First Look: YETI ‘Hopper Flip’ Soft Cooler Review

YETI moves ahead in the soft-cooler category next month with its Hopper Flip 12, a zip-shut cube that’s airtight, leak-proof, and can purportedly keep ice for days.

yeti hopper cooler

We bought 10 pounds of ice and dumped it in, the cubes overflowing, bouncing off beers, and pinging on cement where they puddled quickly in the summer sun.

The occasion was (very simply) a July weekend day, and the conveyance for our 12 cans was a zipper-equipped cube, a soft-side vessel, rugged and light, made from a material similar to what’s seen on a whitewater raft.

The YETI Hopper Flip 12 is a new addition coming next month from the Texas-based brand. It adds a day-use design to the company’s line of tough but “soft” coolers, which are made to be portable and lightweight (while still keeping items inside icy for many hours, or even days).

cooler on cement

New YETI Cooler: Hopper Flip 12

GearJunkie was among the first places to see the YETI Hopper Flip 12, so we jumped on a review.

But it was no hassle to test — this is a product with really only a few jobs: The unit needs to keep things cold; retain its contents and not leak; and it must put up with some abuse at a picnic or tossed into the back of a truck.

The cooler measures about 12.5 x 10 x 11.5 inches and has thick walls made of a TPU-laminated nylon (the whitewater raft-like material).

open cooler with beer

The Hopper’s thermal regulation comes from slabs of insulation up to an inch thick. An EVA foam bottom gives a solid base.

It opens wide, a big-tooth zipper offering full access to what’s inside. The rubbery interior is an anti-microbial, food-grade lining.

With 3.2 gallons of capacity it’s large enough to stash a day’s worth of sustenance for a family, or, depending on how much ice you add, up to a dozen beverage cans or longneck bottles.

Instead of stitching, the cooler has RF-welded seams (RF stands for radio frequency). This effectively melds the cooler parts together and aids in both durability and the marketed leak-proof characteristics.

Beefy ‘HydroLok’ Zipper

YETI brands the beefy closures on its soft-side coolers as HydroLok Zippers. Airtight and waterproof — and similar to the let-nothing-in closures found on hazmat suits — the zippers are a convenient seal, pulling closed with a tactile tick-tick and docking at the end.

cooler zipper

Like most products from the brand, the Hopper Flip 12 coolers are not inexpensive, at $279, and the company told me the zipper is a big part of that cost.

But like the rest of the cooler, the blue-tooth zips can take a beating. And they work, both as a part of the insulating buffer system, as well as in keeping any liquid contents inside.

I saw nary a drip come through, even tipping over a fully melted cooler of used-to-be ice. Like the strong zipper on a dry suit, the HydroLok works to create a barrier impervious to what’s trying to come through from the other side.

Official Cooler 'Ice/Beer Challenge' (featuring soft-side Yeti Hopper)

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Review: YETI Coolers Hopper Flip 12

After a field test, where the Hopper was easy to tote with a shoulder strap, I loaded the boxy cooler with ice and beers. It was a hot night, and after zipping the cooler shut I stashed it on a shelf.

After 24 hours I took a peek. Some water was on the bottom, but there was still copious ice and cold beverages to grab.

open cooler

YETI does not give exact ice-retention figures because so many variables come into play, from outdoor temperature to ice quantity, to if the cooler is sitting in shade or direct sun.

But with the Hopper Flip the company states the thick-wall cooler is “tested to ensure ice will last for days” in the proper conditions.

Overall, in my first test, I was happy with the cooler, both in function and form. In addition to handles and the removable shoulder strap, the company includes a Velcro patch on the exterior along with MOLLE-compatible webbing straps to let you attach accessories or clip-on gear.

yeti cooler

Put your ice inside and head outdoors. Or strap this box-shape cooler in the back of a truck. It’s an investment, but it’s built to last. For anyone in need of cold food and drink in a portable, durable package the Hopper Flip is a solid fit.

YETI Hopper Flip 12

  • Capacity: 3.2 gallons
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 7 ounces
  • Exterior: TPU-laminated nylon
  • Interior: Liner is food-grade; anti-microbial
  • Zipper: Airtight, leakproof
  • Ice retention: 24 hours+ (depends on conditions)
  • Insulation: 3/4 to 1-inch thick
  • Warranty: Three years
  • Price: $279.99
  • Available: August 25, 2016
  • More info / Buy now

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By
Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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