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Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
2/11/18 8:31 a.m.

Inspired by the yeti cup thread.   


Family is getting  more and more into car camping and out good old cheapie igloo does not cut the mustard.  It can’t keep things frozen for two days without significantly overfilling with ice and underfilling with food. 

Anyone test out the tons of yeti knock offs out there?  Igloo extreme?  What’s the way to go?  


Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/11/18 8:54 a.m.

If I really need to keep something frozen or if I'm camping for multiple days, I go to an area supermarket that sells dry ice.  Takes up much less space in the cooler and keeps things cold and dry for days.

mtn MegaDork
2/11/18 8:58 a.m.

I was gifted a small Yeti and liked it enough that I started looking into a bigger one. I came away thinking if I were to get a new one, I'd go with Cabelas or the Igloo Sportsman. I also was looking for Made in USA, so your mileage may vary.

One thing though, look at the prep. Cool the cooler down with sacrificial ice prior to going. Use block ice to make it last longer. Things like that.



Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
2/11/18 9:34 a.m.

In reply to mtn :

I agree we can do much better with prep but we currently have the lowest common denominator price point picnic cooler and it’s just not very thick. 

We have this guy  https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0016H9TC6/ref=mp_s_a_1_39?ie=UTF8&qid=1518363187&sr=1-39&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=Coleman


good for parties and picnics but not much beyond that  


singleslammer PowerDork
2/11/18 9:37 a.m.

I have thought about taking a $20 cooler and add closed cell expanding foam, a real seal, and a good latch. I figure that the end result would be 80% as good for $50. 

wae Dork
2/11/18 9:42 a.m.

We've got one of the Igloo Xtreme coolers and it always did pretty well for car camping.  I'd ice it down ahead of time, then right before we left I'd dump out that ice and add the (already cold/frozen) food and new ice.  The OJ and milk would get really thick and sometimes start to freeze and the frozen meats would still be mostly frozen after a couple days.  If I needed it to last more than two days, though, I'd add another bag of ice at the campground.


I always wanted to try loading it up with dry ice to see if that did any better but we bought a camper with an absorption fridge instead.

Curtis PowerDork
2/11/18 10:32 a.m.

I have the Coleman extreme (at least I think that's what it is... its orange and grey.)  I like it but it is not a yeti.

A while back I asked the same question.  At that point, Yeti was the only name in the game really but there were a few startups filling the void.  RTIC is a great knockoff for about 40% less cost.

A comparison that includes way too many coolers

Comparison between Yeti and RTIC

A hick swears a lot during a pretty non-scientific test of four coolers

mtn MegaDork
2/11/18 11:08 a.m.
wawazat Reader
2/11/18 12:08 p.m.

I've seen the Otterbox coolers from the manufacturing end and they look good.  

akamcfly Dork
2/11/18 4:23 p.m.

I wonder if one could modify a less expensive cooler to compete with the fancypants ones in the keeping stuff cold category.  Other than the tough outer cases, what are the main differences? Could they be replicated on a MUCH less expensive cooler?

secretariata SuperDork
2/11/18 6:59 p.m.

Monoprice has gotten into this game as well.  Not sure how good the cooler actually is, but I've had good experiences with other items purchased from them.


Toyman01 MegaDork
2/11/18 8:14 p.m.

For Yetti money, you might consider a 12v refrigerator. I use a Base Camp 43qt when camping. It will run several days off of a 100ah battery. Keeps things cold and nothing ends up soggy. 


Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 SuperDork
2/11/18 8:36 p.m.

Orca is a good American made Yeti-style cooler. Yeti's are now overseas. Still not cheap.

bmw88rider SuperDork
2/11/18 8:47 p.m.

I have a pelican cooler and it's so much better than the yeti it replaced. solid construction and will last a week in 60-70's degree days with enough ice. 

Floating Doc
Floating Doc Reader
2/11/18 9:31 p.m.

I've always had pretty basic coolers, but there's some very effective ways to maximize their efficiency. The best thing is that these tips will work on any cooler, no matter the quality. 

PRECHILL: I often only use ice for the pre-chilling of the cooler. That is a crucial step, don't omit it. Using a saltwater slurry will lower the temperature a bit more. If it's an option, you can also put the cooler in a walk-in freezer (or leave it outside if you live in a cold place) overnight before packing. 

PACKING: When it comes to packing the cooler, instead of ice, I mostly use freezer packs. We get vaccines and some medicine shipped cold, so we always have a ready supply. They are available commercially, you can ask your vet to save you some, or make your own. I haven't tried the last option, but I think they're just salt water. There's discussion on the google. 

Whatever you pack the cooler with, make sure that your ice or cold packs are super chilled. A regular ice machine is only cold enough to freeze water. I run my household freezers much colder than 32F, so any ice or freezer packs that I use will be much colder than 32F when I start packing my box. This makes a big difference. 

The exception to using only cold packs is when I  need maximum duration from the cooler. If that's the case, I use ice cubes to fill in the gaps in the food after I've finished packing the cooler. The more air space there is inside of the cooler, the less efficient it is. This holds true with your refrigerator and freezer as well, mine are always full, even if there's not that much food in them. I sometimes fill them with water bottles, but always have a bunch of the freezer packs in the freezers. 

I make sure that the bottom and sides of the cooler are lined with the cold packs, so the food is in the middle, then a layer of the cold packs, then the wall or bottom of the cooler. I also make sure to surround things like dairy products with more cold packs or ice. I layer more of the cold packs on the top of the food. 

So that's the loading portion. My coolers are seriously heavy when I get done filling them. That means maximum efficiency. 

EXTRA INSULATION:  the next, and just as important step, is to add insulation on the top. Camping stores and places like the outdoors section at your local MalWart will have the mylar emergency blankets. Open one of those, fold it loosely to about the size of your cooler, and drape it over the top of the food, tucking in down and trying to completely cover the inside of the cooler all the way to the edges. You can also use mylar lined windshield sun reflectors like you use on the dash of your car in the summer (at least here in FL, I consider these essential). They're even more efficient than the emergency blankets, but take up more room. I often use both if there's room. 

BE EFFICIENT IN YOUR USE: Finally, use some common sense. Stay out of the cooler as much as possible, don't open it up and browse around.  Plan what you're after before opening the box.

COOLER PLACEMENT: Avoid, when possible, leaving it in the sun or a hot car. Mine's usually used in a car or truck, so it'll be wrapped on the top and sides or at least covered with a blanket or two.  As the ice melts, NEVER drain the cold water from your cooler unless you don't need more than a few more hours from your cooler, since once you drain the cooler you've lost most of the thermal efficiency. It'll warm up pretty quickly after that. 

I can expect to get at least 3-5 days of really cold storage using these tips. That is, cold enough that the ice hasn't started to melt.   Especially when I use my cooler for only transport and am not opening it much instead of working out of it, it's not unusual for me to find that none of the ice cubes have melted after days in the back of my truck. I've brought frozen fish and game home from my friend's home 8 hours from here, and still had it all frozen solid the next day.  I love unpacking the cooler and finding the inside still dry, makes it a lot easier to prepare it for storage (never put up a cooler that's wet inside, unless you like mold). 

I've worked this routine out over many years. It sounds difficult, but it's no big deal once you're used to it. I'd like to see how long one of the premium coolers would stay cold following these steps, but I've never found it necessary to own one. Best of all, I'm working right on the edge of free for the price of all of this, and it's really minimal effort. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
2/12/18 8:08 a.m.

A friend of mine recently came up with a new cooler that's supposed to outperform the Yeti, here's a link to his website:  http://maluna.com  He's a pretty talented gearhead too, so he should get extra points for that.  laugh

Floating Doc
Floating Doc Reader
2/12/18 10:49 a.m.
stuart in mn said:

A friend of mine recently came up with a new cooler that's supposed to outperform the Yeti, here's a link to his website:  http://maluna.com  He's a pretty talented gearhead too, so he should get extra points for that.  laugh

I didn't follow any of the other links, but that's pretty cool!cheeky

cdowd HalfDork
2/12/18 12:42 p.m.

I have an RTIC cooler.  I have both the soft side (30qt) and hard side(45qt).  The go on sale occasionally for around 100 each.  It really does keep ice for a week with the hardside one.



stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
2/12/18 6:04 p.m.

In reply to Floating Doc :

To show off his gearhead side, this is a video of his 1961 Pontiac Bonneville.  It has a 462ci Pontiac engine with aluminum heads and Megasquirt ignition and fuel injection, it makes a little more than 500hp.  https://vimeo.com/239041314

oldopelguy UltraDork
2/12/18 11:01 p.m.

One of my coworkers lined the inside of a standard base cabinet with a double layer of 2" foam, tossed two kegs inside, and attached a doorless dorm fridge to one side to keep the beer cold. It worked amazingly well, well enough to make building my own cooler a viable option.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc Reader
2/13/18 11:43 a.m.
stuart in mn said:

In reply to Floating Doc :

To show off his gearhead side, this is a video of his 1961 Pontiac Bonneville.  It has a 462ci Pontiac engine with aluminum heads and Megasquirt ignition and fuel injection, it makes a little more than 500hp.  https://vimeo.com/239041314

Wow, that's some torque! First, second, third... when's this thing going to hook up?!  Nice!

Lof8 Dork
2/13/18 1:28 p.m.

I think your current cooler just needs a new sticker. Should be fine after that. 

93EXCivic MegaDork
2/13/18 2:03 p.m.

In reply to Lof8 :

Totally bought a pack of those for my ultimate cooler.

Enyar Dork
2/13/18 2:11 p.m.

I've been happy with Engel coolers. Florida company.

mtn MegaDork
6/20/18 11:49 p.m.

Canoe cooler. 

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