Gear Review: Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler

adventure journal gear review yeti tundra 45 cooler 02
The Yeti Tundra 45 is an amazingly durable, seemingly bombproof, long-chilling cooler, but at $320 and with a surprisingly small interior, it certainly won’t be for everyone.

What it is is tough. Made of rotomolded plastic, like almost every kayak you see on the river, it will survive abuse such as being rolled down an embankment or dropped off an open tailgate as you drive away (ah, the fun of product testing…). The over-thick lid is unlikely to break off or bend, and it’s more than study enough to use as a stepstool for rooftop access. It’s bearproof, too, as Yeti likes to tout — but you have to put padlocks in the corner lid holes to make it so.

adventure journal gear review yeti tundra 45 coolerWhatever you’re cooling — beer, fish, a week’s worth of supplies — is likely to stay cool for a long, long time. The walls are much thicker than on a traditional cooler, all insulation and plastic, and seem to do their job — I didn’t get out in the 100-degree that was baking the Southwest recently, but I left 20 pounds of ice in it in my hot garage and a week later things were still frosty.

All of this über-ness comes at a price, the first of which is the price. At triple the cost of a standard Coleman, the Yeti is a spendy option. It’s also heavy — 22 pounds empty. And finally, the storage space is remarkably small (about 10 x 19 inches by 11 inches deep). I actually gasped a little the first time opened it cause it was so surprising compared to the outside. But of course, if the insulation weren’t so thick, your frosties wouldn’t stay frosty very long. These drawbacks are the compromise for durability and long-lasting insulation.

So, what’s its best use? River trips and long overland road trips where you can’t refresh the ice and weight doesn’t matter. For car camping, it’s probably overkill, but for excursions like that, it’s perfect.

$320 LINK

{ 2 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Brazos

    While traveling down the interstate on my way to the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, my Yeti 45 flew off the back of the jeep and was drug fully loaded with ice and food for about a quarter mile at 70 mph. The result? Just a little road rash. Kept my food and ice for 2 guys (including Bacon, steaks, pork chops, ground meat, cheese, butter) perfectly cold. At the end of the 8 day canoe trip (after cascading down Class III rapids status post canoe capsize) I still ended up dumping ice out of it. Perfect cooler for wilderness canoe trips when you still want to eat like kings.

  • shoedork

    I understand that ‘reviews’ are ideally not gushing endorsements of products, but this piece seems to miss the whole point of the design and raison d’etre of a Yeti cooler. Mind you I am biased – my perception is that most gear reviews are are pointless drivel – specifically because the people writing them feel the need to put the item they are reviewing in to a generalized box rather than in the context of the specific niche they were designed to serve. In the case of this review, criticizing the very things that make it great and work well does not serve the reader at all. The reviewer should have done some homework. Speak to guides who are using these things in the field and you will find out that the cost is completely in line with performance and that the longevity and efficiency will make them seem like a bargain in the long run. Don’t like how much it will hold? Get a bigger size. Too heavy? Buy a cheaper cooler and buy ice more often. Not sure you have noticed but a cooler full of ice, water, beer and food is really heavy anyway. You’re not taking one backpacking are you???

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