Best Cooler YETI Vs RTIC Vs Pelican

Best Cooler YETI Vs RTIC Vs Pelican

YETI, RTIC, and Pelican all make excellent hard-sided coolers for long-term cold food and drink storage

When you are camping boating or live off the grid, or just traveling the right cooler can make the difference between food that quickly spoils and goes bad in hours or can last safely for days.

When it comes to high-quality coolers,  you may be suffering a bit from sticker shock. A premium cooler is built much better and is more expensive for a reason. Here is why.

A friend and I were both looking at coolers in large sporting goods store when he showed me a cool trick. He took a cheaper cooler we were looking at. From the way it looked, you would think it was built as well as a YETI or RTIC. He then removed the drain plug and shined his flashlight through the hole with the lid closed. From the sides, top and bottom of the cooler, you could see many areas where the light was leaking through. These are all areas where heat would transfer through much more quickly reducing the length of time it keeps your food cold.

We then tried this same trick on a YETI cooler and saw almost no light leaking through at all. This is the main reason YETI and other high-end coolers can keep your food cool much for longer. YETI makes no claims on how long a bag of ice will last before it melts because there are many variables. Some users have made claims of 3 to 5 days and other said their (insert name here) brand cooler lasted longer. 

Unfortunately, this same store did not sell RTIC coolers. It would have been nice to try this same trick on their coolers as well.

Recently RTIC has been in the news because they were sued by YETI and had to redesign some of their coolers. As of the first of June, their new line of soft-sided and hard sided coolers have been released. 

YETI Hard Sided Coolers

YETI vs Pelican Coolers

YETI CoolersYETI is a company that made a big splash in the cooler market and has become quite popular over the last few years. They make very high-quality coolers that are both tough and built to really high standards. They sell a wide range of coolers from mugs and in one of the widest range of sizes.  They carry both soft and hard sided coolers from small, to all the way up to their largest flagship cooler the Tundra 350.

The YETI Tundra 350 is their largest model, it weighs 89 lbs and requires two people to carry it. Dimensions are 23 1/4" high, 63 1/2" long and 24 3/4" wide.

YETI builds their hard sided coolers with tough Rotomold Construction that is even bear resistant. (Watch the video below.) This is the kind of cooler you can have in your boat and can serve as an extra seat, or feel stand on it without damaging it a bit. It is really that strong.

The T-Rex Lid Latches are built from strong rubber with patented keeper tech so there is nothing to break.  Overall YETI makes one of the nicest coolers on the market. But they are also one of the most expensive coolers you can buy. Something to think about in case you want to leave a cooler unattended on your boat or at the campsite. 

You won't find a nicer cooler than a YETI. They also have one of the best warranties in the industry and will take care of you for 7-years should your cooler ever need service.

Shop All YETI Coolers

RTIC Hard Sided Coolers

Coolers made by RTIC are also built very well.  In fact, RTIC's motto is "Overbuilt not over priced." There is no doubt you can buy an RTIC cooler for much less than a comparable YETI cooler.


RTIC hard sided coolers come in many sizes. From their smallest RTIC 20 hard-sided cooler to their largest flagship model the Rtic 65 which is still nowhere near as large as the YETI Tundra 350. For some reason, RTIC chooses not to make very large coolers.

Their coolers are also available in the same colors as YETI. Artic White, Ocean Blue, and Mojave Tan.

Constructions wise they look almost identical to YETI except for the logo. Latches are the same heavy duty rubber T-Latches. They also use virtually indestructible Rotomolded construction for their hard sided coolers.

RTIC hard sided coolers come with 3" of insulation inside their walls and they claim ice will last up to 10-days before fully melting. 

The prices of Rtic coolers cost much less than YETI.  Unfortunately, RTIC has decided to only warranty their coolers for only 30 days which is not very long for a company that charges as much as they do for coolers.

For the length of warranty and the wide ranges of sizes in hard-sided coolers, the balance tips in YETI and Pelican Elite Coolers favor. Yet RTIC wins by a large margin on their more affordable prices for a top quality cooler.

For a small portable cooler, the RTIC 20 Soft Pack which costs under a hundred is a great deal. It holds ice for 5-days and is super handy for traveling. It is designed to hold 20 soda cans or whatever else you want to add for a day at the beach or other outings. Durable, well-designed constructions will keep your food and beverages icy cold.

Pelican Elite Hard Sided Coolers

Pelican is well known for their durable line of hard cases that protect cameras, and other expensive equipment in the harshest conditions.

They also build a very tough and durable line of hard sided coolers that will equally protect your food and beverages. 

One thing you will notice that is different right away is the built in cup holders which are molded into the lids of their coolers. This could be handy on a boat to keep your drinks from spilling.

They also claim their coolers with a 360-degree freezer grade seal will keep ice retention for up to 10-days. Unlike the rubber T-Latches used on Rtic and YETI, Pelican uses 3-inch locking latches to secure the lids on their coolers.

Some other novel features include a measuring board both in inches and centimeters molded right into the lid, tie downs and an integrated stainless steel can opener.

They offer a lifetime warranty that says "You break it, we replace it."

Pelican Elite hard sided coolers also come in wide range of color combinations and these include. White, Tan, Brown/Tan, Green/Tan, Gray/Green, Gray/White, Seafoam, Tan/Orange/ White/Gray.


Overall Pelican makes a very nice hard sided solid cooler, but we like the clean smooth style of the YETI and Rtic better. For ease of exterior cleaning, they both have the Pelican Elite beat.

Durability wise and for ice retention, all three hard-sided coolers are very similar with the nod going to Pelican for a long history of making durable products. Their reputation for standing behind their products is unmatched. Prices are in line with the other two and falling somewhere in between RTIC and YETI.

Shop All Pelican Coolers

Cooler Accessories

Keeping your food and drink is really the cooler's most important job. While buying a bag of ice in your cooler is a great way to achieve this especially if out on the road a lot it can get expensive real fast.

YETI Ice Blocks are an amazing accessory for your cooler and they can help keep your food cold for a long time. Their custom shape reduces the freezing time and they come in a wide range of different sizes so they fit all coolers from the largest to the smallest. 

Bottom Line

You really can't go wrong with any of these coolers. YETI, Pelican, and RTIC all make extremely durable coolers that are far above the other cheap discount brands you will find. This is one of those examples where you really get what you pay for. When you buy a cooler from one of these companies, you will have a cooler that is built to last a lifetime. 


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