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Yeti Tundra 45 Review

A durable, mid-sized offering that's a packable, portable option with just enough features that make it easy to appreciate
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Yeti Tundra 45 Review
Credit: REI Co-op
Price:  $300 List
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Manufacturer:   Yeti
By Genaveve Bradshaw, Maggie Nichols, and Rebecca Glades  ⋅  Sep 7, 2023
63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 19
  • Insulation - 50% 5.0
  • Durability - 20% 7.1
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8.2
  • Portability - 10% 7.0
  • Additional Features - 5% 9.0

Our Verdict

Among similarly sized coolers, the Yeti Tundra 45 offers a simple design with robust construction that you can confidently take just about anywhere. We've tested a plethora of Yeti models over the years, and this one is small enough to be a road trip companion while still large enough for a quick camping trip. Complete with features we love, like a dual-sized drain, included dry basket, rubber feet, and tie-down loops — as well as a certification of bear resistance from the IGBC, the Tundra 45 is ready for just about any adventure. Something of note is that we measured the volume to be just shy of 35 quarts, which makes us feel that the name Tundra 45 is misleading. It's much smaller than we expected, while also being quite heavy for its size, which ultimately kept us from awarding it as our favorite mid-sized cooler. To find better mid-sized options, see our best cooler review.
REASONS TO BUY
Portable dimensions
Convenient size
Included dry basket
IGBC certified
Durable design
REASONS TO AVOID
Not fully sealed
Smaller capacity than anticipated
Heavy for its size

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Yeti Tundra 45
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Price $300.00 at REI
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Bottom Line A well-designed, mid-sized model that's portable and packable, with the right number of features we love to useWhile on the pricier side, you can't beat this cooler's insulationTop-notch insulation in a long-lasting, compact design that will last for years to comeWith reliable performance, this cooler is a great shape, easy to use, and a good valueA budget-friendly rotomolded option that includes great features and is available in many colors
Rating Categories Yeti Tundra 45 Yeti Roadie 48 ORCA 58 Quart 230Xspec 60qt RTIC Ultralight 52
Insulation (50%)
5.0
10.0
9.8
8.7
8.1
Durability (20%)
7.1
7.7
8.0
7.6
5.6
Ease of Use (15%)
8.2
8.4
7.8
7.4
7.4
Portability (10%)
7.0
9.5
5.0
7.0
8.5
Additional Features (5%)
9.0
7.6
7.9
7.2
5.9
Specs Yeti Tundra 45 Yeti Roadie 48 ORCA 58 Quart 230Xspec 60qt RTIC Ultralight 52
Shelf Life of Food (Measured Days Below 40ºF) 4.1 6.8 6.7 6.1 5.8
Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Days Below 50º F) 4.5 7.5 7.3 6.7 6.3
Measured Weight 29.6 Ibs 26.6 Ibs 30.5 Ibs 30.3 Ibs 21.6 Ibs
Measured Capacity in Cans 54 77 82 90 61
Measured Capacity 35 qt 45 qt 56 qt 57 qt 49 qt
Advertised Capacity 45 qt 48 qt 58 qt 60 qt 52 qt
Internal Maximum Body Height 10.7" 15.8" 13.0" 13.0" 12.0"
Does it Fit a Wine or 2L Bottle Standing Upright? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Exterior Dimensions (L x W x H) 25.5" x 16.0" x 15.5" 20.1" x 19.8" x 20.8" 26.6" x 20.0" x 19.4" 29.5" x 17.0" x 18.0" 27.3" x 18.5" x 17.5"
Outer Construction Rotomolded Not listed Rotomolded Rotomolded Rotomolded
Inner Construction Pressure-injected polyurethane Pressure-injected polyurethane Manufacturer lists "Integrated insulation" 3" of polyurethane insulation Not listed

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Yeti Tundra 45 is a rotomolded cooler with indented and covered rope handles and an internal height of 10.25 inches that doesn't quite let a standard 2L bottle of soda or 750ml bottle of wine stand upright. It has a dual-size drain, a dry storage basket, tie-down loops, and is Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certified.

Performance Comparison


yeti tundra 45 - the tundra 45 is a great mid-sized cooler with impressive insulation.
The Tundra 45 is a great mid-sized cooler with impressive insulation.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Insulation


Providing 98 hours of sub 40°F temperatures during our insulation testing, the Tundra 45 does just about average when compared to the others its size. If your concern is less about fresh food and more about cool drinks, this mid-sized model went on to maintain internal temperatures of 50°F for 108 hours locked inside our hot testing room. While this performance is impressive, it's worth noting that the Tundra 45's roughly 35-quart capacity is also one of the smallest in this grouping, giving proportionally more ice and less dead space within, furthering its ice retention properties. It's still a high-quality piece of gear though, with a rubber seal around the lid and secure latches to hold in that cold air while you're out in hot weather.

yeti tundra 45 - we charted the insulation test results for small-capacity coolers...
We charted the insulation test results for small-capacity coolers. The Tundra 45 is outlined in blue and lands right in the middle for coolers its size.
Credit: Rebecca Glades

Durability


We've come to expect quite a bit from the durability of a rotomolded cooler, and the robust design and construction of the Tundra 45 do not disappoint. The hinge — often a weak point in competing models — is thick, well-protected, and feels very solid even as we attempted to overextend it. Yeti's T-grip rubber latches continue to be a favorite in the face of dozens of similar options, with their needle-threading combination of flexibility and strength. However, this particular unit arrived with a few issues we aren't excited about, most prominently the gap between ends of the rubber gasket around the lid. With just a piece of fabric tape stretching across this space, the cooler isn't airtight or leakproof. Though more of an aesthetic complaint, our Tundra 45 also has plenty of thin plastic sticking out from the edges of the cooler, leftover from the rotomolded manufacturing process. These careless seams don't affect the use of the chest but give an overall air of carelessness that we dislike seeing in such an otherwise well-designed and high-functioning unit.

yeti tundra 45 - we're disappointed in this sloppy rubber seal application, as it...
We're disappointed in this sloppy rubber seal application, as it both looks shoddy and lets the cooler leak when tipped or sloshed.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Use


When accessing cooler contents, the lid of the Tundra 45 somehow manages to stay open without actually spanning a full 90 degree angle. The Tundra line of coolers prioritizes a longer, lower shape that makes it easier to locate small contents even when the chest is filled with slushy ice water. It also has a small channel that effectively drains meltwater from its dual-sized drainage port. Though we find the roughly 35-quart capacity to be both useful and convenient, we do think the name of this cooler is a touch misleading. Yeti lists the dimensions of this model's interior prominently in its description, which can easily be calculated (we also measured it) to learn that the Tundra 45 actually has a volume of a bit over 34 quarts. This is a theme across many of the Yeti coolers we've tested over the years. Again, we continue to appreciate the actual volume and convenient sizes of the models we've tested, we're just not stoked on the lack of consistency between models' names and volumes.

yeti tundra 45 - the tundra 45 drainage system works well to drain this 35-quart...
The Tundra 45 drainage system works well to drain this 35-quart cooler. Its name suggests that its actual volume is higher, but our measurements inform us that it's actually much smaller than its name implies.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


Tipping the scales at over 30 pounds, the Tundra 45 is a bit heavier for its volume than the general trend among models we tested. Its smaller size helps to make up for it a bit, while the low profile of this mid-sized chest helps it be manageable by a single person, even when loaded up with provisions for your day. Just like much of the competition, the Tundra 45 has two sets of handles that we find very convenient for facilitating solo carry (indented handles under the sides of the lid) or two-person lugging (rope handles with grooved, rubber grips). The rubber feet help this cooler stay in place when you finally get it where you want it.

yeti tundra 45 - this model is fairly portable and a useful size that's pretty...
This model is fairly portable and a useful size that's pretty manageable over short distances.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Additional Features


Perhaps most notably, the Tundra 45 comes with a perfectly sized dry goods bin that hangs inside the cooler — though its widely spaced wires aren't ideal for holding smaller items. To accompany tie-down slots on either side of the lid, Yeti has added shallow channels that help hold a webbing strap in place as it travels up and over the edges of the lid. This model has been certified “bear resistant” by the IGBC, with locking front corners to actually keep critters out when used with Yeti's cooler locks — which we have tested. They fit perfectly and seem to work well (though no actual bears attempted to break in during our testing), though they can be challenging to fit the key into, as the keyhole faces directly toward the ground and can't be rotated upward for easy viewing.

yeti tundra 45 - we appreciate that this model comes with a removable dry storage bin.
We appreciate that this model comes with a removable dry storage bin.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Should You Buy the Yeti Tundra 45?


The Tundra 45 is an expensive cooler that's built to last. It combines a simple design with several functional features and a family of additional accessories that just might be your dream cooler kit. It's a great mid-sized cooler for those who need a little extra strength and performance from their gear. If you use your cooler a lot and want something that lasts, this one is worth the investment. If you only need an infrequent picnic partner or camping companion, this beefy box might be overkill.

What Other Coolers Should You Consider?


Yeti makes a handful of other models worth checking out. The Yeti Roadie 24 is a personal-sized option that performs just about the same in its insulation performance. For a larger, more portable option, check out the Yeti Roadie 60. This rugged model has wheels and a handle, allowing it to roll along just about anywhere you plan to go.

yeti tundra 45 - we also tested the bear locks on our tundra cooler, though no bears...
We also tested the bear locks on our Tundra cooler, though no bears came forward to help us out here.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Genaveve Bradshaw, Maggie Nichols, and Rebecca Glades