There are tons of different designs for drink holders on a boat. Rather than try to cover all options at once — an overwhelming array — I’ve decided to start with ones that mount to rails, such as you’d use in the cockpit. These drink holders are all designed to mount to a single stainless tube (not a double mount as on a binnacle), most vertically but some on horizontal bars as in the photo (it’s from Snapit! below). Some can be mounted in other ways as well.
There are two things that you need to decide in choosing drink holders:
- What are you going to put in the holder? A water bottle, soda or beer can (with or without a cozie?), coffee mug, sport bottle? They are all different sizes and what will work for one may not work for another.
- Does it need to be gimballed? That is, does it need to stay perfectly upright no matter the conditions?
One thing to know about any of the drink holders in this category is that if you leave them out full time (as we did as we were cruising full time), expect that you’ll have to replace them every few years. The sun will degrade the plastic and our experience was that even stainless attachment “bolts” (I use that term loosely as they’re pretty small) corrode and fail.
Also, while coffee mugs won’t fit in many drink holders, narrow insulated cups (such as my favorites from Thermos — pricey but work great and leak proof) often will. You just need a drink holder that’s deep enough so that the insulated cup won’t tip out.
Water Bottles and Cans without a Cozie
This holder isn’t large enough for sport bottles or can cozies, but it’s a great gimbaled holder for 12-ounce cans and water bottles at a really good price compared to many others. It cannot be used with a mug.
It’s available in a number of colors and all come with several mounting options, including rails. Price varies considerably with color — and be sure to check the shipping cost (if you’re buying several, choosing one with free shipping for orders over $25 is often the best option).
I saw another good option for a rail-mount gimballed holder at the Annapolis Boat show. These are stainless and have insulation built right in, but they won’t hold anything larger than a 12-ounce can and they can’t accommodate mugs. They’ll fit any rail from 7/8″ to 1-1/4″. Very nice looking, I’ve never seen them from another seller:
Snapit! Drink Holders
Snapit! offers a variety of different drink holders — they’re available at West Marine and they also have their own online store. Most are not gimballed — the double one shown at the top of this article is one of only a few of theirs that swing.
You need to specify the tube size, and they have sizes ranging from 7/8″ to 1-1/4″ including metrics. Some models are fairly expensive, but the basic ones aren’t ($14 plus shipping as I write this). And the basic ones WILL accommodate can cozies, sport bottles and mugs!
- Single can (with cozie) or mug — not gimballed (available only at Snapit!)
They also offer holders that are designed to be attached to horizontal rails and also to angled rails as well as a variety of double holders:
- See all Snapit! drink holders (at Snapit! — WM does not carry the full line)
- Snapit! drink holders at West Marine
Any of the holders with a 3-1/2″ diameter opening can be used with the wine Yoebi to hold wine glasses, too!
The Winch Wench
Okay, the winch wench doesn’t attach to a rail . . . but it doesn’t really fit in any other category, either. It could be a good, cheap alternative if you have winches in places where you’d like to have a drink holder. We used them aboard friends’ boats a couple of times and they seemed sturdy enough.
They’ll work with a can cozie and also you can use them to hold a wine glass with the Yoebi insert. But they’re not gimballed and they won’t work with a coffee mug . . .
- Winch wench (note: these have the Lats & Atts logo)
Whether it’s water or something more potent, it’s important to keep your drinks from spilling. Any of these will work well as they attach to the boat. My advice is to stay away from suction cup drink holders — I’ve never found any that work well over the long haul.