on the water. If you’re planning on getting out for the whole day, you’ll most likely be packing something to eat, as well as some refreshments.
However, as great as the warm weather is when you’re out paddling around, it doesn’t do the taste of your lunch and drinks any favors at all. Leaving your food and drink out in the sun will result, of course, in them going off faster and becoming extremely unpleasant. It’s common knowledge that there are few things worse than warm beverages that are meant to be cold!
The best solution to making sure that your food and drinks are kept as cold and refreshing as they should be is a kayak cooler. There’s a massive variety of food and beverage cooling solutions available for your kayak. In this buying guide, we’re going to give you a full understanding of everything that’s available. We’ll cover different types of coolers and what each offers, as well as points that you should look for and how to decide on which cooler is most suitable for your kayak.
What Types of Cooler Are Available?
Kayak coolers come in a variety of different types and styles. However, most are available in either bag or chest form. Let’s have a look at the two, and what each has to offer.
Cool Bags – Cooler bags look just like regular carry-bags that might normally be taken onto your boat, perhaps to carry equipment, fishing tackle, or similar. They’re easier to carry around than cool boxes/ice chests and are usually smaller in capacity too.
Ice Boxes – Iceboxes are probably the first thing that comes into your head when you think of a portable cooler. They’re solid boxes that are insulated and designed for keeping their contents as cool as possible. They’re extremely effective. However, they’re not as portable nor as easy to store as the alternative cool bag.
Points To Think About When Choosing Your Cooler
There’s a number of points you should consider when you’re looking for the most suitable cooling solution for taking on board your kayak. Your kayak’s design and style should be one of the first points that you think about. If you’re using a small kayak that’s not got much room, or a touring kayak that has a slim design, you’ll know that space on board is going to be limited. Getting a reasonably sized cool box onto your boat is going to be difficult in these cases. If you’ve got a smaller or a touring kayak, it’s likely that a cooler bag is going to be more suitable for your uses.
Some kayaks come with a dedicated space for cooler boxes. In which case, a cool box can be the best option. Regardless of the type of cooler you choose in the end, you should be sure that it’s well-reviewed, and that it’s made by a good brand.
The Best Kayak Coolers
YETI Hopper Two – High-End Portable Cooler
This cooler from YETI is one of the best known and most heavily used on the market due to its extremely high levels of quality and durability. The Hopper Two was the first cooler bag to come to the market that was completely water-tight. It’s constructed with heavy use and the need for durability in mind.
The durability of the Hopper Two is clear from the first moment you see or touch it. It features the same materials in parts of it that are used to construct rafts designed for fast-moving waters! You can be sure that it’s not going to be breaking or bursting easily, or anytime soon.
The construction of the Hopper Two features a dryhide shell, which is both extremely waterproof and very protecting from the sun’s rays. The inside of the bag features coldcell insulation, which is an advanced foam that’s made from rubber, renowned for its remarkable ability to retain the cold.
Every part of this cool bag has been considered and designed with nothing but the ultimate performance and durability in mind. Even the zips on the Hopper Two are of the highest quality – the “Hydrolok” zips are amongst the strongest and most sealing available anywhere.
- The most durable cool bag on the market
- Completely watertight and resistant to UV
- Arguably the best looking bag available
- Cold is held for an exceptionally long time, thanks to Coldcell Insulation
- Easy to tie down and secure onto your boat
- Portable with adjusting straps
- Lightweight when empty at 5.5 lbs
Reliable Fishing Products – Insulated Kayak Fish Cooler
The Reliable Fishing Products is perfect for keeping any fish that you catch whilst you’re out on the kayak fresh for when you get back to the shore. Catching fish on board your kayak is fantastic, however, particularly if it’s warm weather, storing your fish and keeping it fresh can be quite tricky.
Another one of the main advantages of this Reliable Fishing Products bag is that it will keep your boat clean, your catch clean, and in general your setup tidy with your fish packed neatly away. After you’re back on dry land, the bag is easy to clean out and keep fresh once your catch has been removed.
It’s large in size (around 70 quarts), so there’s plenty of space inside for ice. It is easy to carry too, thanks to its 3 comfortable and conveniently-placed carry handles. The bag is also resistant to mold and water damage from dampness – it will remain effective and usable for years of use.
- Great for keeping your catch fresh for a good length of time
- 70 quarts of room for your fish and ice
- Protection from UV – no need to worry even when you’re out in the sun for hours
- Easy to carry
- Quick to clean after use
IceMule Classic – Collapsible Cooler Bag
The IceMule classic has in our opinion one of the most pleasing designs on offer. It’s completely collapsible and hands-free, making it extremely easy to store and very portable. Carrying the IceMule Classic on your back is both easy and comfortable.
Overall usability of the Classic is further enhanced by it being soft – even when full, the places that it can be stored and fit into are more flexible than a solid box variety. When not in use, it can be packed flat and easily stored into the smaller compartment of a larger bag.
Another key point of the IceMule Classic s that it’s completely waterproof. Whilst other cool bags on the market are too completely waterproof, this bag leaves nothing to chance. A common point of weakness for water-tightness is zips and seams. In this case, there are no welded seams or zips, so leaks are never going to be a worry.
- Simple yet effective design
- Very affordable
- Easy to carry and store when full
- Can be packed away flat when empty for the ultimate portability when not in use
- Watertight – with no seams or zips to serve as entry points for water, it’s completely watertight
- 10L Capacity
- Buoyant – if your cool bag happens to land in the water for whatever reason, you’ll have no trouble retrieving it. Its bright colors and buoyancy make sure!
Best Kayak Cooler Boxes
Although they serve the same purpose, iceboxes are really quite different from cool bags. They’re not quite as portable as a lot of cool bags available but are still a great and very effective option for keeping your food and drinks at the right temperature, particularly if portability isn’t at the top of your list.
ENGEL Ice Box – Kayak Cooler For Fishing
If you’re looking for an icebox that’s extremely tough as well as functional, then you shouldn’t need to look any further than this Engel cooler. It’s completely watertight and is extremely tough.
What we love about the Engel though, is that it doubles up extremely well as a dry box. If you’re interested in taking more valuable/sensitive equipment out onto the water with you, the Engel Ice/Dry box serves as the ultimate case in which to protect and keep them dry.
Available in sizes from 7 quarts right up to 30 quarts, the box caters to everyone’s needs. Whether you’re looking to take out lunch for one, lunch for 4, or indeed an expensive camera setup, the Engel has you covered.
If you’re a keen angler, you’ll also appreciate that the Engel box has 4 rod holders, mounted conveniently on the side of the box. If you’d like to take a second to relax your hands whilst eating or having a drink from your box, you can easily rest your rod in the side.
- Appreciated by many for being extremely tough
- Completely water-tight, and doubles up excellently as a dry box as well as a cooler
- Carry handles and shoulder straps make carrying easier
- Fishing rod holders on the side
- Available in a range of different sizes for all uses
- Resistant to lasting odors and stains
- Extremely easy to clean in the event of spillage, inside or out
YETI Roadie 20 – Best Kayak Cooler
In the usual YETI fashion, this durable icebox looks absolutely fantastic. This Yeti isn’t named the “Roadie” for no reason – it’s great for use on the move, and is often used by keen kayakers and boaters alike.
The Roadie is very effective at keeping ice as it should be too – extra cold! Thanks to the advanced “PermaFrost” insulation and extremely thick design, the box is sure to stay cold for far longer than you need it to.
One of the points that’s really special about the Yeti Roadie is that it’s rotomoulded. Whilst a lot of products will be composed of a number of different parts and panels, the Yeti Roadie is made from one piece. This makes it incredibly strong and near impossible to break.
Keeping this ice box secure when it’s on your boat is no big task either – it’s slots that are designed to secure the box to your boat. Once tied down, it’s mounted and isn’t going to be going anywhere easily unless you want it to.
- Trusted by kayakers and boaters all over the world
- Extra tough rotomolded design
- Permafrost insulation – extremely effective at keeping ice solid for many hours
- Non-slip feet thanks to Bearfoot technology
- Easy to mount securely to your boat thanks to “Anchorpoint” tie points
Often, we find choosing our favorite from a list of things to be really quite easy. This isn’t the case for this guide though. All coolers that we’ve mentioned here, whether bag or box are sure to serve you extremely well. Each has something that they absolutely excel at.
If you’re looking for the ultimate portability and ease of use, you can’t go wrong with the IceMule Collapsible Cooler Bag. It’s easy to use, and even easier to pack away into the smallest of spaces when you don’t need it.
If you’re looking for the ultimate high-performance cool box, the Yeti Roadie 20 would have to be our top pick, with the Engel following closely after. It’s extremely strong rotomolded design and cold-keeping technology really is amazing.
We hope that our ultimate buyers guide to the best kayak cool boxes has helped you out in your decision of what cooler is most suited to your needs. Be rest assured that if you choose any of the coolers that we’ve reviewed, you won’t be disappointed. Happy yaking!