What can you say about a Yeti cooler that hasn’t been said a thousand times already?
Did you know that it’s exceptionally good at its job? That it’ll keep stuff colder for longer than whichever pathetic cooler you’ve been dragging to the beach? Did you know that the people who own a Yeti really love talking about how awesome their Yeti is? That it was wicked expensive but whatever because look how cool it is and oh, by the way, it’s also impervious to fucking bear attacks?
Of course you did. Because you own a Yeti yourself. Or you know someone who does. Or you have access to the Internet. The hype surrounding Yeti, the Austin, TX-based purveyor of exceptionally trendy cooler products, is very, very real. Marketed towards the rugged outdoorsman, the coolers have gained massive traction across the spectrum: tailgaters, backyard grill masters, professional chefs, thong-clad college girls, weekend warriors, really anyone with an eye for design and the need to keep a drink cold…
Like me, a 32-year-old beer writer with a wife, a dog, and a young son, who frequently finds himself on the move with too much beer and too little cooler space.
I spent the past month and a half beating the shit out of my Hopper Two 30, the second-largest soft cooler the company offers.
So I made a pitch to Yeti: Send me a cooler and I’ll write honestly about my experiences with it, good, bad, or otherwise. Not typically one to jump on the hype train, I was dead-set on giving this a real shakedown, on nitpicking this thing to death until I found a flaw, however small. It can’t be perfect, right? They were happy to oblige, and I spent the past month and a half beating the shit out of my Hopper Two 30, the second-largest soft cooler the company offers.
The Hopper’s insulation is a flexible, closed-cell rubber foam that’s protected by their “Dryhide Shell,” which is resistant to mildew, punctures, and the sun. The straps are all double stitched, with plenty of loops for hanging keys or bottle openers, and a tie down point at the base allows you to bring this on a boat. All this is punctuated at the top with a leakproof zipper that Yeti calls the toughest cooler zipper in the world. All this means you can sling it over your shoulder without worrying about ruining your favorite “weekend shirt,” or getting to the party with melted ice and warm beer.
The catch? It retails for $350.
If you just choked on your bagel, I get it: These things are expensive. The cheapest cooler available is the Tundra Roadie, a hard cooler capable of holding 14 cans with their “recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio” that goes for a cool $250. (The priciest will set you back $1,300.) If you used the Roadie once, you’d be paying about $18 per can just to keep it cold. Of course, herein lies the enduring beauty of the Yeti promise: The price is immaterial, because everyone needs a good cooler and this is the last cooler you’ll ever need.
I wish I had some antithetical pearl of wisdom to offer here, some small jab at the company that seemingly can do no wrong. But I don’t. I’ve never owned a better cooler and I’m not sure how I ever could. I’ve loaded beers and ice into this thing and treated it like a mini fridge in my apartment; I’ve hauled it to a BBQ on a 70-degree afternoon and left it outside all day; I’ve brought it on roadtrips filled with baby food and milk (fine, and a few beers); I even walked a couple miles with it filled to the brim just to see how the weight would feel on my shoulder.
Through it all, the Yeti performed.
Second only, perhaps, to my dog, the Yeti Hopper is the possession I have that strangers covet most.
There is one thing I’ve come to realize, though: I have never possessed such a status symbol in my life, a material item at once so universally recognized and revered. I’ve got a nice bike, some well-made suits. But nothing like this. Everywhere I bring this cooler, it gets reactions. People “ooh” and “aah.” They ask questions. They want to touch it. Second only, perhaps, to my dog, it’s the possession I have that strangers covet most.
Which is kind of weird, honestly. But also satisfying and sort of thrilling. I always tell people the company sent it to me to review, that I didn’t shell out $350 for a cooler to hold my New England-style IPAs. But after experiencing this thing for myself, I can honestly say I would.
Because my Yeti keeps shit really cold and looks awesome and did you you know it’s basically bear-proof?