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This is it, ladies and gentlemen; this is the review you have all been waiting for. We have reviewed lots off hard coolers out there. We have done the ones you know, like Orca, RTIC, and Pelican. We have also done some you may have never heard of, such as the Kong series of coolers.
While some of these coolers have drastically different designs from each other, with features that are just out there, they all have something in common: we compare them to the industry standard, which is Yeti. And yet for all the times we have compared some random cooler brand to Yeti in terms of design and performance, we have never yet published a post dedicated to the Yeti Tundra coolers.
We always have a section in our cooler reviews where we compare the given cooler to the Yeti Tundra if it’s a hard cooler or the Yeti Hopper if it’s a soft cooler or even the Yeti Rambler if it’s just drinkware. That section is there without fail in practically every review we do, so wouldn’t it be fair if we reviewed all of these Yeti hard coolers so everyone at least knows why they’re the industry standard?
Well, we have done just that. We have tackled Yeti soft coolers, Yeti drinkware, and here we finally are going for the big dogs; the products that really put Yeti on the map: The Yeti line of hard coolers.
Yeti has something of a romantic story. It was started by two brothers in 2006 who wanted to build a cooler they could use every day for just about anything from your average tailgating party to a hardcore adventure in the mountains or in the water. They started with their line of hard coolers, made a big name for themselves in the market, and the rest is pretty much history.
Where are Yeti Coolers Made?
This is one of those questions that a lot of people ask but fail to get a detailed answer. Well, we’ll try and settle it once and for all.
According to Yeti’s FAQ page, their Tundra coolers are manufactured in their USA facilities in Wisconsin and Iowa and also the Philippines. Their Hoppers are manufactured in China. They also give you the option to make sure you buy a Yeti cooler that has been manufactured in the USA by calling them on the number (512) 394-9384.
Actually, according to a detailed article on Roto World Mag, Yeti started out making their rotomolded coolers in Thailand. That is where the very first ice chest was developed. At the time, that cooler was considered to be the very best in the industry. However, Yeti felt they could do better and so they went after a different manufacturer in the Philippines to make their coolers for them.
Now, according to Roto Mag World, demand rose up so sharply for Yeti in their earlier years that they had to eventually expand their capacity by partnering with manufacturers in the USA. That sounds a little counter-intuitive.
Most companies start with manufacturing at home and then expand overseas to cheaper labor markets when they need to level up their capacity and also reduce their production costs. Yeti seems to have done the opposite.
Yeti has partnered with some of the best plastics molders in the USA to do their manufacturing for them. These include Solar Plastics, Dutchland Plastics, Centro Incorporated, Hedstrom Plastics, and Plastics Professionals.
Now, it’s important to note that Yeti does not actually own its own plants. Instead, when it lists its plants in Iowa and Wisconsin, it is, in fact, referring to the plants owned by its manufacturers. For example, Centro Incorporated has plants in Iowa and Wisconsin and Dutchland Plastics has a plant in Wisconsin.
There’s nothing weird or out of place about that. Large companies are known to handle the design of their products and then outsource actual manufacturing to other companies. Apple does this, and apparently, so do Yeti.
The beautiful part is that if you do want to a Yeti cooler that has been sourced in the USA it is possible. All you have to do is call Yeti on the number (512) 394-9384 and they’ll make it happen.
Yeti Tundra Ice Chest Review
There are so many available capacities when it comes to the Yeti Tundra line of hard coolers that it’s hard to pick a specific one to represent the whole line. Obviously, we can’t do a review for each one, unless we want to dedicate our site to Yeti reviews.
We decided to go for the Yeti Tundra 65, which up to date happens to be the most popular Yeti hard cooler and can be considered a representative of the family.
Build and Durability
Don’t be fooled by the name; the exterior on the Tundra is as rugged as it gets and this cooler will stand the toughest abuse for many years. The only point we considered a weak point was the lid seal because we got water to slosh out of the lid as we were testing the cooler. However, it is still better than some models out there, including the high-end Pelican Elite.
The cooler is rotomolded, like most high-end coolers out there of course, which already makes it virtually indestructible. It also happens to be certified bear-proof by IGBC. Yeti also backs up their design with a 5-year warranty that covers any manufacturer defects.
There are lots of things on the Tundra that make it super easy to use. The latches are T-Rex rubber latches that can be pulled open, making the opening and closing of the lid super easy. The drain plug is also quite capable when draining the cooler.
We noticed, however, that because the handle is pretty long, we had to hold it away from the drain when draining the cooler. There was also a bit of spraying at first when we tried to drain the cooler.
As the water drains out toward the end, it tends to trickle down to the bottom of the cooler and make whatever the cooler is sitting on wet, so you may have to tilt the cooler a bit to avoid that. But that’s an issue we see in most cooler drains.
The Tundra also includes a separating tray that keeps the food items away from the wet stuff. It’s essentially a dry basket and comes in handy for those who want their dry contents staying dry. There are also slots for a divider on the inside, which is something you should expect from any high-end cooler.
We also loved the 2:1 can to ice capacity, and the strong gasket on the lid, ensuring the lid is tightly shut when you close it. It’s a strong cooler overall and inspires quite some confidence. It’s no surprise that we use it as the industry standard.
How Portable is this Cooler?
Well, it’s a pretty large cooler so this will obviously be an issue worth talking about. The handles of the Tundra are basically ropes with grooved plastic handles where the hands should go. That’s an okay handle for a lighter cooler.
However, on a cooler of this size, you can expect some red and painful fingers after you have carried the cooler for a while. To be entirely honest, there are way better handles out there, such as those on the Pelican Elite and the Orca.
The above note about handles, however, doesn’t relate to Yeti Roadie and the new Yeti Tundra Haul. The former is the smallest ice chest in the Tundra series and it has a big, comfy, steel handle. The latter is the first Tundra on wheels, which Yeti has introduced just a few months ago. We posted a complete Yeti Haul Review right here.
Insulation and Ice Retention
This is what the Yeti Tundra 65 is most well known for. It happens to be one of the best performers on the market when it comes to ice retention. In fact, for the longest time ever, it was the best in ice retention in the market and only got overtaken a few years ago.
The Tundra will keep your food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 5 days and will even go up to 6. The best performing cooler is the Orca 58 quart cooler, which will keep your contents cool for up to 7 days. That means the Yeti isn’t far off.
The insulation on the Tundra more than matches the very high pedigree of this cooler, and we are very proud of it. Whether you’re going out for a very long weekend, or you want something you can rely on for a picnic, the Tundra is there for you.
Who is the Yeti Tundra for?
The Yeti Tundra is for pretty much anyone who appreciates a premium cooler from an iconic, lifestyle brand. Whether you want something you can go fishing with, or hunting, or camping, this cooler will serve you well and will take a beating without flinching.
Why are Yeti Coolers so Expensive?
This is a question a lot of people ask. Well, Yeti coolers are expensive because the brand has been built over time and has come to be respected by the industry. Can you get coolers that perform at the same level for a cheaper price? Of course!
However, they do not have that shiny Yeti badge, and their names do not command as much respect. Don’t get us wrong, there are other premium brands out there but let’s be honest: no brand has been able to achieve such a massive success as the Yeti – now a public company with a market cap of $1.9 billion at the time of writing this.
To conclude this part: what sets Yeti apart is that every time you buy yourself a Yeti, you are buying a product from a top-tier brand, and a stamp of approval that you have a quality product that will last for many years. It also helps that you get a 5-year warranty.
Yeti Tundra Coolers Line Up
Other Yeti Hard Coolers
The Tundra, while the main line of Yeti hard coolers, isn’t the only one. There is the standalone Yeti Roadie, which is pretty small at only 20 quarts and is meant for the simplest of uses. There are also the Yeti Tank and the Yeti Silo.
The Yeti Tank is pretty much an ice bucket. It comes in the 45 quart and 85-quart capacities and is there for the simple purpose of keeping your beer cold. Whether you’re out on your boat or at a simple party, the last thing you want is to have a cold beer.
That’s why the Tank is there. You pour in the ice and throw in your cans of beer. They stay cold throughout the night, up to 24 hours, and you always have a cold one. It is rotomolded, just like the Tundra coolers, and also has commercial grade polyurethane insulation for ice retention. It’s a specialty cooler that does its job very well.
Buy Yeti Tank at Amazon
So what happens when you want a watercooler that keeps your water cool and also lets the water out of the spigot at a steady rate? Why, you get a Yeti Silo, of course! The Yeti Silo does it’s water cooling job pretty well, thanks to the wonderful 2-inch insulation it gets.
It also has a great spigot running out of one day that makes sure a queue doesn’t build up behind one person because they’re taking too damn long to get their cup filled.
Buy Yeti Silo at Amazon
Which Size Yeti Tundra Cooler to Buy?
There are 16 available sizes of Yeti hard coolers to buy. We elaborated on the Yeti sizes here. In a nutshell, for the Roadie, we have the 20 quart. For the Tundra we have the 35, 45, 65, Haul, 75, 105, 110, 125, 160, 210, 250, and 350 quart. For the Tank, we have the 45 and the 85 quart. Finally, for the Silo, we have the 6G. So which one you buy?
Well, it all really depends. If you’re looking for a simple picnic or partying cooler, then you should get either a Roadie or one of the smaller Tundra varieties. If you do a lot of fishing or hunting, then you should go for the midrange options, which will be better suited to handle your catch.
If you’re camping or going hiking and have a lot of company coming along, then the larger Tundra varieties will be your best option. The largest Tunda 350 may be a good choice to put on a boat / yacht, or in the back of your big pickup truck. By the way, did we mention the Tundra 350 has 19,000 cubic inches of capacity? That’s enough to put 82.4 gallons of water, yikes!
Yeti Tundra Competition
Orca Hard Coolers
The Yeti Tundra line of hard coolers obviously beats the Orca line in terms of size variety. The design of the Orca hard coolers on the outside also feels vaguely ripped off from the design of the Yeti. Other than that, the features and performance are pretty much the same for the two with the Orca being cheaper. We would say buy the Orca if you want a slightly cheaper Yeti rival. However, if you want the real deal, get yourself a Yeti, hell yea.
Buy Orca Hard Coolers at Amazon
Pelican is a trusted old brand with a strong lineup of coolers. They have plenty of variety in the size department; nearly as much as Yeti, actually, and also plenty of variety when it comes to color as well. They are also only slightly cheaper than Yeti coolers since both are premium brands. Here we think it’s a tie and the cooler you buy depends on your brand preference. Personally, we love Pelican’s refreshed design for the Elite series and we think those coolers are just great.
Buy Pelican Coolers at Amazon
The Grizzly is the newer kid on the block but works very hard to give a strong offering, with a small, mid-sized, and large cooler on offer. In fact, the largest Grizzly hard cooler at 400 quarts is larger than the largest Yeti cooler at 350 quarts, which makes it perfect cooler for a big game hunting.
They also have plenty of color offerings and good performance and features for a lower price than Yeti. We think you should try the Grizzly if you want to try out a cool new brand that has lot of respect amongst their loyal fan base. Otherwise, if you want to stick to old quality, then go for Yeti.
Buy Grizzly Coolers at Amazon
Yeti Coolers on Sale – Where to Buy Yeti Rotomolded Ice Chests?
You could buy them on Yeti’s own website, or on a bunch of other sites. Our recommendation, however, is Amazon. They have their own, great-looking store over there. When you make your cooler purchase at Amazon, you will be buying from the most trusted eCommerce site on the internet. You will get buyer protection, in case you don’t like the product, free returns, real reviews, and extra perks like free shipping if you’re a Prime member.
Buy Yeti Hard Coolers at Amazon
Yeti Hard Coolers – The Bottom Line
And with that, we conclude this review of the Yeti Tundra. This is the cooler that really put Yeti on the map. We have a soft spot for it and we hope that, after reading this review, you will have one too.
YETI Presents: The Tundra Tales
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Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we may receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps us keep this website alive. Learn more here.
Last update on 2019-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API