Yeti Hopper M15 Soft Cooler Bag: first impressions
The Yeti Hopper M15 Soft Cooler Bag is a good-looking, soft-sided cooler bag for hauling all your hydration requirements for day trips to the beach or on various one-day outdoor adventures.
• List price: $300 (US) / £300 (UK)
• Capacity: 15lb ice / 32 x 12oz cans / 7 wine bottles
• Volume: 17L / 600fl oz
• Style: Tote
• Ice retention: Not stated
• Dimensions (HxWxD): 40.6cm x 51.6cm x 23.4cm / 16in x 20.3in x 9.2in
• Weight (empty): 2,268g / 5lb
• Colors: Black / Navy / Charcoal
• Construction: Dryhide shell, leakproof liner, Coldcell insulation
It has a hold capacity of 17L (15lb of ice), but in language we can all understand that translates to 32 cans (12oz), or seven bottles of wine. It’s also available in a larger M50 version – which takes 42 cans, 13 bottles of wine or 32lb of ice – and is better suited for keeping things cold during multi-day car-camping escapades.
But for our money, the dimensions and carry capacity of the more modest-sized M15 are about perfect for picnics and day trips. Speaking of money, though, this is a premium product with a premium price tag to match, so let’s look at what you get for your significant outlay – is this one of the best cooler bags on the market?
Yeti Hopper M15 Soft Cooler Bag: construction and design
The build quality of this bag is exceptional, so you should certainly get a lifetime of use out of the Hopper M15. All the haul points are reinforced and double-stitched to prevent failure, and the unit has a three-year warrantee.
The high-density Dryhide outer shell might not be completely puncture proof, but you would have to stab it seriously hard with something Samurai-sword sharp to get through it. Insulation is supplied by ‘Coldcell’, Yeti’s closed-cell foam material, which keeps the contents cool for extended periods of time. Ice retention times are not supplied for the Hopper, but on test I found that it kept drinks cold overnight in room-temperature conditions, and ice remained solid for 12 hours plus.
On the inside, the liner is constructed using welding techniques instead of stitching to provide leak-poof performance; you still need to be careful with anything sharp that can tear the liner, however, including metal bottle tops. Both the exterior and interior fabrics have been specially treated to stop mold such as mildew growing, but it’s best to make sure the bag is completely dry before storing it.
The top snaps securely shut in a very satisfying and confidence-bestowing way, thanks to the magnets employed in the Magshield Access system (it’s impossible not to love this element – the click is so crisp). Once this is closed, you can fold the top over once and further secure it with two buckles attached to the handles, which are so tight they’re pretty tough to shut (at least until the bag has been used a few times), but they do keep everything compact and tidy.
On he inside there is just one compartment, so you can’t separate, say, meat for the barbecue and fruit or drinks – which is a bit of a shame. There’s an external pocket for stashing things you don’t need to keep cool – such as your phone, car keys, a bottle opener or some sauce to spice your food up – but it is quite small.
Also on the outside, you'll find the ‘Hitchpoint Grid’: two parallel lines of fabric hoops that can be used to attach other picnic-friendly products (such as the Yeti Rambler Bottle Sling) to the bag.
There are three ways to carry the Hopper M15: you can hold it solo in one hand, using a small grab handle located directly on the top of the bag; you can carry it on your own or with a friend, using the extended-length handles; or you can sling it over your shoulder using the single (removable) long strap, which has a large pad to make it comfortable to carry when full.
On test, I found that these options were perfect for picnics, parties and beach barbecues, so long as I wasn’t travelling too far from the car. My biggest criticism of this cooler bag, however, is that it doesn’t incorporate a harness to allow you to carry it like a backpack. This (fairly obvious) addition would make it much easier and more comfortable to cart all your chilled drinks and food across a much bigger distance when you’re out exploring, and also leave your hands free to carry other items such as camping chairs if you’re picnicking at the beach or in the woods.