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Best Marine Boat Coolers for the Money

Marine coolers are what you expect to find and use when heading out on the open water. They tend work a little better for retaining ice, and this could be an integral part of keeping fish fresh until you head back to the shore. Fishing trips may also be somewhat timely and with the sun belting down during the peak of the day, keeping everything at the optimal temperature is essential.

Nevertheless, choosing one might not always be the easiest of tasks and many people will be frustrated with all the top brands and just select the first one they see. Since this is not always the best option and taking time to do some in-depth research is not always easy, here you should learn some of the ins and outs when it comes to choosing the ideal one for your trip.

Read on to find out which coolers we have rated as the best

A marine cooler has a few characteristics that a standard fishing cooler doesn’t have. These include:

  • Better insulation
  • Anti-rust materials for more durability against all weather conditions
  • Much longer ice retention
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    Seated Cushions – some marine coolers come with a seated cushion
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    Color - marine coolers are mostly white to reflect the sun and offer UV protection that will add to the insulation of the cooler
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    Measuring scale - some of the high-end coolers also have measurements on the lids, making it easier to measure fish

Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Marine Cooler

Ice retention might be first and foremost in leading one into choosing one of these coolers, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.  We’ve listed below some other features that one should keep in mind before making your final purchase.

Materials

The materials will play a significant part in selecting the right cooler and when it comes to marine coolers; it should be sturdy and somewhat durable as well. The primary materials are plastic and metal, but fabric coolers can also be selected. However, fabric coolers may not be the ideal choice when shopping for a marine cooler.

  • Plastic: Plastic coolers are sturdy, and they are easy to clean. They tend to be much lighter than the metal coolers, with more durability than the softer fabric coolers. These coolers are constructed from rotationally   plastic with foam insulation. Roto-molded coolers have become a popular material choice in recent years.
  • Metal: Metal is another common choice for marine coolers, and while it might seem a little sturdier than plastic, it can dent easier from the knocks it takes. These coolers have the best insulation, but when fully stocked the weight may be of concern from a portability perspective.
  • Fabric: The fabric option is the cheapest and the most lightweight option, but it is not the ideal choice for a marine cooler. Fabric coolers lack some insulation, and they do not have the best ratings for protection from the sun. The fabric cooler is much better for a BBQ than fishing

Insulation

The insulation is probably the most important part when you are out on the waters and with the right insulation, the cooler will stay cold for days and keep everything fresh. Some of the cheaper coolers will have 1-inch insulation, but as a general rule of thumb, you should look for 2-3 inches of insulation when selecting the right cooler.

Size

Size is another feature that can be considered relevant. Having a large cooler gives you the opportunity of packing away a larger fish, but will have the drawback of requiring more ice. The size will depend on your specific need and whether you have the space to store the cooler out of the direct sunlight. The form of measurement used to determine the available space on the inside of the cooler is quarts– e.g., 50-100 QTS.

Ice Retention

How long will you be spending away on your camping/fishing expeditions? This question is what you need to answer before making your selection. Based on testing, manufacturers usually designate the number of days that their coolers can keep ice before melting.  Our advice here would be to do your research and find out what other people are saying based on their experience.

Drainage

The drainage of the cooler is closely linked to the ability you will have when cleaning it thoroughly. Drainage is indicated by the amount of draining outlets the cooler has. Most of the high-end coolers will have 2 draining outlets and this makes it easier to clean and wash out that fish smell, which might eventually leave a nasty stench.

Additional Considerations

There are some other qualities worth your attention when shopping for the ideal cooler to ensure a happy and pleasant fishing experience.

  • Seal: Does the cooler seal off correctly? There should be a rubber gasket in the lining of the lid to keep the heat out and the cold in. 
  • Latch (lock): An outer latch is best for ensuring that the lid of the cooler stays locked.  If the cooler lid magically swings open, you may find yourself without ice. This may present a problem since replacing ice while on the water or in the by the riverbed may be next to impossible.
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    Portability: Since the coolers will be heavy when stocked, having portable wheels will make them easier to carry. However, the drawback is that the wheels might not be as durable as you hope, and may be difficult to maneuver across certain terrains.
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    UV Resistance: White is the color of choice, and this is because it can reflect the UV rays back instead of attracting them as black or darker colors would do.
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    Impact Resistance: Roto-molded plastic is the best material for sustaining impacts and bumps.
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    Warranty: Most coolers are designed to last you a lifetime, but small things like wheels and handles might not be as durable as they should be, and in fact, may not be included as part of the warranty. So, before purchasing your cooler, we strongly advise you to review the product warranty details. cooler. We strongly advise you to review what the product warranty includes.

Our Top Marine Cooler Picks

YETI Tundra 65 Cooler (Desert Tan)
ORCA 75 quart Cooler, With Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage, White
Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler, 120 Quart
The Best Pelican ProGear Elite Ice Chest Cooler, 65 Quart, Tan
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 50-Quart)
Thermik High Performance Roto-molded Cooler, 45 qt, White
Ice Retention
7-10 Days
7-10 Days
6-Days
7-10 Days
7-Days
5-Days
Composition
Roto-Molded Plastic
Roto-Molded Plastic
Metal
Roto-Molded Plastic
Roto-Molded Plastic
Roto-Molded Plastic
Storage
65 QTS
75 QTS
120 QTS
65 QTS
50 QTS
45 QTS
Cost
$$$
$$$
$
$$$
$$
$$
Warranty
5-Year
Lifetime
1-Year
Lifetime
5-Year
5-Year
YETI Tundra 65 Cooler (Desert Tan)
Brand
Ice Retention
7-10 Days
Composition
Roto-Molded Plastic
Storage
65 QTS
Cost
$$$
Warranty
5-Year
ORCA 75 quart Cooler, With Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage, White
Brand
Ice Retention
7-10 Days
Composition
Roto-Molded Plastic
Storage
75 QTS
Cost
$$$
Warranty
Lifetime
Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler, 120 Quart
Brand
Ice Retention
6-Days
Composition
Metal
Storage
120 QTS
Cost
$
Warranty
1-Year
The Best Pelican ProGear Elite Ice Chest Cooler, 65 Quart, Tan
Brand
Ice Retention
7-10 Days
Composition
Roto-Molded Plastic
Storage
65 QTS
Cost
$$$
Warranty
Lifetime
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 50-Quart)
Brand
Ice Retention
7-Days
Composition
Roto-Molded Plastic
Storage
50 QTS
Cost
$$
Warranty
5-Year
Thermik High Performance Roto-molded Cooler, 45 qt, White
Brand
Ice Retention
5-Days
Composition
Roto-Molded Plastic
Storage
45 QTS
Cost
$$
Warranty
5-Year

The YETI Tundra 65 Cooler is constructed from roto-molded plastic, keeping it lighter than the metal coolers and easier to carry when full. This cooler meets the needs of all outdoor lovers, and with a gasket-style seal, it seals in the cold without any problems. With 3-inch Permafrost insulation, the cooler keeps ice frozen for days on end.

The cooler also drains rather quickly and with LipGrip handles the cooler is easy to carry and will not slip out of your hands. Bear proof technology is used in the design along a design that keeps the cooler in place on the boat to reduce any sliding around. Finally, the patented T-Rex rubber latches will hold up under strenuous conditions and reduce any rust.

What We Like

  • The cooler is really easy to drain and clean
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    It carries easily with the LipGrip handles
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    Does not slide around on the boat or any surface
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    The design also keeps out UV rays
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    Thanks to the versatility, it can be used for all outdoor purposes

What We Don't Like

  • The cooler is quite expensive, but this is something you’d expect from a quality brand like Yeti

ORCA 75 quart Cooler, With Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage, White

Orca

With Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage


The ORCA 75 Quart Cooler is another roto-molded cooler with integrated insulation. A rubber gasket has also been used in the seal, giving a freezer-style seal that will keep the heat out and the ice from melting on the inside. At only 35-pounds, the cooler is also lightweight and should be easy to carry and move if needed.

The handles constructed from nylon with molded rubber make the cooler easier to carry.  The footing is quite slippery, but you might need a carpet to keep it secure if the boat or surface you are using it on is slick as well. The durable latch-locking system will keep it from sliding open.

What We Like

  • The cooler is durable and tightly seals closed
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    The latch lock system will keep the cold inside
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    The cooler is lighter than some others of the same size
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    Better ice retention than competition
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    Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Somewhat expensive for some users
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    Tends to slide around on wet and slippery surfaces

The Coleman Coastal Xtreme Marine Cooler Series has many fans. The stainless steel construction allows it to maintain ice for several days and competes well with many of its roto-molded competitors. The cooler is designed to be rust resistant, and UV protected facilitating ice-cold temperatures of up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The lid is quite versatile with enough space to hold cups, and it can be used as a seat as well for camping or other outdoor purposes. Molded handle grips also remove the strain from your hands and make the cooler somewhat easier to carry around. Whether you are out on the ocean in saltwater conditions or camping, this cooler is quite dependable will keep everything cool.

What We Like

  • Durable steel construction for optimal ice retention
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    Available in multiple sizes
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    Can be used as seating
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    Reasonably Priced

What We Don't Like

  • The cooler tends to be rather heavy when fully loaded
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    Only 1-year warranty

Made from plastic and polyethylene, the Pelican Products ProGear Elite Cooler is lightweight and easy to carry. It is insulated by 2-inches of insulation to keep the cold inside, and combined with the addition of a gasket seal; makes a solid cooler for keeping your fish, drinks and perishables impervious to all weather conditions.

The dual handle system makes it easier to carry from one point to the other, but the handles do put some strain on your hands. You might need assistance if you intend to transport from point to point. The cooler does come with wheels, but reviews indicate that the wheels are only useful on very smooth surfaces.

What We Like

  • Wheels make it easier to move
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    Lightweight when fully stocked
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    Great overall durability
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    Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like

  • A little large for smaller camping trips
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    Wheels are only effective on smooth surfaces

The Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler is one of the best options if you are looking for longer trips and excellent ice retention. The cooler is constructed from roto-molded plastic and 3-inch polyurethane insulation that keeps all the heat outside. In addition to the rugged design, it features a very good locking mechanism to keep the lid tightly locked.

 The cooler comes with an integrated fish ruler that makes it easy to jot down the size of your catch. The oversized drainage holes will drain the water out in a matter of minutes making cleaning the cooler quick and straightforward. It is also worth noting that the cooler has been certified to be bear-resistant for your outdoor camping expeditions.

What We Like

  • The cooler is really easy to clean
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    Offers a decent working surface and fish ruler
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    Oversize drain plugs
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    Certified to be bear-resistant

What We Don't Like

  • The cooler tends to be heavy for the size

The Thermik High-Performance Roto-molded Cooler has been made with the same top quality insulation one would expect to find in some of the more advanced coolers on the market today. With a freezer grade seal, the cooler does a great job at keeping your contents cold making for a great fishing experience.

 The handles made of nylon with molded rubber, are one of the weaknesses, not the most durable for carrying a heavy cooler.  Nevertheless, the addition of a cutting board or working surface is perfect for cutting fish before storing or preparing your meals on the fly. The drainage holes are also oversized for this cooler for simple and easy cleaning.

What We Like

  • Large drainage holes make it easy to clean
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    Durable seal technology and insulation
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    Includes a rugged working surface
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    Reasonably priced

What We Don't Like

  • The handles are not really durable and feel like they might snap at any moment

Quality over Price: Which One Will You Choose?

Finding an excellent marine cooler is more than just about the price and the ice retention. There are many other features we’ve outlined in this article that you may consider which might lead to spending a few extra dollars to get what you want. A few dollars spent now may save frustration on future fishing excursions, especially if your cooler fails to provide for all of your needs.

Considerations in selecting the right cooler for your fishing excursions should include: price, quality, storage capacity, weather conditions, terrain, length of trip and portability.  Try not to over purchase. If your fishing outings are limited to day outings, then you do not need a cooler with ice retention up to 6-7 days.

A marine cooler is another awesome tool for the angler. There are numerous choices to look over and hopefully this article will help you discover the one that best suits your purpose.

Remember “no fish stays fresh without a cooler”

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