The Yeti Tundra 45 is an amazingly durable, seemingly bombproof, long-chilling cooler, but at $320 and with a surprisingly small interior, it certainly won’t be for everyone.
What it is is tough. Made of rotomolded plastic, like almost every kayak you see on the river, it will survive abuse such as being rolled down an embankment or dropped off an open tailgate as you drive away (ah, the fun of product testing…). The over-thick lid is unlikely to break off or bend, and it’s more than study enough to use as a stepstool for rooftop access. It’s bearproof, too, as Yeti likes to tout — but you have to put padlocks in the corner lid holes to make it so.
Whatever you’re cooling — beer, fish, a week’s worth of supplies — is likely to stay cool for a long, long time. The walls are much thicker than on a traditional cooler, all insulation and plastic, and seem to do their job — I didn’t get out in the 100-degree that was baking the Southwest recently, but I left 20 pounds of ice in it in my hot garage and a week later things were still frosty.
All of this über-ness comes at a price, the first of which is the price. At triple the cost of a standard Coleman, the Yeti is a spendy option. It’s also heavy — 22 pounds empty. And finally, the storage space is remarkably small (about 10 x 19 inches by 11 inches deep). I actually gasped a little the first time opened it cause it was so surprising compared to the outside. But of course, if the insulation weren’t so thick, your frosties wouldn’t stay frosty very long. These drawbacks are the compromise for durability and long-lasting insulation.
So, what’s its best use? River trips and long overland road trips where you can’t refresh the ice and weight doesn’t matter. For car camping, it’s probably overkill, but for excursions like that, it’s perfect.