HomeTactical & SurvivalYETI vs. RTIC: Rotomolded Cooler Breakdown

YETI vs. RTIC: Rotomolded Cooler Breakdown

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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’ve compiled the pros and cons of each brand based on research, testing, and customer reviews. We’ll also compare a couple of the brand’s bestsellers to help you make the move to rotomolded! And if you want to shop around, take a look at GearJunkie’s roundup of Best Coolers.

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 hard-shell rotomolded coolers.

They also have comparable features like drain systems, heavy-duty handles, anchor point molded tie-down slots, and bear-resistant certifications. However, the brands have two key differences: price and quality.

YETI offers a wider range of rugged and burly (read: overbuilt) products; 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.”

It’s still unclear where the materials originate. However, if you value U.S. manufacturing, 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 rotomolded coolers, you’ve undoubtedly 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, “Overbuilt — Not Overpriced.” 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 comparable to YETI, potentially making RTIC a great option if you’re on a budget and looking for a cheaper rotomolded cooler.

Brand History

YETI

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 was founded, YETI commanded the high-quality, durable cooler market and boasted the longest ice retention. Priced at $200, its rotomolded coolers were significantly more expensive than the $40-50 coolers then on the market. However, 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. It’s grown from its country boy roots to a publicly traded, billion-dollar leviathan. Many of its products end up in our guides to the Best Coolers, Best Backpack Coolers, and Best Soft-Sided Coolers.

RTIC

Many have called RTIC a carbon copy of YETI. Funnily 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 as YETI but at a cheaper price.

Because it sells almost exclusively directly to consumers (DTC), RTIC can sell its products at a much lower price while still making a profit. You won’t find RTIC products at local retail shops. The brand uses social media to promote its wares instead of traditional marketing methods.

RTIC’s model has proven so successful that it has become one of YETI’s biggest competitors.

Rotomolded Hard Cooler Comparison

YETI Roadie 24 vs. RTIC 22

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 uses.

YETI Roadie 24 Hard Cooler

The Roadie 24 ($250) is an improved version of YETI’s previous Roadie 20. It is lighter, bigger, and boasts better thermal performance. It can fit a standard upright wine bottle, 18 cans, or 24 pounds of ice.

Its empty weight is 12.8 pounds and comes with a comfortable carry strap. YETI removed the drain plug on this cooler, but users say this rotomolded cooler is light enough to flip over easily. You can also add a dry goods basket, a tie-down kit, and ice packs.

We’ve done a little initial testing on this new Roadie 24, and we are impressed. The lighter-weight improved latches and soft handles are big upgrades compared to the original version. The Roadie 24 was named GearJunkie’s Best Small Cooler of 2024.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 18 cans / 24 lbs. of ice
  • Weight: 12.8 lbs.
  • Drain plug: No

Check Price at YETICheck Price at REI

RTIC 20

This RTIC cooler ($130) 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.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 24 cans / 25 lbs. of ice
  • Weight: 17.5 lbs.
  • Drain plug: Yes

Check Price at RTICCheck Price at Amazon

YETI 65 vs. RTIC 65  

If you’re looking for a heavy-duty large rotomolded 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.

YETI Tundra 65 Hard Cooler

The Tundra 65 ($350) might be the most iconic rotomolded cooler on the market. At $100 more than the RTIC 65 cooler, the YETI Tundra 65 has slightly better ice retention but less internal capacity. It holds 42 cans or 52 pounds of ice, and 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 cooler 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. Yeti also makes the Tundra 45, which we named the Best Overall Cooler of 2024.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 42 cans / 52 lbs. of ice
  • Weight: 29 lbs.
  • Warranty: 5 years

Check Price at YETICheck Price at REI

RTIC 65

The RTIC 65 ($250) 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.

This rotomolded cooler only has a 1-year warranty, and the dry goods basket has to be purchased separately.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 64 cans / 75 lbs. of ice
  • Weight: 36.5 lbs.
  • Warranty: 1 year

Check Price at RTICCheck Price at Amazon

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 easily transported, much lighter, and take up less space than hard-sided coolers. These coolers are leakproof, made from extremely tough material, and have good ice retention.

YETI Hopper M30

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.

The Hopper M30 ($350) design is modern. It has 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 holds 20 cans or 28 pounds of ice.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 20 cans / 28 lbs. of ice
  • Weight: 7 lbs.
  • Closure: Leakproof magnet

Check Price at YETICheck Price at REI

RTIC Soft Pack 30

At almost one-third the price of the YETI Hopper M30, the RTIC Soft Pack 30 ($120) is functionally similar. It has a conventional box shape, 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. Although the design isn’t as modern, it remains practical and much cheaper than a YETI.

So, what do you sacrifice with a less-expensive RTIC cooler? 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 greatly adds to the product’s cost. RTIC’s zipper is also waterproof, but it’s a much smaller-toothed model that will likely survive less abuse.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 30 cans / 30 lbs. of ice
  • Weight: 4 lbs.
  • Closure: Waterproof zipper

Check Price at RTICCheck Price at Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rotomolded cooler?

In the simplest terms, rotomolded coolers are any cooler with hard polyurethane plastic sides. Rotomolding is a process where plastic is melted down and poured into a mold. It’s spun so that the centrifugal force evenly disperses the plastic before it cools and hardens.

It’s a cost-effective method that’s particularly useful for making hollow parts and double-wall containers — like coolers. It also uses fewer resources and is more environmentally friendly.

Companies like YETI and RTIC usually use thick polyurethane foam to fill the space between the mold’s walls. This creates an insulating barrier that keeps beverages icy for hours and even days. Some coolers, like the Oyster Tempo, use vacuum insulation instead of foam, meaning the air between the inner and outer walls is actually removed, making them even more thermally efficient.

Why are rotomolded coolers so expensive?

It all comes down to materials. Rotomolded coolers are made from premium rotomolded polyethylene, which is far more durable than cheaper alternatives. Brands like YETI and RTIC also tend to make thicker walls in their rotomolded construction, which requires more polyurethane plastic.

It also has to do with the pricing standard YETI set when it introduced its first rotomolded product in 2006. Since then, coolers have become notably more expensive almost across the board, despite rotomolding being one of the most cost-effective ways to manufacture a hard-sided cooler.



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