Ozark Trail soft sided coolers look similar to Yeti coolers and feature thick insulation, a tough exterior and a padded shoulder strap. They sell for significantly cheaper than other premium soft sided coolers, but is the quality there and do they offer value for money or are they poor quality coolers?
Ozark Trail soft sided coolers come in multiple different sizes and the price point is extremely cheap compared to other similar premium coolers. However, the ice retention performance the build quality and durability is not as good. You're taking a risk with Ozark Trail as for some customers the cooler works fine for years and saves them money, but for others the cooler breaks quite quickly and isn't worth the money.
In this Ozark Trail soft coolers review we'll look in detail at these soft sided coolers, the features and performance as well as do a deep dive into the build quality of these coolers.
At the end of this review you should have a much better idea as to the quality of these coolers and whether or not you want to buy one, or if you would rather opt for a different brand.
Let's Start With Price Because These Coolers are CHEAP!
Let's start this review by looking at the price of these coolers and comparing them to some other soft-sided coolers that I have reviewed in the past.
You may be familiar with brands like Yeti, RTIC, Engel and Pelican which are all big names in the cooler space. Each of these companies make their own soft sided coolers and the Ozark Trail is Walmart's attempt to compete with these and sell their own brand.
Below you'll see a comparison of the Ozark Trail soft sided coolers as well as the cost for some of the other popular soft-sided cooler brands.
Ozark Trail Soft Coolers
Ozark Trail 6-Can: $19.88 (see details at Walmart.com)
Ozark Trail 12-Can:
Ozark Trail 24-Can:
Ozark Trail 30-Can:
Ozark Trail 50-Can: $68.00 (see details at Walmart.com)
Yeti Hopper Flip 8:
Yeti Hopper Flip 12:
Yeti Hopper Flip 18:
Yeti BackFlip 24:
Yeti Hopper M30:
Something that should stand out to you (because it stood out to me) is just how much cheaper Ozark Trail coolers are compared to other brands.
Even compared to RTIC, which is the cheapest of the well known brands, Ozark Trail are still a fair bit cheaper.
They are so cheap that it makes you think “what a steal I need to buy one NOW” while at the same time thinking “what is wrong with them?”
The rest of this review will be dedicated to outlining what is good about these coolers and why they may be worth buying as well as what is wrong with these coolers and why you might want to avoid them…and yes there are some things wrong with these coolers. Sorry to burst your bubble but as my grandfather used to say “If something seems too good to be true it almost always is”
Performance Is Actually Decent
A cooler is designed to keep ice frozen and the longer it can do that the better.
I half expected these Ozark Trail soft coolers to struggle to keep ice over a day. While they don't perform as well as leading brands of soft sided coolers they still performed relatively well and kept ice good enough to suit most people's needs.
Ozark Trail vs Yeti Hopper
There is a great video where a customer who owns both a Yeti Hopper and an Ozark Trail does as ice test on them and compares the performance side by side.
Below you can see the results of the ice test and you can see that the Yeti Hopper outperformed the Ozark Trail.
The Ozark Trail ran out of ice before 48 hours whereas the Yeti still had a good amount of ice after 48 hours.
You can look at this and say “the Ozark Trail doesn't perform as well as the Yeti” or you can look at this test and say “the Ozark Trail kept ice nearly 2 full days”
Having a soft sided cooler that holds ice for almost two full days is better than most budget hard sided coolers. So for the price I think the performance isn't too bad, not as good as premium soft sided coolers but not too bad.
Ice Retention Comparison
Ozark Trail: 1-2 days
Yeti Hopper: 2-3 Days
RTIC Soft Pack: 3-3.5 Days
Engel HD30: 3.5-5 Days
It's The Durability That's Questionable – And The Lack of Warranty
Ok, this is where we start to get into the question that is on all of our minds.
To make a cooler this cheap there must have been some compromise in the quality right?
The answer is no…the Ozark Trail is NOT as high-quality or as durable as the Yeti or Engel and YES compromises in quality and durability have been made to offer this cooler at such an affordable price, but it's not as bad as you might think.
I'm not saying that Ozark Trail soft sided coolers are horrible. In fact they can actually be really good and last you years. But it just seems to be a bit of hit and miss as to whether it's going to last you or not.
What Customers Are Saying
Reviewing a product like this can be hard because the same issue doesn't happen for everyone. Even the highest quality products sometimes have issues or manufacturing defects and customers leave poor review.
However, instantly you can tell for the average ratings and customers reviews that these defects aren't rare one off problems and the customer service when issues do happen is also not very good.
The main complaints with this cooler seem to be around the zipper breaking after just a few months (or for some people a few days) of use as well as the internal lining coming loose and breaking after using it for a while.
Also customers have talked about the Ozark customer service being extremely poor and when they contacted them about their faulty product Ozark would make them ship the cooler at the customers expense in order to get it repaired.
Given how cheap the cooler is and how expensive shipping would be this is obviously hardly worth your while
These bad reviews aren't just one offs or rare, they seem quite common with over 53 reviews giving the product 3 stars or LESS and that's just on one size on Walmart.com. There are also negative reviews on Amazon too.
To me this just says the Ozark Trail soft coolers are hit and miss. Overall the quality is poor but there is a chance you may get a good cooler that lasts you years. But there's also a solid chance that your cooler might break within the first few weeks or first few months.
It Does Pack In Some Solid Features
Now that we've covered the major quality concerns issues I do want to take some time to point out the good features of the Ozark Trail soft coolers as it does pack in a bunch of good features.
Leak Proof Zipper
The Ozark Trail soft coolers feature a leak proof zipper that is 100% water tight. It won't let water in or out so you don't have to worry about water spilling if you knock your cooler over or water splashing out and wetting your car seat.
The zipper can be quite tough to open and close and it needs to be regularly lubricated using the tube of lubricant they provide you when you purchase the cooler.
Failure to do so increases the already high chances of the zipper breaking.
The Ozark Trail coolers come with a detachable shoulder strap that is padded for comfort.
This allows you to carry the cooler around while keeping your arms free.
The larger sized Ozark Trail soft coolers also have side carry handles that meet in the middle for single or dual hand carrying.
Front Zipper Pocket
There is a small front zipper pocket that is water resistant but not completely water tight.
The pocket is quite small and tight so you can't keep a lot in there but it is large enough for a phone or your keys. Or maybe just use it to store the lubricant you'll need for the top zipper.
Detachable Bottle Opener
The front of the cooler also has a detachable bottle opener. This is a really handy thing to have and doesn't appear on a lot of other soft sided coolers.
The base of the cooler is reinforced and made from a thicker material than the rest of the cooler so you can put it down without having to worry about the base ripping.
Are Ozark Trail Soft Coolers Better Than Yeti?
In short…no absolutely not. Yeti soft sided coolers are much higher quality and perform better than Ozark Trail soft sided coolers.
Yeti coolers are more durable and will last longer too.
The only area where Ozark Trail is better than Yeti is in the price. Ozark Trail is much cheaper.
But when it comes to value for money, given how bad the quality of some of the Ozark Trail coolers are I don't feel they offer great value for money compared to a Yeti.
Yeti coolers are more expensive but there are likely going to last you a heck of a lot longer than ozark trail coolers will. This gives you value for money over time and means that Yeti coolers could actually work out cheaper in the long run.
Should You Buy An Ozark Trail Soft Cooler?
The answer to this question is MAAAAAYBE.
For me the quality just isn't there so I wouldn't invest in an Ozark Trail but would instead buy another brand like Yeti, RTIC or Engel.
But for some people who are budget conscious or who won't be using the cooler a huge amount the Ozark Trail might do the trick and save you hundreds.
If you're interested in buying an Ozark Trail soft cooler click my Walmart affiliate link below to see the latest sizes and prices
Alternatives To The Ozark Trail
This is a rare review when I would actually actively suggest you research and consider other brands before going out there and buying an Ozark Trail. I just don't want to see you ending up with a dud cooler.
Below are some of the best options available to you
RTIC Soft Pack: Affordable But Better Quality
RTIC Soft Pack 20:
The closest thing to the Ozark Trail in terms of price are the RTIC Soft Pack coolers.
The offer similar features and sizes to the Ozark Trail and their performance is much better. The RTIC Soft Pack coolers actually outperform the Yeti Hoppers because they have more insulation.
The durability is better than Ozark, but not quite as good as Yeti and they are a little more expensive than Ozark.
But in my personal opinion they offer way better value for money
Yeti Hopper Flip or Hopper M30
Yeti Hopper Flip 12:
Yeti soft sided coolers are actually one of these best soft sided coolers out there.
They are expensive yes, but they are made to an extremely high quality.
The materials are more durable and the craftmanship on the Yeti's is so much better than that of the Ozark.
They also keep ice long and, in my opinion, are the best designed soft sided coolers out there (with the exception maybe of the Pelican soft sided cooler).
Yeti coolers are a well recognized brand and they are backed by a 3-year warranty. If you've got the money then this is probably going to be your best option.
The Engel HD30 has the best ice retention of any soft sided cooler on the market.
It is also made with the same durable fabric as the Yeti coolers and the majority of the seams are RF welded to help reduce breakages.
This is right up there with Yeti as one of the best soft sided coolers on the market and sells for about $100 less than the similar sized Yeti.