YETI and RTIC have some of the most durable coolers around with surprisingly long-lasting ice life — up to 10 days! But which is right for you?
Rotomolded coolers, like YETI, RTIC, and countless others, aren’t exactly cheap. So you might ask, “Why not just buy a $40 cooler at Walmart?”
But odds are, you won’t realize you really want a high-quality cooler until you’re lounging on the beach, camping, or relaxing at the cabin and your ice-cold beer has all turned lukewarm.
High-end coolers are an investment, but that’s because they are built for durability and performance. Plus, the ice retention of rotomolded options guarantees you will always have a frosty beverage, even on a hot, sunny day.
Two of the biggest players in the market are YETI and RTIC. But with near-identical designs, understanding which is better for you can be tough.
No fear! We pulled together the big pros and cons of each brand from research, testing, and customer reviews. And we’ll compare a couple of the brands’ best-sellers to help you make the move to rotomolded!
YETI vs. RTIC
On the surface, the product lines from both brands look — cough, cough — similar. Both RTIC and YETI carry almost all of the same sizes of soft-sided and hardshell coolers.
They also have comparable features with drain systems, heavy-duty handles, anchor point molded tie-down slots, and bear-resistant certifications. However, there are two key differences between the brands: price and quality.
YETI offers a wider range of rugged and burly (read: overbuilt) products, and its price tags reflect this. If there’s been one knock against the brand, it’s in its manufacturing. There’s a lot of speculation over how much of its products are sourced and built in the U.S. versus overseas.
On its website, YETI asserts, “Our Tundra coolers are manufactured in the USA at facilities located in Iowa and Wisconsin as well as at a facility located in the Philippines. Our Hopper coolers are manufactured in China.”
But it’s still unclear where the materials originate. However, if U.S. manufacturing is important for you, you can contact the brand directly at (512) 394-9384 to order a cooler from American soil.
If you’re shopping for other product accessories, YETI has even more to choose from. The Austin, Texas-based brand makes seat cushions, beverage-holder attachments, ice packs, waterproof gear bags, dog bowls, and much more. It even offers a wide range of customization options.
If you’ve ever researched high-end coolers, you’ve no doubt been hit with social media suggestions for RTIC coolers. The brand, which YETI sued for imitating its products, has legions of followers. Why? Well, its prices are a fraction of YETI’s.
And RTIC stakes its name almost in direct opposition to YETI with its slogan, “Over Built – Not Over Priced.” RTIC sells its products for around half the price of YETI — a significant difference for a seemingly similar product.
For its part, RTIC manufactures all of its products in China. Based on several online reviews, many RTIC owners rate the brand’s quality as very comparable to YETI, potentially making RTIC a great option if you’re on a budget. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, RTIC may be the way to go.
Born in Austin, Texas, YETI has been around since 2006 when the company basically revolutionized the cooler market. Brothers Ryan and Roy Seiders, who were tired of their coolers breaking, founded YETI with quality in mind and an outdoor junkie target market, including hunters, anglers, and campers alike.
When it founded, YETI commanded the high-quality, durable cooler market and boasted the longest ice retention. Priced at $200, its coolers were significantly more expensive than the $40-50 coolers then on the market. But consumers soon realized that the premium price bought them a long-lasting premium product, and the company took off.
Since then, YETI has cultivated a loyal, passionate following. And it’s grown from its country boy roots to a publicly traded, billion-dollar leviathan.
Many have called RTIC a carbon copy of YETI. And funny enough, RTIC was also founded by two brothers in Texas. John and Jim Jacobsen began their company in 2015 in Cypress, Texas, intending to make similar products to YETI but at a cheaper price.
Because it sells almost exclusively direct to consumer, RTIC can sell its products at a much lower price while still turning a profit. You won’t find RTIC products at local retail shops, so the brand uses social media to promote its wares instead of traditional marketing methods.
And RTIC’s model has proven so successful, it finds itself one of YETI’s biggest competitors.
Rotomolded Hard Cooler Comparison
YETI Roadie 24 vs. RTIC 20
These coolers are made for a day trip or a weekend. Both are easy to transport and can be carried with one hand. Both coolers will keep drinks and food cool and work for most everyday use.
This improved version of YETI’s previous Roadie 20 is lighter, bigger, and performs better thermally. It can fit a standard upright wine bottle, 18 cans, or 24 pounds of ice.
Its empty weight is 12.8 pounds, and it has a comfortable carry strap. YETI removed the drain plug, but users say the cooler is light enough to flip over with ease. You can also add on a dry goods basket, a tie-down kit, and ice packs.
We’ve done a little initial testing on this new Roadie 20 and are impressed. The lighter weight, improved latches, and soft handle are big upgrades compared to the original version.
Capacity: 18 cans / 24 lbs. of ice
Weight: 12.8 lbs.
Drain plug: No
RTIC 20: $130
This RTIC cooler is slightly bigger and around $70 cheaper than the Roadie 24. And though it’s wider than the Roadie, it is not taller. So while it can hold 24 cans or 25 pounds of ice, it’s not tall enough for a wine bottle.
The handle is stainless steel, and its empty weight is 17.5 pounds. It does include a drain plug, making it more convenient to drain water.
Capacity: 24 cans / 25 lbs. of ice
Weight: 17.5 lbs.
Drain plug: Yes
YETI 65 vs. RTIC 65
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty large cooler made for hunting, camping, or fishing trips, look no further than these two hard-sided coolers.
Both rotomolded coolers carry similar designs that reviews confirm are still manageable for one person to carry. They both have T-latches, drains, nonskid pads, molded handles on both sides, and comparable ice retention.
This might be the most iconic cooler on the market. Coming in at $100 more than the RTIC 65, this cooler does have slightly better ice retention but less internal capacity. It holds 42 cans or 52 pounds of ice. Its empty weight is 29 pounds.
This cooler has a 5-year warranty and comes with a dry goods basket. We’ve beaten the heck out of the YETI 65 and would be surprised if many people ever need to use the warranty.
You can also purchase accessory add-ons through YETI such as sliding feet, a rod holster, a beverage-holder, ice packs, and seat cushions.
Capacity: 42 cans / 52 lbs. of ice
Weight: 29 lbs.
Warranty: 5 years
RTIC 65: $240
The RTIC 65 gives you a bit more internal storage, but its ice retention is slightly less than the YETI 65. When empty, it weighs in at 36.5 pounds and can hold 64 cans or 75 pounds of ice.
The cooler only has a one-year warranty, and the dry goods basket has to be purchased separately.
Capacity: 64 cans / 75 lbs. of ice
Weight: 36.5 lbs.
Warranty: 1 year
Soft Cooler Comparison
YETI Hopper M30 vs. RTIC Soft Pack 30
Soft packs are ideal for on-the-go activities such as picnics and sporting events. They are very easy to transport, much lighter, and take up less space than hard-sided coolers. Both of these coolers are leakproof, made from extremely tough material, and have really good ice retention.
YETI Hopper M30: $300
Contrary to the designs of many soft packs, YETI has created a tote-shaped cooler instead of the normal box shape. In our review, we found the tote comfortable to carry, resting on your side when you use the shoulder strap.
This design is modern, with a new magnetic closure and two quick-release buckles instead of a zipper, creating a powerful leak-resistant seal. You also won’t have to worry about accidentally leaving the cooler open, as the lid snaps shut.
The only downside is that it can be difficult to open, especially with one hand. The cooler’s empty weight is 7 pounds, and it holds 20 cans or 28 pounds of ice.
Capacity: 20 cans / 28 lbs. of ice
Weight: 7 lbs.
Closure: Leakproof magnet
RTIC Soft Pack 30: $100
At almost one-third the price of the YETI Hopper M30, this cooler is functionally similar. It has a conventional box shape and is smaller, lighter, and can hold more. The YETI’s ice retention is slightly better, but depending on your needs, it’s perhaps not enough to make a huge difference.
RTIC’s soft pack can hold 30 cans or 30 pounds of ice. The design isn’t as modern, but it remains practical and much cheaper than a YETI.
So, what do you sacrifice in the less-expensive RTIC? A big point of differentiation is the closure. While some YETI Hoppers still use a zipper, the Hopper M30 uses an extremely stout HydroLok zipper, which adds a lot to the cost of the product. RTIC’s zipper is also waterproof, but it’s a much smaller-toothed model that will likely survive less abuse.
Capacity: 30 cans / 30 lbs. of ice
Weight: 4 lbs.
Closure: Waterproof zipper