Take a load off your mind -- and maybe your wallet -- with the RTIC.
As a beefy rotomolded cooler with a freezer-style gasket, it's no surprise that the RTIC performed well during our intensive insulation testing. Despite being in temps that hit over 100º F, it maintained FDA-approved safe food temperatures of less than 40º F for a full six days! No need for burgers, but a thirst that can only be quenched by craft brews? The RTIC kept its contents at a refreshing 50º F or less for 6.8 days - nearly a week!
However impressive these numbers are, the RTIC lost to just a few extremely impressive coolers. The RTIC also didn't live up to its claim of 10 days at ice-cold temperatures, though that claim is under far less harsh conditions than how we torture tested these coolers. Still, six days is an impressive performance from this well-insulated ice chest.
All loaded up and ready to go.
Despite having a visually similar appearance to many products certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the RTIC is not, which effectively rule it out for trips to bear habitat (Yellowstone or Yosemite, anyone?). However, it still stacks up to be a pretty tough cooler. We had a 225-lb tester jump on all the coolers we reviewed, and the RTIC had no problem clearing this hurdle. Its lid gasket makes the unit airtight, and both drains have rubber gaskets as well to prevent leakage. The integrated hinges are strong and withstood all our pushing and yanking.
The sheer stretchiness of the rubber latches on the RTIC gives us concern for their durability and longevity. Though we yanked on everything, including the flexible rubber latches, we couldn't get them to break, which gives us hope. We do worry that they may stretch a bit during regular use, becoming looser over time. We're not sure if this would become an issue after years of love and abuse. Additionally, when we left all the coolers for hours in the hot sun to see how they reacted, the RTIC's lid bowed the most of any model. As with all the coolers though, a bit of time spent back inside a cool garage put it right back to normal, so we didn't count this against it too much.
The non-skid feet on the bottom of this cooler aren't attached with incredible durability in mind — one of them fell off during our testing period, though it was easily reattached. In general, we find the RTIC to be pretty darn durable, but not the most.
While visually similar to latches of many other top-performing options, the RTIC's rubber grips are far more flexible and elastic.
Ease of Use
The RTIC earned one of the highest scores in this metric, as we find it exceptionally easy to use. It has not one, but TWO drain plugs, to quickly empty any liquid contents. Its flexible rubber latches also set it apart, as they are easier to maneuver than the similar rubber latches of several other models. We asked a four-year-old to open and close every cooler we tested, and the RTIC was one of the few she deemed "easy." The lid easily stays open for quick loading and unloading, and we measured the capacity of this icebox as a bit larger than advertised - 67 quarts, rather than 65. This extra volume translates into fitting more delicious things inside your cooler, and the simple interior shape facilitates fitting all kinds of different-shaped food items.
While we appreciate the efficiency of having two drains, only one of them has a channel to help get every last drop out of the RTIC. Additionally, there's no included dry bin with this cooler, like there is with numerous other models we tested. Overall though, we think the RTIC is a very user-friendly cooler for people of many ages and with a wide variety of stuff in their hands.
The RTIC has not one but TWO large drains to facilitate easy cleaning.
Just like the other coolers of its size and lacking wheels, the RTIC will never be your favorite piece of gear to cart around. Empty, it weighs nearly 35 pounds! Though the indented side handles make this doable for a single person to move an empty RTIC from shelf to shelf in the garage, two people best handle the weight and width of this cooler.
Fortunately, the RTIC double-carry handles are fitted with squishy, foam grips to make carrying this fully-loaded beast a bit more doable. These handles were favorites among our testers as being useful and comfortable, easily used with one hand or two, and sweat-wicking for those hot days. Despite its overall size and bulk, the RTIC isn't too bad to carry - as long as you don't have to go too far.
We love the soft, foamy grips of the RTIC that make it stand out among the crowd.
A simple design, the RTIC has several features that we find helpful, including non-skid feet (though one fell off during testing) and tie-down slots that still allow you to open the cooler while it's secured. It's also dry ice compatible and has a slightly textured lid, adding a small amount of traction to items placed on top.
Importantly, the RTIC, along with many other high-end coolers we tested, does not come with a leash for either of the two drain plugs. At the time of writing, RTIC offers a simple 1-year warranty against manufacturer defects, compared to a three and five-year warranties offered by other manufacturers.
A simple design with useful attributes, but accessories will cost you extra.
Though the RTIC is still a few hundred dollars, it's significantly less than other, similar models, while performing better. Despite its fluctuating list price, it's often sold for much less at retailers like Amazon.com. However, its price seems to change just about every week, ranging from a really good deal that rivals our Best Buy Award winner to a price higher than some better-performing models we tested. But if you can time your RTIC purchase just right, you're in for a high return on investment and a cooler that's built to work well and work for a long time.
A durable, high performing cooler and sometimes costing far less than most of its competitors.
With a lot of stiff competition from some impressive coolers, the RTIC holds its own. It combines great insulation, extreme durability, and superb ease of use with a price that undercuts the competition. This cooler works in exactly the ways you need it to and can be easily customized to suit your lifestyle even further. Though its larger size makes it harder for one person to handle and the overly flexible latches give us pause, the RTIC performs well. A strong, but inconsistently priced contender for our Best Buy Award, the RTIC is a great choice - if you can find the perfect timing during its swinging price pendulum.
An excellent performer with a wide-ranging potential price tag that sometimes is an incredible deal.