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Best Cooler For Fishing: Yeti vs Grizzly

So what's really the best cooler for fishing? Whether you're bassin' a local lake, fly fishing a Western river, or running offshore for tuna and marlin, you need a high-quality cooler to keep your drinks cold and your catch fresh.

These days, dozens of brands make durable, rotomolded coolers, but when it comes to performance, Yeti and Grizzly are leading the pack. In this article, we take a closer look at each to help you decide where to invest your money to get the absolute best cooler for your needs.

A Closer Look at Yeti Coolers

Yeti has become a household name, but is it the best cooler for fishing?

Yeti started the rotomolded cooler boom and remain the standard by which all other coolers are judged. But does that mean a Yeti is the best cooler for fishing?

The Yeti Lineup

Yeti makes three different styles of coolers: the Tundra, the Hopper, and the Tank.

The Yeti Tundra is their flagship model and is what comes to mind when you hear the word "Yeti."

The Tundra is available in a huge range of sizes from the Tundra Roadie which holds 14 cans of beer plus ice to the massive Tundra 350 which holds a whopping 222 cans of beer plus ice (or several offshore fish.) The Yeti 45 is a very popular size for fishing and fits well on most boats.

The Yeti Hopper is their soft-sided zippered cooler that's perfect for schlepping along during a day spent stream side, and also makes a great cooler for kayak fishing.

Then there's the Yeti Tank which is a big round tub-like cooler that begs to be loaded up with cheap beer and hoisted aboard a party barge.

For the sake of comparison, we'll focus on the Yeti Tundra 45 as it represents the brand well and is a popular model for fishing.

Let's Look at the Yeti’s Specs

Capacity. The Yeti Tundra 45 has a 37-quart capacity — enough room to hold 26 12-ounce cans plus a 35-pound bag of ice. This may seem a bit misleading given the "45" in the cooler's name. Unlike other cooler companies, Yeti's cooler names are simply model numbers and don't match their actual capacities.

Insulation. All of the Yeti Tundra coolers feature three inches of pressure-injected polyurethane foam, dubbed "Permafrost Insulation" by Yeti. Generally, the Yeti Tundra 45 holds ice for around 5 days, but depending on outside variables can hold ice for much longer (as much as two weeks!). The cooler features a freezer-style rubber gasket that seals the cooler for maximum cold retention.

Empty weight. Despite its beefy build, the Yeti Tundra 45 weighs only 23 pounds when empty.

Durability. The Yeti Tundra 45 is certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) to be bear proof. That's pretty dang durable.

Fishing and Boat Friendly Features:

  • Non-slip feet. Keeps the cooler from sliding around the boat or the bed of your truck.

  • Molded tie down slots. These allow you to easily tie the cooler down to your boat, kayak, or truck bed.

Where's it made? Yeti coolers are made primarily in the USA, but some are made in the Philippines.

Warranty. All Yeti coolers are sold with a 5-year limited warranty. The warranty applies to the original owner and covers defects in materials and workmanship as well as damage caused by shipping.

Price. The Tundra 45 comes in at $349.

A Closer Look at Grizzly Coolers

Grizzly Coolers are often advertised as a more affordable alternative to top rotomolded cooler brands like Yeti, Pelican, and Engel. While it's true that Grizzly Coolers are less expensive than the competition, that's not to say that they are cheaply made or any less durable.

The Grizzly Line Up

At the moment, Grizzly only offers one style of cooler but in several different sizes. On the small end of the spectrum, the Grizzly 15 has a 16-quart capacity, and on the large end, the Grizzly 400 has a massive 400-quart capacity.

Grizzly coolers are geared toward sportsmen, are proudly made in the USA, and according to their slogan are "built for a lifetime."

Let's Look at the Grizzly’s Specs

Capacity. The Grizzly 40 has a true capacity of 40 quarts.

Insulation. Environmentally friendly pressure-injected insulation.

Empty weight. 24 pounds.

Durability. As the name would imply, the Grizzly is fully bear proof, and like the Yeti is certified by the IGBC.

Fishing and Boat Friendly Features:

  • Non-skid rubber feet to keep it from sliding around the boat deck.

  • Ergonomically shaped carry handles for easy transport to and from the truck to the boat.

  • Fish-measuring ruler on the cooler's lid.

Where's it made? All Grizzly Coolers are made in the United States.

Warranty. Grizzly Coolers are sold with a lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship. The warranty applies only to the original owner.

Price. The Grizzly 40 has a retail price of $339 but can be found online for around $305.

How Do Yeti and Grizzly Coolers Compare?

Both the Yeti and the Grizzly are very well made, durable coolers that will make any fishing trip more enjoyable. They both look similar, and have many of the same features, but there are a few subtle differences that makes one the best cooler for fishing and the other a close second.

Durability

Both coolers are incredibly durable thanks to their rotomolded construction. They are also both certified bear proof by the IGBC. Both coolers have robust hinges, sturdy latches, and nice non-slip feet.

Latches

One difference between the Yeti and the Grizzly is latch design. The Yeti has stout rubber latches on the lid that pull down and wedge into a molded-in groove on the front of the cooler. This design is very easy to use and stays closed well.

The Grizzly's latches are also made of stout rubber but have open centers that hook around molded knobs on the front of the cooler. In many ways, the Grizzly's latch system seems to make more sense in terms of security but produces a similar secure closure to the Yeti.

Ice Retention

Ice retention is one of the main metrics used to compare coolers. However, cooler companies are hesitant to give concrete statements and ratings about how long a cooler will hold ice because there are so many outside factors that affect the outcome.

That said, here are some insights on Yeti vs Grizzly in terms of insulation and ice retention.

The Grizzly has slightly thinner walls than the Yeti which equates to less insulation. Many users report that in side-by-side tests, the Grizzly retains ice for much less time than the Yeti. If you only take day trips and occasional weekend trips, the Grizzly will keep your items plenty cold.

But, if you have lots of long road trips or extended offshore trips, the Yeti's extra insulation will provide better ice retention over a longer period of time.

Handles

The Grizzly wins in the handle department. While the Yeti has simple nylon rope handles with plastic covers, the Grizzly has ergonomically designed handles that are contoured to fit your hand and are coated in rubber to improve grip in wet conditions. The ropes themselves are covered in canvas sheaths that add a bit more protection to the ropes and gives the cooler a cleaner look.

Other Comparisons

The Grizzly is available in six different colors including white, tan, red, sandstone, OD green with a tan lid, and seafoam green. The Yeti only comes in three colors: white, tan, and ice blue.

The Yeti is slightly more boat friendly thanks to molded-in anchor points that can be used to lash the cooler to the deck. The Grizzly can be tied down using the handles as anchor points, but this won't provide as secure of a tie-down point.

Which Should You Choose?

Both the Yeti and Grizzly make great coolers for fishing and are lightyears ahead of the old Igloo and Coleman coolers of years past. But, no matter which you choose, you're looking at a significant investment.

So, if you want to save some money, go with the Grizzly. It's a solid rotomolded cooler that will give you years of use. The only downside with the Grizzly is that it has slightly less insulation and won't hold ice as long as the Yeti.

If you aren't worried about spending the extra fifty bucks or so, get the Yeti. Yeti started the high-performance cooler wave and they've earned their spot as the best fishing cooler. With the Yeti, you're getting the industry standard cooler that will keep ice frozen, beverages cold, and your food safe for days on end. You simply can't lose with a Yeti.

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