4 Best Coolers for Canoeing – 2021 Guide and FAQ

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As you may already know, canoeing is more common as a sport or recreational activity than it is a means of transport or accomplishing any other tasks.best coolers for canoes

That known, it is easier to understand why canoes with additional such as cooler boxes and other fancy features are popular in the market today.

  1. AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler

Going by reputation, you wouldn’t expect this brand to appear here, but thanks to its cool features, it is one among the top. By the look, this cooler has a touch of class, well embroidered in top-notch craftsmanship.

The company AO Coolers has a range of other canoe coolers of sizes 12, 24, 36, and 48-can.

Portability is also guaranteed as all the coolers come with a removable shoulder strap, which can be great when you want to step out of the canoe to enjoy a cold beer on the rocks.

In typical 120-degree weather, this AO cooler will not raise a degree of the ice temperatures for 24 hours, keeping your food and drinks as fresh throughout.

What could be better for a weekend canoeing trip?


  • Can maintain both hot and cold contents
  • Available in various sizes
  • Guaranteed solid ice for up to 24 hours I 120-degree weather


  • Available colors are all dark


  1. YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler

The YETI Hopper Flip Portable Cooler is one of the most recommendable canoe coolers in the market today courtesy of its 100% leak-proof HydroLok Zipper.

The soft cooler can hold up to 16 cans and ice. It has closed-cell foam as the insulating material, guaranteeing freshness at all times.

The outside consists of DryHide Shell that is known for its waterproof property as well as resistance to scratches, punctures, and mildew.

This cooler is what you should not exclude from your list of the best before placing that order.


  • Advanced closed-cell foam insulation
  • Resistant to mildew and wear and tear
  • Waterproof HydroLok Zipper


  • May not be big enough for long trips with a crew of more than two
  • Not ideal for long sub sandwiches

  1. RTIC Soft Pack 20, Grey

If you’re looking for a cooler, ideal for really long canoeing trips, the RTIC Soft Pack 20, Grey might just be what you have been missing. With the ability to keep ice for up to five days, this softshell cooler bag has a watertight seal which ensures the ice stays put even after it melts.

The cooler is large enough to hold up to 20 cans, within the 2-inch foam insulated enclosure. It also boasts a leak-proof zipper and a durable exterior.


  • Keeps ice for up to five days
  • Puncture-resistant exterior that does not sweat
  • Up to 2″ foam insulation
  • Antimicrobial inner lining


  • Not large enough for much storage


  1. K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler

Being one of the multipurpose canoe coolers, the K2 Coolers Summit 20 Cooler can also carry fish, in addition to the typical uses of a cooler. It has thicker insulation, responsible for its high efficiency and durability.

It comes with a padded shoulder strap for comfortable carriage. Also, the SURE Grip rubber feet ensure the cooler stays in place as you paddle. This has made it a very popular choice among paddlers.

The ICE vault lid gasket and the Positrac lid latches are both meant to offer the cooler superiority among other brands. This is probably the reason behind the 7-year warranty.


  • Lightweight and robust build ideal for outdoor activities
  • Extra thick insulation for better performance
  • A 7-year warranty


  • The solid nature may not allow it in some smaller canoes

Verdict and recommendation

Just like many canoe and canoeing accessories, the ideal choice of a canoe cooler is largely dependent on the use for which it is intended and the user’s preferences.

However, some brands are superior and more promising than others and that’s why the AO Coolers Original Soft Cooler is our pick. This cooler is versatile and sleek, which is ideal for most canoes and also serves the purpose convincingly. 

If you’re embarking on a long canoeing thrill or just want to spend more time in your craft around water, keeping your food and drinks refreshingly cold might have been among your concerns.

This is where a good and reliable portable cooler comes into place. Manufacturers have been racing against each other to produce the best of these and for the friendliest prices.

All the coolers are designed to fit nicely under the center seat in most cases.

Before you go to the store to get a cooler for your canoeing, just as is the practice for any other accessory, it is worth considering some factors that vary among canoes, the coolers themselves, and among canoeists. Let’s first see what to look for in cooler.

Factors to consider when buying a cooler for canoeing:

  • Size/capacity

 When buying a new cooler for your canoe, the first question should be how much stuff you want to carry in it.

Whether you’re looking for a smaller floating cooler to carry some chilled beer bottles or are a fisher who needs a bigger and capable to stay out for a few days (and nights) and keep your catch fresh as much as possible, there is always a cooler that will perfectly meet your specific needs.

Manufacturers indicate the size of coolers in terms of quarts, or liters (cans). Depending on size, the capacity varies, even though the most common sizes are the 10-quart, which can fit most canoes and kayaks perfectly.

  • Material

Canoe coolers are made from a range of materials. The material is either soft or hard which is the major distinguishing feature here.

The hard coolers are made of plastic and synthetic rubber.

These coolers are ideal for carrying delicate items like glass beer bottles. They also serve well where there’re expected turbulence’s along the waterways.

Soft material coolers are made of cloth on the exterior and laminated on the inside. Their major advantage is flexibility which allows them to fit into irregular spaces. They are also light but of lower capacity in most cases.

These two variants have each their pros and cons, which depend upon your purpose for them.

  • Waterproof

Normally, waterproof coolers are not a necessity in most places or activities, unlike canoeing.

It is even uncommon to find a cooler that’s not waterproof. These coolers are airtight and do not leak as well, however you place them in the watercraft.

This is an important design feature as in most canoeing expeditions, you will get in one way or another.

Leak-proof coolers are a must for canoe fishermen to avoid any unpleasant odors from leaking water, especially on long fishing trips.

When buying the cooler, verify that all the gaskets and O-rings are provided and in good working condition.

Also, check the availability of spares and if convenient, buy extra O-rings and gaskets.

  • Required temperature

Maintaining low temperatures is the primary function of a cooler. Different coolers have different cooling capabilities.

The keeping temperature of the cooler you choose will be largely dependent on insulation to maintain the ice frozen and your stuff cold.

The keeping temperature is rated by the number of hours that it’ll keep cool. Most canoeists who’d require a cooler is likely to spend between 24 and 72 hours out.

The cooler boxes/bags should thus have such an hour-rating. The color of the cooler will affect how long the cooler remains cool if exposed to the sunlight.

Darker colors absorb more heat than shiny ones. A dark-colored cooler may not perform as per the rating if sunlight is factored in.

You should thus choose your canoe cooler with all this in mind.


What size cooler fits a Canoe?

The size of a cooler you need depends on the intended use, the size of the canoe, and your taste.

If you’re planning to camp overnight during the trip, you’ll need a larger cooler than if you wanted to spend a few hours offshore.

Your craft’s storage compartment should also be able to adequately accommodate the cooler size you choose.

Can you use a dry bag as a cooler?

Yes. You can use the dry bag alone or you can use it with an insert as the cooler. The dry bag is usually waterproof while the cooler insert is an insulated composite enclosed in durable PVC material. This set up is ideal for maintaining temperatures either hot or cold.

Do soft-sided coolers work?

Yes. Soft-sided coolers are as efficient as the hard-sided coolers. The soft-sided coolers even offer some benefits over the hard-sided ones. They’re;

  • Highly versatile for daily use
  • Lighter thus better portability
  • Easier to store and accommodate in a canoe

How do you attach a cooler to a Canoe?

There is more than one way to attach a cooler onto a canoe. Soft material canoes can easily fit into storage spaces since they can bend.

If you’re using a rigid cooler, it night fits on the provided cooler space or if not, you will need to tie it by the straps onto your canoe rigging.

Either way, ensure it is securely contained to avoid losing it in the water.