Best Floating Coolers for Kayaking – Our Top 5 in 2021

Coolers Gear

If you’re looking for floating coolers for kayaking, we have some great options for you that are definitely worth considering.

While regular coolers may not float, there are coolers out there specifically designed to work on the water.You may be wondering; Are they reliable? Can you trust that they won’t deflate or float away from you on the water? And will they really keep your drinks cool all day? We’ll address all of these questions, and give you our top 5 recommendations too.

The bottom line up front: we like the Brantics Floating Cooler. It’s a good all-rounder, with a small capacity that will work well for 1-2 people.

We also like:

We’ll be looking at:

  • What a floating cooler for kayaking is
  • What to look for if you want to buy a floating cooler
  • Our top 5 picks, including their key features, pros and cons
  • Frequently asked questions, including some safety tips
  • Which coolers we like the best, and why

Let’s start by seeing how our top floating coolers for kayaking compare to each other!

The Best Floating Coolers for Kayaking Compared

Feature
Good All-Rounder
Best Value
Most Durable
Best Ice Retention
Easy to Clean
Model
Brantics Floating Cooler
Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler
Hydro-Force Glacial Sport Cooler
WOW World of Watersports Inflatable Heavy-Duty Floating Cooler
TRC Recreation Super-Soft Floating Cooler
Floating Cooler - Perfect Beach Cooler, Pool Cooler, Kayak Cooler & More | This Inflatable Cooler is The Ultimate Floating Drink Cooler & Beer Cooler | Inflatable Beer Cooler & Boat Cooler
Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler
Hydro-Force Glacial Sport Cooler 43191E
WOW World of Watersports Float Fridge 30 Can Capacity Inflatable Cooler, 11-2000
TRC Recreation 8841042 Super Soft Floating Cooler, 23" x 17" x 9.5" - Fierce Green
Weight
1.98 Pounds (0.98 Kilograms)
3.1 Pounds (1.40 Kilograms)
2.60 Pounds (1.18 Kilograms)
6.17 Pounds (2.8 Kilograms)
14.55 Pounds (6.6 Kilograms)
Material
Vinyl
Vinyl
Vinyl
PVC
Vinyl-Coated Foam
Capacity
12 Cans
30 Cans
49 Liters (12.9 Gallons)
30 Cans
18 Cans
-
-
-
63 Reviews
518 Reviews
118 Reviews
184 Reviews
5 Reviews
Feature
Good All-Rounder
Model
Brantics Floating Cooler
Floating Cooler - Perfect Beach Cooler, Pool Cooler, Kayak Cooler & More | This Inflatable Cooler is The Ultimate Floating Drink Cooler & Beer Cooler | Inflatable Beer Cooler & Boat Cooler
Weight
1.98 Pounds (0.98 Kilograms)
Material
Vinyl
Capacity
12 Cans
63 Reviews
Feature
Best Value
Model
Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler
Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler
Weight
3.1 Pounds (1.40 Kilograms)
Material
Vinyl
Capacity
30 Cans
-
518 Reviews
Feature
Most Durable
Model
Hydro-Force Glacial Sport Cooler
Hydro-Force Glacial Sport Cooler 43191E
Weight
2.60 Pounds (1.18 Kilograms)
Material
Vinyl
Capacity
49 Liters (12.9 Gallons)
118 Reviews
Feature
Best Ice Retention
Model
WOW World of Watersports Inflatable Heavy-Duty Floating Cooler
WOW World of Watersports Float Fridge 30 Can Capacity Inflatable Cooler, 11-2000
Weight
6.17 Pounds (2.8 Kilograms)
Material
PVC
Capacity
30 Cans
-
184 Reviews
Feature
Easy to Clean
Model
TRC Recreation Super-Soft Floating Cooler
TRC Recreation 8841042 Super Soft Floating Cooler, 23" x 17" x 9.5" - Fierce Green
Weight
14.55 Pounds (6.6 Kilograms)
Material
Vinyl-Coated Foam
Capacity
18 Cans
-
5 Reviews

What is a Floating Cooler for Kayaking?

Inflatable Floating Cooler for Kayaking

A floating cooler for kayaking is as it sounds – a cooler that floats alongside you! They usually have a grommet, which allows you to thread a rope through to safely attach your cooler to your kayak, meaning you won’t have to worry about losing it.

Floating coolers are usually inflatable (although not always), meaning you can deflate them and store them neatly away when not in use. They allow you to keep food and drinks cold for a day out on the water, and usually come with cup holders, so you can balance your water bottles or cans safely.

Floating coolers for kayaking can be used for any kind of water sport, or if you want something convenient for lounging around in the pool all day.

What to Look for in a Floating Cooler for Kayaking

What should you look for when you’re buying a new floating cooler for kayaking? Here’s everything you need to know:

Durability and Materials

Vinyl Floating Cooler for Kayaking

Floating coolers tend to be made from either vinyl or foam. Both are strong, tough materials that can withstand a lot of use without getting punctured. Look for a floating cooler with a repair patch included just in case the worst happens and you need to quickly take care of a puncture.

You can also look for a cooler with multiple air chambers. This means that if there is a puncture in 1 area, it should only affect 1 chamber – the other chambers will keep your cooler afloat until you can fix it.

Foam floating Cooler for Kayaking

Foam coolers can float, but they don’t require inflation. The downside to foam coolers is that they can’t be collapsed after use, but on the flip side, you can just grab them and go without worrying about inflating them.

Look for coolers with tough handles and zippers – these components will get a lot of use, and you don’t want them to snap or break while you’re out on the water.

Capacity

Floating Cooler for Kayaking full of drinks

Capacity is either measured in cans, or liters. Floating coolers for kayaks vary in sizes, from a cooler suitable for 2 people, all the way through to a large cooler big enough for a group. The larger the cooler, the heavier it will be to carry, and the longer it will take to inflate or carry.

Ice Retention

Melting Ice cubes with water drops on a table

Unlike a rotomolded cooler, floating coolers are not going to perform as well in terms of ice retention. This means that you can expect ice to melt by the end of the day (by comparison, some cooler brands, like YETI or Pelican, can keep ice for several days). Out in hot weather, your ice may begin to melt fairly quickly. That’s why it’s important to eat your perishables fairly early on. You should expect your drinks to be cold right until the end of the day though.

Ease of Use

man nflating a pool air mattress with a hand held electric pump

Look for a cooler that is really easy to inflate and deflate. Some take longer than others, so if it’s important to you that you can collapse your cooler quickly after use, look for a cooler that specifies this.

Some coolers are easier to clean than others, too. If you’re going for a foam cooler, look for a cooler that is coated in material (like vinyl) to make it really easy to wipe down afterward. (Check out the Kitchn’s guide on How to Clean a Dirty Cooler for more tips.)

Attachment Point

Floating Cooler attached to kayak

You will require an attachment point on your cooler, so you can safely anchor it to your kayak. This is usually a reinforced grommet, which you can thread a rope through. 

Extra Features

Kelsyus Floating Cooler for Kayaking

Most floating coolers for kayaking come with built-in cup holders – these are molded into the sides, meaning you can quickly grab your water bottle without having to search around inside the main cooler every time you get thirsty. Some also come with snack holders, which is a nice touch.

Top 5 Best Floating Coolers for Kayaking

Now, let’s take a look at our top 5 floating coolers for kayaking, including their key features, pros, and cons.

Brantics Floating Cooler – Good All-Rounder

Floating Cooler - Perfect Beach Cooler, Pool Cooler, Kayak Cooler & More | This Inflatable Cooler is The Ultimate Floating Drink Cooler & Beer Cooler | Inflatable Beer Cooler & Boat Cooler

Key Features

  • Color: Sky Blue and White
  • Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 12 Inches (60.96 x 60.96 x 30.48)
  • Materials: Vinyl
  • Capacity: 12 Cans
  • Weight: 1.98 Pounds (0.98 Kilograms)

The Brantics Floating Cooler is a versatile cooler ideal for lounging in the pool as well as for use during water sports, like kayaking. It can hold up to 12 cans, plus a 10 pound (4.53 kilogram) bag of ice. This should be enough to keep you well hydrated for the day.

It’s a robust cooler, made from tough vinyl. It has 3 air chambers, so if 1 were to burst, the other 2 will keep the cooler afloat, but it also comes with a repair patch, too. The cooler keeps the contents pretty cold, although the zipper could be improved – it could do with being a bit tougher to ensure it doesn’t break during use.

It has a molded rope grommet that allows you to tie it to your kayak or boat. It has 4 plastic cup holders on the outside for you to rest your current drink, which is great as it stops you from having to keep opening the cooler area.

It’s easy to use, with simple instructions, and it’s lightweight to carry, too.

Pros

  • Made from tough vinyl
  • Includes 3 air chambers
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Zipper could be stronger
Check Price

Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler – Best Value

Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler

Key Features

  • Color: Blue
  • Dimensions: 35 Inch Diameter (88.9 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Vinyl
  • Capacity: 30 12oz. Cans
  • Weight: 3.1 Pounds (1.40 Kilograms)

The Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler is a great value cooler, with a large capacity. It can hold up to 30 12 oz. cans, which is a good size if you want to take a cooler to share with friends. 

It’s made from tough vinyl, with durable grab handles, and it includes a repair patch. It also has 3 air chambers, meaning if 1 pops, the others will keep it going. The downside is that ice may melt more quickly than you would like, which is fine for drinks and snacks, but it means you’ll have to eat your perishables fairly early on in the day.

It has 2 snack trays and 5 outer cup holders, which means you won’t have to keep dipping in and out of your cooler to grab your drink. It also has a connector system allowing you to connect it to other floats by the same brand. This can be used to tether the cooler to your kayak or boat too.

It’s easy to inflate, and it’s pretty lightweight.

Pros

  • Easy to inflate
  • Tough and durable
  • Large capacity

Cons

  • Ice retention could be improved
Check Price

Hydro-Force Glacial Sport Cooler – Most Durable

Hydro-Force Glacial Sport Cooler 43191E

Key Features

  • Color: Orange and Gray
  • Dimensions: 34.65 x 26.38 x 20.47 Inches (88.01 x 67 x 51.99 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Vinyl
  • Capacity: 49 Liters (12.9 Gallons)
  • Weight: 2.60 Pounds (1.18 Kilograms)

The Hydro-Force Glacial Sport Cooler is a durable, tough cooler. It has a 49 liter (12.9 gallon) capacity – that’s a pretty good size for a day out for 2 people.

It’s made from vinyl, which is super-thick and puncture-resistant. It has reinforced handles that can withstand a lot of use. However, it won’t keep ice for a full day. This is something to keep in mind if you are transporting perishable food – it will need to be eaten early in the day. It should keep drinks cold all day long though.

The cooler has 4 built-in cup holders, and it can be easily tied to your kayak. It also comes with a patch repair kit in case of punctures. 

It’s really fast and easy to inflate, too.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Includes cup holders

Cons

  • Ice retention could be better
Check Price

WOW World of Watersports Inflatable Heavy-Duty Floating Cooler – Best Ice Retention

WOW World of Watersports Float Fridge 30 Can Capacity Inflatable Cooler, 11-2000

Key Features

  • Color: Red and White
  • Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 6 Inches (40.64 x 35.56 x 15.24 Centimeters)
  • Materials: PVC
  • Capacity: 30 Cans
  • Weight: 6.17 Pounds (2.8 Kilograms)

The WOW World of Watersports Inflatable Heavy-Duty Floating Cooler is a good floating cooler for ice retention. It has a 30-can capacity, which is a decent amount if you want to share some drinks with friends.

It’s made from tough PVC, with tough tote-style handles. The thick walls, double-layered padding on the bottom, and strong zipper mean that the contents of the cooler will stay cool all day.

It has 4 built-in cup holders, and a grommet to attach to your kayak. 

It’s designed to inflate and deflate very quickly, which is great. The downside is that the thick material makes it heavier to carry, at 6.17 pounds (2.8 kilograms) when empty.

Pros

  • Durable and tough
  • Good ice retention
  • Quick to inflate/deflate

Cons

  • Heavy to carry
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TRC Recreation Super Soft Floating Cooler – Easy to Clean

TRC Recreation 8841042 Super Soft Floating Cooler, 23' x 17' x 9.5' - Fierce Green

Key Features

  • Color: Green
  • Dimensions: 23 x 17 x 9.5 Inches (58.42 x 43.18 x 24.18 Centimeters)
  • Materials: Vinyl-Coated Foam
  • Capacity: 18 Cans
  • Weight: 14.55 Pounds (6.6 Kilograms)

The TRC Recreation Super Soft Floating Cooler looks a little different than the others on this list, but it’s a stylish cooler that is easy to keep clean. It has an 18-can capacity, so it won’t keep you and a bunch of friends hydrated all day, but it would work well for 1-2 people.

This cooler is made from foam, which is coated with vinyl. This makes it look glossy, and also has the benefit of being easy to clean. It has foam insulation and does a pretty good job at keeping ice all day long.

The cooler has 2 built-in cup holders and strong handles for carrying. It has a grommet at the front so you can attach it to your kayak.

The cooler doesn’t require inflating, which is great – you can just grab it and go. The downside of this is, of course, it takes up a bit more room than the other coolers when not in use, as you can’t collapse it down.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Good ice retention
  • Strong handles

Cons

  • Doesn’t collapse down when not in use
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Frequently Asked Questions

Before you go, here are some frequently asked questions about floating coolers for kayaking:

How can I repair a puncture?

tube puncture repair tool kit

Most inflatable floating coolers come with a puncture repair patch – essentially, you stick this on over the puncture to keep it going.

You can also buy vinyl patches to cover up punctures that work in the same way. It’s worth getting these if your cooler doesn’t come with a free patch. We like the 10 Piece Self-Adhesive PVC Repair Patches as they are really easy to use.

Can I use a regular cooler with a floating cooler?

Man carring a YETI wheeled cooler on a bridge

No. Floating coolers are designed to be used by themselves, and may not be able to take the weight (or size) of a regular hard-sided cooler. You could try looking for a cooler float – this allows you to take your regular cooler out onto the water. We like the – Ozark Trail is a good brand, and this is a reliable, durable cooler float.

How can I make ice last longer?

ice cubes in a package

There are a few things you can do to make ice last longer in your cooler. The main objective is to pack your cooler as tightly as possible with ice – the more ice, the better! Smaller ice works well here as it will fit around cans and bottles, filling in any little gaps.

You can check out our guide on how long ice lasts in a cooler here, and you can get more information from Real Simple in their guide on How to Keep Your Ice From Melting in a Cooler. Not all of the tips will be applicable for a floating cooler, but you can get some advice that still works for all types of coolers.

How can I safely attach my cooler to my kayak?

Woman kayaking with a Floating Cooler

Straps, ropes, and bungee cords can be used to thread through the grommet on your cooler. This can then be attached behind the seat. You can use bungees like Huono Elastic Bungee Cord which is nice and tough.

It’s worth practicing this before taking your cooler out in choppy waters! You can find more kayaking safety tips from Ocean Kayak if you want to know more.

Are there any food safety tips I need to know?

Thermal bag and container with salad, meat and orange.

Yes! The FDA has some advice on handling food safely which goes into this in more detail. It’s important to consume perishable goods earlier in the day before your ice melts too much. It’s also worth being extra careful with meat, fish, and dairy. The USDA goes into this in more detail in their guide on How to Pack a Cooler to Prevent Food Poisoning.

To Sum Up … Which Floating Cooler for Kayaking is Best?

Woman kayaking with a Floating Cooler in the back

We really like the Brantics Floating Cooler. While it has a small capacity, it’s perfect for a few hours out on the water, and it has built-in cup holders. It’s durable and pretty good in terms of cooling power.

If you want something with a bigger capacity, you could check out the Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler. It’s ideal for larger groups with 2 snack trays and drink holders.

If you want something different, you could go for the TRC Recreation Super Soft Floating Cooler, which is a foam cooler. It can’t be collapsed down, but it’s a nice bright color (so you won’t lose sight of it!) and it’s durable and easy to clean. Plus, you won’t have to worry about punctures.

If this has helped you to find the perfect floating cooler for kayaking, please share it online with your friends. We’d also love to hear your thoughts. Are you tempted by any of these coolers? Do you have some tips on how to keep your drinks cool out on the water? Let us know in the comments!