With the best rod, reel, line, and lures for your type of fishing, you’re all set up for a successful fishing excursion where you will catch a lot of fish. If you plan to keep the fish you catch, now what you need is the best fishing cooler that will keep your catch as well as bait, food and drinks chilled and fresh for as long as you’ll be fishing no matter how hot it is and also be convenient for you depending on how you fish.
You can opt for a traditional ice chest, a portable ice chest or an insulated fishing bag. Here, we’ve reviewed the best fishing coolers and insulated fish bags whose cooling performance out on the water is tested and proven. Choosing one that will suit your needs is made even easier with our buying guide. To begin with, here are our top picks of the best fishing coolers
Ready to get started? Let’s go.
How To Choose The Best Fishing Cooler – Buying Guide
Here are the factors to consider so you can choose the best fishing cooler for how you fish, how you travel to your fishing destination and how long your fishing excursions last.
The most important factor to consider when choosing a fishing cooler is the level of insulation it is equipped with. This determines how long a cooler can hold ice intact and therefore its ability to keep its content chilled and fresh. The level of ice retention you need will depend on how long your fishing trip will last. A good fishing cooler should be able to hold ice and keep your fish, bait and refreshments chilled and fresh even under extremely hot conditions for as long as your trip lasts.
Hard-sided fishing coolers usually feature 2 – 3” inches of insulation. Top of the range coolers such as those offered by Yeti and Pelican have thick insulation, freezer-quality gaskets, tight seals and tightly locking lids and can maintain ice for up to 10 days. These are perfect for extended fishing expeditions. For a day trip, an insulated fishing bag that can hold ice for 24 hours will be sufficient.
Related Review: Yeti Cooler
The second factor to pay attention to is how the fishing cooler is built. It should be sturdy and built using tough materials so it can handle the heavy load it will be carrying without falling apart and be able to withstand the harsh outdoor elements, bumpy terrain, and impacts it is going to be exposed to.
Hard-sided ice chest fish boxes are usually made from heavy-duty plastics. The best are also roto-molded for extra strength. To resist fast deterioration, marine coolers should be corrosion and UV resistant. Some top of the range heavy-duty coolers are certified bear resistant. Insulated fishing bags are usually crafted using tough, high-density fabrics such as nylon and canvas so they can withstand abrasion.
Pay attention to the quality of components such as latches, hinges, handles, seams, and straps. These are usually the first areas to fail and render a cooler useless. They should be constructed using a heavy duty material so they’re strong enough to withstand heavy use without breaking.
The exterior dimensions and weight of a fishing cooler are an important consideration to make as they affect how easy the cooler is to carry and whether it can fit in the available space.
A portable fishing cooler should be lightweight and compact so it can fit in a tight space. Kayak fishing bags are usually long and narrow in order to fit perfectly in the deck of a kayak. An insulated fishing bag should also be compact and lightweight so it is easy to carry.
Related Review: Kayak Cooler
Heavy duty marine coolers and boat fishing coolers are usually large and heavy because they’re constructed to hold large loads and feature thick insulation for prolonged ice retention.
Related Review: Marine Cooler
When buying a fishing cooler, it’s important to consider its interior capacity, which differs from the exterior size due to the insulation. The thicker the insulation, the smaller the interior capacity.
For a multi-day fishing trip or for holding large fish, you will need a large cooler with a high storage capacity. A small, prtable fishing cooler or fish bag with a 25-quart capacity is sufficient for an afternoon excursion catching small fish. A 45-quart capacity is good for a day-long or weekend trip.
You’re going to be handling your fishing cooler a lot. The best fishing cooler is manageable. It should be a size and weight that can be carried easily. You may prefer a lightweight insulated fishing bag if you’re going to be trekking a good distance.
Even with a heavy duty styrofoam cooler for boating, you’re still going to have to handle it when loading it onto and off your boat or truck. Choose one with strong handles and/or roller wheels for ease of handling.
When the ice melts inside your fishing cooler, you want to be able to drain it easily and without it leaking. The best draining mechanisms feature recessed channels or drain holes at the bottom of the cooler. This makes it easy to drain the cooler without having to lift or tilt it. Some coolers allow for hoses to be attached. When not in use, the drain plug should seal it tight so it is leak-proof.
Q: Why Do You Need a Fishing Cooler?
The best times to fish are summer and spring days when the sun is shining bright and the weather is warm. Under these conditions, caught fish can go bad very fast. If you plan to keep the fish you catch, a fishing cooler will keep your fish chilled and fresh, especially when you’re on a long fishing trip.
It is better at preservation than using UV light or salt as it preserves the freshness without compromising the flavor. You can also use it to keep live or dead bait fresh and life-like. It is also a portable fridge you can use to keep your refreshments cool and fresh.
Q: Should I Choose A Portable Bag or Sturdy Fishing Cooler?
This will depend on how you will be getting to your fishing spot, how you will be fishing and how long your fishing excursion will last. For boat fishing and long fishing expeditions, a sturdy fishing cooler is a typical choice. You may prefer a portable bag if you’re going to be moving on foot a lot, kayak fishing or going on a short trip. Here are the pros and cons to weigh when deciding:
The advantages of a portable bag are that it is lightweight, compact and easy to carry on foot. The best can hold ice and keep your catch chilled and fresh all day. It may also have compartments so you can keep your refreshments separate from the fish. When not in use, it is easy to pack and store. The disadvantage is that a portable bag retains ice for a shorter period and doesn’t last as long as a sturdy ice chest.
The advantages of a sturdy fishing cooler are that it has excellent ice retention and can keep fish cold and fresh for days even when it is extremely hot. The best can hold ice intact for up to 10 days. It also has a rugged build and superior durability. The disadvantage is that it can be too heavy and cumbersome to carry. It also occupies a lot of storage space.
Sometimes the best option is to have both a portable bag and sturdy fishing cooler. You can leave the sturdy ice chest in your vehicle and carry the insulated fishing bag with you to the shore where you will be casting from.
Q: How To Clean My Fishing Cooler?
The best way to keep your fishing cooler clean and fresh is to drain it, rinse it and dry it as soon as you get home. If you notice there’s a sticky stink, here’s how to clean your cooler to get rid of the fishy smell:
Rinse your cooler thoroughly then clean it using a mixture of a tablespoon of dish soap and half cup baking soda and a sponge or brush to scrub. Spray it with a food-safe bleach. Rinse it after a few minutes and leave it open to dry.
Another way to get rid of odors is to spray the inside and outside of the cooler with a mixture of dish soap and chlorine, wait a few minutes then pressure rinse it with a hose and allow it to dry.
If you still detect an odor, repeat the process until it is gone.
Globo Surf Overview
In addition to a tackle storage system or tackle backpack, a fishing cooler is another essential storage system for every angler. The best portable ice chests, boat fishing coolers and heavy-duty marine coolers reviewed above are all top rated for their quality and cooling performance when angling. You can find your best fishing cooler whether that’s an ice chest fish box, a prtable fishing cooler or an insulated fishing bag in the list. You will then have a reliable way to keep your catch, bait and refreshments chilled and fresh.
More Fishing Reviews:
- Fish Tanks
- Fishing Line
- Hip Waders
- Fishing Line For Spinning Reels
- Daiwa Spinning Reel
- Bass Fishing Lines
- Largemouth Bass Lures
- Fishfinder Gps Combo
- Fish Scale
- Fishing Leader
More Coolers Reviews:
- Wheeled Coolers
- Small Cooler
- Soft Cooler
- Rtic Vs Yeti
- Orca Coolers Vs Yeti
- Beach Cooler
- Grizzly Coolers Vs Yeti
- Floating Cooler
- SUP Coolers
What is your go-to fishing cooler? Do you own any of the ice chests and insulated fishing bags reviewed above? How is its performance on the water? Share your experience in the comment box below