No outdoor adventure is truly complete without cold beverages. There are few things better than enjoying a cold drink on the lake while you’re casting a line with the sun shining down on you.
So, for your next kayaking trip, why not find a cooler that fits your kayak storage space and your budget? Whether you want a chest, insulated case, or a cooler bag to bring in your catch, this guide will surely help you find the right kayak cooler for your trip!
Best Kayak Cooler Bags Reviews
Yeti Hopper Two Portable Cooler
- Tapered body makes carrying it more comfortable
- DryHide Shell and high-quality straps can withstand abuse
- HydroLok Zipper eliminates spills and locks in cold
The Yeti Hopper is one of the most popular soft coolers available today, and its incredible lineup of features contributes greatly to this achievement. Designed with a rugged Dryhide shell, the high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew and mold. The fabric is also incredibly tough and resistant to tears and scratches, so you can store anything without worrying about damaging the cooler.
Moreover, the inside of the bag boasts tough FDA-approved food-grade liner, allowing users to keep edible food and drinks without worrying about them going bad. Coldcell insulation further keeps those items cold and enables users to store ice for 1 to 3 days.
However, even the thickest insulation becomes useless without a good seal. That’s why the Yeti Hopper features the airtight and waterproof Hydrolok Zipper. The bag also has a wide mouth opening that makes accessing stored items a breeze.
This product is also incredibly easy to use. Along with an overhead carrying handle, it comes with three different carrying options. You can choose between the three double-stitched handles attached to the sides and front of the bag or the detachable shoulder strap. The unit is further capable of holding 18 cans plus ice with a 2:1 ice to contents ratio, 20 pounds of ice, or a few rainbow trout.
Lastly, this model comes with a Hitchpoint Grid. This is a number of hooks located on the face of the unit that allows users to hang different items, including gloves, wallet, and keys. Furthermore, they’re designed to work with Yeti’s MOLLE Bottle Opener and MOLLE Zinger.
- Excellent build quality
- Offers several different size options
- Impressive ice life
- Doesn’t come with additional storage pockets
- Color choices are limited
In terms of configuration and size options, the Yeti Hopper is one of the best and largest soft coolers available today. Although some notable features are missing, the company’s legendary ice retention rates and build quality are evident with this model. So, if you’re not afraid to spend a bit more, the Yeti Hopper is an excellent soft cooler that will last you for many years to come.
AO Canvas Soft Cooler
- Soft-sided cooler is designed with a removable shoulder strap
- Comes with a side pocket for storing dry items
- Insulated with a high-density 3/4-inch thick, closed-cell foam
Manufactured with high-quality vinyl, the AO Canvas Soft Cooler delivers exceptional performance without sweating or leaking. Able to hold ice for almost 24 hours in warm conditions, it features a 3/4-inch thick foam that helps enhance cooling performance. This makes the unit incredibly versatile and suitable for most applications.
The AO is also relatively lightweight and has several different carrying options. Its fabric is strong and durable but can be susceptible to tearing and scratching if exposed to sharp items. A comfortable shoulder strap and handles make carrying it short distances, such as out to the bleachers at a league game or from the car to the beach, extremely easy. However, the shoulder strap can come undone after extended use, especially if you’re filling the bag up to the brim with ice and other items.
Another advantage of the AO Canvas is that it’s available in several different color options. It’s incredibly easy to use as well. The external front pocket and wide mouth zipper are pretty self-explanatory. The external packet can be used to pack small items, like silverware or a bottle opener. That said, if the cooler is fully packed, the pocket becomes useless.
However, this cooler falls short when it comes to keeping things cold for a long period of time. It also tends to leak from the zipper if it’s inverted or placed on its side. Although the handle and shoulder straps felt durable and performed well, the unit didn’t really stand out from its competitors.
- Can be used to keep hot and cold items
- Available in several different sizes
- Able to keep ice solid for almost 24 hours in 120-degree weather
- Fabric is susceptible to tearing
- Might leak from the zipper
If you don’t want anything special and are not planning on spending a lot of money, then the AO Canvas soft cooler is the perfect option. It’s easy to use and performs well at what it’s designed to do; just don’t expect something special.
MIER Kayak Cooler Bag
- Two separate compartments to keep both hot and cold foods
- Bottom is designed with sturdy PU leather
- Removable buckle fastener strap allows easy hand-carry
This insulated cooler is designed with two different compartments. One is an easily accessible top ‘dry’ compartment that’s perfect for storing snacks, cookies, chips, and fruit. Meanwhile, the bottom ‘cold’ compartment is designed with PEVA lining, making it eco-friendly and leakproof. It’s also food-safe and ideal for cooling juice, drinks, or other beverages. Both compartments are incredibly easy to clean as well.
This model is incredibly roomy and spacious. The bottom compartment can easily hold 24 335ml cans, and will still have space for ice packs. Its front grid pocket can be used to store napkins and cutlery, while its two side velcro pockets provide added storage space.
Moreover, this bag offers several different carrying options. The detachable shoulder strap can be adjusted from a minimum of 28-inches to a maximum of 50-inches. The padded grab handle is further designed with a side release buckle that conveniently clips onto sports bags, strollers, and backpacks.
Boasting reinforced stitches, this soft cooler is exceptionally well-built and heavy-duty. The smooth and robust ‘MIER’ zipper offers extra durability, while the PU leather bottom is water and wear-resistant.
Lastly, its unique pattern and vibrant color design make it stand out from its competitors. All in all, it’s ideal for picnics, camping, road trips, and other outdoor activities.
- Dual compartment adds flexibility and convenience
- Water-resistant and wear-proof bottom
- High-quality MIER zipper is smoother and more durable than other zippers
- Premium PEVA lining is incredibly easy to clean
- Side pockets are too small to store anything
- Will not stand upright on its own
The MIER kayak cooler bag is rugged and tough and features strong zippers and a heavy-duty polyester exterior that’s made to last. Its heat-sealed liner prevents leaking, while the two divided compartments enable users to store both hot and cold foods. Although it’s a good product, it would be much better if the sides didn’t collapse easily. Once it collapses, it becomes difficult to get it to stand upright.
Ice Mule Pro Coolers
- Keeps ice solid for almost 24+ hours and does not leak
- Has a 20-liter or 18 can capacity
- Padded back pads and a padded backpack strap system enhance comfort
Along with having a large capacity that can be filled with heavy glass bottles, the Ice Mule Pro is one of the most comfortable units to carry around. Boasting a sleek design, it features backpack straps for easy carrying. It’s similar to a kayaking dry bag and can be easily stored in hatches.
With a 20-liter capacity, the cooler can comfortably store 18 cans with ice, making it perfect for people who want to bring numerous iced beverages on their trip. Its cylindrical shape further makes it ideal for stowing inside a kayak. If you don’t pack it up to the brim, you can also easily stow it on the deck of the kayak using bungee cords. Moreover, the Ice Mule’s shoulder straps can be fastened across the front, making it much easier to move with than other models.
This bag is designed with a double layer of waterproof fabric, insulating foam, and an air valve that releases and adds air for additional insulation. Additionally, using an air valve means that when you’re done with the bag, you can easily roll it up and store it away.
Manufactured with 1000D ripstop nylon/vinyl/tarpaulin and welded seams, the Ice Mule Pro is one of the most intense-feeling coolers as well. Along with preventing melted water from soaking into the inside lining of this unit, it also prevents water from the outside from soaking in.
However, if there’s one feature this unit struggles with, it’s insulation. Due to its unconventional opening and lightweight build, it doesn’t control temperature as well as other models. Although it can retain some ice for up to two days, its best performance only lasts for just over a day.
- Can be easily strapped to a kayak
- High quality materials ensure durability and longevity
- Backpack style allows comfortable and easy carrying, even when full
- Has a good capacity
- Condensation can make the bag wet
- Large size may not fit inside all kayaks
When it comes to portability and ease of use, there are few models that can beat the Ice Mule Pro Cooler. It not only performs exceptionally when you need it but is also incredibly easy to strap to a kayak. It can keep food and drinks cold for at least 24 hours and will not leak. Although it lacks additional pockets, its comfortability and portability make it one of the best coolers for long-distance picnic destinations.
RTIC 20 Soft Pack
- Holds up to 20 cans with ice
- Designed with welded seams and tough, laminated fabric
- Up to 2-inches of foam insulation
The RTIC 20 Soft Pack offers similar functionality and performance to more expensive, higher-performing models, but at a fraction of the price. It’s designed with a leakproof zipper and solid, thick insulation that helps seal cold air inside. The bag does an excellent job at keeping refreshments chilled, and is cool enough for spending a hot day on the beach, and is even suitable for a camping weekend.
The bag is incredibly easy to use as well. Its rounded ends, single large opening, and boxy shape make unpacking and packing a breeze. Meanwhile, its several different handles make it easy to carry around and enable users to attach anything they might want.
In terms of the overall construction, this kayak cooler is durable and well-designed. It features a waterproof liner, a heavy-duty, rugged nylon exterior, and thick, high-density closed-cell foam insulation. Welded seams of tough, laminated fabric further make this cooler extremely durable.
However, this model has one minor flaw, and that’s the zipper. Without using the included lubricant, you’ll need to pull, tug, and yank the zipper to get it to move. If you lose the lubricant, the zipper might not last through this kind of treatment and may snap.
- Exterior won’t sweat from condensation
- Can keep contents cold for up to five days
- Straps make carrying easier
- Incredibly easy to use
- Fixtures and straps are not that durable
- Bit heavy on its own
The RTIC 20 Soft Pack delivers exceptional performance at a fraction of the price. It’s easy to use, simple, and fairly durable. However, it has some downsides. The zipper tends to stick, which can be annoying, and the boxy shape is a bit awkward to carry when fully packed.2
Features to consider
With so many different models, choosing the right kayak cooler is no easy task. To ensure you don’t end up wasting your money, the following are some of the features you should consider before finalizing your purchase.
- Storage size
Make sure the cooler you choose can store all your necessary items, and still fit inside your kayak storage compartment. The capacity of a cooler bag is typically described in terms of quarts, cans, or liters. It’s advisable to choose a 10-quart cooler, as it fits most kayaks nicely and will suit most of your needs.
Kayak coolers are either hard-sided or soft-sided. Hard coolers are designed with rubber materials or firm plastics. They’re usually more watertight and will protect anything you put inside, making them suitable for individuals who are a bit rough on their gear.
On the other hand, soft coolers are made with cloth materials that are insulated and laminated. With their flexible form, they can easily fit into a wide variety of different spaces. Their lightweight design further makes them ideal for kayaks and other outdoor adventures.
- Handle type
Some kayak coolers have towing gear or attached handles that make transporting them from the water easier. Carrying comfort is important, so it’s advisable to choose a model with padded handles.
Can Bags Keep Food Warm?
Bag-type coolers are thermally insulated to keep the items inside cool. This insulation also keeps hot food warm. In fact, a cooler can maintain any stable temperature inside, whether it’s hot or cold.
Which is Better – Box vs Soft Coolers?
Hard-sided or box coolers are more durable, stronger, and are able to keep ice longer than soft coolers. They’re also available in larger sizes. On the other hand, soft coolers are lighter, more portable, and easier to carry around. Ultimately, the best type of cooler depends on your situation and what you’re going to be using it for.