When people ask us about recommendations for ‘ coolers like Yetis ’, we assume they mean products that not only look and perform like YETI’s, but that are cheaper as well.
After all, if you wanted a cooler like a YETI, but didn’t care about the price, you’d just go and buy an actual YETI — right?
In this article, we’ve listened to you, the reader, and created a condensed, all-in-one guide of the best coolers like YETI, but cheaper.
There have been dozens and dozens of YETI imitations in years past, but the brands that we’ve picked here have proven time and time again to hold up just as well in terms of performance, quality, durability, and ice retention.
So if you’re one of the thousands of outdoors people that would love to own a YETI, but can’t bring yourself to pay the hefty price tag, take a look at these picks for YETI like coolers – we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Coolers Like YETIs, but Cheaper: Established Competition – The BIG 5 (Hard Coolers / Ice Chests)
These are the top 5 most well-established competitors to YETI’s reign; you’ve likely heard of them before. A couple brands market themselves as actually being superior in performance to YETI (and thus aren’t much less expensive), while the main draw of the other brands is that they’re drastically cheaper, while maintaining the same quality. Here’s our list of the top YETI-like coolers
Orca Coolers are one of those brands that don’t necessarily market themselves as being cheaper than YETI’s. However, tons of people have said that strictly in terms of quality and performance, they’re actually better.One of the huge draws of Orca coolers is that, unlike YETI, all of them are made in the USA. This is actually an aspect that’s caused YETI to lose a lot of their loyal customers; even after outsourcing most of their manufacturing to the Philippines and China, they continue to charge top dollar.
With the Orca cooler lineup you’ll get numerous sizes to choose from, you’ll be able to find Orca coolers in sizes of 20, 26, 40, 58, 75 and 140 quarts.
Their company slogan? “Half the price … Holds more ice.”
They’re definitely spot on with the ‘half the price’ part; it’s clear their sole intention from the beginning was to offer very similar style coolers as the YETI, at a 50% price cut. And they’ve been extremely successful in doing so – they’ve catered to the massive crowd that would love to have a really nice quality outdoor cooler, but find it ridiculous to pay YETI’s prices.
However, recently it seems that RTIC’s bold advertising has caught up with them in terms of legal disputes; they’ve been in and out of court with YETI basically ever since they began marketing, and earlier this year they finally decided to settle the lawsuit and pay YETI a big chunk of money, as well as discontinue production of their earlier models.
This doesn’t mean they’re out of business, though; they’ll still be manufacturing and selling coolers at half the price as YETI, they’ll just be changing up their original design a little bit.
So, if you want to grab one of these new RTIC coolers by their summer drop date, we highly recommend you pick one up asap – they’ll likely get sold out almost as soon as they hit the market.
Pelican Elite Cooler
Pelican Elite Cooler is another one of those brands that’s not necessarily cheaper than YETI, but instead has tried to construct a product that’s even superior.
In fact, Pelican has earned the reputation among many hardcore outdoors people as being the best-performing and most durable cooler on the planet, period. In terms of ice retention it is actually pretty well-known that Pelican’s gasket design is superior to YETI’s, and they will hold ice longer under the same conditions.
If you’re not specifically looking for coolers cheaper than YETI, and are more concerned with performance instead, you might really want to check out Pelican’s lineup.
(Note: this article covers models prior to the 2017 re-design).
Grizzly Cooler is another brand that’s survived basically by offering coolers that are cheaper than YETI. They’ve actually been around for much longer than their rivals (since 1983, in fact), but their popularity never really took off until the massive YETI craze settled in.
Grizzly actually has got one of the most loyal followings of outdoorsmen and women anywhere; their major claim to fame is that their ice chests are 100% indestructible, and they come with a lifetime guarantee — all while being substantially cheaper than the top competition.
Another good thing about Grizzly is that they have plenty of size options to choose from, giving them a more complete rivalry to YETI’s Tundra series than, say, ORCA’s lineup.
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker
Strictly in terms of price, RTIC coolers and the Igloo Yukon Cold Locker are going to be the cheapest options when it comes to an ice chest that’s comparable in quality to the YETI.
The good thing about the Cold Locker is that they come in much larger sizes than the RTIC; if you’re wanting a value version of one of the big YETI Tundras, these are the best choice. And in terms of performance, they have not disappointed; a lot of customers have claimed that they easily retain ice for multi-day hunting and fishing trips, and are just as durable as their YETI counterparts.
Granted, you’re not going to get the ‘status symbol’ that comes along with owning a YETI, but for the thousands of people who are concerned more with cost and performance than brand name, the Yukon Cold Locker is a good option.
YETI-like Coolers: Rising Stars
These are the brands that aren’t quite as popular or well-known as ‘The Big 5’, but have proven to be great performers, and are cheaper than most any of the other top picks. Here’s our list of the best cheap coolers like YETI:
Well, we hate to brag, but as it turns out, we were right.
The company has been doing really well since their first batch of premium rotomolds hit the market on Amazon, and positive customer reviews have continued to roll in thick and fast. This is a brand that’s very similar to RTIC; their main draw is that they’re about 50% less expensive than the top brands.
Another great thing about Palm Coolers is they made it a point to offer a complete range of sizes; they’ve currently got five different sizes available, from 30-quarts all the way up to 145-quarts.
If RTIC happens to become sold out and backordered quickly this summer when their new models drop (as they very likely will), you might really want to check out what’s available on Amazon from Palm, as they generally keep a great inventory in stock and always offer free shipping.
Construction-wise we found that Meadowcrafts are built with nearly the same exact materials as YETI’s, and will easily keep ice for just as long. In addition to the negative pressure seal gasket, one of our favorite features of these coolers is the pressure-relief button, which breaks the seal and makes it easier to open after being closed for a long period of time.
(In fact, not only does it make the cooler easier to open, it also prolongs the life of the gasket by minimizing excessive wear).
All sizes (there are three: 20Q, 45Q, and 75Q) come standard with built-in bottle openers, a really important feature that is really missing on brands like RTIC.
Additionally, all models and sizes (25, 35, 50, 75, 100, and 150-quart) come standard with integrated bottle openers, heavy-duty removable wheels, XXL drain plugs for ultra-quick draining, and fully customizeable lid labels – definitely one of the most unique and original brands out there.
And speaking of performance, you will not find a better made ice chest. Period. These things are the absolute best of the best, but you will pay for it in terms of price, unfortunately; they don’t make much of an effort to be cheaper than the competition.
Orion currently is manufacturing six different size rotomolded coolers (25-quart, 35-quart, 45-quart to 85-quart), though they can be pretty hard to find for sale online as of late. Your best bet is going to be keeping tabs on Amazon to see what they’ve got in stock, as they’ve been know to be on sale there.
Coolers Like YETI Roadie: Our Best Picks
The YETI Roadie represents the smallest, most economically priced option in the YETI hard cooler lineup. These are our top picks for its direct competition:
K2 Summit 20Q
It features up to 3” of insulation foam, so you can expect it to easily match the YETI as far as ice retention goes. Another thing we really like is the heavy-duty padded shoulder strap in place of the stainless steel metal rod that’s on the Roadie.
K2 is one of the more popular and well-respected brands, so you won’t have any issues about durability or customer care; they’ve got a full 7-year guarantee that’s one of the best in the business.
Nash Sub Z Cooler
Size-wise it’s actually a little bigger than the Roadie, coming in at right around 23 quarts, and people are really liking that, unlike the YETI, it comes in 5 different colors.
Of course, the Nash brand is a far cry from the iconic status that the YETI name bears, but if status symbols are of little concern to you, you might really want to check out the Sub Z.
Bison 25Q Cooler
They have become quite hard to come by since the company downsize manufacturing, but these are very well-made coolers that are just a hair more expensive than the dirt-cheap Nash Sub Z.
Soft Cooler Bags Like YETI Hopper
YETI’s soft Hopper cooler is another super popular model, and is a great addition to the larger hard sided coolers. Here’s our top picks for the best soft coolers like YETI:
Igloo Marine Cooler Bag
Size-wise you’ve got several different options to choose from actually, with 24 and 36-can packs available in either square, backpack, or console styles.
Other than the price of course, one of users’ favorite features of these cooler bags is that they’re built to withstand marine environments, and are made with 100% non-corrosive zippers and hardware that won’t rust or get frozen in place in the salty air. And as far as ice retention, the MaxCold insulation provides 25% more insulation than other brands, so you can expect your goodies to stay cold inside for up to 48 hrs.
Check out all the different styles and models here.
Engel Cooler Bag
It’s another super-popular bag for saltwater anglers, and like the Igloo, is purpose-built to be able to withstand corrosion brought on by salty environments.
Also, one really cool thing that customers love about the Engel bags is that, in addition to the standard white, they’re also available in Realtree Xtra Camouflage and Kryptek Highlander Camo colorways.
RTIC Soft Pack
However, just like with their hard coolers, the RTIC Soft Packs had to be re-vamped due to the legal dispute with YETI, so you seriously might want to jump on the new batches quickly that drop in early summer 2017, as they’re likely to get sold out and go on backorder in very little time.
Oh, and one really cool thing? RTIC is expecting to bring back they’re super popular camo colorway for the new 2017 models.
Coolers Like YETI but Cheaper: The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, there are plenty of options out there when it comes to options for coolers like YETI’s; whether you’re in the market for a full-size cooler, something smaller like the YETI Roadie, or the soft-sided YETI Hopper, these are the best overall picks if you’re looking for something cheaper, but still want to maintain the same quality, performance, and durability as the most reputable brand in the world.
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