Are YETI Coolers Worth It? 9 Good Reasons Why I Didn’t Buy One

Are Yeti coolers worth it? Yes, if you want the prestige, however, you can actually get much better coolers for less money. I own and enjoy plenty of YETI products. They do make decent coolers but they are very over-priced thief-magnets that underperform less expensive premium coolers like Pelican and Engel. Also, rope handles suck, the warranty is lackluster and most of YETI’s coolers aren’t made in America anymore. I’ve got more reasons too so stick around.

So, what are the Best Alternatives to YETI Coolers?

Answer: Pelican, Kong, and Engel(In that order). For more information make sure to read to the end of this article. For a quick explanation look at the table below.

Top Competitors Compared to YETI

BrandPriceWarrantyIce Retention
(ideal conditions)
Made In USA

Price Check
Covers Damage
Up to 10 DaysYES

Price Check
Up to 10 DaysYES

Price Check
10 Years
Up to 10 DaysNO

Price Check
5 Years
8-9 DaysNO

I Don’t Hate YETI

I own and recommend quite a few YETI products here on, but their hard coolers are seriously over-hyped and over-priced.

It’s not that YETI Coolers are terrible, it’s just that they are just not the best. I think their trendy brand status has influenced many people’s decisions. is all about the toughest and best even if it means being a contrarian and bursting bubbles.

If you absolutely must buy a YETI cooler don’t keep reading!! You’ll probably come down with buyer’s regret when you see what you could have had.

I Almost Joined the YETI Cooler Cult

To be honest, when I began shopping for a high-quality cooler to take with me to Africa I wanted to buy a YETI. I think their excellent marketing worked on me. However, when I began seriously researching coolers, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that there were simply better quality options to YETI coolers on the market that actually cost much less.

In the end, I opted for the Pelican Elite 70QT cooler which is a much better cooler on multiple levels.

I simply could not justify paying hundreds of dollars more for a YETI cooler when I descovered that are other coolers that:

  • are tougher
  • hold ice longer
  • cost less
  • have more features
  • are made in the USA
  • and come with far better warranties.

What YETI’s Coolers are Good For

  • Being Trendy: I think many people buy them because the like the brand name.
  • Durable: certainly tougher than 90 percent of the coolers out there.
  • Good Ice Retention: when compared to most coolers YETI coolers are upper mid-range.

Unfortunately, for YETI I’m a utilitarian, and “coolness” is not a factor in my purchase decisions. Performance, practicality, durability and price matter most to me. YETI just doesn’t hit it out of the park on those metrics.

9 Reasons I Chose NOT to Buy a YETI Cooler

1. Ice Retention: There Are Better Performers

Question: How long can a YETI cooler hold ice compared to other premium competitors?

Answer: At least 1-2 days less than Pelican, Kong, and Engel coolers

When testing any cooler for cold endurance, a lot depends on how much ice the cooler started with, the ambient temperature, and how often it is opened during the day. This is why many of the YETI comparison tests have varying results.

Question: How long can a YETI Cooler Hold Ice

Answer: 5 Days if it is well packed with ice and used under normal summer conditions. Expect a good 7 days for top competitors.

Under optimum conditions, YETI coolers can hold for a few more days, but still falls short of top competitors in similar conditions.

Verdict: While YETI coolers certainly outperform plenty of coolers in terms of endurance, there are better options that cost a lot less.

2. Made in the USA? Not Anymore.

YETI used to be a “Made in America” brand. No more. YETI now outsources most of its manufacturing to places like the Philippines, China, Mexico and Malaysia. They are not upfront with this info either. I had to dig through their 2022 Annual Investors Report to find out.

According to YETI’s FAQ page, they do manufacture “Some Tundra coolers in the USA.” Given that most companies point out any of “Made in the USA” products in product descriptions, the absence of “Made in the USA” Tags on YETI Tundra coolers should tell plenty.

3. Rope Handles Suck

Like many coolers, the handles on YETI Tundra coolers are made with rope and a rubber grip handle. While this is a simple and durable design, it is also a pain in the but when the cooler is fully loaded. The disadvantage to rope-style handles is that they tend to sway especially when you are sharing the load with another person.

For a premium cooler, I expect more than rope handles. For the price, they could have added attractive fold-away stainless steel handles or solid molded-in handles.

4. Overpriced

It really seems like YETI is milking their brand name for more than it’s really worth. Their coolers are good but they aren’t the best.

For example, I bought my Pelican Elite 70Qt for $350. The similar capacity Yeti Tundra 110 costs around $500! That’s is $150 more for a cooler with less endurance, fewer features, and a far inferior warranty!

I don’t think so!

By my estimation, you will pay 50% more just to have the YETI brand name while getting an inferior product. One word: NOPE!

5. Losable Drain Plug

It’s a minor quibble, but simple stuff like this can really ruin a camping trip. The drain plugs on YETI’s are not tethered to the cooler. I’m sure this has led to many a desperate YETI owner organizing search parties to crawl around campsites looking for the stupid drain plug.

Clearly this is a very common problem with YETI coolers considering the huge number of sellers offering Drain plug 2-packs for YETI coolers on Amazon.

6. Standard Accessories/Features? NOPE!

A bottle opener should be standard equipment on a premium cooler. Take heart though, if you want a bottle opener on your YETI, they sell do their branded bottle opener for north of thirty bucks! Give me a break!

Cup Holders? Nope, no cup holders either. That’s another detail YETI missed.

About the only thing I can say is that YETI’s coolers include tie-down slots and a padlock hasp (but it’s plastic not steel.)

7. Capacity? Who Knows…

The YETI Tundra 75 only holds 65-70 quarts(Yeti does not publish actual capacity numbers)

Industry-wide, cooler capacities are quoted in Quarts or Litres.

I don’t know why, but YETI is weirdly cagey about their cooler capacities. They never come out and say exactly what quart capacity their coolers are beyond their silly “number of cans” measurement.

It’s also important to note that YETI Tundra model numbers are not reflective of actual capacity. For example, the popular YETI Tundra 45 holds 31 quarts not 45.

8. Thief Magnet

One might say YETI coolers have become a victim of their own popularity. They have become a favorite target of thieves. When thieves see a YETI they see dollar signs on the second-hand market.

Unfortunately, YETI owners would be stupid to leave their cooler at the campground while you go for a hike. Don’t do it! Pick that sucker up, haul it into the car, and lock it up!

Even if you are just going to be in Walmart for a few minutes? Never leave your Yeti in your truck bed!

I’m not saying, this wouldn’t happen with other coolers, but it’s less likely to happen than with a YETI.

9. Inferior Warranty

YETI’ covers their hard coolers for 5 years against defects and workmanship. That’s nothing to write home about. It’s a pretty standard warranty. By comparison, Pelican offers a full lifetime warranty that even covers accidental damage. Basically, if anything happens to your cooler it’s covered, you’ll never have to pay to replace it.

YETI needs to up their game here.


It all comes down to this: When You buy a YETI you are paying more for the name than for performance, features, and warranty coverage compared to other more affordable coolers of equal or better quality that are actually made in America.

YETI’s are indeed good coolers, but as they say, “sometimes good is the enemy of the best.’

Top Alternatives To YETI Coolers

Let’s talk about some better alternatives to YETI coolers. The good news is that they all cost less!

Pelican Elite Series Coolers

Pelican coolers are definitely my top pick. They beat YETI on every level. They cost less are ultra-rugged, hold ice longer, have more features, better drain mechanism, better closure, more secure, and are guaranteed even against damage for a lifetime.

For me, Pelican is a no-brainer purchase.

Compared to YETI, Pelican Elite Coolers:

  • Also roto-molded
  • Arguably more durable
  • More secure(metal padlock hasps)
  • Holds ice longer(up to 10 Days)
  • Cost far less
  • Are also bear-proof
  • Are true to size ratings
  • Have a much better lifetime warranty(covers accidental damage)
  • Are Made in the USA

I bought one of these for use in West Africa and I still mentally congratulate myself for buying it every time I see it.

Kong Coolers

Kong Coolers, as the name suggests, are absolute beasts. Next to Pelicans, these are the toughest coolers on earth. Kong coolers feature solid heavy-duty handles and heavy-duty mechanical latches, and plenty of brilliant accessory options like a side-mountable cutting board that stows inside the cooler.

Kong Coolers are 100% made in the USA and cost a lot less than a YETI to boot.

  • 10 Day ice retention
  • Also roto-molded
  • Solid handles instead of rope
  • Costs Less
  • Also bear proof
  • More durable
  • Limited Lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

Engel High-Performance Series Coolers

Engel literally invented the roto-molded cooler and they consistently rank in the top 3 by independent reviewers for ice retention-well ahead of YETI.

Compared To YETI, Engel Coolers

  • 10 Day ice retention
  • Costs Less
  • Also roto-molded
  • Have similar similar form factors
  • Have mechanical latches instead of rubber grommets
  • Have a 10 Year warranty rather than 5 for Yeti
  • Also bear proof
  • Less likely to be stolen
  • Made in Thailand
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Don Longworth

Don was born and raised in sub-saharan Africa. Now based in Canada, his extensive experience in non-profit work has served him well over multiple deployments in Africa. Don's experiences have made him a practical "to-the-point" type person. He is a no-frills, low-key guy who appreciates quality and simplicity.

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