The 7 Best Coolers for Whitewater Rafting 2023

Getting ready for a trip and I need to get a cooler.

We’re reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to pick the right cooler for you

Do you have a big whitewater rafting trip planned this year? You have all your gear set out, dry boxes, dry bags, and raft gear. You’ll need a good cooler to keep your food cold. There are a lot of coolers on the market these days, but which one is the best cooler for a whitewater rafting trip? This article will discuss the 7 best coolers for whitewater rafting trips. We’ll also give you some tips on choosing the right one for you. As always, you can contact us for more information on this topic.

When I’m looking for a high-performance cooler to add to my whitewater and rafting cooler inventory, I look for a few features:

  • It must be durable enough to hold up on multiple whitewater rafting trips.
  • Ice Retention: Known for keeping things cool for multi-day trips
  • It has to be able to fit in a raft frame easily
  • Foam insulation is a must for me!
  • Did I mention it has to keep ice frozen??

Your list might look different. Perhaps you are planning only to do day trips and need a cooler to keep your beer cold. Or maybe you prefer a soft cooler for a shorter trip. If so, your search will probably be much different and a cooler bag would probably suffice.

I also chose not to review any wheeled coolers or soft-sided coolers since they are not ideal for rugged whitewater rafting.

That being said, let’s dig into my 7 best coolers for whitewater rafting trips! Let us help you pick the best rafting coolers!


YETI Tundra 65 Cooler, Desert Tan

Our top choice for multi-day rafting trips!

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
10/03/2023 11:30 pm GMT

Whitewater rafting guides have used Yeti Coolers for years. Yetis are known for their durability and for keeping things cold. Plus, they have an excellent warranty that covers repair or replacement if there is a manufacturing defect. YETI coolers come in different sizes to fit your whitewater rafting needs. They offer hard coolers and a soft cooler, but we will focus on their hard coolers.

Roadie 20 – These hard coolers make it perfect for day trips. I use this on short-day floats where I might bring some snacks and drinks. I also use it for solo trips where I am trying to keep the weight down. I use this cooler for most of my Mckenzie River Day floats.

YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, Navy
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
10/03/2023 01:30 am GMT

Tundra 35 – This cooler is a good size for smaller multi-day trips. I use this one on a small overnighter on the Umpqua River, or for day runs on the Mckenzie River. It is perfect for packing lunch and drinks in it and is light enough for one person to move around.

Yeti Tundra 125 cooler for whitewater rafting trip

Yeti Tundra 125

Tundra 125– This is my personal favorite for multi-day trips. It is a little bulky for one person to get in and out of a raft, but it is still doable. It is large enough for me to pack all my breakfasts in one, lunches in another, and dinner in one as well. This is the best rafting cooler to start with if you are planning on running multi-day trips.

It comes with two drain plugs and is not too bulky to swing around a raft frame. The interior space on this cooler accommodates block ice while leaving plenty of room for food and drinks! This is a must-have for rafters!

Pelican Elite Coolers

Another excellent option for whitewater rafting trips is Pelican Elite Hard Coolers. I have used their dry box for years and have been seen as the flagship in the industry, but I am relatively new to their coolers. So far, they have lived up to the hype and share the same quality as their dry boxes.

I have tested these coolers on the river and found them to have superb insulation. They also offer a lifetime warranty! Pelican Elite Hard Coolers come in a variety of sizes, including:

30 Qt – This cooler will fit perfectly in your raft frame and can hold enough food for a multi-day trip.

Pelican 150 cooler for whitewater rafting trip

Pelican 150

150 Qt– This cooler is perfect for multi-day trips. I like the shape slightly better than the YETI Tundra 125; the latches are bomb-proof. I don’t particularly appreciate that the clasps are hard to get to when you strap tie down slots on it in, but I am sure with a few adjustments to my frame, I could make it easier to open while on the river.

Canyon Coolers

The canyon is one of the most popular brands of hard coolers on the market today. These hard coolers are explicitly chosen for their whitewater rafting trips because they are known for their durability. Their latch system is solid, and they fit great on raft frames. They’re also great at keeping food cold. The drain plug on the lid of these hard coolers is tight and doesn’t come loose.

Canyon 45 for whitewater rafting trip

Canyon 45

One drawback is that they can be heavy compared to the Yeti or Pelican coolers. You might want to make sure you load it into your raft empty and then add the food and Ice.

Outfitter 125

I have used this cooler on multiple trips and can assure the rest of you that it will keep food cold on long whitewater rafting trips. I was reminded that I needed to hit the gym when I tried to lift it onto my raft. It definitely was durable and has survived many trips down the Lower Klamath River.

Pro 45

I love this cooler for carrying lunches or vegetables. It is a deep cooler that is all of 45 QTs. The coolest thing about this cooler is the dual-purpose cooler divider and cutting board! It clamps onto the side of the cooler and makes for a great lunch station. This is the best cooler in its size class, and I rarely will go on a whitewater rafting trip without throwing this cooler on the packing list.

RTIC Outdoors Coolers

RTIC Outdoors Coolers for whitewater rafting trip

RTIC 145

RTIC 145

RTIC 145 qt Hard Cooler Insulated Portable Ice Chest Box for Beach, Drink, Beverage, Camping, Picnic, Fishing, Boat, Barbecue

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
10/03/2023 05:11 pm GMT

These hard coolers have a lot going for them. Even their name is cool: Artic without the “A!” The RTIC, like many other coolers on the market, has a familiar design with some standout features that make it both sturdy and useful. With two drains, comfy handles, a significant volume capacity, an easy-to-use design, and so much more.

The RTIC remains competitive against stiff competition from several excellent coolers due to its exceptional cooling performance and value. It has outstanding insulation, extreme durability, and ease of use at a price that is lower than the competition.

One disadvantage is that RTIC provides a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects instead of three and five-year warranties offered by other companies. They also don’t offer a bear warranty as Yeti Coolers do.

Their price point is lower than a Yeti cooler, but its performance is almost equal to other manufacturers. I would recommend RTIC if you are starting and need to stay on a tight budget. This is an excellent option for those getting into whitewater rafting.

I would recommend the RTIC 65 or RTIC 145.


When it comes down to it, YETI, Canyon, RTIC, and Pelican hard coolers are all great options for whitewater rafting adventures. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and what you need from a cooler. YETI is known for its durability and for keeping ice frozen, Pelican is known for its lifetime warranty, and Canyon is known for its ice retention.

My top gear choices for most rafting adventures are the Yeti 125s for all my meals, the Canyon 45 for lunches and vegetables, and either the Pelican 35 or Roadie 20 for drinks during the day.

The Yeti coolers are my favorite because of their warranty, durability, fit in my raft frame, and ability to keep ice frozen. However, I can stand by all these options and have used the other hard coolers on multiple occasions.

You really can’t go wrong with any of the coolers I reviewed here. Contact us if you have any questions regarding how to pack for multi-day trips or organize your gear effectively on a raft or adventure!

All Forward!

Also read: 51 Best Whitewater Rivers in Oregon: The Ultimate Guide

We’re reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Patagonia Black Hole Backpack Review 2023

Introduction: Solving the Backpacking Conundrum As a whitewater rafting guide, I’ve seen my fair share of adventure gear. You need equipment to withstand the most …

Read More →
Chilling on the Mckenzie River near Vida, Oregon

Top Picks: Unveiling the Patagonia Puffer Jacket for Men

As a seasoned whitewater rafting guide, I’ve spent countless hours battling the elements, navigating turbulent waters, and ensuring the safety and comfort of my adventurous …

Read More →
Patagonia: They go everywhere!

Patagonia Women’s Puffer Jacket: A Whitewater Rafting Guide’s Review

Imagine yourself on a thrilling whitewater rafting trip, battling the rapids and staying dry and warm despite the chilly water splashing all around you. The …

Read More →

Disclosure: I may receive affiliate compensation for some of the links at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a product. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.  

Be The First To Know

We offer a monthly e-newsletter with gear giveaways, the most up-to-date river reports, guide spotlights, and more.