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If you have ever searched for coolers, there is a good chance that you have come across the two most prominent names in the industry – RTIC and YETI. The two companies have been battling it out ever since RTIC arrived on the scene in 2014.
Generally, YETI is considered the pioneer in premium quality coolers and was founded in 2006. The company quickly made a reputation for itself as the highest quality cooler manufacturer in the U.S. However, the premium quality offered by YETI came at a significant price, and the market demanded an affordable yet high-quality competitor.
This is where RTIC came into the picture. Founded in 2014, RTIC has made quite the name for itself by offering near-identical coolers at almost half the price of YETI products. It is a known fact that RTIC has drawn heavy inspiration from YETI’s catalog of coolers, so much so that YETI filed a lawsuit against RTIC back in 2017.
YETI Coolers: An Overview
Founded in 2006 in Texas by two brothers, YETI is a premium outdoor cooler company that rose to prominence based on its unbeatable quality and customer satisfaction. The company has grown rapidly in the last decade and, while initially a cooler-maker, has since expanded into various other outdoor equipment.
Besides its reputation as the pioneer of premium coolers, YETI is also known for its extensive size offerings. No other cooler manufacturer, including RTIC, comes close to the sheer variety offered by YETI.
The two most popular types of coolers YETI offers are soft-sided coolers and hard-sided coolers. As the name suggests, hard-sided coolers are boxy solid-construction coolers that can withstand harsh conditions and retain ice for a longer period.
On the other hand, soft-sided coolers are an unconventional take on the typical cooler and look more like a shoulder bag. These are great for carrying around and are shoulder-worn. However, the convenience comes at the price of lower ice retention compared to its hard-sided brothers.
RTIC Coolers: An Overview
RTIC is a much newer company that was founded in 2014. Their ethos is based on providing the same high-quality as YETI but at a lower price. RTIC has derived much of its inspiration directly from YETI’s coolers, and its earlier models were practically indistinguishable from YETI.
Similar to YETI, RTIC also makes two types of coolers – hard-sided and soft-sided. The hard-sided coolers are much better at retaining a cold temperature, whereas the soft-sided ones offer greater convenience at the cost of lower ice retention.
RTIC vs YETI Cooler Comparison
Below you will find a comparison of the two most popular RTIC and YETI coolers. Unfortunately, since YETI makes a much greater variety of sizes, RTIC doesn’t have a direct alternative for many of YETI’s coolers.
Hence, the two coolers chosen for the comparison are directly comparable in terms of size and features. YETI’s line of hard-sided coolers goes by the name Roadie and Tundra. Roadie is the smallest cooler they offer, and the subsequent sizes are named Tundra.
RTIC, on the other hand, doesn’t have specific names for its coolers but instead classifies them by their size. For example, RTIC’s answer to YETI’s Roadie is the RTIC 20. 20 denotes the volume of ice the cooler can hold in quartz.
YETI Roadie vs RTIC 20
Roadie is one of the most popular YETI coolers around. Thanks to its small size, the portable cooler is incredibly easy to carry around and holds 20 lbs. of ice. Roadie, same as all hard-sided coolers by both companies, is made from “rotationally molded plastic.” This type of plastic is extremely sturdy and offers excellent thermal properties essential for a high-quality cooler.
- Premium quality RMP construction
- Can retain ice for three days
- 5-year warranty
- Holds 14 cans or 20 lbs. of ice
- Costs more than the competition
- Holds 5 lbs. less ice than the competition
RTIC 20 is RTIC’s direct answer to YETI’s Roadie. However, it offers the same durability and overall quality but holds 5lbs. more than Roadie and costs significantly less. In addition, RTIC 20 uses the same RMP construction and is exceptionally rugged.
- Identical quality to Yeti’s Roadie
- Ice retention for three days
- Can hold 24 cans instead of 14
- Can hold 25 lbs. of ice instead of 20
- Only 1-year warranty
- Empty weight is 19 lbs, 6 lbs heavier than Roadie
Yeti Hopper 20 vs RTIC SoftPak 20
Yeti Hopper 20
You can think of the Hopper 20 as the soft-sided version of the Roadie mentioned above. Hopper is the brand name of YETI’s soft-sided coolers that are much easier to lug around. They can be shoulder-worn like a bag and are made of high-quality and high-density fabric. Moreover, they also feature a DryHide shell covering, which adds to the overall durability.
- Strong high-density fabric construction
- Retains ice for 3 days
- Can hold 18 cans of beverage
- Can hold 20 lbs. of ice
- Costs considerably more than RTIC’s equivalent cooler
- Holds two cans less than the competition
RTIC SoftPak 20
RTIC’s Softpak line of coolers is a direct alternative to YETI’s Hopper coolers. The quality and construction are almost identical. However, there are a few design differences that give them their signature look. The RTIC SoftPak is made from high-quality nylon and offers many of the same features as YETI, i.e., UV resistance, water, and leak-resistant. The important distinction is that RTIC’s SoftPak 20 is more than 50 percent cheaper than YETI.
- Same quality and features at a significantly lower price
- Holds 20 cans of beverages, two more than YETI
- Robust Nylon construction, durable and long-lasting
- Can hold 20 lbs. of ice
- Only 1-year warranty compared to YETI’s 3-year
- Zipper is known to break after repeated use
There is no doubt that both companies make some of the best coolers on the market. They are extremely comparable as RTIC has tried its best to offer a cheaper option for almost all YETI coolers. However, there is no denying that RTIC coolers do cost significantly less than YETI and offer near-identical features and quality.
You cannot go wrong with either company, but if you want to save some bucks, then RTIC is a clear choice. However, an important caveat is that YETI manufactures all of its products in the US, whereas RTIC is known to outsource its manufacturing to China.
If you are someone who takes price in purchasing made-in-America products and wants to support such businesses, then you may want to spend more on YETI. However, if this is not a concern for you, then RTIC will do just fine.