Let's talk coolers this week! There are many names you could think of when it comes to fishing coolers and a bunch of company names that either make you need a second mortgage or a quick stop at the ATM. No different, however, is the backpack cooler game, but that doesn't mean you'll have to smash your piggy bank to get one. You're not going to find a Yeti or Icemule here (though you might find a You Beti one someday). In all fairness, I found these two before I even started fishing, but they have produced for me several times over without failing.
Before we continue, these packs have never been tested with bags of ice. I have always used ice packs with them, and they have given me zero issues with keeping items & fish cold. I do recommend Cooler Shock (Amazon affiliate link here) Ice packs. These have frozen several of my fish solid overnight—big shout out to Mike at Smitty’s Surf Fishing for turning me onto these.
This one has gone up in price apparently as when I got it, it was about $35, and as always, time makes things more expensive. I needed a better cooler backpack when we were traveling and going on a day hike or trip without the RV, and this one caught my eye. It is large enough to hold your families' snacks & food if that's something you're looking for, but it is also a great fish carrier. This pack is lightweight and has a solid construction that holds 28 Cans (per the site) with a smidge of room to spare. That size thing throws me since I've never really carried that many cans. Let's talk an easier lingo.
This will easily hold your limit of Pompano for the day, with maybe one Red Drum snuck in at the end. That was a little better, wasn't it? Granted, your red will likely need to be bent up a bit to get in there, but it will hold. I recommend putting a plastic bag on your fish, though, if you plan on using this bag for anything else besides fishing. Fish oil does like to linger if you don't wash this bag down with some dish soap while cleaning. It does hold water pretty well, but I have never kept a bunch in there to see what would happen.
Ice bags will hold in here but will not act like your Ice Mule or Yeti bags. The water will seep through eventually, and you'll be left with that uncomfortable feeling of ice water hitting you when you don't want it to. The back is padded with a small gap for ventilation, so you don't get that sweaty back thing. Let's be honest, though, and it's going to happen when fishing in Florida. Just part of the adventure, Clark!
The top and front compartments are handy for holding your keys, phone, and bait. I have thrown my lure box, leader wallet (the previous article is the hyperlink), and artificial bait in these with zero issues. Even in the sun, they didn't seem to get too hot, so I consider that a win. One addition I liked and discovered on accident was the side straps. While they are usually used for water bottles or things like that to hang, I found that they hold my sand spikes very well! I turn them upside down and let the "T" portion sit on them, and I'm good to go.
Backpack Seat Cooler
This is my primary carry item for almost all of my fishing needs. I take this one to the beach every time I'm out there surf fishing (as a chair) and alone when I go fishing from the shore in the bay. Though it isn't flashy, it packs a punch for what it can do. It will easily hold a six-pack, ice pack, and your meal if you needed it to do so. It weighs about 4 lbs dry due to the metal (aluminum) frame, which doesn't feel all that heavy when you're out there.
In fish capacity, you should be able to get 3-4 pompano in there with your ice pack or a limit of trout. A red drum would be hard-pressed to be in there without some serious bending (complete U shape) but could be done. I recommend a plastic bag for carrying the fish with this one as I've had a bit more of a challenge cleaning it than the Igloo (still able, just a bit more time is all).
My constant setup is a lure box and one ice pack in the main compartment: Stink stick, tape measure, FishGum, Fishbites, and my keys. It holds everything quite nicely and is organized with minimal issues. I have to do some retrofitting to get my sand spikes on there, but they will sit comfortably on the seat portion while walking.
Now that we are talking about that, the seat is quite comfortable. Granted, it does not have a back on it, but it is a stool, so I don't put it as a determining factor. The seat holds up to 325 lbs and will also hold an exasperated angler sitting down a bit defeated after a break-off. Not that I know that feeling or anything….moving on. It folds up quickly and is set to carry on your back or be carried by hand comfortably as it has padded handles. It truly is a great companion when I go to the beach or inshore.
I would have brought you a 3rd, but I have yet to venture to a different one that I can speak about confidently. I've seen some quite nice ones, but they also come with a not-so-nice price tag. One day, when this writing pays me, I might be able to get some of that gear to test, and for now, I'm going to bring you what I have.
Do you have a cooler bag or seat you take for fishing? Let us know in the comments where you saw this post or in the comments section on here. Thanks for coming by and reading today! If you'd like to request something to be investigated or written about, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get on it. Thanks again, now go forth and do good things!