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Hopping on your boat for the day would not be the same without a trusty cooler to keep all of your snacks and beverages cold.
If you are serious about boating then you really need a rugged boat cooler that can take abuse and make your ice last for the long haul.
Whether you are sailing, fishing, diving, or just enjoying the water, a reliable cooler is indispensable for preserving your essential supplies.
Arming yourself with one of the best coolers for boating will help you to have a much better time.
It’s worth investing in one of the coolers that we have reviewed here wherever you’re going and whatever you’re doing.
We think our reviews of some of the top coolers can help you to narrow your list down. These aren’t dinky little lunchbox coolers for a day at the office.
These coolers are designed to meet the demands of the great outdoors, and can maintain cold temperatures for very long stretches, even in the hot sun.
Pelican Products ProGear Elite
The Pelican Products ProGear Elite cooler claims it can keep ice cold for up to 10 days. Other features include an integrated fish scale on the lid, heavy-duty wheels and more.
But does it live up to its own hype?
This cooler can hold a 30 pack of cans with no issues at all. It’s well built and sturdy, and the ice retention is impressive. The easy drain plug make it very simple to use, and the bottle opener and cup holders will make your life so much easier.
Bear in mind that both it’s 80 quart and 45 quart versions have wheels, but the 80 quart is still a beast of a cooler. You won’t be able to simply fill it up and throw it in the back of your truck, as it’s super heavy. It may be a little bulky, but it could well be the only cooler you ever need to buy.
It does come with a lifetime warranty but bear in mind this just covers the cooler box, not the drain plug, feet, latches, or anything else. Fortunately, as the cooler is so sturdy it’s unlikely you will ever have an issue.
We really like the genius design of the feet on this cooler as well. When it is sitting on a flat surface the wheels are lifted off the ground and the feet a firmly engaged with the floor.
This design prevents the cooler from rolling around unexpectedly when you really need it to stay put. And when you raise the front, the wheels engage with the floor and you can roll around with ease.
- Interior: 29″ x 13″ x 13″
- Exterior: 42.88″ x 20.75″ x 20.25″
- Up to 10 days ice retention, freezer grade gasket, 2″ polyurethane insulation
- Built in trolley handle with molded-in handles
- Press & Pull Latches (Wide for Gloved Use)
YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
The YETI Tundra 45 Cooler comes in a range of cool colors, and has a nice look to it. It’s a big name ‘built for legends’, as Yeti would say. Yeti claims that this one has extra thick walls that hold up to two inches of insulation for an unmatched ice retention. Does it live up to its claims?
Again, yes. This cooler can keep ice for days, and many who enjoy going on long trips find that even after 2 weeks, they had around half of the ice left in the cooler and that the things inside of it were still being kept cold – and that’s with no special preparation on their part.
You could argue that nobody really needs a $300 cooler, but there are a lot of things nobody really needs yet they go out and buy anyway. If you enjoy going on boating trips, camping, or doing anything else that could require a great cooler, you’ll find that the YETI Tundra 45 Cooler is well worth the money you’ll spend.
You truly get what you pay for with this cooler, and chances are, it’ll be years and years before you feel the need to replace it, if at all.
- The YETI Tundra 45 combines versatility with durability with a capacity of up to 26 cans with a recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio
- Will keep your ice… well ice thanks to up to 3 inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an extra thick FatWall design is certified Bear-Resistant
- The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra armored to the core and virtually indestructible so wherever you decide to take it, this portable cooler’s sturdy construction will stand up to the rigors of the journey
- All Tundra coolers feature T-Rex Lid Latches constructed of heavy-duty rubber and made with patented technology so you’ll never see another busted latch. Military-grade polyester rope for extra durability
- The Tundra 45 dimensions are 25 1/2 in long x 16 in wide x 15 ½ in high with an empty weight of 22 lbs NOTE: All Tundra models come standard with one dry goods basket.
Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest
The Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest is another one with lots of cool colors, but can it really compete with the Yeti coolers and the other big names?
It sure can.
Many people actually compare the Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest to Pelicans and Yetis, as it will keep ice for days and days with no issues. It may only have about 6 days of keeping ice in it, but when you compare the price with other coolers, it could be the best one you’ll find for the money. It’ll still keep everything nice and cold for 11 days, even when the ice is gone.
The Driftsun 75 Quart Ice Chest is built to last and made in the USA. If you want to prepare before using this one, you should make sure you buy quality ice and pre-cool the cooler well.
That should give you a little longer. You probably shouldn’t leave this one in direct sun if you can help it. These things aside, if you want a high quality cooler that is great value for money this could be the one for you.
- 75 Quart Ice Chest holds ice for days on end with up to 3Ó inches of commercial grade insulation, Freezer Style gasket, and ColdSeal Latches
- Military-grade nylon rope handles, GorillaGrip Non-Slip Rubber Feet, Molded Tie-Down Slots with Lock Plates, Recessed No-Leak Drain Plug, Pressure Release Valve, 2 Built-In Bottle Openers, and More!
- Virtually Indestructible Rotomolded Thermoplastic Construction with Heavy Duty Rubber ColdSeal Latches and Exterior UV Protection.
- 3 inches of commercial grade insulation and cold-keeping freezer style rubber gasket keeps your items colder for longer!
- We guarantee our Ice Chests to be free from defects in material, workmanship, and assembly, under normal use and in accordance with the specifications and warnings for a period of 1 year.
Vibe Element Rotomolded Hard Shell Cooler
The Vibe Element Rotomolded Hard Shell Cooler is a truly great cooler. They are extremely durable, and the price is something to shout about. Many people compare the Vibe Element Rotomolded Hard Shell Cooler to bigger brands, but it more than holds its own in the boating cooler market.
The fit and finish of the cooler is exceptional. They arrive in perfect condition, unlike other coolers that may be sent out to you with dings and scratches. It’ll even last in 80 degree weather with no pre-cooling for around t days.
Vibe provide a lifetime warranty for these coolers, so if you do happen to encounter a small problem, you should have no issues getting it fixed. You are unlikely to be disappointed with this cooler and the customer service that comes with it.
- Durable, one piece roto molded construction with up to 3 inch insulated walls with freezer style lid gasket, and heavy duty rubber T-latches
- 45 Quart Volume: Based on half drink/half ice ratio: Fits 28 cans
- Features integrated pressure release button, rapid flow drain spout, heavy duty padded handle, and non-skid rubber feet to keep cooler off hot surfaces
- Features two built in bottle openers, molded tie down slots, and integrated locking system
- Lid features a measuring board in centimeters and inches
The ORCA Cooler comes in various colors and styles so there’s something to suit every buyer.
It’s a great little cooler for a few days boating, or even a road trip. Many people who use this cooler report having a great experience, with ice cold drinks still after 3 days in the heat. Others reported that by day 5 inside the cooler the ice was mostly melted, but the drinks were still nice and cold. In some cases, it can last up to a week depending on what you put inside the cooler.
A nice light option for anybody who doesn’t have a ton of strength to lug a huge bulky cooler around. Bear in mind that it is not the sturdiest of handles, so this is something to watch out for.
Some people even prefer this light and efficient ORCA Cooler better than the Yeti brand coolers.
Durable, roto-molded construction
- Integrated insulation for maximum ice/cold retention
- Lifetime warranty
- The attached cargo net allows for added storage
Are YETI coolers really worth it?
YETI coolers are a relatively expensive cooler. That is because they are made from very high-quality materials.
YETI coolers are made through a process called roto-molding.
The big advantage of this is that the cooler does not have any seams and is, as a result, a lot stronger than many competing coolers.
The thick walls and superior insulation of YETI coolers will keep your food and drink cooler for longer.
YETI coolers also come in a large number of options. These coolers are also leak proof. In addition, they are easy to carry around.
On the con side, there are other coolers on the market that are as durable as YETI coolers but are not as expensive.
YETI coolers are manufactured in both the Philippines and the USA and use aluminum. Others are made exclusively in the USA and use stainless steel.
In summary, YETI coolers are high quality but you will also be paying for the brand name. However, you can get quality alternatives for less money.
How to keep your cooler cool?
To keep your cooler cool, you should begin by getting it cold and then keeping it that wat. That means making use of ice.
Block ice is far preferable to ice cubes as it will stay cool for longer. Pack you cooler with block ice before you head out on your excursion.
If you do not have access to block ice, you can fill plastic bottles with water and then place them in the freezer to create blocks of ice.
Doing it this way will keep the water confined when the ice melts so that you do not end up with a pool of water at the bottom of your cooler.
You can also make use of frozen gel packs to keep your cooler cool for longer. However, this can be quite expensive.
Keep your food in the fridge until you are about to head off. Then transfer your food items directly from the fridge into your cooler.
What is the optimal size for the fishing trip cooler?
Your fishing trip cooler needs to be big enough to allow plenty of room for your food and drink as well as the other items that you need to keep cool.
This could include your medication and fish bait. It should be able to contain plenty of ice to keep everything cool over the course of a long day’s fishing.
Generally, the larger the cooler you can comfortably handle, the better.
We would recommend going for a 16 QT cooler, so long as your boat has the room for it.
Check your vessel before the cooler to see just how much space it can handle. If your cooler is too big for your boat it can end up being a safety hazard.
Features To Consider
One of the most important things you’ll want to consider when selecting the ideal cooler for your boat trip is ice retention.
Of course, there are quite a few other factors you’ll want to take into account if you’re going to end up with the perfect cooler for you.
Below is an idea of what you should think about:
The brand – some brands tends to be trusted more than others. What is their customer service like? What about their reputation?
How sturdy the cooler is – the strength is an important factor to consider if you want to fill up your cooler without fear of it breaking. Even having the cooler in your car is something to consider, because bumpy terrain could easily damage the cooler or reduce useable time.
Ice retention – how long will the cooler keep your contents cold? The insulation will determine this. Permafrost and ultratherm are two types of insulation that you may want to consider.
Performance in harsh conditions – UV can threaten the durability of your cooler. The cooler should be UV resistant if possible, and this will help it to resist fast deterioration. It should also be abrasion resistant, and rust resistant for when its wet. If it is not resistant to the elements you can expect your cooler to deteriorate quickly.
Slip resistant feet – your cooler could slide all over the place if it does not have slip resistant feet. You’ll want to keep your cooler secure, especially when using it on a boat.
Measuring area – a good marine cooler should come with a scale that you can use to determine the size of your catch. We’ve all got that one friend who likes to exaggerate too, so this can put an end to disagreements on size.
Size – the size of your cooler should be considered depending on the amount of content that you want to keep cool. The size should be considered based on how long you’ll be out, how many people you’ll be with, and what you are doing with the cooler.
Portability – you’re going to need to move your cooler at some stage, so it should be easy to do this and sturdy enough not to break. Are the handles sturdy? Does it come with carry straps? Wheels are also a great feature for portability.
Latches and hinges – a latch is how the lid is secured to the cooler. If the cooler does not latch properly, everything will mely much faster. Stainless steel latches are usually better than plastic latches. The hinges can also determine how long you’ll be using your cooler – stainless steel are rust resistant and offer better durability.
If you’re going boating and want to take some cold drinks, you’re going to want them to stay cold for as long as possible.
If you plan on fishing, then the last thing you want is for your fish to go stale within a few hours.
Selecting the right kind of cooler is essential if you want to be sure your efforts are not wasted.
We are confident that the above listed coolers for boating will ensure you have the quality you need.