Kitchn Love Letters

I Love This Splurgy Cooler So Much, I Bought Two of Them

published Jul 7, 2021
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Credit: Tara Donne

Until recently, I only had insulated bags and soft coolers — oodles of them in different shapes and sizes squished up and tucked into nooks and crannies around my kitchen. Most of my cheap, insulated bags went unused because they just don’t get cold or stay cold long enough. Even my favorite soft cooler was nothing to write home about. Then I met YETI, and everything I thought I knew about coolers changed.

I like to “try before I buy” whenever possible — especially when shopping for something that costs more than $100. Lucky for me, one of my best friends is an oyster farmer here on Martha’s Vineyard where I live, and he has an entire fleet of hard coolers. He has been using his YETI Tundras — and using them HARD — for more than a decade to bring bivalves from the pond to restaurant clients, and has never been disappointed. That’s a good-enough endorsement for me! He lent me three different-sized coolers to test drive. I filled each cooler up with ice and my homemade frozen ravioli, jumped on a ferry, drove to Boston, and delivered orders to pasta-enthusiasts throughout the city. (I run a small pasta business!) At each stop, I checked for signs of unwanted thawing. As my friend promised, the cooler gave a perfect performance. In fact, the ice was all still frozen when I returned to the island after a full day of going in and out of the coolers. 

Credit: Katie Leaird

That said, I wasn’t quite convinced to buy my own YETI — for a few reasons. For one, I am not a totally ripped oyster farmer/surfer (like my friend): While he can hoist the Tundras onto his pickup truck with no problem, I found myself pretty helpless trying to load and unload these monster coolers into my car. I also need more real estate available in my car; the coolers I tested took up too much space. Finally, there’s the price. Whoa — YETI coolers are expensive! I returned the loaners to my buddy, just in time for oyster season.

Then, while wandering around my local fly fishing shop, I found the YETI Roadie 24 and it was love at first sight. Same killer quality and insulation prowess as the Tundra series, but with dimensions (and a price tag) that fit more into my life. (Yes, it’s still pricey, but if you can swing it, it’s totally worth it.) The slim profile tucks into the front passenger side floor space of my car, leaving my entire trunk open and available for life’s other cargo. It’s *actually* portable, meaning an average-sized human like me can lift and carry it around without pulling a muscle. It’s super sturdy — it doesn’t slide around a moving car and you can use it as a stable seat, stepstool, or coffee table wherever you want. The latches are easy to open with one hand, and the absolute best thing about the interior design is that a standard-sized wine bottle fits in upright. This gem comes in the YETI standard colors like white, desert tan, navy, charcoal, and aquifer blue, as well as some sweet limited-edition colors like “crab orange” and “ice pink” (my personal fave). It’s cute, truly portable, easy to pack and organize, and has quickly become a fixture in my everyday routine.

I ended up buying not one, but two Roadies. I keep one in my kitchen, ready to pack up with picnics or frozen pasta orders. My other Roadie lives in my car for grocery shopping trips. I just bring the form-fitting 4-pound YETI Ice with my reusable shopping bags on market days. At the store, I load up on all the frozen and refrigerated foods I want, transfer them to the cooler, and never worry about them thawing or spoiling in my hot car. I can stop for a dip at the beach, even with a trunk full of ice cream, on my way home without things melting.

To me, the YETI Roadie is absolutely worth the investment.

Do you have a favorite cooler? Tell us about it in the comments!