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Good coolers (Yeti and others)... worth the money?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by sean79, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Tele-Holic

    May 20, 2018
    Coolers break. You buy another one. They should not cost as much as a monthly car payment.
  2. Buttered Biskit

    Buttered Biskit TDPRI Member

    Sep 23, 2018
    Barton, WI
    I like to wear the new off a cheap cooler. If you want it to stay cooler longer, put a towel over it. its amazing g how much a difference that makes.
    sean79 likes this.
  3. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Afflicted

    You can achieve Yeti performance a couple ways, and spend a lot less.

    One of the most important factors is shape. The traditional chest type is not the best shape for reduced heat transfer. A cube shape is superior,


    I've tested a Igloo* chest versus cube, same sizes, cube wins. Not only is the shape factor superior for lower heat transfer, but the smaller lid also reduces heat transfer. Where the chest was needing ice every other day, my cube was going three or more days. I'd like to test a Coleman cube vs a Yeti chest sometime. Does Yeti make a cube?

    I've got an old cylinder cooler that has equal width and height (not tall and skinny). Its a great cooler, but I've not seen them for sale. Folks may not like the packaging factor of a cylinder. But I think the market is missing out. A cylinder with equal aspect ratio is probably superior to a cube! Also, it has a lid that swings sideways like a shower door, it doesn't hinge. There's less pumping and disturbing the cool air within, and less exchange of warm air this way. And you can swing the lid just enough to sneak your hand in and retrieve an item. I'm really puzzled why this cooler design isn't being marketed?

    Add frozen block ice or frozen dense items. Block ice lasts much much longer than crushed ice. A frozen plastic quart container of water will outlast the same amount of crushed ice by a lot. And it doesn't have to be water, it can be soup, a roast, etc. Something solid, not loose like frozen peas or fried potatoes btw. If you need more distributed cooling, mix both frozen block ice with crushed ice.

    Minimize opening and closing the lid. Or, at least place a plastic bag or cloth over the top of the contents, and reach under to retrieve items when the lid is open. This will help retain the cool air deeper within the contents, letting less warm air exchange. And plan so you retrieve items in groups, to minimize the number of times the lid opens. Opening the lid is a significant factor in heat transfer.

    Motion and movement of the contents increases heat transfer. Motion increases contact with the contents and sides, and also increases convective losses, inside and outside. Try to keep the cooler still, don't move it a lot, or when traveling place it in your truck or vehicle where it won't see as much motion, maybe not in the trailer or boat where there's lots of vibration and motion.

    Think about sitting the cooler on an insulator, like an inflatable, foam, a PFD, etc. You don't want to have a space under it where air can circulate, but you want to avoid heat transfer thru the ground, especially if its damp or wet. Keep the underneath dry at least, as moisture increases heat transfer.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
    sean79 likes this.
  4. Boubou

    Boubou Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Jul 30, 2005
    Montreal, Quebec
    Let us know what you choose.
    For a while I really wanted one of those fancy coolers, but I read reviews and it’s a waste of money.
    A $100 cooler does the same job as the $500 one. Of course they do seem to be really rugged
    Also,I don’t camp anymore, I just pack the food for a 4-6 hour drive to a cottage.
    But I am interested in getting a new one.
    sean79 likes this.
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Walmart was selling unbranded (or Walmart branded) "Yeti" next to the Yeti a couple of seasons ago for a big price reduction.

    Yeti has done a remarkable job marketing their brand.

    sean79 likes this.
  6. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    My orca is pretty good.
    sean79 likes this.
  7. El Famoso

    El Famoso Tele-Meister

    Sep 16, 2016
    If you’re just interested in durability a classic steel Coleman is hard to beat. Take one camping 3-4+ times a year for about 8 years so far with no issues.

    I have one of the really big Igloo coolers and the plastic hinges broke bc the lid was so big. Just screwed some metal hinges on instead and it works great. Also replaced the plastic strap that keeps the lid from flopping over with a short length of Jack chain bc that broke too. Also works great.
    sean79 and Stubee like this.
  8. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Jun 7, 2017
    Thru work I have seen many coolers get like this when they are in direct sunlight for long periods often in a vehicle that get very warm.. The other thing the can cause this is long term storage with out gassing from large plastic based products like tarps, traffic cones etc. If you are in such a environment some of the new designs might be of advantage. I would read the warranty and owners manual carefully to see if it mentions storage/ use enviroment concerns.

    Steel Coleman is also a option, although the latch on mine is a weak point, if you are using it in a group setting, just keep it unlatched, many folks use to plastic coolers will simply pull the lid up and if the latch is close a strong yank can spring it.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  9. imwjl

    imwjl Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 21, 2007
    My mom's basement.
    I went through this earlier. I think I made some posts about it.

    There are some Yetis where I work and friends have them. We owned and returned one of the quality knock offs. I've discussed it with friends who are still guides. Most of them still buy marine type that are much cheaper. Where I work the marine type hold up and all coolers get warm when the tops are open.

    There are really nice coolers out there but it's no doubt diminishing returns as you spend. My larger Igloo marine has lasted for years. The small one we got after trying these modern types has been great.

    To me what's most telling is seeing what happens at work - that's professional kitchens, events and catering. They don't need these super coolers. They're back to much cheaper marine type. One of my guide friends said the only purpose for Yetis is impressing high $ clients and keeping some ice a little bit longer in truly hot areas.
    sean79 likes this.
  10. KC

    KC Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Missoula, Montana
    I spend a fair amount of time outside -- fishing, floating, car camping -- and I have a vast array of coolers to match, from little baby-bear softsided ones to honking huge Engels. My conclusion, for what it's worth, is that the RTIC medium-size soft-sided one is the most versatile. Light, plenty of insulation, floats. Expensive by wal-mart standards but durable as all get-out. great for floats, overnights, road trips, etc.

    I use the Engel coolers when I know I'm going to be out for a few days. They really do hold ice. They also, as noted above, don't hold a lot for their size and weigh more than the others.

    For regular beer-based camping, the igloo marine model hold a lot of ice and beer -- and with somebody in and out of the cooler every five minutes, nothing will hold ice better than anything else. These come with plastic hinges & latches but you can upgrade to stainless steel for cheap. my last one lasted north of 10 years.
    sean79 likes this.
  11. 1293

    1293 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 18, 2006
    Maiorca looks great!

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  12. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    Hey, since your focus is on the stoutness of handles etc... it made me think of something... I've been restoring a cabin (and the grounds) for a couple of summers... restoring everything to the 30's and 40's... we were at a garage sale a couple of years ago and I found an OLD cooler, all metal, completely intact just some dents... I found a dent pulling tool on amazon and in the evening, went to work... that thing has become our mainstay at the cabin for beer duty... everything is metal on that dude and it is stout. IIRC I paid 15.00 for it and 28.00 for the dent removal stuff... it is 'hammered' aluminum... maybe a cool idea for you too... it is not super heavy, but it will definitely take punishment... it probably does not have the insulation properties of modern tools, but, it works for us.
    sean79, imwjl and uriah1 like this.
  13. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    scotty.jpg Love nostalgia coolers like getbent.

    Did not like those scotty ones however.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
    sean79 likes this.
  14. Pointmonger

    Pointmonger Tele-Holic

    Aug 29, 2009
    Austin, Texas
    The extra money just to have a Yeti sticker to put on the back of your truck is totally worth it.
    sean79, uriah1 and beach bob like this.
  15. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Jun 7, 2017
    My grandfather worked for 'your local Coca Cola bottler"; over the years the family acquired many CC branded coolers as described above, every thing is metal on these including the drain (which always had a cap secured by a stout chain) The CC branding makes them collectable but ones w/ names like "Pleasure Chest.." and such often turn up a yard sales in older neighborhoods, or antique malls for short money, well worth having
    sean79 likes this.
  16. beach bob

    beach bob Friend of Leo's

    Jan 31, 2008
    South Florida
    I too think that Yetis are mostly for impressing your fellow hunting companions. That said, a very good friend just picked up two Yeti coolers, one bigger, one smaller. He'd gotten a work bonus, so he had mad money to spend. I jokingly accused him of buying them because he's in Georgia, and it was a requirement to maintain his Good Ol' Jawja Boy card? He denied this (he's more the well read Southerner renaissance man sort, not the Dukes of Hazzard sort), but I'm not sure there isn't something to it. :lol:

    The problem with coolers, is that they will never *not* cool. Hinges will bust, the lid strap will die (mine's is dead), and other annoyances: cracks or chips gouged out. But when the notion arises to throw some 12paks and ice in your old chest for a fun weekend away, that busted down thing will still do the job. So we all wind up tolerating annoying stuff in our old coolers.

    I'd like to get a high end rotomolded cooler. My old big Igloo is getting pretty ratty... but some of the high end ones don't have what I'm after. Most of them are heavy... but that's not that big deal to me; my big one stays in the van for my weekend trips away, it gets hoisted only once for a weekend trip. I don't really like the stretchy rubber latches. Some brands come with a latch that actually latches: Engel, Canyon, Pelican. The other thing I don't care for is the rope handles. My old igloo has rigid plastic handles that swing out. You grab them, and you can pull *and* push the cooler with them. A floppy rope seems counter productive, and less efficient.

    It seems to me that Igloo has more practical features than some of the boo-teek brands. The high end ones are definitely a get-it-if-you-can-swing-the-coin thing... you cannot justify the price, unless you are using it for business (charter fisherman, hunting guide etc.)... if you go car camping like I do for long weekends, and have a big cooler w/ limited access for food, and keep a smaller one for beverages that gets opened 20X a day... and if the weekend is gonna be hot, you can put a couple towels on top of the big cooler to insulate it from direct sunlight. With that arrangement, even the most sweltering five day trips I've taken, the ice purchase increased MAYBE 30lbs., compared to other weekends... that ain't even $10. :rolleyes:

    Get the cooler ya want. Just don't tell yourself you'll spend less on ice... for you will, but it will take probably 15 years to come ahead on that, vs. the initial cost of the cooler...

    OTOH: that teal colored Engel cooler sure looks nice... Oooh, the baby blue one is pretty too, and $35 cheaper than the teal... :p
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  17. NJ Deadhead

    NJ Deadhead Tele-Meister

    Jan 25, 2017
    Greenville, SC
    I won a Yeti in a free raffle, one of the big ones. It's performance is far superior to any "regular" cooler I have ever used. We're talking ice for days in the hot SC sun at the beach. Would I buy one? I'm not really sure...but I'm super glad I have one.
    sean79 and uriah1 like this.
  18. loco gringo

    loco gringo Tele-Meister Platinum Supporter

    Jul 14, 2016
    The Altered State
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  19. imwjl

    imwjl Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 21, 2007
    My mom's basement.
    That sounds like our cabin life and what we do with some possessions the grandmas have or that I've had for decades. We have old steel with bakelite handle things and keep our eyes open for Revereware. Our old Stanley bottles really insulate but the old coolers are not in that league.

    For actually keeping stuff cool longer I'm sold on the marine type coolers that sit between the cheapest and stuff exemplified by the Yetis.


    P.S. I do have a nice Yeti mug that was a gift. I'd never spend that much on a mug personally but was entertained that a $100,000+ compute/storage combo included the mug with instructions to read a 160 page book before it arrived.
    sean79 likes this.
  20. magicfingers99

    magicfingers99 Tele-Holic

    May 7, 2015
    find an old coleman cooler with the steel shell or buy a new one:

    118$ on ebay (new)

    vintage (notice the steel latch and mechanism:


    spare parts:
    sean79 likes this.
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