For many, summer time means spending as much time on the water as possible. Unfortunately, this also means hot & humid days in the sun. Bringing along a cooler is one way to combat the heat while staying hydrated. Because each floating cooler is different, we set out to test the most popular models in terms of ice retention, size, towability and overall impression. Be sure to check our video review embedded in the post below.
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Floating Cooler Comparison
|Big Bobber ||$$$|
For The River, Pool, Tubing etc
Many use this type of cooler as a floating bar. Some may put drinks for their children and adult beverages for the grown-ups. You can put almost anything into an inflatable cooler that you would put into a regular land cooler. Most blow up coolers are used in pools, on the lake, or in otherwise calm waters. Tubing and kayaking subjects a cooler to contact with sharp objects like rocks, so many choose a more robust cooler.
Floating ice chests are especially popular with tubing adventures as these are easier to manage rather than securing a cooler inside of another float (as many do). Some are even designed to minimize tipping over and spilling. Having said that, some, like the Creek Cooler, are more practical than others for these types of adventures.
Towable Floating Cooler For Kayak & Tubing
Extra space on a kayak is limited as it is, so finding the necessary room for a traditional cooler can be a challenge. As if storing and securing the cooler to a kayak wasn’t difficult enough, accessing the cooler while paddling can present a whole heap of issues. We’ve found the only practical place to store a traditional cooler on our inflatable kayak is directly behind the rear passenger. Accessing the cooler is done via an acrobatic balancing act, or more realistically waiting until we beach the kayak.
[See Video Review Below]
Needless to say, we were really excited to test out the Creek Kooler, as this cooler is towed behind the kayak. Not only does this free up space & weight, but also allows for easy access (to both passengers) while paddling. Unlike the Intex or AIRHEAD, which nose-dived while towing, the Creek Kooler tracks perfectly behind a boat or kayak. We also were able to carry enough beverages/ice for 4 people and two 12″ subs. While testing the kayak cooler held ice for an entire day and well into the following day. Lastly, and most importantly, the construction of the Creek Kooler makes it the most robust floating cooler we have tested to date. Almost all floating inflatable coolers are susceptible to holes, popping, deflating etc. The Creek Kooler is literally a miniature kayak, made of hard plastic, providing longevity across years of summer fun even tubing & kayaking.
To gain a better understanding of what you need in a floating cooler take a look below at some of the more popular cooler choices. This will point you in the right direction so that you know what is available and what type of situation they are most suitable to handle.
Video Review & Test
Most Popular Floating Coolers
Big Bobber Floating Cooler
The big bobber has an easy to carry handle built into the cooler ensuring easy portability whether you are on the water or just getting to the river. It is also lightweight at only 4.9 pounds and created in the USA. The coolest part about it is the fact that it looks like a very large bobber, yet holds up to 12 cans of your favorite beverage as well as ice. This is one of the most popular floating cooler options as well as one of the most affordable.
GoPong Pool Pong Rack Floating Beer Pong Set
With this set you can challenge all your pool buddies to an exciting game of beer pong. The set comes with two floating rafts that can hold six cups each and three balls. If you are unsure of how to play beer pong, instructions are also included within the set. You can use empty cups when playing the game or use it as a floating drink holder. No matter which way you choose to use it, it is certainly going to add a little more fun to your swimming pool.
Kelsyus Floating Cooler
This floating cooler is insulated and also has six numbered cup holders around the cooler’s base. The labeled holes ensure that no matter which way the cooler turns, everyone will know which drink is theirs. The cooler is large enough to hold 18 cans of beer or soda without ice. When loaded with ice, you can still carry 12 cans. It also has a zippered lid to keep it closed. When it comes time for you to return home, cleaning out the cooler is a breeze thanks to a removable liner. Simply pull out the liner and then fold it up. You can then put it into a convenient carrying case. See the Carrying Case Here⇒
GoPong Pool Party Barge
This floating beer pong table is 6 feet long. This is a larger version with 10 cups, instead of the 6 cup setup above. A cooler for your drinks or ice lies in the middle of the barge and cup holders for your beverage of choice scattered down each of the sides. The cooler is large enough to hold 18 cans of beer or soda with ice to keep them cool while you party and play with your friends.
Intex Mega Chill II
This very large floating raft can hold a cooler that can carry up to 72 cans of beer or soda as well as enough ice to keep everything cold. You can use any cooler up to a 48 quart cooler, even your favorite yeti or grizzly cooler. It also has 6 cup holders which allows for proper drink tracking/claiming. On each side of the raft are 2 heavy duty handles (total of 4 handles) to make transporting with two persons possible. It comes with a repair patch in case you damage the inflatable raft. This is the perfect solution if you want to bring your cooler along with, but want a floating solution.
Airhead Aqua Oasis
This insulated nylon cooler is ideal for pool parties, sandbar raft-ups and river time fun. It is bright colored so that it can be seen even as the day turns to night. Although the cooler claims “24 pack” we found this to not be accurate considering room for ice. 12 cans plus ice is a more realistic size for this float. A molded plastic rope connector on board allows you tether it to your floating lounge, a boat, or a dock. On the base, the cooler measures 14 x 10 x 5 inches and weighs only 2.4 pounds. We found the Aqua Oasis to be a bit chintzy, but then again one of the most affordable.
Sevylor Inflatable Cooler Float
This cooler float allows you to use the cooler you already have when going to the river or in the pool. It works with Coleman coolers up to 28qt. Although constructed with durable 10-gauge PVC and 12-gauge PVC, this cooler is not meant for rough environments. This float has four drink holders which allows the cooler/drinks to remain nearby when using Snap ‘N’ Stay cords to connect to other Sevylor floats.
Intex River Run II
This cooler is attached to two floats so that you can float along with a friend, as well as your favorite beverages. It can hold 18+ cans in the round cooler. Built in backrests ensure maximum comfort while floating. Five air chambers ensures that the cooler will not sink, even if a leak were to develop. The River Run offers a cup holder on each side and a center storage area. The float measures 8ft x 62in. Heavy duty grab handles on each side, an all-around grab rope, and connectors that attach easily to other Intex rafts make securing the float a breeze. As an added bonus, the bottom is made of mesh to ensure you get to enjoy the cool water while floating.
This cooler is ideal for towing behind a kayak or tube; ultimately saving space inside/onboard the kayak. It is available in four colors including, beige, blue, white, and red. This is one of the larger floating coolers that is able to hold up to 30 cans along with 20lbs of ice. The Creek Kooler is very well insulated and able to keep ice and drinks cold for a weekend. In our testing it held ice for two days of kayaking. Thanks to two handles, you can tow it in the water or carry it on shore with a friend. You could also use the Creek Kooler as a dry storage area if you do not need to take along drinks. There are four drink holders on the deck of this American Made, dual walled, roto molded cooler float. In other words, it is a hard-sided cooler, weighing in at about 20 pounds empty. It measures 39.5 x 11.5 x 21 inches. This is the ideal tubing and kayak cooler allowing accessibility while paddling.
Each of the four seats in the AhhQua can hold up to 200 pounds. A drink storage area in the middle of the “bar” allows you can sit with friends and relax in the pool. The float comes with a repair kit that includes two 3” self-adhesive patches. The AhhQua Bar also comes with a 90-day warranty ensuring that there are no manufacturer defects. This bar measures 15 x 6 x 14 inches, but weighs only 2 pounds.
Beistle Pirate Ship
This cooler ship is ideal for pirate birthday parties and kids swimming pools, or those of us that think we are pirates. The Beistle measures 11 x 2.5 x 8 inches. The Pirate Ship is large enough to hold 72 cans of soda along with ice. Parents may use this for all types of activities including ball pits and snack coolers at parties.