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

YETI Hopper M30 Review

The upgrade from zipper to magnetic strips comes with some usability struggles, but if you need a massive soft cooler, this one delivers.
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Price:  $300 List | $299.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good insulation, extremely durable, top opens wide, no zipper to worry about
Cons:  Magnetic closure won't stay open, difficult to load alone, huge, picky shoulder strap arrangement
Manufacturer:   YETI
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2019
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Insulation Value - 30% 8
  • Ease of Use - 25% 6
  • Portability - 25% 5
  • Durability - 20% 9

Our Verdict

The Yeti Hopper line has long featured this large soft-sided cooler bag with an over-the-shoulder strap and plenty of space for weekend camping trips. With the M30, they've upgraded this bag from the traditional leakproof zip-top to a new generation of watertight magnetic closures. But before you get all excited about walking away from the struggle of giant, tough zippers, know that there's a host of new and different challenges that go along with this change. Beyond the top closure mechanism, this remains the same old tried-and-true cooler. We retested this latest model along with the rest, but the biggest change is that magnetic strip instead of the standard Yeti zipper.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
YETI Hopper M30
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $299.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$186.93 at Amazon$86.95 at Amazon$114.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$79.95 at REI
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Pros Good insulation, extremely durable, top opens wide, no zipper to worry aboutVery durable construction, excellent insulation, useful handles and features, comfortable shoulder strapGood insulation, easy to use, simple design, convenient size, affordableDurable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensiveComfortable to carry, convenient design, good features, tons of dry storage
Cons Magnetic closure won't stay open, difficult to load alone, huge, picky shoulder strap arrangementZippered exterior pocket not waterproof, very largeFrustrating zipperLearning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pocketsZipper not leakproof, thin insulation, less durable, loose sternum strap
Bottom Line The upgrade from zipper to magnetic strips comes with some usability struggles, but if you need a massive soft cooler, this one delivers.If you’re looking for the best soft cooler on the market today, look no further than this outstanding model from Engel.Great durability and insulation power at a relatively low price.A very different design than most, but by far our favorite to carry over long distances.Though not as hardy as some others, this design combines cooler space and dry storage for an all-in-one pack.
Rating Categories YETI Hopper M30 Engel HD30 RTIC SoftPak 20 IceMule Pro Cool Trail Split Pack
Insulation Value (30%)
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6
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5
Ease Of Use (25%)
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6
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9
Portability (25%)
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9
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Specs YETI Hopper M30 Engel HD30 RTIC SoftPak 20 IceMule Pro Cool Trail Split...
Carry Style Messenger Bag Messenger Bag Lunchbox Backpack Backpack
Measured Weight (lb) 7.1 lb 5.9 lb 3.0 lb 3.0 lb 2.4 lb
Exterior Fabric 840D double-sided thermoplastic urethane Abrasion-resistant fabric Thick nylon shell Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon Recycled ripstop nylon outer/polyester inner
Closure Method Magnetic seal and over-the-top clips Zippered top, watertight zip Zippered flip top, watertight zip Roll-top Zippered flip top, dry storage cinch and clip
Handles and Straps Shoulder strap, carry handles, "top" handle Shoulder strap, carry handles Shoulder strap, carry handle Backpack straps, sternum strap Backpack straps, carry handle, sternum strap
Additional Storage No; webbing attachment loops Yes; 1 larger exterior zippered (meant to be waterproof but isn't) Yes; small exterior No; exterior shock cord panel Yes; top half of pack, brain pocket, 2 mesh side pockets
Removable Liner? No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Yeti M30 is a large, messenger bag-style cooler with a shoulder strap, two handles over the top (like a tote), and a single handle on the backside for easy grabbing. It features a watertight magnetic strip closure system rather than the zipper of old.

Performance Comparison


The latest in Yeti's Hopper line-up.
The latest in Yeti's Hopper line-up.

Insulation Value


The M30, with its signature closed-cell foam, maintained 40°F or lower temperatures for an impressive 73 hours of our torture testing. This isn't as impressive as some coolers that lasted over four full days, but it's still on the high end of coolers we tested. In addition to thick, watertight magnetic strips sealing the top of this cooler, it also has two over-the-top straps that clip the whole thing closed and pull the top in tighter to add just a little extra insulation and protection against spilling if tipped. And unlike the tough zippers of other Yeti coolers that need plenty of muscle to open and close them, the magnetic strips close themselves, so you never have to worry about accidentally leaving the cooler open again.

Gone is the zipper of old and instead this watertight magnetic strip seals in your provisions.
Gone is the zipper of old and instead this watertight magnetic strip seals in your provisions.

Ease of Use


The ability of the magnetic strips to "auto-seal" the cooler when not in use does become a bit of a hindrance when trying to load this cooler by yourself. It wants SO badly to seal that it chomps hungrily on your hand, wrist, or whatever you're trying to put in/take out of the cooler. You almost need three hands, something to wedge this cooler open, or a sturdy object to push the cooler up against to be able to hold it open while filling it with all your weekend goodies. It does open wider than its predecessor, but only if you can hold it that way, as it doesn't stay on its own. We found ourselves struggling in the grocery store parking lot, holding one side against a lower leg and the other side on a hubcap to be able to fill it with the required bag of ice to keep everything cold. "Frustrating" and "annoying" are some of the more PG words uttered while attempting to dump a big bag of ice into this cooler.

Though you can fit a good amount of food in this cooler  it is exceptionally challenging to load it up alone  due to its new magnetic closure that never ceases attempting to consume whatever extremities venture inside.
Though you can fit a good amount of food in this cooler, it is exceptionally challenging to load it up alone, due to its new magnetic closure that never ceases attempting to consume whatever extremities venture inside.

We appreciate the extra security of the two over-the-top buckles in securing this cooler, but we're baffled as to why they're not adjustable. When the cooler is full to the brim with goodies on ice, the straps simply aren't long enough to stretch over the top of the cooler. And once the ice has melted a bit and you've eaten down your rations, the straps are on the loose side. And, like most Yeti coolers (but unlike most competitors' coolers), there's not a single extra pocket of dry storage anywhere on this bag. Sure, Yeti's HitchPoint system lets you buy and attach any extra pockets or gadgets you want, but we think a cooler should come with a little bit more right off the bat. Yet again, we think the initial design elements for a truly great and convenient cooler are there, but our testers feel that the devil is the details, especially with this cooler.

These over-the-top straps are not adjustable  but we wish they were.
These over-the-top straps are not adjustable, but we wish they were.

Portability


As one of the largest coolers in this review, the M30 is never going to be an impressively portable option. It weighs just over 7lb even before you fill it to the brim with gallons of liquids, containers of food, and ice to the top. For its style of carry (messenger bag), it's not awful, but it's not amazing. The shoulder strap padding is wide and comfortable, which makes it much more pleasant to carry. With two tall over-the-top handles, it can also be carried like a tote for a quick grab out of the car or onto a picnic table. There's one more handle near the top on the backside as well, that functions as a quick grab - particularly when the cooler is empty. We aren't the biggest fans of how the shoulder strap connects, though. It's clipped onto each end below the corner, making the strap in an unpredictable arrangement when you grab it quickly. Sometimes it's where you want it for carrying, but more often, it's oddly placed and needs to be pushed one way or another over a corner or two to get the optimal carrying comfort. It's not a dealbreaker, and we appreciate the versatility to be able to carry it on either side or even cross-body, but it takes an extra step and can be a bit annoying at times.

The shoulder strap easily catches on the protruding top corners of this cooler. It's not a dealbreaker  but it is a bit annoying for an already bulky cooler.
The shoulder strap easily catches on the protruding top corners of this cooler. It's not a dealbreaker, but it is a bit annoying for an already bulky cooler.

Durability


Constructed of 840D double-sided thermoplastic urethane, this bag is seriously durable. Welded seams, thick, reinforced connection points, and waterproof everything help this cooler practically exude durability. It's highly abrasion resistant and impressively puncture resistant. And without the zipper woes and upkeep of previous models, it's built to last a long time. Our only real complaint about the construction of the M30 is that ours seems to hold onto a strong ammonia-like smell on the interior. As you have no choice but to store it closed, that intense smell builds up - even just overnight! - and makes us wonder why it seems to be off-gassing this odor and if it will affect the food we store in it. None of the other Yeti coolers we tested have this issue, but we found several other reports of similar off-putting scents from other online user reviews.

Like we've come to expect from Yeti products  this one is built to last for years to come.
Like we've come to expect from Yeti products, this one is built to last for years to come.

Value


Yeti isn't known for being a cheap brand, but their products time and time again are built to get the job done and last for years. If this large, tote-style bag is what you're into and you're over the zipper, perhaps this is one is worth it. However, we feel that there are some usability issues that make this cooler less than ideal for a single person and that there are better options out there. Perhaps some updates to this model in the future will change our minds - we would certainly love to see that!

Conclusion


In this latest version of Yeti's largest Hopper soft cooler, they've done away with the cumbersome zipper and added a magnetic strip instead. Though we like the idea behind this switch, it makes it exceedingly difficult for one person to load and unload this behemoth bag easily. If you have the older version, we don't think this one is worth the upgrade, and there are other coolers that we like more all-around.

We have mixed feelings about this cooler's switch from a zipper to this Hungry Hungry Hippo-style magnetic closure system.
We have mixed feelings about this cooler's switch from a zipper to this Hungry Hungry Hippo-style magnetic closure system.


Maggie Brandenburg