Igloo Sportsman vs Yeti – Which Cooler Is The Best Buy?

Igloo Sportsman vs YetiWhen it comes to looking at the Igloo Sportsman vs Yeti Coolers we found that while Yeti is a better cooler overall the Igloo Sportsman is $100 cheaper. Choosing between the two will come down to personal preference and budget, however we will look at the 2 coolers in detail in this article to make your decision easier.

This result comes from looking at a variety of things such as ice retention, quality of the build/design and the features of each cooler. I will go through each of these aspects in detail in this article and show you the major differences between the Yeti and the Igloo Sportsman.

Igloo Sportsman Vs Yeti Price Difference

The first thing I wanted to look at with the Igloo Sportsman vs the Yeti is the difference in price.

Yeti were the first roto-moulded coolers and charge a premium price for their coolers, with each Yeti cooler of a similar size costing around $100 more than the Igloo. See the table below for a full price comparison

Model (Click for latest price) $ RRP Savings
Yeti 20  $249.00
Sportsman 20  $179.00  $70
Yeti 45 (37-Quart) $349.00
Sportsman 40  $219.00 $130
Yeti 65 (52-Quart)  $399.99
Sportsman 55  $249.99 $150
Yeti 75 (65-Quart)  $449.00
Sportsman 70 $299.99 $150

As you can see from the table Igloo Sportsman coolers are significantly cheaper than Yeti. The smallest size has a price difference of $80, while the large size has a price difference of a whopping $150.

You can effectively buy a Sportsman 55-Quart for the same price as the Yeti Roadie (22-Quart) which is less than half the size of the Sportsman.

So there are significant savings to be had when purchasing a sportsman over a Yeti.

When we start looking at other items like ice retention, build quality, warranties etc I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not the Yeti is worth the extra money or if you'de rather go with the Sportsman.

Ice Retention

There are 2 reasons these coolers are so expensive compared to something like the Coleman Xtreme. The strength of the coolers and their ice retention.

Both the Yeti and the Sportsman promise ice retention of 5 days or more. There have been multiple ice retention comparisons done between these 2 coolers with each challenge showing negligible difference between the two coolers in terms of ice retention.

Some comparisons show the Yeti performing better while others show the Sportsman performing better. Each time the difference is tiny, half a day better performance or slightly more ice in one cooler compared the the other at the end of the ice test.

So I would put these two coolers on par with each other. Neither cooler is going to drastically outperform the other cooler and you can expect similar ice retention from each cooler (about 5-7 days for the 37/40-Quart sizes).

Check out the video below to see how close these coolers perform to each other:

Product Design

The design of these two coolers is extremely similar with only small design changes between the two which I will outline below:

External Design

igloo-sportsman-vs-yeti-exterior-design

Both the Yeti and the Sportsman have a similar exterior design. Flat lid with two lock points on the front corners and almost identical pull down latches.

Lid

The lid of the Sportsman contains a ruler in both inches and cms and a raised non slip cutting board area in the center. Yeti's lid is just flat with the Yeti brand in the corner.

Latches

The latches are both made of rubber and are a ball and latch system.

The Sportsman latches are much larger than the Yeti's leading to a firmer hold, but really it doesn't make a huge difference.

The Sportman's latch is also recessed into the cooler protecting it from wear and tear more so than the Yeti's latch which protrudes slightly.

Drainage Plug

Igloo Sportsman Handle and DrainplugThe Yeti has a 1 inch drain plug that isn't attached. The Sportsman has a 2 inch drain plug that is attached with a chain.

Some have complained that the 2 inch drain plug makes it hard to drain water while retaining ice, because all the ice comes out through the larger hole.

This can be avoided by not completely unscrewing the drainage plug, so it's not a huge issue. But it's good to note the 2 inch drain plug isn't actually better than an 1 inch drain plug.

Handles

The Yeti has nylon rope handles with a round rubber handle. It is a very simple design.

The Sportsman have fold up plastic handles which provide a slightly easier carrying experience as the cooler doesn't sway like the Yeti can do whilst carrying.

Tie Downs

Both coolers have two tie down points in the center of the sides of the cooler and both coolers have strap grooves in the lid in case you want to run a strap over the top of the coolers.

Lid Hinge

The Yeti has a single pin/bolt that runs all the way across the cooler. The Sportsman has 2 hinges both held together with a large pin.

The Yeti's hinge appears slightly stronger but both hinger are unlikely to break with normal use.

Insulation

The Yeti has slightly thicker insulation that the Igloo Sportsman but the difference is marginal.

Color Options

Sportsman vs Yeti ColorsWhen it comes to color options the Yeti comes in 3 colors – white, desert tan and ice blue. The Igloo Sportsman comes in just 2 colors – white and tan.

The Yeti's tan version is also a much lighter and more pastel shade of tan while the Sportsman is a much stronger color. Depending on what you like in your cooler will determine which color suits you best.

One thing I will say as a Yeti owner is that the finish of the Yeti's in terms of the quality of the plastic and their colors beats every other cooler out there that I know of. The Yeti has a premium plastic finish that you don't find in any other brand.

Build Quality

While no cooler is perfect and both brands have their problems the Igloo Sportsman (even though it's made in the USA) seems to have more problems than the Yeti.

At first I thought it might just be a few isolated cases of bubbling or issues but the more I looked into it it appeared that Coleman quality is hit and miss. Many users have spoken about parts of the cooler having gaps in insulation (using the flashlight test).

The Sportsman also doesn't have the best review rating on Amazon across all their sizes. Their average rating is around 4 stars or less, and they don't have a lot of reviews.

At the time of writing this Yeti had a 4.6 star rating across 535 reviews. People who buy Yeti love them and their seem to be fewer issues.

This concern around build quality would lead me to recommend the Pelican or Engel range for those who want to spend less than Yeti, but want a better quality cooler.

Warranty

Both coolers offer a 5 year warranty on the cooler. This is generally the structure of the cooler itself and does not include things like the rubber latches or non-skid feet.

Bear Resistance

Both of these coolers are certified grizzly proof, but it's important to note that they are only bear proof when used with padlocks in each of the 2 front corners. They are not bear resistant without locks being used.

Igloo Sportsman vs Yeti – Which One Would I Buy?

Looking at these two coolers and how similar are the best I can do for you is to offer my personal opinion about which one I would buy.

Both the coolers have similar specs, similar design, similar warranty and perform similar under ice test conditions.

The Igloo is cheaper than the Yeti with significant savings on all of the models, saving up to $150 on the 70-Quart model. This is a lot of money and so it absolutely makes sense to me that people would consider the Sportsman over the Yeti.

All in all I think both of these coolers seem great for the money. The Yeti being slightly better and a more reliable purchase option if you can afford it.

For me, I would spend the extra money and purchase the Yeti in order to have piece of mind that I am getting a top of the range cooler with likely better quality control.

If I was desperate to get a roto-moulded cooler and couldn't afford the Yeti then I have a look at the Igloo Yukon, which is one of the top rated coolers on the market today (equal with Yeti). It's still the Igloo brand, it's just as affordable as the Sportsman range, but seems to be a more loved cooler.