If you're into outdoorsing, you've probably seen some of the best Yeti coolers on your travels. Want to cart a load of beers, wine, cold meats and delicious cheeses outdoors to the park or beach this summer, or simply want a way to keep such items cool outside in the garden, while socialising or barbecuing? Enter the Chinese made, US-based Yeti range of portable coolers, cool boxes or ice chests – chunky hard plastic containers with easy open-and-close rubber and plastic fasteners, that won’t befuddle those who may be a bit tipsy at such gatherings. The broad idea here is that you fill two thirds of the containers’ innards with ice – and the rest with whatever you want to keep cool.
Todays best Yeti coolers don't come especially cheap – you'll find plenty more affordable options in our general best cool box guide, and you might luck out with a cheap Yeti sale or deal to take the price down. But for that slightly premium prices you get a sturdily constructed, well-insulated trunk of chill – or portable fridge, if you like – that manufacturer Yeti claims are leak proof and waterproof.
Just how portable they are of course depends on which size option we choose, in terms of inner volume, but, to give just one example, the bulky Tundra 35 Hard Cooler we tested came with carry ropes and handgrips each side, should hefting a fully-loaded unit out of the back of the car and down to the beach or park prove to be a two-person job. Alternatively, you could opt for the Tundra Haul Hard Cooler, which helpfully comes with a pair of built-in wheels to ease transportation and allow one person to drag a fully loaded cooler solo.
While the concept here is to keep perishables cool and the heat out, belying the ‘cooler’ name it’s further worth noting there is an alternative use. The insulation works just as well if you want to ditch the ice, turn the concept on its head and instead keep heat in, to haul hot meals rather than cold drinks, for example.
In this guide, we'll run through the main entrants in the current range, to help you pick the right option for you. Based on our tests, a lot of it will come down to personal preference and how big a cooler you need for your own personal, friends or family set up, with robustness obviously necessitating a certain chunkiness of build and weight. However, several models offer a range of different sizes to cope with the thirstiest of demands for cold beverages. Read on for our pick of the best Yeti coolers for 2022.
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We were sent the ‘35’ unit for our Yeti Tundra review, which arrived in a deep maroon ‘Harvest Red’ colour; white, black or tan options are just some of the other available choices. Bulkier than carry-on luggage restrictions would allow just to give some idea of size, but nevertheless one of the more compact offerings in its manufacturer’s range, this one provides plenty of space for barbecue meats and cold drinks for a family of four – or up to 21 cans of beer – while still providing room to load two thirds of its internal space with ice packs, as advised. Interestingly a small, metal framed ‘dry goods basket’ sits within the internal plastic ledges, so there’s space to keep our burger buns cool but not damp, instead of having to transport them separately.
In terms of performance, the ‘Tundra’ boasts three inches of insulation, with pressure injected polyurethane foam in its walls working in tandem with its rubber lid locks and latches to keep our perishable items cool, and the heat of the day out. A non-slip base further stops this one sliding around on deck or in the back of the car, resulting in a solid option in every sense. If this Tundra option is not quite big enough then luckily there are a very wide variety of size options available, each one only getting incrementally bigger still.
Like the rest of the Yeti range the ‘Roadie’ is another robust and well thought out cool box that comes in a broad range of colours and also, usefully, doubles as a stool with optional cushion accessory once we’ve pitched our spot and dispensed cold drinks. However, belying its name, once fully loaded with up to 18 cans of beer it’s not the easiest item to carry long distances. That’s despite the provided strap and handgrip, plus the fact that it’s one of its manufacturer’s smaller and supposedly more practical options.
Unlike alternative coolers in its maker’s family, there’s only one ‘24’ size of Roadie cooler available. However there’s enough internal volume – roughly 40cm square and 30cm in height – provided here for, among other things, a bottle of wine, or two litre bottle of any description, to be transported upright. With no drain plug provided, the idea is that the user simply tips out any unwanted ice at the end of the period of use.
The Roadie’s plastic latches, as opposed to rubber found elsewhere in the range, can be operated with one hand, while the carry handle can be moved to allow the lid to be opened and accessed freely. Our only real gripe was we could have done with a strap that was sufficiently adjustable to allow us to sling it over a shoulder, or alternatively shorten it so the box wasn’t bumping against our ankles when carrying it. Better for camping or road trips, perhaps, than a casual party picnic. See our Yeti Roadie 24 Cooler review for all the details.
For anyone who’d like an extra helping hand – or rather pair of wheels – when transporting their cool box, the aptly named Tundra is heaven-sent. Constructed in the same robust moulded plastic as the rest of the range, this one also features the same easy access rubber lid locks as the regular Tundra model – it just adds wheels, in doing so becoming the first and only model in the line-up that can be wheeled along.
Said wheels are manufactured from a solid single piece of plastic that’s both impact resistant and obviously puncture resistant. To pull the whole contraption along we’re gifted a ‘T’ bar design aluminium arm with durable grips, with the set up tracking left or right, in order to avoid the box bumping our ankles when towing it behind us. Keeping our perishables cool, including two litre bottles stored upright, space for 45 cans of beer in total or 55 pounds of ice, the Yeti Tundra Haul one offers two inches of pressure injected insulation. Yet, unlike the regular Tundra, this one doesn’t include a dry goods basket. However, overall, we’d happily trade that omission for the smoother transportation this option provides.
Who wouldn’t want to have their very own portable water cooler, so as to enjoy those fabled ‘water cooler’ moments and conversations anywhere and everywhere, even outside the office?
Enter the Yeti Silo, a standalone item in its range taking the form of six-gallon water cooler that, on the face of it very closely resembles the Yeti Tundra in terms of size and chunky shape. Yet it obviously differs, in featuring a water nozzle secreted in a recess near its base. The idea is not only can you enjoy cool flowing water with a swift pour rate in the heat of the great outdoors, but this water cooler is robust enough to take a tumble or two on the way there.
Construction is, as we say, otherwise very similar to the rest of the extensive Yeti cooler range, in that once again we have an insulated interior lining to the plastic casing that keeps the cool in and the heat out. A steel handle is provided above the plastic nozzle, both as a way to protect said nozzle, and also to provide a spot to grip as the thumb of the same hand presses the nozzle to release its flow. Luckily the nozzle can be removed for cleaning individually, making this one as practical as it is fashionable.
With all of Yeti’s branded products built like a tank, it’s no surprise that it actually offers a ‘Tank’ Ice Bucket too – in a choice of ‘Desert Tan’ or plain white. But why would we want to pay a premium price for what’s essentially a plastic bucket? There are a couple of Tank Bucket Cooler options in its manufacturer’s range that are broadly self explanatory in terms of size difference: the Yeti Tank 45 will in fact provide space to keep 52 cans of beer or 40lb of ice cool, or a quarter keg of the fizzy stuff. Alternatively there’s the Tank 85, which can hold a whopping 96 cans of beer or 80lbs of ice. Sounds heavy, right?
Fortunately then, ‘DoubleHaul’ handles aid transportation by allowing us to share its weighty load, while a Vortex Drain System allows excess or unwanted water to be released via a stopper near the base, once the party’s over. If we want to make sure our brews remain extra cold when the bucket is baking in the midday sun, it’s possible to buy an optional Tank lid separately.