Hard-bodied floating cooler with dual-wall, blow-molded construction. Boasts a 15-quart capacity, and can hold up to 15 12-ounce cans and 10 pounds of ice. Foam insulation helps ice stay solid for 24 hours. Built-in cup holders. Watertight lock on lid. Molded handles and tow points.
Some users say it doesn’t hold as much ice as the manufacturer claims.
Cooler lifts from the base and can be used off the water. Easy to carry. Includes cup holders. Very durable. Can take the abuse of whitewater. Cooler stays in place inside the inner tube base. Keeps drinks cold all day long. Additional space in the base for sunscreen and other essentials.
The holes for the cup holders sit low and have a tendency to fill with water.
Inflatable PVC cooler with lid that zips shut to keep contents inside through waves and tips. Users appreciate its tough construction. Capacity of 30 quarts. Designed with a grommet for tying to another float or watercraft. Features four cup holders.
Some reports that ice melted quickly, but the chilled water kept drinks cold.
Inflatable vinyl cooler with clip-on lid can hold up to 72 cans as designed. Cooler base can be used to support a standard cooler up to 48 quarts. Durable design that holds generous quantities. Recommended for tubing and kayaking. Outfitted with six cup holders, handles, and lines to connect to other inflatables.
Cover does not seal tightly and may allow splashes. A few have arrived damaged.
Hard-sided cooler designed for aerodynamic towing. Offers a capacity of 30 quarts, as well as 20 pounds of ice. Includes four drink holders. Highly buoyant, without the risk of popping like inflatable options. Water-tight and well made. Lid screws on so you won't lose items in case of tipping.
No grommets, so you must tie the tow rope to a handle.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Whether you like floating in the pool, fishing with friends, or kayaking in a scenic river, spending time on the water is a relaxing way to enjoy warm weather. But all that time in the sun can make you pretty thirsty, which is why you need a high-quality floating cooler to keep your favorite beverages nearby and cold.
Like a traditional cooler, a floating cooler is an insulated container that, when filled with ice, helps keep cans and bottles chilled. To make it more convenient for use on the water, the cooler floats, which means you don’t have to get out of the water when you want a beverage. Some floating coolers inflate like a pool float, while others are made of foam or lightweight plastic designed to float. Which one is right for you?
Our buying guide has all the information you need to find the best floating cooler for your next water adventure. If you’re still a little unsure, check our specific product recommendations above for even easier shopping.
When shopping for a floating cooler, it’s essential to consider the water conditions in which you plan to use it. For a pool or other relatively calm water, nearly any floating cooler, including inflatable models, will suit your needs.
However, if you’re going to be boating, fishing, or kayaking in rougher water, you’ll need a more durable model. The cooler should be able to withstand being jostled against rocks, branches, and other hard surfaces. It also has to endure the force of waves or rapids if it will be tossed around in rougher water. Avoid inflatable coolers that aren’t puncture resistant.
You can usually tell how durable a floating cooler is by its material.
Vinyl: When it comes to inflatable coolers, vinyl is the most durable option. However, it’s not puncture resistant, so some of these floating coolers come with a patch kit so you can fix any rips or tears.
Foam: Floating coolers made of thick foam can resist punctures and handle rougher water.
Plastic: If you’re going to use the cooler in particularly rocky rapids or waves, you may prefer one made of lightweight plastic or PVC. It won’t puncture like vinyl or tear like foam. Plastic floating coolers cost more, so take that into consideration if you only need the cooler for pool parties or use in other calm water situations.
The larger the floating cooler, the more cans, bottles, and ice it can hold. However, you don’t want to purchase a cooler that’s too large and bulky to transport easily. In general, floating coolers are smaller than traditional coolers, but they’re usually large enough to accommodate a small group for an afternoon on the water.
Small: If you’re purchasing a cooler to use in your pool and for parties at home, a small cooler (about 15 cans and/or bottles) usually works best because you can easily refill it. A large floating cooler may take up too much space in the pool, leaving less room for swimming and games.
Large: If you’re going fishing, boating, or kayaking, you’ll likely want a larger cooler (50 or 60 cans and/or bottles) since you won’t be able to get back to shore easily for refills.
If you plan to travel with your floating cooler, you want a model that’s as portable as possible. An inflatable cooler is your best bet because you can deflate it for easy packing. Foam and plastic coolers are usually harder to pack because they can’t be folded.
Some floating coolers have hooks or loops for attaching a line so you can tow it behind your boat, kayak, raft, or other watercraft. It can be a particularly important feature if you’re spending time in rougher water where there’s a chance your cooler could drift away.
Some floating coolers have convenient, built-in cupholders along the outside edge. That saves you from holding your beverage the whole time you’re in the water. Some models have just two cupholders, but others have as many as eight.
Because it’s used in water, an inflatable cooler can grow moldy quite easily. Look for a cooler that’s easy to clean, so you can keep it free of bacteria, mold, and debris. Avoid models with lots of grooves or crevices, which can easily harbor moisture and germs.
Raft: Solstice Swimline SunSkiff 3-Person Boat
If you’re hanging out on the lake or even in a pool, a raft or inflatable boat is the perfect way to enjoy the water. We like this one from Solstice because it can hold three people and is made of durable PVC.
Pool noodles: Coast Athletic Famous Foam Pool Noodles
When you’re relaxing in your pool with your beverage of choice, it helps to have a pool noodle to keep you afloat. These noodles from Coast Athletic are a favorite because they’re made of ultra-soft foam and come four to a pack.
Floating coolers vary in price based on material, size, durability, and other features. Most cost between $10 and $150.
Inexpensive: The most affordable floating coolers are typically inflatable models made of lower-quality vinyl or thin foam that work best in a pool setting. These usually don’t have a cover or built-in cupholders. You’ll pay between $10 and $26 for these floating coolers.
Mid-range: These floating coolers are usually inflatable models made of higher-quality vinyl or thicker foam and suitable for the pool or other relatively calm water conditions. You can also find larger inflatable coolers made of lower-quality vinyl in this price range. Some feature covers and built-in cupholders, too. They typically range from $26 to $52.
Expensive: The most expensive floating coolers are usually made of hard plastic or extremely thick foam. They work well for rougher water conditions, so you can take them on trips over rapids. Most models in this price range have a tow point and a watertight cover, too. You’ll typically pay between $52 and $150 for these floating coolers.
Q. Where can I use a floating cooler?
A. A floating cooler is suitable for most bodies of water, including pools, rivers, lakes, and even the ocean. If you plan to use a floating cooler in the ocean or a river with strong currents, you need a particularly durable model, so stick with a cooler made of hard materials.
Q. How do I clean a floating cooler?
A. Nearly all floating coolers can be wiped down with a damp cloth, so they’re easy to clean. If there are stains or particularly sticky spots, you can use a mixture of soap and water to clean the surface. Be gentle when cleaning an inflatable cooler because it can tear or rip if you scrub too hard.
Q. Can an inflatable floating cooler sink?
A. It’s unlikely that an inflatable floating cooler will sink if you handle it carefully and avoid puncturing or ripping it. Some models also have built-in airbags to keep them from sinking if they’re punctured or torn.
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