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Best Marine Cooler. Boat Cooler Reviews

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When you’re headed out for a long journey, you need a reliable place to store food. It needs to be able to keep a sizable amount of food cold for a long time, and also needs to be portable. If you don’t need the power of an electric cooler, a marine cooler is the way to go.

There are several extremely high quality marine coolers on the market, and many of them have similar features. We’ve put together this review of 9 of the Best Marine Coolers on the market to help inform your choice. Also included is a buyer’s guide to give you some extra conext.

We’ll start with the Best Marine Cooler available, the Pelican Elite 50.


Best Marine Cooler

Preview
Top Choice!
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Runner-Up
ORCA 40 Cooler, Seafoam
Budget Pick
Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler Ice Chest with Built-in Thermometer for Road Trip, Camping, Picnic, BBQ, Fishing, Hunting, Bear Resistant and Zero Leakage
Best Soft Cooler
Bison Cooler Can XD Series SOFTPAK Ice Chest Bag (24CAN, Quicksand)
Another Great
YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Desert Tan
Name
Pelican Elite
Orca
Sportneer
Bison Cooler
Yeti Tundra
Capacity
50 qt
40 qt
25 qt
24 cans
45 qt
Price on Amazon
$329.95
$324.84
Price not available
Price not available
$325.00
Top Choice!
Preview
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Name
Pelican Elite
Capacity
50 qt
Price on Amazon
$329.95
View on Amazon
Runner-Up
Preview
ORCA 40 Cooler, Seafoam
Name
Orca
Capacity
40 qt
Price on Amazon
$324.84
View on Amazon
Budget Pick
Preview
Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler Ice Chest with Built-in Thermometer for Road Trip, Camping, Picnic, BBQ, Fishing, Hunting, Bear Resistant and Zero Leakage
Name
Sportneer
Capacity
25 qt
Price on Amazon
Price not available
View on Amazon
Best Soft Cooler
Preview
Bison Cooler Can XD Series SOFTPAK Ice Chest Bag (24CAN, Quicksand)
Name
Bison Cooler
Capacity
24 cans
Price on Amazon
Price not available
View on Amazon
Another Great
Preview
YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Desert Tan
Name
Yeti Tundra
Capacity
45 qt
Price on Amazon
$325.00
View on Amazon

Our Top Pick: Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler

Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler

Key Points at a Glance

  • 10 Day Cooling Capacity
  • Good Heat Retention
  • Includes bottle opener
  • Solid carry handles for easy transport

Dimensions and Specs

  • Dimensions: 30”L x 20”W x 20”H
  • Weight: 26.39 lbs

The Details

Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler

The quality of a marine cooler lies in its walls. And the Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler’s craftsmanship is top tier in regards to its wall insulation and temperature management efficiency. You’ll find out that it has polypropylene covered walls and utilizes its rotomolded construction to be resilient from most bumps, scrapes or potential leaks. If you want a durable marine cooler, this is a great choice.

But durable walls aren’t anything without a good seal between the lid and the body.

The Pelican Elite, 50 Quart Cooler is created for travel enthusiasts, fishermen, and adventurers who tend to go on long trips and want a durable cooler that can withstand rough use. If you love to break out the fishing kayak and throw the fish you’ve caught in the cooler, this is a great choice.

Pelican coolers are known for their ice-retention abilities, and they work well for people that want their drinks and fishing equipment cold for 7-10 days at a time. It’s ideal for medium to long journeyys.

In addition, the cooler comes in two sets of handles. Therefore, users will face minimal issues when transporting this cooler. The cooler’s handles make sure that it operates safely; even if you do drop it by accident, it won’t cause much damage because of the protective polypropylene material. It’s rugged and capable of taking a beating.

With so many tools, drinks, ice, etc. going inside a cooler, cleaning it can be a hassle. That’s not the case with the Pelican Elite because it is crafted out of stainless steel. As its name suggests, it remains polished by repelling stains from entering the cooler.

The Pelican Elite is the Best Marine Cooler available, and is an outstanding choice among boat coolers.

Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
  • INTERIOR DIMENSIONS - 17.50 x 11.00 x 13.70 (44.5...
  • EXTREME ICE RETENTION: 2 inches of polyurethane...
  • FEATURES: Overmolded carry handle, 3 inch locking...
  • FEATURES: 4 self draining cup holders, non-skid...
  • MADE IN USA: Includes Pelican's legendary lifetime...

Our Runner-Up: ORCA 40 Cooler

ORCA 40 Cooler

Key Points at a Glance

  • Keeps food cold for up to ten days
  • Lid gasket
  • Flex grip handles
  • Attached cargo net for extra storage
  • Draining system included
  • Affordable

Dimensions

  • Quart Capacity: 40 quarts
  • Inside dimensions: 19″ x 11. 75″ x 11″
  • Outside dimensions: 26″ x 17. 5″ x 17. 5″
  • Weight 24 lbs

The Details

ORCA 40 Cooler

ORCA is another brand that makes outstanding coolers, and the 40 qt cooler is no exception. It is super reliable, with great insulation and form factor. The main feature of the ORCA 40 is its integrated insulation. This allows for maximum cold/ice retention, making it easier for your food to remain cold.

On average, the ORCA 40 Cooler can keep food and drinks cold for up to 10 days.

Plus, it includes thick rotomodeled walls that play a role in both the ice life and the cooler’s toughness. Due to its thick, single-piece construction means that the shell doesn’t have weak points and can withstand life at sea, with salt air and waves moving things about.

The easy flow drainage spouts help with emptying melted ice faster. The spout is located on the side, making it easier for users to get excess water and melted ice out of the cooler without having to empty all of its contents.

The ORCA 40 is available in several color options, and is a great choice for many buyers. It’s smaller than the pelican, and the handles are made of rope, but it’s also a bit more compact. The added storage net is a nice feature as well.

The ORCA is our runner up choice for the Best Boat Cooler.

ORCA 40 Cooler, Seafoam
  • Durable, roto-molded construction
  • Integrated insulation for maximum ice/cold...
  • Lifetime warranty
  • The attached cargo net allows for added storage

Budget Pick: Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler

Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler

Key Points at a Glance

  • Reinforced Metal Handle
  • Anti-lock Rubber Gasket
  • Extreme Ice Retention
  • Built-In Thermometer

Dimensions

  • Dimensions: 20.3 x 14.5 x 13 inch
  • Weight: 20.5 lbs
  • Capacity: 25 quart

The Details

Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler

The Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler, is a fantastic choice for those who want a decent cooler at a budget price point. It’s a sturdy cooler that is built to last, and keep your food and drink cool for ages.

This cooler is ready for any outdoor adventure!

Wondering if your food contents are still cold but don’t want to open it to check? Don’t worry. The Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler, comes with a built-in thermometer to help users keep an eye on things without opening up once. Pretty cool.

Need table space? This cooler features a convenient dual cup holder that helps keeps drinks within arm’s reach. The 3.5″ holes are large enough to hold most bottles and beverages. Thus, making this the best choice if you want a bit of compact luxury/multi-functionality with your cooler.

With its reinforced metal handle, carrying is now easier than ever. It ensures minimal shaking, meaning that it won’t tip over while carrying it to or from the boat. For those who want a reasonably priced, reliable marine cooler, the Sporteneer is the one for you.

Sportneer 25 Quart Cooler Ice Chest with Built-in Thermometer for Road Trip, Camping, Picnic, BBQ, Fishing, Hunting, Bear Resistant and Zero Leakage
  • Built-in Thermometer & Scale Plate: Get rid of the...
  • Crisp, Cool Drinks For Days: Keep your cans...
  • 100% Leak Free: With the Sportneer Camping Cooler,...
  • Military-grade Construction: Don't settle for less...
  • Pack & Go: Take the party with you anywhere and...

Best Soft Cooler: BISON COOLER 24

BISON COOLER 24

Key Points at a Glance

  • Holds up to 24 cans
  • High ice retention
  • Water-resistant YKK Zipper
  • Stain-resistant

Dimensions

  • Holds 24 cans and 10lbs of ice
  • Weight: 3.75 lbs
  • Dimensions: 11″ x 18″ x 10″

The Details

BISON COOLER 24

Next on our list is the BISON COOLER 24. It comes equipped with beefy hardware that provides more durability while the shoulder strap is used for easier transport. If you’re looking for something that can easily be packed away when not needed, but still has decent capacity and cooling power, the BISON is a fantastic choice.

As its name suggests, the BISON COOLER 24 can hold up to 24 cans and 10lb of ice at once. This gives you enough space to hold your beverages and to keep ’em cool. For users who want to have food and drinks cool for more than six days, this is the right cooler for you.

In fact, this cooler is so good at ice retention; it can hold ice for 24 hours in 120 degree heat! This cooler provides twice the insulation than other soft-shell brands do. Thus, giving you a reliable cooler that’s designed to last long.

The BISON Cooler 24 stands out because of its latch design. While most coolers use the traditional T-style design, Bison uses a cantilever design that makes an excellent force to help with squeezing down the gaskets.

The BISON 24 is a great choice, and is one of the best boat coolers around.

Bison Cooler Can XD Series SOFTPAK Ice Chest Bag (24CAN, Quicksand)
  • Proudly Made in USA Featuring a textured,...
  • Our new water-resistant YKK zipper is a...
  • Bisons Beefier hardware and buckles provide even...
  • Holds 24 cans and about 10 pounds of ice MOLLE...
  • Our American-made cooler is tough as nails and...


Another Great: YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

Key Points at a Glance

  • Rotomolded construction
  • Sturdy Gasket construction
  • T-Rex Lid Latches

Dimensions

  • Weight: 23lbs
  • Storage Capacity: 45 qt
  • Exterior Dimensions: 15.5″ x 25.5″ x 16″
  • Interior Dimensions: 9 7/8″ x 18 3/8″ x 9 1/2″
  • Can Capacity: 26 cans and 35 lbs ice (only)

The Details

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

The YETI Tundra 45 is the perfect size for families and small groups. It’s able to store 38 quarts of beverages and items. On average, it can hold about 35 pounds of ice once filled completely with dry ice. Thus, giving you enough cooling power to keep your food in top condition.

The Tundra 45 features a thick Fat-Wall design that’s also bear-resistant (important if you’re camping and hiking, but not so much if you’re boating!). Non-slip feet are placed on the cooler’s underside, making it very useful and easy to carry and place on the back of your truck or on the boat. So consider getting this cooler if you want something that’s going to last for years to come.

The Yeti Tundra is really very similar in quality and price to the ORCA positioned as our runner-up choice. There is a bit of an “Apple vs. Android” fanbodyism between the two, and some people are Yeti people, while others are ORCA people. Both are excellent quality, and you won’t go wrong with either.

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Desert Tan
  • The YETI Tundra 45 combines versatility with...
  • Ice stays ice thanks to up to 3 inches of...
  • The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra...
  • All Tundra coolers feature T-Rex Lid Latches...
  • The Tundra 45 dimensions are 25 1/2 in long x 16...

Marine Cooler Buyer’s Guide

best marine cooler

Who Should Buy a Marine Cooler?

If you’re someone who likes to go on weekends or long boating trips, a marine cooler is your best friend. Not only will it keep food and beverages cool, but it can be easily transported around the boat for easy access.

If you’re having a good day with your fish finder, and catching a lot of fish, you’ll need a good cooler to store them on the trip home!

When deciding to get a marine cooler, make sure you get one that’s properly sized to your needs. If you have a large group of people, then having a cooler that can hold 40 cans or more is a good option. For smaller groups, you can go with a simple 12 can cooler and still have a great time on the water.

Important Features to Consider

Size

When it comes to marine coolers, bigger isn’t necessarily better. The more volume your insulated box or cooler has, the more ice that’s needed to chill down the contents stored inside it, and the air that’s in empty space.

That’s why a fuller cooler holds more ice longer than a more empty one. – you’re not wasting energy by cooling down the air. The ideal marine cooler is one that’s big enough for a weekend’s use. If you need additional space, you can use a soft-sided cooler bag.

Try to get a cooler that is sized to your requirements, not necessarily the biggest one you can find.

Insulation

While it might seem obvious, more insulation is better. Ideally, the insulation is as thick as possible without influencing weight, and the lid has to be thick as well. If there isn’t an insulated box on board and you’re planning on adding one yourself, you need to decide how much space around the box you want to add foam.

You must do this without damage to the bottom of the boat or the hull sides, depending on the boat size.

Drainage

You have to be able to drain your marine cooler or box. Look for coolers that have a removable plug so you can spill the excessive water by the end of the weekend.

Water can transfer thermal energy better than air, so once the ice melts, your drinks will remain cold. The flip side is that your food could become soggy if it isn’t stored correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Boat Cooler Act as a Seat on the Boat?

If the marine cooler has a hard top and rubber feet, it can likely be used as a seat. The rubber feet prevent it from sliding around and will keep it secure without having to tie it to the boat in many cases. However, depending on the moving speed of your boat, it may not be the most stable. And be sure to test the cover to see if it can handle the weight.

Can you purchase a divider and a basket separately?

Many coolers include dividers and basket accessories that can be purchased if you wish. While they are optional, both can be used to improve the organization of your cooler.


Other Products We Looked At:

AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler

AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler
Next up is the AO COolers Original Soft Cooler. It’s a soft side cooler that provides twice the ice retention in comparison to the competition. On average, it can hold 10 pounds and 36 cans, making it a good cooler for those who want simplicity.

It also includes a leak-proof TPU liner. This liner helps keep the outer covering protected from outside moisture getting into the cooler. As a result, users can use the cooler continuously and not have to worry about their food getting contaminated.

But, the cooler lacks in durability. For instance, its handles can snap once placed on the user’s shoulder. So make sure that you carry the cooler lightly to prevent this from happening. But for those who need a simple, yet effective cooler, the AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler is a great option.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Soft-sided cooler
  • Holds 36 cans
  • Made of a durable soft canvas material
AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, Royal Blue, 36-Can
AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler with High-Density Insulation, Royal Blue, 36-Can
Holds 36 cans plus about 10 pounds of ice; measures 21 x 10 x 12 inches (LxWxH).
$97.67

Thermik High-Performance Cooler

Thermik High-Performance Cooler
The Thermik High-Performance Cooler features a stainless steel bottle openers placed on its corner sides. As it suggests, it can easily open the bottle caps of your favorite drinks and more. And with its thick stainless steel cover, it is designed to last.

The vacuum release valve is one of its highlight features. It is a button placed on the front of the air cooler that allows air to flow inside of it. This valve makes it so that the internal pressure can be normalized with the outside pressure. As a result, the cooler is easier to open, making it easier to access your desired drinks.

On the other hand, the marine cooler has a few issues. While it has a few great features, it’s unable to keep the ice-cold for more than 5+ days, it’s a great cooler to have during the weekend, but don’t expect much out of it for long term usage.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Ring lever latch
  • Captured drain cap
  • Stainless bottle openers
Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler, 75 qt, White
Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler, 75 qt, White
Freezer grade lid seal with vacuum release button to prevent stuck lids; Features indestructible hinge, durable rubber feet and tie down holes

Xspec 60QT Quart Cooler

Xspec 60QT Quart Cooler
The Xpec 60QT Quart Cooler is known for its extreme ice retention. For instance, it can hold 3″ of polyurethane insulation that has ice retention for days. Due to its large capacity, users can hold up to 40-60 cans at once.

Its tough construction is a feature worth mentioning. This marine cooler has a Rotomolded Thermoplastic Construction, which is virtually indestructible. Its UV resistant, allowing it to be a reliable cooler for outdoor usage.

However, the marine cooler doesn’t have durable handles as expected. Thus, making it difficult to carry it without two people. So make sure you know how much you’re loading on the cooler before traveling to ensure it remains lightweight. Overall, this is a good cooler if you’re looking for something simple yet effective.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Airtight seal
  • Thick insulation
  • Bottle opener & Lock Plates
Xspec 60 Quart Roto Molded High Performance Camping Cooler Ice Chest | Pro Tough Durable Outdoor Ice Chest, Seafoam
Xspec 60 Quart Roto Molded High Performance Camping Cooler Ice Chest | Pro Tough Durable Outdoor Ice Chest, Seafoam
Non-slip feet, molded tie-down slots for secure transport (straps not included).
$239.99

Coleman 100-Quart

Coleman 100-Quart
Last on our list is the Coleman 100-Quart Cooler. This cooler boasts large storage capacity; it is capable of holding up to 160 cans total. There are heavy-duty wheels that are included, making the cooler easy to transport around.

Another feature lies in its anti-leak channel drain. This drain is leak-resistant, which allows users to remove an excessive amount of water without tilting the cooler. As a result, users can keep their food and beverages cool without causing unnecessary damage or displacement.

The hingeson these marine coolers are one small component you’ll have to worry about. There have been cases of the hinges breaking after unboxing, making it difficult to open and close the cooler. Still, it’s an inexpensive alternative if you need a large sized cooler for a weekend trip.

Key Points at a Glance

  • Supports up to 250 pounds
  • Holds 160 cans
  • Large tow handle
Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler
Coleman 100 Quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler
Heavy-Duty Wheels for Easy, Reliable Transport; Have-a-Seat Lid Supports Up to 250 Pounds so You Have a Place to Sit and Rest
$226.98

Conclusion

To conclude, there is a myriad of marine coolers available that will make a nice addition to your next few outdoor trips and beyond. We suggest getting the Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler if you want the Best Marine Cooler on the market. If that one isn’t right for you, try out the ORCA 40 Quart cooler.

No matter which one you get, you’ll have a cooler that will keep your food and drinks primed and ready for consumption.

Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
FEATURES: 4 self draining cup holders, non-skid rubber feet
$329.95
ORCA 40 Cooler, Seafoam
ORCA 40 Cooler, Seafoam
Durable, roto-molded construction; Integrated insulation for maximum ice/cold retention; Lifetime warranty
$324.84