I remember the first time I saw a Yeti. It was huge, strong looking, white, and somewhat intimidating.
There is good reason that the best coolers I’ve found carry the same name as the mythic beasts of the Himalayas. When you hear the name Yeti, you think of incredible cold and immense strength. That’s what the YETI brand of coolers offer.
YETI coolers are quickly becoming my favorite brand for many reasons. But before I get stuck into my review of the best YETI coolers, here are some of the most important things I look out for when buying a cooler.
What I want in a high-end performing cooler
- Keeps things COLD! It’s a cooler. It’s supposed to keep my stuff cooler than not being in a cooler would. Even with non disposable coolers, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached into room temperature water to pull out what should have been a nice, frosty beverage while on an extended outdoor trip. I hate paying for things that don’t work!
- Strength: I was seriously tired of flimsy coolers a long time ago. Those convenience store and bait shop Styrofoam disposable coolers pretty much just add to the local pollution level, in my eye. Trying out a bunch of better coolers has led me to my top two criteria. I hate paying for things that break.
- Convenience: The best tools usually have one thing in common. Easy to use. Archimedes was fond of simple, but powerful, tools. The water screw, levers, and pulleys. Just like that old lever and fulcrum, a good cooler will not have a complicated instruction manual.
- Reliability: Goes with the top two (which are tied, btw). If I am going to depend on something while I am out in the wild, it better perform right each time I use it.
- Good value: This doesn’t mean cheap. I would rather pay a fair amount once for something excellent than paying a lower price over and over again for something that doesn’t last or doesn’t do what I want.
- Pretty colors: Just kidding, as long as it keeps my food and meat cool, I’m happy.
What makes a Yeti Cooler so special?
Basically, it’s the construction of the cooler. YETI coolers, for the most part, are molded as one solid piece. One piece for the body, one for the lid. Even the lid hinge holes are part of the injection molding.
Besides using materials that are already well suited for thermal protection, YETI favors a very thick walled construction, called FatWall. Even the other pieces that go into its construction are very durable. The rubber used is very strong, the hinge and latch materials are strong and rust resistant. The hinge itself is usually a piano style, full length hinge.
The T-Rex latches are the same general type of latches used on many ATVs, improved on for a YETI’s specific job. A lid gasket that seals extremely well and even rubber feet on the bottom of some models so they don’t slip around finish them off.
The end result it a very well made piece of equipment. Some YETI’s are so strong, I could easily stand on them. This attention to strength, durability and thermal performance is a major benefit to anyone relying on a cooler for extended periods of time.
Is a YETI cooler right for my needs?
The person that will use a YETI cooler is often someone who makes a living in the outdoors. Who goes where there aren’t air conditioners or even electricity. Ranch workers, river guides, anyone who operates a base camp, professional or other serious fishermen, hunters, etc…
The larger YETI coolers are not meant to be taken on day hikes, that’s for sure. They are heavy. Besides the weight of the cooler itself, we have to consider the weight of the food and beverages, and the ice. Loading one onto a boat, into the back of pick up or SUV, or strapping to an ATV, though, is no real issue.
The one issue I found with some of the YETI coolers is the screw on drain plug. Not everyone I’ve spoken to has this issue, but some do. Check with your retailer if you end up with a leaky plug, as there are options to resolve that particular issue.
Well, now that we all know that I love YETI’s (yes I realise that does sound really weird), let’s look at a few models and see what may be the best Yeti coolers for you.
Top 5 Best Yeti Coolers For Hunting, Camping, Fishing & More
1. YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
Starting off at number one is the mighty YETI Tundra 45 cooler. This model is one of the larger of the YETI coolers and is very versatile while proving outstanding thermal performance. Weighing in at 22 lb. with dimensions of 25 1/2 in long x 16 in wide x 15 ½ in hight, this thing is seriously robust.
This cooler is also bear resistant, up to 1500 lbs of bear abuse can be endured, as long as it’s closed, latched, and locked. Besides the chest itself, this model comes with a dry goods basket. That allows us to keep our food items out of the bottom of the cooler, so we don’t have to eat a soggy sandwich on day 3 of our outing.
A cooler like this is also able to keep our catch of fish or smaller game animals and birds fresh and viable until we get back to where ever we came from. If you use it this way, be sure to keep it closed, latched, and locked. No need to attract other predators if we don’t want them sharing our bounty.
If you have the money and space, using two of these coolers is a great idea for extended hunting and fishing trips. One for our provisions, the other for our catch.
By the way, I found that the YETI instructions for ice pack to food proportions skew a little to the side of overkill. I started using about half the ice pack recommended and still had ice cold beverages at the end of several days. Your mileage will vary, of course.
Expensive, heavy, and absolutely worth the price. One of the best coolers out there and easily tops my list of Best YETI Coolers.
2. YETI Hopper TWO Portable Cooler
Sometimes, you really do something a little more portable. This cooler might be the answer. I ended up using this in conjunction with the Tundra 45 several times.
I’ve also used it on its own for shorter trips. It’s unloaded weight is right around 6 lbs, so be careful with how portable you think it may be. Loaded down with food and drink, add in the ice, still a significant presence on your shoulder. With that in mind, though, this is a nice unit. 12.5 x 24.5 x 16.5 inches.
It’s a softer cooler, so don’t try sitting or standing on it, but soft isn’t really what it is. A hybrid, maybe. The high density DryHide shell fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and abrasion. The liner is made from a FDA approved food-grade material. The thick closed cell foam is what gives it the cold keeping properties we expect from a top notch cooler. The zipper is fashioned in the same style as hazmat or survival suits, so it really seals well.
This YETI Hopper Two also has multiple D-ring tie down points. Secure it in any number of ways with the six D-rings. The slight taper from top to bottom might seem like a waste of space for some, but I found it made sense in use in the field. A great design for one of the best Yeti coolers available. Highly recommended!
3. YETI Roadie 20 Cooler
This YETI cooler falls right in the middle of the last two YETI coolers. Something that is still portable but holds onto that classic and robust YETI design.
This YETI Roadie 20 is more portable than a full size YETI, but holds more than the bag style cooler I mentioned above. Smaller than the 45 and about 2/3rds its weight, the Rodie 20 has all the same features as the larger Tundras. Hard molded, T-Rex latches, Bear resistant (within reason, of course. The bear could still decide to simply steal the whole thing from you, sell it online…), and keeps ice for days.
Its smaller size allows for being taken on trips where space may be at a minimum. Canoeing or kayaking for instance. 19 x 14 x 15 inches and about 16 lbs. For its size, one of the best YETI coolers I tested.
4. YETI Tundra 65 Cooler
For many people, this is the one that started the YETI craze. Big, very heavy, just about perfectly made. 30.5 x 17.5 x 16 inches and weighing 38 pounds. While it is big, this can make it hugely beneficial for storing game and deer and also using the lid for cutting bait on the boat.
By the way, I find myself using the Tundra I kept for my personal use for things other than trips to the Outback. I use it out back in my yard. Have a few people over for a cook out, pack it full of tasty beverages, and no worries about anything being lukewarm.
5. YETI Rambler
I had to include this in my list of best YETI coolers, because it’s just so cool! A 30 ounce stainless steel vacuum insulated tumbler with a lid.
This keeps my choice of tasty beverage perfectly chilled or my hot drink piping hot until I actually finish the drink. Love it! A great benefit to me is the no sweat design. I hate having to wipe to wipe my hand dry on my dungarees because of my drink sweating on me.
It is decidedly over engineered and has become somewhat of a status symbol, ultra neat, big boy toy. But I find myself using it even in non pretentious ways. What more can I say? If you decide to take the wallet hit, it will become your constant companion.
Even the lid is a work of engineering perfection. Well, now I’m just gushing. Time to wrap up.
YETI brand coolers. Are they worth the price? Yes, most assuredly. Are they heavy? Indeed, especially when fully loaded. Will you love yours as much as I love mine? Unless you’re some kind of space traveling, acid blooded, alien life form.
What makes for a good cooler? Value and performance. Yeti is one of the premium brands. Their coolers and accessories are well designed and very much worth their cost in money and weight.
Which one did you choose from this list of my Top Five Best Yeti Coolers? Let me know! You can learn more about the YETI company here and all the great work they are currently doing.