RTIC Coolers are a popular cooler brand and they sell so well because they offer a product similar to Yeti but sell it for a fraction of the price.
But there are some problems with RTIC Coolers you should be aware of before you go out and buy one.
First let me say, for the price these coolers perform extremely well. They are comparable to Yeti in ice retention and have a tough roto-molded construction.
They offer good value for money and none of these problems (in my opinion) are deal breakers. Honestly, a lot of these “problems” are very minor in nature and not a big deal.
But I think it's important to be aware of both the positives and negatives of a product before spending your hard earned money on it.
Here are the 21 problems with RTIC Coolers you should be aware of before buying
1. Limited Sizes
RTIC Coolers only come in 4 different sizes:
While these sizes are good and they range from a compact personal cooler to a cooler big enough to hold an entire week's worth of food I would love to see a wider range of sizes.
Yeti offers 15 different sizes of hard sided coolers with the most popular Yeti sizes being the small ones and the larger ones being more for commercial use. Still Yeti goes from around 24-Quart all the way up to 300+ Quart in capacity with lots of different size options to choose from.
The 20-Quart, 45-Quart and 65-Quart line up with Yeti's most popular sizes and most people will be happy with one of these sizes. But if you're looking for something super specific you may need to consider another brand.
To see the current sizes and price at RTIC's website (and maybe even grab one for yourself) use the affiliate links below:
RTIC 20-Quart Cooler (at RTICOutdoors.com)
RTIC 45-Quart Cooler (at RTICOutdoors.com)
RTIC 65-Quart Cooler (at RTICOutdoors.com)
RTIC 110-Quart Cooler (at RTICOutdoors.com)
2. Ice Retention Is Good, But Not The Best
RTIC coolers are great at storing ice and can store ice just as long (if not a little longer) than a similar sized Yeti coolers.
They definitely live up to their expectations in that regard.
However, in recent years new coolers have come out with even better ice retention than RTIC coolers. While RTIC are still a top 10 performer other coolers can hold ice days longer.
In my complete list of coolers that hold ice the longest you can see that RTIC is ranked #8, Yeti is #10 but there are a lot of other brands that perform better than RTIC.
Kong Coolers for example rank #1 on the list and can hold ice days longer than RTIC. Lifetime coolers
3. It's Heavy
RTIC coolers are full of thick polyurethane insulation. The walls and base of the cooler around 2 inches thick and the lid is nearly 3 inches thick.
This adds up to a lot of weight and the cooler is quite heavy when empty. Below are the weights of the coolers when empty
- 20-Quart – 17.5 lbs / 7.9 kg
- 45-Quart – 25.0 lbs / 11.3 kg
- 65-Quart – 36.5 lbs / 16.6 kg
- 110-Quart – 48.5 lbs / 22.0 kg
This is similar to other high-end roto-molded coolers but it still makes them difficult to carry even when empty.
Once filled with ice, drinks and food they can get extremely heavy and often require 2 people to carry them (unless you want to destroy your back).
4. RTIC Soft Coolers Aren't As High Quality As RTIC Hard Coolers
With their hard coolers RTIC seem to have made an almost identical cooler to Yeti but they sell it for a discounted price.
However, with their soft sided coolers the difference is quality is more apparent.
RTIC soft coolers are one of the best Yeti Hopper soft cooler alternatives and they are one of the cheapest soft coolers out there, but quality can sometimes be sacrificed as a result.
The biggest complaints about this cooler are that the zipper has a tendency to break. You can read more about this in my RTIC vs Yeti soft cooler comparison.
5. Only a 1-Year Warranty
RTIC does a lot of things right with their cooler.
Design is good, performance is good, sizing is good, quality is good but their warranty really isn't very good compared to other brands in the cooler space.
They offer just a 1 year warranty on their hard and soft sided coolers. Compare this to a 5 year warranty on hard sided Yetis and a 3 year warranty on soft sided Yetis.
There are even a bunch of coolers like Canyon that offer lifetime warranties.
So compared to the competition this warranty is really quite bad.
6. Customer Service Isn't The Best
Add to the poor warranty the fact that customer support also seems to be below average at best.
While brands like Canyon coolers, Orca and Yeti have a reputation for good or even great customer service I can't say the same about RTIC.
I've seen a few stories of RTIC failing to replace faulty products blaming the customer for them breaking when really the customer was using them in a normal way and wasn't at fault.
Check out what this unhappy customer said in this forum post:
I’m sure the product is great but the customer service was crap. They drew out the conversation so they did not have to do a claim. Said the replied to my emails and did not, stuck to that story when I called them. Manager was terrible, she started yelling into the phone when I have never experience such terrible service.
There was also this thread where someone received a damaged RTIC cooler where the hinge was broken. RTIC blamed him for overextending the cooler lid and wouldn't replace the cooler. He bought a 110-Quart size (their most expensive) so this was pretty poor service.
Below is another comment from that same thread with someone who couldn't get their broken soft cooler replaced when the zipper failed.
So I went online and found plenty of other people that had problems with the zippers on their RTIC soft coolers. Apparently when an RTIC product fails the warranty is void because the failure always seems to be caused by use.
It's frustrating to see these products under warranty, with customers using them as expected (even lubricating the zipper as required) and when the product breaks the company won't step up and fix the problem.
Hopefully this is just a few isolated incidents but this doesn't give me a huge amount of confidence in the brand.
7. Price Fluctuates
I've been in the cooler review space for 5+ years now and I've seen RTIC prices swing quite a bit in that time.
Sometimes they are on sale and one of the cheapest coolers in the market and an ABSOLUTE STEAL!
Other times I've looked at them they seem to be almost as pricey as Yeti with just a slight discount.
You'll definitely want to grab these when they are on sale or selling for cheap as you can save yourself a lot of money.
8. No Wheeled Version (Except a Cheap One)
Yeti has the Yeti Haul which is one of the best wheeled coolers on the market.
RTIC doesn't have a roto-molded cooler with wheels. They do have a cheap cooler with wheels but that's similar to something like a Coleman Xtreme cooler and not what you would expect from RTIC.
9. Not Made In The USA
RTIC coolers aren't made in the USA and instead are manufactured overseas in China. All of their soft and hard coolers are made in China as are their drinkware.
This doesn't mean RTIC coolers are poor quality. In fact, Yeti coolers are also predominately manufactured overseas and they are some of the highest quality coolers. It just means they aren't made locally in the USA.
If you're someone who likes to support products made in the USA then check out my article of the best coolers made in the USA.
10. No Bottle Opener Attachment
RTIC Coolers don't come with any bottle opener attachment like some other coolers do these days.
This means you'll need to purchase a separate bottle opener attachment or you can simply tie on a cheap bottle opener with string.
If you're looking for a good bottle opener for your RTIC then I personally suggest the Noa Store Locking Bracket which I highlight in my list of the best RTIC cooler locks.
This bracket slips into the side of your RTIC cooler and has a bottle opener on it which is very convenient plus it allows you to lock up your RTIC cooler so no one steals it.
11. Only Sold In The US
While Yeti coolers are now an international brand sold in a variety of different countries it seems RTIC coolers are still primarily focused on mainland USA.
I'm actually from Australia and for me to buy an RTIC cooler I'm going to have to spend nearly as much in shipping as I spend on the cooler itself.
I can't wait until RTIC coolers are sold in more countries.
12. Not a Yeti
RTIC originally marketed themselves as “half the price of a YETI Cooler & holds more ice”.
They copied Yeti's designs so closely that Yeti sued RTIC for trademark and trade dress infringement which was settled outside of court.
RTIC are like Yeti in so many ways. But over the years Yeti have built themselves up to be a lifestyle brand that is extremely desirable.
Working with ambassadors, making lifestyle documentaries and overall doing amazing brand marketing has made Yeti more than just a cooler brand. They are now a lifestyle brand.
People want to own Yeti product because of the brand. Just like people want to own Apple or Nike products because of the branding.
RTIC haven't done the same thing with their brand. Hopefully in the coming years they will learn from Yeti and become a lifestyle brand in their own right.
13. Latches Can Be Difficult For Children To Use
The pull down rubber latches on the RTIC coolers are very similar to that on the Yeti coolers and they can be difficult for younger children to operate.
I remember living in my van with my kids who were 2, 5 and 7 at the time and only my 7 year old could open the cooler while the others didn't have enough strength to get it open.
14. Very Few RTIC Accessories (But Yeti Accessories Fit It)
One thing RTIC coolers lack is any decent accessories for the cooler.
RTIC sell a good affordable cooler that is comparable to Yeti, but they don't sell any accessories that are comparable to Yeti's accessories but cheaper.
Luckily RTIC coolers are made with similar specs to Yeti and so accessories that fit the Yeti more often than not also fit the RTIC. But it would be great if they had a range of accessories to choose from, all at a great price.
15. No Cup Holders Or Tape Measure In The Lid
The lid of the RTIC cooler is completely flat and there are no cup holders in the lid to keep your cup steady.
Some brands like Pelican and Ozark Trail have cup holders in the lids and I really like this feature.
You need to buy a cup holder accessory if you want to have a cup holder in your RTIC cooler.
16. Non-Slip Feet Are Good, But Sometimes You Want To Slide It
RTIC coolers have rubber non-slip feet on the bottom of the cooler which stop it sliding around in your car, van, boat or in the back of your truck.
Overall these non-slip feet are great. But sometimes you just want to be able to pull your cooler along and the non-slip feet make this extremely difficult to do.
17. No String On The Drainage Plug
The drainage plug on RTIC coolers isn't attached to the cooler in any way.
This means when you're draining your cooler it can be easy to lose the drainage plug and then you'd have to find a new one.
You can partial turn the plug to let water out without completely removing the plug so I suggest this if you're prone to losing things (like I am)
18. Lid Is Heavy and Dangerous To Children
This is a downside that isn't unique to RTIC but happens with all high-end coolers that have insulation in the lid.
2-3 inches of thick insulation in the lid make the lid extremely heavy. When dropped the lid closes with a lot of force and if you aren't careful it can slam your fingers down.
This usually isn't an issue for adults but if you have kids you have to be careful.
So far the only cooler I have seen to solve this problem is the Kong Cooler which has the Krush guard to stop the lid closing onto little fingers.
19. You Need To Pre-Chill Your RTIC For It To Work Properly
RTIC coolers have thick polyurethane insulation which keeps heat out and allows RTIC coolers to have excellent ice retention.
However, when kept at room temperature this insulation can absorb a lot of heat and become quite warm.
When you put ice into a warm RTIC cooler the warm insulation will melt the ice quickly causing it to perform worse than a cheap cooler.
This isn't unique to RTIC and happens to all of the high-end coolers with thick insulation. You need to pre-chill your cooler first by filling in with a sacrificial bag of ice or some frozen water bottles overnight before loading the cooler with fresh ice. Click here for more details on how to pre-chill a cooler.
20. It's Not Watertight
While they do have rubber gaskets that create a good seal around the lid RTIC coolers are NOT watertight.
In fact very few coolers are water tight and most of them leak, even if just a little bit.
RTIC coolers don't leak nearly as badly as cheap coolers, but if knocked over chances are some water will leak out.
21. The Size of The Cooler
RTIC coolers are larger inside than cheaper coolers with a similar internal capacity.
This is because the 2 or so inches of insulation in the walls and base of the cooler plus the 3 inches or so of insulation in the lid take up a great deal of space.
So if you're super tight on space this might not be the cooler for you.
These Problems Aren't Deal Breakers
As I mentioned at the start of this article I don't see any of these problems as deal breakers and reasons you shouldn't buy an RTIC.
When I looked at the problems with Ozark Trail coolers there were some major flaws which could be seen as deal breakers, but that isn't true for the RTIC coolers.
Overall RTIC make excellent coolers that sell for a great price (especially when they are on sale).
I would be happy to recommend them to anyone wanting ti buy one. They are popular, have an overall really high customer rating and have been proven in many tests to hold ice really well.
Coolers Similar to RTIC
If after reading this article you don't feel like RTIC coolers are for you then there are a variety of other options out there.
For me if someone is interested in RTIC coolers but not quite sold on them because of the limited warranty and potential customer service issues then I would point them in the direction of Canyon coolers.
Canyon coolers are another brand similar to Yeti and are in fact one of the cheapest coolers similar to Yeti, only being beaten by Lifetime and Ozark Trail (and Igloo BMX if you count that).
They also have THE BEST warranty of any cooler on the market and the customer service is supposed to be really good.
Their ice retention is good, quality is good and while the company is based in Flagstaff, Arizona the coolers are manufactured overseas in China.
Still they are great coolers and if RTIC isn't for you then Canyon might be the next best bet.
Lifetime coolers are incredible coolers for the price.
Not only are they one of the cheapest high-end coolers out there (many sizes sell for under $100) the quality is good too.
They can hold ice even longer than a Yeti cooler and they have cooler features like Cam latches as well a non-slip rubber feet that turn into easy slide feet if you raise up the cooler a little bit.
They aren't perfect coolers but in my Yeti vs Lifetime cooler comparison you can see they are one of the best value coolers on the market.
Honestly, if budget isn't a big issue for you then save yourself the hassle and get yourself a Yeti.
They are the most popular and recognized cooler brand for a reason, they make extremely good coolers.
It's hard to explain in an article to attention to detail and high quality of these coolers compared to other cheaper brands. If price is an issue then yeh, check out the best Yeti alternatives to save yourself some money, but if price isn't an issue I think you'll be super happy with a Yeti.
I've personally owned my Yeti Tundra 45 for 5+ years as well as multiple Yeti tumblers and now a Yeti DayTrip soft sided cooler.
On all these products the quality of the build is exceptional and I would be happy to recommend them to anyone.