Yeti Tundra 65 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Excellent insulation, super durable, easy to use, great size
Cons: Expensive, no leash for plug, smaller than claimed
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Tundra is a rotomolded cooler with dual handles and an internal height of 10.5 inches that doesn't allow for an average-sized 2L soda or bottle of wine to stand upright inside. It features tie-downs, lock points, and anti-slip feet.
It's hard to ask much more from a cooler than what the Tundra provides in insulation. Tied with just one other impressive cooler, the Tundra lasted the longest in our insulation testing, holding food-safe temperatures below 40º F for 6.5 days and optimal beer temperatures of 50º or less for 7.4 days. Though it's not the only model we tested that's rotomolded (most of them are, in fact), nor is it the only cooler with an integrated hinge and a freezer-quality gasket, these traits combined with an ideal shape help the Tundra to maintain colder temperatures for much longer. Unlike many of the other visually similar models, the Tundra is low and long without being too wide for one person to comfortably carry, and large enough to keep everything you want without being so big it loses cold air through a large surface area.
Yeti no longer makes specific claims of ice retention, as they admit that this number will vary greatly depending on what you do to prep your Tundra and what you decide to put in it. Considering we did not pre-cool these models to prep them during testing and made no effort to baby them with frozen contents, the 6.5 days this cooler kept its contents at USDA approved temperatures is even more impressive. When it comes to insulation, the Yeti Tundra is a seriously remarkable cooler.
One of several coolers in our review certified for use in grizzly bear country by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, the Tundra shares the limelight with a growing number of other rotomolded (and some non-rotomolded) coolers. This impressively durable cooler has more tricks up its proverbial sleeves. It's intensely sturdy and even features a textured lid that makes it more comfortable to sit on when you're hot and sticky, as well as a more friction-friendly stepladder in a pinch. The integrated hinge has no problems overextending without breaking - though it does make some interesting noises. The often imitated rubber latches are the Goldilocks of thickness and flexibility, lending both durability and peace of mind that they aren't going to break when your toddler yanks on them.
Though most coolers we tested have a rubber gasket around the lid, the Tundra seals in the contents and leaks no air or liquid - we wish we could say the same for any of the rolling coolers we tested. It also has a rubber gasket around the drain to prevent leaking - and don't worry, if you lose the plug, you can purchase a replacement piece from Yeti. To torture these coolers, we left them in the hot sun on a scorching driveway for a whole afternoon to see what would happen. Though the lid of the Yeti bowed slightly during the warmest parts of the day, it quickly and easily returned to normal as the sunrays became less intense. While we didn't do any of the crazy things from Yeti's YouTube channel, our durability testing demonstrates the fantastic longevity of this cooler.
Ease of Use
Though it may take a few bouts of practice, the Tundra can be quickly opened with one hand when your other hand is full of things to stuff inside. It's also a simple, easy shape to facilitate loading and unloading. The lid stays open when you need it, yet closes easily with just the suggestion of a push. And unlike every other cooler we tested, it stays open without actually overextending the angle of the hinge - an important feature when your cooler is backed up against the railing on the patio or the side of the boat. It, like many others we tested, has two sets of handles: one set is hidden as indents under the lid, while the other set is an easily grabbed rope with moveable grips in the middle. This dual handle set makes it easy for one or two people to carry the Tundra, without adding extra bulk to the overall shape of the cooler, as seen in the awkwardly shaped OtterBox.
A dual-use drain makes emptying your soggy Tundra simple. Simply unscrew partially to let water seep out of the hole in the drain plug, or completely remove the plug for faster drainage - though if you choose to go the quick route, be sure you don't misplace it, as there is no leash to attach it to the cooler itself. Though there is a small lip in the drainage channel, it doesn't impede the water's departure from the cooler, which isn't the case of many of this cooler's competitors. The Tundra also comes with a dry item (or small item) basket that we find incredibly handy and can be easily removed and left behind when you do not need it. Our only real complaint with the usability of this cooler is that it's advertised to hold 65 quarts when in reality it contains just 56. Though that's a big difference, we do think the size of the Tundra is more convenient than most models that are actually 65 liters.
We also purchased the Yeti bear locks along with our cooler to give those a spin. These locks are made by Master Lock to specifications laid out by Yeti (this makes them a very specific shape that's compatible with the Tundra cooler). The locks are a bit heavy, of course, but work quite seamlessly. Once locked in place, they don't move, making it a bit challenging to fit the key in from the bottom without looking.
Depending on what public land you're recreating on, having an IGBC certified cooler with bear locks may not be enough. Many parks require you to use the bear lockers they provide, regardless of what kind of equipment you may be using. Be sure to check regulations before you go!
As a fairly large cooler without wheels, portability is not this cooler's strong suit. At nearly 32 pounds when empty, we strongly recommend enlisting help to move this fully-loaded cooler. A couple of other coolers we tested are lighter, though for it's durability and size, it's not even close to the heaviest we tested. The Tundra does have a great combination of a low profile without being too wide that helps it not bash against your legs too much if you are carrying it solo.
To help your partner and you co-carry this cooler, the Tundra comes with rope handles outfitted with special grips. These grips feel rigid like plastic while having that almost sticky, friction-like feel of rubber. Along with longitudinal grooves and adjustable placement, the Tundra's handles make carrying this full cooler less of a pain than it could be. All in all, it's a pretty decent system.
At first glance, the Tundra looks super basic, but upon further inspection, it includes a lot of handy features. Non-slip feet help keep it from being bumped off the edge of the deck or scootched overboard. Tie-down points on either end can be used to secure it in the back of your pick-up truck for long hauls on 4 x 4 roads - and you can still open the cooler while it's tied down! Handily, you can pressure wash your Tundra or fill it with dry ice to make your food last. You can also easily remove the rope handles if you're semi-permanently installing it, and reverse the T-grips to slim down the cooler's profile a hair.
The one feature we wish the Tundra had is a leash for the drain plug, but alas. At the time of writing, Yeti backs their Tundra with a 5-year warranty, which is a helpful safety net, just in case. You can also purchase a bunch of different accessories to customize your cooler.
The Tundra is not a cheap cooler. It will set you back several hundred dollars. However, for the seriously impressive performance and sheer usability and simplicity this cooler brings to the table, we think it's well worth the investment. If you can't quite bring yourself to spend that much, you might consider a few of the less expensive models we tested. But if what you want is the best, we think that's the Tundra.
The Yeti Tundra 65 is an excellent all-around cooler and a no-brainer for our Editors' Choice Award. Many other brands imitate the features found in this seriously impressive cooler, but so far only the Yeti brings it all together into one complete package. With all the performance you could ask for, convenient features, and a simple, yet effective design, the Tundra is truly an excellent cooler.
— Maggie Brandenburg