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Ask the Strategist: What Are Some Yeti Cooler Alternatives?

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In our advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and survey friends, call up experts, and draw on our own personal experience to answer them. As always, please email any online-shopping-related queries to with the subject Ask the Strategist — we’re here to help.

What about finding a Yeti-cooler alternative that won’t cost an arm and a leg?

While it may feel like the dog days of summer are behind us, this year you’re probably hoping to extend (socially distanced) picnicking season until the first frost. And if you’re going to schlep that pan bagnat–and–pét-nat lunch to the park — or the beach or campground — you’re going to want to make sure your provisions stay adequately chilled. In the past, I wrote that the Yeti cooler “is essentially a mini-fridge with a convenient over-the-shoulder strap.” That being said, the Yeti costs a pretty penny, and there are plenty of well-insulated options out there for a fraction of the price that will still keep your drinks frosty. Below, a bevy of affordable options including soft-sided coolers, hard-sided chests, and even a cooler tote.

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According to REI, this soft cooler, when filled with 12 cans and eight pounds of ice, will keep everything chilled below 40 degrees for up to 65 hours, so it’s ideal for road trips and weekend getaways. Like Yeti, it sports a rugged vibe but, unlike Yeti, costs about $100. It also has a top handle, side handles, and a detachable shoulder strap so you can carry it however you find most comfortable. The cooler also sports an attached bottle opener so you can crack open a cold one wherever you are.

Beloved by dads, OtterBox gives Yeti a solid run for its money. It keeps ice for up to three days and has a similarly militaristic look made with puncture-resistant, heavy-duty nylon. Usually, it would run you $200, but we found it on sale for just $145, which is $105 less than the Yeti Hopper Flip 12.

While my family are all die-hard Yeti enthusiasts — at our last Fire Island beach trip I counted no less than four of them in various sizes spread out along the sand — this Arctic Zone cooler is one we often rely on for a lightweight alternate. While not quite as heavy-duty as the Yeti, it’s easy to carry and will reliably keep your water cold for an entire day spent baking in the August sun. And we’re not its only fans: Over 5,000 five-star Amazon reviewers agree.

Or try this hard ice chest also from Arctic Zone. It features a rubber gasket and T-latches to keep the cold sealed in tight for up to four days, plus it has a nifty drain that allows you to easily dump out any water that may accumulate.

Igloo is another dependable choice that also provides a G.I. Joe–esque look (if that’s what you’re into). Empty, it weighs about 18 pounds, so while it’s not great for beach days, it’s a good pick for BBQs and camping trips.