You’ve packed the camper. It is full of sleeping bags, fishing poles, sunscreen, and warm clothes for chilly nights. But there is one essential thing you forgot: the ice chest. Not only will you need it to keep your food cold and prevent spoilage, but you also need it for the very important task of keeping your beer ice cold. After all, what is a weekend fishing trip without the beers?
Depending on your plans, there is a cooler that is meant for it. Marine coolers are great for hauling back your prized catches, soft coolers work for hiking trips, and hard coolers are the center of attention at your neighborhood block party. To give you a better idea of coolers on the market these days, we would like to go over two of the most popular brand names today: Yeti and the Coleman Xtreme. We will discover the benefits and drawbacks of each one, and recommend which brand will be better for you.
Coleman is the brand we’ve all come to know and trust over the years. They’ve been making coolers since the 50s. Coleman was one of the first pioneers of coolers as we know them today, starting back in 1954 with their steel belt cooler. They began making plastic coolers a few years later. We are pretty sure everyone has childhood camping trip memories that featured a Coleman cooler. These days, Coleman is still at it, with even more products including drinkware, furniture, tents, and other camping equipment. With them, we know what to expect, with their fairly priced, decent product.
Though Coleman offers a huge array of products, from soft coolers for backpacking, and smaller coolers for short day trips, Coleman Xtreme coolers are another animal. The Xtreme product line is geared more toward high volumes of cooling capacity. These ice chests can range anywhere from 50 quart to 100 quart. Coleman Xtreme also includes an impressive lineup of marine coolers in 28 quart, 100 quart, 120 quart, 150 quart, and 200 quart. Marine coolers tend to be bigger due to the sheer amount of space they need to store their fish catches. These models are said to be the best value for marine coolers today.
Yeti is the new kid in school, having been around only since 2006. And they’ve already built up a reputation for their high-end, premium coolers. They seemed to have flipped the cooler world on its head through their strong marketing campaigns and well-built, durable products.
Yeti features hard-sided coolers in two models: the Roadie Series and the Tundra series. The Roadies are great for a road trip as well as shorter trips. They tend to be a little more compact than the Tundra, emphasizing storage space over ice retention capacity. The Tundra series has bigger coolers, and size ranges from Tundra 45, Tundra 65, Tundra 120 to Tundra 210. You can find Yeti coolers from 50 to 350, leaving you lots of options to choose from. They also have a stainless steel option complete with vacuum insulation.
One thing to be careful of with Yeti, however, is that their model numbers which imply the amount of quart capacity do not accurately depict quart size. Oftentimes people will buy a Yeti cooler, assuming the quart size capacity was the model number, only to find the amount of space was much less than expected. This is in contrast to other comparable brands like Orca in which the size stated is the actual size you get.
The appearance of the two brands is an easy comparison. Coleman usually comes in its traditional bright blue color while Yeti boasts a wide range of color choices. These include coral, tan, navy, white, light green, and dark green. They even provide special services where you can have customized logos printed on your cooler. Compare that with other similar companies’ limited color selection and customization like RTIC.
The Coleman Xtreme can be considered just an ice chest. It is a dime a dozen. However, a Yeti cooler, due to its quality and high cost, has become more of a status symbol.
The Coleman Xtreme will do the basic job it is intended for, for a lower price. We are talking 8 to 10 times cheaper than Yeti. For most people, this is enough reason to make the Coleman purchase. However, there may be some occasions where the extra features of a Yeti may come in handy. Let’s explore them.
The Yeti brand by far has better ice retention than Coleman Xtreme. This means you can throw a few bags of ice in there and disappear off the face of the Earth for 5 or more days till your next ice run. Due to the Yeti’s thick insulation, you can stay gone for longer. Yeti coolers are said to hold ice for 3 to 5 days under normal conditions and can go as high as 7 to 10 days of ice in ideal conditions. And the game-changing Yeti 160 can hold ice for a whopping 2 weeks! With a Yeti, you will have no problem keeping your fish or other types of game cold for the duration of your hunting or fishing trip
The reason for this impressive ability to retain ice for long periods is due to the 3 inches of polyurethane foam insulation. This is twice the insulation of most ordinary coolers, and Coleman only with 1.5 to 2 inches of insulation, giving it less functionality for ice retention. They also boast a commercial-grade freezer-style sealing gasket and pull-down rubber latches which can secure your goods off from outside conditions. The tighter seal ensures cold air stays in and keeps warm air out. You won’t see the Yeti leaking or bursting open if it’s knocked over. Compare that to Coleman’s simple plastic lid with no latches, which easily can let warm air in, and contents to spill out.
Keep in mind that you can influence the conditions to keep your ice chest cold longer. The quality, how many pounds, and type of your ice, as well as the outside environment and direct sunlight exposure, can determine how fast your ice melts.
There have been many side-by-side comparison tests done between these two brands, Yeti beating Coleman out each time. It is evident that when it comes to ice longevity, Yeti is one of the top picks out there. Keep this in mind when you are preparing for a long trip where you want to disappear from humanity for a while. And who doesn’t sometimes?
Build Quality and Strength- Bear Proof
Yeti’s coolers are rotomolded, which not only helps keep your ice for days but also protects the contents from a hungry bear. It is quite evident that the build quality of a Yeti can far outstand the Coleman Xtreme. They are sturdy enough to stand, sit, or even jump on.
Rotomolding, also called rotational molding, spin-casting, or roto-casting refers to a process used to create these coolers, the same process by which whitewater kayaks are made. The procedure of rotomolding creates a continuous thick wall of plastic by forming hollow parts. This process ensures no imperfections and produces virtually indestructible products. Types of ice chests made this way are said to last a lifetime, and are the most quality products out there.
Coleman is not as durable since it isn’t rotomolded. Since the walls are much thinner than Yetis’, they are much more prone to breaking. You can still sit on them or even toss them around, but you must be more careful than with a Yeti.
Yeti models have a single pin metal hinge, which holds the lid to the body in a sturdy fashion. The rope handles are made of nylon rope as well as hard rubber, ensuring they will last. In comparison, Coleman’s hinges are flimsy plastic and can break easily with extreme sun exposure or strenuous use. Coleman’s plastic handles aren’t meant to stand the test of time, and the drain plug can easily pop off and be lost. The Yeti’s drain plug, however, can be partially unscrewed, allowing you less likely to lose it.
Not only does Yeti’s secure design help keep cold air in, but it also helps keep unwanted neighborhood animals out. Yeti coolers are certified bear-resistant when the front 2 corners are locked with padlocks. This ensures a safer campground from wild animals, and can also prevent theft from humans.
The Coleman Xtreme will probably last you 10 to 20 years, that is if a grizzly doesn’t get to it. If taken care of, we believe a Yeti can last a lifetime, which is longer than comparable brands like Engel.
There is a downside to rotomolded coolers, however. That is the weight. Yeti coolers tend to be much heavier than Colemans’, though still not as heavy as comparable Pelican products. Yeti’s thickness, insulation, and heavier lid all weigh it down, as well as contribute to a heavier price tag. You might have a hard time lugging your Yeti on and off a boat, especially when filled with ice. A 150 quart Yeti weighs in at an ungodly 54 pounds. And the Yeti Tundra 350 is a whopper, and we aren’t talking about fish. It weighs 89 pounds!
This is where Coleman Extreme has the advantage. The lightness and ease of carrying them open up more possibilities for their uses. A Coleman Xtreme 5 Marine Cooler (150 quarts) weighs a measly 18 pounds. You can carry them deep into the woods on a hunting trip. You can easily carry the marine coolers full of fish out of the canoe. It is also easier to throw the Coleman in your vehicle on a spontaneous trip because it is just easier to move. Coleman has the best coolers for quick, spontaneous adventures.
One beneficial feature of the Coleman over Yetis are the cup holders. You can easily store your cup in a safe place as you fish, or hang out by the fire, or between you and your buddy on your road trip to the next adventure.
We’ve all been there. You’ve had a few as you sit around the campfire. You place your beer on the ground, and as soon as you get up, down goes your precious beer. You will have less chance of spilling your drink if you place it responsibly in Coleman’s cupholders, even after you’ve had a few. Crack your beer open on a hot summer day with your Coleman bottle opener, place your beer in the holder, and no more need to worry. About anything. Enjoy.
Having wheels on your ice chest allows you to save your back when you’ve packed it to the brim. Many Coleman Xtreme ice chests have heavy-duty wheels, allowing for easy transport even over rough terrain. This popular Coleman model even has a locking telescoping handle which makes it even easier to pull when it is full. And the Coleman models with wheels are not much more money than those without. Most of the Yeti coolers do not have wheels, which can be a problem when they are quite heavy, even when they’re not fully loaded.
Non-slip feet and tie-downs
Yeti products have non-slip feet made of rubber, which prevent them from sliding around in the back of your truck. If there is a sudden stop while you are driving, the Yeti may slowly slide but will not cause any damage. If you’d like to tie the Yeti down, there are tie-down straps that can help you secure it.
The rubber feet also elevate the body of the cooler from the ground, which allows more airflow and less absorption of ground heat. Compare this to Coleman’s flat plastic base. Not only will it absorb more heat, but it can also easily slide, increasing the likelihood of damage.
Some people like the idea of buying products that are made in the USA. This is because it stimulates the economy and is giving a job to an American.
Coleman products are primarily manufactured in Wichita, KS. In contrast, Yeti is manufactured in the Philippines, China, and the US (Iowa and Wisconsin). The bulk of the work is done overseas.
For many people, the warranty is an important factor to think about when making a purchase. Yeti’s Roadie and Tundra series both offer a 5-year warranty, due to their quality roto-molded plastics. Yeti’s soft-sided products are given a 3-year warranty. Coleman Xtreme only offers a limited warranty of a year for its cooler products.
Which is better for you?
So which will it be, Yeti or the Coleman Xtreme? The answer depends on how much you are willing to pay, what features you value most, and how much use you plan on getting out of the cooler.
If you want a great cooler that you can show off to your friends at your tailgating party, buy a Yeti. Grab an ice-cold drink and lounge in style. Or perhaps you want the opposite: to get away from people. Buying a Yeti helps you stay gone longer.
If you are looking at the value for the money you pay, Coleman is your answer. The Coleman Xtreme has a lot of the same benefits as a Yeti, but for a fraction of the price.
If you’re fishing, you won’t be too worried about bears. So why lug a heavy bear-proof cooler with you? Coleman marine coolers are an excellent choice. Perhaps you only take day trips and don’t require long-lasting ice retention, then Coleman is the way to go.
If you only want to make one cooler purchase in your life, Yeti is for you. If treated well, the Yeti may last a lifetime. Even if it gets in a fight with a bear, you can still keep it for years to come. You can show it off to your friends, or take it and disappear in the woods for weeks. For these reasons, Yeti is a smart investment.
Check Amazon for great prices of both Yeti and Coleman Xtreme models. Yeti doesn’t sell their products through big discount retailers like Walmart, but there is tons of selection to choose from through Amazon.
Bonus tip: Watch this helpful video on how to clean your cooler after a long weekend in the wild.