Exploring High-End Coolers for Summer

YETI coolers used to be the leaders among high-end coolers, but now RTIC coolers are popping onto the scene for half the price.
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luxury coolers, rtic coolers, yeti coolers

When it comes to high-end coolers, there are plenty of options out there with all sorts of accessories to choose from. Coolers with speakers or even TVs attached are easily available these days, but ultimately, most advertised accessories and features aren't all that useful for the serious outdoor enthusiast or sportsman. Luckily, there are some coolers that are just coolers -- and really good ones at that.

While the luxury cooler market really took off in 2006, when YETI started selling roto-molded coolers for hundreds of dollars apiece, competitors today, like RTIC, have come out with products that may overshadow the traditional YETI.

Why High-End Coolers?

Brands like YETI, RTIC, ORCA, Canyon, Grizzly, Esky by Coleman, K2 and others, offer plenty of features beneath their typically plain exteriors that you won't find in your typical $30 cooler.

white YETI cooler Most high-end coolers today are roto-molded, which is a way of creating plastic products that are tough and durable. Liquid plastic or plastic pellets are put into a mold and rotated until the mold has been completely covered with the plastic. After cooling, the molded product is very strong due to the even layers of plastic and the lack of seams. After molding, luxury coolers are usually injected with foam insulation to help keep in the cold. The quality of this insulation is so good that most of these coolers can keep ice cold for up to 10 days.

High-end coolers typically feature a sweat-proof design, skid resistance and even protection from bears. Some luxury coolers are even rated by international bear-safety committees for those long journeys into the wild.

None of these are features you get from your normal cooler, and bear-resistant canisters aren’t very large (and don’t have cooler functions). Unlike other retail coolers, luxury coolers are tailor made from heavy duty materials for the outdoors lifestyle, making them nearly indestructible.

What to Pay

Luxury coolers come with luxury price tags, but you do have more options today than you did 10 years ago. Whereas normal coolers can retail for around $30, the YETI cooler retails for between $299.99 for the 35 series to $1,299.99 for the more than 5-foot long 350 series (which can hold 222 cans of beer!). While YETI doesn’t list the number of fish or the max weight of game meat the 350 series can hold, you can certainly fit a lot of stuff into 19,000 cubic inches (or 82.4 gallons) of space.

On the other hand, RTIC cooler models offer a slightly larger interior capacity over the comparable YETI Models. For example, the RTIC 65 model has a 65-quart capacity, but the YETI Tundra 65 only has a 57.2-quart capacity. Additionally, the price tag is much smaller, with the RTIC 65 model retailing for just $199.99 versus $399.99 for the comparable YETI model. So basically, while YETI may be the most well-known, it's not necessarily the best deal.

With that said, there is a bit of a catch when it comes to RTIC coolers. The company was, initially, overwhelmed with orders. Wait times for cooler shipments were long, and stock was low. But, as of 2015, people have started getting their orders more quickly. Many Slickdealers have been happy with the RTIC products they received, even though there were long shipment times in the beginning. For others, the long wait times were a deal breaker, so be sure to check expected shipping times before ordering if you're in a rush to get out in the wilderness.


coolers comparison

When and Where to Buy

Summer and early fall are when people usually use their coolers the most, (though these rugged coolers can keep your hot foods warm, too), but you will typically find the best deals toward the end of the season, when retailers need to make room for the next season’s must-haves. Additionally, certain holidays, specifically Father’s Day and Christmas, often bring discounts on luxury coolers. For example, this deal from Walmart on the Ozark Trail 73-quart cooler was available in May for $194. It's a YETI-esque cooler, but much cheaper.

Your options on where to buy a quality cooler are, sadly, quite limited. While YETI coolers are more widely available from places like Amazon, REI or Dick's Sporting Goods, retailers for other brand name luxury coolers are few and far between. In some cases, they are only procurable from the company itself. If that's the case for the cooler you're interested in, consider signing up for the company mailing list or following them on social media, as you may be rewarded with exclusive discounts from time to time.

Bottom Line

Investing in a high-end luxury cooler is well worth the cost for those who will utilize it often. Whether for backyard barbecues, returning from a successful hunt, or setting off on a weeklong camping trip in the forest, these coolers will stand up to nearly anything. While they may seem a bit pricy, what you’ll get in return is a long-lasting, durable, high-quality cooler, which is an invaluable asset.

If you're deterred by the high price tags on high-end coolers, you can always stick to the cheaper versions. Since April of this year, we've seen plenty of great deals for coolers. A 48-quart Igloo cooler was on sale for $16 at Walmart, and a week later they had a 50-quart Coleman Xtreme cooler for $30. Cabelas had a 62-quart version of the Xtreme cooler in April for $39, so the cheaper ones are definitely on sale more often than the luxury kind.

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Whichever cooler catches your eye, don’t forget to set up a Deal Alert so you can be automatically emailed about the latest luxury cooler deals. Let us know below if you have any tips or additional tidbits to share with the Slickdeals community!

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Images courtesy of YETI, RTIC.

Any product or service prices/offers that appear in this article are accurate at time of publish, and are subject to change without notice. Please verify the actual selling price and offer details on the merchant’s site before making a purchase.

About the Author
Deanna Isaacs Contributor

Deanna Isaacs is a savings seeker, a classically-trained journalist, prolific gamer and automotive enthusiast. She used to play pong on her greenscreen KayPro computer with fold-down keyboard and 5-inch screen, now she plays PS4 in the rear-seat infotainment systems of vehicles. You can follow Deanna's motoring adventures at TheAutoReporter.com, but stay tuned to Slickdeals for the real-world looting tips.

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