Yeti Tundra Cooler Review: The Ultimate Expedition Ice Chest

Yeti Tundra Cooler Review

On Day 3 of our Memorial Day trip, I opened the cooler half expecting, as I’ve become accustomed to over three decades of camping, to find our food floating in a warm-water swamp.  Instead, there was our raw hamburger – still cold.  Our bag of ice – still frozen.  Much to my surprise, it turns out the Yeti Tundra coolers live up to their hype.

Knowing that we will need a cooler in addition to our mini-fridge for our year-long trip, we added a Yeti cooler to our wish-list.  Even then, the price-tag (the REALLY big price-tag) kept me hesitant.   Fortunately, my parents are Yeti-owners and understood the necessity of a cooler that can keep a week’s worth of groceries cold.    They took pity on us, and gifted us a Yeti Tundra as a Christmas present.

Since then, we’ve used the Yeti on several trips and feel confident that it will be worth the (precious) space on our trip.  If you are headed out on some big adventures of your own, and if you can afford the hefty price-tag, the Yeti Tundra deserves its spot on any expedition.


Review in a Nutshell

Pros:

  • Keeps food cold for a LONG time
  • Pretty colors
  • High-quality cooler will last for years

Cons:

  • Big price-tag
  • Heavy
  • Theft-prone

Price & Where to Buy:

Tundra 35:

Tundra 45:

Tundra 65:

 


Yeti Tundra Detailed Review

Keeps food COLD

Without exception, every cooler I’ve ever owned has kept food cold for a day or two, and then the ice melts.  Not a big deal if you can run to the gas station and get some more, but if you are in the backcountry, it is a serious problem.  The Yeti Tundra addresses this problem by actually staying cold for up to a week with a single bag of ice.

How does it stay cold for so long?  Three inches of polyurethane foam insulation and a freezer-style sealing gasket.

Yeti Tundra

Photo from Yeti

Size and weight

For our year-long trip, we have a lot of stuff we need to bring along (basic living supplies + mountain bikes) and both space and weight are at a premium.  Unfortunately, the Yeti is neither small nor light.  For the amount of internal capacity, the exterior is much bigger than other coolers.  This thickness is what keeps the cooler cold, but it is a bummer when you are short on space.  The Yeti Tundra is going to take up the bulk of the space in the back of your Subaru and is awfully heavy for a raft-trip.

Yeti Tundra Cooler

Photo by Zach Collier

When it comes to carrying the Yeti, I can’t do it on my own.  Granted, I’m not the strongest gal, but at 23 pounds for the Yeti Tundra 45, I can barely move this thing when it is empty.  Fully loaded with ice and food, it takes both my husband and I to lift it into the bed of our truck.

Pretty colors

While this probably shouldn’t be THE deciding factor in choosing a cooler, I’d be remiss not to mention how pretty the Yeti coolers can be.  We just ended up with a white Yeti (cheaper), but the blue and pink coolers make me drool….

Yeti Tundra Cooler

Photo from Yeti

Durability and Quality of Construction

As someone who tries to minimize my environmental impact and needless consumption as much as possible, I’m sorry to admit I’ve sent more than one cooler to the landfill.  Over time, the latches brake, the plastic cracks, and the whole thing is duct-taped together…..

For this reason, I think the Yeti is totally worth the money.  The construction is top-notch, and while we haven’t had the opportunity (yet) to test it over several years, plenty of Yeti owners have.  Additionally, Yeti Coolers come with a 5 year warranty.

The Yeti is constructed of rotationally molded plastic (or “roto-mold), and can handle a ton of abuse.   I can see both the rubber latches and the rope handles breaking over time—but Yeti sells replacement parts, so you don’t have to send the whole thing to the landfill.

Bear-Proof

Having grown-up camping in the Yellowstone and the Idaho wilderness, I’ve always been hyper aware of bear safety.  For this reason, I love the fact that the Yeti coolers are bear-proof. Yes!  You can use the Yeti as a bear-box.

Theft

One thing to consider before buying a Yeti is the fact that they are theft-prone.  The brand-recognition alone have made these coolers a hot target for thieves.  If you decide to buy one, secure your investment with a lock…

Comparison to Other High-End Coolers

The Yeti Tundra, as well as these other brands, come in multiple sizes.  For comparison sake, I’ve used similar quart sizes.

Yeti Tundra 45 Pelican Elite 45
Orca 40
Price  $350  $380  $250
Size  45 qts  45 qts  40 qts
Weight 23 lbs  37 lbs  24 lbs
Insulation Thickness 3″ 2″  ?
Warranty 5 years Lifetime Lifetime
Certified Bear Proof? Yes Yes Yes

Bottom-Line

If you need to keep your food cold for a week at a time, are sick of sending coolers to the landfill, or are headed into bear-country, the Yeti is worth every penny.