Are you looking for the best marine cooler for the money?
You’re in the right place.
We searched high and low for the best coolers for boating, ones that gave good ice retention and had long-lasting durability. They also needed to provide all the extra features marine-lovers need, like anti-skid feet.
In the end, we found six that met our requirements. Whether you’re an avid angler or just enjoy cruising the lake, one of these marine coolers is sure to fit your needs. We even provide a quick buyer’s guide, so you’ll know what each feature really means.
The Igloo Marine Grade Cooler features a 50-quart capacity and “Ultratherm” insulation that promises up to 4 days of ice retention. It’s ideal for fishing thanks to a food-grade liner and silicone gasket lid.
On top of that, this model features non-skid feet to keep the cooler in place, even in rough seas. The feet also elevate the cooler slightly. That little bit of elevation goes a long way in keeping heat absorption at bay, thereby keeping ice intact.
With dual drainage, restocking, and draining, this ice chest is a breeze. Plus, Igloo is a trusted cooler brand. You can trust them to provide a quality product.
For the non-fishers out there, this cooler might be too much. It has a lot of features that recreational boaters won’t take advantage of, and you are paying for the extra features. Leave this cooler for all the anglers out there. Consider a different cooler on this list if you’re boating without a fishing rod.
- Four days of ice retention
- Food grade lining
- Anti-skid feet
- Unnecessary features for recreational boating
The Engel High-Performance Cooler (ENG35) is a straightforward recreational cooler made with boating and camping in mind. It features bear-resistant construction, so you can be sure no unexpected visitors steal your food. It also promises up to 10 days of ice retention, which is remarkable.
Engel is an affordable brand that doesn’t sacrifice quality. Though their coolers have little in the way of fancy features, they work marvelously. This roto-molded cooler is both rugged and durable. It easily doubles as a seat in the boat, and the lid is non-slip so that you can cast off it.
Engel also features non-skid feet and a tapered interior for easy draining. The only downside to this cooler is its sealing mechanism. The cooler uses locks to shut the lid and create a seal, but those locks can easily break off. If that happens, there’s no way to keep the cooler shut.
- Ten days of ice retention
- Sturdy, non-slip lid
- Tapered interior for easy draining
- Lid uses locks to seal, and the locks are a little flimsy
The 55-quart roto-molded Ice Vault by Blue Coolers is an excellent choice for boaters of all types. With a 2:1 ice ratio, this cooler can hold up to 48 cans of your favorite beverage, which is enough to get most party’s started.
It offers ten days of ice retention and comfortable handles for moving from the car to the boat. On top of that, this cooler has anti-skid feet, a locking lid, and a rapid-drainage system.
A sturdy ice chest like this comes with one problem. It’s heavy, even when empty. If it’s full, it will definitely take two full-grown humans to move. And, like all good marine coolers, it doesn’t have wheels. You wouldn’t want it rolling around on the boat!
- Holds up to 48 cans
- Up to 10-day ice retention
- Comfortable handles
- Heavy construction, even when completely empty
For recreational boaters, the Coleman Coastal Extreme Marine Cooler is ideal. Unlike marine coolers designed for fishers, this cooler doesn’t have a locking lid or food-grade liner.
However, the lack of a locking lid might not be a bad thing in some situations. This lid seals the second you close it, making it great for families and large groups. It also has cup holders built into the lid, creating a very convenient extra seat on the boat.
The Coleman Coastal is also affordable, but that doesn’t mean it won’t last. As long as you store this cooler indoors between trips, it should make it a long time.
Here’s the catch; these coolers have lids that aren’t entirely rain-proof. In a storm, or left out to the elements, a cooler like this may let water inside with your food.
- Self-sealing lid
- Built-in cup holders
- Very affordable
- No locks on lid
- Not entirely weather-proof
The Yeti Tundra 35 Cooler is small but mighty. It’s light enough for one person to carry but can still fit up to 20 cans with ice. It also boasts “PermaFrost” insulation, which means they inject polyurethane foam into the walls and lid. It should keep your ice solid for several days.
Yeti coolers are known for durability, and this model doesn’t disappoint. It can easily double as a seat thanks to its “FatWall” design which is also entirely bear-resistant.
Yeti coolers aren’t cheap, but they stand up to years of use and even abuse. Even though this one is small and costs a fair amount, it’s a good investment overall.
- Holds up to 20 cans, despite small size
- Durable design
- One person can carry
- Smaller capacity than most marine coolers
If you’re looking for a giant cooler, one that can hold everything you need for your next boating trip, the Coleman 150-quart chest may be your best option. It holds 252 cans at a 2:1 ice ratio!
Of course, it can also easily house the catch of the day. Its colossal capacity is complemented by an antimicrobial liner. There’s no risk of mold or mildew in this cooler. Beyond that, this boat-friendly ice chest features extra wall insulation. It promises to keep ice solid for up to five days in temperatures up to 90 degrees.
Of course, the downside to this cooler is its size. Not every boat can fit a chest that’s nearly 43″ long and 22″ wide. If your boat can fit it, though, it makes an excellent bench seat. It’s rust-resistant and coated in UV guard for durability.
- Holds 252 cans
- Antimicrobial liner resists mold and mildew
- Five-day ice retention in up to 90-degree heat
- Too large for many boats
Must-Have Marine Cooler Features
When buying a marine cooler, there are a few essential considerations to make. Sound insulation and a large enough storage capacity are givens, but there are other factors to think about too. Let’s zoom in on a few of them.
If you’re on a multi-day fishing or camping trip, you’re going to have to restock your cooler regularly with ice, no matter how much insulation the cooler provides. Each time you reload, you’ll probably want to drain some of the melted ice from the bottom of the cooler.
So, accessible drainage tabs are vital. Having two of them, one on each side, is ideal.
Rubber Feet or Bottoms
Rubber feet or a rubber bottom aren’t required for a great marine cooler, but it is a nice feature.
Rubber creates friction which will keep your cooler from sliding around the boat. Of course, usually, there’s enough weight in the cooler to keep sliding from being a problem, but on the off chance there isn’t, a rubber bottom is excellent.
You wear non-marking shoes on your boat, and you probably make all your guests wear them too. So why would you put a cooler on your boat that can leave scuffs all over its pretty interior?
If you care about the look for your boat’s surfaces, seek out a cooler with non-marking feet. It’ll keep the scuffs and scratches away, even if the cooler slides or shifts.
More often than not, a cooler acts as an extra bench seat on a boat. Make sure you purchase a structurally strong cooler. It should be able to support the weight of an average adult who may need to use it as a bench.
Any metal component on a marine cooler needs to be corrosion resistant. The last thing you want is corroded metal hinges. Coolers aren’t the most expensive boat accessory, but they’re not exactly cheap. It would be a bummer to have to throw yours away after one season because it couldn’t handle the elements.
Alternatively, seek out a cooler that uses solely hard plastic. It won’t rust or corrode in the sun and surf.
Finding the best marine cooler for the money has to do with your needs. Maybe you want colossal capacity, like the Coleman 150 quart can offer. Or perhaps something smaller with excellent ice retention, like the Yeti Tundra, is what you need. Either way, the right cooler exists. We hope we helped you find it.