Many, when considering a fishing cooler, immediately jump to a marine cooler. This is not always the best option, especially for those that like to kayak fish or fish from land. Insulated fish bags are more portable than standard hard sided coolers making them more applicable for many fishing situations. However, this is not to say that there are not some stellar roto molded coolers for fishing. If you’ll be fishing for days on end, you may want a cooler that can last up to 10 days. We can even confirm this is possible when we tested all coolers in 90°+ temperatures [our video results at bottom of post] Needless to say, some are better than others and this post will explain why..
Fish Cooler Bag Comparison
|Multiple Sizes: √||Multiple Sizes: √||Multiple Sizes: √||Multiple Sizes: √|
Jump To=> Fishing Cooler Reviews
What Makes a Good Fishing Cooler?
The answer to this question could be as broad as the best coolers available, all of which claim to be good hunting, camping coolers and fishing coolers. It depends on what your personal needs may be. Some people want for their fishing coolers to be lightweight first and foremost, while others prefer that they can hold ice in extremely hot conditions. Some people want a drain plug that is easy to use and will not soak the bed of their truck and still others simply want to keep their fish cold.
In other cases, people choose to skip the cooler and choose instead to have an insulated fish bag. These bags are lightweight, can hold ice all day, and keep your fish fresh. They are typically easy to wash, UV resistant, and easy to fold up and store.
Fish Bag vs Fish Cooler
Most coolers are bulky, especially if you want one large enough to hold a bunch of fish. They are most often made with hard plastics and on average 2” of insulation, and many times are roto molded. This can make larger coolers heavy to carry without a friend to help, especially when loaded down with enough ice as well as fish. A fish bag is typically made of a special type of foam and nylon webbing. They are able to keep fish fresh while maintaining very portable. With all of that being said, perhaps the best way to know the answer to which is best for you, may be to simply consider the pros and cons of choosing which is best, Fishing Coolers or Insulated Fish Bags?
Pros and Cons of a Fishing Cooler
Coolers are the traditional way to keep foods fresh and drinks cold while hunting, fishing, or camping out. Here are the pros and cons of even the best hunting and fishing coolers available.
- Variety of sizes available
- Can keep fish cold
- Versatile depending on your needs
- Holds Ice Longer (up to 10 days in our testing)
- Heavy when loaded
WATCH: How Long Can Kill Bags Hold Ice-Our Ice Mule Test Results
Pros and Cons of Fish Bags
Fishing bags are able to keep up with a cooler in most ways. However, they are not right for everyone.
- Easy to store
- Holds even larger fish
- Keeps fish cold and fresh
- Allows you to keep fish and beverages separated, without 2 coolers
- Small bags are unable to hold HUGE fish so best to start with a large bag or have 2.
- Can’t hold ice as long as roto molded coolers
Best Insulated Fish Bag Reviews
The Katchkooler II is one of the largest fish kill bags specifically designed for easy fishing trips. It measures 40”x 16”, has a full length YKK zipper with large zipper pulls, twill handles that are reinforced with tubing to make it comfortable to hold, easy to store, and easy to clean. It features high density close cell foam as the insulation and it is surrounded by waterproof fabric. Because this bag is so affordable, the Silver Horde is one of the most popular fish kill bags on the market.
This cooler is available in a variety of sizes, each one guaranteed to accommodate heavy duty use. This is because they are constructed with a fiber reinforced skin and a double layer of one inch insulation. Canyon offers the largest variety of sizes, and the single largest fish kill bag. Each bag comes with a lifetime warranty. Call Canyon bags offer heavy duty handles for easy carrying, will not leak regardless of whether you are storing bait or the biggest catch of the day. Available Canyon Sizes⇒
The Boone Bags are ideal for tournament fishermen because they promise to keep fish cold enough to avoid shrinkage. They are UV resistant, offer a double sided zipper, and 100% washable. Boone bags are made with a hook ‘n’ loop strap, heavy duty handles and thick closed cell foam to make them the perfect solution for anyone who is looking for a fishing bag that can hold all their fish. Boone Available Sizes⇒_________________________________
Reliable Fishing Kill Bags are available in a variety of sizes. These bags can hold fish for up to 24 hours with one twenty-five point block of ice. What makes these unique among the rest is the Gusseted bottom. In other words, these bags will sit flat on their bottoms. Although a seemingly minor difference, this can make a HUGE difference when trying to wrestle fish into a folding over/flopping bag. All sizes of Reliable Fishing Products resist mildew, odors and UV Rays. Another major difference between these bags and other kill bags is the presence of a drain plug. This makes clean up and draining easier and reducing the likelihood of making a mess on deck or back at the dock.
The C. E. Smith Tournament bag offers four hands, thus four people can help carry your huge catch. This bag comes with its’ own storage bag which is convenient when its its folded up and not in use. When folded up it hardly takes up any room on board. The corrosion resistant zipper ensures long lifespan.
Ice Mule is one of the most popular soft sided coolers. Ice Mule coolers are different from those above in the way that they close. These are a roll top design similar to a waterproof bag. Because they are truly waterproof, many people into kayak fishing use this cooler. The Pro Catch may be initially designed as a kayak cooler, but it was built with the intention of being used as a catch cooler as well. The Pro Catch Series comes in several sizes. We can confirm through our testing (our video results above) that all sizes can hold ice for 2.5+ Days. See available Pro Catch Sizes Here⇒
Top Fishing Cooler Reviews
If you are still unsure about the fishing bags, perhaps you would be better suited to a more traditional heavy duty cooler. We can confirm through our testing [see our video results below] that these coolers can last up to 10 days in extreme heat conditions. Roto molded coolers like those outlined below, are built to hold up to the bumps and bruises of the harsh marine environment. The warranty offered on these are a testament to the their durability. See our top picks for fishing coolers below.
|Manufacture Location, USA||Manufacture Location, Thailand|
|Build: Roto-Molded||Build: Roto-Molded|
|Certified Bear Proof||Certified Bear Proof|
|Pelican Models 20-250Q||Engel Deep Blue Series 25-320Q|
|Warranty: Limited Lifetime||Warranty: 3 Year|
|Holds Ice: Up To 10 Days|
*Our Video Below*
|Holds Ice: Up To 10 Days|
*Our Video Below*
|Read Full Review||Read Full Review|
Pelican advertises 10 days ice retention which is a bold statement. However, we have proven that this is true, the Pelican can last 10 Full Days. External temperatures and the frequency of opening the cooler will greatly impact ice retention times, which we address even more in this article.
This cooler offers extreme water tightness thanks to its freezer grade gasket which keeps the Polyethylene Plastic lid tight against the basket. Thanks to the 2” thick Polyethylene Insulation, ice retention is no challenge. The lock hasp is molded in and made of non-corrosive stainless steel hardware. It weighs in at 35.7 pounds and its dimensions are 27.4 x 20.2 x 19.5 inches. One of the best features of this cooler if the latch system. As opposed to most roto molded cooler which use a T-Latch, the Pelican uses Press & Push latches. These are some of the most durable latches we have tested. Last but not least is the impressive warranty. Pelican offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of their coolers. The Elite Series coolers comes in sizes ranging from 20Qt all the way up to 250Qt, which should suit almost any fishing boat.
WATCH: Pelican & Engel Last 10 Full Days
Engel coolers are our favorite all around cooler. Coming in a variety of sizes, from 25Qt up to 320 Qts, there will be larger cooler options with Engel when compared with Pelican. Engel also lasted a Full 10 Days when we matched it up with the Pelican. Engel offers their own unique latch system as well. What we like about this latch system, especially for fishing applications, is the fact that the latches are flush with the cooler body. This allows for the cooler to fit tight up against a gunnel or center console. See Engel Sizes Here⇒
If one of these coolers do not seem to meet with your specific fishing needs, perhaps you may also consider other standard coolers. Some of the most popular names in Fishing Coolers & Insulated Fish Bags include Yeti Coolers, Grizzly Coolers, Igloo, and a variety of other name brands that have all proven to be able to withstand the test of time. See our Full Cooler Comparison Chart for all cooler brands and sizes.