Although it is November and the temperature outside is starting to dip colder and colder, you still need a good tailgating cooler no matter what season you choose to hit the parking lots. It was years ago (2009 to be exact) when we discovered Yeti Coolers from a series of online videos demonstrating their quality craftsmanship and durability. Despite having a strict policy of only endorsing products we have personally tested in a real tailgating environment, we shared the videos adding the caveat that we personally had not tested the product. We recently had the opportunity to test out a Yeti Cooler and not to give anything away too soon, we came away quite impressed.
We had the opportunity to test out the Yeti Tundra 65. The Yeti Tundra 65 was chosen for our test model because it is the most suitable for tailgating applications in that it is the relative size and capacity that most tailgaters would gravitate towards when choosing a cooler. The Yeti Tundra 65 can hold about 40 beverage cans with plenty of ice and room to spare for other items. The dimensions of the Yeti Tundra 65 (Length: 30 1/2″ Width: 17 3/8″ Height: 16″) is almost identical to those standard coolers that most tailgaters prefer. Take a look at the video to see the features of the Yeti Tundra 65.
(Disclaimer: We did receive a sample of the Yeti Cooler for free. The fact this sample was provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)
Upon receiving the sample of the Yeti Tundra 65 and taking it out of the box, the first thing we noticed was the weight of the cooler. Most of the time when you pick up an empty cooler, you can feel how lightweight it is in your hands. The Yeti was not too heavy but you can tell the outter shell plastic was high quality and the insulation was thicker and more dense than other coolers.
Upon opening the Yeti, I noticed the thicker walls and the considerable thicker lid. In the video, you saw that Yeti uses three inches of insulation in the lid where it matters most to prevent heat from creeping in. Overall I could tell that this Yeti Cooler was built well and would be able to withstand years of use while out tailgating. Of course looks can be deceiving on just opening it up and looking inside. We needed to test this cooler against an “average” cooler to see how it held up when it comes to ice retention.
Back in 2002 while working for the NHRA, I received an Igloo cooler that was leftover from the 2002 Winter Olympics. Poweraide was the series sponsor back then and since that drink is a brand under the Coca-Cola banner and Coke being an official Olympic sponsor, they offloaded the extra coolers on the NHRA folks. (I guess someone forgot that at the WINTER Olympics there isn’t that much call for coolers seeing how most of the events are held in places where the drinks will be kept cold without needing to be placed in a cooler.) The Igloo cooler given to me was my mainstay cooler for tailgating for the past 10 years. I thought this might be the perfect “control” cooler in which to compare the Yeti to in a controlled environment.
We conducted our test between the days of October 16 and 17, 2013. We chose a good day to conduct the test because the high temperature for October 16, 2013 here in Orange County, Calif. was 86 °F.
We started out loading up both coolers with equal amounts of canned beverages ranging from 24 oz. iced teas, 16 oz. energy drinks, 12 oz cans of soda and beer and 500 ml water bottles. We estimated that would be a good mix of beverages most tailgaters would take out to the parking lot and that would be a fair test. All of the beverages were already chilled from the refrigerator so the ice would not be working to chill the beverages. We added a 10 lb. bag of ice to each cooler at noon on October 16th. Every 10 minutes we removed one or two beverages from each cooler. We did this to simulate the opening and closing of the cooler at a tailgate party and thus letting the cool air escape each time the lid was opened. Also, removing the beverages would also decrease the insulating factor of contents retaining the coolness inside the cooler. At certain intervals we took photos of the cooler to show the relative ice melt to offer a fair comparison.
As you can see in the gallery (click images for a larger detailed look) over the long haul, the Yeti was far and away better at retaining ice. The final picture which was taken 18 hours after originally loading both coolers, shows the Igloo cooler had absolutely no ice left. It was all water and although I did not put a thermometer in the water, it did not feel like “ice water”. It wasn’t room temperature water yet but I definitely would not want to store any perishables in there. The Yeti Cooler still had quite a bit of ice remaining even after 18 hours and sitting in 80+ degree temperatures. Even after just five hours of originally loading both coolers, you can see the Igloo cooler experienced significant ice melt compared to the Yeti.
You may be skeptical in that hardly anyone tailgates for 18+ hours and you are right. Most tailgaters only tailgate for three to five hours prior to the start of their event. But those tailgaters are probably the ones who are buying the cheap $5 styrofoam coolers at the liquor store too. If you are looking for a cooler that will keep ice longer than any other cooler I have personally seen, Yeti is the way to go.
After thoroughly testing the Yeti Tundra 65 it is definitely “Tailgate Approved”. The durability and craftsmanship is second to none in the cooler space. I can not imagine having to replace this cooler for years based on what I have seen and personally experienced. Outside of testing it side by side with the Igloo cooler, we also took the Yeti to the Chargers vs Colts Monday Night Football game and it passed with flying colors. It kept everything cold throughout the tailgate and after we packed it up and placed it in our vehicle while we went inside the game, we had no worries the contents would be ice cold when we got back. Sure enough, when we reached into the Yeti to grab a soda to enjoy while we waited for the parking lot traffic to empty out, the ice was still intact and the beverages were just as cold as they were when we went inside the game.
The only knock on the Yeti is the price. They say “you get what you pay for” and with a Yeti that is truly the case. The Yeti Tundra 65 retails for $389.94 on Amazon.com. You can also buy direct from Yeti Coolers from their online store. Yeti Coolers come in three colors, white, tan and blue and sizes range from the smallest, the Yeti Roadie which holds about 14 beverage cans to the biggest, the YETI Tundra 420. You can check out the wide selection of Yeti Coolers in colors and sizes at Amazon.com. There you can even find the Yeti Tank 85 Cooler which can serve as a large beverage tub or you can ice down your keg in it.
For more information on Yeti Coolers, visit: yeticoolers.com