The Best Coolers For Fishermen (2018 Edition)

By: Joseph Simonds on May 1, 2018
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If you came to this page to see some cooler ice challenge, then sorry, you came to the wrong place…

This post is all about picking out the absolute best cooler (for the right fishing situation).

Here’s my personal take on it:

Coolers are a lot like fishing rods.

Here’s what I mean…

You most likely agree with me that any serious angler needs a specific rod and reel combo to target different types of fish, right?

You wouldn’t use the same 2500 series spinning reel to target speckled trout with small artificial lures as you would a 150lb tarpon using live crabs, would you?

Well, the same goes for coolers.

There isn’t a single cooler (or cooler brand) that is always the best for everyone.

Certain times call for my expensive heavy YETI Tundra 45 while other times call for my less expensive (and much lighter) RTIC or Tourit soft cooler…

Here are my favorite “go-to” fishing coolers for 2018.

Let me know your favorite cooler (and how many coolers you have) by leaving a comment below.

Note: Salt Strong is NOT sponsored by any cooler company.

Any coolers that I missed?

Let me know in the comments (I love trying out new coolers).

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John EngleBill MilamMark FarleyTerry WilliamsJay Howton Recent comment authors
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John Engle
Member

You left out Kula Cooler-Bote Boards; they are a NASCAR supporter, Florida company and a client of mine. I have one on my boat and they are Kula.

Mark Farley
Member

Thanks for the cooler info, Joe. Unfortunately since (surprisingly) YETI dropped their support for the NRA, I cannot even think of buying any of their products again. I prefer Engel anyway…

Terry Williams
Member

Check out the Orca coolers.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

NEVER again for the yeti… they are boycotting the NRA and I have no desire to spend my hard earned money on thier political BS !!!!!!!

Tom Davis
Member

VIbe kayaks has a good line of reasonably priced coolers as well. They range in size from 20 up to 110 qt. I have the Element 20 that I use on the yak and it does everything I need it to.

Gary Shaw
Ambassador

I like the soft coolers for kayak, they seem to fit great and dont slide around. I use and reccomend trying the ozark trail hopper style coolers with quick in top and the back pack style. I fill with one bag of ice in early morning and by 6pm I still have ice and some still fresh unmelted. Price, versatility, looks and very good at holding ice and keeping cold all day.

Jay Howton
Member

I’m with you on the Ozark Trail coolers , I have three of them and they work great and have around $100 in all three combined.
I don’t have the OT hard side but have heard they are also excellent for the money.

Jason Klazon
Member

This may sound a bit crazy, & I’ll admit that I was somewhat skeptical about it at first, but I really like my Ozark soft pack (36 can) cooler ($40 at Walmart). I have had it for about 1 1/2 yrs., now. I typically fish from a kayak, so I have even been able to latch on to it a couple of PVC pipes as extra rod holders. It also comes with a pretty decent shoulder strap. The ice, even on a pretty hot & sunny day, tends to hold the coolness in for the entire day of fishing. I am able to carry drinks, & keeper sized fish in it. Sure, you will experience some ice melting throughout the day, but not as much as I had originally thought would occur. Just a less expensive option for those who are looking for it.

Richard Devereaux
Member

Polar Bear makes a variety of sizes of good quality soft-sided coolers. On the kayak I use a 20″ x 30″ Canyon fish bag (with frozen ice packs) to maintain “keeper” fish.

Thom Ray
Member

Kula Coolers are something totally different check the. Out.

Thom Ray
Member
Dave Otte
Member

I have a kayak cooler, Seattle Sports roll catch 32. Works well with a few gel packs and I put the fish in a trash can liner so it doesn’t get slimy. Would like to see a review of these ‘bag’ type coolers for kayaks. Thanks Joe!

Bill Milam
Member

This sounds like the ticket for me. I fish from a Hobie Tandem Island sailing kayak and the boxier coolers have been given me problems as they get in the way of the sail sheets at the stern of the kayak. This one looks like it will lay flatter and yet still serve as a great catch cooler.

I think your tip about the trash can liner for holding fish is a great idea no matter what cooler you have.

Thanks for the tips!