3 Best Kayak Fishing Coolers

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Hey there my fellow kayak fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering my 3 best kayak fishing coolers to keep everything cold this year. Now, anybody who has been fishing in a kayak will know most of the following to be true:

  1. You don’t have a lot of space to keep everything
  2. If you plan to keep your catch you need a place to store it
  3. It can get warm out there so a nice cold drink will never go astray

More importantly, it is not like you can just run back to the shop to get some more ice so we want it to keep it all of the above cold for as long as possible.

So I guess it goes without saying then that the better the cooler we use, the easier it is not keep our food, drinks and fish nice and cold at all times. So with this in mind, let’s see if we can find a nice fishing cooler to assist with our kayaking adventures…

My 3 recommended kayak fishing coolers

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get to sitting without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:

02/19/2024 01:59 am GMT Lasso Brag

What are kayak fishing coolers?

Ok, so we pretty much covered it all within the introduction above but fishing coolers – also known as Eskies, Chilli Bins, Ice Chests or even Cool Boxes – are effectively insulated ‘boxes’ that keep our stuff cold whilst we are out on the water away from electrical power and refrigerators.

Regardless of the name however, they are essentially the same thing in that they are made of a hard plastic material that seals tight to keep the internal contents cool – usually assisted by the use of ice. And as with anything else to do with fishing of course, there are some variations to consider as you make your purchase choice. We will look at these below…

best kayak fishing coolers - fish in cooler

What should you be looking for?

When it comes to a good cooler for kayak fishing, there are two main things to consider:

  1. How it is made
  2. What additions it has

Note: We are discussing hard cooler boxes here and not the soft cooler bag options that are also a good option.


As we know, the main purpose of a cooler is to keep the contents inside of it cold. And without getting all scientific about it, the more warm air that hits the contents, the less cold it will be. I mean how many of you reading this have been scolded by an adult as a kid for opening the cooler all the time and “letting all the cold out”…

This is not as bigger problem as it is when you are camping etc. however unless you are going to keep the esky closed at all times, then its manufacture will assist in keeping thing colder for longer. This includes:

Insulation – Insulation is the material that makes a cooler cool. In short, it is the material that lines in the inside of the cooler walls. Originally this was made of Styrofoam (in fact, cheaper models are completely made of this) but the more effective options however use polyurethane.

Seal – Cool things become less cool when warm air is introduced. This obviously occurs when coolers are opened however it is when it is closed that we want to check. A good cooler must be airtight meaning it must have a good seal. This can be checked by:

  1. Ensuring it has a good rubber or foam seal on the lid – or is extremely well moulded needing a little push to close it.
  2. Good strong hinges – these keep the lid on tight at the back.
  3. Good latches – any good cooler should have a good latch which works with the hinges to keep the lid on tight.

Size – Obviously if you are looking at the large camping cooler options, then the size is really only limited by the space you have to move it around. However, as we know, space on a kayak is limited so you will need to ensure that whatever option you choose will fit into the cavity of your vessel.

Strength – I mentioned above the need for a decent hinge set and latches on your cooler. The other aspect here is that when it comes to kayak fishing, coolers tend to be accessed from odd angles which in turn places extra tension on the hinges etc. These all have the capacity to damage the cooler so the stronger the better.

Oh, and if you are putting live fish into the cooler, a good set of hinges and a strong latch is a must – trust me!

Drainage plug – This is needed to assist in letting any water from melted ice out of it. This is not as critical in smaller coolers however if one is included make sure it has a good rubber seal on it so it can screw in air tight when replaced.

best kayak fishing coolers - man in kayak


Again, as with everything to do with outdoors equipment there are added extras available when it comes to coolers. These can include:

  • Drink holders – usually moulded into the lid.
  • Wheels – these are great if you have need to move your cooler around a lot.
  • Extendable handle – goes with the wheels for easier movement.
  • Bottle opener – mine has a little bottle opener attached the side of it – it is the best thing about it I think.
  • Fishing Rod holders – these are great space savers – especially if you need to remove your crate to add the cooler.
  • Other clips – for umbrellas and the like.
  • Aerator hole/pump – Some kayakers like to use their coolers as a live bait well as well with aerators attached. These can be used via specialised holes/connections or even through the drainage hole if need be.

Some also float which is good for on a kayak as well.


What size cooler is good for a kayak?

Whilst this obviously depends on the size and storage space of your kayak, look for something that is large enough to hold whatever it is you need it for but not too big to take up all of the space. Most pundits recommend something between 10 and 25 liters in size. One that floats is also helpful.

What type of cooler is best for the kayak?

The best coolers for a kayak generally come in two types – hard and soft shelled. Hard shelled options are good as long as they are small enough to fit into the storage slot of your kayak and are more durable. Soft options however can be stuffed into more places such as under your seat or inside the waterproof cavity.

What do I use?

My choice for on the kayak is a hard plastic cooler with thick insulation, rubber seals in the lid, moulded hinges and solid metal latches. If I am being honest it is probably a size too large for my use but it is airtight, tough and will keep everything nice and cold.

best kayak fishing coolers - my cooler

My 3 recommendations broken down

As mentioned, there are a few different kayak fishing cooler options available online so I have chosen the following three in an attempt to give you some choices taking into consideration the information above:

1. Tan Live Bait Cooler

The first cooler have chosen is a great option for those looking for a solid product for a good price. It contains full insulation within the body and latchable lid to keep ice frozen and contents cold. And for those looking to “throw some livies”, it doubles as a live bait well too. Its specifications include:

  • Composition: Quality Injection Molded PP Copolymer) insulated with High-Grade molded Polystyrene foam
  • Hinges: Stainless steel screwed self stopping hinges
  • Latches: Stainless steel latches clip down lid
  • Seal: Airtight EVA gasket seal
  • Size: 15 x 10 x 11 inches
  • Capacity: Not stated
  • Drainage plug: No

Other advantages include:

  • 2-Speed aeration pump and connection (required 2 D sized batteries not included)
  • Carry handles & integrated shoulder strap included
  • Stain and odor resistant
  • Bait net included

Why have I chosen it?

As above, this is a great one for those looking for a decent, versatile and strong cooler that will handle kayak fishing with ease as well as any other need you may have for it. It is easy to transport whilst being small enough to fit in most kayak wells.

2. Engel Cooler/Dry Box with 4 Rod Holders

Our next option is a good one for those looking to keep some drinks, food or fish cold with the added advantage of holding your rods on the side as well. It is fully sealed with strong hinges that allows it to double as a water resistant dry box for storing and protecting electronics and tackle etc. as well. Its specifications include:

  • Composition: Quality Injection Molded PP Copolymer) insulated with High-Grade molded Polystyrene foam
  • Hinges: Stainless steel screwed self stopping hinges
  • Latches: Stainless steel latches clip down lid
  • Seal: Airtight EVA gasket seal
  • Size: 23.25 x 12.5 x 14.5 inches
  • Capacity: 30 quarts
  • Drainage plug: No

Other advantages include:

  • Includes shoulder strap and hanging accessory tray
  • Easy to clean non-absorbent surface
  • Two rod holders attached on each side

Why have I chosen it?

I like this one as it is a great size for the kayak and good for use as both a cooler or dry box. It has premium insulation, is easy to clean and well suited to all environments and conditions. It won’t keep ice as long as the option below however is perfectly suitable for a nice day out on the water.

3. YETI Roadie 24 Cooler

I have chosen this last one simply for the fact that it is an extremely well-known brand and as a friend of mine has one, I have seen their effectiveness firsthand. Ice really just does not appear to melt in these. It is strongly made and perfect for us as both a drink cooler and keeping fish nice and fresh for longer periods on the water. Its specifications include:

  • Composition: Roto-molded plastic construction with pressure-injected commercial-grade polyurethane foam in the walls and lid
  • Hinges: Roto moulded into lid and container
  • Latches: Rubber one handed opening latches
  • Seal: Freezer grade 360 degree rubber gasket
  • Size: 17.1 x 14.3 x 18 inches
  • Capacity: Not stated (will hold 24lbs of ice)
  • Drainage plug: Rubber sealed plugs on side

Other advantages include:

  • Shoulder strap
  • Flexible latch built for quick, one-handed cooler access
  • Holds 18 cans with a 2:1 ice-to-can ratio
  • ‘Bearfoot’ no slip feet

Why have I chosen it?

Yeti is a brand that simply commands respect when it comes to keeping stuff cold. I have seen these in action and despite their higher price tag, they will more than repay themselves in terms of ice retention and lack of food loss. It is thinner and lighter-weight for easier transport, super strong to handle any conditions that could be thrown at it and will fit onto most kayak wells.

02/19/2024 01:59 am GMT Lasso Brag


And there they are – my 3 best kayak fishing coolers to keep everything cold this year. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.