Can A Kayak Hold A Cooler?

Can A Kayak Hold A Cooler FI

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The short answer is…

Yes, it can. But you need more digging if you want your kayaking trip at its best.

You don’t want to simply bring your kayak cooler or ice chests with you and realize that it didn’t keep your fish cold. You don’t want to come back to shore and realize that your cooler has gone overboard without even a goodbye.

No, you want it working, safe and secure. But there are a lot of kayak cooler options that serve different purposes. Different brands even offer additional features like straps and ice packs. Read and find out Can A Kayak Hold A Cooler

So, here’s what we’re here to find out:

  • What are the types of cooler available on the market;
  • The features, pros and cons of each variety;
  • What the best kayak cooler or ice chest is for your boat and your trip; and
  • And how best to attach it to your kayak.

I hope your ice is ready…

We’re sailing on!


There’s a lot of stuff that you should bring with you on your kayak.


Your paddle, of course. You can’t go forward in your adventure without one. Then you need your kayak seat to keep you comfortable for long hours. If you’re into fishing, there’s your rod and your hooks and other gear.

You’ll also need your repair kit, emergency flares, and first aid kit. And one of the most important things to bring on outdoor adventures – refreshments.

But then…

You want to keep your ice cold for your drinks or to keep your catch fresh, right? Good news: That can happen! Just bring a kayak cooler with you on the water!

Because yes, a kayak can hold a cooler!

There are a lot of ways to do this and it depends on what type of a kayak cooler you have. As you read on, you’ll find what best kayak coolers you can bring on your kayak and how to attach them.

Best Kayak Coolers

Different kayak coolers or ice chests have their pros and cons. That means they serve different purposes. Choosing the best kayak cooler depends on your kayak trip, the boat you’ll bring and how much stuff you need to keep cool.

These are the most common cooler bags on the market:

  • Hard-sided Coolers (or Dry Box)

It can be heavy and a little expensive, but a hard-sided cooler bag is the best kayak cooler in terms of ice retention. They’re usually made of closed cell foam insulation with a rubber seal between the lid and the box to trap cold air.

Your ice can last hours in it. So I recommend this for longer kayaking trips rather than its soft-sided counterparts.

But they’re not always the best.

It’s better to bring them on sit-on-top kayaks rather than a sit-inside because it’s a bulky cooler. But the bulk’s advantage is a larger storage capacity. So it’s really a good cooler for long kayaking trips.

  • Soft-sided Coolers

The soft-sided cooler bag has the advantage of being compact and easy to carry. Your sit-in kayak’s dry hatches are the best storage for it. It can also be accommodated in the tankwell of most fishing kayaks. 

They’re lighter as well. So I recommend this for light kayaks too, like those made of blow-molded plastic.

Here’s the thing…

It’s a cheap kayak cooler but it’s not the best in terms of insulation. I suggest you use the soft cooler when you’re not going to be on the water for too long. Or when the heat is a little more forgiving.

It won’t keep your ice frozen but it can prolong its coolness.

By the way…

You can add air into the insulation of this cooler type and just release air when it’s not in use.

  • Catch Coolers

A cooler is a must when you go kayak fishing. Even if you’re not going to be out under the sun for long, you don’t want fish blood and gunk clogging your kayak’s drain plug, right? 

Other kayakers recommend ones with rod holders but to me, the right cooler for your catch is the catch cooler.

As the name suggests… 

It’s specifically designed to keep your catch cool. Fish don’t last that long under the heat so these coolers are well-insulated. A kayak fish cooler is shaped to keep even the bigger catch cold, and to fit right on top of your boat’s stern.

How Do I Choose A Kayak Seat
  • Tow-Behind Coolers

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this innovation…

As far as coolers go, this may just be the coolest. It has better insulation than soft-sided coolers but usually lighter than hard-sided ones.

But the best thing…

You’re meant to tow it behind your kayak like your boat’s little kid. You have to admit that’s cute!

They come in different designs. Some look like submarines, others like lifesavers. The best ones are those with cup holders. However they look like, this type is made for maximum ice retention.

Since you’re not going to put it on your kayak… 

You can use the tow-behind with whatever type of boat you have. It saves up boat space and has a heavier and larger carrying capacity than the other types.

This type is most recommended for kayak anglers because a kayak angler can only carry so much. It’s best not to add a bulky cold storage to your fishing gear.

This is best for when you go on multi-day trips.

Transport a Kayak Cooler On a Kayak

  • Behind your seat

Larger coolers are best carried behind your backrest.

Chances are…

You’ve installed a padded kayak seat on your boat. Those things have backrests and most of them have a detachable storage dry bag behind. If you don’t need it, you can take it off so you can hand your cooler on it. 

Make use of your cooler’s padded shoulder strap. Sometimes the ice chest comes with backpack straps that are very convenient behind your backrest.


If you have a fishing kayak, your stern can hold a catch cooler. I’ve read online that your deck is the place for your catch cooler. But when I go on a kayak fishing trip, I like my deck least crowded so I advise you to make use of your stern instead.

You just need to secure the cooler with ropes that come with either the kayak or the cooler itself.

  • Below your seat

This is more recommendable for your sit-in kayak because you won’t have that much space behind your backrest. A smaller cooler won’t intervene with your seat’s convenience.

If you have a soft-sided cooler, you can just compress it and chuck it under your kayak seat. It’s soft shell is made for this method. But hard coolers come in narrow sizes too that you can fit in under your seat.

As you might’ve guessed…

This isn’t the best way for your fishing trips because storing fish requires better insulation and bigger storage capacity.

  • Using a floating cooler holder

Most tow-behind coolers have holders included. But you can always buy bungee cords separately. You only need to tie the rope to the tail of your kayak and you’re good to go.

Just remember…

Your tow-behind would receive the greatest whiplash from your boat’s movements. So it’s important to make sure it doesn’t have any damage that would jeopardize its balance.

  • On the side of your kayak

This is a tricky method.

If your boat’s too small even for soft-sided kayak cooler bags, you can hang them on the side of your kayak. Your boat most likely would have buckles or eyelets that you can make use of. The cooler’s shoulder strap comes in handy in this method.


This calls for specific techniques. It would interfere with your kayak’s balance and might even make your paddling harder.

If you have other stuff on your kayak, just balance the weight out. Also, you may just hang another cooler on the other side to be safe.


Can A Kayak Hold A Cooler

Can A Kayak Hold A Cooler


The expensive Yeti Hopper Flip isn’t always the best for your needs. Yes, it’s sturdy construction is off the charts. And it’s also great at keeping its contents cold. It’s a highly recommendable brand.

But your choice still depends on the factors mentioned above. I hope this article helped you so I won’t keep you here longer.

Now with your kayak ice chest or cooler…

You’re even more ready for the great outdoors!

Related: Best Kayak Cooler – (2024)

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