Top 5 Best Kayak Coolers for Kayaking | Kayaks Hub

Kayaking adventures open up a world of breathtaking sceneries and thrilling experiences on the water.

Yet, amidst the excitement, there’s a common challenge that many paddlers face – keeping their provisions cold and fresh throughout the trip.

The relentless sun beating down can turn your refreshing snacks and beverages into a warm disappointment.


That’s where finding the best kayak coolers comes into play. It’s not just about having ice-cold drinks at your disposal; it’s about elevating your kayaking adventure to ensure you’re hydrated, energized, and ready to paddle on with a peace of mind.

Whether you’re planning a leisurely day trip or a multi-day expedition, the quest for the perfect cooler is vital.

Evaluating Your Kayaking Cooler Needs

Before you set out on a cooler quest, you should assess your specific needs. How long are your average trips? Will you require a cooler for all-day comfort or merely a few hours? What’s the climate like where you’ll be paddling? It’s these details that will inform which cooler will best serve your needs.

  • Trip Duration: If you’re planning on an extended kayak expedition, you’ll need a high-capacity cooler or possibly the ability to store extra ice.
  • Insulation Requirements: Insulation is your first line of defense against the sun’s heat. Look for coolers with thick, closed-cell foam insulation that can keep ice frozen for several days.
  • Size and Weight: A crucial factor is the physical size and weight of the cooler. Larger coolers can carry more but can also be cumbersome, while smaller coolers are more portable but have less capacity.
  • Features: Consider the design elements that matter most to you, such as cup holders, tie-down points, or easy opening mechanisms for when that bass needs to be on ice in a flash.
  • Budget: Kayaks, paddles, and other gear all add up, and a cooler is an investment. Choose one that aligns with your budget while offering the features you need.

With these criteria in mind, you’re ready to explore the best kayak coolers that rise above the rest in the world of kayaking. Now we should dive to find out the best for our needs:

Quick Tip

Cold gel packs generally provide consistent cooling for a longer duration compared to loose ice in the kayak cooler.

Top 5 Best Kayak Coolers for Kayak Expeditions

Pelican Exochill Cooler

Best Kayak Coolers

With a slim profile, it sits unobtrusively on the back of a kayak seat, making it a perfect partner for those who prefer efficiency and dislike clutter.

A bungee-cable system ensures that it stays snugly secured. Worry not, it snugs almost with any “lawnchair” style seat, making it nearly universally adaptable.

The Exochill Cooler proves its worth especially with its cooling capabilities. It keeps your drinks refreshingly chill throughout your escapades, just the way you like it.

With robust insulation, it manages to keep waters cool all day, even without ice. Imagine the chill quotient when you do add some! Note the condensation though, it might appear like leakage, but it’s just water that eventually evaporates, lol. Breathable yet waterproof, isn’t it what you need on your adventure?

Its size makes it ideal for day travel and trips spanning a few hours. It can comfortably hold a slim refreezable ice pack, a few drinks, sandwiches, or even a small tray of rolls.

But remember, as a trade-off for its compact size, you might find ice taking considerable space if you opt for longer cooling times.

Quick Tip

If you’re planning on a two-day trip, opt for frozen bottles of water. They stay frozen for hours, keeping your drinks and snacks cold for a longer time.

RTIC Kayak Cooler

Best Kayak Coolers

Yes, the RTIC Kayak Coolers come with a higher price tag, yet they’re still about half the cost of a Yeti, and match their quality and durability.

A word to the wise, the interior dimensions are notably smaller compared to its exterior.

It might seem like a drawback considering the space it takes in your vehicle, but its superior insulation justifies the sacrifice. My recent 34-hour round trip with it was a breeze; everything remained at the perfect temperature.

Its lighter weight and convenient handles are a bonus, making it an excellent addition to your outdoor gear.

Engel Kayak Cooler

Best Kayak Coolers

You will be thrilled by the Engel Kayak Cooler.

Imagine keeping your drinks ice-cold for days, even in the heat of Colorado or the humidity of Southern Louisiana. That’s exactly what we experienced with the Engel Kayak Cooler. Though it promises 8 days of ice, it impressively held up for 3 in 70-degree weather, far outshining our expectations.

This isn’t just any cooler. It’s a fortress of durability and cooling power. Forget the flimsy hinges of other brands – we’re talking about solid SS/rubber latches that withstand the toughest conditions. And if you ever need a repair? Engel USA has your back with easy access to parts.

But it’s not all about toughness; this cooler brings convenience right to your fingertips. A built-in bottle opener? Check. Ample storage for all your food and beverages? Definitely. Plus, effortlessly loading it into your vehicle for your upcoming adventure couldn’t be easier.

Whether you’re kayak hunting or keeping your catch fresh, the Engel Kayak Cooler outperforms the rest, keeping contents chilled for up to 5 days even with frequent openings. It’s also the perfect companion for truck trips, keeping your stash colder than more expensive competitors.

Quick Tip

Regularly drain excess meltwater from the cooler to prevent items from getting waterlogged and to maintain ice retention.

Canyon Coolers Kayak Cooler

Best Kayak Coolers

This cooler has quickly become a standout amongst other options with its easy-to-use latches, airtight seal, and a convenient drain plug.

Its size is a perfect match! Unlike the “bigfoot” wheeled coolers, the Canyon Cooler is designed with effortless handling, even when loaded to the brim. Indeed, it’s a perfect accessory for your kayak travels either heading to a hotel room or venturing towards an outdoor adventure.

What makes it truly unique is its resilience and fastidious design. Imagine sinking your boat, and the Canyon Cooler, like a faithful friend, floats back up, aiding you back to the shore. Not just ready for a casual trip, it is also proving to be a champion in tougher weather conditions, keeping everything cold for three 100-degree days with just one small ice block.

While it’s subtly sturdy, it also adds convenience with a built-in bottle opener. This compact, and well-built cooler doesn’t disappoint when it comes to ice retention, confidently keeping your beverages chilled for up to 9 days.

Dreizack Kayak Cooler

Best Kayak Coolers

Excellently crafted with multiple pockets, this little adjunct is an unexpected delight. It hooks effortlessly not just to your kayak seat but also to your foldable chair, becoming a part of your gear with its matching colors. This isn’t merely a cooler; it’s a versatile piece of equipment.

The quality it exudes is impressive, nestling comfortably onto your seat without putting a dent in your pocket. Its sleek design holds an admirable capacity, retaining ice effectively for longer periods. You might find yourself marvelling at its space this cooler creates for your snacks and drinks even during a wild flip in the water!

Imagine enduring a torrid 104 degrees out on the water, yet finding your drinks icy cold, thanks to this resilient cooler. It adapts effortlessly to different circumstances, from a casual weekend splash to intense kayaking.

Perception Kayak Coolers

Best Kayak Coolers

You’d be in awe of its generous size, big enough for a case of refreshments and a large bag of ice – ideal for those long kayaking trips, chilling on the lake, or float trips. Impressively, it fits perfectly in my Perception Outlaw kayak.

I’ve found its multifunctionality quite charming. It can be worn like a backpack, thanks to the included straps. I even use it as a secure carrier for my dogs on remote kayak camps. It’s sturdy, insulated, and holds its shape remarkably well. With this cooler, you’re getting more than just a chill box; it’s a dependable companion for your aquatic adventures.

What’s adorable about this cooler is that it doesn’t bulk up or cause any balance issues. Its low profile is a big plus, and it fits comfortably on my 35-inch Blackfin paddleboard. Not to forget, the zipper runs smoothly and the seams are nicely finished.

Quick Tip

Before packing your cooler, pre-chill its contents in a refrigerator or freezer. This helps the cooler maintain its cold temperature longer once on the kayak.

Insider Tips for Cooler Care on the Kayak

It’s not enough to just find the perfect cooler; you need to ensure it lasts trip after trip. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your cooler performing at its peak:

  • Keep it Clean: After each use, wash the cooler with soap and water, making sure to rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget to clean the gasket to prevent mold.
  • Store with Care: Avoid storing your cooler in direct sunlight or extreme heat when not in use, both in the short term and for long periods. It can compromise the insulation’s properties.
  • Air it Out: When you get home, leave the cooler open to dry. If you close it with moisture inside, it could lead to unpleasant odors and mold.
  • Replace Parts as Needed: If a hinge or latch breaks, replace it promptly to maintain the cooler’s structural integrity.

A final word on cooler care is to show some love to your cooler after all your kayaking adventures. It’s been your trusty companion, a provider of creature comforts on excursions, and deserves a little pampering in return.

See Also | Best Kayak Snacks

Cooler Control: Price vs. Performance

As you embark on your next kayaking adventure, your choice of cooler matters more than you might realize! Sure, splurging on a top-notch one with unmatched ice retention, hardy construction, and fancy add-ons like cutting boards or bottle openers, can significantly elevate your kayaking joy. But does it absolutely mean shelling out big bucks? Not necessarily!

In search of balance between cost and performance, many find solace in mid-range or even budget-friendly coolers that are, with technological advancements, coming of age. They’re offering commendable durability and performance, in some cases, giving their high-end counterparts some serious competition.

However, be mindful that these more affordable options may vary in terms of longevity. With this in mind, consider how often you’ll use your cooler and for what purpose, and gauge whether the savings justify the potentially shorter lifespan. Remember, it’s not always about owning the best, but rather about what best fits your lifestyle and budget.

Wrapping it up

On your next kayaking trip, the best kayak coolers can majorly boost your experience. It’s more than just keeping drinks cold or snacks fresh. It’s about finding the perfect companion for your adventure. Do you need the rugged, highly insulated YETI, or is the lightweight, easy-to-carry Orca more your style?

However, don’t focus only on functionality. Think about your journey’s length, the weather, and the terrain. A cooler that looks great on paper might not hold up on a long, hot journey or could be too bulky for rough terrain.

Consider your personal style too. Your cooler isn’t just practical; it’s a part of you. Pick a design that vibes with your style, something that excites you for your next trip.

Ultimately, it’s about balancing utility, performance, style, and your specific needs. Explore your options to find the best kayak cooler that fits you and your adventures perfectly.


  • David Graham

    Meet David Graham, an avid kayaker based in Florida, USA, who has been mastering the art of kayaking since 2013. As a former trainer with three years of experience, David has shaped the skills of numerous kayakers, sharing his passion for the sport. Living in a state known for its diverse waterways, his expertise and commitment to kayaking go beyond personal pursuits, making him a valuable contributor to the local kayaking community.

    View all posts