There’s nothing worse than coming back to the campground and finding the food in your cooler spoiled because the ice melted and now everything is soggy and wet.
They’re essential to every camping or outdoor adventure but we don’t really pay them any mind until it comes time to dust them off or when we’re opening them and hoping our food and drinks are still cold.
A cheap cooler will do the job for short spurts of time, but what if you intend to be out all day or for several days?
Then you need something more reliable other than the cooler you can pick up from your grocery store on the way to heading out for your trip.
Looking for your next cooler to take with you on your next adventure?
|#1. Icey Tek
Our Best Pick
Check Price @ Amazon
Check price at Yeti.com
Yeti Cooler Video Review
Icey-Tek Video Review
A Short Intro To Each Cooler
The Icey Tek looks like an ice chest on steroids but is solidly built and like it could probably take a tumble off the back of a truck.
We don’t recommend it though.
Color-wise, you’re limited to just Blue at the time of writing this review, but some other colors like teal, green and yellow occasionally pop up from time to time.
Two drain plugs complete with a rubber gasket can be screwed into the sides and removed to help drain the cooler when it’s time to call it a day and put it back in the garage.
For handles, you get plastic covered rope handles that are flexible and conform to your hand and are reasonably comfortable for carrying for short distances. The plastic coating prevents rope burn and keeps the rope from biting into your hands.
Now, this is a 170-quart cooler which means it can hold more, and we’ll explain that more in one of the sections below, but we feel that if you’re going to be toting something this big along that it should have another purpose too.
That said, we feel that it could double as a bench seat for two to three people.
So if you have to decide on whether to pack extra camp chairs or this cooler, leave the chairs at home if you don’t have enough room to pack both.
Also because of its size, you probably won’t be pulling this bad boy out for little picnics or a day trip down to the park.
We’re not exaggerating when we say this thing is huge but that comes in handy and is ideal when you need to keep your food cool for days. And if you’re storing some expensive drinks or just want to sleep safely knowing that your food won’t be stolen by the four legged or two legged kinds, it’s possible to put a padlock on this cooler- just don’t lose the key.
Now how about the Yeti?
The Yeti we reviewed in this article is noticeably smaller, but we chose a smaller one for a reason.
The Icey-Tek mentioned previously is perfect for longer trips, but if you just need something to cover those little day trips or hold you over for a couple hours, the Yeti Roadie is exactly what you need.
Smaller and a little more portable, you can toss this cooler into the backseat of your Subaru Outback or the back of your truck- either or works.
Also built sturdily, the main difference with this particular cooler is the handle which is basically a metal loop fixed to both sides of the cooler complete with a padded section in the middle for hand comfort.
You get the same kind of latches which are easy to open and close, and they won’t bust off after a few uses.
At the time of writing this, you can choose from four awesome colors, and each color looks great and won’t fade over time due to excessive sun exposure.
There are two drain plugs on the sides of the Roadie cooler. One is higher up towards the handle while the other is further down where you would expect it to be for a cooler.
How Big Is It?
The Yeti is big enough to hold a 12 pack and a few picnic items, but despite its size, the extra thick insulation limits you to what you can carry and pack in it so don’t expect to toss a week’s worth of food in here for a large family.It also depends on how you decide to keep your food cool.
Some people like to fill empty milk jugs with water and then freeze and use them, while others dump a bag of ice chips in or use dry ice. The jugs method would take up a lot of space so it’s probably best to just stick with the other two methods if you need to pack more.
Portability wise, the Yeti would be perfect for tossing onto your four-wheeler, a boat, or to some music festivals.
It is heavy when it’s filled though, so maybe consider picking up a separate trolly or little wagon to help you carry it if you need to carry it for several feet.
The Icey-Tek is like a mini refrigerator in many aspects including size and build.
This is not the kind of cooler you want to be taking to those music festivals or lugging along from place to place. Immediately arriving at your camping spot, you want to find a place to keep the cooler and then probably leave it there until you’re done with your trip.
“It’s Heavy” is an understatement and you will need two strong people to carry it from both ends unless you pick up a cart for it or you have superhuman strength.
That said, this is the cooler we would least expect to randomly “walk off” from the campgrounds or the back of a truck, unlike the Yeti. So if you’re worried about theft or just want to make sure your cooler will stay put until you move it- The Icey-Tek is perfect.
Now, that huge size isn’t just for nothing and this is where the Icey cooler really shines:
If you’re going on a hunting trip and need to pack enough meals for the entire party, or just need to keep that elk cool till you can get it home, you could do a lot worse.
Will It Keep My Food/Drinks Cold?
A lot of circumstances come into play here:
Is the ice chest in direct sunlight/high temps?
Will people be opening and closing it every 15 seconds?
Are you starting out with a cool cooler or is it warm before the food/drinks go in? (You want to start with a cooler that’s already cool for best results)
Aside from that, both coolers did an excellent job at maintaining cool and food safe temps but if you need to keep food frozen or food cooler for days instead of hours, the Icey-Tek outperformed the Yeti for those longer periods of time.
How Durable Is It?
Both are durable and never once did we get the impression that either of these coolers couldn’t hold up to some beating and abuse.
The construction and insulation of both the Yeti and Icey-Tek cooler are outdoor approved and can handle most outdoor adventures with minimal scuffs and no damages.
The hinges are tough and won’t snap off while being easy to operate, and the handles for both are equally as strong and won’t break when you least expect it.
Any Quirks I Should Know About?
If we had to gripe about anything for either of these coolers, it would be:
The lack of colors for the Icey-Tek 170 quart cooler while the Yeti comes with four different choices to pick from. It’s not a big deal since most people don’t buy coolers just for colors alone, but we still like to have those options.
The Yeti is expensive for its size and how little it can actually hold- but we think you’re paying more for the brand prestige than the actual functionality so it makes sense in a way.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Icey-Tek is heavier and much larger, but for hunters or outdoor enthusiasts who expect to be gone for days, it’s perfect for them. We just wish there was a way to push/pull it with wheels or something like that. Maybe they’ll consider it as an upgrade in the future?
How To Keep Your Food and Drinks Cool Using A Cooler
Some people complained about how the Yeti can’t seem to keep food cool for hours, but looking at several other reviews from verified buyers, the opinions seemed mixed.
We think it comes down to whether people are starting out with an already warm cooler or a cooler that’s been chilling in the cool garage for some time. You always want to start out with a cooler that’s already cool.
Packing methods could also contribute to the complaints as well.
You don’t want to completely pack any cooler to the top of the lid with food/drinks. You always want to leave some gaps in between food and lid for the ice to spread.
If you use a larger cooler, filling milk jugs with water and then freezing them is often better than ice chips and a lot more safer than “playing” around with dry ice.
If you need a cooler for short day trips or just to kick it outdoors for a couple hours- The Yeti is your best bet.
If you need something that will keep your food/drinks frozen for days and up to a week- go with the Icey-Tek.
Both are durable and the manufacturers really seem to understand the type of people who buy these kinds of coolers and realize if we wanted a flimsy cheap cooler- we’d just settle on what the corner grocery store has to offer.