3 Coolers Similar to a Yeti, But For Less Money

If you're shopping for a high-quality cooler but want to keep the expense to a minimum, this article will fill you in on the 3 best coolers similar to a Yeti cooler, but with lower price tags.

Over the last several years, it seems that Yeti has become the bench mark in measuring all other coolers. Coolers like Yeti have been popping up everywhere. Some good, some not so good! 

The 3 coolers that we chose are comparable to Yeti coolers in every way, except for cost.   

3 Things to Consider When Cooler Shopping

Ice Retention

Any high-performance cooler you come across these days will have considerably better ice retention than a standard "picnic" cooler pulled from the shelf of a big box store. That said, not all coolers are created equal.

Most cooler manufacturers give an approximate number of days their coolers will retain ice. But, measuring ice retention accurately is a bit tricky as there are many outside factors that affect results. So, how exactly do you compare ice retention between different cooler models?

It all comes down to insulation. Basically, the more insulation a cooler has, the longer it will hold ice. The best roto-molded coolers use thick layers of polyurethane foam, generally around 2 inches, which typically gives you anywhere from 5 to 10 days of ice retention.

Lucky for you, the three coolers recommended here each have at least 2 inches of polyurethane foam insulation providing equal or better ice retention than a Yeti cooler.

Cooler Design and Ergonomics

Nearly all coolers have the same basic design: the main compartment, the lid, hinges, latches to hold down the lid, and handles for carrying. But, each cooler brand offers slight variations to the basic cooler design, making them easier or more difficult to use on a regular basis.

Look for a cooler with a lid with high-quality seals that ensure a tight fit and keep the cold in, good latches that close reliably and stay closed, handles that make the cooler easy to pick up and lug around, and a drain system that allows water to exit quickly and completely. Non-slip rubberized feet are also nice to have. So is a built-in bottle opener.

How Much Cooler do You Really Need?

Be honest with yourself: Do you really need a 250-quart cooler that will hold a 350-pound tuna, 110-pound barracuda, 4 cases of beer, and have the ability to keep ice for 14 days? If you run a deep sea charter boat, then yeah, maybe you do.

But, if you do most of your recreating on the weekends, either on the lake or at the beach, you can save a whole lot of money by choosing a reasonably sized cooler, say 35 to 55 quarts.

If you go with one of the following coolers on our list that are similar to a Yeti, but more affordable, you'll have a cooler that will last for years of hard use and is way overpowered (in a good way) for your weekend adventures. Plus, you'll have some money leftover to fill up your gas tank, or even better, fill up your cooler with tasty beverages.

3 Coolers Similar to a Yeti, but Less Expensive

1. Pelican Pro Gear Elite

pelican pro gear elite

Our top pick is the Pelican Pro Gear Elite cooler. You simply won't find a better cooler on the market for the price.

When you look at the specs, the Pelican is not only just as good as the Yeti, it's arguably better.

To start, Pelican has been in business for a long time (over 40 years), making high-grade protective cases for all sorts of expensive gear — high-tech cameras, lighting systems, firearms, computers, etc.

Professionals have been relying on Pelican cases to transport their gear safely all around the world for years. When the company started making coolers, sportsman and outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes rejoiced.

The Facts

  • Made entirely in the USA.

  • Intensely over-engineered to be practically indestructible, just like the rest of Pelican's products.

  • Built with tough polypropylene roto-molded plastic

  • 2.1 inches of polyurethane foam insulation and Pelican states that it will retain ice for up to 10 days.

  • Full stainless steel hardware including the hinges.

  • Lid has a freezer-grade gasket that creates an airtight seal for maximum cold retention.

  • Molded-in tie-down points to secure the cooler to the deck of a boat.

  • Built-in ergonomic carry handles or optional swing handles that make it easier to lift and carry.

  • Certified bear-proof by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee

  • Available sizes: 20qt., 30qt., 45qt., 50qt., 70qt., 80qt., 95qt., 150qt., and 250qt.

2. Engel Deep Blue Cooler

engel deep blue cooler

Another great Yeti-alternative is the Engel Deep Blue Cooler. In many ways, the Engel Deep Blue is more similar to the Yeti in terms of design and performance than the Pelican Elite.

While the Pelican Elite is its own beast altogether, the Engel Deep Blue is more of a Yeti copycat. Not saying that's a bad thing...

If you like a sleeker design, you may find the Engel Deep Blue more appealing than the Pelican Elite. It's also a bit lighter than both the Yeti and the Pelican.

There are two drawbacks to the Engel that you should be aware of. First, while the latches are very easy to use, they aren't as robust as those on the Pelican or Yeti and have been reported to break. Second, the carry handles are made out of nylon ropes with molded rubber handles that aren't as durable as the molded-in handles found on the Pelican Elite.

The Facts

  • Tough roto-molded construction.

  • 2 inches of polyurethane insulation, retains ice for up to 10 days.

  • Freezer-style lid gasket.

  • Stainless steel hardware throughout.

  • Non-skid feet.

  • Molded-in tie-down points.

  • "One-twist" drain plug.

  • Nylon rope handles.

  • Available sizes: 25qt, 35qt, 50qt, 65qt, 80qt, 123qt, 165qt, 240qt, 320qt.

3. Canyon Outfitter Cooler

canyon outfitter cooler

Last but not least, we have the Outfitter by Canyon Coolers.

Canyon is a neat little family-owned company based in Flagstaff, Arizona that proudly makes all their coolers in the USA.

They've only been in the cooler business since 2008, but have earned a solid reputation!

They are well known among professional outfitters (hence the cooler's name) and other outdoor enthusiasts for making high-quality coolers that are rugged, thoughtfully designed, and capable of maintaining ice for 5 to 14 days.

One of the most noticeable differences between the Canyon Outfitter and the other coolers on the list is its squared-off shape. The cooler is intentionally designed this way to be easier and more efficient to pack into an SUV or pickup truck crowded with other gear.

The Canyon Outfitter also has the thickest insulation of the coolers on this list, measuring a full 2.75 inches! That's right, it's thicker than the Yeti.

The Facts

  • Made in the USA

  • 2.75 inches polyurethane insulation — retains ice 5 to 14 days.

  • Roto-molded polyethylene body.

  • Marine-grade latches.

  • Molded-in tie-down latches.

  • Tethered drain plug ensures that you won't lose it!

  • Non-skid rubber feet on white colored models; skid-plates designed to be "truck-friendly" on other colored models.

  • Available sizes: 22qt, 35qt, 55qt, 75qt, 103qt, 125qt, 222qt

Conclusion

Honestly, you won't be disappointed by any of the three coolers in this list. You will, however, save a good chunk of money if you go with one of these coolers. 

And, not only will you save money, you might be getting a higher quality cooler with a Pelican Elite, Engel Deep Blue, or Canyon Outfitter. All three coolers are similar to a Yeti, but don't cost near as much.

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