Yeti Coolers: Cheaper Alternatives (Buying Guide)

In a world where Yeti is king, it is hard to conceive of anything else even coming close let alone at a cheaper price tag. When Yeti came out with their high-quality rotomolded coolers in 2006, they took the world of outdoor sports and recreation by storm.

Despite prices that consistently sit above $150, they continue to make sales like the coolers are made of gold. Yeti hit a nerve. 

At the time most people would just get an ice chest from Costco or Walmart, use it until it broke, and then buy another. Well, the brothers who founded Yeti were tired of doing that themselves so they made something better and charged accordingly. Yeti has now become almost cult-like with some people swearing by the brand and buying every product they make. The Yeti Tundra and Yeti Roadie, in particular, have taken over.  

In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
195 Reviews
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
  • INTERIOR DIMENSIONS - 17.50 x 11.00 x 13.70 (44.5 x 27.9 x 34.8 centimeters) EXTERIOR (L X W X D) 30.00 x 20.30 x 20.40 (76.2 x 51.6 x 51.8 centimeters) INT VOLUME: 1.53 feet³ (0.043 meter³ )...

And here’s an overview of the best cheaper alternatives to yeti coolers on the market today:

Overview
RTIC 110, Tan
ORCA ORCG075 Cooler with Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage, 75 quart, Green
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Grizzly 75 Cooler, Tan, G75, 75 QT
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 70-Quart)
ENGEL ENG35 High Performance Cooler - Tan
Title
RTIC 110, Tan
ORCA ORCG075 Cooler with Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage, 75 quart, Green
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Grizzly 75 Cooler, Tan, G75, 75 QT
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 70-Quart)
ENGEL ENG35 High Performance Cooler - Tan
Price
Price not available
$389.99
$299.95
$394.99
$533.59
$199.99
Rating
-
-
-
-
-
Overview
RTIC 110, Tan
Title
RTIC 110, Tan
Price
Price not available
Rating
-
Overview
ORCA ORCG075 Cooler with Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage, 75 quart, Green
Title
ORCA ORCG075 Cooler with Extendable flex-grip handles for comfortable solo or tandem portage, 75 quart, Green
Price
$389.99
Rating
-
Overview
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Title
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Price
$299.95
Rating
Overview
Grizzly 75 Cooler, Tan, G75, 75 QT
Title
Grizzly 75 Cooler, Tan, G75, 75 QT
Price
$394.99
Rating
-
Overview
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 70-Quart)
Title
Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 70-Quart)
Price
$533.59
Rating
-
Overview
ENGEL ENG35 High Performance Cooler - Tan
Title
ENGEL ENG35 High Performance Cooler - Tan
Price
$199.99
Rating
-

Others aren’t as convinced and rightfully so. Although the quality of a Yeti cooler was mostly unmatched in 2006, especially at the price offered, things have changed. Now, there are several Yeti competitors making comparable products at a cheaper price. You can get similar levels of quality, durability, and even a similar appearance without breaking the bank. The cooler market has changed as companies fight to make the next great cooler.  

The alternatives that are currently on the market come very close. Some boast the attention-grabbing bear resistance of Yeti coolers. They also offer high-quality insulating foam that keeps ice solid for a week or more and they are even rotomolded like Yeti. It’s these traits and more that have really given Yeti a run for their money and proven that the field is competitive. The title of ‘best cooler’ isn’t so easily awarded anymore.  

Some people have even conducted their own unofficial side by side tests. Each time the results are the same. Yeti might be king because of the power of their brand and the variety they offer but in the world of coolers, there are others vying for the throne. 

 

White car at desert.

Most high-end coolers are now built to withstand all environments. The rotomolded bear-resistant model has become the norm.

 

Yeti Coolers: Cheaper Alternatives – Overview 

 

1. RTIC Coolers 

RTIC 110, Tan
  • Roto-Molded Construction, Heavy Duty T-Latches, Freezer Grade Gasket, Molded Tie Down Slots

In the great balancing act of price and quality, RTIC has hit the ground running and made a product that probably keeps the marketing team at Yeti awake at night. Pound for pound RTIC coolers seem to be everything a Yeti cooler is and maybe even more. 

RTIC came out in 2015 with the slogan “half the price… holds more ice” and they regularly describe their products as “overbuilt – not overpriced”. For the most part that holds true. Although RTIC doesn’t have the same product variety regularly available like Yeti does, what they do have is usually cheaper. Sometimes the same type of product will sell for half the price. 

This is pretty remarkable given the fact that RTIC products matchup against YETI so well. You get the highly durable rotomolded construction, high-quality insulation, IGBC certified bear resistance, aesthetically pleasing color and design, heavy-duty rubber t-latches, the no-sweat exterior design, and the list goes on. 

In the early days of RTIC, their design was so similar to Yeti that Yeti actually took them to court and won. Since then RTIC has had to redesign its entire line but have managed to still retain all the qualities mentioned. The only critiques to be found of RTIC coolers is that they are sometimes heavier than Yeti coolers and the latch quality isn’t as good. The compromise there translates to a lower price tag. 

 

Pros:

  • Yeti like durability and quality
  • Lower price than Yeti, sometimes half 
  • IGBC bear resistance certification

 

Cons:

  • Sometimes heavier than Yeti coolers 
  • Lower quality latch design 
  • Less variety than Yeti   

 

 

2. ORCA Coolers 

ORCA is another behemoth in the world of cooler manufacturers that have managed to go toe to toe with the likes of Yeti. In many ways, they are the same even in terms of price so ORCA sometimes looks like the Yeti of a parallel universe. ORCA does have traits that differentiate it though. 

For some people, the fact that ORCA guarantees all of its products are made in the United States is a major plus. Yeti does not provide this guarantee by comparison since many of their products are made in the Philippines and China as well as the United States. Still, despite outsourcing their production and manufacturing the prices for Yeti coolers are higher than you would expect relative to those of ORCA. For ORCA then, it is a bit hit or miss. For some cooler sizes, the prices beat Yeti and for others, they match. You have to do your research. 

ORCA coolers do come with an awesome lifetime warranty that beats Yeti’s old three year and five-year limited warranties. Yeti only has a lifetime warranty for 2019 models and newer. This alone might help settle a decision between two comparably priced coolers. Especially when the quality and durability between them is basically matched as you get with Yeti and ORCA. 

ORCA coolers come in a wide selection of colors and styles with collegiate options available for all the university football teams. You can also outfit the coolers with gaskets to improve insulation or side cargo bags for extra storage space. This, along with the benchmark rotomolded bear-resistant construction makes for a solid Yeti alternative. 

 

Pros:

  • Made in the United States 
  • Comparable quality and variety  
  • Lifetime warranty 
  • IGBC bear resistance certification

 

Cons:

  • Not always cheaper than Yeti 

 

3. Pelican Elite 

Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
195 Reviews
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
  • INTERIOR DIMENSIONS - 17.50 x 11.00 x 13.70 (44.5 x 27.9 x 34.8 centimeters) EXTERIOR (L X W X D) 30.00 x 20.30 x 20.40 (76.2 x 51.6 x 51.8 centimeters) INT VOLUME: 1.53 feet³ (0.043 meter³ )...

Pelican coolers have everything you might want in a cooler and more. Some people even argue that Pelican Elite coolers are better than Yeti hands down without even considering the price. They might be right. 

With Pelican coolers you can find almost any size you want with models ranging from 20 to 250 quarts. Each of these is made at a very high quality and durability so there’s no issue in terms of choice. The main body, handles, and the spigot are all made of polypropylene while the hardware is corrosion-resistant stainless steel. 

Specialized ABS latches with a push-button release are a special treat on these coolers as well. These latches are simultaneously very easy to open yet also so resistant that every Pelican cooler is officially bear-proof. Most coolers only earn this designation by using a padlock, with Pelican that isn’t necessary. 

Another huge win for Pelican coolers is that in side by side testing they actually outperform Yeti in ice retention. You get days and days of ice. This performance combined with nice features like molded handles (instead of rope handles), molded-in tie downs, cup holders, drain plugs and wheels makes for a real winner. You can even buy versions with built-in bottle openers and fish scales. 

Pelican makes it very hard to find any downsides to their products. Then they go and add a lifetime warranty just for fun. All of this quality does put many Pelican products at about the same cost as Yeti but they are on this list because you can also find certain models that are cheaper. Whether at or below Yeti prices the Pelican Elite coolers, in particular, seem to be a very good value for the money. On top of all that they are made in the United States. The motto for their coolers is that “A classic never goes out of style” and that seems to be true. 

 

Pros:

  • Longer ice retention than Yeti
  • Easy to use ABS latches 
  • Lifetime warranty 
  • High-quality construction and durability 
  • IGBC bear resistance certification
  • Made in the USA

 

Cons:

  • Not always cheaper than Yeti

 

4. Grizzly Coolers 

Grizzly 75 Cooler, Tan, G75, 75 QT
  • Rotomolded: Our coolers are made from rotationally-molded LLDPE plastic and are designed to achieve even wall thicknesses for optimal durability

Grizzly has been around since 1983 so they are definitely not the new kid on the block. They have a loyal fanbase of outdoorsmen due to their years in the industry and it is well deserved. Grizzly describes their coolers as the “Outdoor everything cooler” and they stand by that. 

These coolers check all the boxes you might expect from a high-quality cooler. They are rotomolded and built with pressure-injected insulation. They also go to great lengths to live up to their name by maintaining official IGBC bear resistance certification. It wouldn’t be fair to put the name Grizzly on a cooler that can’t stand up to a Grizzly, now would it?

Grizzly coolers are not known for holding ice as well or as long as a Yeti cooler but the difference is not substantial. What the coolers lack in ice retention they make up for in many other ways. For one they are all produced exclusively in the United States. With Yeti coolers being produced in other parts of the world this distinction is key for some customers. 

Grizzly also offers a lifetime warranty which is always a plus. Yeti just began offering a lifetime warranty in 2019 and all of their older products are on shorted limited warranties. Grizzly has multiple decades of experience to produce a winning product they can stand behind no matter what. 

With all of this in consideration, Grizzly manages to sell a comparable product at prices that often beat Yeti. At one point Grizzly always beat Yeti on price but the market has become more competitive. If those lower Grizzly prices were to return they could easily be a top choice in the field. 

 

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Experience in the market
  • Made in the USA
  • IGBC bear resistance certification

 

Cons:

  • Lower ice retention than Yeti 
  • Not always cheaper than Yeti 

 

5. Igloo Coolers  

Igloo Yukon Cold Locker Cooler (White, 70-Quart)
  • Integrated fish keeper scale measuring tool on lid

Igloo has been the go-to name in coolers for over fifty years and they continue to impress. At prices far below anything Yeti has managed, you still get all the core essentials you would want in a cooler. This includes up to a week or more of ice retention, built-in bottle openers, fish rulers and tie-down loops, as well as high-quality construction.

The discontinued Yukon Cold Locker from Igloo was one of the best but thankfully it can still be gotten through Amazon. This model was rotomolded with polyethylene and filled with a polyurethane insulating core which means it has that Yeti quality durability and ice retention. It is also one of the few Igloo models that are certified bear-resistant which puts it in line with many of the other top coolers out there but at a lower price.

The Igloo Yukon Cold Locker has a few nice features. The oversized drain plug is great for quick drainage and the plug itself comes tethered so you won’t lose it. On the underside, you have reversible slide and anti-skid feet which make it easy to slide the cooler into your vehicle when loading it and then lock it in place when you are on the move. The cooler is a solid Yeti alternative all around. 

The current commercially available Igloo coolers come in a variety of types and styles each made with different construction methods. The IMX and Leeward coolers are most comparable to Yeti but again, you save on the price. The differences in features and construction haven’t put a dent in the reviews though which are nearly 5 stars for all the IMX and Leeward models.

Unfortunately, Igloo does only offer a limited warranty, typically 5 years, which you might not expect from a company as well established as they are. With Igloo you do get what you pay for in the sense that quality and perks suffer at the cost of a lower price. If anything, this is marginally made up for by the variety that Igloo does offer. 

Instead of being best in class at only one type of cooler Igloo has become very good at a wide variety. This variation in the coolers is matched by a decent selection of accessories as well which is more robust than other companies. With so much to choose from it is more likely that you’ll be able to find a cooler better suited to your needs than you might while shopping with Yeti. 

 

Pros:

  • Cheaper than Yeti
  • More specialization/variety in the coolers 
  • Many years in the industry  

 

Cons:

  • Not all coolers are certified bear-resistant
  • Not all the coolers have the same quality construction as Yeti
  • Limited 5-year warranty  

 

6. Engel Coolers 

ENGEL ENG35 High Performance Cooler - Tan
  • "IGBC Certified Bear Resistant Container" - molded on rear lid of cooler

Engel is another one of those old staples in the cooler industry. Having started in Japan in 1962 they eventually brought their products and production to the United States in 1999. Since then they have maintained their reputation for making high-quality products. Engel was actually among the first to make rotomolded coolers and they are one of the companies that brought the technique to the forefront.

Their coolers are built tough and are filled with a full 2-inches of insulation in the lid, sides, and bottom. This gives them true ice retention of up to 10 days which still appears to beat Yeti coolers in side by side tests. The downside to all the insulation, of course, is that you aren’t actually getting the cooler volume advertised. A 65-quart cooler might be less. It does seem that some coolers, like the Engel 45, try to make up for this though. With the Engel 45 you actually get 47 quarts, it is hit and miss.

All the hard coolers are IGBC certified bear-resistant as you would expect from a rotomolded high-performance cooler such as this. Another downside though is that each model only comes with a 10-year warranty instead of the lifetime warranty that is now becoming standard across the industry. 

Engel still wins on price and variety though. They offer different sizes ranging from 25 to 320 quarts all available in colors such as yellow, pink, and camo as well as all the other traditional colors like pink and white. Prices are usually lower than Yeti and depending on when and where you shop they can be very good. 

 

Pros:

  • Good variety 
  • Good prices 
  • IGBC bear resistance certification     

 

Cons:

  • Unreliable sizing 
  • 10-year warranty instead of lifetime 

 

Drinks inside a white cooler.

The ice retention of coolers and whether or not they were made in the United States have become major deciding factors for people in the market for a cooler.

 

Our Winner:                  

Overview
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Title
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Price
$299.95
Rating
Overview
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Title
Pelican Elite 50 Quart Cooler (White/Grey)
Price
$299.95
Rating

There was a brief period of time when cheaper alternatives to Yeti coolers were plentiful and could be found with a little bit of google time. Things have changed. Lawsuits with companies like RTIC and increased competition in the marketplace forced companies to change their methods and prices. What you get now is a mix. You can find similar quality products at similar prices and lower quality products at lower prices. You can also find lower quality at higher prices and higher quality at lower prices. 

The thing is you have to spend time looking. Most of the options listed here as cheaper alternatives to Yeti can be found through Amazon thankfully, and at good prices. Other products on the market, even though they are much cheaper, just don’t match up to Yeti and really don’t count as alternatives. There are several knockoff cooler brands trying to make the next big Yeti cooler alternative. These cheap coolers just don’t cut it. 

Out of all the options out there Pelican Elite Coolers appear to be the best Yeti alternative on the market. You shouldn’t even consider them an alternative really. Pelican coolers are in a league of their own, like Yeti, and they just happen to be cheaper sometimes. The fact that you can get very high-quality construction, longer ice retention than Yeti, arguably better latches, and a lifetime warranty makes Pelican stand out from the crowd. 

As their motto states “A classic never goes out of style.” Pelican has worked to ensure this by consistently delivering on their promise of superior quality, made in America, and guaranteed for a lifetime. You can’t go wrong with that. 

 

Bonus tip: Watch this video of a head to head ice retention test between a Yeti cooler and a Pelican cooler. Fancy a guess at which one wins?   

 

 

       

In
Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.