The new cooler revolution means more choice, more ice days, and better durability. Upgrades to cooler styling and functionality began with the YETI company, and soon RTIC cooler company began producing the same quality cooler for a lower price. Today, cooler companies have to produce portable, lightweight and insulated designs that gives customers three ice days, minimum. Since coolers aren’t just for hunting, fishing and camping and families own a cooler that gets used for tailgating, parties, road trips and more, versatility is key. We review soft and hard designs by comparing the RTIC and YETI coolers.
What Is the RTIC Softpak Cooler?
The Softpak is a brand name but the alternative to standard coolers is the “soft” or foldable cooler. The advantage of this design is that the cooler can fold or get packed down when not in use to save space. While space saving is a minor issue in the garage it can be an important issue in the car. Soft coolers have a bit more space for their size, and weigh less. Amazingly, this design keeps food and drink ice cold for almost as long as the rigid foam construction of a regular cooler. The RTIC Softpak comes in three sizes and has the same high-end specs customers have come to expect in RTIC cooler products.
The Softpak cooler comes in three sizes – 20, 30 or 40 – and the exterior look is the same for each. The 20 has dimensions of 14 x 13.25 by 9.25, comes in a dark charcoal color with black straps, and includes multiple straps for hand carrying or converting to a backpack. All straps are highly adjustable, and the exterior will not sweat. A waterproof zipper means the pack repels water. The 2″ of closed-cell, insulated foam construction is 100% leak proof and the Softpak will keep contents cold for a minimum of five days. This cooler has an internal capacity that stores 20 pounds of ice or 30 cans of your favorite drink.
RTIC coolers run lower than their closest competitor, the YETI. The Softpak ranges from $120 (the 20) to $174. While this price may seem high for a cooler, these Softpak RTIC cooler products will last most – or all – of a lifetime. If used at home, they will last a lifetime. This may be the only cooler you will ever buy.
YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
YETI Hopper BackFlip Cooler
- Roto-Molded Construction, Heavy Duty T-Latches, Freezer Grade Gasket, Molded Tie Down...
- Up to 3" of Insulated Walls, Non-Slip Feet, Integrated Locking System, Bear Resistant
- Rapid V-Drain System, No Fail Hinges, No Sweat Exterior, Cool Lift Design, Molded Side...
Standard RTIC coolers are rigid and look much like old fashioned coolers like the Coleman line but are much better insulated. They are easier to open and close and don’t have tops that occasionally pop open when not looking. The RTIC Cooler translates into “hard cooler” and comes in five sizes, from 20 to 65. We review the 45, a mid-sized cooler perfect for road trips, office parties, and tailgating with the family.
This cooler runs $ and can be found on Amazon and at sporting retailers.
Ease of Use:
This cooler comes with T-latches in heavy duty rubber for easy closure and for keeping the cooler shut in all conditions. A locker system that is intuitive keeps this cooler safe from marauding bears (or children), and the rope handles will last. Because it is rigid, this cooler makes a great step stool, camping table, or other flat surface. The weight is 25 pounds empty.
The insulating properties of this hard cooler are incredible, with up to ten days of ice life. Because of this feature, the RTIC 45 can act like a portable freezer when fishing, camping, or driving cross country (or internationally!) and truly changes the way you store food. The insulation is closed cell, rigid foam and it resistant to punctures. Insultation is improved by keeping the cooler shut and limiting usage.
Coolers have a simple design and nothing in the look of the RTIC cooler stands out except its obvious durability. The cooler has sturdy handles, two drain spouts for decanting extra water, and a top that stays shut. Its rope handles drop down and out of the way when not in use. We wish this cooler could be 100% bear proof, but the bear resistant rating is all we can expect of a cooler of this size.
It’s easy to use and carry and keeps food and drink ice cold for days, so from a design perspective it performs. We’d like more of a color range and the customizable features of YETI, but for chilling this cooler doesn’t disappoint.
RTIC has a 30-day warranty. We would like a longer warranty, especially since this highly durable product is unlikely to collapse, perforate, or stop chilling. RTIC is having some difficulty figuring out their warranty, which used to be 5 years and is now 30 days.
YETI Tundra 45 Cooler
- The YETI Tundra 45 combines versatility with durability with a capacity of up to 26 cans...
- Will keep your ice... well ice thanks to up to 3 inches of PermaFrost Insulation and an...
- The Rotomolded Construction makes the Tundra armored to the core and virtually...
- All Tundra coolers feature T-Rex Lid Latches constructed of heavy-duty rubber and made...
- The Tundra 45 dimensions are 25 1/2 in long x 16 in wide x 15 ½ in high with an empty...
YETI is the company that has revolutionized cooler ice days. Before YETI, we were all consigned to hoping our food made it more than two days, scouring the land for block ice which we knew would extend the cooling, and living in a world of watery ice cold water rather than ice. Although YETI coolers are expensive, we who camp and fish are eternally grateful they set the cooler bar a little higher.
The Tundra 45 starts at $, so is pricier than comparable RTIC products.
Ease of Use:
Like the RTIC cooler, this one comes in a beefy exterior with sturdy rope handles. Many of its features mirror RTIC, but in fact YETI was the pioneer and RTIC the copycat. But RTIC has improved on a couple of use features: the rope handles of YETI are more bulky, and the YETI 45 doesn’t quite have the capacity it says it does, holding only 38 quarts. Still, this YETI has good capacity. At 25.5″ x 16 x 15.5 it holds up to 26 cans ,when the ice is balanced, to keep them cold. This workhorse can hold up to 40 pounds of crushed ice, and empty it weighs a little over 25 pounds.
With 3″ of insulation, the YETI is thicker than the RTIC cooler and this takes up a little of the interior space. It keeps contents just as cold as RTIC and lasts for days. The ice retention of the YETI is mind-blowing for generations who grew up with coolers from even ten years ago. The ice doesn’t just keep food items cool; it keeps them cold for over a week.
This cooler rivals the RTIC cooler; they have both mastered cooler design. Drainage holes, decent handles, and rigid construction compete. We love that YETI has five different colors, even if they are heavy on the pastel choices. But this cooler is a “45” and the capacity is more like 38, so we don’t know why YETI doesn’t go with the more accurate “40.” YETI doesn’t hold as much as its 45 RTIC competitor, but for keeping the ice cold YETI has a (slight) advantage. In terms of performance, the YETI design completely supports its ideal functioning by keeping its interior the temperature of an ice berg.
YETI is confident in its coolers’ performance and has a five-year warranty.
YETI Hopper BackFlip Cooler
- Part cooler, part backpack, the Hopper BackFlip 24 is the perfect reason to extend your...
- DRYHIDE SHELL - The Hopper's high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew,...
- COLDCELL INSULATION - Closed-cell rubber foam offers far superior cold-holding to ordinary...
- HYDROLOK ZIPPER - The toughest, highest-performing waterproof and leakproof cooler zipper...
- The BackFlip has an inside measurement of 12 5/8 x 6 ½ x 15 inches. Big enough to hold 20...
This soft cooler doubles as a backpack. You’d be surprised how handy this is. Remember when you made fun of backpack lawn chairs, then tried one? It’s incredibly convenient for music festivals, hikes to the fishing hole, and picnics. Owners find other uses for the BackFlip. We review the “24” which is a good carrying capacity and not too heavy for most users.
Ease of Use:
The permanently molded straps make this a durable and easy to carry cooler for its use. The zipper seals the pack completely and you can do some cannoneering with this cooler. The only downside is that it’s made for carrying on the back, so even though the top handle is extremely durable, this pack is use-specific. The outer pocket makes storage a breeze.
The insulation is excellent, but soft coolers can’t go the extra mile like hard coolers. For a soft cooler, this YETI beats out almost all the competition. RTIC, who has copied the best features of YETI at a price reduction, does rival these soft coolers in insulation quality, but most coolers found at Walmart or even REI don’t come close in insulation quality. A hard cooler has more ice days, but naturally the backpack design adds versatility. Three days of ice is plenty for most people, and this cooler is more than enough for day trips like fishing or picnicking.
ColdCell insulation makes this soft cooler a performer. It can’t rival a hard cooler, but three days of cold – not cool – food and drink is to be expected, and it may go longer. Since the Hopper is essentially a giant thermos, it will also keep contents hot (but we don’t recommend boiling) for just as long. The backpack design is ingenious,and we love the molded straps.
Ease of Use:
The RTIC pack is easy to open and close, with a semi-rigid construction. It floats, tolerates being tossed around, and has multiple top, side and back straps for carrying every which way. It can handle more weight than you can carry, and the durability is excellent. One small mesh pockedtand another exterior zippered pocket give it a few compartments for storage of small items. Includes a padded shoulder strap.
Keeps food and drink cold for an amazing three days: more than enough for most camping and hiking trips, plenty for tailgating or picnicking, and even enough for fishing and hunting expeditions. The 2″ insulation competes with YETI products and the tight seal of this unit is top-rate. The zippered construction is slightly more of a hassle to use, but for insulation performance this RTIC delivers.
Although this cooler isn’t a backpack, it is more versatile as a carrying bag than a hard cooler. With its side handles, top handle, shoulder strap, and rear handle, it can be carried in almost any condition. The two extra pockets on the outside handle small objects. The cooler is made for 100% leakproof performance. The color is charcoal with blue stitching and black straps, somewhat more attractive than the YETI.
Both RTIC cooler products and YETI coolers are excellent for ice life: in fact they blow the competition out of the water. For performance, hard coolers will give more days of ice but are harder to transport and are made for long trips. Soft coolers are less expensive, and with three days of chilled food and drink, many people will be happy with a lighter weight, portable cooler. The Softpak from RTIC and YETI beat out other soft coolers by a mile, but we prefer RTIC due to price. Both are durable coolers, well-insulated and sporting great design features, yet RTIC is significantly less expensive.