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RTIC Ultralight 52 Review

A lightweight and colorful update to the RTIC line that includes nice accessories at a more accessible price
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rtic ultralight 52 cooler review
Credit: RTIC
Price:  $200 List
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Manufacturer:   RTIC
By Genaveve Bradshaw and Rebecca Glades  ⋅  May 12, 2023
73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 18
  • Insulation - 50% 7.0
  • Durability - 20% 6.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8.5
  • Portability - 10% 9.0
  • Features - 5% 8.0

Our Verdict

With its lightweight construction and easy-to-use features, the RTIC Ultralight 52 is the ultimate companion for your next camping trip or beach day. This model is easily transported with its rope handles, and once you get there, you may use the lid as a table or cutting board. When you prop it open, you'll see its unique freezable dividers and dry basket. Don't be fooled by its lightweight build –- it's stable and can handle being bumped around and jumped on. Pack up your favorite snacks and head to your favorite picnic spot because this top-notch cooler has you covered.
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Easy to use
Great features
REASONS TO AVOID
Flimsy latches and hinges
Leaky lid

Compare to Similar Products

 
rtic ultralight 52 cooler review
This Product
RTIC Ultralight 52
Awards Best Buy Award    Best Buy Award 
Price $200 List
$197.89 at Amazon
$250 List$270 List
$239.99 at Amazon
$100 List$80 List
$79.99 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, easy to use, great featuresVery durable, good insulation, comfortable handle gripsGood insulation, great features, useful shape, reasonable weight, less expensiveLightweight, excellent insulation, relatively inexpensive, thick and durable walls and lid, comfortable handleSuper lightweight, decent insulation for the price, surprisingly large capacity, inexpensive
Cons Flimsy latches and hinges, leaky lidA bit large for one person, no leash for plug, latches are scarily stretchyNo internal basket, not IGBC ratedDoesn’t seal against water/air, hinges not sturdy, rubber latches catch against your legNot airtight, not particularly durable, uncomfortable handles
Bottom Line A lightweight and colorful update to the RTIC line that includes nice accessories at a more accessible priceA high-performing and durable cooler with solid usability features at a lower price than expectedGreat look, feel, features, and performance without the high-end price tagA well-performing, personal-sized cooler for a fraction of the price of its competitionA functional cooler for a mere fraction of the price of the competition
Rating Categories RTIC Ultralight 52 RTIC 65 Xspec 60qt Igloo BMX 25 Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...
Insulation (50%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
4.0
Durability (20%)
6.0
7.5
7.0
7.0
3.0
Ease of Use (15%)
8.5
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Portability (10%)
9.0
8.0
5.0
9.0
8.0
Features (5%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Specs RTIC Ultralight 52 RTIC 65 Xspec 60qt Igloo BMX 25 Coleman Xtreme 5-Da...
Shelf Life of Food (Measured Days Below 40ºF) 6.0 days 5.7 days 4.7 days 2.6 days 3.7 days
Measured Weight 21.4 Ib 34.8 lb 30.5 lb 11.3 lb 11.4 Ib
Measured Capacity 50 qt 67 qt 61 qt 25 qt 68 qt
Advertised Capacity 52 qt 65 qt 60 qt 25 qt 70 qt
Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Days Below 50º F) 6.8 days 6.5 days 5.3 days 2.8 days 4.9 days
Internal Maximum Body Height 12" 12" 13" 11.75" 12.25"
Does it Fit a Wine or 2L Bottle Standing Upright? Yes Yes Yes Yes - indented lid Yes - indented lid
Exterior Dimensions (L x W x H) 27" x 13" x 14" 32" x 18.5" x 17" 28.5" x 17.5" x 18" 20.25" x 12" x 15.25"/20" 28.5" x 15.5" x 17.5"
Construction Rotomolded Rotomolded Rotomolded Blow-molded plastic (non-rotomolded) not specified (not rotomolded)

Our Analysis and Test Results

At just 21.4 lbs, the RTIC Ultralight 52 is the perfect companion for your next camping trip or picnic. With a 50-quart capacity, it's large enough to hold plenty of food and drinks for your group. This medium to large-sized cooler combines convenience with unique features to provide an excellent-performing product.

Performance Comparison


The RTIC 52 is lightweight and easy to carry and load.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Insulation


In our insulation tests, we recreated the hottest summertime conditions with temperatures that dropped each night. We noted when each model's internal temperature rose above 40° and 50° Fahrenheit. We chose 50° to represent an ideal temperature for beverages. In our tests, the Ultralight 52 lasted six days at food-safe temperatures and nearly seven days at ideal drink temperatures. RTIC claims to last a whopping 10 days at food-safe temperatures, but this isn't shocking. Many cooler companies claim to last much longer than they actually do. This may be in part to the pre-chilling method that many recommend. Sure, you may get a longer span by this method, but we find it unlikely that most people are going to do this. That's why we didn't do it in our testing and, consequently, why our cooler never made it to the 10-day mark. Still, six days below 40° will get you through the weekend and any grill-focused day trip.


The Ultralight has a rotomolded body with three inches of closed-cell foam insulation. This and the freezer-style gasket lid help keep cool air in and hot air out. Additionally, the raised feet keep the bottom of the cooler from resting on hot surfaces. This allows for airflow underneath and cuts down on unnecessary heat exchange. For being so light, 21.4 lbs to be exact, this 50-quart cooler had an impressive performance keeping its contents cold.

rtic ultralight 52 cooler review - the ultralight keeps your drinks chilled for longer, even in the hot...
The Ultralight keeps your drinks chilled for longer, even in the hot desert sun.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Durability


Next up is our durability test, which comprised of us dragging, jumping on, and rolling over these coolers. We also inspected every nook and cranny, noting any potential weak points or problem spots. The RTIC has some clear ups and downs with its durability. The unit is very sturdy and can handle a beating. We jumped and dragged this cooler around with very few signs of wear and tear. However, during this jostling around, we noticed a steady leak around the lid. This shows the lid isn't airtight or watertight.


The rubber T-shaped latches resemble many of the competitors. They are stretchy and easy to use. However, we are concerned these pose a weak point as the rubber feels flimsy. Additionally, the hinges feel a bit weak and could become a problem with continuous rough use, though nothing ever broke during our testing. When set out in the sun, the cooler becomes slightly warm to the touch but nothing unbearable. RTIC includes compatible slots that pair with a tie-down kit to keep it from slipping around or turning over while driving.

rtic ultralight 52 cooler review - the t-shaped handles are easy to grasp and latch down to keep the...
The T-shaped handles are easy to grasp and latch down to keep the cooler shut.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


As a top performer in this category, we were impressed with how easy it was to use the Ultralight. With two drain plugs, you can easily empty the cooler from multiple angles, making the process quick and hassle-free. It includes a leash for a plug, so you won't have to worry about losing that crucial tiny piece. The T-shaped latches are easy to grasp and hold in hand to open the container. The lid opens past at a 90-degree angle and won't shut on your hands while you're trying to load it up. It's also large enough to fit an upright 2-liter jug or wine bottle.


Adding extra convenience is the wire basket. This basket rests high up above the ice, ensuring food and other items stay dry. It also includes game-changing freezable dividers. With these, you can easily organize the internal space while chilling the contents. Additionally, the lid is sturdy enough to be used as a stool, table, cutting board, or chair.

The RTIC has a wire basket that sits above the ice, keeping its contents dry.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Portability


Despite its medium to large internal volume, the RTIC manages to stay lightweight and portable. Weighing in at only 21.4 lbs, this model is, on average, about 10 lbs lighter than its competition. Our testers of various builds had no trouble lifting, loading, or dragging this cooler around, even when it was completely full.


Its nylon rope handles lift well above the cooler, allowing for comfortable transport without hitting your hands on the plastic body. The handles are made from textured plastic and are easy enough to grip. However, we wish they had some cushion, as gripping hard plastic for long periods can get a bit tiresome. Molded in side-handles provides a stable lifting and loading option when the rope handles just aren't cutting it.

rtic ultralight 52 cooler review - the rope handles extend far above the rtic's body so you won't crash...
The rope handles extend far above the RTIC's body so you won't crash your hands into the hard side body.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Features


Lastly, we looked into any features each model included and whether or not it took away from their overall functionality. We were most impressed with the freezable divider wall available for this cooler. If you freeze it overnight and the next day, you'll have a chilled wall to categorize your belongings. The Ultralight has two drainage ports, with one being a v-shaped exit for easy cleanup. And because it's so light, picking it up to shake out the last few drops is an easy task.


The Ultralight is available in a handful of bright, exciting colors, as opposed to the classic monotone options. RTIC also has additional kits for purchase. Of these, we particularly like the compatible tie-down kit. This keeps it extra secure in your boat or truck with straps and mounts. The cooler has an integrated locking system to keep all your belongings secured.

The Ultralight 52 includes two drain ports, both with leashes so you don't lose that crucial plug.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Should you buy the Ultralight RTIC 52?


The Ultralight 52 packs in a lightweight body with an excellent insulation performance for just a fraction of the price of its competitors. Though it's still a little pricey, this is no styrofoam grocery-store cooler. This RTIC is built to last and will keep your food fresh longer than most others. This easy-to-carry cooler is a great companion for fishing, picnics, camping trips, and beach trips.

rtic ultralight 52 cooler review - the rtic 52 is much lighter than its competition yet keeps an...
The RTIC 52 is much lighter than its competition yet keeps an impressive 50-quart capacity.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

What other coolers should you consider?


Among the largest coolers we tested is the Cabela Polar Cap 80. The Polar Cap has a massive internal volume and seals shut, retaining its cold air for an extended time. This cooler is quite a bit pricier than the RTIC Ultralight, but it performs well across the board. A budget-friendly option is the Coleman Xtreme 5 Day. This cooler doesn't have the most impressive features, but its minimalist design will get you through the weekend and keep a little extra cash in your pocket.

rtic ultralight 52 cooler review - we tested lots of coolers, even those with wheels and pressure...
We tested lots of coolers, even those with wheels and pressure release valves!
Credit: Gena Bradshaw

Genaveve Bradshaw and Rebecca Glades
 

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