I live on a lake. We’ve got a nice little dock that’s just about the nicest place on earth to sit on a sunny afternoon. The lake, for a few hot months in the summer, is just warm enough to be comfortable and just cold enough to be refreshing. It’s full of fish and far enough away from bigger towns that it’s basically empty for most of the year. I sit on that dock as much as humanly possible, sometimes spending the whole day there, from morning coffee to midnight drinks, so I need a good cooler. Like, a really good cooler. I’ve tried them all, I think — Igloo, Coleman, Rubbermaid, etcetera — but up until now, I hadn’t found one that keeps ice for more than say, two days. Two days maximum. Enter the Yeti Roadie 24. Yeti recently sent me one, and I decided I’d put it up against a few other big-name cooler brands and see how it fared. Spoiler alert: It fared well.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t regularly need a cooler that you could fit a dead body in. And yet, for a long time, the only sizes decent coolers came in seemed to be coffin-sized and built for someone who is going to put a 200-pound tuna or a skinned-out deer in one. The smaller ones, built for day trips or weekends, only keep things cold if you don’t open them, like, ever. Ice retention on most of the lower-end coolers, put simply, sucks. For the sake of not trashing any other brands, I’ll refrain from naming them, but the two I tested the Yeti Roadie 24 against rhyme with Big Shoe and Blubber Trade, and while not exactly the same size as the Yeti, were relatively close.
It was a simple test. I filled them all with ice and left them outside on the dock for three days. At the end of the three days, which I decided would be a good number since it’s basically a long weekend, I would check the ice. If there was still ice in any of them, I’d shut them up again and check in two more days. Now, in order to make sure these coolers were tested properly, I did what you’re supposed to do: I stuck them all in the deep freeze for ten minutes so they were sufficiently cold, filled them all with a similar amount of ice — a little over 20 pounds each — and shut them up. Coolers, as I’ve learned, are supposed to be cold before the ice goes in and you’re definitely not supposed to leave them open for any length of time. Get in, grab your drink, and close it up again as fast as you can. Like Yeti says, “air is the enemy.”
On the evening of the third day, I checked my coolers. Blubber Trade was the most disappointing. A few sad pieces of ice floated around in almost-tepid water, despite the fact that I hadn’t opened it once, and for most of the days, the coolers were in a shady area. Big Shoe was a little better, but not by much. About half of the original ice remained. The Yeti 24, however, looked almost exactly as it looked when I first loaded the ice in. A gust of cold air hit me when I opened it, similar to when you open the fridge on a warm day. I decided that I’d shut it back up (quickly, of course) and check it again in a few days. Two days later, a full five days after I began my little experiment, I checked again. To my amazement, there was still plenty of ice left. Some had started to melt and there was a bit of water at the bottom, but all in all, I’ll bet it had another week left before it was just a cooler full of water.
So why does it work so well? Yeti, although higher on the price scale than most coolers, uses rotomolded technology. There are plenty of rotomolded coolers on the market already, and it’s for good reason. They work better than conventional coolers because there aren’t any seams in the body of the cooler. In the rotational molding process, liquid plastic is poured over insulation. The only seam is the one on the lid, and Yeti uses a thick piece of rubber that sits in a groove to solve that issue.
Much like the cooler itself, the handle is designed not to break. This little cooler is bulletproof (not literally, obviously) and while it might scratch if you throw it off something high, it’s not likely to break. I launch it into the back of my pickup regularly, and so far, it’s held up to all sorts of abuse. Add that to the fact that the Roadie 24 is tall enough for a bottle of wine or a two-liter (13-inches on the interior, for the detail-minded), and, if you’re using a 2:1 ice to can ratio —which is recommended — can hold 18 cans, and you’ve got a cooler that is just about perfect for a quick getaway to a secluded beach or a weekend on the dock.
Now, since this review has been nothing but glowing so far, I will add a few things that I think might help on the next iteration. Gimme some wheels and a retractable handle. The Roadie 24 is just the right size to bash your knee if you’re carrying it any real distance, and when it’s loaded with cans and ice, that isn’t exactly comfortable. Although the Yeti Roadie 24 weighs about 13 pounds unpacked, if you’ve got a case of beer and it’s half full of ice, you’re bashing your knee with say, 26 pounds.
Certainly, though, if you’re looking for a cooler that’ll keep your drinks cold for a week and don’t want to lug around a coffin, Yeti’s Roadie 24 might just be what you’re looking for.