Survival Gear Review: Yeti Coolers

Owning a Yeti cooler  is a rite of passage in the South.  Am I kidding or what?  Nope.  Kids down here ask for Yeti coolers for Christmas doomsday prepper coolerfor heaven’s sake.  The Robinson power family of Duck Commander fame is the poster children of this campaign.  Countless celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon, too, so how can we resist not owning one?  Of course, for us practical minded, cost conscious tightwads, we have to ask the performance questions and if there is really a value in such an expensive piece of gear as prepping equipment.  Let’s look into this whole issue and examine the pros and cons of owning the No.1 name in ice coolers.  Is it really practical and useful for survival situations

Food Containment During a SHTF Event

One of the more perplexing issues to solve during a SHTF Bug Out scenario is the reality of having, using, and relying upon perishable Doomsday Prepper Coolerfood(s), even just one cooler full on the way out the door in route to our remote rural escape hideout.  Think with me that this small amount could be just a stop-gap ration until we get settled in and established at the Bug Out camp.

Don’t backlash me on this one, because I know the easiest way out of this issue is to go dry foods, freeze-dried packs, and maybe canned goods.  But there may be other scenarios when a quick grab cooler or two could be a very feasible option.  Heaven knows we have no idea what the SHTF might be.  Let’s think positive that we planned ahead and the Bug Out cabin, tent or trailer is already pre-stocked with a good food and water supply to last for months.  Maybe the power grid is still up, or it is off or on.  Could be we have a small petrol generator to power a deep freeze for a few hours a day.  It could happen this way.  If not, then our prepping needs to be planned for a much wider and deeper set of situations.

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Desert Tan
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Becoming Yetified

Sure, I know no ice box cooler of any known construction is going to keep something frozen or fresh forever.  Forever is a really long time.  My orientation here is more along the line of thinking about a week at the far end.  Something in a cooler to sustain us until we get onto our dry stock or harvest some local game or fish is not a fruitless idea in my opinion.  I’m not selling this as a long term solution, but just a short one.  However, a really good ice cooler would be useful later for keeping fresh game/fish cooler, especially if the box is placed in a cold stream, or a hole dug into an earthen bank under shade.  You should certainly ponder and plan for multiple options.

Think Possibilities

So, what are we talking about here?  You’re at work when the call comes across national news.  Maybe it’s a weekend and you’re in the Doomsday Prepper Survivalmiddle of painting the house.  Who knows the conditions or how long we have to execute our escape plan or button down for a Bug In.  The essential bags are in the garage packed and ready to go…for the most part.  We’re busy grabbing last minute items, maybe filling a couple more boxes with canned stuff, rice and beans from the pantry. Throw in some extra clothes and make sure the meds are in a bag to go.  Get the AR and mags out of the safe, and put the 1911s in holsters.  Throw in another case of bottled water.

We break out the Yeti and rummage the freezer.  What do we take?  I guess that is a matter of personal tastes, but ground burger comes to mind.  It can be stacked and takes up less space/volume in a cooler.  A big roast does not fit well, etc.  Maybe take some smoked sausage in one-inch tubes? Fill the top with ice, and if smart have a second cooler(s) of some kind to fill to the top with just ice, if practical.  You have to play with these contingencies to see what works.  Is your bug out vehicle big enough for a last minute haul?  Remember this is a short term affair, but how long?

The Hype

If you’re fully involved in prepping now, then you are in the process of acquiring all kinds of stuff, survival gear, packs, med kits, Doomsday Prepper Coolercamping gear, specialty clothing, boots, guns, ammo, optics, blades, shelters, tote bags, boxes, whatever, etc.  Undoubtedly you have bought items that turned out to be junk.  Maybe you were side slapped silly by an advertisement in a related magazine or off the shelf at a reliable outdoors store.

You might as well get used to this as it is the reality of gear being made today.  Be sure to rely on our Survival Cache site for gear reviews.  Shop our store to find items that have been tried and tested.  So, here you are in the big box store looking at a stack of Yeti coolers.  You came in because Jim Shockey said on his hunting show this was the best cooler ever.  If you believed him saying the Yeti company line of “Wildly stronger, keep ice longer” then just maybe you were sucked in.  Despite him being paid big bucks to say so, is this “plastic” box of medium size #45 really worth $350 ?

Just for SC fellowship information here the standard pricing for Yeti coolers is #35 for $300, #45 for $350, #65 for No products found. and #75 for $450.  Other models, sizes and shapes are available along with all kinds of accessories and colors.  I will offer a piece of practical advice I was given about big coolers.  If you fill a #65 Yeti with just ice for example, it will take two people to pick it up to put it in the back of a car, pickup, or boat.  Trust me on this one.

The Proof Stays Frozen

So, studying further on the Yeti cooler in particular, the web site mentions that their cooler “keeps ice for days.”  Hmmm.  There is reallyKeeping food cold during shtf no statement about how many days they had in mind.  Like any cooler, long term ice retention is based on a number of factors as you can well imagine.  Still, the Yeti is supposed to be the (one of) best.  Well, is it?  Well, yes.  It certainly exceeded my expectations.  I’m still testing it during the full summer heat, but in the fall and southern “winters” it will keep anything cold for five or more days.  Keep it in the shade and open it minimal times to stretch it out.  The sealing gasket is the real secret to this product.  Keep the lid locked down and tight.

JC from here in Mississippi is as avid a prepper/survivalist as I know of locally.  His comments about his two Yeti’s were, “My Yeti coolers will keep ice for 7-10 days when the outside temperature runs around 80 degrees.  When it gets hotter, as it does during the summer months up to 98 degrees, the Yeti will keep ice for 5-7 days in my experience with their use.”  This seems a reliable time frame for keeping ice and food for a short term period.

Also on the Yeti web site at is a whole list of tips for maximizing ice retention for the Yeti cooler’s full performance.  Most of it is common sense, but if you buy one, heed this advice.  They mention using dry ice, too, but that is likely out of the picture when it comes to a hasty SHTF exit, but maybe not in some cases.

Honest Downsides? 

It is heavy when loaded.  It is strong, but can be damaged if abused.  Frankly, as you will see when you inspect one say the #45, there is Yeti Cooler Where to buyreally not that much space inside the 2-inch walls of polyurethane construction.  If you buy one, get the Yeti lock up accessory .  Around here a Yeti cooler disappears out of hunter’s trucks as fast as a bag of beef jerky left on the kitchen table at camp.  Like tanning salons or video rental shops, once Yeti exploded on the business scene, many copied products have come out.  Investigate those brands, too.  Cost wise they are all about the same price.  I have yet to ever see Yeti coolers on sale.


So, are you Yetified yet?  Carrying along some perishable food on a SHTF Bug Out may not seem practical and I fully realize there are issues to deal with.  Still, I think it is a viable option to consider.  In the short haul it gives some welcome fresh food alternatives until you fully dig in.  Then the box can be used for other things.  Good place to store ammunition for example or medical supplies.  Never give up on the options.

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Desert Tan
  • -Meet the t-shirt version of a choice cut. It comes in two steak-themed colors: Rare (brick red) or...
  • -Sure to become your new favorite go-to shirt for work, weekends or just kicking back

Last update on 2021-08-01 at 23:33 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Dr. John Woods
Vince Cook

Written by John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of John J.'s articles.