YETI vs RTIC Coolers

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RTIC Ultra-light 52 qt
YETI Roadie 24 in green and Tundra 45 in red

We have two YETI coolers, the Tundra 45 and the Roadie 24, both of which we bought on our own and love. We purchased our first YETI, the Tundra 45 in November 2021 after our previous cooler was stolen off our apartment patio, so we’ve had it for a few years now and have used it quite a bit. After a while we realized we didn’t always need a cooler that large or sometimes on longer trips we wanted a cooler dedicated to just drinks, especially when camping with family, so we got the Roadie 24.

Earlier this year RTIC reached out to us and offered this 52 qt ultra light with no strings attached. We said sure, why not because it was larger capacity and a different technology (injection molded vs rotomolded). The injection process uses less plastic but does not allow manufactures to use a single piece of plastic like rotational molding (rotomolding). Less plastic makes it lighter in weight but because it’s two pieces or more fitted together, it could be less durable in theory. Rotational molding hollows out a single piece of plastic and can produce thick walls that are even, especially in the corners making it stronger against stresses, but much heavier.

Based on timing, this past August weekend was the first time we could take the RTIC Ultra-Light 52 QT on a camping trip, and it did pretty well. Although it was just a one night trip, the cooler did spend a good amount of time in the hot car and in the sun. The injection mold RTIC is definitely lighter compared to YETI when both are empty. Only time will tell about its durability. For this one night trip, 52 qt was definitely bigger than needed, but we were just testing more than anything. However, on the plus side, the YETI ice packs with regular ice cubes helped keep the internal temperature very cool and all our food stayed in good condition. One downside could be the size of the cooler taking up trunk/bed space. But it can definitely hold a good amount of food and drinks.

YETI has proven their durability to us and has a proven public track record with rotomolded coolers. But unfortunately for us customers, their success has allowed them to charge A LOT  for their coolers. Additionally, YETI Ice fits pretty well to their coolers with different configurations. Another thing we like about YETI is that they’re in person. They have physical stores and US based operations as well as 3rd party retailers that sell their gear, like REI and other sporting goods stores. Sometimes it’s nice to go see something in person or do an exchange. RTIC is 100% online which helps them keep costs down. If that matters.

We bought our YETI before RTIC started to blow up so it’s hard to say what we’d do now if we had none and wanted to make a decision for which cooler. However, we’re sure if you can go wrong either way. Ultimately, it could just come down to budget and color you want! We will continue to update this blog post as we use our RTIC cooler.


YETI Ice might be one of our favorite things YETI sells! We’ve seen real results and it has really helped keep our ice frozen and cooler cold. If you want to read how it works, check out YETI’s website with all the details. For the very best results we recommend pre-chilling your cooler the night before with extra ice packs or a bag of ice you can get rid of, this will drop the internal temp of the cooler, then add your YETI Ice and a solid layer of ice on top of that. Depending on what you’re putting in the cooler, add the item then more ice to fully chill and keep the item cold. For food items, layer more ice on the bottom and put the items on top of the ice so it doesn’t get crushed by ice melting and falling to the bottom with gravity. For the best ice retention, it’s recommended to minimize as much as possible how much open space or air is in the cooler. 

You can get YETI Ice at different retailers including REI and Amazon.

YETI Ice - tundra 45
Yeti cooler after two nights camping
YETI Ice Tundra 45
Yeti cooler after two nights of camping
RTIC ultra light with YETI Ice
RTIC cooler after 1 night of camping and an additional day in our air conditioned house

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