Whether you enjoy paddling on a kayak, relaxing on a float, or diving off an inflatable platform, spending the day in the water is fun. Only problem is, you have all your beverages sitting on a large cooler by the shore, requiring you to go back and forth any time you need a fresh batch of refreshments. It’s a chore – and you don’t want to do chores when you’re looking to enjoy a relaxing summer day.
Fortunately, not all coolers are meant to stay off the water. In fact, there’s an entire category of floating coolers that you can use to keep chilling your drinks right on the water, allowing you to keep your stash of refreshments on hand, ready for the taking.
These are our favorite floating coolers to keep you company during your recreational activities in the water.
Intex Mega Chill II
This inflatable cooler has room for up to 72 cans, allowing you to easily keep a few dozen drinks with plenty of ice in tow. No, it won’t keep ice at the same pace as your favorite YETI (far from it), but it will keep things cold enough to last you a good chunk of the day, especially since the surrounding water helps keep the cooler’s temperature low. Seriously, you can spend hours goofing in the water and have easy access to cold drinks the whole time. Just make sure you keep the removable lid on to help maintain the temperature.
Four grab handles on the sides allow you to drag it around or tie it down to keep it from floating away, while six cup holders give you a convenient place to set down your drinks if you want to go for a quick swim. Want a cooler that can keep ice for longer? You can actually put a regular cooler in the inflatable cooler, essentially turning it into a float for your favorite ice box. Just make sure to use a cooler with smaller dimensions than its main compartment (they recommend 48qt or smaller), so it fits flush and doesn’t accidentally fall in the water.
- Floating cooler designed to be a convenient accessory for a refreshing pool, lake, or beach...
Bass Pro Shops The Big Bobber Floating Cooler
Styled to look like a giant fishing float complete with a red-and-white color scheme, this floating cooler comes in a ball shape that makes it look perfectly at home in lakes, pools, and beaches alike, all while chilling up to 12 cans of your favorite beverages. It’s made from high-impact plastic that should withstand the rugged elements of your favorite swimming spots, complete with a UV stabilizer coating that will prevent fading and sun damage.
According to the outfit, it should keep ice for a few hours, allowing you to enjoy your drinks while you chill with family and friends in the water. Do note, it’s designed strictly for floating while you chill on a deck or tread on water, since there are no proper connection points that you can use to tow it behind a raft or kayak. It measures 15.75 x 14 inches (height x diameter).
Tube Pro Cooler Carrier
If you’d rather just get a float for the cooler you already transport to the beach, this rectangular float comes has a deck area designed to accommodate most coolers between 36 to 50 quarts, allowing you to load it with your favorite YETI, Igloo, or whatever other cooler brand you use. Fully-inflated sides and floor can keep up to 200 pounds afloat, allowing you to fill that 50-qt cooler with all the drinks and ice you need without worrying about the darn thing tipping over. It’s made from heavy-duty 30-gauge PVC vinyl, so it should hold up as capably as the outfit’s river tubes and boat tubes, with four large support handles, making it easy to move around and tow behind your raft, tube, or kayak. Plus, it will make a great raft for kids and dogs (or a portable grill) if you want one in a pinch.
IceMule Pro Backpack Cooler
We love this backpack cooler for its streamlined profile, which closely resembles the dimensions of regular backpacks, making it very convenient to carry compared to excessively wide and unwieldy backpack coolers. It comes in two sizes, one sized for 18 cans and one sized for 24 cans, both of which are fitted with PolarLayer insulation, allowing it to maintain freezing temperatures for the better part of 24 hours. While all those are already impressive, it also comes with the outfit’s unique IM AirValve, which allows air to be added to the cooler bag’s insulation layer, give it the ability to float when the bag gets dropped in the water. Features include a rolltop zipper-free closure that makes it easy to grab drinks, welded seams, padded shoulder straps, and a dry zipper pocket out front. Easily the most versatile option in this list with its ability to serve as a backpack cooler, a floating cooler, and even a dry bag after the trip. Very handy.
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This floating cooler is shaped like a tiny kayak, giving it a streamlined shape that makes it easier to avoid rocks and floating branches when you’re towing it behind your kayak, paddleboard, or raft. Unlike most of the inflatable coolers you’ll find here, this one uses proper foam insulation, allowing it to keep ice for up to 24 hours, so you can stay in the water overnight and still enjoy cold beverages. Granted, it only has a 15-quart capacity, so it fits a maximum of 15 cans inside (less, if you want to add ice, of course), so it’s not quite the kind of cooler you can bring for a larger group.
It’s more durable than inflatable options with its double-wall, blow-molded construction, while a screw-on seal lid on top keeps your drinks securely inside. Molded handles with tow points make it easy to tie down to your watercraft, while a couple of cupholders give you a handy place to set down drinks. If you want something that can carry more drinks, they also offer a 30-quart version that’s, basically, the same thing, but around twice the size.
- PERFECT FOR OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Take this cooler with you when kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle...
TRC Recreation Super Soft Floating Cooler
Most standard coolers use foam in between the plastic walls to provide insulation. In the case of this floating cooler, they removed the plastic parts entirely, creating an ice box that floats built entirely from foam. A glossy vinyl coat makes the surface more hardwearing than just bare foam, while the material’s natural insulation should keep the contents cold for a good few hours.
It comes in a three-sided shape that makes it look like a toy boat for your kids to play with on the water, while the main compartment makes enough room to fit up to 18 cans with a heaping of ice in tow. It has a loop at the front tip and a grommet in the back that you can use for both towing it on a watercraft or tying it down to keep it from floating away, while a pair of cupholders and a large rectangular groove gives you a place to set down drinks and snacks. Overall, we love the unique design, although the all-foam construction will probably need a little more reinforcement in order to hold up for much longer periods.