RTIC Cooler Review – Smart Money Saver Or A Poor Man’s Yeti?

Not so many years ago, buying an ice box was simple. One cooler was much like another and it wasn’t a purchase that required much thought. That changed in 2006 when Yeti created the premium cooler niche with boxes that could retain ice upwards of 10 days.

Other companies soon began producing premium coolers – with premium price tags to match. Then RTIC appeared on the scene in 2015 and changed the game by offering premium coolers at sub-premium prices.

So what’s the deal? Are RTIC coolers too good to be true or are they really what they appear to be, namely a high-performance premium cooler at a fraction of the price of their competitors? In this RTIC cooler review, I will give you the information you need to help you decide.

Roto-Molded

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 20 White)
RTIC Cooler (RTIC 45 White)
RTIC Cooler (RTIC 65 White)

RTIC 20

RTIC 45

RTIC 65


Soft Pack

RTIC 20 Soft Pack
RTIC 30 Soft Pack
RTIC 40 Soft Pack

RTIC 20 Soft Pack

RTIC 30 Soft Pack

RTIC 40 Soft Pack

Things To Decide Before Buying An RTIC Cooler

Picnic Cooler Box With Bottles Of Beer And Ice On Grass

First of all, why would you need a premium cooler in the first place? A cooler is an essential item for anyone who wants to keep food or drinks cold when they are away from home, but why would you need to pay the extra money for a premium model?

The recommended temperature for storing perishable foods is 40°F and the recommended temperature for beer is…cold! Depending on what activities you enjoy, you might require a cooler for camping, hunting or fishing trips or other activities when you won’t have access to a refrigerator.

If your trips usually last only a day or two, a cheaper, traditional cooler would probably be quite sufficient – however if you are looking for a solution for keeping your food and drinks cold for up to a week and more, you might consider spending your money on a premium cooler.

Another feature of premium coolers, including RTIC coolers, is that they are rugged and heavy-duty. If you require a cooler that is able to withstand a lot of punishment and rough treatment, then you also might consider investing in a premium cooler like an RTIC cooler.

This means RTIC coolers are suitable for anyone who needs to keep food and drink cold on extended trips with no access to a refrigerator and who requires a tough ice box that can take a certain amount of punishment but is not willing to meet the high price tag of other top-end coolers.

Santa Claus Relaxing On The Beach Resting His Feet On His Camping Cooler

If you only need an ice box for shorter, casual trips you might not need to spend this much money on a premium cooler as there are cheaper models that would be adequate for your needs.

It is worth noting that the warranty period for RTIC coolers is shorter than other comparable brands. RTIC offers a 30-day warranty period whereas Yeti, for example, offer five years. If this is important to you, you might consider choosing a different brand.

Things to consider before buying an RTIC cooler:

What Makes RTIC Different From The Others?

RTIC Coolers 20 - 45 - 65 White

Via Rticcoolers.com

What are the outstanding features of RTIC coolers? What makes them stand out from the crowd and how do they compare with other premium coolers currently available?

The RTIC company exists because the creators of the company saw that there was a market for premium coolers but they thought they could produce top-end ice boxes at a much lower price point than the competition.

  • RTIC coolers are rotomolded, a manufacturing technique which ensures they are better insulated than traditional coolers and capable of retaining ice for up to 10 days
  • They are rugged, ensuring they can stand up to rough treatment. This means that even if they are buffeted around on a fishing boat or are subject to frequent hauling on and off the back of a pickup, they will still last a long time.
  • They are bear proof. Even if an inquisitive bear finds your camp, he still won’t be able to help himself to your supplies
  • They drain quickly and easily, a very important feature. As the ice melts over time, you will periodically need to pour off the water that collects in the bottom. The drainage system helps with this.
  • They are closed with heavy-duty rubber T-latches. This ensures that they are easy to open or close but when shut, are firmly secured.
  • They are cheaper than their competitors. RTIC is a direct-to-customer company. This allows them to cut down on overheads and pass the savings onto their customers.

Pros

  • Can retain ice for up to ten days
  • Are rugged and resistant to damage
  • Bear proof
  • Easy to drain
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Warranty much shorter than competitors (30 days vs. five years with Yeti)
  • RTIC customer service is sometimes not of the same standard as competitors
  • Newcomer to the premium cooler market, do not have history or experience of competitors

Features And Benefits

Let’s have a closer look at the features of RTIC coolers to see what makes these iceboxes stand out from the crowd and help you decide if they might be the right cooler for you. I will be focusing on RTIC’s hard shell coolers but will also mention the soft coolers the company produces.

1. Rotomolded

The innovation that ushered in the era of premium coolers was rotomolding. This technique allows for the creation of seamless plastic shells which is more efficient for insulation. This is one of the features that allows premium coolers to retain ice for extended periods.

Rotomolding also allows the placements for the handles to be cast into the body which increases durability.


2. Pressure-injected Foam

Pressure-injected Foam Insulation

Pressure-injected Foam Insulation - Via Shedheads.net

The second feature which allows for such efficient insulation is pressure-injected foam. Once the plastic shell has been molded, it is injected with commercial-grade polyurethane foam insulation. This means that heat from outside cannot pass and what is inside stays cold.

Another benefit of injecting foam is that once it sets, its density adds strength to the structure of the cooler, further increasing its durability.


3. Freezer-grade Gasket

RTIC Freezer Grade Gasket

Via Rticcoolers.com

A rotomolded, foam-injected cooler would still leak heat if the gasket was not up to standard. The gaskets on RTIC coolers completely seal the lid keeping the cold in and the heat out. This is an important design feature.


4. 10-day Ice Retention

As previously mentioned, the main reason why anyone would want to buy a premium cooler is the extended period these coolers are able to retain ice. As with many of the best-performing competitors, RTIC claims their hard-shelled coolers can retain ice for up to ten days.

This is a result of a combination of the rotomolding technique, the foam-injected walls and the freezer grade gasket. If you require long-term cold storage of this kind of duration, you will need to invest in this kind of hard-shelled premium cooler.

It is important to realize that when manufacturers claim that a cooler can retain ice for a certain amount of time, that time is measured under optimum conditions. It is unlikely any cooler will be able to retain ice for quite that long in real-life conditions and ten days is a little ambitious.


5. Bear Proof

A Bear In Alaska Laying Down For A Rest

If you are camping, hunting or fishing in bear country, it is vital that a cooler should be resistant to bears. With the strong rotomolded walls, once locked shut, it is virtually impossible for any hungry bear to get at your provisions.


6. Locking System

RTIC Locking System

Via Rticcoolers.com

To increase the protection against curious bears or even humans, RTIC boxes can easily be secured with a long shank padlock providing an extra layer of security and keeping your provisions safe.


7. T-latches

The rugged T-latches on RTIC coolers are made from heavy-duty silicon and are a particularly intelligent design feature. The latches on some coolers are hard to operate or don’t close the cooler securely enough. RTIC T-latches solve this problem.

They are big enough and easy to get hold of, even with cold hands or if you are wearing gloves and when they click into place, they keep the cooler shut securely. This is something I really appreciate as I hate messing about with badly designed latches trying to open or close a cooler.

RTIC Heavy Duty T-Latches

Via Rticcoolers.com


8. Drainage

RTIC Rapid V-Drain System

V-shape Drainage System
Via Rticcoolers.com

As anyone who has used a cooler will know, as the ice gradually melts, water collects in the bottom of the cooler and needs to be drained from time to time. This means that the drainage system is an important feature of any cooler.

RTIC coolers use a recessed V-shape drainage system which collects the last drops of water and allows you to eject it all. I think this is a pretty smart design and they also drain quite quickly which is important when you have lots of melt water to drain off.


9. Rope Handles

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 45 White)

RTIC 45 White - Via Amazon.com

A fully loaded ice box can be extremely heavy, especially if you opt for one of the larger models. This means that if you are likely to need to carry your cooler around a lot, portability is a prime concern. RTIC’s two largest coolers feature both rope handles and molded handles for increased portability.

I think the double-handled design is a clever idea – the molded handles are useful when lifting in and out of vehicles while the rope handles help when you are carrying the box with someone else. However, I do find the rope handles a little uncomfortable when carrying a fully loaded box.


10. Feet

RTIC Cooler Non-Slip Feet

Via Rticcoolers.com

The feet of RTIC coolers have a double purpose. First, they are made of non-slip material which means the cooler won’t slide around for example on a boat or table top. The feet also lift the body of the box slightly and so avoid contact with warm surfaces that could increase the heat inside.


11. Molded Tie-down Slots

RTIC Molded Tie Down Slots

Via Rticcoolers.com

I think this is a particularly well-conceived design feature and not one you find on all other brands of cooler. Either side of the cooler features molded slots you can use to attach the cooler to whatever it is you are transporting it on.

This means if it is on the back of a pickup or on a boat, you can easily secure it to stop it slipping around. This will stop it sliding around during the journey and can stop it being thrown about on rough seas. This is particularly important in these conditions when safety can be an issue.


12. No Sweat Exterior

This is perhaps not the most important feature but it is very welcome nonetheless. As the internal and external temperatures are different, condensation may cause coolers to “sweat”. RTIC coolers, however, have “no sweat” exteriors which eliminates this problem.

As I said, this is not an essential feature but I like it all the same. It can be something of an annoyance when you get your clothes or hands wet on a “sweating” cooler and with RTIC coolers, you don’t need to worry about this.


13. Different Sizes

RTIC 20 White

RTIC 20

RTIC 45 White

RTIC 45

RTIC 65 White

RTIC 65

Via Rticcoolers.com

While everyone needs to keep their food and drink cold on trips, not everyone has the same requirements and RTIC produce a range of coolers which means you should be able to find a suitable ice box, whatever your needs.

RTIC’s rotomolded coolers are available in three sizes, 20 quarts, 45 quarts and 65 quarts. This means if you need long-term cold storage in a relatively mobile format or if you require maximum storage for longer trips, there is a cooler available for you.

The smallest size is easy for one person to carry alone. The medium one can also be carried by one person but is better for two. The largest one would be a struggle for one person alone, especially if it was fully loaded.

RTIC 20

The smallest one is designed as a personal cooler and would be ideal for one person on a job site, for short family trips or for solo camping trips. The size is just right for putting in the back of a car.

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 20 Tan)

RTIC 20 Tan - Via Amazon.com

RTIC 45

The medium size would be perfect for camping, hunting or fishing trips, especially with a few people together. It would be suitable for transporting on the back of a pickup but could also fit into the trunk of a car.

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 45 Tan)

RTIC 45 Tan - Via Amazon.com

RTIC 65

The largest size is the one for larger groups or people who need a cooler for longer term camping or hunting trips or perhaps something like offshore fishing where you need to take your supplies for multiple-day stays on a boat at sea. This is best for transporting on a pickup.

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 65 Tan)

RTIC 65 Tan - Via Amazon.com


14. SoftPak Coolers

As well as making premium rotomolded coolers, RTIC also have a range of soft coolers, known as SoftPak coolers. Soft coolers are lighter and more portable and so are more suitable for people who need to be more mobile.

However, soft coolers do not offer the same levels of insulation as a hard cooler and will not retain ice for anywhere near as long. These coolers are suitable for people who need a cooler that will last for a couple of days but not for people hoping to retain ice for a week or more.

RTIC SoftPak Lunch Box

SoftPak Lunch Box

RTIC SoftPak 20

SoftPak 20

RTIC SoftPak 30

SoftPak 30

RTIC SoftPak 40

SoftPak 40

SoftPak coolers are also available in lunchbox, 20-can, 30-can and 40-can sizes so you can choose the one best suited to your needs.


15. Colors

RTIC Cooler Arctic White

Arctic White

RTIC Cooler Mojave Tan

Mojave Tan

RTIC Cooler Ocean Blue

Ocean Blue

RTIC SoftPak Gray

SoftPak Gray

Camo RTIC SoftPak

SoftPak Camo

RTIC’s rotomolded coolers are available in three different colors, known as “Arctic White”, “Mojave Tan” and “Ocean Blue” and SoftPak coolers are available in gray and camo versions – so whichever you go for, you will be able to choose the right style for you.

It is worth noting that RTIC recently lost a legal case against Yeti who claimed that RTIC coolers had copied their design. RTIC has agreed to redesign the offending coolers and the new versions will be launched in time for the summer. It is possible the new designs will differ considerably.

Reviews Of RTIC Coolers

Roto-Molded

RTIC Cooler (RTIC 20 White)
RTIC Cooler (RTIC 45 White)
RTIC Cooler (RTIC 65 White)

RTIC 20

RTIC 45

RTIC 65


Soft Pack

RTIC 20 Soft Pack
RTIC 30 Soft Pack
RTIC 40 Soft Pack

RTIC 20 Soft Pack

RTIC 30 Soft Pack

RTIC 40 Soft Pack

Aside from my own experience of these coolers, I’ve also scoured the internet to see what other people think of RTIC coolers and whether they consider that they really are as good as their higher-priced models produced by their competitors.

It seems to me that the vast majority of people who have purchased an RTIC cooler are happy with the product. A recurring theme in the many reviews I’ve come across state that people are pleased with the exceptional value of the product compared to the other premium coolers available.

Most people seem to be saying that the cooler performs as well as could be expected at a cheaper price point. However, I did come across several comments claiming that RTIC coolers are not able to get anywhere near their stated 10-day ice retention claim and the ice needs regular replacement.

Here are also two positive reviews from YouTube:

Alternatives​

So what are the alternatives to RTIC coolers? This depends on what it is about the RTIC that attracts you, the premium cooler performance or the low price. If you are in the market for a premium cooler, you will probably have to pay a premium price.​

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler

Via Amazon.com

This is the original premium cooler from the company that invented the concept. This is essentially the product that RTIC based their coolers on and includes many of the same features. They are rotomolded, foam-injected and extremely durable.

They are available in several different sizes and colors and offer the ability to keep food and drinks cold for a long time. Yeti coolers feature the same tie down slots, non-slip feet and rope handles. The big advantage is a five-year warranty but they are more expensive than RTIC versions.

Comparison

  • Very similar features – RTIC coolers are based on Yeti coolers
  • Yeti offers reliable long-term ice retention
  • Yeti is the original, RTIC is the copy
  • Yeti has the history and experience
  • Yeti offers a five-year warranty compared to RTIC’s 30-day warranty period
  • Yeti is more expensive

If you need more details about Yeti, you can check out their website here.


Grizzly Coolers Hunting Cooler

Grizzly Coolers Hunting Cooler

Via Amazon.com

One of the other big names in the premium cooler market is Grizzly. This company is known for making rugged and durable coolers and this model will keep your stuff cold for at least a week or more.

Like RTIC and Yeti coolers, they are rotomolded and foam-injected and are fully bear proof. These coolers are heavy-duty and made to last but they are also quite heavy. This is not a good choice for someone looking for an easily-transportable cooler.

Grizzly coolers are also made in the USA and if this is something you consider, then this might be the right choice for you.

Comparison

  • Construction similar to RTIC coolers, rotomolded and foam-injected
  • Heavy-duty and rugged cooler, possibly more so than RTIC
  • Primarily designed as hunting coolers, suitable for other uses
  • Bear proof, like RTIC
  • Grizzly offers a lifetime warranty on its coolers, compared with RTIC’s 30 days
  • Made in the USA
  • Well known for great customer service

You can find out more about Grizzly coolers here.


ORCA TP0580RCORCA Cooler, Tan, 58-Quart

ORCA TP0580RCORCA Cooler, Tan, 58-Quart

Via Amazon.com

Another of the established names in the world of premium coolers is Orca. These coolers are also made in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty. They are rotomolded and foam-injected and are built to last like other comparable premium coolers.

Orca coolers are also fully bear proof – you can watch an amusing video that proves this point right here! They are designed to retain ice for up to 10 days and feature an easy-drain spout. They are another good option for people looking for a high-end ice box.

Comparison

  • Made in the USA
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Bear proof
  • Available in several different sizes
  • Cheaper than a Yeti but more expensive than an RTIC

If you want more information about Orca coolers, click here.

FAQs

Why are RTICs cheaper than their competitors?

Where can you buy RTIC coolers?

Where are RTIC coolers made?

How do you clean an RTIC cooler?

How long is the warranty?

How long do you have to wait for delivery?

Conclusion

I think RTIC have been a welcome entry into the premium cooler market. We have become used to the high-end performance of some of the established brands like Yeti, Grizzly and Orca but sometimes we balk at the price we need to pay to obtain one.

I have mentioned a few issues and one of my biggest concerns is the 30-day warranty. I would think that a company that was sure of its product would be willing to back it up with a longer guarantee than just a month.

However, for me, I think RTIC’s coolers represent an excellent value option and people who want a high-quality cooler but were formerly priced out of the market now have a choice of affordable cooler. For people needing a premium cooler at a sub-premium price, RTIC is a great solution.

Julie McClain
 

Chief editor here at Outdoorzer. I'm an outdoor lover and ever since I was a little girl, I've worked hard to learn all I could from my Dad about Camping, Hiking, RVs and surviving in the woods.

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