I've owned my Yeti for over three years now. I've lived in a van with it, I've used it by myself and with children and overall it's been a great cooler but it's not perfect
Before you go out and spend a lot of money on a Yeti it's important to know the issues with it to discover whether or not this cooler is going to be suitable for you.
#1: Price – It's Expensive
The first problem is the most obvious one and that is the price.
These coolers are expensive and there's no two doubts about that!
See all Yeti cooler pricing on Amazon (affiliate link)
So these are quite expensive coolers.
Compare that to a Coleman Xtreme which is actually larger in size than the Yeti and costs around $40 compared to $300. And it still keeps ice pretty long
There's also a lot of other roto-molded coolers on the market now as well.
Yeti pioneered the roto-molded cooler and started making them in 2006, but it's been over a decade now since Yeti first came out with this cooler and there's a lot of copycats and alternatives out there that are also a lot cheaper.
RTIC Coolers are very similar to the Yeti but a cheaper and also there's one out at the moment called Lifetime Coolers which sells for under $100. It's not as good as the yeti but it does keep ice pretty long and is under $100.
#2: Weight – It's Heavy
The second problem is the weight of the cooler. A Yeti 45 weighs over 24 pounds when it's empty (that's 11 kilos for the metric people out there).
It's just really heavy and hard to move around and when you start to fill it up with ice and food then it gets even heavier again.
You do have rope handles on the side or you can carry it underneath but just moving it around even casually while it's empty it's just a bit annoying. Then once you fill it up it gets quite heavy and you need to be careful of your back.
The weight in this is obviously in the construction – being extremely thick roto-molded plastic as well as filled with pressure filled insulating foam in there. That's what helps it have its ice retention but it does make it quite heavy
#3: The latches are difficult for children to use
The third problem is the latches. Generally speaking the latches are fine and as I said I've owned this for over three years now they don't really show any wear and tear.
But the problem with the latches is they can be difficult for children to use.
The Yeti 45 was our primary cooler when we lived in the van and at the time I had a two year old a five year old and a seven year old. The two year old definitely had no chance of opening the cooler at all the 7 year old could do it and the five year old struggled.
To pull the latches down to lock it in or to pull them down to unlock it and it was just a lot of effort for them to be able to do it. There's other coolers out there that just have easier latches for children.
#4: The lid is heavy and can be dangerous for children
The 4th problem is that the lid is quite heavy and can actually be dangerous to children.
The lid does stay up quite well, I'm not worried about it just falling down by accident in normal use, but it's just so heavy that if it was to fall it could cause a lot of damage to someone's little fingers.
As adults that's not really going to be a problem because we're smart enough to avoid that but for children that is something to think about.
I've only seen one cooler actually solve this problem and is the Kong Cooler they do have a protector so when the lid closes it doesn't close on your hands. It protects the kids and can be easily pulled back to shut the lid properly. I'll link up to the Kong down below if that's something your concerned about.
Kong Coolers on Amazon (affiliate link)
#5: Ice Retention isn't the best in the industry
The 5th problem with the Yeti is that the ice retention, while it's good, is not the best in the industry.
Yeti pioneered the roto-molded cooler and they tend to be still the most expensive cooler out there and it keeps ice well. It keeps ice 5-10 days (I did a 10-day Yeti ice test) and while that's good there's other coolers now that actually do it better.
#6: You need to prepare the cooler before use
The 6th problem is you actually need to prepare your Yeti before you use it. If you leave your cooler out in the sun or leave it in a hot place (say I left it in my van in the middle of summer where it's just baking in there and getting extremely hot) what happens is that all of the insulation can actually absorb the heat and become quite hot.
Then as soon as you put ice in there that heat goes into the ice and melts the ice.
What you need to do is actually take your Yeti out of the heat the night before put a sacrificial bag of ice in there overnight just to bring the heat of the cooler down so you can use it.
So one of the problems is that you can't just throw stuff in there and expect to get the best ice attention you actually need to prepare in order to get that ice retention
EXTRA Problem: They Are Rarely On Sale
Other coolers tend to go on sale from time to time as they move through stock or new models are released you can get the older models for cheaper.
Yeti don't do this and they rarely if ever go on sale. You can see more details here about if Yeti coolers ever go on sale.
Yeti has purposely refused to sell products through big-box retailers. They instead sell them through smaller speciality stores. This helps them to ensure the price of their products.
Sometimes you can get cheaper Yeti's on Amazon, or you can get different colors that aren't available through their main website.
Click the link below to see the range of Yeti coolers and the prices on Amazon.
See Yeti Coolers on Amazon (affiliate link)
#7: The size of the cooler
The 7th problem is the size of the cooler. Because there's so much insulation around the cooler it means you don't get a lot of a lot of room on the inside.
As soon as you start putting in ice it just leaves very little room for food and drinks. You can obviously get a bigger cooler but then it would take up more room.
So if you have issues with space the Yeti does take up a lot of room and doesn't give you a lot of room on the inside.
Compare that to a cheaper cooler like the Coleman Xtreme and you can see that there's just so much room inside because the walls aren't as thick and so the exterior profile of it is pretty similar to the Yeti but it's much bigger inside.
Yeti's capacities are also misleading. The Yeti 45 doesn't hold 45-Quart as you might think, it only holds around 37-Quart. See a full list of Yeti cooler capacities.
#8: No cup holders on the lid
The 8th problem is that there's no cup holders on the lid. Obviously if you put in cup holders it's going to take away from the insulation, but there's just been so many times that I would have loved to have cup holders.
I have children and children just knock things over so easily but also when you're camping you tend to be on uneven ground or ground that's on a slight slant and so putting your beer or your beverage on there just feels like it's going to slide off quite easily.
Most roto-molded coolers don't have cupholders in the lid so this is something to consider.
Yeti also doesn't have the fishing ruler on the lid. Some coolers have a ruler on top. I'm not a fisherman so I don't really need that size sort of thing so it's not an issue for me.
#9: The non slip feet can be annoying
The 9th problem is the non-slip feet can be annoying.
Yeti coolers have rubber non-slip feet on the bottom and these can be absolutely great when I'm driving in the van. It's great because I can throw my Yeti in the van and not even have to tie it down. It doesn't slide around when or go bashing against the wall.
So these non-slip rubber feet are really good for that. They also don't leave marks on the ground either but when you are camping and when you're somewhere you just want to move it a little bit or just slide it a little bit it can just be so frustrating and so hard to slide it around.
This is especially true when it's full and because it's so heavy you have to fully lift it to move it and this can hurt your back.
#10: No string on the drainage plug
The 10th problem is that there's no string on the drainage plug.
Yeti coolers have a 1-inch drain plug which you can partially unscrew to let the water out or you can completely unscrew it and it detaches from the cooler.
Now you would think no one would be dumb enough to lose this, but somehow someway I actually misplaced mine for a number of weeks.
I don't know, I was cleaning it out I put it somewhere and I lost it for a number of weeks.
You can get replacement Yeti drain plugs, they're not that expensive, but my cooler was effectively useless while I didn't have this because you've got this big hole in there where all the water leaks out. I couldn't use it while I had misplaced it.
It would just be good to have a string or a way that it connected on to the main cooler so you couldn't actually lose it.
Since then I haven't lost it and I've been more careful so it's not a deal breakers or a massive issue but it would just be a nice to have.
#11: It only has a 5 year warranty
The 11th problem is that it only has a 5-year warranty.
A lot of coolers out there now actually have lifetime warranties on their coolers.
I fully expect my Yeti to last more than five years. I'm at the 3-year mark now and apart from the scuffs and discoloration that it has from use and wear and tear it is actually still in really good condition and in similar condition to when I bought it.
I definitely see this lasting longer than 5 years but there's other coolers out there like Orca coolers which have a longer warranty. They have a limited lifetime warranty on their coolers so it just means that you never have to worry about it whereas after 5 years with the Yeti if it has issues I'll have to pay to have it fixed or replaced.
#12: Yeti coolers aren't made in the USA
The 12th problem is that Yeti coolers are made overseas not made in the USA.
There are a lot of coolers now that are made in the USA. Orca, Grizzly, Kong and Lifetime are all coolers that are made in the USA. Whereas the majority of Yeti coolers are made in the Philippines or in China.
If you want something that is made in the US then Yeti is not going to be the best option for you.
#13: There are no bottle openers
The 13th problem is that there is no bottle opener on the Yeti.
Some coolers now come with bottle openers where you can open your beverage.
Yeti doesn't have a bottle opener. You can buy a Yeti bottle opener attachment but you have to actually screw it into your Yeti and kind of destroy the exterior in order to do that.
I don't really want to do that to my Yeti. I also didn't want to spend the extra money because they're not cheap so I just used a hair elastic and a cheap bottle opener and tied it onto the side of my Yeti to solve this problem.
#14: Some customers do experience warping
I guess a 14th problem would be that some customers do experience warping.
This occurs when the lid might warp a bit and doesn't sit flush with the lid. That issue is covered under warranty and so while that does happen from time to time if that happens to you you can just get in contact with Yeti and they'll replace it for you or fix your Yeti.
Do These Problems Mean You Shouldn't Buy a Yeti?
With these problems I don't see any of them as make-or-break that I wouldn't buy a Yeti.
I've owned my Yeti for 3 years, I've done a lot of different cooler reviews, I bought coolers reviewed them and then passed them on, but my Yeti I kept.
It is the most premium brand out there it does have the best finish and the best look in my opinion.
The plastic and the colouring of it just feels premium compared to something like the Engel Deep Blue and it just feels so much nicer than other coolers.
So while it does have problems and while it is quite expensive I don't think that means you shouldn't buy it.
I love my Yeti and I wouldn't get rid of it. But I also love my Coleman Xtreme too so it's up to you to decide whether any of these problems make or break it for you.
Coleman Xtreme 50 Wheeled: - (at Amazon)
Coleman Xtreme 62 Wheeled: - (at Amazon)
Coleman Xtreme 70-Quart: - (at Amazon)
Coleman Steel (52-Quart): - (at Amazon)
While I don't think this is make-or-break for the Yeti, I do think it's some things that you should think about.
There are a lot of the other coolers that are coming to the market now to that are solving some of these problems with either easier laches or protection for the lids or strings or the drainage plus or built in bottle openers.
It really depends what's important to you in a cooler and so you can spend your money and get the best bang for your buck and absolutely love your cooler.