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Best Fishing Coolers & Insulated Fish Bags for 2018

Are you planning your next fishing trip and wondering what type of cooler you should take with you? While conventional wisdom might tell you that a standard Fishing cooler is a way to go, it is worth considering the specific conditions you’ll be fishing under, as they may require something a bit more lightweight, like a fishing bag. Read on as we help you find out what the difference is between the two, and which one you should choose for which trip.

Fishing Coolers

Fishing coolers typically have a hard and sturdy surface and are made from durable materials to withstand different fishing conditions, and they can hold ice for really long periods of time. However, they are quite heavy to carry, even empty, and they’ll most likely take up quite a bit of real estate in your fishing boat as well.

Fishing Bags

A fishing bag, on the other hand, is lightweight and usually made from sturdy insulated fabric like PVC with vinyl lining, with two differentiated zones for keeping fish and snacks apart. However, fishing bags are unable to keep fish cold and fresh for long periods of time, and they’re not as reliable as fishing coolers and  marine coolers when it comes to keeping the water out in choppy conditions.

Considerations for Selecting a Bag or Cooler for Fishing

Size

The size of the cooler you choose is mostly dependent on what you’ll be using it for. Smaller coolers, for example, make it easier for you to carry snacks and some bait for a short fishing trip, whereas a large cooler can store a lot more supplies including medication, water, drinks, and food. That said; keep in mind the size of your boat as well because a larger cooler will take up considerable space when compared to a smaller one, but fish bags are usually recommended when kayak fishing or going on short excursions.

Waterproof Levels

Not all water coolers are made the same, and while some are fully waterproof, others can leave your valuables damaged when submerged in water even for a few seconds. So do your research on your cooler to find out just how much water it can handle before your stuff starts to get soaked.

Weight

How much weight can your cooler handle? Coolers are typically recommended when angling for big game, but there are large fish bags that can handle large fish, but then the fish don’t keep for as long as they would when kept in a cooler.  Fishing coolers and fishing bags are also usually smaller in comparison to marine coolers, which make them easy to carry around, and they’re ideal to take with you when angling for smaller fish.

Performance

How long do your fishing trips usually take? A weekend? Two weeks? Be sure to find out how well your cooler will perform over time so that you can choose one that can withstand being in the sun for long periods of time without melting your ice. You probably won’t find an ice shop once you’re in the wild so it’s best to get a high-performance cooler that can keep your stuff ice cold for days on end.

Cost

When it comes to coolers, buying cheap won’t get you good quality, so try to pay more attention to what the cooler will offer you over time, as opposed to what you’ll be paying up-front.

Warranty

Invest in a molded cooler or fish bag with a warranty; so that you can get your money’s worth if anything goes wrong with the cooler before its projected expiry date.

Extras

Some nice extras to consider when shopping for a cooler include things like handles or built-in cup holders to keep your cups. Also, some include fish scales and built-in ice packs so that you don’t have to worry about purchasing ice on the way.

Dividers

Some fish bags come with built-in dividers to keep your fish bait and catches separate from your food and drinks. It’s also worth noting here that this is a rare feature in molded coolers, and is mostly found in high-end fish bags.

Our Top 3 Cooler Bags

Silver Horde Katchkooler II Bag (D132)
Boone Monster Bag, Small
CANYON Fish Bag - Redfish Bag, B-28 (20" x 36")
Cost
$
$$
$$$
Insulation Type
High density close-cell foam
High density close-cell foam
Heavy-duty double layer 1" foam insulation
Waterproof
Multiple Sizes
UV Resistant
Warranty
No
No
Lifetime
Silver Horde Katchkooler II Bag (D132)
Brands
Cost
$
Insulation Type
High density close-cell foam
Waterproof
Multiple Sizes
UV Resistant
Warranty
No
Boone Monster Bag, Small
Brands
Cost
$$
Insulation Type
High density close-cell foam
Waterproof
Multiple Sizes
UV Resistant
Warranty
No
CANYON Fish Bag - Redfish Bag, B-28 (20" x 36")
Brands
Cost
$$$
Insulation Type
Heavy-duty double layer 1" foam insulation
Waterproof
Multiple Sizes
UV Resistant
Warranty
Lifetime

Most Budget Friendly


This small fish bag from Silver Horde boasts a fully waterproof fabric shell with high-density close cell foam insulation that makes for durable and reliable storage of your catch of the day, as well as your supplies.

The inner casing is easy to clean, and requires just a clean wipe with a damp cloth, while the handles are made quite sturdy with tubing that is tough but comfortable to grip.

The opening is protected with heavy-duty YKK zipper and a zip pull that makes it easy to open and close the bag. Just be sure to place the fish inside a plastic bag before putting them inside this bag so that your catch can last longer if you’re on an extensive trip.

What We Like

  • It’s made with a high-density close cell foam insulation that’s perfect for preserving fish
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    It’s strong, durable and long lasting
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    It’s compact and doesn’t take up too much space on your boat
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    It prevents ice from melting for up to 24 hours
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    It’s water resistant
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    Great value for money

What We Don't Like

  • It’s only available in one size
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    It’s not puncture proof
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    No warranty

Boone Monster Bag, Small

Boone Monster Fish Bags

Available Sizes – Small, Medium, and Large

Trusted Name 


With seams that are reinforced with heat and closely sewn straps, this Boone Monster fish bag provides durable and convenient storage for your fish, snacks and accessories alike. There is plenty of room for all your supplies in this bag, thanks to extras like loops and a drain screw cap for quick and efficient drainage. This bag is available in sizes Small, Medium, and X-large, and it’s a firm favorite right now among anglers, thanks to its water-resistant qualities.

What We Like

  • It’s available in different sizes
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    Keeps fish fresh for longer
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    Boasts sturdy construction with heat reinforced seams
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    Provides ample storage for fish, snacks and accessories
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    There’s a drain screw for efficient drainage

What We Don't Like

  • No warranty

CANYON Fish Bag - Redfish Bag, B-28 (20' x 36')

Canyon Insulated Fish Cooler Bags

All Sizes – Made in the USA

Best Warranty


This bag is an excellent option for sports fishing, as it provides an ideal combination of convenience, durability and lightweight construction. Carrying this bag from one spot to the next is a breeze, thanks to the sturdy 2-inch web handles.

Also, these grips double as space conservers in that they allow you to hoist the bag instead of placing it on the floor, thus saving you valuable boat space and keeping your supplies close by and within easy reach.

Canyon also gives you the option to customize your bag with your name or that of your boat, a neat feature that makes it easy to find the bag when competing. The heat-sealed heavy-duty fiber-interlace skin is leak-proof and great at keeping fish ice-cold for long periods of time. Plus, the bag comes with a Lifetime Warranty so you can rest assured that your purchase is of really high quality.

What We Like

  • You can customize this bag with your name or that of your boat
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    It’s lightweight and easy to carry
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    Contains 2-inch web handles which you can use to hoist the bag to save space
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    It’s leak-proof and waterproof
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    Works like a freezer to keep fish ice-cold for long periods of time
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    It comes with a Lifetime Warranty
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    It’s available in different sizes
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    Voted 2016 "Gear of the Year" for Insulated Fish Bags by Florida Sportfishing Magazine
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    Easy to clean and store

What We Don't Like

  • Although lightweight, this bag is quite stiff and is not recommended for use on a kayak
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    The stitching could use some strengthening as some reports suggest that it starts to come loose after some time
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    It’s not great for catching big game fish

Our Top 3 Fishing Cooler Picks

The Best Pelican ProGear Elite Ice Chest Cooler, 65 Quart, Tan
Coleman Steel-Belted Portable Cooler, 54 Quart, Black
Engel High Performance ENG65 Cooler - White
Cost
$$$
$
$$$
Construction
Roto-molded plastic with 2 inches of polyurethane insulation
Metal outer shell with insulated plastic on the inside
Roto-molded plastic with 2 inches of polyurethane insulation
Ice Retention
7 - 10 days
4 days
7-10 days
Warranty
Lifetime
6-year
3-year
Multiple Sizes
Drain Plug
The Best Pelican ProGear Elite Ice Chest Cooler, 65 Quart, Tan
Brand
Cost
$$$
Construction
Roto-molded plastic with 2 inches of polyurethane insulation
Ice Retention
7 - 10 days
Warranty
Lifetime
Multiple Sizes
Drain Plug
Coleman Steel-Belted Portable Cooler, 54 Quart, Black
Brand
Cost
$
Construction
Metal outer shell with insulated plastic on the inside
Ice Retention
4 days
Warranty
6-year
Multiple Sizes
Drain Plug
Engel High Performance ENG65 Cooler - White
Brand
Cost
$$$
Construction
Roto-molded plastic with 2 inches of polyurethane insulation
Ice Retention
7-10 days
Warranty
3-year
Multiple Sizes
Drain Plug

Most Popular


When it comes to molded coolers, Pelican takes the cake as one of the most popular amongst anglers.

It boasts a freezer-grade gasket that keeps fish cold and fresh for up to 10 days, while the 2-inch polyurethane insulation is a great way to retain the flavor of the fish for extended periods of time.

The handles are hinged and dual-molded for a conveniently easy grip, and you won’t find latches that are easier to open than the ones on this cooler, which are made from aluminum, and use a convenient wide press and pull motion.

You can attach the sloped drain to your garden hose with the heavy duty threaded plug, which makes for quick and easy drainage. It’s also available in multiple sizes to suit different uses and conditions, plus you just can’t beat its price when compared to other competing brands.

What We Like

  • Freezer-grade gasket to keep your fish and supplies cold and fresh for longer
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    Quick and easy to drain
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    Great value for money
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    Awesome aluminum mechanical latch locks make it easy for you to open and close the cooler even with your gloves on
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    Durable and long lasting
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    Ample storage to fit all your supplies for a long trip
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    Available in different colors and sizes

What We Don't Like

  • It’s really heavy to carry and you’ll probably need some help when transporting it in and out of your boat
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    No warranty

Most Budget Friendly


This massive belted cooler from Coleman Steel boasts a carrying capacity of up to 51 Liters, which translates to tons of cans, plenty of ice and space to spare for your catches as well. 

This fishing cooler has no problem keeping ice frozen for up to four days in really warm weather conditions, which makes it an ideal investment for those hot summer months. The heavy-duty latch is made from solid steel; as are the handles, but the latter have rubber grips for comfortable handling. The channel drain is not only leak-proof but rust-resistant as well. 

The cooler itself still has that classic Coleman design with soft edges and massive amounts of space for your supplies. The best part is that you can get this cooler in several colors like red, blue, green,  rose,  pink and silver.

What We Like

  • Classic stylish design from Coleman
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    Comfortable stainless steel handles with rubber coating
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    Nice drainage
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    Boasts 54 Quarts worth of storage capacity
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    This cooler is available in different colors and sizes
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    Great price
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    Durable and long lasting
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    It keeps ice for up to four days

What We Don't Like

  • It’s really heavy
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    No warranty

Not only is this cooler certified by the IGBC as bear-resistant, but it offers superb performance with the ability to hold ice for several days.

It’s constructed using the same rotationally molded design and UV-resistant construction that’s used when making whitewater kayaks, and inside it’s surrounded by 2 inches of polyurethane insulation. It also features marine grade compression latches, airtight silicone gaskets and a bevy of rugged colors for you to choose from, like Tan, Haze Grey, and Camo.

What We Like

  • Made with whitewater-kayak level construction, using rotationally molded design
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    UV- resistant
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    Comes with airtight silicone gaskets to keep fish cold and fresh
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    Available in multiple colors and sizes
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    Can hold ice for 4 to 6 days
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    Very durable and even bear-proof!
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    Great value for money

What We Don't Like

  • It’s very difficult to clean and maintain
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    No warranty

The Verdict

Well, there you have it! The best fish coolers and fish bags on the market and what you can expect from their performance. Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to reflect on the size and weight of the one you choose, as well as the design and comfort factor. You want something that’s rugged and water-resistant, but lightweight and easy to carry as well. Most importantly, go with an option that suits your individual needs; from the size of boat or the type of terrain that you’ll be angling in, to the weather conditions and the amount of time you’ll be spending. Either way, enjoy your fishing trip and be sure to catch a lot of fish!

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