Take a load off your mind and 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! That's right on par with the Pelican Wheeled 80. 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 both the Editors' Choice, Yeti Tundra, and the Orca 58, both of which lasted 6.5 days at less than 40º and close to 7.5 days at 50º. 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.
Another area where the RTIC shines brightly. It joins the ranks of other Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee certified products (along with the Yeti Tundra, Orca, Rovr, and Pelican), which in and of itself tells a lot about the durability of this plastic box. 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. In general, we find the RTIC to be pretty darn durable, but not the most.
While visually similar to the Yeti Tundra latches, 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 found 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 the Tundra or Orca. 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 to be 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 the Tundra, OtterBox, and Rovr. 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.
The RTIC is the only model we tested with such soft foamy grips.
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 five-year warranty offered by Yeti.
A simple design with useful attributes, but accessories will cost you extra.
The RTIC offers great performance and a large capacity for a lower price. It's a good all-around cooler that works well for everything from weekend camping trips to extended fishing trips to entertaining in the backyard. If that sounds like it fits your bill, we think you'll find a great use for this icebox, while still saving a bit of money compared to the competition.
A durable, high performing cooler for less than most of its competitors.
Though the RTIC is still a few hundred dollars, it's significantly less than other, similar models, while performing better. While its list price is $308, it's often sold under $300 at retailers like Amazon.com. That makes this cooler an excellent value, and easily our choice for the Best Buy for a High End Cooler. If you're after the best of the best, you may consider spending a little extra for our Editors' Choice winner, the Yeti Tundra. Not ready to drop three digits-worth of dough on a cooler? Take a look at our other Best Buy award winner, the Coleman Xtreme. But for a high return on investment and a cooler that's built to work well and work for a long time, we think you'll be happy you went with the RTIC.
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, making it our pick for Best Buy for a High End Cooler.
Spend the money you saved on the RTIC on your next adventure instead.