The right cooler can make or break your outdoor experience.
It can be the difference between fresh and spoiled food, and it can save your drinks from going lukewarm. Depending on why you need a cooler, you may prioritize different features.
With so many coolers on the market, it is important to know how to choose the best cooler for your personal fishing experience. When shopping around, consider features you can live without and features that are non-negotiable to help narrow down your search.
In this article, we will look at five things to consider when selecting a fishing cooler that is right for you.
Why Do You Need a Cooler for Fishing?
Preserve Bait and Catch
Most people fish in the warmer months in the spring and summer. During peak sunlight, when temperatures are the highest, it is a difficult task to keep your catch cold and fresh.
However, even when ice fishing, you’ll need a cooler — otherwise, your bait and catch will freeze in the open air. Not to mention, having your bait and fish in a loose bag will create an immediately unpleasant and sticky situation.
A cooler is essential for fishing trips when you intend to keep your catch. It helps you preserve the flavor of your fish until it is time to enjoy it.
No matter how long you plan to fish, it is also crucial to remain hydrated. The best way to do this is to pack a cooler full of essentials such as water and snacks to help you refuel.
Coolers make for an all-around more enjoyable fishing experience. Whether you hope to crack open your favorite beer with your buddies, replenish essential nutrients, or store your catch, a cooler is an important component in creating your desired fishing trip.
What Size Should Your Fishing Cooler Be?
The desired size of your cooler will depend upon why you are using a cooler. Consider whether you’re fishing for sport or keeping your catch. If you’re not planning on throwing your catch back, you’ll want the room in your cooler to store your fish in ice for transport home.
Another consideration is whether you need a separate cooler for the fish you catch. Will you have one cooler for your catch and one for your food and drinks, or will you have one cooler for everything? It’s up to you to decide.
You’ll also want to factor in how long you are typically gone on fishing expeditions. Do you prefer calm and relaxed afternoons by the bank or day-long fishing trips on open waters? If you plan to take day-long or even multiple-day fishing trips, you’ll want a cooler that can store enough food and drinks to sustain you.
We highly recommend using one cooler for your food and drinks and another cooler for your catch, unless you have a cooler divider. Keeping the fish that you catch separate from your provisions will ensure that nothing takes on an undesirably fishy smell.
What’s the Best Construction for a Fishing Cooler?
The construction of your fishing cooler is the next thing you’ll want to consider in your search.
Chances are your cooler will be exposed to some wear and tear by simply being out in nature. When facing potentially harsh weather conditions, you will want a cooler that is built sturdily. If you plan to bring your cooler deep sea fishing, you’ll want one that can keep up with occasionally rough waters and conditions.
There are a few types of hard-sided coolers that differ in their manufacturing process. The two main types of hard-sided coolers are rotomolded coolers and injection molded coolers. There are pros and cons to both, and we will briefly discuss those here.
Rotomolded coolers are hard-sided plastic coolers created through a process of rotational molding and cooling. This process creates a cooler that has walls of equal width. While rotomolded coolers tend to be more heavyweight — making them harder to store and transport — they are the best for long-term use and superior ice retention.
Our favorite representations of this process are the 20-Quart Rotomolded Cooler or 50-Quart Rotomolded Cooler. These rotomolded coolers can keep ice for up to five days, making for excellent food storage throughout your fishing trip. Each variation is built with three-inch insulated walls, protecting your cooler’s contents from external factors.
Injection molding is a manufacturing process that shapes plastic by heating it and injecting it into a mold. Once cooled, the plastic takes the shape of the mold. Injection molded coolers are approximately 30% lighter than rotomolded coolers, making them easier to transport.
However, injection molding cannot create hollow products the way that rotomolding can. This means that cooler walls are created and then fit together, making the sides more susceptible to cracking than rotomolded coolers.
What Cooler Has Superior Best Ice Retention?
When we talk about performance, we are referring mainly to ice retention and how well your cooler handles long-term use. When it comes to fishing coolers, you want one that can store your food and drinks for long periods of time.
You’ll want to find a well-insulated cooler that protects its cooler contents from high summer temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions. Rotomolded coolers have uniformly thick cooler walls, resulting in consistent temperature retention in every square inch of your cooler.
Your cooler should also have secure latches, keeping contents secure and protected during your journey. A quality cooler will keep your food and drinks secure no matter what mother nature throws at you.
A cooler’s performance is best determined by its temperature retention and its ability to keep its contents secure.
What Cooler Has the Best Extra Features?
A cooler’s features elevate them from an essential item to a luxury.
The 20-Quart and 50-Quart Rotomolded Coolers have incredible temperature retention and can keep ice frozen for up to five days. Other features such as the bear-resistant design, non-slip lid, and heavy-duty rubber latches make these coolers unmatched in performance.
The lid includes a convenient measurement guide with an embedded 24-inch ruler. This makes measuring your catch a convenient task for the fisherman. The non-slip lid also creates a perfect casting platform and provides a better vantage point.
Other features of the 20-Quart and 50-Quart Rotomolded Coolers include a quick drain system with an easy flow drain spout and a commercial-grade rubber gasket to seal the cooler.
Which Fishing Cooler Has the Best Price?
There are a variety of different coolers on the market that range in price. Generally speaking, if you hope to find a cooler that lasts through the years, you’ll want to spend between $150 and $250. Sacrificing on quality will mean purchasing a new cooler every few years.
While there are pros and cons to both, rotomolded coolers tend to be more affordable, partly due to lower-cost materials and the low-pressure molding process. Generally, it’s more expensive to make injection coolers due to the demands of the high-pressure molding process; the molds must be tougher.
The 20-Quart and 50-Quart Rotomolded Coolers are on the lower end of the price range when it comes to rotomolded coolers. With high-quality construction and optimal features, these coolers are some of the best on the market at an unbeatable price.
Soft-Sided vs. Hard-Sided Coolers
The “hardpack vs. softpack” debate is long-standing among cooler enthusiasts and passionate lovers of outdoor adventures. In our eyes, there is no clear winner but rather a winner based on specific situations.
For example, for holding snacks, beverages, and random odds and ends for short periods, a softpack cooler will likely come out on top. Softpacks are easier to transport — not only from your car to the lakeside but also on hikes and hunts.
Hard-sided coolers are there when you need them, and you’ll know if you do. Rotomolded coolers are when you need a big hand over a long haul.
Plus, they’re the ideal option for holding potentially messy things (fish, bait, etc.). Even with leakproof lining in a soft-sided cooler, it’s much easier (and more pleasant) to wash remnants of the daily catch out of a hard-sided cooler, thanks to the removable drain plug.
Ultimately, soft-sided and hard-sided coolers will both get their chance to shine.
What to look for in a cooler may vary from person to person, depending on priorities and values.
When it comes to choosing the right fishing cooler for your needs, prioritizing the factors we’ve covered above — size, ice retention, construction, features, and price — will always lead you in the right direction. These are the most critical aspects of any cooler, especially one that you’ll use for fishing.
When it comes to size, construction, performance, features, and cost, our Rotomolded Coolers are unmatched. The high-quality construction and performance, reasonable price, unique features, and ample storage space makes these coolers an excellent upgrade for your fishing experience.