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It used to be that, if you needed a cooler, you grabbed a flimsy styrofoam option at the grocery store on your way to the beach or—if you’d planned ahead—dragged one of dad’s old Colemans out of the attic, hosed it off, and hit the road.
Things have changed in the cooler world, and brands like Yeti have upped not only the design aesthetic of what used to be a fairly utilitarian item, but have also upped the icy technology available to the market, as well. Of course, all that design and technology can yield a big price tag, and Yeti coolers—the most sought after and Instagram visible brand in the cooler market these days, by far—can run up to $800, depending on the size and model. That’s pretty nuts, even for something that even we noted is pretty darn awesome.
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Here’s the deal: While it always feels great to have the best, shiniest, and hippest item on the market, most of us will never, ever need the cooling capacity that an $800 Yeti can offer—even if it would make a cool Instagram post. That’s why we’ve chosen to run down some just as great and way more affordable alternatives, which are perfect for keeping a case of beer on ice at a tailgate or a picnic lunch cool at the beach. We won’t say these are knock-off Yeti coolers, but we also won’t say they’re not. These are our 11 favorite affordable alternatives to those wildly expensive Yeti coolers.
1. Otterbox Venture 45 Cooler
As our product testers’ favorite overall cooler, the Otterbox Venture 45 cooler has a 45-quart capacity, a dry storage tray, and a bottle opener. It’s also bear-resistant, if that’s a concern. At about $300, it’s also much cheaper than many of its Yeti counterparts, and according to our reviewers, “it was able to keep temperatures under 40°F for almost five days,” which was way longer than the average camping trip or tailgate weekend.
2. Ozark Trail Cooler
Our product testers’ pick for best value is the Ozark Trail cooler, which has a built-in fish ruler, four cup holders, a bottle opener, a threaded plug, and easy-to-grip T-handles. Our testers noted that it kept meat cold for about four days, and at around $140, it would make a cost-effective pick for “anyone looking for a leisurely trip—think of all those cupholders!”
3. Everbilt Cooler
Another cooler that was put through its paces by our product testers is the Everbilt 410-234 cooler, which is pretty much made for outdoor living. It’s got that always sought-after fish ruler, as well as two cup holders and a bottle opener. Our testers also found that it kept ice cool for almost six days, and that it was easy to drain. With its rope handles, it’s a little awkward to carry over long distances, but if you’re more of a “keep it in the car” or “park next to the campsite” kind of person, that shouldn’t really be an issue—especially when you consider how affordable it is compared to a Yeti.
4. Arctic Zone Titan Cooler
Hard-sided coolers are great, but sometimes you want—or need—a soft-sided cooler you can throw over your shoulder and take to an outdoor concert. Yeti makes some great ones, of course, but they’re hundreds of dollars. The Arctic Zone, which has a 4.6-star rating and more than 27,000 rave reviews on Amazon, will run you just about $30 and should get the job done for most people. While our testers noted it only kept ice cold for about 2.5 days, that should be more than enough time to get through a nice cold bottle of white wine while watching your local orchestra from a blanket on a lawn.
5. Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler
As a nice, affordable option for fishing, the Igloo Marine Ultra is the perfect cooler to throw on a boat and fill with the day’s catch. It’s got two rulers on the lid, tie-downs on the side for when the waves get a little choppy, and has very comfortable flip-up handles for moving to and from the car. It also has a 4.5-star rating and more than 3,000 glowing reviews on Amazon. In their review, our testers also noted that it kept ice cold for a respectable 3.5 days.
6. Coleman Xtreme Wheeled Cooler
A timeless workhorse, the Coleman portable wheeled cooler is a tailgater’s dream. This pick, which has more than 3,000 favorable reviews on Amazon, offers a 50-quart capacity, which means it can hold 84 cans, and a telescoping handle and heavy-duty wheels mean it can handle most reasonably smooth terrain. Amazon reviewers give it 4.7 stars out of 5, with one even noting that, “you can sit on this cooler as it does not have a hollow lid.” Always good to know!
7. TOURIT Cooler Backpack
Another nice soft-sided cooler for hikes and beach days, the TOURIT cooler backpack can hold about 30 cans of whatever your preferred beverage is. It comes in five different colors, and has a leak-proof liner. While it only claims to keep food cold for about 16 hours, at just under $40, it’s a much more affordable alternative to any comparable Yeti product. Amazon reviewers love it, too: It has a 4.8-star rating and almost 10,000 positive reviews, and shoppers say it’s surprisingly comfortable, hail its versatility, and say it’s extremely useful on hikes.
8. Igloo BMX Cooler
A compact little cooler perfect for solo trips out camping or fishing, the Igloo BMX cooler has rubberized latches and a sturdy handle. It has tie-down capabilities for when trucks or boats get moving, and according to the company, it can keep ice cool for about four days. More than 6,000 people have reviewed it on Amazon, and it’s holding it down with about a 4.8-star rating. Reviewers say it’s “built like a tank,” with one raving that, “This Igloo BMX cooler is just as good as my Pelican [cooler] at a fraction of the cost... It’s got a great look and works just the same!”
9. RTIC Hard Cooler
With its hard-bodied style and blocky black logo, RTIC is clearly making a run at Yeti’s business model. And, honestly, a lot of the time the decision really does come down to RTIC cooler vs. Yeti cooler. While RTIC coolers aren’t the cheapest coolers on the market—A 20-quart model will run you just about $140, and a 65-quart beast comes in at just under $300—they’re certainly cheaper than their Yeti counterparts, and they’ll still get the job done with flair.
Amazon reviewers enjoy them, and they have a 4.7-star rating on the site and more than 3,500 positive reviews, with one shopper noting, “If you just want to upgrade to a decent functional cooler without draining your kid's college fund, you can't go wrong with this one.”
10. Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler
Consider this one an updated version of the cooler everyone’s parents had in their attic. The Coleman steel-belted cooler is sleek, stylish, and effective, and the company claims this model can keep ice cold for more than four days, and the 54-quart capacity can accommodate 85 cans. The lid can support more than 250 pounds, and the stain-proof liner and steel hardware mean this option could look great years from now, when you get it down from your attic to lend your kids. More than 5,000 Amazon reviewers agree, calling this 4.6-star rated cooler “beautiful” (which is not a common word you’d use to describe a cooler) and hailing its amazing ability to “take a hit and keep on going.”
11. Igloo Trailmate Roller Cooler
A massive, off-road friendly cooler perfect for deep treks into the woods, the Igloo Trailmate in the 70-quart option offers storage for more than 100 cans, as well as heavy-duty wheels, and even a telescoping butler tray. A suspended interior basket can keep food away from loose, wet ice, and tie-down loops on the cooler mean you can even strap towels, chairs, or other awkward items to carry things to the cooler. This thing is a beast, with one reviewer who purchased this cooler, which has a 4.1-star rating from Dick’s Sporting Goods, noting that it has “so much more to offer than an expensive rotomolded cooler.” Take that, Yeti.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: 11 knock-off Yeti coolers you'll wish you tried sooner