Worldwide Marinas & Marine Gear Guide

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Choose the Right Marine Cooler for Your Next Adventures!

Why is it essential to have a marine cooler on your boat? You need to keep food and beverages at proper temperatures. You don’t want to use the ‘fridge installed on the boat you rent because you don’t want to run down the battery. Further, you require a place to stash your catch and if you’re prolific, size will matter.

Marine Coolers come in so many sizes, you can pick the one that’s perfect for your most rugged adventure. Prices are all over the map, but we’ve chosen three to review that are within the same ballpark so you can weight each one’s merits based on features. These three are one of the best marine ice chests you can get in 2019.

First, however, before we dive into details, let’s briefly discuss some of the key criteria.

Best Coolers For Boat – What Can You Expect in 2020?

Marine coolers on today’s market are specifically designed to outperform regular coolers because they’re built to be abused. They keep contents fresh and maintain correct temperatures, even when left on deck for the day with sunlight beating down on them.

Salt water? No problem. And while you may not be out in the wilderness with your marine cooler, most are built to stay shut, even if curious bears attempt a look-see.

But what about other criteria?

When it comes to the crème de la crème, according to cooler experts at, the best coolers are those which offer more insulation (at least 2.5″, and 2″ on the lid), have the rotomolded body, and offer UV protection.

Those top boat coolers also tend to feature non-slip feets and when you want bragging rights following a particularly awesome catch, you can measure the size of your fish using markers on cooler lids. You can even sit on them.

You may spend a little more than you would for a regular cooler, but if you’re serious about your outdoor activities, it may not matter.

How to Choose the Right Marine Cooler for Your Needs?

  • Consider top quality and brand recognition if you’re a stickler for buying the best of the best.
  • Assess the optimal size you’ll need based on what you intend to bring along and what you intend to bring back.
  • Make sure the marine cooler you love will fit within the smallest boat you intend to pilot.
  • Will you venture out alone or bring others? Size matters. Especially if you’re providing beer for the crew.
  • Shape can determine how well contents remain at optimal temperatures, so do compare them when shopping.
  • Do you require a unit that can also serve as seating?
  • How much time do you spend on the water? The answer should play a big part in your buying decision.
  • Open seas equal nonstop motion. A wide base and solid feet could be essential.
  • What about your budget? Price points are all over the map. Do your homework to get the best deal.

Three Recommended Boat-Ready Coolers That Deserve Your Attention

The YETI Tundra 65

If this isn’t the first article you’ve read about this marine cooler, you know that it winds up at or near the top of critical reviews, earning “best choice” kudos and attention often triggered by this product’s rotomolded body. Belonging to the “hard cooler” category, the YETI Tundra is currently being fabricated in the U.S., so if your criteria demand domestic manufacture, check off this box.

yeti marine cooler
Yeti Tundra, Image:

Extra durable and ready to stand up to extreme assaults, the Tundra features T-Rex rubber latches for easy access, an efficient drain plug, interior trays that separate items, and a strong lid gasket. The Tundra’s can-to-ice capacity is 2:1 and the handles are made of rope and grooved plastic.

Expect excellent ice retention and a uniform interior temperature of 40-degrees that should give you up to 6 days of service. YETI is all about setting an industry-standard so if want extra reassurance, the 5-year warranty should delight you.

The RTIC 145 QT

RTIC is perhaps the most known alternative to YETI and indeed, at first blush, the RTIC 145 outer design could remind you of the YETI Tundra.

rtic cooler marine
RTIC Cooler

Feature-for-feature, this RTIC 145 gives YETI a run for its money. Product testers say the 145 keeps ice frozen solid for up to 10 days and the marine-grade rope/plastic handle attachments are almost identical to those found on the YETI. The RTIC’s hinge-and-latch system keeps things tightly closed, particularly if you decide to use the lid as a casting platform.

Thanks to the exterior rotomolded shape, the RTIC 145 with its non-slip feet helps stabilize the cooler during rough weather, and owners quickly grow attached to the freezer-style lid gasket, rapid-drain system, and rubber t-latches that stand up to anything you or the ocean throw its way.

Molded tie-down slots add a measure of security and the cooler’s hinges interlock so they won’t budge, no matter how rough things get on the water.

The IGLOO Marine Ultra Cooler

If just the IGLOO brand conjures up thoughts of life in the tundra, this 128-quart cooler, made in the U.S., may offer assurances you need that everything you put inside will stay at proper temperatures for up to 5 days thanks to its Ultratherm insulation.

igloo collection marine cooler
Igloo Marine Collection

Outside, UV protection from sun damage adds to this cooler’s long life. The IGLOO doesn’t come with as many bells and whistles as the YETI and RTIC, but the stain- and odor-resistant liner attracts shoppers who have been unsuccessful when trying to rid their old coolers of foul odors.

This IGLOO comes with a bonus cutting board, food tray, and fish-measuring ruler. IGLOO says this little feature “tells you if you should keep it or throw it back”! The drain plug is threaded for a tight hose hookup and easy draining.

Stainless steel screws resist corrosion and since this cooler is made to withstand harsh environments, you can take it on your most arduous journeys. Small details like the lid strap and hinged latch help secure contents, but it may be the 140, 12-oz. can capacity that wins your heart.

The Bottom Line

Although choosing the right cooler isn’t as complex as choosing a new boat, it’s better to devote some time to read tips, reviews, and recommendations before you go and spend a few hundred dollars.

We hope this article sheds a bit of light on how to choose an ice chest for your boat. Let us know what do you think about the three cooler choices we’ve made. Do you agree with us? Do you have other recommendations? Let us know.