A Boat Cooler Buying Guide

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Are you shopping for boat coolers for yourself or the fishing enthusiast in your life? If your loved one loves the great outdoors, boating, fishing, and all the glory that comes with it, investing in nice boat coolers for them is an awesome gift that they will cherish (and will make them love you a little more than anyone else).

You probably already realize there are about 100 million different boat coolers on the market, and all have their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s hard to know what is worth the money and what is just a glorified igloo that you could find at Circle K on your way to the river. While some factors are not as important — such as the color and whether or not it is equipped with a radio — some can really make or break your fisherman’s boat cooler experience. To help you make the most of your investment, we’ve put together a list of important factors to consider when shopping for boat coolers.

Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Boat Cooler

  • Good Insulation.

    Yes, we know. This is sort of obvious, as it is the primary function of a boat cooler. However, we want you to know how to identify good cooler insulation from mediocre.


    When you are examining legitimate fishing coolers, one factor to pay attention to is the melting time. Legitimate coolers will tell you a length of time that a cool can hold ice before it eventually melts. Some of the best coolers can maintain the freezing temperature inside if unopened for three to five days!
  • Size Matters.

    When it comes to boat coolers, bigger is not better. There is very limited space on a boat, and real estate comes at a premium. When shopping for a boat cooler, you need to make sure you find something that is big enough to hold the bait and catch (or beers, if that’s what the fisher in your life wants a boat cooler for) that the fisher needs, but does not take up any unnecessary space.


    To optimize space, some fishers prefer a collapsible coolers, such as backpack coolers. Collapsable coolers take no space at all when they are not being used, and can easily be put into action when needed.


    Another size aspect to consider is the handles. Yes, handles are essential for portability, but if they stick out, it is that much harder to stow away the cooler. Look for handles on hinges that don’t eat up unnecessary space.


    The most important take away from this point is not to get an over-sized cooler. Also, avoid squarish coolers that have a lot of bulky angles that make them hard to stow away. Consider the space you’re working with, and find the shape that fits well into it.
  • Good Drainage.
    A good fishing cooler will allow you to easily remove any liquid from its inside when you want to; and will hold everything in without any leakage when you don’t want it to. When examining boat coolers, pay attention to the removable plug, and make sure that it has a good, sturdy gasket that prevents leakage (oh, and that there is a removable plug at all!).


    If you’re buying your boat cooler online, without getting to see it in person, pay attention to the customer reviews about it and look for common complaints of leakage. This can be incredibly irritating on a fishing trip.

    Bonus tip: Liquid transfers thermal energy more efficiently than air and ice. This means that when your ice inside your cooler starts to melt, don’t drain it out. When your cooler is full of ice water is when it is at its coldest!

We hoped our article has armed you with the information you need to make an educated boat cooler buying decision. There are a lot of options out there, you need to make sure you don’t get hooked into a gimmick (pun intended!) that costs you a lot of mula while not meeting your cooler needs any better than a cheap one. If you pay attention to insulation, size, and drainage, you should be able to buy the perfect boat cooler that fills your fisherman (or woman’s) heart with joy.

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