The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

YETI Roadie 20 Review

An absurdly durable and fairly versatile personal cooler, but at a high cost.
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Price:  $200 List | Check Price at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable construction, insulates well, versatile and easy-to-use features, rugged
Cons:  Expensive, heavy for its size, narrow handle is less comfortable, shape a bit awkward to carry
Manufacturer:   YETI
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 9, 2019
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Insulation - 50% 3
  • Durability - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 8
  • Features - 5% 7

Our Verdict

Consistently creating high-performance coolers over the years, this famous company has done it again with the Yeti Roadie 20. This little, personal-sized ice chest packs solid insulation with a ridiculous level of durability in a smaller, more portable package. It's been officially tested and approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for use on public lands occupied by grizzly bears and is chock-full of useful features like a drain, two types of carrying handles, non-slip feet, and a flat top that works well as a seat or table. It's a bit heavy for its size, but nothing compared to most the other, giant coolers in this review. All this comes at a high price that rivals even some of the biggest coolers we tested, but if you're unwilling to sacrifice insulation or longevity for a personal cooler, then this may be the right choice for you.

For a cooler that's pretty much equal in insulation abilities and a third the price, check out our Top Pick for a Personal Cooler, the Igloo BMX 25. It's not as rugged, but it'll keep your beverages and picnic cold almost as long as the Yeti and your wallet significantly more full.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Yeti Roadie (left) next to the other similarly-sized cooler in our review  the Igloo BMX 25 (right).
The Yeti Roadie (left) next to the other similarly-sized cooler in our review, the Igloo BMX 25 (right).

Insulation


The Roadie is constructed of a seemingly endless number of specially-designed features with specially-assigned names to describe them, like the Interlock™ lid system, Fatwall™ design, and Coldlock™ gasket. All these translate into a well insulated little box with up to 2 inches of insulation, a rubberized seal, and an ability to maintain low temperatures. All this 'meat' went to good use in our torturous insulation testing, in which the Roadie kept our food below the FDA recommended 40º F for 2.3 days. That may not sound overly impressive compared to the 4.1 day average among the models we tested, but for a cooler intended for a single day out and about or overnight trips, we think that's alright. For a more size-appropriate comparison, the Igloo BMX lasted a few hours longer, making it to 2.6 days below 40º. And if you're not planning on bringing a bunch of raw meat and easily-spoiled food with you, but rather fill up your Roadie with sodas and beers for your beach day, we clocked this cooler at 2.6 days of 50º or colder beverages.

Food and beer kept cold - check!
Food and beer kept cold - check!

Durability


For anyone who's spent too much time on YouTube, they've probably seen the official Yeti videos of their coolers being slingshotted against the side of a van, lit on fire, dropped onto rocks from three stories up, thrown off a cliff, jumped on by a 500 lb man, and chewed on by an actual grizzly bear. While we didn't recreate any of these stuntman antics or convince a bear to harass the Roadie 20, we did put it through a battery of more realistic tests, in which it excelled.

The impressively tough hinge of the Yeti Roadie 20 is built to withstand whatever.
The impressively tough hinge of the Yeti Roadie 20 is built to withstand whatever.

This single-piece polyethylene body is substantial and has the same rotomolded construction as whitewater kayaks. The Roadie is filled with polyurethane foam and fitted with a freezer-style gasket to seal in water and out hot air. Even the "virtually indestructible" hinge and thick rubber latches, often weak points on similar coolers, are sturdy. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, in charge of testing and approving products for usage in public lands with grizzly bears, has approved this little cooler for official usage (with padlocks or bolts and nuts holding it shut). They note that this doesn't mean it's a guarantee that it is bear-proof, but our experience leads us to believe it would have to be a pretty ingenious bear to get inside a padlocked Roadie.

Ease of Use


The Roadie 20 is packed with helpful little bits and pieces that make it pretty easy to use, starting with the non-slip feet to help hold this box in place wherever you set it. It also features an easy to use screw-out drainage plug to aid in cleaning when you've concluded your adventures. Yeti has also included four tie-down points, two of which can be used to secure the cooler but still open it, while the other two double as closure anchors for padlocks or bolts and nuts to keep out bears, chipmunks, or the neighbor's dog. The Roadie also has two indented side handles just under the lid for a two-handed carry when you've loaded it down with 16 cans and 10 lbs of ice.

The front corners of the Roadie 20 can be used to tie down the cooler or even lock it closed. The rubber latches hold it shut in leui of a beefy padlock.
The front corners of the Roadie 20 can be used to tie down the cooler or even lock it closed. The rubber latches hold it shut in leui of a beefy padlock.

The regular, metal handle has a squishy pad to help make it more comfortable to carry, and it locks into the upright position between two little plastic nubs on either side of the cooler. We couldn't decide if we love or hate this feature, as we found it to be handy for that quick set-down-pick-up-again move, but sticks enough that we need two hands to put the handle up or down. The rubber latches are also a love/hate feature, as we think they're both incredibly useful and good at keeping the lid closed while simultaneously being so stiff that many of our testers found them a bit obnoxious to use with their two-hand requirement. So while we mostly found the Roadie simple to use, we also feel it has some little annoyances we didn't experience with several of the other coolers in this review.

Portability


It's a no-brainer that a personal cooler is more portable than a monster 100-quart beast. With both a padded handle and two different ways to easily carry this cooler, the Yeti Roadie 20 is much easier for a single person to handle than most the rest of the coolers in this review. However, compared to the other cooler of similar size, the Igloo BMX 25, the Yeti is not quite as nice to cart around.

Not the most comfortable carrying handle  the small size of the Yeti Roadie 20 makes it more portable than most the other coolers in this review.
Not the most comfortable carrying handle, the small size of the Yeti Roadie 20 makes it more portable than most the other coolers in this review.

Despite being smaller in size than the BMX 25, the Roadie 20 is significantly more massive, with a thinner, less ergonomic handle and more angular sides, all of which make for a less comfortable carry over long distances. However, if you want to carry a cooler for long distances, you might instead consider a soft cooler, which are made with portability in mind. But for a hard cooler, carrying the Roadie isn't too bad at all.

Features


Though it doesn't have anything extravagant like a bottle opener or can holder, the Yeti Roadie has a lot of other helpful features that we've already mentioned throughout this review. A convenient drain, two options of handles, an airtight seal, and the ability to be used as a solid seat are all great features. Additionally, the Roadie 20 can handle dry ice, unlike many other coolers we reviewed, due to its rotomolded construction. The Roadie also packs a 5-year manufacturers warranty, just in case you do run into any issues that aren't user-caused.

A handy  hard plastic drain plug makes emptying the Roadie at the end of the day an easy task.
A handy, hard plastic drain plug makes emptying the Roadie at the end of the day an easy task.

Best Applications


Due to its size, the Yeti Roadie is solidly a personal cooler, and may get two people through a day of food and beverages on the beach or a weekend road trip. Its strong construction lends it to more rugged adventures than the similarly sized Igloo BMX 25. If you're the person that "can't have nice things" because you're always breaking them, then this sturdy icebox might be the cooler for you.

Just enough for two people  a dog  and a sunny afternoon.
Just enough for two people, a dog, and a sunny afternoon.

Value


Retailing for nearly the same cost as many coolers three or more times its size (and even more than some!), the Yeti Roadie 20 is impressively expensive. But you already know that, and you're wondering if it's worth it. If you need a cooler that can take beating after beating for years of adventures and loving abuse, you won't be disappointed by the Roadie. If you're looking for a cooler with nearly as impressive insulation powers and decent durability but don't need it to survive a wildebeest stampede, you'll likely be just fine with something less pricey like the Igloo BMX 25. This cooler is still pretty durable and performed similarly regarding insulation during our testing, but importantly rings up for just over a third the price of the Roadie.

The Yeti Roadie makes a great beach day companion.
The Yeti Roadie makes a great beach day companion.

Conclusion


The Yeti Roadie 20 is advertised as "virtually indestructible" and we can't disagree. This impressively solid personal-sized cooler is sealed, with effective insulation and packed with a wide variety of useful features like a drain, non-slip feet, and the ability to be used as an impromptu chair. Though it's a bit heavy for its size, and we aren't the biggest fans of the narrow handle when it's loaded down, the Roadie is an impressively insulated mini tank among coolers.


Maggie Brandenburg