10 Best Marine Coolers | March 2017

We spent 32 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Your old polystyrene box just won't cut it on extended outdoor excursions. For longer trips out to sea or camping, pick up one of these marine coolers that are built with enough insulation to keep your food and drinks cool for up to 10 days. Skip to the best marine cooler on Amazon.
10 Best Marine Coolers | March 2017

Overall Rank: 6
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
The large 150 quart Rubbermaid FG2B8001TRWHT has extra wide rugged handles, which allow for two-handed lifting. It doesn't keep ice nearly as long as the advertised 7 days, though, and it has flimsy plastic hinges.
The Shoreline Marine Ultimate has been designed specifically with kayakers and fisherman in mind. It fits neatly in the center of most fishing kayaks and even has two integrated rod holders, plus it has lots of gear pockets.
The Igloo Marine Ultra is one of the few soft-sided coolers that's suitable for marine use and still keeps ice frozen for days. It has an anti-mildew coating, and is easy to store when not in use.
The Coleman 200-Quart XP H2O was designed with a UV sun protection guard and antimicrobial liner that's easy to clean, so your food is stored in a sanitary environment. It features all stainless-steel hardware that won't rust.
  • holds up to 327 cans
  • reinforced corner protection
  • lid doesn't have much insulation
Brand Coleman
Model 6499-799
Weight 57.8 pounds
The solidly built Pelican ProGear Elite has an astonishing 10-day ice retention with its extra thick 2" polyurethane insulation, and is 100% guaranteed for life, so you'll never have to buy another cooler.
  • watertight freezer grade gasket
  • latches keep it firmly closed
  • extremely heavy even when empty
Brand Pelican
Model 32-45Q-OC-TAN
Weight 41.4 pounds
If you can't afford one of the more expensive brands, like Yeti or Coleman, the ENGEL USA DeepBlue is a good backup choice. You can get a 123 quart option for $100 less than their 65 quart models and it still holds ice for 8-10 days.
  • 2 inches of insulation all round
  • slightly elevated for easier cleaning
  • not completely watertight and may leak
Brand Engel
Model ENG123-T
Weight 43 pounds
The Camco 51870 Caribou is a smart choice for multiple days at sea. It offers superior ice and cold retention with a fully sealing gasket that prevents hot air from getting in, and extra thick, insulating walls.
  • integrated tie down locators
  • has a 5 year manufacturer's warranty
  • hinged lid won't fall off
Brand Camco
Model 51870
Weight 32.6 pounds
The Coleman Esky is packed with useful features, like a tough, scratch-resistant exterior with non-skid feet, built-in UV inhibitor to protect the cooler from the sun, and a cutting board integrated into the lid.
  • air flow barrier with gasket seal
  • dual drains for quicker water removal
  • has a fish ruler and dry storage basket
Brand Coleman
Model 3000002625
Weight 59 pounds
Ideal for small boats or day outings at the beach, the Igloo Marine Breeze has a push-button and locking telescoping handle plus rear wheels, which make it easy for anybody to roll without struggling.
  • has slots for mounting cup holders
  • molded side scoop handles
  • available in 3 sizes
Brand Igloo
Model 45106-PARENT
Weight pending
The YETI Tundra is the pinnacle in cooler manufacturing. Its one-piece, roto-molded construction is as durable as a whitewater kayak, and it has unmatched ice retention due to its pressure-injected PermaFrost Insulation.
  • t-rex lid latches
  • full-length, integrated hinge
  • non-marking rubber feet
Brand Yeti
Model 65W
Weight 33.8 pounds

Why Marine Coolers Need To Be Different Than Standard Coolers

Are marine coolers truly any different than standard coolers? This is a common question from people shopping for a new boating cooler. After all, marine coolers can be anywhere from 50% to 100% more expensive than a similar sized standard cooler and it is natural to want to save money. While there may not be a noticeable difference at first glance, there are indeed many differences between the two that make marine coolers better suited to boating.

First consider the conditions a marine cooler is often subjected to as opposed to a standard cooler. This will help one better understand why a marine cooler needs to be built differently. Marine coolers are exposed regularly to water, sometimes fresh water, sometimes saltwater, but either way they are wet a good amount of the time. They are also generally left in direct sunlight for days at a time and subjected to hard impacts consistently as a boat plows through the waves. They are also kept on a surface that is rolling and pitching, which could result in them sliding all over the place.

On the other hand, standard camping coolers are often left in shady spot under a tree or in a tent. They rarely get wet, and if they do, they dry off quickly. They also aren't knocked around all day long, instead sitting firmly in one location, often on soft ground. Since standard coolers may need to be carried for a long period of time in order to get them to the camp location, they will need to be lighter than their marine counterparts or include wheels to make transportation easier.

Features Of Marine Coolers

Marine coolers are designed and built to withstand harsher conditions. Many make use of a denser plastic or roto-molding, which is more durable. This allows them to be knocked around on a boat as it crashes through the waves, with less chance of the bottom corners cracking. They also make soft sided marine coolers, which won't hold ice as long, but can be better for smaller boats where space can be an issue.

Marine coolers are also made with stainless steel hardware so they won't rust when exposed to saltwater day after day. If a standard cooler is used in a saltwater environment, the hinges will often rust and break after a relatively short period of time. Even if used in fresh water applications, it is not uncommon for the hinges on standard coolers to rust out after just a few months.

Marine coolers are also built for extended ice retention and have better insulation. They have the ability to keep ice frozen and fish cold for five days, and in some cases even longer. Some of the best marine coolers are capable of retaining ice for seven to ten days.

Generally, marine coolers are all white. This is because they are intended to be left in the sun all day long and white does the best job of reflecting the sun's heat. Reflecting light and heat can make a big difference in how long a cooler is able to retain ice. In addition, nearly every marine cooler has built-in UV protection. This helps them retain their bright white color and reduce the chance of the plastic cracking from brittleness with extended sun exposure.

Many marine coolers are also built with some kind of non-slip footing to reduce the chance of them sliding off the boat or crashing into a wall as you hit a big wave. In addition to non-slip footing, the better marine coolers will also have tie-down holes. This allows them to be securely tied down while still keeping the contents accessible.

Other features one might expect to find in a marine cooler include a cushioned top, which is ideal for center console boats that have limited seating areas, and measurements integrated into the top, so one can quickly measure their catch.

Choosing The Right Marine Cooler

The ideal cooler for your needs will depend on the type of boat and the application. If you have limited space on your boat or often crowd it full of people, a soft sided cooler might be a good choice. They can be squeezed to fit into nooks and crannies where hard coolers won't fit, plus as the contents are used, they can be further compacted to open up more space for passengers to lounge. If you are going on a multi-day trip, a soft sided cooler may not be ideal as they generally only hold ice for one or two days.

If you often go out on rough days with heaving seas, consider a roto-molded cooler. These can withstand serious impacts without cracking. They also have super durable, rust-resistant hardware and T-latches that keep the tops firmly closed in all conditions. The majority also feature self-stopping lid hinges, which prevent the lids from falling backwards, as well as non-skid feet and tie down holes.

Roto-molded marine coolers are also ideal for multi-day trips as they can hold ice anywhere from five to ten days. If you don't need the most durable cooler on the market, the cost associated with a roto-molded marine cooler may not be worth it.

There are also a number of other non roto-molded marine coolers that can hold ice for five days and are built to withstand a good amount of impact, but cost considerably less. These can be ideal for sailboats as they won't require the same level of durability, but will still need to retain ice.

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Last updated: 03/29/2017 | Authorship Information