The 7 Best Fishing Cooler Reviews 2018 | Top Models Compared!
If you have caught a fish before, you have likely been off to the races to put it somewhere cool and fresh in the meantime while you still enjoy your day. When buying a fishing cooler, this is no longer a problem.
A dead fish, like any dead animal, will be sure to smell and attract flies over time, which is not what you need to happen when you either want to eat or sell the fish. While your catch might likely not survive for much longer, which is something that you prefer anyway, a fishing cooler will keep it refrigerated, cool and fresh.
Fishing coolers are portable, so once you catch the fish, you can clean it, put it in your nearby cooler and not have to worry about it until you go home.
In this article, we will be looking at seven of the top fishing coolers on the market today, as well as point out their strengths and flaws. They come from brands such as Coleman, Engel and Igloo. We will then determine which fishing cooler is the one that we recommend to you the most.
Coleman Coastal Xtreme Series Marine Portable Cooler
Igloo Quick and Cool Cooler (Editor's Choice)
Flip top lid
Coleman Excursion Cooler
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ENGEL USA Cooler/Dry Box, 19 Quart
Flip top lid
AO Coolers Water-Resistant Vinyl Soft Cooler
Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler
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Coleman 48-Quart Performance Cooler
Recommended 7 Best Fishing Cooler Reviews
1. Coleman Coastal Xtreme Marine Portable Cooler
Coleman’s first cooler is a great, big white cooler that spans about three inches across. Aside from fishing, it can be used to keep drinks cool for fishing trips, camping expeditions, parties and picnics. If you are using it for both occasions, just be sure to clean the cooler beforehand, or all your drinks will smell like fish.
The Coastal Xtreme is capable of keeping content cold in outside temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for a span of six days. Even the lid provides professional insulation. Its strong insulation keeps cold in and blocks heat out. When fishing, you can keep your catch inside this cooler for days.
With its large size, this cooler can store much different fish at once. While fish vary greatly in size and shape, we don’t really have an exact number for fish. It can however store up to 200 beverage cans. Even if you decide to fill the cooler half with cans and half with ice, you will still be thrilled at how much room there is.
When transporting and carrying this cooler, it will hardly ever leak. As it traps the cold in, it traps in water too. The Coastal Xtreme comes with a threaded drain leading to the bottom of the cooler for water that melts, and it will not leave a puddle underneath. This makes the fishing cooler easier to clean.
While the lids on some coolers don’t really serve as a place for people to sit on, this one does. It can support the weight of anybody up to 250 pounds. Additionally, it has four holders to put cans.
Even though the Xtreme Coastal can keep things cold inside, the problem that some consumers have is that it keeps them at a temperature warm enough to the point that ice will still melt. In this respect, it works just like any old cooler that you might already own.
2. Igloo Quick and Cool Cooler
Igloo’s fishing coolers are more on the affordable side, but they still cool fish and other items quite well. It is all one solid white color. It measures 43 inches across and weighs only two pounds. From what we can tell, this cooler can also cool drinks in addition to fish.
The Quick and Cool cooler is known to be insulated with “Ultratherm” insulation, this is their idea of strong insulation, so that the cold stays in and warmth stays out. The exterior is made of a tough polyethylene, so there is an extra layer of security for your cold, fresh fish. The insulation is also resistant to stain and odors.
This cooler makes opening and closing a breeze. It has a quick access hatch that allows you to open the lid, take something out or put something in, and close it back up in quick, effortless motions. With regular cooler lids, opening the Quick and Cool cooler will likely break up the cold temperature from inside. The lid on the hatch has four cup holders, as well.
This cooler does not have an internal reservoir for melted water to go, but you can connect it to a hose, so that you can direct all the water to a place that isn’t in your car, on a walkway or a porch.
Despite the efforts on making the quick release latch and the lid as greatly done as possible, removing these parts from the Quick and Cool cooler is surprisingly easy, whether you intended to remove them or not. When you break the lid off from the cooler, you won’t be able to restore the hinges unless you have some great expertise on the matter.
3. Coleman Excursion Cooler
Right off the bat, this second cooler by Coleman is small. If you are looking to catch big fish, they will not fit inside of this cooler. It only has enough room to store one medium-sized fish or a few small fish at a time. It is a little bit over two feet across and weighs 4.4 pounds. It is available in red or blue colors; both have white lids.
Even though this is a heavy cooler for it being so small, most of the weight is dedicated to its insulation. The properties of its insulation are excellent, with ice staying cool for a number of days. Although this is also partly due to being a smaller cooler overall. Smaller coolers often keep items colder for longer.
The Excursion cooler washes easily, thanks to its “EZ clean” lid. No cleaning products are needed to keep this cooler clean, just a hose with a constant stream of water for about two minutes.
The handle on the Excursion cooler flips overhead, making it easier to carry than larger coolers that have two smaller handles; one on each side. Picking it up is easy, and so is carrying it around and storing it.
But of course, it is so small compared to other coolers in this review. Sometimes, that isn’t a bad thing, though. If you don’t like to or don’t expect to catch that many fish, it can be a good idea to save your money and get a cooler like this.
4. ENGEL USA Cooler/Dry Box, 19 Quart
This cooler from Engel has a couple of innovative features. For one, it looks more like an unusually shaped suitcase rather than a conventional cooler. It is available in tan, white or grey. It weighs 6.6 pounds and measures over 16 and a half inches across. This is just slightly bigger than the Excursion Cooler.
This cooler comes with a white dry box. If you need to keep something cool but dry, you can put it in this box where no ice will go. It will stay cool, but not necessarily as cold as putting it in a bag of ice, obviously. Of course, the dry box can be removed, so that you can have more room for fish and ice.
There is guaranteed to have no leaks. This is a professional and custom built cooler. Even if you chuck it in the lake, you are sure to open it up and find no water inside.
The lid closes with two snap latches, which gives it that feel of a traditional travel suitcase. It has one overhead handle so that you can pick it up by yourself.
This cooler is resistant to stain and odors, meaning that if you put a fish in this cooler, you will be a thousand percent sure that it will not smell.
Despite all that it can do, their asking price on it is moderately steep. They can argue that it’s a high quality cooler that comes with a dry box, but it is still a small cooler.
5. AO Coolers Water-Resistant Vinyl Soft Cooler
This cooler from AO is not like the rest of the coolers in this review. It is rather a vinyl bag. This bag comes in white, black and royal blue. It weighs almost four pounds, and is about 21 inches long. It can keep items cool for up to 24 hours in the 120-degree outdoor heat.
The Vinyl Soft Cooler is resistant to mildew, so that ice stays in form, does not melt and does not get dirty. The advantage that vinyl bags have over plastic coolers is that they are more comfortable to carry around. This bag in particular can hold up to 20 pounds of ice. This bag comes with a shoulder strap so that you can carry it easier.
If you need to toss something in or pull something out rather quickly, you can zip it partly open in order to do either task. There is no need to remove any lids and risk getting too much warmth inside the bag.
Another advantage that vinyl has over plastic is that it has many different pockets and compartments that plastic coolers simple do not come with. The Vinyl Soft Cooler comes with a side pocket to keep certain items cool, yet dry.
This bag is lined with five different layers: Vinyl coating, polyethylene film, polyurethane foam, polyester sheeting and then a leak-proof liner, making water very difficult to seep out of the bottom.
The one thing that we do not like about the Vinyl Soft Cooler is that it is not actually waterproof. What they mean by waterproof is that it can take splashes, but that’s pretty much it. This bag will absorb a lot of outside water and keep it in, and that is not really what any bag owner wants in a cooler.
6. Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler
This second of Igloo’s coolers are great for boating excursions. This cooler weighs 8.6 pounds and measures 18.4 inches across. It is an arctic grey in color.
This version of the Marine Ultra cooler has a pair of small wheels and a retractable handle. With the ability to roll this cooler across the ground, you don’t need to pick it up, unless you are moving it into a van or up a set of stairs. The tires are also made of rubber and are slip-resistant, so they will always work as intended.
The Marine ultra cooler cleans easily with just water from a hose. If you opt to use soap to clean the cooler off, it will take to it very kindly with no trouble.
This cooler has a layer of insulation, and its small size helps to keep items colder for longer. Ice has also been tested to keep its form for up to five whole days.
Its outer protective exterior can take a beating and still function normally. It can also keep away mold and mildew. Mold can be easily found in warm, wet places, but never expect mold to show up here at all.
The one problem that we have experienced is that the wheel can be removed. They are just clipped on, which means nothing can really stop them from coming off on their own, such as a bump on a sidewalk. We were hoping for wheels that while could be easily removed, could still stay on the cooler easier.
7. Coleman 48-Quart Performance Cooler
This last cooler is from Coleman, it looks like your typical, run-of-the-mill cooler. It is available in pine green, red, blue and white colors. It weighs seven pounds and is 25 inches wide. In addition to storing fish, it can also store drinks.
It can keep items cold for as long as three days. It is housed with “Thermozone insulation” which keeps hot air out and cool air in. The inside of the cooler is also immune to leaks or rust, so it will always work and always be safe to use.
Cleaning this cooler is fairly easy as well. Just clean the inside with a garden hose and you are good to go. Using soap in this cooler is also preferable and will not harm the cooler or its contents later on. The lid can also be wiped clean easily.
Like the first Coleman fishing cooler, this cooler has a lid that also acts as a seat. Unlike the first cooler, though, it does not come with any cup or can holders.
This cooler also comes with a drain that will not leak, so you are not left with carrying pounds of water by the end of your excursion.
The one thing that we wish were better on this cooler was its handles. They are light, flimsy pieces of plastic that have the probability of coming off if you are carrying the cooler with too much weight inside of it. The handles are simply not built to last, and that is a real disappointment when you rely on them to help you carry the cooler.
How To Choose The Right Fishing Cooler
If you are not sure what to look for in a best fishing cooler, here are some qualities that will vary in each cooler that you would consider.
How much space do you need? You would like to have enough room in your cooler for your fish, in addition to bait, drinks and other items that you need to stay cool. When it comes to coolers, the more ice you can put inside, the better. There are many coolers that are small, so depending on the size of fish you are looking to catch, go with a cooler that that fish can fit inside of easily.
The performance in a cool equates to how long it can cool items before caving into the heat outside. Some coolers can endure the heat for several days at a time, while other coolers can only last for a number of hours. The better the performance of a cooler is, it generally costs more than most of the other coolers. Most of these coolers do so with proper insulation, so that heat stays out and cold air stays in.
If you are expecting to take your cooler to the shore or on a boat with you, then you will need it to be waterproof. The items in your cooler must be protected by rain, tides and freak accidents like going overboard. There is no real cooler that can protect items from water submersions over a lengthy period of time, but you still would like one that can keep lots of unneeded water out.
When it comes to buying a cooler, the more expensive one is usually the better ones, but that doesn’t mean we have not seen our share of rip-offs on the market. The more expensive coolers are usually bigger, come with added features and provide easy and effective solutions or water inside and/or out. It is also important to consider what you would use the cooler for, so if you can also see yourself using the cooler for parties and other events, it is an investment that is worth pursuing.
If you were to buy one of these best fishing coolers, we suggest that you buy the Igloo Quick and Cool Cooler. With a 150-quart capacity, you have a cooler that is large enough to hold multiple large fish.
We love using this cooler since it can keep items cold for a certain amount of time, in addition to having a place to drain out all the melted water, so that you are not left with a cooler full of water.
The quick access hatch is also a plus, since you are not required to open the entire lid. With enough space and a couple of useful features, the Quick and Cool cooler from Igloo is our most recommended for fishing trips.