Combining high-end performance with much less sticker shock than most high-end cooler brands, the RTIC 65 is a great compromise for those that want premium performance without the premium price. In fact, in a head-to-head insulation test, the $240 RTIC fell a mere few hours short of the performance of the $400 YETI Tundra 65. Unless you plan on regularly pushing your cooler to the absolute maximum when that last extra bit of insulation power will actually matter, the RTIC offers a more cost-effective way to enjoy the durability and ice-retention of a top quality, roto-molded cooler.
RTIC 65 Review
Cons: Slightly uncomfortable handles, messy drain plug
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With great performance and a relatively low cost considering its construction, the RTIC 65 was a shoe-in for our Best Buy: High-End Cooler award. You can see how its overall performance stacked up against the other models we tested in the table above. Below, we'll expound upon its performance in all of the different tests we conducted.
The RTIC 65 earned a score of 8 out of 10 in our Insulation testing, a score shared with the vast majority of the other high-end coolers we tested.
To test the RTIC's insulation performance, we conducted a side-by-side test with the YETI Tundra 65, putting thirty pounds of ice in each to start. In the end, the RTIC was able to keep the temperature below 40˚F for 7.1 days. The YETI lasted a little longer, going for 7.3 days. This is a difference of about 4 hours and 45 minutes over the course of a week-long test.
We then adjusted the RTIC's insulation performance, using the YETI as a control metric, so that we could directly compare it to the rest of the coolers we tested. After a few calculations, we determined that the RTIC would have been maintained temperatures below 40˚F for about 5.5 days if it had been run in our original test. Compare this to the Editors' Choice-winning OtterBox, which lasted 6.5 days.
Bottom line, the RTIC is more than capable of keeping food cold on a long weekend camping trip. It also offers significantly more breathing room for those long weekend trips than budget options like the Coleman Xtreme, which held safe food temperatures for 3.7 days in our insulation testing.
With a score of 7 out of 10, the RTIC 65 sits right in the pack of high-end roto-molded models that we tested, all of which earned either a 7 or an 8 out of 10 in this metric.
The RTIC uses the same pin style hinges that most of the other high-end models do. The handles are sturdy ropes with a hard plastic tube that give a solid gripping surface. The drain plug has no leash, but is well designed. The one main reason it was demoted to a 7 rather than an 8 is because of its latches. The rubber latches work well and we think would stand up to years of abuse. However, they are a bit thinner than the latches on many of the other high-end models, and the rubber balls that actually hold the lid closed in particular are comparatively small. This means they would need less wear than other latches before they'd become non-functional. Unless you repeatedly drop your cooler off a cliff we don't think this will ever be an issue, but it is one area where the RTIC's build is less burly than that of other high-end coolers.
Ease of Use
The RTIC 65 earned a fairly average score of 6 out of 10 in our user friendliness testing. Essentially, it functions as one would expect a cooler to function, and doesn't add any special design touches that would make you think, "Hey, what a great idea!"
The RTIC latches engage and disengage about as easily as any of the rubber latches designs we tested. The only model that really sets itself apart in terms of latch design is the Pelican ProGear, which uses a push-button mechanism. This definitely easier than using the rubber latches of the RTIC, but not to a significant degree. Once opened, the lid generally stays open, but might snap shut on you if you bump against the cooler. The handles thoughtfully stop short of the drain plug, but the drain plug itself does tend to splash a bit when emptying. This was a problem we experienced with most of the models we tested, so again, not a dealbreaker whatsoever. We do wish that is had a drain leash, as the Pelican and Yukon do, because it's easier than you'd think to lose a drain plug.
The RTIC again earned an average score of 5 out of 10 in this metric. It is neither exceedingly portable nor particularly onerous to move around. It is about as portable as you'd expect a large cooler to be.
Weighing in at 36 pounds, the RTIC is slightly above average for a roto-molded cooler of ths size. Models like the YETI Tundra 65 and the Engel are slightly lighter at 29.7 and 26.1 pounds, respectively (and the personal-sizsed coolers are obviously much lighter), but that extra few pounds probably won't be noticeable when you're lifting a fully loaded cooler. The handles, like those of the YETI, do feel a bit harsh on your hands but don't pinch like those of the ORCA and Grizzly. The recessed handles are deep enough to be fairly comfortable. The non-stick feet keep it from sliding around wilding in the back of your car, but also don't make it too difficult to slide around either. It can also fit in most national park bear boxes.
The RTIC does not have any particularly special features, but it does have a slot for a divider, and the rugged latches and pin style hinges found on all high-end models. This earned it an average score of 5 out of 10 in this metric.
If you're looking for a cooler that can easily keep things cold for a full long weekend and that will stand the test of time, the RTIC 65 is a pretty great value. It performs nearly as well as most of the other roto-molded coolers we tested, which retail for an average of about $350. The RTIC, in comparison, lists for only $240. The RTIC also performed considerably better than budget models like the Coleman Xtreme, which can be found for as little as $40 but offers only about 60% of the insulation performance and is far less durable.
The one model that throws a spanner in the works is the ORCA 58 Quart, which recently saw a price reduction down to $300. The ORCA was one of the best performers in our insulation testing. However, we measured its actual capacity at 54 quarts, making it 11 quarts smaller than the RTIC. That said, if you're willing to spend $60 and don't mind the reduction in size, the ORCA may be a better bet.
The RTIC 65 offers almost all the advantages of those fancy $400 coolers you walk by in the store, but at a much more palatable price. For those looking for a very durable and effective cooler that doesn't require taking out a loan to buy, this is the best choice.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata