The temperature’s heating up, and you’re preparing for a summer living in the pool or on the lake. You’re not sacrificing getting out of the water for a cold beverage, though, so you need the best floating cooler to tow along with you into the water. You’ve come to the right place!
Keep reading to learn our top five must-have floating coolers. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom for a buyer’s guide to floating coolers and some frequently asked questions by floating cooler buyers.
Our Top Picks
Cuddy Floating Cooler and Dry Storage Vessel
CreekKooler Floating Cooler
Best for Budgets
Intex Mega Chill
This premium floating cooler from GoSports has marine-grade features, making it more robust than your typical cooler designed for coming with you to the lake or pool. When not in the water, it functions perfectly as a regular cooler.
The product, made with Sure Float floatation to make it unsinkable, is 39 x 23 x 10 inches and weighs 24.7 pounds empty. If you’re going to spend a large amount of time in the water and want your drinks ice cold, invest in the Cuddy Floating Cooler and Dry Storage Vessel.
- Dual-walled insulation, resulting in 12 to 48 hours of ice retention
- Available in four colors
- 40-quart capacity for maximizing drink storage
- Six-foot tow strap with carabiner included
- Four cup holders built-in on top
- Easy cooler access with two large lids
- Heavier than most floating coolers
- Holds the same amount of ice and cans as our best value choice, even though it’s supposed to be 10 quarts larger
CreekKooler’s floating cooler is definitely the best-valued choice on the market.
Made from synthetic materials, this cooler has some of the same features as the Cuddy Floating Cooler and holds the same amount of ice and drinks, even though the cooler is ten quarts smaller. It’s marketed as being able to hold 30 12-ounce cans and 20 pounds of ice.
The floating cooler weighs about seven pounds less than the Cuddy (17.9 pounds), and its dimensions are 39.5 x 21 x 12 inches.
- Easy to tow on land and water
- Available in five popular colors
- Four built-in cup holders
- Dual-walled, blow-molded construction for ice retention for up to 48 hours
- Quality is not as high as the Cuddy Floating Cooler
- Some complaints about leaking, so you might not want to fill it to full capacity
Best for Budgets
This neat floating cooler is perfect for pool and lake-goers on a budget. Made from vinyl material, the Intex Mega Chill is 13” in diameter and 7” deep when inflated. It’s incredibly lightweight, fits a 12-pack of soda, and the cooler pairs with Intex River Tubes.
- Inflatable, making for easy storage when not in use
- Great for floating in lakes, pools, and rivers
- The Velcro strap to close the container is very sturdy
- Not insulated well, so you will need to either add insulation or use a small round cooler if you’d like your beverage to stay cold for a long time
- Short strings for tying to a boat–you may want to buy extra paracord
This floating cooler is shaped well to fit a regular cooler inside and insulated well to be used as a cooler on its own. It stores 12 to 18 beverages, making it perfect for use in a pool or lake.
Designed from vinyl, the cooler weighs 6 pounds when empty, this cooler’s capacity is 16 quarts with 23 x 17 x 9.5 inches. dimensions.
- The lid securely keeps your drinks safe, so they can easily be pulled behind rafts and boats
- The high-quality closed-cell foam keeps drinks insulated for hours
- Additional accessory holder for sunglasses and sunscreen
- There are three little holes in the design where water can get in, leaking and melting ice
- A couple of reviewers indicated the cooler smells strange
This cool floating cooler made from leakproof nylon comes with a removable cooler, so you can use it on land or in the water. It’s 9.5 quarts, and the dimensions are 4 x 13 x 15 inches. It weighs only 2.4 pounds empty and claims to hold up to 24 cans.
- Pool party ready with six numbered cup holders, so you and your friends can keep your drinks straight
- Easily linkable, so you can attach two or more inflatable to this cooler to keep everyone nearby
- The removable cooler has a shoulder strap for easy transport
- Gaudy, may stand out a little too well
- Water sneaks into the cup holders and weighs them down, so you may lose a drink or two if this happens
Floating Cooler Buyer’s Guide
Type of Cooler
There are two main types of floating coolers to be aware of, which include the following:
- Light-duty floating coolers: These are intended for pools and calm lakes, so you don’t have to worry about them coming across a strong wave or staying cool for extra-long periods.
- Robust floating coolers: These are designed for rougher water conditions, where waves might be present. They also tend to have longer cooling times.
Floating coolers are insulated in different ways, depending on the quality of the cooler. These coolers can be insulated with one of the following materials:
- Foam: Low-density elastomer or polymer that provides a thermal barrier
- Dual Walled: An extra wall is used to create a thermal effect
- Blow Molded: Creating hollow plastics used for thermoplastic by heating and inflating a plastic tube
- Double Weave: A cloth with two sides that is stuffed in with insulation to create a thermal effect
Most floating coolers have a storage size between 9 and 40 quarts, which includes ice and beverages. Sturdier, robust-built coolers are going to be capable of holding more ice than smaller floating coolers.
While a 9-quart cooler may be able to hold as many cans as a 40-quart, it can’t hold as much ice. This means the drinks will not stay cool for long.
When considering the storage size you need, consider both a) how many beverages you need to take with you and b) how long you need your beverages to stay cool.
Cup holders are a bonus that many floating coolers are equipped with. If your floating device doesn’t have a drink holder, you can easily place your soda can in the cooler’s cup holder without worrying about the drink tipping into the lake or pool.
You should also consider the sturdiness of the cup holders because some inflatable drink holders are not sturdy, which could result in losing your drink in the water if the floating device tips.
Linkability and Towability
You want your floating cooler to stay close by, so pay attention to how your floating device can connect to tubes and boats. You also want to make sure the cable is sturdy so it doesn’t break and leave your drinks stranded.
Floating coolers are either made from hard or soft materials.
Common hard materials used in floating coolers include High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) or Synthetic.
HDPE is a level 2 plastic and known for being able to withstand extremely hot temperatures. It’s also known for being incredibly durable, like our premium choice, the Cuddy Floating Cooler and Dry Storage Vessel.
Synthetic materials are created by combining plastic and different materials in a lab. These materials are versatile and more affordable than HDPE, which is what makes the CreekKooler Floating Cooler such a great value.
Common soft materials used in floating coolers include vinyl and nylon.
Vinyl is commonly used as a shorthand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), one of the most widely used types of plastics in the United States. PVC is a high-strength thermoplastic material.
The caveat with PVC is research suggests it may be toxic to human health and the environment because it uses large amounts of chlorine and dioxin (which may be the cause of the smell reported in the TRC Recreation Water Resistant Floating Drink Kooler).
Nylon is a silk-like thermoplastic, often made from petroleum. Nylon is a sturdy, durable material, but the biggest disadvantage is it easily absorbs water (which is probably the reason water sneaks into the Airhead Aqua Oasis’s cup holders.)
Floating Coolers Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a floating cooler supposed to stay cool?
This is dependent on the cooler you choose and the weather conditions. A hard cooler like the Cuddy or the CreekKooler can stay cool for up to 48 hours. Softer materials may only stay cool for two to four hours in the hottest conditions.
Will any cooler float in the water?
You can float most coolers on top of a floating device, but most coolers are not capable of floating on their own.
If you are going to be spending an extended amount of time in a pool or water with your cooler, invest in a cooler specifically designed for floating so you don’t have to worry about your cooler potentially slipping away from its floaty and sinking.
Wrapping up the Best Floating Cooler for the Lake or Pool
You’re ready to float all summer long while staying hydrated. If you’re a diehard water fan, be sure to get the Cuddy Floating Cooler.
Need to stock up on more gear to be prepared for summer? Check out the Minnesota Gear page.