Fact: No one likes warm beer.
That’s why you need a great cooler to take with you on all of your outdoor adventures. Whether you’re looking to keep your beverages cold during a camping trip or you need a place to keep today’s catch on ice until you get back to the marina, there’s nothing better than a great cooler.
However, finding the right cooler can be a difficult task. While many people celebrate all of the amazing features of a Yeti cooler, the truth is that the vast majority of us just can’t afford Yeti’s sky-high prices.
So, what do the rest of us outdoor enthusiasts do when we need a high-quality cooler that doesn’t break the bank? We look for the best Yeti cooler alternatives to keep our food and drink cold, wherever our adventures might take us. To help you find your next cooler, we’ve compiled this ultimate buyer’s guide to the best Yeti cooler alternatives around, complete with reviews of five great options. Let’s get to it!
5 Awesome Yeti Cooler Alternatives
RTIC Cooler, 45qt
A near perfect look-alike of the Yeti Tundra 45 cooler, the RTIC 45 quart is a robust cooler for outdoor adventures. Made using rotomolded insulation technology and heavy-duty rubber T-latches, the RTIC cooler has 3 inch thick walls and a freezer-grade gasket to keep your food cold, day in and day out.
With non-slip feet and an integrated locking system, the RTIC 45 quart cooler is bear-resistant (not bearproof!), making it a great option for keeping your food and drink cold on your next camping trip. Plus, with a rapid V-Drain system, the RTIC cooler makes clean-up simple at the end of your adventures.
The RTIC’s no-fail hinges and no-sweat exterior are just some of the other great features of this Yeti cooler alternative. Plus, with molded side handles, it’s easy to bring the RTIC cooler along wherever life might take you.
- Sleek, stylish design
- Rotomolded insulation with a freezer-grade gasket
- 3 inch thick insulating walls to keep food cold
- Bear resistant design
- Rapid V-drain system for easy clean-up
- Two molded side handles to make transport easy
- No wheels
- Heavy (30 pounds empty)
- This cooler is all about extremes - from impact resistance and durability to long lasting ice retention
- This midsize cooler makes a perfect multi-purpose cooler. It can be carried by one person.
- The RTIC 45 can do double duty as a bench, nonslip step stool, tabletop and extra cutting board while keeping ice, perishables and vital supplies cold.
- Common Uses: Fishing, Boating, Back of pick-up truck, Small game, Tailgating
Pelican Products Progear Elite Cooler
Pelican is well-known for creating some of the world’s most durable carrying cases, and their venture into the world of Yeti cooler alternatives is just another example of their skills. The Pelican Products Progear Elite Cooler provides 50 quarts of carrying capacity for your beverages and food during any adventure.
Perfect for a four-person camping trip, the Pelican Elite Cooler can fit an astonishing two days’ worth of food, plus 24 cans of liquid goodness, or 34 cans of drink inside its 50 quart internal tank. Made with super easy to use press and pull latches and corrosion-resistant stainless steel hardware, the Pelican Elite Cooler can withstand years of use and abuse.
Plus, the Pelican Elite Cooler has a built-in bottle opener and molded-in can holders inside its rotomolded frame for extra functionality wherever you go. Thanks to a freezer grade gasket and 2 inches of polyurethane insulation, the Pelican Elite Cooler can even keep ice cold for an amazing eight days! With a lifetime warranty, this made in the USA is ready for anything. What’s not to love?
- Keeps ice frozen for eight days
- Built-in can holder and bottle opener
- 50 quarts of carrying capacity can hold 34 cans
- Lifetime warranty
- Sloped drain and tethered threaded plug
- Made in the USA
- Lack of wheels makes transport difficult
- Lid bulges at the side, which makes packing a bit annoying
- Pelican 45 Quart Elite Marine Cooler was designed with a freezer grade gasket
- Best, Most Durable and Versatile Cooler on the Market
- Whopping 7 to 10 Day Ice Retention Ability
Outdoor Recreation Company of America Cooler (ORCA)
The Outdoor Recreation Company of America knows how to have a good time, which is why they made this awesome 40 quart cooler for all your recreation needs. Made with a durable, rotomolded insulated construction, the ORCA 40 quart cooler can keep food cold for up to ten days, so it’s perfect for a long camping trip.
Thanks to an integrated insulation system and a quality lid gasket, the ORCA cooler can keep food fresh for an extended period of time. Plus, the ORCA cooler has extendable flex-grip handles to make transport easy, wherever you might go. With an attached cargo net, you can even carry gear on the outside of this ORCA cooler. What else could you want?
- Rotomolded construction for added insulation
- 40 quart storage capacity
- Lid gasket helps keep food fresh for up to 10 days
- Extendable handles help make transport easy
- Cargo net attachment system
- Can hold up to 48 cans
- Heavy (30 pounds empty)
- Durability concerns with handles and latches
- Durable, roto-molded construction
- Integrated insulation for maximum ice/cold retention
- Lifetime warranty
- The attached cargo net allows for added storage
BISON COOLERS Medium 50 Quart Rotomolded Cooler
If you need a cooler that’s as tough as you are, the Bison Coolers 50 Quart just might be for you. Designed specifically to meet the needs of your outdoor lifestyle, the Bison Coolers 50 Quart is an ultra-durable one-piece rotomolded cooler for any adventure.
Made in the USA out of premium materials, this cooler can hold up to forty-two 12 ounce cans or 65 pounds of ice in its burly frame. The Bison Cooler’s 50 Quart keeps food and drink ice cold thanks to its two-inch-thick insulated walls and a silicone shark-fin gasket to seal in the freshness.
A set of durable latches and a lockable lid keeps your food and drink secure at camp, while also keeping nosy animals and people at bay. Oh, and a set of skid-proof rubber feet help keep the Bison Coolers 50 Quart in place while a set of rope handles makes it easy to carry around, whether you’re at camp or having a barbecue in the backyard.
- Can hold up to 42 cans or 65 pounds of ice
- Made in the USA
- One-piece rotomolded cooler system
- Two-inch thick insulated walls
- Shark fin gasket to seal in freshness
- Skid-proof rubber feet
- Durability concerns with rope handles
- Only has a five year warranty
- Relatively expensive
- Heavy (30 pounds empty)
- PREMIUM COOLING: Pressure-injected 2" thick lid and insulated walls for maximum ice retention. Double-wall silicone gasket for tight seal keeps perfect insulation for premium cooling.
- HEAVY DUTY DURABILITY: Durable, roto-molded construction. You can drive a truck over this cooler...seriously. Two heavy duty rubber latches with cantilever hinge system. Full-length durable self-stopping hinges.
- SERIOUSLY PORTABLE: Open, ergonomic grab rails make it easy to carry, tie down, and secure. Oversized anti-skid rubber feet. Perfect all-purpose cooler for sporting events, camping, fishing or tailgating.
- 30 DAY TRIAL & 5-YEAR WARRANTY: All Bison Hard Coolers come with an industry leading 5-year warranty and 30-day trial. If you don't love Bison Coolers, send it back and you'll receive a full refund.
Seavilis Cooler (Milee)
One of the most affordable Yeti cooler alternatives out there, the Seavilis Cooler (Milee) is a quality ice chest that won’t break the bank. Offered in four different carrying capacities, the Seavilis Cooler is perfect for any adventurer.
Thanks to its rotomolded construction, the Seavilis Cooler offers commercial-grade insulation at a reasonable price. A freezer-style gasket and an easy cam latching system help keep the warm air out and the freshness inside with the Seavilis Cooler. Plus, with non-slip feet, molded tie-down slots, and nylon rope handles, the Seavilis Cooler is ready for anything. Oh, and with a pressure release button, two built-in bottle openers, and a no-leak drain plug, there’s nothing the Seavilis Cooler can’t do.
- Four different size options
- Non-slip feet and nylon rope handles
- Easy cam latching system and freezer style gasket help seal out the heat
- Rotomolded insulation construction for maximum freshness
- Built-in bottle openers
- Not as well insulated as other options
- Lower quality materials than other options
- Drain valve is somewhat poorly placed
- Always use high density ice for best performance.
- (Including $46.0 Free Accessories) Hanging Wire Basket ,Divider/cutting board and Cup Holder are FREE
- Key features : Rotomolded Construction with commercial grade insulation, UV protection Surface, Freezer Style Gasket, Heavy Duty Nylon Rope Handles,compass for navigate, Non-Slip Feet, Molded Tie-Down Slots ,Easy Cam Latching System,No-Leak Drain Plug, Pressure Release Button, 2 Built-In Bottle Openers and More!
Things to look for in a Yeti cooler alternative
Choosing a good cooler is hard work. With so many options out there, it can be tricky to find the one that’s just right for your needs. So, when you’re searching for your Yeti cooler alternative, keep these key features in mind:
A cooler’s main job is to keep your food and drink ice-cold for a long time, despite the ambient outdoor temperatures. Thus, any cooler that can’t do this simple job just isn’t worth investing your money in. But, as simple as it might sound, a quality insulation system is difficult to build and even harder to come by.
Since a Yeti cooler’s main claim to fame is its ability to keep your food cold for a ridiculously long period of time, any good Yeti cooler alternative ought to be able to do the same. These days, coolers come with a wide variety of different insulation types, so let’s take a look at them here:
Polystyrene foam coolers still exist and are often used by people who need a cheap, disposable cooler for a short term event. These coolers can keep food cold for a few hours, at best, but basically fall apart within a day. Plus, they’re made from Styrofoam, which means they take forever to biodegrade and are pretty much horrible for the environment. Our advice? Stay clear of foam coolers and opt for a more durable, long-term solution instead.
Traditional coolers are constructed out of two pieces of plastic that sandwich a thick layer of hard foam between them, which provides the insulating value of the cooler. These coolers vary drastically in their ability to actually keep your food cold, depending on the thickness of the plastic and foam, as well as the seal that connects the plastic and foam layers together.
For the most part, this kind of cooler is relatively affordable, though you won’t see Yeti cooler-like insulation results from a traditional plastic/foam cooler. Instead, you’ll want to look for a rotationally molded cooler to keep that beer ice cold.
Rotationally molded (rotomolded) cooler
Rotationally molded (rotomolded) coolers are new to the cooler market but have completely revolutionized how we insulate our food. Similar to a traditional cooler, rotomolded coolers use both plastic and foam to keep food cold.
But, unlike a traditional cooler, a rotomolded cooler’s plastic is heat-softened and then applied as a layer on top of the foam to help ensure better adhesion between the two layers, effectively turning them into one super layer to keep food cold. This insulation, when combined with a thick rubber gasket around the edge of the lid, produces a high-quality, uber-durable cooler that can keep food cold in any environment for hours or days on end.
A cooler isn’t terribly useful if it can only hold a block of cheese and a couple of cans of Mountain Dew, so capacity is one of the most important features to look out for when searching for a Yeti cooler alternative. These days, many coolers list their capacity in terms of liters or quarts, which is somewhat helpful if you’re good at visualizing space in that way.
A more useful measure, however, is a spec listing how many cans a cooler can hold. Especially when it comes to the new rotomolded coolers, the amount of space you get on the inside of the cooler is generally much smaller than the size of the cooler itself. Thus, while the size of the cooler is important, the carrying capacity of the cooler is perhaps more so.
A cooler’s ice retention capabilities are directly related to the quality of its insulation. The better insulated a cooler, the longer it will be able to keep ice icy. Since no one likes to have their food and drink swimming around in a bath of lukewarm water, a cooler with high ice retention rates is a must-have.
These days, many coolers will have information listed about how long they can keep beverages cold, but since “cold” is a relative term, you’ll want to find a spec about how long that cooler can keep ice frozen. As you might imagine, the longer, the better in this situation.
If you’re looking for a Yeti cooler alternative, chances are pretty high that you like Yeti’s proprietary style, with an industrial look. Nowadays, many cooler companies have mimicked this style, offering entire lines of coolers that are nearly indistinguishable from Yeti’s.
While design is often a matter of personal taste, one thing you do have to decide on when looking for a Yeti cooler alternative is whether or not you want a cooler with wheels. Wheels make it easier to move around a heavy cooler on your own, though there’s a limit to what those puppies can do.
Although wheels are useful in many situations, they’re not exactly going to help you move a cooler over large rocks, nor are they going to make it easier to lift your heavy cooler into the car. In fact, wheels actually increase the weight of your cooler and often decrease the useable capacity of the cooler, so these are things to keep in mind before you buy.
No one wants to spend oodles of money on a Yeti cooler alternative, only to have it break after a few days of use. Thus, we all want to look for a cooler that’s durable enough to withstand the needs of our adventures.
That being said, durability is usually a factor of the materials used to make a cooler. Coolers built with more robust materials will often be more durable than the alternatives, but this often comes with an increase in weight and/or a substantial increase in price.
While the best coolers can keep ice frozen for days, at some point, that ice will melt, and you will have to find a way to drain it out. Thankfully, many Yeti cooler alternatives have some sort of draining system in place to help move the process along.
That being said, not all drains are created equal. Generally speaking, larger drains are ideal because they can help get any remaining ice cubes out of the cooler. But, the size of the drain plug isn’t the end all be all. Drain placement very important when it comes to a cooler’s ability to water drain easily at the end of a camping trip.
But, most coolers place their drains about an inch off of the cooler floor, which isn’t all that useful. Usually, these drains leave a gross puddle at the bottom of your cooler or require you to completely flip the cooler on its side to drain all of the water out, which sort of defeats the purpose of the drain to begin with.
So, you’ll want to look for a Yeti cooler alternative with a large drain hole placed nearly flush with the bottom of the cooler. Oh, and you also want to make sure your cooler drain doesn’t leak!
Although we all want to get the best cooler for our adventures, the vast majority of us are limited financially. Thus, the price of a cooler has a large impact on whether or not we’ll be able to afford it. Since Yeti coolers are crazy expensive, a Yeti cooler alternative is often a better economic option for many of us. That being said, however, even some Yeti cooler alternatives are quite pricey, so keep costs in mind when shopping around.
A cooler is a critical part of any camping set-up, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right one for your needs. While Yeti coolers revolutionized the world of ice-cold beverages in the outdoors, their exorbitant prices have made them unaffordable for the average person.
Thanks to a Yeti cooler alternative, however, you can get the same great insulating qualities at a more affordable price. If we had to choose just one of these Yeti cooler alternatives to bring with us on our next camping trip, we’d have to go with the Pelican Products Progear Elite Cooler, thanks to its mind-boggling durable construction and its amazing ability to keep ice frozen for EIGHT days! What more could you want?