Many looking for a marine or fishing cooler get hung up on ice retention times. However, when it comes to a quality cooler that can hold up to regular uses in a harsh marine environment, ice retention times should only be one deciding factor among many. We have outlined those below and in (Our Ice Test Videos Below).
However, we also realize that many are short on time and ultimately only care how long a cooler they are looking to purchase can hold ice. Therefore, we have included the results of our Ultimate Ice Challenge below. This ice challenge is our most sophisticated ice challenge to date which came about as a result of what our over 1.8 million viewers have asked to see. The table below is sortable so you can value cooler based on price, ice retention, etc.
Marine Grade Ice Chest Retention Times
|Cooler||Ice Held||Ice Retention||Price|
|ORCA Coolers 58Q||50 lbs|
|Engel Deep Blue 50Q||42 lbs|
|Yeti Tundra 45(37Q)||33 lbs|
|Pelican ProGear 45Q||39 lbs|
|Igloo Sportsman 40Q||39 lbs|
|Grizzly Coolers 40Q-White||39 lbs|
|Grizzly Coolers 40Q- Tan||39 lbs|
|Pelican Tailgating 55Q||45 lbs|
Why Choose a Marine Cooler?
The last thing you want in a cooler is one that will warp/crack after prolonged exposure to the sun. We have personally seen lids warp and bubble on some cheaper model. Marine coolers are built to take the extreme conditions of boating. They are rust resistant, slip proof, and UV protected. They offer a lot more insulation than standard coolers. Some may even have a commercial grade gasket lid to keep the hot summer heat out. Some have rulers on the lid to help you measure out the fish you have caught. Best of all many are able to resist odors that fish can sometimes leave behind in other coolers.
Fish Kill Bag Option
Another option that many are turning to (especially those kayak fishing and tournament fishing) are fish kill bag coolers. This take up significantly less room when compared to larger hard sided coolers. However, these won’t hold ice nearly as long, and are only available up to certain sizes. See the popular sizes and brands on our Fish Bag Cooler Post⇒
How to Find the Best Marine Cooler
One thing you definitely want to know before you buy a marine cooler is how long it is rated to hold ice for. You will want a cooler that holds ice for as long as you’ll need, whether it is a day or a week. Luckily for you, we have already conducted a myriad of tests and have ranked just about all coolers available (see table above).
Do you want a cooler stable and solid enough for you to sit on and use as an extra chair or casting platform? This could also be an important factor in your decision. This would mean nonskid and perhaps a high end roto molded plastic.
Higher End Boating Cooler Choices
|Manufactured: USA & Philippines||Manufactured: USA|
|Most Expensive Brand||Cheaper than Yeti|
|Cost: $$$$||Cost: $$$|
|Roto-Molded, One Piece||Roto-Molded Shell/Stainless Hardware|
|Certified Bear Proof||Certified Bear Proof|
|Tundra Models 20-125||ProGear Sizes 20-250Q|
|Warranty: Five Year||Warranty: Lifetime|
|Ice Retention: 5-7 Day||Ice Retention: Up To 10 Day|
Note: Model numbers are not reflective of size with Yeti Coolers
Note: Pelican cooler models and sizes are same
|Read Full Review||Read Full Review|
Cost is also a big deciding factor for many people. Not everyone wants to spend hundreds of dollars for a cooler, even if it is worth it. The YETI Tundra is a high end, extremely durable cooler. Tundra coolers are a premium priced cooler but, according to most, Yeti coolers are well worth it. You can decide for yourself by reading the full review here.
If you are not a YETI fan, the Pelican ProGear Elite is another popular choice for marine applications. Pelican advertises 10 days Ice rendition, and we put this claim to the test. you can see the results of that test here. Either of these coolers are better than the average cooler, but perhaps more expensive than some want to invest. Refer back to the table above to gauge how these coolers stack up against each other in terms of ice retention times.
WATCH: The Top Performers
Cheaper Boat Cooler Choices
Igloo is a name that many trusts. The Marine Ultra is a 94 quart cooler (also available in many smaller sizes) is insulated with Utratherm in both the body and the lid. It is UV protected and has comfort grip handles that are reinforced. The Marine Ultra can resist stains and odors. It has a measuring scale on the lid for your convenience, tie downs and most users agree that it can hold ice for a few days, even if it is being opened a good bit.
This Rubbermaid cooler has the ability to keep ice for up to 7 days even if outside temps are into the 90’s. It has extra wide handles to aide in carrying, and internally, resists odors and stains. The Rubbermaid Marine 150 has a threaded drain plug for easy draining, which you’ll likely need since this is a huge cooler. There are built in cup holders which can hold cans or 20 oz bottles. With a full 150 quarts, you can hold more than 250 cans, 30 pounds of ice or a lot of fish. It is even large enough to hold 2 liter bottles in the upright position. This is one of the most affordable coolers of its size.
This is probably the best marine cooler for the money. We’ve done a full product review here. It is very affordable and has a 70 quart capacity to hold up to 98 cans of your favorite beverage. Ice can hold for up to 5 days, though, as it melts, you can drain it through a rust proof, leak resistant plug. There are four cup holders built into the lid and no matter how much you keep it out in the sun, it will resist UV rays and the damage that it can cause. You can also buy marine cooler seats to cover this cooler so that it can serve more than one purpose on your boat, if you are concerned about how much space it will take up.