The arrival of the rotomolded cooler about 15 years ago has turned the portable icebox into durable, multi-purpose gear as an expanding range of functionality-extending accessories hits the market. If you once blanched at the price tags on these coolers, consider the shorter lifespan and one-dimensionality of the coolers of the past. And you couldn’t stand on the cheap-o if you needed to improvise a casting platform.


Rotomolding, by the way, is short for rotational molding, a technique for producing molded plastics that have a constant wall thickness without weak spots. Your old cheap-o was injection molded, and full of weak spots.

Anyway, coolers are no longer just for keeping things cool. Here are some ideas for putting your cooler to work.

Start at the Top

Yes, you can stand on it. You can fish, pole, or just get a better view from atop it. And if you can stand on it, you can sit on it as well. In fact, your cooler maybe someone’s seat on the runout and back.

An EVA foam pad applied with an adhesive backing, like the Yeti Cooler Pad, will make the cooler top a more comfortable place to sit and improve traction when standing.

Adding a cutting board will turn the cooler top into a perfect place for prepping bait or lunch, or cleaning your catch. Options run from simple cutting surfaces like these for Engel, K2, or Dakota coolers, to the Yeti 65 Cooler Top Serving Tray, which turns a Yeti 65 into a sideboard buffet.

Convenient features of these cutting boards include installation without cooler modifications, easy removal, and designs that are compatible with EVA foam pads, if you have one installed. They also play nice with other accessories and do not inhibit opening the cooler.

Hey Bubba, Hold This

The cold drinks inside need somewhere to sit once they are on deck and opened. Otherwise, your bilge ends up filled with spilled drinks. A no-holes-drilled option for installing drink holders are cooler-mount products like the YETI Side Mounted 3 Cup Beverage Caddy, which utilizes the tie-down slot on the side of the cooler as a mounting point, while integrating its own tie-down slot so that you can still secure the cooler.

Tackle Box, Part Deux

Going beyond providing just a place to set your soda while landing tarpon are accessories that turn the exterior of a cooler into useful organization and storage space for fishing rods and tackle.

The Side Mounted Two Rod Rack for Yeti coolers keeps a pair of rods handy and out of harm’s way, mounting via the tie-down slot while retaining tie-down functionality. On coolers mounted on the bow of a skiff or bay boat or riding in the cockpit of a larger boat, these holders provide extra rod storage exactly where you need it.

The Side Mounted Fishing Tackle Unit, available for Yeti and Engel coolers, cranks up the usefulness by adding quick-access tool storage and a slot for a Plano 3700 tackle tray.

Everything In Its Place

You don’t want a 30-pound cooler with a 50-pound payload free-ranging around your boat in rough seas or on the road. The rubber feet that come stock on most coolers do a good job of keeping them in place on boat decks even in some chop, but you won’t always want to rely on gravity and friction to keep tackle, gelcoat and toes safe.

On the flip side, some people find that the stock feet on their cooler do too good a job of holding the icebox in place, making it a chore to move it in and out of pickup truck beds and other situations when you would like the cooler to slide more easily.

Utilize he Tie Down Slots

Most coolers have tie-down slots that let you use straps to secure your cooler to footman loops or other anchors mounted on the deck. 

Most coolers have tie-down slots that let you use straps to secure your cooler.

Chocks and brackets are an alternative to footman loops that go a step further in keeping your cooler in one place. The Cooler Mounting Kit from TH Marine creates a permanent cooler mounting station, while the Versa Chock Removable Cooler Mounting Kit has a clever removable design that allows the chocks to be removed when not in use, eliminating tripping and toe-stubbing hazards.

Cooler slides provide the best of both: securing the cooler while allowing it to slide from storage to an accessible, in-use position. The Universal Cooler Slide will fit almost any cooler and is easy to install correctly, eliminating the possibility of slides wanting to bind up.

The 'Cooler' World Is Expanding

Innovative new cooler accessories seem to hit the market all the time.

Need some back support for long days fishing or paddling a paddleboard? The Cooler Leaning Post turns a Yeti 35 into a backrest. The no-tool/no-modification installation lets you choose when you’ll need it.

Fighting big fish? The Universal Cooler Mount Fighting Gimbal is a flexible way to turn your cooler into a big game fishing tool. Secured to the cooler with suction mounts on the interior of the cooler, this gimbal can be set up in an instant when needed, converting your cooler into an inexpensive alternative to bow-mounted tarpon fighting stools and chairs.

And, finally, are you tired of soggy sandwiches? Yes, you are. The SubSafe Waterproof Container is the answer.

Popular Cooler Accessories