10 Best Kayak Coolers of 2021

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Looking for something to keep your beverages ice cold while you’re out kayaking?  We hear ya!

Going out on the water is always a good time, but sometimes it’s nice to bring along some snacks or a couple of beers while you’re out there.

That’s where a kayak cooler comes in.  The best kayak coolers are able to not only keep your drinks, food, or fish cold for hours on end, but they’re also small enough to where they don’t take up a ton of space in your yak.

Imagine kicking back with an ice cold beer as you relax in the sun, combining the joy of kayaking with some much needed rest and relaxation. With a quality kayak cooler, the world really is your oyster.

Before we jump into reviewing each model, let’s take a look at a quick comparison.

Best Kayak Cooler Comparison Table


Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Original

Polar Bear Coolers
  • Material: 840D TPE UV-Resistant Nylon
  • Chill Time: 24 hours in 100+ Degree Heat
  • Price: $
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AO Coolers Original Soft Charcoal, 24-Can

AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler
  • Material: 1000 Denier Vinyl
  • Highlight: Removable Shoulder Strap
  • Price: $
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ENGEL Cooler/Dry Box 19 Qt - White

ENGEL Cooler/Dry Box
  • Comes with: Adjustable Shoulder Strap
  • Highlight: 15lbs of ice
  • Price: $
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Stanley Adventure Leakproof Outdoor 7qt Cooler - Double Wall Foam Travel Insulated BPA Free

Stanley Adventure Cooler
  • Material: Polypropylene
  • Highlight: Holds Up to 21 Cans
  • Price: $
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RTIC Soft Pack 20, Grey

RTIC Soft Pack 20
  • Great for: Camping, Hunting, and Fishing
  • Highlight: Holds Up to 20 Cans
  • Price: $
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IceMule Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag- Hands-Free, Collapsible, Waterproof

IceMule Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag
  • Great for: Kayaking and Water Sports
  • Highlight: Holds Up to 6 Cans
  • Price: $
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YETI Hopper Flip 18 Portable Cooler, Fog Gray/Tahoe Blue

YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler
  • Made of: Hopper’s High-density Fabric
  • Highlight: 100% Leakproof HydroLok Zipper
  • Price: $$
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YETI Roadie 20 Cooler, White

YETI Roadie 20 Cooler
  • Specialty: Rotomolded Construction
  • Highlight: Holds Up to 14 Cans
  • Price: $$
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K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler, Duck Boat Green

K2 Cooler Summit 20
  • Length: One Piece Roto-Molded Polyethylene Construction
  • Highlight: Padded Shoulder Strap
  • Price: $$
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IceMule Pro Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag

IceMule Pro Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag
  • Great for: Kayaking and Hiking
  • Highlight: Holds Up to 18 Cans
  • Price: $
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Choosing the right cooler for your kayak size can be a difficult decision, which is why we compiled a list of our ten favorite coolers of 2020. 

Some are big, some are some, some are hard, and some are soft.  We’ve covered all our bases with a variety of top quality coolers, so let’s get into it!

Reviews of the 10 Best Kayak Coolers


Polar Bear Cooler 24 Pack

Features of the Polar Bear 24 pack
793 Reviews
Features of the Polar Bear 24 pack
  • INSULATION - Keep ice 24 hours in 100+ degree heat - 1" thick 10 Gauge HIGH-DENSITY foam insulation - BEST QUALITY, HIGHEST DENSITY foam insulation...
  • INTERIOR LINER - Food-Grade TPU DOUBLE COATED NYLON - Consumer SAFE for perishable storage - Most durable and longest-lasting liner ever built into a...
  • OUTER SHELL - Rugged 840 D LUGGAGE GRADE Nylon Outer Shell - All seams are DOUBLE HEMMED and anchor stitched (easy to fake it, hard to make it)
  • ZIPPER - Super Heavy-Duty YKK #10 weatherized zipper (RUST PROOF) - Our patent-pending zipper design keeps the zipper from ripping out of your cooler...

This Polar Bear cooler is the perfect solution to your kayak cooler needs, and offers the same cool temperatures as the namesake! Ice can stay cool and frozen for 24 hours, even in 100+ degree heat, and this makes it perfect for enjoying hot summer days in comfort.

Made from 1-inch thick high-density foam insulation, this is the perfect way to keep your essentials cool and comfortable, as well as making sure any foodstuffs are kept safe and edible. The double-coated nylon is also durable and hardwearing – perfect for braving the elements of the open water.

Heavy-duty zippers help to reduce the risk of rust and means that you can keep your belonging secure while on board. The double hemming and stitching is tough and top-quality, and the interior liner is constructed from antimicrobial FDA food-grade double-coated nylon, making it perfectly safe for your food and drink.

  • Tough, durable nylon helps increase the longevity of your cooler
  • Can be personalized with your companies logo or monogram.
  • Can fit perfectly into your kayak
  • A little smaller than other kayak cooler options
  • Does let ice melt a little quickly


YETI Hopper Portable Cooler

Features of the YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler
2,249 Reviews
Features of the YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler
  • The Hopper Flip 18 has ColdCell Insulation, a closed-cell foam that offers superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers, with a capacity of up to 16...
  • The Hopper Flip 18 features a 100% leakproof HydroLok Zipper and the wide-mouth opening means great accessibility and visibility to contents
  • Its DryHide Shell is waterproof and resistant to punctures and abrasions so it will hold its own when faced with the hazards of the wild
  • The only personal cooler that’s game for full days in the tree stand, early mornings in the duck boat, or afternoons on the water

As well as a truly memorable name, the Yeti kayak cooler has plenty of other advantages in its favour. The waterproof element is one of the most popular points, and a 100% leakproof HydroLok Zipper keeps everything dry and safe, and while also ensuring easy access to the kayaker at any time.

This also opens super-wide, allowing access and visibility of contents. The shell is waterproof, and designed and treated to resist punctures, damage, mould and mildew – perfect for taking on a challenge in the wilds of the water!

This is complemented by a ColdCell Insulation on the interior – this consists of closed-cell foam, providing top-quality cold-holding, and keeping your ice and belongings cold, fresh and appealing for longer.

Whether you are heading out for a full day and a delicious picnic or planning on catching your lunch en-route, this is one of the best canoe coolers to have on board.

  • Can hold up to 16 cans, plus ice, with ease
  • Portable and lightweight – easy to transport
  • ClosedCell foam system helps to keep items cool and fresh for longer
  • Very expensive compared to other models and cooler options
  • The zipper can get a little stiff when wet, and this can make it hard to use while onboard


AO Soft Coolers with High-Density Insulation

Features of the Brunton dash mount
2,277 Reviews
Features of the Brunton dash mount
  • Soft-sided cooler with high-density insulation, a removable shoulder strap, and side pocket
  • Twice the insulation of other soft-sided coolers; guaranteed to hold ice for 24 hours in 120-degree weather
  • Perfect for boating, fishing, hunting, parties, sporting events, and picnics; keeps things cold or warm
  • Made of durable soft canvas material that stands up to travel; features a high-quality leak-proof TPU liner

Sleek, sophisticated and designed to last, this AO soft cooler is the perfect addition to your kayak and boasts a side pocket, removable shoulder strap, and high-density insulation.

This cooler offers twice the insulation of competitors, and this means that it is able to hold ice for around 24 hours, even in 120 degrees plus weather – perfect for summer picnics.

The cooler is designed to hold 12 cans, plus approximately 5 pounds of ice, and this means that it is the best choice for long kayak journeys.

Whether you are boating, fishing, or simply relaxing and enjoying the water, this is an essential addition to your kayak, and can really help to boost your overall experience.

The durable canvas material is also hardwearing enough to withstand the elements and weather conditions on the water.

  • Hardwearing, durable and perfect for time on the water
  • Small enough to fit into your kayak
  • Roomy enough to hold all your essentials
  • Flexible material allows for greater capacity
  • May be a little heavy when full


ENGEL Cooler/Dry Box 19 Qt

Features of the ENGEL 19 qt
3,183 Reviews
Features of the ENGEL 19 qt
  • Keeps food and drinks cold and doubles as a dry box - keeping out moisture and/or dust from your valuable electronics, emergency kits and cameras.
  • Features a unique airtight EVA gasket around the lid - for excellent ice retention and a water proof seal.
  • Features a recessed central carry handle in the lid & integrated adjustable shoulder strap. Also includes a removable hanging tray - for storing dry...
  • All fittings secured with stainless steel screws. Rear hinges are self stopping. Front latches are stainless steel.

For a sturdy, durable option when it comes to your kayak cooler, the Engel Cooler/Dry box is a top choice. The solid construction allows you to keep your belongings safe and secure, with no risk of opening your cooler to damaged items once you are onboard your kayak and safely on the water!

The cooler is constructed from a lightweight polypropylene case, combining durability with easy transport – the perfect blend for your kayak. An airtight, EVA foam rubber gasket helps to keep your good fresh until you are ready to enjoy it, and stainless steel latches are easy to use to keep everything secure.

A shoulder strap is attached to help make transporting your cooler easier, and this means you can pick it up and put it down at a moments notice. Even better, the cooler comes in a stylish white finish, so is the perfect fit for any decor.

  • The airtight seal helps to keep food and drink cool and fresh
  • Lightweight but durable for easy portability
  • Can be neatly stored onboard your kayak
  • Large capacity is perfect for long picnics
  • Does not have the flexibility of a soft case


Stanley Adventure Cooler

Features of the Stanley Adventure
2,008 Reviews
Features of the Stanley Adventure
  • STAYS ICE COLD: The adventure cooler has double-wall foam insulation that keeps this ice box cold for up to 36 hours - longer than your typical...
  • TOUGH AND DURABLE: The high-density polyethylene outer shell, sturdy latches allow this cooler to take a beating with the durable rubber string you...
  • EASY TO TRANSPORT: The heavy-duty top handle makes this cooler easy to grab and carry. The strings along the top can hold down a bottle or thermos...
  • LEAK PROOF: The silicone gasket on the lid ensures superior insulation and makes this completely leak proof when the latches are locked.

As the name suggests, this is the perfect cooler for those looking for an adventure! Whether you are taking your kayak out for a relaxing paddle or braving the rapids for a real challenge, this is the best kayak cooler to tackle any endeavour.

The foam insulated lid and body help to keep your goodies cold for up to 27 hours – perfect if you are planning on heading out for a lengthy trip! A leak-resistant gasket is perfect for tackling even the roughest of rapids – don’t let a heavy current let you risk losing your lunch!

Strong latches and an adjustable tie-down also make this the perfect cooler for your kayak – it can be easily slipped into a corner, tied down securely, and kept safe until it is needed.

  • Has there space to hold 21 cans, and keep them cool for several hours
  • 16-quart capacity – perfect for holding all your supplies with ease
  • The durable, sturdy finish can withstand the elements with ease
  • Can be easily locked into your kayak for security and safety

  • The handle is a little flimsy
  • Lid latch is a little tight, risking snapping


RTIC Soft Pack 20

Features of the RTIC Soft Pack 20
730 Reviews
Features of the RTIC Soft Pack 20
  • HOLDS UP TO 20 CANS PLUS ICE: This bag is 100% leak proof, puncture-resistant, and has an antimicrobial liner that resists mildew. It is tough as...
  • NO LEAK ZIPPER. Coolers like this make other ones look like toys for children. Competitors have floppy and collapsible bags that happen to hold ice....
  • AN RTIC COOLER WON'T SWEAT: You will never be left with a wet mess. Wrapped in a heavy duty vinyl shell, it is stronger than any other soft-sided...
  • OVERBUILT, NOT OVERPRICED: At RTIC we don’t see the reason for making products that our customers can't afford. That's why our products are the...

This soft cooler comes with a heavy price tag – but fans will be pleased to discover that it is well worth every penny! If you are on the hunt for the best, and a budget is of no concern, this is a high-performance product that will be the perfect accompaniment to a serious kayak fan, heading out to tackle nature.

Ice can be held for up to four days with ease, and the generous size helps ensure everything you need can be stored. The zipper runs the full length of the bag and is fully waterproof, allowing for easy access no matter where in your kayak you are reaching from.

Vacuum valve technology also helps to improve the overall insulation of the product, keeping items cool and comfortable for longer. The outer wall is made from tough, durable TPU, and this means it is the perfect pick for your kayak journeys.

An ergonomic shoulder strap helps make transportation easy and portable, and there is the added bonus of a bottle opener included!

  • Very large capacity – bring along all your essentials!
  • Can hold ice for up to four days – perfect for long kayak journeys
  • Soft construction makes it flexible and easy to store
  • High-quality finish justifies the high price tag
  • Expensive compared to some other cooler options


IceMule Classic Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag

Features of the IceMule Classic
123 Reviews
Features of the IceMule Classic
  • THE WORLD’S COLDEST HANDS-FREE COOLER - engineered to be the most portable, high-performance soft-sided cooler around and is available in a variety...
  • KEEP YOUR HANDS HANDY - the ICEMULE is a backpack style-cooler bag that straps comfortably to your back, leaving hands and arms free to carry anything...
  • A SUPER SPACE-SAVER - forget bulky ice boxes, an ICEMULE rolls and stores easily when not in use; the cooler is fully collapsible, perfect for...
  • WATERPROOF AND FAST, EASY ACCESS - the ICEMULE closure system is designed without zippers and welded seams, meaning no leaky zippers and easy access...

If you are on the hunt for a top-quality kayak cooler, this IceMule model should be amongst your top choices. The product comes in a wide range of sizes, allowing you to choose the best one for your needs, and has a very tempting USP: the chance to go hands-free.

This can be invaluable when you have your hands full on board a kayak, and the sling-style backpack is perfect for transporting your cooler anyplace you need to go. The straps offer another advantage – the cooler can be easily attached to your boat for extra security.

Even better, this is a flexible cooler which can be rolled up and stored away in a corner of your vessel when not in use – perfect when you are on board and space is short.

The IceMule has the added bonus of being waterproof – essential for your time on the water – and is zipper-free for easy, instant access. With a ten litre capacity, it can hold around 6 cans – or 4 bottles of champagne for a special occasion – and is the perfect kayaking companion and the best pick on our list.

  • Super portable and easy to transport thanks to a handsfree design
  • Includes a strap which can be attached to the boat for extra security
  • Can be rolled away for a compact, neat finish
  • Material not as thick and durable as a dry box, so may become damaged more easily than a solid cooler


YETI Roadie 20 Cooler

Features of the YETI Roadie
563 Reviews
Features of the YETI Roadie
  • The YETI Roadie is BYOB’s new best friend with a capacity of up to 14 cans with recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio
  • Ice stays ice thanks to up to 2 inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an extra thick FatWall design which is certified bear-resistant
  • The Rotomolded Construction makes the Roadie armored to the core and virtually indestructible so wherever you decide to take it, this portable...
  • The Roadie, like the Tundra, features T-Rex Lid Latches constructed of heavy-duty rubber so you’ll never see another busted latch and has patented...

Yeti makes another appearance on our list of the best coolers, this time with their Roadie 20 Cooler. This is a solid box – perfect if you need something long-lasting, hardwearing and durable to keep your items fresh and cool while onboard your kayak.

Perfect for transporting food and drink for the ultimate riverside excursion, this has a capacity of 14 cans, as well as space for plenty of ice. 2 inches of PermaFrost insulation help to keep items cool, and the extra thick FatWall design has the added advantage of being bear-resistant, so is the perfect cooler companion for a trip in the wild!

Durability is the major plus for this item – it is designed to tackle any challenge thrown at it, and so offers the best protection against the elements when you head out on a long trip.

Take on anything Mother Nature can throw at you, and make sure you have everything you could possibly need on your trip! Heavy-duty latches will also allow you to keep your cooler secure and locked down – even if you are faced with some wild rapids!

  • Virtually indestructible – perfect for taking on nature!
  • Waterproof and solid enough to make a perfect kayak companion
  • Designed to keep things cool and fresh for longer
  • Stylish white finish
  • Struggles to keep ice cool for a long time in very high temperatures
  • The handle is a little flimsy


K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler

Features of the K2 Summit 20
141 Reviews
Features of the K2 Summit 20
  • One piece roto-molded polyethylene construction for extreme durability
  • Extra thick insulation for maximum ice retention
  • Premium features such as padded shoulder strap, ICE vault lid gasket, POSITRAC lid latches, ENDURA integrated hinge system, and SURE Grip rubber feet
  • 7 Year Warranty

Tough, durable and built to last, this is one of the best of the best when it comes to kayak coolers. Constructed from a single piece of roto-moulded polyethylene, this is a solid, durable cooler which is designed to tackle even the toughest of weather conditions.

The insulation is extra thick allowing for the maximum amount of ice retention, and this helps to keep your items fresh and cold, ready for any time you need them. Professional grade materials make this the perfect pick for the outdoors, and every feature is top quality, from the lid latches to the ENDURA integrated hinge system.

A padded shoulder strap means that portability and transportation are super simple – transfer your cooler bag from car to kayak in no time!

  • Comes with a 7 year warranty for ultimate peace of mind
  • Made from top-quality materials for durable construction
  • Extra insulation helps keep your items super cool and fresh
  • Soft strap allows easier movement
  • A little bulky compared to other models – may be an issue for small kayaks where space is at a premium


IceMule Pro Insulated Backpack Cooler Bag

Features of the IceMule Pro
382 Reviews
Features of the IceMule Pro
  • RUGGED AND BUILT FOR THE OUTDOORS: Engineered for portability and high-performance, this soft-sided cooler bag makes your next beach day, hike, or...
  • EFFORTLESS HANDS-FREE CARRY: Lightweight, backpack-style cooler with 2 padded, airmesh shoulder straps and sternum strap leaves both your arms free to...
  • EASY ACCESS INTERIOR: Accessible roll-top design opens wide, letting you load up and find what you're looking for easily; Front bungee straps are...
  • 24+ HOURS OF COOLING: Ultra-tough Muleskin Exterior and Interior plus PolarLayer Insulation ensures toughness, strength, superior ice retention, and...

Portable, flexible, and more than fit for purpose, this IceMule cooler bag is one of the best options on our list. High-performance is combined with portability and ease of transportation, and the backpack style is perfect for making sure you have both hands free while you are on board a small kayak.

Balance can be an issue when onboard, so having the option to keep your cooler out of the way is a real plus point. Double padding and ventilated straps ensure that you are comfortable while carrying the cooler, even when it is full of your favourite items.

With no zippers to roust or become stuck, access is easy at any time, and the interior stays secure and dry thanks to the waterproofing properties, making it one of the best choices for kayak coolers.

As an added bonus, they can even float – falling overboard is not a problem! With a 23l capacity, and the option to roll up and fold away when not in use, this is the perfect cooler for your needs and will be a valuable asset to your kayak kit.

  • Super portable, and offers a handsfree, backpack style to maximise efficiency
  • Huge capacity – perfect when you are prepping for a riverside party!
  • Easy access thanks to no zippers
  • Material a little more fragile than a solid coolbox

Kayak Cooler FAQ

Choosing the best kayak cooler is an important decision; it can have a significant impact on your overall trip and whether those beverages will stay ice cold or turn warm and nasty.

Nobody wants to show up to a gathering with lukewarm beer and no ice! Kayak coolers need to be lightweight and portable, while still being capable of keeping items cool and fresh

What size cooler fits in our boat?

Kayaks do not have much room, and so any cooler you pick needs to be small enough to tuck away in a storage area or hatch with ease.

That’s why choosing the right size for you kayak is pretty important.  If you have a bigger kayak, you can opt for a cooler with more capacity such as the Stanley Adventure or K2 Cooler Summit.

How do you secure a kayak cooler?

Most of the best coolers can be fixed in place with bungee ropes, or locked away in the hatch of the vessel.

What are the best small coolers?

The best small coolers are those which offer a small size with a great capability for ice retention, freshness and efficiency.

The best options will blend durability and portability, and make sure that everything you need is wrapped up in an easy-to-access package.

We suggest going with the IceMule Classic if space is limited.


When it comes to the best kayak cooler, the Polar Bear Coolers 24 pack takes our top prize. It offers a great compact size along with tons of capacity, suiting both kayakers and anglers alike.

In addition to that, it comes with a shoulder strap for a hands-free option that is a perfect choice for when you are struggling to keep your balance when carrying your kayak or hiking to the location! The best cooler choices will be able to keep your drinks, food, or fish cold for hours on end.

With the Polar Bear cooler, you’re able to keep them cold in hot temperatures for up to 24 hours.  Now that’s hard to beat!

Last update on 2021-06-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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