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The staff at Outdoor Life have been using Yeti coolers for years, for all manner of activities: hunting camp, overlanding, fishing. At one point, editors John B. Snow and Andrew McKean were in a wall tent while hunting up near Glasgow in January. It got down to -20 and they ended up using their hard-sided Yeti cooler to keep their food from freezing. So when we say that the insulating properties of these coolers are something special, you can believe us. Here’s our take on the best Yeti coolers out there.
How We Tested the Best Yeti Coolers
Outdoor Life writers and editors have tested countless Yeti coolers, both as part of our testing of the best camping coolers and best small coolers, and as part of other outdoor adventures and hunts. These are great coolers, and we regularly bring them with us on our adventures, whether it’s heading to deer camp or as part of our camping checklist. While Yeti coolers are pricey, we’ve found that their reliable, year after year performance, makes them worthy investments for any outdoor adventurer. The table below breaks down the specs for each size of the three main Yeti models: the Tundra, the Roadie, and the Hopper.
Best Yeti Coolers: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Yeti Tundra
- Capacity: 39 to 549 cans
- Weight: 21.4 to 92 pounds
- IGBC certified
- Wide range of sizes
- Easy to use latches
- Plug design makes it easy to clean
- Only a few sizes come with wheels
Assistant editor, Ashley Thess, took the wheeled version of the Tundra out for four days of testing in the backcountry near her home base of Salt Lake City. Before even heading out on her adventure, she pre-chilled the cooler using a bag of ice—pro tip right there. Then, to keep enough food cold for four people for four days (plus 24 cans of beer), she added 8 pounds of dry ice. Despite temps that soared to the upper 80s, the Yeti Tundra had no trouble keeping everything chilled for the duration of the trip. They were even able to enjoy some PBR slushies the first few nights.
Thess tested the wheeled version of the Tundra and reported that the wheels, surprisingly, took up very little of the interior space overall. (They still had no problem handling everything from brick stairs to brush.) She also appreciated how easy the latches of the Tundra were to use, which helped ensure the contents stayed cool with multiple people going in and out of the cooler.
While the Tundra has the most traditional look of any of the Yeti coolers, it’s available in more sizes than any other of their offerings—all the way up to a whopping 549 can capacity. These coolers are also IGBC certified, meaning they withstood the full might of a grizzly during testing at the Grizzly Wolf and Discovery Center outside Yellowstone National Park.
If you plan to leave your cooler outside in bear country, just remember to purchase Yeti’s bear locks. It’s safe to say that no matter what your needs are, there is like a Tundra that is the right size and shape to fit the bill.
Best Wheeled: Yeti Roadie
- Capacity: 33 to 98 cans
- Weight: 13.1 to 30.6 pounds
- Not IGBC certified
- Good ice retention
- Easy to move around
- Excellent latching mechanism and drainage ports
- Doesn’t come in as large a size as the Tundra series
One of the biggest drags of any high quality cooler is having to move it around. No matter how advanced your technique (lift from the legs, not from the back), it’s still awkward and uncomfortable. The YETI Wheeled Roadie at first glance looks more like a roller-bag than a typical cooler, and fortunately for you, it’s maneuverability is much more akin to the former. A telescopic handle pops up from the top of the cooler and lifts up to an impressive 3.5 feet—high enough for even the tallest campers to grab comfortably. Shorter users have the option to adjust the height down to a more comfortable level. One upgrade here is that the wheels on the YETI Roadie are (thankfully) significantly larger and more durable than those on your suitcase. While checking ice retention, leaks and functionality, this was one of the few coolers that this 5-foot 5-inch tester didn’t dread having to maneuver around.
This was also one of the few coolers in my test to survive two nights of the ice retention test (and would have obviously lasted a lot longer if I had filled it to the brim with ice). Also notable was its simple snap-latch design, which was significantly easier to use than the rubber latches I tested on the other coolers. The drainage port is also waterproof and requires very little torque to operate.
The YETI comes with a basket that sits up top (for your butter, cheese, and other goods that are prone to waterlogging), but can accommodate a second one as well as a divider—useful for storing food at different temperatures. YETI also has a helpful guide on how to pack your ice chest for peak efficiency. If your number one priority in your camping cooler is ease of use, then this is the choice for you.
I’ve been testing this cooler for over a year now, and I’ve come to appreciate its unique shape. Whereas more traditional coolers take up a dedicated amount of space in the back of my Toyota 4 runner, I can slot the mid-sized version of the Roadie in the backseat, between my kid’s car seat and the door (she appreciates the handy table for her books).
Best Softshell: Yeti Hopper
- Capacity: 11 to 30 cans
- Weight: 2.6 to 4.5 pounds
- Not IGBC certified
- Easy to cart around
- Easy to clean
- Not as insulative as the hardshell models
- Zippers require maintenance
Despite its less iconic appearance, the Yeti Hopper ended up being Thess’ favorite Yeti option. She tested the 12 flip and was impressed by how much it held: either a whole 24 pack or lunch and eight beers. It’s much more spacious than you would expect for something that only weighs three pounds. And that light weight coupled with a wide, padded comfortable strap means it’s easy to take just about anywhere.
Its comparatively petite size meant it could head out on more adventures than a traditional cooler, including on a kayak or paddleboard. There, Ashley was able to test the waterproof zipper, which impressed by keeping water out in both directions. Snow is similarly a fan of the Yeti Hopper, but noted that to keep the zipper working for the long haul, it’s important to grease it periodically—he recommends Carmex or Vaseline if you lose the greasing agent it comes with.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Yeti Cooler
Hardshell versus Softshell
In our testing of the best small coolers, one thing was clear: hardshell coolers have much better ice retention than softshell coolers. If your number one priority is keeping your food or drinks cold for as long as possible, go with either the Yeti Tundra or the Yeti Roadie. However, the Hopper still provides an impressive amount of insulation while taking up less space in your rig and weighing significantly less.
The larger your cooler, the more it will hold. However, the larger your cooler is, the harder it will be to move and the more it will cost. Consider the upper limits of your needs before making a final purchase. Bigger, in this case, is not necessarily better.
Yeti makes some impressively sized coolers: their biggest cooler is over five feet wide. Be sure to measure your car and wherever you plan to store your new Yeti cooler in your home before making a final purchase.
While the Roadie and Hopper collections can be moved around by almost anyone, the larger sizes of the Tundra are so large that you’ll need two people to move them, even when empty.
In our test of the best camping coolers, it took 35 hours for a bag of ice to fully melt in the Yeti Roadie.
The Yeti Tundra 45 will fit 54 cans, without ice, while the Yeti Roadie 48 will fit 76 cans.
Yeti coolers have insulation. The Yeti Tundra has polyurethane foam insulation.
Why Trust Outdoor Life?
Since 1898, OL has been a leading authority in testing and reviewing hunting gear, fishing tackle, guns and shooting equipment, and much more. We have more than a century-long history of evaluating products, and we’re now bringing that expertise to online reviews. Our editors are experienced outdoorsmen and women, and most importantly, we’re trained journalists. We prioritize field testing and objective data when reviewing products. We conduct interviews with gear manufacturers and engineers as well as outdoor experts so that our readers have an understanding of how and why a product works—or doesn’t.
Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.
Final Thoughts on the Best Yeti Coolers
Yeti has become an iconic cooler brand for a reason: everything they make is high quality and backed by a solid warranty. If you’ve been thinking of upgrading to a new cooler, any of the models we’ve recommended above will keep your food fresh and drinks cold whether you’re in the frontcountry or backcountry.