5+ Best Fish Coolers to Keep Your Catch Fresh

Discover Top-Rated Fish Coolers That Promise Freshness on Long Fishing Trips, Starting Under $100.

fish in a cooler filled with ice

If you need a fish cooler to take on your fishing trips but need to know which cooler is best, we can help! Choosing a cooler from all the many store options can be difficult if you don’t know much about the different brands. We have selected the 5 best fish coolers to keep your catch fresh.

The 5 best fish coolers to keep your catch fresh are the Yeti Tundra 45 hard cooler, Coleman 316 wheeled cooler, RTIC 45Qt hard cooler, Engel ENG50 high-performance cooler, and the Pelican 45Qt elite cooler. These coolers are durable, suitable for the outdoors, and have great insulating properties.

A cooler that can keep your catch fresh and cool is essential for any fishing trip. Read on to discover more about the 5 best fish coolers we have selected and why they made the grade. Also, see below some FAQs about fishing coolers.

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5 Best Fish Coolers To Keep Your Catch Fresh

Below is our choice of the 5 best fish coolers to keep your catch fresh.

Yeti Tundra 45 Hard Cooler

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Desert Tan

Yeti’s Tundra 45 cooler combines versatility with durability and is the perfect cooler to keep your catch fresh. This cooler will keep your fish cool for up to 5 days when using frozen ice blocks and filling the cooler with ice cubes or crushed ice.

The cooler is constructed using roto molding, where the liquid plastic is constantly poured over insulation. This process produces a cooler that has no seams. 

To optimize the cooler’s insulation, the mold constantly rotates during the heating phase to prevent the cooler from sagging in the cooling process. The Yeti Tundra cooler has insulation of up to 3 inches. This feature will keep your catch cold even in the warmest weather conditions.

This cooler has a dry basket for keeping foods you don’t want to keep on top of the ice. Other excellent features are a well-sealed lid, rubber latches, and an interlocking hinge system that is strong and durable. 

The Yeti Tundra 45 is easy to clean; if a deep clean is required, a water and bleach solution will do the job. Yeti coolers come with a 5-year warranty. It is a top-of-the-range cooler with a hefty price tag, but you will pay for excellent quality.

The specs of the Yeti Tundra 45 cooler are as follows:

  • Weight: 25 lbs. (11 kg) when empty
  • Dimensions in inches: 25.75 Length x 16.13 Width x 15.38 Height
  • Capacity: 45 quarts (11.25 gallons)
  • Holds: 54 beer cans (only), or 37 lbs. of ice (only)
  • Cost: $325

Below are the Yeti Tundra 45 cooler’s pros and cons:

3-inch-thick insulated walls to keep the cold in.Holds less because of the thick walls.
Durable, built to last a long time.It is heavy to carry when the cooler is filled.
Easy to clean.Expensive.
YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Desert Tan
  • The YETI Tundra 45 combines versatility with durability with a capacity of up to 26 cans with a recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio
  • Ice stays ice thanks to up to 3 inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an extra thick FatWall design is certified Bear-Resistant
  • The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra armored to the core and virtually indestructible so wherever you decide to take it, this portable cooler’s sturdy construction will stand up to the rigors of the journey
  • All Tundra coolers feature T-Rex Lid Latches constructed of heavy-duty rubber so you’ll never see another busted latch and has patented keeper technology
  • The Tundra 45 dimensions are 25 1/2 in long x 16 in wide x 15 ½ in high with an empty weight of 23 lbs NOTE: All Tundra models come standard with one dry goods basket.

Coleman 316 Wheeled Hard Cooler

Coleman Ice Chest | Coleman 316 Series Wheeled Hard Coolers, 100qt Space Blue

If you like to have a cooler that is easy to lug around, then this wheeled cooler will be a good fit. Equipped with 6-inch heavy-duty wheels and durable tow and swing-up handles will make the transport even easier.

The cooler is large and well-insulated with thick and robust roto-molded walls. This cooler will keep your catch cool for up to 5 days. It is easy to clean and has a rust-proof leak-resistant channel drain. The lid has built-in cup holders, so your drinks won’t spill, and when the lid is closed, it can support a weight of 250 pounds. 

The Coleman 316 cooler costs less than the Yeti Tundra and is as efficient in keeping your catch cool. This cooler is our second choice for taking on a long-haul fishing trip. This cooler is also available without wheels and comes with a 1-year warranty.

Below are the specs of the Coleman 316 wheeled hard cooler:

  • Weight: 20 lbs. (9kg) when empty
  • Dimensions in inches:  36.9 Length x 18 Width x 17.3 Height
  • Capacity: 100 quarts (gallons)
  • Holds:  160 beer cans (only)
  • Cost: $115
Superior insulation.Big and bulky.
Portable and comes on wheels.Heavy when fully loaded.
Lots of storage space.
Strong and sturdy.
Coleman 316 Series Insulated Portable Cooler with Heavy Duty Wheels, Leak-Proof Wheeled Cooler with 100+ Can Capacity, Keeps Ice for up to 5 Days, Great for Beach, Camping, Tailgating, Sports, & More
  • FULLY INSULATED: Lid and body Keeps the Ice up to 5 days in temperatures as high as 90°F
  • FOR THE LONG HAUL: Heavy-duty 6-inch wheels and durable tow & swing-up handles designed for easy transport
  • CUP HOLDERS WITH DRAIN: Molded into the lid to keep drinks from spilling; fit up to a 30-oz. tumbler
  • Have-A-Seat LID: Closed lid supports up to 250 lbs.
  • STAIN-RESISTANT LINER: For easy cleanup; leakproof channel drain plug

RTIC 45 Qt Hard Cooler

RTIC Hard Cooler, 45 qt, Tan, Ice Chest with Heavy Duty Rubber Latches, 3 Inch Insulated Walls

This cooler is similar to the Yeti Tundra and is also a strong and durable product with roto molding construction. The insulation is great, partly due to the tightly fitted T-latches keeping the cooler cold. This cooler lets you keep your catch cool for up to 5 days.

This cooler has features such as molded tie-down slots, non-slip feet, heavy-duty rope handles, and an easy-flow drain plug on both sides. This cooler is sturdy, and when the lid is closed, it can be used as a table, a cutting board, or a seat! The RTIC 45qt cooler is well-priced and is another good choice for a durable and effective cooler for a fishing trip. It comes with a 1-year warranty.

The specs of the RTIC 45 Qt Hard cooler are as follows:

  • Weight: 29 lbs. (13 kg) when empty
  • Dimensions in inches: 27.1 length x 17.28 width x 16.73 height 
  • Capacity: 45 quarts (11.25 gallons)
  • Holds: 36 beer cans (only), 45 lbs. of ice (only)
  • Cost: $250

Below are the RTIC 45 Qt hard cooler’s pros and cons:

Value for money.Difficult to drain water while the fish is still in the cooler.
Drains on both sides.The lid must be open, as well as the drain plugs.
Easy to clean.Knotted handles can slip out.
RTIC 45 QT Ultra-Tough Cooler Hard Insulated Portable Ice Chest Box for Beach, Drink, Beverage, Camping, Picnic, Fishing, Boat, Barbecue, Tan
  • ALL ABOUT THE EXTREMES – The RTIC Ultra-Tough Cooler is designed for impact resistance, durability, and long-lasting ice retention. Perfect for anywhere adventure takes you.
  • 3-INCHES OF INSULATION – With up to 3 inches of closed-cell foam insulation, this insulated cooler is all about extremes. Your food and beverages will stay colder and for longer in this ice chest.
  • LONG-LASTING ICE RETENTION – This portable cooler is made for portability with heavy-duty rope handles that allow you to take it anywhere. Keep your drinks, food, and meat cold on that long trip.
  • MULTIPLE USES – It’s the perfect ice cooler, drink cooler, travel cooler, beer cooler, can cooler, camping cooler, beach cooler, boat cooler, or barbecue cooler.
  • MANY SIZES AVAILABLE – This outdoor cooler comes in 20 qt, 45 qt, 65 qt, 110 qt, and 145 qt sizes. This hard cooler can double up as a bench, step stool, tabletop, or extra cutting board.

Engel ENG50 High-Performance Cooler

ENGEL ENG50 High Performance Cooler - Haze Gray

The Engel cooler is roto-molded and has a 2-inch polyurethane insulation layer to keep your catch cool for up to 10 days. The sealing on this cooler is excellent. It has compression latches and gaskets made of silicon instead of rubber. The silicon is durable and will keep its shape. This cooler has non-slip feet and dual padlock holes, so you can lock the cooler if there are bears around. 

There is a drain plug for easy draining, and the cooler is easy to clean. You can use the non-slip lid as a casting station. The Engel ENG50 high-performance cooler is a great size and is functional for keeping your catch fresh. This cooler comes with a 10-year warranty.

Below are the specs for the Engel ENG50 high-performance cooler:

  • Weight: 24 lbs. (10.8kg) when empty
  • Dimensions in inches: 24 length x 17.5 width x 18.5 height 
  • Capacity: 48 quarts (12 gallons)
  • Holds: 50 cans (only)
  • Cost: $319

Below are the Engel ENG50 High-Performance cooler’s pros and cons:

Stainless steel hardware, not plastic.Small storage space.
Good ice retention.Expensive
Lightweight, easy to carry.

Pelican 45Qt Elite Wheeled Cooler

Pelican Elite 45 Quart Wheeled Cooler (White)

This cooler is another ideal choice to keep your fish cool, and the heavy-duty wheels make it easy to transport. The gasket is of freezer grade, and with 2 inches of polyurethane insulation will keep your catch cool for up to 7 days.

Other features are non-skid raised feet, molded-in tie-downs to prevent the cooler from slipping around on the boat, molded-in handles that are large and comfortable to use when wearing gloves, as well as a built-in trolley handle. The components like latches and hinges are made from stainless steel and resist corrosion. It has a suitable drainage plug that can be attached to a garden hose for cleaning purposes. 

A nice-to-have feature is a built-in bottle opener, and a fish scale is included on the lid of the cooler. The Pelican 45qt Elite cooler is made in the USA and has a limited lifetime warranty. This cooler is ideal for a weekend fishing trip.

  • Weight: 37.25 lbs. (16.9kg) when empty
  • Dimensions in inches: 29.66 length x 20 width x 19.25 height 
  • Capacity: 45 quarts (11.25 gallons)
  • Holds: 34 cans (only)
  • Cost: $450

Below are the Pelican 45Qt Elite cooler’s pros and cons:

Good ice retention.The cooler is heavy.
Durable.The wheeled coolers are not roto-molded.
Stylish with lots of features.Expensive.
Pelican Elite 45 Quart Wheeled Cooler (White)
  • Volume: true 45 quart internal volume; Molded-In handles with built in trolley handle
  • Extreme ice retention: 2 inch of polyurethane insulation with a 360 degree freezer-grade gasket that delivers extreme ice retention for up to 10 days
  • Features: molded handles, 3 inch locking latches, reinforced lockable hasp, stainless steel bottle opener, anti-shear hinge system, molded tie-down slots
  • Features: leakproof drain plug, integrated measuring board on lid in centimeters and inches, non-skid rubber feet. Interior (L×W×D) - 19.00 x 12.00 x 12.00 inch
  • Made in the USA: includes Pelican legendary lifetime guarantee - you break it, we replace it...Forever

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Good Size Cooler For Fishing?

The size of the cooler will depend on the time you spend on your fishing trip and how much fish you intend to catch. If you are fishing from a boat, ensure the cooler can slot into the space you have allocated for it. A 45-quart cooler is ideal for a day or weekend trip, and a 100-quart cooler is suitable for more extended fishing sprees. 

A 150-quart cooler is usually the standard size if you are fishing offshore. You can also consider the dimensions of the cooler. A cooler that is 30 inches in length should accommodate most size fish. It is ideal if the fish can lie flat in the cooler without bending the body. It is best to have one cooler for your food and drinks and another for your catch.

How Do I Keep My Fish Cold In A Cooler?

The best way to keep fish cold in a cooler is by putting ice blocks that have been in the freezer for 48 hours at the bottom of the cooler. Then add several inches of ice cubes or crushed ice on top of the ice blocks. Lay the fish on the ice as it is caught. Add a layer of crushed ice on top of the fish. Or if you clean and fillet your fish, rinse it in cold water and store it in the cooler with crushed ice.

Pack the fish in single layers, adding crushed ice to each layer. Remember to keep draining the cooler so that your catch does not lay in water which will affect the taste of the fish. Avoid opening the cooler too often, as this allows cold air to escape.

What Is The Difference Between A Marine Cooler And A Regular Cooler?

Marine coolers are hardier than regular coolers as they are made to be used on boats or on the beach, where they are exposed to the sun and salty water. The coolers often get bashed about on the boats, so they must be robust. 

These coolers must also be able to freeze the day’s catch. A marine cooler will cost more than a regular cooler. But, if you consider the features of the marine cooler, the extra cost will be worth it.

Special features of a marine cooler are:

  • Good ice retention – for keeping your catch, food, and drinks cold for longer.
  • Thicker insulation – to be able to freeze the fish.
  • Inbuilt UV protection – to prevent the cooler from discoloring from the sun. Most marine coolers come in white.
  • Non-slip feet – to prevent the cooler from sliding around on the boat. These coolers can also be tied down to the boat.
  • Anti-rust – these coolers are built with anti-rust components like hinges and latches, usually made from stainless steel. This is necessary due to the cooler being exposed to salt water.
  • Measurements on the lid – some marine coolers have markings in inches or centimeters so you can measure your fish.
  • A seat cushion – some coolers have the option of an add-on padded seat.

However, high-end roto-molded coolers like the Yeti, Engel, or Pelican are just as good as marine coolers. These cooler brands are much more costly than marine coolers.

Is There A Cooler Better Than A Yeti? 

As a high-end cooler, the Yet has been the dominating brand for a long time. The best feature of the Yeti is the roto-molding and excellent insulation used to manufacture their coolers. But other brands have adopted this method and are now in the same league as the Yeti. 

These coolers are not better than the Yeti but have the same qualities and are definite alternatives. Two of these brands are Pelican and Engel roto-molded coolers.

Do I Need A Cooler For Fishing? 

You will need a cooler to keep the fish that you catch. The cooler will keep your catch fresh and cool outdoors until you can cook it. During your fishing trip, you must stay hydrated, so keeping water, cold drinks, and food cool in the cooler is ideal.

Final Thoughts

A cooler that keeps your fish fresh and cool is essential for any fishing trip. The 5 high-end coolers we chose for the best fishing coolers all have excellent insulation and sealing properties to keep the fish cold. The coolers come in various sizes depending on how much fish you want to store. The top brands are Yeti, Coleman, RTIC, Engel, and Pelican.

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