The Differences Between Yeti and Regular Coolers (And Similarities)

Yeti coolers can keep ice for over 5-7 days while a regular cooler struggles to even keep ice for full day. They are also extremely different in price with Yeti coolers costing hundreds while a regular cooler might only set you back $40.

So what is the differences between a Yeti cooler and a regular cooler and are Yeti coolers worth the money?

1. Price

The first obvious difference in the 2 types of coolers in the price, with Yeti coolers being extremely expensive and regular coolers being extremely affordable.

Yeti pioneered the high-end cooler market back in 2006 when two brothers decided to build a cooler that could handle anything they threw at it on their adventures.

It took the world by storm and they quickly grew by selling their premium coolers through smaller specialty stores, going on to become a company worth over $1.5 billion.

A Yeti 65 (about 57-Quart capacity) sells for whereas a basic Coleman cooler can cost as little as .

This means a Yeti costs nearly 10 times as much as a regular cooler, or you could buy 10 regular coolers for the price of just one Yeti cooler.

So are Yeti coolers worth the cost? What is so different about them that people all over the world are paying this sort of money for a box that holds ice?

That’s what the rest of the article will be about.

See the latest prices of Yeti Coolers on Amazon

See the latest prices of Regular Coolers on Amazon

2. Ice Retention

Yeti Cooler Ice Retention Test

This is where you start to see incredible differences in the performance of a Yeti cooler vs a regular cooler.

A regular cooler often struggles to hold ice for more than a day. We have all experienced taking our cooler to a BBQ or to the beach or to a backyard party only to have the ice melt and our beverages start warming up before the event is even over.

Yeti coolers on the other hand can keep ice for easily over 5 days and sometimes even over 7-10 days.

I did an ice test with my Yeti 45 and it held ice for over 10 days!!!

Now this was in perfect conditions with the cooler almost completely full of ice. But still! 10 days is crazy good performance.

I also lived in a van with my Yeti 45 as my main cooler and it consistently kept ice for 3-5 days even when only partially full of ice and when I continually added room temperature food and beverages to the cooler.

So Yeti coolers perform significantly better than regular coolers which allows you to stay off grid longer and means you spend a lot less money on ice.

3. Insulation Thickness

Yeti Cooler Insulation

The superior ice retention is in large part to how much more insulation Yeti coolers have when compared to regular coolers.

Regular coolers might have 1 inch of insulation in the walls of the cooler (if you’re lucky) whereas Yeti coolers have approximately 2-2.5 inches of insulation in the walls of the cooler.

Yeti coolers are injected with polyurethane foam which sets hard, adding to the strength of the cooler and giving it amazing insulating properties.

Learn more about what Yeti coolers are made from

4. Lid Insulation

I recently discovered that regular coolers have no insulation in the lid. You read that correctly…

Regular coolers have ZERO insulation in the lid.

In fact the lids of regular coolers are just hollow plastic filled with air.

Yeti coolers on the other hand have 2.5-3 inches of insulation in the lid. This massively adds to it’s ability to keep ice and it also makes the cooler so much stronger.

It’s much safer to sit, stand or even drive on a Yeti cooler compared to a regular cooler….yeh people have driven on Yeti’s to prove how strong these coolers are.

5. Roto-molded Construction

Yeti coolers are made using a process called roto-moulding whereas regular coolers are generally made using a process called blow-moulding.

Roto-molded coolers have a much much thicker plastic shell when compared to a blow-moulded cooler.

A roto-moulded cooler is significantly stronger than a blow-moulded cooler.

You can drop a Yeti cooler, jump on it, throw it and even drive a car on it and it won’t break. These things are almost indestructible.

6. Bear Proof

Yeti Cooler Bear Proof

Yeti coolers are so strong and tough that they are certified bear proof.

This means if a bear comes into your campsite and tries to get into your cooler (assuming you locked it) it will be unable to.

This means the bear is much more likely to give up and move on to find food elsewhere rather than stay around your campsite putting you and your stuff in danger.

No regular coolers are even close to being bear proof. None of them have ways to lock the lid to the body of the cooler, meaning a bear can simply open it.

Even if there was a way to lock the lid regular coolers are so weak that a bear would be able to tear it apart and get inside the cooler that way.

7. Different Distribution

Yeti's National Distribution

Yeti coolers are regular coolers have a different distribution model.

Yeti made a decision early on in their life to not sell their products through big-box retailers who would drive down the price of the product until there was little to no profit left in it.

Yeti coolers are primarily sold through smaller specialty stores and they have distribution all around the US and all around the world.

Regular coolers are sold in so many different stores but are primarily sold through big-box retailers like Walmart, Cosco etc.

Both types of coolers are sold online through places like Amazon. If you’re interested in seeing them online I’ll link up to some of the more popular sizes and coolers below

See Yeti Roadie 20-Quart on Amazon

See Yeti 45 Cooler on Amazon

See Yeti 65 Coolers on Amazon

See Coleman Extreme Wheeled Cooler on Amazon

8. Rubber Gasket

Yeti Commercial Grade Rubber Gasket

Yeti coolers have a commercial grade rubber gasket that runs around the full length of the lid.

When you close the lid of a Yeti cooler this rubber gasket creates a seal that helps keep the cold air in and keep the warm air out. It also helps the cooler from leaking (which we will talk about in a bit).

Regular coolers don’t have rubber latches or anything to keep the warm air out of the cooler (other than the lid itself) and this affects their ability to keep ice for long periods of time.

9. Rubber Latches

Yeti Rubber Latches

When you close the lid of a Yeti cooler you can lock the lid in place by pulling down on the rubber latches and locking the ball of the rubber latch into the main body of the cooler.

This puts downwards pressure on the lid which helps the rubber gasket (mentioned above) create a tight seal and it also stops the lid from opening if the cooler was to fall over.

The lids of regular coolers don’t have rubber latches but are held in place by friction between the plastic of the lid and the plastic of the main body of the cooler.

This works fine when the cooler is upright but the lid will easily open if the cooler was to fall over, spilling your contents everywhere.

10. Leak Proof

The combination of the rubber gasket and the pull down rubber latches of the Yeti combine to create a tight seal and to make the Yeti cooler leak proof.

This means when carrying a cooler full of water it is unlikely to leak on you. It also means if your cooler falls over for any reason (maybe in the back of your car or truck while you’re driving) the lid won’t open and the cooler won’t spill anything in your car.

This is a must-have feature for people who fish as no one wants to leak smelly fish water into the back of their car.

Regular coolers are definitely not leak proof, they leak water everywhere even with the lid closed. Below is a video test I did as to whether or not a Coleman Xtreme was leak proof. You can see quite clearly that it definitely isn’t.

Is The Coleman Xtreme Water Tight and Air Tight?

9. Non-Slip Rubber Feet

Yeti Non-Slip Feet

Yeti coolers have non-slip rubber feet on the bottom of the cooler. These non-slip rubber feet work extremely well to keep your cooler in place (and they don’t mark the floor).

These are great for driving. When I am driving in my van I just throw my Yeti in and don’t even bother tying it down. The non-slip rubber feet hold it firmly into place so it hardly moves even when I break suddenly or turn sharp corners.

The non-slip rubber feet are also great for when my kids stand on the cooler. I know they can stand and jump on the cooler without the bottom slipping out and them hurting themselves.

The feet also help to elevate the cooler off the ground which can increase it’s ability to retain ice. When a cooler is touching the hot ground it will absorb a lot of that heat, so the feet raising the cooler off the ground means the cooler absorbs less heat and keeps your ice longer.

Regular coolers don’t have rubber feet but generally just have a very flat bottom made of the same plastic as the exterior.

This means regular coolers do slide around a lot when you drive and they can slip out from under you when you stand on them. It also means the entire bottom of the cooler is touching the ground, which can lead to ice melting faster.

10. High Quality Nylon Rope Handles

Yeti coolers have high quality nylon ropes that can handle ridiculous loads without breaking. They also last a very long period of time and aren’t very susceptible to sun damage.

Regular coolers use plastic handles which are flimsy and more susceptible to damage from the sun or exposure to the weather.

My Coleman Xtreme handles are held on by 2 small plastic pins and I always worry that they are going to break when I carry a fully loaded cooler. Lucky they have always held strong but this is a fear I don’t have to have with my Yeti cooler. I know the rope handles will hold strong, and they always do.

11. Single Pin Hinge

Regular coolers use smaller, flimsy plastic hinges to attach the lid to the main body of the cooler.

When I first got my Coleman Xtreme these hinges were so bad that the lid of the cooler couldn’t even stay up but would fall down every time you opened it. This was very annoying.

I’m also scared that with enough time, or enough force that these hinges will just snap.

Yeti coolers have one thick stainless steel pin that connects the lid of the cooler to the body of the cooler. This makes the connection ultra strong and you never have to worry about the hinge breaking.

This is also part of what makes Yeti coolers strong enough to be bear proof. Bears can’t break the hinges of a Yeti cooler.

12. Many Regular Coolers Are Made In The USA

Lifetime Coolers Made in USA

This is actually a benefit in favor of regular coolers as most of them are made in the USA.

Blow-Molding is an extremely cheap manufacturing process so regular coolers can be made in bulk locally for similar prices to what you could buy them for overseas. Shipping becomes expensive because you are effectively shipping boxes of air so sometimes making locally is actually more cost effective.

Roto-molding is a more expensive and time consuming process and while many roto-molded coolers are made in the USA, Yeti coolers are made overseas in the Philippines and in the China.

So if you want a US made cooler then a regular cooler is more likely to be made locally than a Yeti cooler, but make sure you always check the label.

13. No Cup Holders

Coleman 50 Quart Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler

Yeti coolers don’t have any cup holders in the lid while regular coolers do.

I absolutely love this about my Coleman Xtreme cooler. It has 4 deep cup holders which are great for me and the kids and means I don’t have to worry about drinks spilling.

Remember regular coolers have no insulation in the lid so adding cup holders makes sense because you aren’t losing any insulation.

Yeti coolers, on the other hand, have 2-3 inches of insulation in the lid and adding cup holders means removing insulation and lowering your ice retention. So I assume this is why they don’t have them.

Instead you can buy Yeti cup holder attachments for the sides of your Yeti coolers.

The only roto-molded cooler I have seen with cup holders in the lid is the Ozark Trail Coolers from Walmart. They have shallow cup holders so they don’t lose too much insulation and I really like this feature.

14. Much Better Design

Benefits of a Yeti Cooler

There isn’t any doubt in my mind, a Yeti cooler is much much much more beautiful than a regular cooler.

The design is way better, the branding is more beautiful and bold and the colors are much more pleasing to the eye.

Regular coolers all look the same and all scream “CHEAP!”. They are generally only made in ugly blue or ugly red colors and they all basically look the same.

Yeti coolers on the other hand are elegant yet bold in their design. The plastic feels premium with very few blemishes on it, you can tell that it is extremely well built with a high attention to detail. Plus the colors on the Yeti cooler are just so much nicer than the colors on a regular cooler.

15. Wide Variety of Color Variations

While Yeti coolers don’t come in thousands of colors they do come in a wide variety of colors.

There is the standard 3 colors – white, blue and tan. But then Yeti also do a lot of limited edition runs of different colors. Coolers like pink, coral, aqua and bright blue.

See all Yeti Color Variations on Amazon

Yeti also do Collegiate prints and colors as well.

16. Dry Basket

Yeti coolers come with a dry basket that sits inside your cooler and gives you a spot to put items that you want to keep cold but that you don’t want getting wet.

I use my dry basket for things like cheese and chocolate as well as kids sandwiches that I want to keep cold.

Regular coolers don’t have any dry baskets, so it’s very difficult to stop items from getting wet in your cooler.

17. Accessories

Yeti cooler have a lot of extra accessories you can purchase to make your cooler even better.

  • Yeti bottle openers
  • Yeti cup holders
  • Yeti tie down straps
  • Yeti dividers/cutting boards
  • Yeti seat cushions

There are quite a few things you can purchase to make your premium and expensive cooler even more premium and expensive.

With regular coolers you just get what you get and that’s it. There’s nothing you can add to it to make it a better cooler.

If you want to change or add anything then you have to do a custom job yourself.

18. Warranty

Yeti coolers come with a 5-Year limited warranty. So if anything happens to your cooler within 5 years of purchasing it then you can get it replaced.

This does not cover wear and tear or you breaking to cooler by accident but just covers manufacturing defects.

Regular coolers rarely come with such a long warranty. In most cases you’ll likely get a 1-year warranty with your cooler.

Similarities Between Yeti and Regular Coolers

As you can see there are a lot of differences between the Yeti cooler and a regular cooler.

The main similarities between the two types of coolers is that they are both plastic boxes filled with insulation designed to keep ice frozen.

But that is basically where the similarities end.

So I hope you can see how different these two types of coolers are and I hope this article has helped you decide which cooler is going to be best for you.

The Coleman Xtreme is the best regular cooler (in my opinion) and it sells on Amazon for under $40. I did a full comparison on it vs the Yeti which I will link up to below as well as links to Amazon if you want to check out these coolers on there.

Coleman Xtreme Cooler vs Yeti Comparison Article

See Coleman Xtreme Coolers (on Amazon)

See Yeti Tundra Coolers (on Amazon)