The second iteration of YETI’s soft-sided cooler comes with upgrades to thermal performance and accessibility, all while remaining tough as nails.
“Same durability, added accessibility.” This slogan kicks off YETI’s latest soft-sided cooler, the Hopper 30.
Editors note: This article was updated on 8/31/2018 to reflect the new size options available for the Hopper Two. The Hopper Two now only comes in a smaller, 30-quart option.
With welded seams, a beefy HydroLok Zipper, and “ColdCell” insulation familiar from the Hopper Flip 12, the upgrades with this model are modest but useful.
For accessibility, YETI added handles on the middle and sides, and extended the HydroLok Zipper. The different handle configurations make it easy to haul, and the extra long zipper makes use and cleaning a breeze. It opens really wide.
The cooler has 1.5″ thick insulation. The brand also claims the extended zipper increases insulation.
With this release, YETI didn’t reinvent the wheel, but improved on an already refined and functional soft-sided cooler. The new sizes and accessibility will be welcome additions for those in the market for ultra-portable coolers.
I filled the 30-quart cooler to capacity with ice, beer, and food for a weekend of rock climbing and fly fishing in western Wisconsin. I hauled the cooler up and down rock climbing approaches and ate all of my meals from the YETI. After the trip was complete, I reached for a beer, not from the fridge, but the Hopper. There was still plenty of ice.
It was about 65-degrees for most of the trip, not very hot, but the cooler did its job. YETI doesn’t release exact ice retention details on the cooler given the multitude of variables that go into how the cooler performs.
Hopper 30: Why So Expensive?
Let’s just go ahead and address the number-one complaint that’s going to crop up (queue comments in 3, 2, 1…) — YETI coolers are expensive. The 30-quart cooler costs $240 ($300 at the time of publishing, but has since decreased by 20% to $240).
Yep, there are a lot of cheaper options. We’re not doing a head-to-head comparison here, but can address exactly what the YETI does.
It is, first of all, leakproof. It does this by using HydroLok Zippers usually found on waders, hazmat suits, and dry suits. These are airtight and darned expensive. If you want a cooler that won’t leak when flipped upside down and full of water, this is it. But you pay for it.
The added grips on the side give you more leverage to open the zipper, and the cooler comes with zipper oil: for HydroLok Zipper longevity. You read that right, zipper oil. YETI doesn’t mess around with its zippers.
YETI Soft-Sided Insulation
The insulation found within the cooler, is what YETI calls ColdCell Insulation. A closed-cell rubber foam keeps your drinks cold for days. The Hopper 30’s insulation is slightly thicker than the last: 1.5″ insulation vs .75″ to 1″.
DryHide Shell is the tough, waterproof fabric that lines the cooler. It is resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. You’ll be hard-pressed to puncture this beefy cooler without really trying.
User Impressions: YETI Hopper 30
The cooler’s shoulder mount and diversity of hauling options are what impressed me in testing. The Hopper 30’s tapered top lays flat against your side, and I’d imagine with smaller sizes like the 20-quart, all day hauling wouldn’t be a burden.
The new extended zipper is a nice improvement over the last model, allowing much easier access.
After the two-day trip, all of the cooler’s contents were still ice-cold. Water pooled up in the bottom, but there was still plenty of ice to keep the beverages cold. It was 65-degrees during most of the two days, and I could imagine the cooler lasting for one to two more days with cold contents.
The improvements to the original Hopper Flip and Hopper 30 come in the little things. While not groundbreaking, the Hopper 30 improves on an already solid design, without a price hike.
The coolers themselves are very expensive. But as YETI says, these are “built for the wild.” If not overtly abused (shot, stabbed, left in the campfire), these could legitimately be the last cooler you ever buy. If you forget to include it in your will, it may even be fought over by your children.