Every angler needs a good cooler. Even if you aren’t taking all your catches home to cook, it always helps to have a good-sized cooler on hand, as you can use to store fresh catch or keep food and beverages cool as you enjoy a relaxing day of fishing.
Moreover, you can use a cooler for countless other outdoor activities, like camping, tailgating, or days out at the beach, making it a worthwhile investment for many people.
Of course, as anyone that has used a cooler packed with food, drink, or fish will know, the container quickly gets heavy when it is filled.
When this happens, lifting and carrying a massive cooler can be exhausting, especially when navigating rough terrain outdoors. You may even need two people to carry a full extra-large cooler!
This is where a wheeled cooler comes into play.
What Is a Wheeled Cooler?
A wheeled cooler is a type cooler box with a set of wheels attached to the base.
Designed for easy outdoor transportation, wheeled coolers remove all the hassle of traveling with a large cooler, making it a fantastic buy for any anglers looking for an easier to way to bring their catch back or take some food and drink out for the day.
Why Buy a Wheeled Cooler?
Undecided whether a wheeled cooler is worth the extra expense? There are quite a few benefits that may help sway you towards a wheeled cooler, with the most obvious being how much easier it makes transporting fish and/or food and drink outside.
The best wheeled coolers come with robust wheels that can navigate even the roughest terrain, allowing you to easily bring a packed cooler to and from your fishing destination. Carrying a cooler packed with ice, food, drink, or fresh fish requires a lot of strength and stamina, often requiring two people.
With a wheeled cooler, most people can easily move the container by themselves without exerting extra effort. This means you are fresh and energized when you sit down to cast a line, rather than catching your breath after an arduous hike to your spot in the surf, boat dock or fishing pier with a packed cooler!
Furthermore, because the wheels raise the cooler from the ground, there is less heat transfer so the ice lasts much longer in wheeled models. This is an extra bonus for those hot summer days where your ice melts even quicker.
Choosing the Best Wheeled Cooler for You?
With so many products to choose from, finding a wheeled cooler for your needs can be challenging. So, we have created a handy buying guide with all the information that you need to find one, along with a selection of some of the best wheeled coolers currently available.
Always make sure you buy a cooler with enough storage space for your needs, whether it’s carrying fish or some supplies for your trip. Coolers come in many sizes so it should be easy to find one that meets your needs.
For example, a solo trip for a day or two won’t need anything too large, with around 40-50 quart capacity being a solid option. If traveling with a friend or two for more than a day, then you will likely need something in the 60-70 quart range, going above this for multi-day trips with several people.
Remember – the bigger the capacity the larger and bulkier the cooler!
The internal size of the cooler is important as it determines the capacity, yet this differs from the external size due to the use of insulation. Also, the external dimensions will impact the portability of the wheeled cooler, as a bigger cooler takes more effort to move and requires more storage space in a vehicle.
Basically, you need to ensure that the external size is not too large to transport. Be sure to check this if you have limited space in the trunk or truck – anglers take a lot of gear with them so vehicle space is often at a premium!
Also, just remember that even a large cooler with wheels will require more effort to pull around.
The best are rotomolded. This involves using a single piece of plastic to eliminate seals that lower insulation quality, meaning the material keeps ice (and fish!) cooler for longer. It is also the best material in terms of durability and weather resistance, making it highly recommended for most outdoor activities.
However, rotomolded materials are more expensive to develop, so the cost of the cooler is generally higher than those made from standard plastic. That said, because it’s likely to last much longer before needing replacement, it may save money over the long-term.
Insulation – Polystyrene vs Polyurethane
There are two materials used to create the insulation inside of a cooler – polyurethane or polystyrene.
Polyurethane offers the best insulation properties, meaning you can expect longer cooling times when choosing a cooler with this insulation. It is lightweight, affordable, and durable, making it one of the most widely used materials for cooler insulation.
However, it does cost more than polystyrene insulation, which is cheaper so the better option for anyone looking for a budget-friendly wheeled cooler.
This determines how long the cooler retains ice for, so always check this to ensure that it meets your needs – the last thing you want is for the fish to start spoiling because you stayed an extra day on your camping trip!
Ice retention rates vary from product to product, some last under 24 hours, other several days, and many can even retain ice for over a week. As you might imagine, the longer the cooler retains ice, the more expensive it tends to be.
Also, remember that the outside temperature influences the ice retention rate. Most manufacturers will state this, giving a few examples of ice retention rates at common outdoor temperatures. Make sure to check this in any case, as the climate where you live may impact the ice retention on the cooler.
Always think about your fishing habits, using this to help you find the right amount for your needs. For instance, if you only spend the day at your fishing spots, then 24-48 hours of ice retention would suffice. If you love multi-day fishing trips that involve lots of travel, then going for 7-10 days of ice retention is always worthwhile.
All the great wheeled coolers use a telescopic handle. This allows you to adjust the length to suit your height, ensuring everyone finds it comfortable and easy to move the cooler around. Don’t overlook the importance of handle length – tall people may get strains and aches from poor posture if the handle is not the correct height.
Also, you may find that side handles are also a good option for your wheeled cooler. These make it easier to add and remove the cooler from vehicles, while also allowing for two people to carry it when needed, which is a lifesaver if navigating across shallow water or other tough terrains.
Wheel Sizes and Materials?
Another important thing to consider is the type of wheels the cooler has. Buy something cheap and low quality and the wheels are going to cause more problems than they solve – they make traversing rough terrain difficult and are likely to break sooner than later.
Therefore, it is vital that you choose wheels that are thick and built to last. They should have wide treads that are designed for different terrain (such as sand, gravel, mud, and grass), with larger wheels always being the best choice for this.
Also, the number of wheels varies from cooler to cooler. A two-wheel design is perhaps the most common, although there are three and four-wheeled designs available.
Wheel materials are usually all-plastic but there are some that use metal rims with rubber tires, like those on vehicles. These are, unsurprisingly, some of the best wheels in terms of performance and durability, although they tend to be found on higher-end wheeled coolers.
Maintenance and Hygiene
As you can imagine, a cooler used to freeze fish works up quite the smell over time. So, you want to consider how easy the cooler is to maintain over time, as the last thing you want is for it to be stinking of fish when it is in storage.
There are some features to look for that help maintain a clean and hygienic cooler. For instance, a drainage plug lets you easily remove melted water, while removable inner and outer sections are good for quick and easy cleaning.
Certain materials may also be embedded with antimicrobial properties. These are usually on high-end products but they do make cleaning and maintaining the cooler much easier, increasing resistance to mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors.
Coolers come with a wide range of additional features that can enhance your time outdoors. A popular one is the addition of molded cup holders, which are great for resting a beer while you fish, while removable compartments are handy for organizing and easier cleaning.
There is a whole host of features you may want to consider in a cooler. Here are some of the most popular:
- Molded cup holders – Common on most mid-range and above products, these provide a handy location to rest a drink while fishing
- Bottle opener – Great for cracking open a cold one!
- Integrated prep station – Used to prepare food, fish, and your gear, these prep stations are built-in to the cooler for added functionality
- Removable bins – Found inside the container, these bins allow you to organize the contents or can be removed and used for storing your trash or other items outside the cooler. Makes cleaning the inside much easier too.
- Fish scale – Many coolers have a fish scale guide on the lid, allowing you to check the size with minimal effort
- Device holder – Cooler lids are also integrated device holders, meaning you can place your phone or tablet there while you fish. Great for watching videos or listening to music as you fish.
Here are our top wheeled cooler picks:
YETI Tundra Haul Portable Wheeled Cooler
YETI is regarded as one of the best cooler manufacturers around, so it is unsurprising to see that their first foray into the wheeled cooler market is one of the top products available. A variation of the timeless Tundra cooler, the Tundra Haul comes with that trademark YETI quality, including robust construction, excellent ice retention, and an impressive set of wheels.
Using rotomolded construction and pressure-injected polyurethane foam, the YETI Tundra Haul boasts incredible ice retention, although the company does not give an estimate on how long exactly.
This is because YETI understands there are many variables that can impact ice retention, from the type of ice to the amount of sun exposure, so they don’t want to mislead with an inaccurate estimation.
From most reviews, ice retention is anywhere from 1-3 days depending on conditions. This makes it great for day and weekend trips, although any longer and it may not be enough for your needs.
Other noteworthy features include a set of NEVERFLAT wheels. These are made from a solid single piece of plastic, making them impact and puncture-resistant, while the rest of the cooler is also exceptionally durable thanks to the rotomolded construction.
Capacity is 55 quart or 13.8 gallon, which translates to roughly 55 pounds of ice or 45 cans of beer using a 2:1 ice to can ratio. Transporting the cooler when full is easy thanks to the robust welded aluminum telescopic handle, while you can also carry it using the lid grip handles.
Tundra Haul Quick Take-Aways:
- Backed by industry-leading outdoor cooler brand Yeti
- Rotomolded construction for extreme durability – Yeti builds these like armored tanks
- Outstanding ice-retention thanks to the thick, commercial-grade polyurethane insulation
- Rugged, solid NeverFlat wheels make it easy to get around and will never leave you stuck
RovR RollR 45 Quart Wheeled Cooler
The RovR 45 Quart cooler is a spacious wheeled cooler that comes with a nice selection of features, including high-quality all-terrain rubber tires, a wagon bin, dry bin, and pull-beside dual handle.
While any claims about ice retention must be taken with a pinch of salt due to the many variables that impact retention levels, the RovR RollR does boast seriously impressive performance, offering anywhere from 7 to 10 days of retention. This is perfect for short and long trips alike!
Given how long it can keep your catch or food cool for, it makes sense to offer plenty of capacity to store your things during your trip. The cooler offers a 45-quart capacity, which can roughly translate to 60 cans with 10lbs of ice when not using the deep-freeze dry bin included with the product.
The dry bin is quite useful though as it divides the cooler into different compartments for better organization, essentially converting the cooler into a mini refrigerator during your trip. There is also a large wagon bin included, which basically lets you remove all the contents from the cooler in one go.
Expect the cooler to last too, as it boasts impressive performance rubberized tires that resist punctures. The 9-inch wheels sit on attractive spoked aluminum hubs that are resistant to rust. These 9-inch wheels are incredibly durable and perform excellently in all kinds of terrain, even sandy beaches, making transportation effortless.
You can also opt for some additional accessories to enhance the RollR even further, including a bike attachment so you can cycle with the cooler, dual cup holders, and a prepping board that attaches to the side of the cooler.
RovR RollR Quick Take-Aways:
- Big, all-terrain puncture-resistant rubber tires make pulling easy
- Rotomolded design/thick foam insulation for exceptional ice retention
- Lots of useful optional accessories available
Pelican Elite Wheeled Cooler
Pelican is another big name in the cooler market and its Elite cooler with wheels showcases why the brand has such a great reputation. In fact, the company manufactures coolers for various sectors including military and first responders, so you know these products are some of the best and most reliable around.
The Elite is no exception, with the 45-quart cooler offering up to ten days of ice retention depending on conditions, while there is also a larger 80 quart cooler for those extra-long excursions. It combines a rotomolded design with polypropylene insulation to provide excellent retention and durability, with the rugged cooler capable of handling all the roughest elements.
Other noteworthy features include a freezer-grade gasket to help with ice retention, ensuring no warm air gets inside that could cause ice to melt quicker. There is also a strong latching system that means nothing is getting inside of the cooler without your say – the fact that the cooler is officially recognized as bear-resistant says it all!
The plastic wheels are tough and durable, being resistant to punctures and virtually impossible to damage, while there is a host of cool extras like a fish scale on the lid, molded tie-down slots, drain and plug, and non-skid raised feet to keep the base cooler.
Of course, the handles need to be good on a wheeled cooler and the Pelican Elite delivers. It has a dual-handle system that can be rotated to suit different environments, ensuring you always have the best grip to move the cooler as you go.
Pelican Elite Quick Take-Aways:
- Pelican brand is trusted by first responders and the military
- Rotomolded design with 2 inches of polyurethane insulation keeps your stuff cold for days
- Made in the USA and comes with a lifetime guarantee
Milee Heavy Duty Wheeled Cooler
The Milee is a mid-range wheeled cooler from Seavilis, one of the lesser-known brands on this list yet one that we can see gaining some traction in the future, as this a fantastic cooler available at a reasonable price.
A rotomolded wheeled cooler, Milee offers an impressive 70-quart capacity that is perfect for those longer trips or days out with the family, providing all the space you need to freeze fish or keep food and drink cool.
Milee has all the features you want to see for improved ice retention, including thick walls with commercial-grade insulation, a freezer-grade gasket, and thick and durable steel latches. These all combine to provide up to six days of ice retention.
The wheel design is also impressive, with a combination of metal hubs and rubber tires that make it easier to pull the cooler through trickier terrain. These 7” wheels are also incredibly durable like the rest of the cooler, ensuring excellent value for money as it won’t need to be replaced for a long time.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of this cooler is the extra features included free of charge. For instance, it provides a metal basket to organize contents, a cup holder to hold your beverage as you fish, and a chopping board for prepping the fish or your food for the day.
Other noteworthy features include a tie-down slot to secure the cooler in place, a pressure release button, drainage plug, and military-grade nylon handles. While it would be nice to have telescopic handles for moving the cooler, the nylon handles are still durable and comfortable to use.
Milee Quick Take-Aways:
- Thermoplastic rotomolded construction with commercial-grade insulation
- Large capacity makes it perfect for extended fishing and camping outings
- Loads of useful features like a cutting board, cup holder and integrated bottle opener
Igloo Latitude 60 Quart Rolling Cooler
The Igloo Latitude is the latest wheeled cooler offering from Igloo, one of the foremost brands in the market. Their products are excellent and the Latitude continues this trend, with this wheeled cooler offering the perfect balance between quality and affordability.
Sporting a design that resembles a suitcase, including an extendable telescopic handle, the Latitude from Igloo is a 60qt cooler that has oversized plastic wheels for easier maneuverability. The handle locks in place at various positions, letting you find the right setting for your height and posture.
Given the larger capacity, the Latitude is suitable for multi-day trips, with enough space for plenty of fish or your fresh supplies for the trip. Ice retention is not stated by the manufacturer but tests indicate around 3 days of retention in the right conditions, so it is suitable for multi-day trips but nothing too long.
There are some nice additions included with the cooler, including four self-draining molded cup holders in the lid, tie-down points to secure things on top as you travel, molded side handles for easier lifting, and a triple snap leak-resistant drain plug.
Another cool feature is the mobile device stand, which lets you rest a tablet, smartphone, or other devices on top of the cooler. Because it has such an upright design, it’s a welcome addition as you can watch all kinds of content as you fish.
This is one of the most versatile wheeled coolers we’ve seen.
Igloo Latitude Quick Take-Aways:
- Convenient, easy to move upright design with telescopic handle (like a rolling suitcase)
- Oversized wheels to get you almost anywhere with minimal effort
- Extras: 4 Self-draining cup holders, mobile device stand and bungee cord tie-down slots
Coleman 62 Quart Xtreme Cooler with Wheels
As one of the original cooler manufacturers, it’s safe to say that Coleman still knows a thing or two when it comes to making quality products. The Xtreme is a 62-quart wheeled cooler that exudes that Coleman class, offering a spacious container that retains ice for an impressive 5 days at 90-degrees.
The rugged design of the Xtreme cooler also means that it doubles as a spare chair, which is certainly useful for those multi-person trips where someone inevitably forgets to bring their own chair. The lid is reinforced to allow additional weight, with a maximum capacity of 250lbs, so most people can double the cooler as a chair when needed.
Just make sure to check the integrated cup holders before you sit down, as the Xtreme has four cup holders in the lid!
Transporting the cooler around is made easier thanks to the extra-large plastic wheels, which provide improved mobility across various surfaces including mud, grass, and sand. There is a telescopic handle that locks in place at various positions, while you can also carry the cooler using the molded side handles, which are especially useful when lifting in and out of a vehicle.
At 62 quarts, the capacity is on the bigger side, providing enough space for up to 85 cans of beverage.
Coleman Xtreme Quick Take-Aways:
- Large 62-quart capacity (holds up to 85 cans) for those long outdoor trips
- 5-Day ice retention in temperatures up to 90 degrees F
- Big all-terrain plastic wheels make it a breeze to move, even when loaded
Wyld 75 Quart Dual Compartment Wheeled Cooler
This next cooler is a personal favorite. Wyld Gear may not have the same name-recognition as some of the other cooler brands on this list, but if they keep making products as impressive as this 75 quart wheeled cooler then more people are going to be talking about them.
Boasting a massive 75-quart capacity, excellent ice retention, and a host of other nice features, this a high-end wheeled cooler worth every cent. The cooler comes in 3 eye-catching color combinations that will be sure to impress: orange/blue, purple/gold and yellow/black.
One of the many unique aspects of this wheeled cooler is the dual compartment design. Not many coolers have this feature and it is something we’ve love to see more of, as it is so useful for fishing trips by allowing to store a combination of things like live bait and food, fresh catch and food or just a combination of food and drink to enjoy while fishing.
You can also increase the functionality of the cooler by taking advantage of the various ports and slots found throughout the unit. For instance, there are drainage ports that combine with Wyld tap kits for pouring liquid straight from the cooler – an awesome feature for tailgating.
Of course, angling is our focus and there are a few features for your fishing trips. This includes a slot for a rod holder and aerator ports for a compatible aerator kit, so its certainly one of the most versatile wheeled coolers available.
Given the size and capacity of the cooler, it is on the larger side and is heavy when filled, so transportation can be more challenging. Thankfully, it is made easier thanks to the robust wheels that feature steel hubs and extra sticky rubber tires, ensuring even grip across various surfaces and inclines when pulling the cooler using the nylon handle.
If you’re looking for a quality, extra-large wheeled cooler that will stand out from the crowd for your longer fishing trips, then look no further than this product from Wyld.
WYLD Quick Take-Aways:
- The only Insulated dual-compartment cooler on the market
- Excellent ice retention and comes in the boldest, coolest colors in coolerville!
- Heavy-duty Never-Flat Navigator wheels will get you through rough terrain
- Lifetime warranty
GiNT Rolling Cooler
Not everyone needs the largest wheeled cooler, with many simply looking for a mid-sized container for their day fishing trips. If this sounds like you, then be sure to check this awesome rolling cooler from GiNT.
At 53 quarts, it doesn’t have the largest capacity but this works in its favor, offering a compact design that is easy to carry or pull. The cooler retains ice for 5-7 days in temperature under 77° F and approx. 3 days at a blistering 100° F.
There is also a 30-quart model (non-wheeled) available too should you prefer something smaller and more lightweight.
The cooler’s exterior is made of durable thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) while the interior is made with BAP-free plastic to ensure food safety. The lid can be completely removed for easy cleaning via front and back latches.
The GiNT has one of the most well-thought-out, feature-packed cooler designs I have seen – a kind of Swiss Knife rolling cooler.
It comes with all the features you want in a wheeled cooler, including heavy-duty plastic wheels for smooth transportation on rough terrains, an oversized drainage hold, double tie-down loops to secure more things on top, and four shallow cup holders built into the lid.
The plastic handle also doubles as a hidden tray, with an extra piece of plastic connecting to the handle for a surprisingly spacious surface. This is good for serving food, sorting your bait, or prepping your catch for freezing.
There is also a small food basket that sits inside the cooler, which is handy for keeping food and drink cool but dry, as well as dividers to keep contents separate.
GiNT Quick Take-Aways:
- Well-insulated to keep ice for 5-7 days in temperature under 77° F and about 3 days with a temp of 100° F
- Study TPE exterior and BAP-free interior for added food safety
- Oversized rubber-coated wheels to handle outdoor surfaces and a completely removable lid for easy clean-ups
- Packed with great features such as a folding tray/handle, tie-down loops, removable trays and an oversized water drain plug
Wheeled Cooler FAQs
How long does ice last in a wheeled cooler?
This varies depending on a few things, including the type of insulation, quality of seals and gaskets, ice size and density, and the conditions where the cooler is located.
Some manufacturers give an accurate statement of how long ice lasts by indicating the retention at certain temperatures, although even this can be unreliable due to the other variables mentioned above.
Simply put, there is no concrete way to know how long ice lasts as there so many things that can impact it. Keep an eye on the advertised ice retention rate, preferably at different temperatures, as this gives the most accurate estimate at how long the ice lasts.
How do you know what size of cooler to get?
It depends entirely on your needs and habits. For example, if you plan on fishing for a few hours you won’t need the same size of cooler as if you were on a multi-day fishing trip, so there are a lot of things to consider to help find a suitable size such as trip duration, number of people using the cooler, whether you are storing just fish or fish and other supplies, etc.
Most wheeled cooler sizes start at around 40-50 quarts (smaller are available), which should be fine for most single-day trips. 50-60 quart capacities are more suitable for multi-day trips or a single day with a few people, while upwards of 65 quarts should be ideal for long trips with lots of things to store.
Also, remember that around 30-50 of the cooler’s capacity is taken up by ice, so take this into account if calculating capacity requirements.
Can wheeled coolers be left in the sun?
Yes, wheeled coolers with a hard body can be left in the sun. Bear in mind that the temperature outside does influence ice retention rates, so if you leave the cooler in direct sun the ice will melt much faster than if stored somewhere cooler
Can you use dry ice with a wheeled cooler?
It depends entirely on the individual cooler. Most of the mid to high-end models can be used with dry ice, which lasts significantly longer than wet ice, which typically starts melting after a few days depending on conditions.
How do you store fish in a cooler?
There are a few things to do when storing fish in a cooler. Firstly, you need to gut the fish asap, as this ensures the meat tastes fresher for longer and slows down spoilage.
After this, you need to ensure there is a lot of crushed ice to surround the fish in, which should keep it fresh for as long as possible. Never leave too much water as this makes it spoil faster, so always keep the drainage plug open when storing the fish.
How long do fish last in a cooler?
As any angler knows, the sooner you can ice the fish the better, with deteriorating occurring shortly after death. Even with long ice retention, it’s advised not to keep the fish any longer than five days, as the taste becomes far less appealing by this stage
How do I store a wheeled cooler?
Always make sure you wash and dry the cooler after use. Fish create quite the smell and if you don’t clean it mold will develop, so always take the time to clean it before storage. You may want to store it with the lid open
Can you pull a wheeled cooler in the sand?
The wheeled coolers we have reviewed all performed excellently in most terrains, including sand. A\Keep in mind that a cheap beach cooler with wheels may struggle to navigate through sand due to smaller/lower quality wheels, so always check the reviews before you buy them to make sure it works well on sand.
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