A nice cold beer (or seltzer or kombucha or whatever you’re into) makes a day on the river infinitely more enjoyable. The problem is that even the best coolers aren’t very portable and, worse yet, they don’t float. The solution? A backpack cooler sort of works. The better solution? A floating cooler — the kind you can tow along wherever the water takes you. These are the best floating coolers to shop in 2021.
For our money, CreekKooler’s PuP Floating Cooler is the best floating cooler on the market. It’s purpose-built as a tow-along cooler for all manner of watersports adventures, including standup paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and anything else that involves floating. The smallest model holds 15 12-ounce cans, plus 10 pounds of ice, while the upgraded 30-quart model doubles that capacity. Coupled with foam insulation and a dual-wall blow-molded construction, it’s guaranteed to keep your favorite beverages chilled all day. It is the most expensive option on this list but, when it comes to floating coolers, you get what you pay for.
IceMule’s entire line has long been a favorite of ours here at The Manual. Its backpack coolers are second to none for durability, versatility, and ice retention. The combination of a Muleskin exterior with PolarLayer Insulation can maintain ice-like temperatures for up to two days. Watersports enthusiasts will also be happy to know that they’re buoyant enough to float. Strap it to your back, on your boat, or in your boat for the ride. The IceMule Pro, in particular, is available in a variety of sizes and coolers.
For more relaxed pursuits — in the pool or, say, as a quick tool around the pond in the kayak — there’s Yamaha’s Inflatable Can Cooler. The center cooler holds half a dozen 12-ounce cans, while the numbered rings around the outside hold six more. If you’re not planning on anything super active like wakeboarding, this is an affordable, dead-simple floating cooler solution.
Intex’s Mega Chill Inflatable Floating Cooler is similar to Yamaha’s. But, the oversized, 35-inch diameter makes it infinitely more stable for active adventuring. In addition to the main section in the center, four cup holders and larger handles/pockets on the outside provide plenty of space for more drinks, hats, sunscreen, and whatever else you need for a day on the water. It’s a steal at around $45.
Bestway’s H20GO! Glacial Sport Inflatable Cooler is an all-in-one cooler/raft/cupholder combo. At nearly three feet wide by 27 inches deep, it offers a generous 49-liter capacity. Two durable handles and cupholders around the outside provide easy ways to pull it alongside you and quickly grab an open beverage. Plus, a larger air spigot allows for quick, painless inflation and deflation.
Sometimes the best solution is one you already have. If you’ve got a favorite cooler in the garage, this Cooler Float from Ozark Trail allows you to take it along on your next watersports adventure. It’s essentially a dedicated raft for your own cooler (most 24- to 48-quart models will fit). At roughly $30, it’s also the cheapest floating cooler solution on this list.
Solstice’s Super Chill River Raft is a premium take on the Ozark Trail Cooler Float. It’s large enough for most full-sized coolers and boasts four sturdy vinyl handles for easy grabbing and towing alongside your kayak or SUP. Plus, the additional cupholders around the outside allow you to minimize the times spent opening the cooler (and letting all that chill out). At north of $70, it’s pricey (especially considering you’ll need to add your own cooler to the mix), but the heavy-duty vinyl construction is designed to take anything you throw at it.
If you like your watersports with a side of kitsch, The Big Bobber Floating Cooler delivers. Shaped like a comically oversized fishing bobber, it’s like the Big Mouth Billy Bass of coolers. At just 14 inches wide, it’s the smallest on this list, and it’s definitely not made for hardcore adventuring. But, it’s roomy enough for a 12-pack of beer with ice and, at less than $35, can you really complain?
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