YETI vs RTIC vs Pelican: Which Are The Best Soft & Hard Coolers

Summer just came round, and unlike the past year, this time, it seems like that there is a possibility to travel more. Remember those old hunk-of-junk coolers that your parents brought round to the sightseeing trips? I know I do.

Those coolers didn’t even stand a chance against some of the new innovative coolers that were introduced in the last decade. Most of the time, they didn’t even hold cold, but only prolonged the melting process.

So, if you’re considering some top-notch and effective coolers for your trip nowadays, are there any viable options? Yes, YETI, RTIC, and Pelican all offer pretty efficient coolers.

To help you find the one which is the best for you, we reviewed all three, and did an in-depth comparison. Read on to find out which is the best cooler for you!

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Are Coolers A Worthwhile Investment? – YETI VS RTIC VS Pelican

RTIC’s Cooling Technology

I would say yes, especially with the new designs and technologies, coolers nowadays can hold cold for days.

Even if the cooler technology hadn’t advanced this far, I would probably give the same answer, and here’s why. Even though those old coolers didn’t hold cold for that long, it was your best shot at keeping food, drinks, and other contents cold.

While it was unintuitive that this lasted for only a couple of hours, it was still the best option for those camping trips. No cooler meant doomsday on those trips.

All this is to say that, they make sense, and they’re great at what they do, even if we were stuck with the olden technology. But we aren’t. These three- YETI, RTIC, and Pelican, and hundred times more efficient than old coolers, and they’re actually good for it for a couple of days at a time.

Soft Or Hard Coolers? – YETI VS RTIC VS Pelican

The three brands in question all have both soft and hard coolers. If you’re new to using coolers, you might be wondering what’s the difference and for what uses each is intended for.

Well, the short answer is, soft coolers are easier to carry, as they’re most often made in a backpack style. But at a cost of being soft, without actual plastic casing, they do lose a lot of efficiency. So, at the cost of convenience, you get a decrease in efficiency.

Still, they’re a viable option, especially for those that are hiking, and usually travel on foot.

When it comes to traveling with an actual car, or transport which you can easily use to transport the cooler, hard coolers are a much better option. In short, go with soft coolers if you’re on-the-go a lot, especially on foot, and hard coolers if you’re looking for best performance for the occasional trip to the beach or mountain.

What Are The Differences? – In-Depth Comparison for YETI VS RTIC VS Pelican

In theory, all three brands have rotomolded technology for their hard coolers, the most viable technology for coolers, so they might not as many differences as many expect.

However, even though those things are important, other practical aspects such as shipping, prices, availability, models, and other things come into question as well. Here’s an in-depth comparison of the three most well-renowned cooler brands- YETI, RTIC, and Pelican:

YETI VS RTIC
VS Pelican
Soft & Hard Coolers Comparison
Hard & Soft Coolers?BothBothBoth
Price$199 – $1,299$19.99 – $641.99$99.95 – $648.95
DesignBest in class 5/5Nothing special 3/5Durable-look 4/5
Rotomolded CoolersYesYesYes
ShippingFree shippingFree on orders above $35Free on orders above $149
Return PolicyReturns available within 30 days of purchaseReturns available within 30 days of purchaseReturns available within 15 of the receipt of the cooler
Cooling PowerAmazing 5/5Adequate 4/5Great 5/5
Get your cooler now:

Prices doesn’t do justice to YETI, as they have, on-average, bigger coolers and move away from small bag or soft coolers. But all in all, all three are similar in terms of pricing, even though it doesn’t appear to be that way.

YETI’s most premium and top of the range model is the biggest and most premium one from all models from the three brands. It’s called the Tundra 350 Hard Cooler, and features a 19 thousand cubic capacity inside of it. Pretty sick for a beach party, definitely.

YETI Review

Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Cooler

YETI is the most renowned brand from the three, and it is quite easy to see why.

Instead of offering only coolers, what YETI has done is make their coolers appear cool and fun. In other words, they’ve managed to do with coolers, what Nike did with the swoosh. It is simply cool to be apart of such community and lifestyle.

But YETI isn’t just cool branding and no quality or efficiency. In fact, YETI is known for just that, quality. They have the most durable and most efficient coolers. Going to a vacation or a camping trip? YETI coolers will keep your contents cool for days on end.

YETI has an extensive selection of both soft and hard coolers. Their best-selling coolers, like the Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler is intended for more occasional travelers that need something compact.

However, while this model is down to earth, they have hard and soft coolers which are over-the-top, and for enthusiasts it seems like. Honorable mentions are: Tundra 75 Hard Cooler, Hopper Backflip 24 Soft Cooler, and the list goes on.

By far, YETI has the most options in terms of sizing and models.

But everything seems great with YETI, are there any negatives whatsoever? Here is a list of the pros and cons for YETI:

PROS

  • A lot of sizing options
  • A lot of different models available
  • Quality is unparalleled
  • Durable
  • Design and branding are on-point
  • Efficient

CONS

  • Only a handful of small cooler options

RTIC Review

RTIC 65 QT Hard Cooler

Compared to YETI, RTIC doesn’t really have that many options. Sure there are some options for soft coolers like the Lightweight Backpack Cooler, the Day Cooler, and the Backpack cooler, but in terms of hard coolers, there isn’t really much to choose from.

Their best seller is the 65 QT Hard Cooler, which is to no surprise as it is the middle class in terms of size. So, compared to the other sizes available, most people opt-in for this one.

The handles and locks for the hard coolers are very similar to YETI’s handles, which is a downside, but it seems like most coolers use these types of handles and locks, not necessarily to say that one is copying the other.

In terms of build quality, feel, and overall durability, it lacks behind YETI, but more on that later.

I imagine that design doesn’t play a crucial role for most, but we would have really loved if RTIC did some clever and interesting designs. Sadly though, most of the designs are bland, with only a handful of color options to choose from.

The prices are reasonable yes, but all in all, compared to the other two, RTIC doesn’t make that much sense. The only way which I see RTIC being viable is for compact, small, soft coolers.

Anyways, let’s see what the pros and cons to going with RTIC are:

PROS

  • Great selection of soft coolers
  • Very small and compact models
  • Adequate cooling efficiency
  • Other products available like drinkware, bags, camp & cookout, and others

CONS

  • Bland designs
  • Not as durable as some other coolers

Pelican Review

Pelican 20 QT Elite Hard Cooler

It doesn’t get any rugged than Pelican.

Pelican coolers are different in many ways, but most notably, their design style. For their designs, the most important thing is convenience and being rugged. That’s why so many have mentioned Pelican for being the most rugged coolers on the market.

The locks and handles are different compared to YETI and RTIC for that matter, mostly due to the fact that they look like they’re designed to last an eternity.

They have a lot of options when it comes to hard coolers, but not as many options for soft coolers. But even though Pelican has two soft cooler models- the Dayventure Sling Cooler and the Dayventure Backpack Cooler, they seem like the kind of coolers that most will need.

As for the hard coolers, like YETI, their most famous model is the 70 QT Elite Cooler which is geared towards families, as appose to simply travel enthusiasts.

Prices are affordable, and considering how much you get in terms of durability and quality, Pelican does seem to be a great option. With all of that said, what are some of the pros and cost to going with Pelican?

PROS

  • Durability to the max
  • Interesting durable designs
  • A lot of hard cooler options
  • Both wheel and non-wheel coolers
  • Multiple color/design options

CONS

  • No minimalistic and simple hard coolers

Local Store Coolers VS YETI, RTIC & Pelican

In all honesty, what I’ve seen is that most are wondering why these hard or soft coolers from these three brands cost so much compared to the local store coolers.

One reason is, technology. There is so much thought put into the designs of these coolers, just so that they’re more efficient in cooling, and honestly, that can be seen even when you put the coolers from each brand side-to-side. The designs are especially made to be cooling-friendly.

On top of that, the fact that rotomolded coolers adds so much on the cost of making the cooler itself. So, it’s only fair that the prices go exponentially higher than the ones you might find at the store.

And now, let’s talk about local store coolers, or cheapo coolers, as I like to call them. Instead of having any sort of technology, most of the time, these coolers are just containers, usually made from plastic, that seem like they’re cooling, but they’re not.

For what they’re designed though, they’re great, and that’s slowing down the heating process.

It is fair to mention that not all store coolers are bad, but on average, the evidence suggests that those coolers aren’t that great. The coolers from YETI, RTIC, and Pelican are in a whole another league.

Head-To-Head Comparisons

Most would already know what they want based on everything that we went through up until this point. But if you’re like me, and like to explore your options fully, then you probably want to see what’s up before making the full commitment.

To dig a little deeper though, we though the best way to do that, is to simply put each brand against each other, in a sort of a 1vs1 situation. Below, all the matchups are covered, for all of you in dilemma between two coolers!

YETI or RTIC, The Better Choice?

YETI Tundra 65 Hard Cooler

It’s YETI. There is no other way to go about it. In our opinion, YETI has substantially better quality and durability, all at what seems to be a similar cost. On top of that, with the minimalistic and very creative designs with YETI, RTIC does look like the local store cooler option.

Even though RTIC has a handful of soft cooler options, with YETI’s Hopper M30 Soft Cooler or something like the Hopper Flip 18 Soft Cooler, it is quite hard to see why would someone go with RTIC.

Still, even though YETI is the more superior cooler brand, you can’t go wrong with RTIC’s small soft coolers. Something like the Soft Pack Cooler or the Day Cooler are great if you’re looking for extra small and compact coolers, but only in this case.

So, it comes down to what you’re looking for, but in our opinion, YETI is better in most ways.

What’s Better, YETI or Pelican?

Pelican Elite 70 QT

Now, up until now, it’s clear that Pelican is very different to what YETI and RTIC offer.

What Pelican offers is ultra durable coolers, which is something that the other two have as well, but now even in the same spectrum. To get an idea of just how durable Pelican hard coolers are, you only need to take one glimpse at their designs.

The simple fact of the matter is that not all need a high-end durable cooler though. I can see why Pelican opted-in to create such coolers, but they’re not suited for your average Joe. Basically, Pelican coolers only make sense if you’re going through rough environments, and the majority of the time that you spend, you spend on traveling.

However, if you’re only looking for a cooler for the occasional lake trip, Pelican is definitely overkill. In those cases, I would recommend YETI more, as it is much more suited for the job, whether it be soft or hard coolers, no matter.

Still, very impressed with what Pelican have done with their hard coolers.

RTIC VS Pelican – The Better Option?

Between these two, it is similar as to the previous case. One company focuses on enthusiast-grade coolers, while the others can be considered coolers for your average consumer. Pelican is the former, and RTIC is the latter.

In any case though, what RTIC offers doesn’t seem more superior than what Pelican offers, and definitely not more superior than what YETI offers.

It’s the case where you think this is the budget brand, but in actuality isn’t. There has been some negative feedback targeting RTIC, but there has also been some positive as well. But considering everything we mentioned, I feel like between these two, Pelican sounds like the better option overall.

The Verdict: Which Has The Best Coolers? – YETI VS RTIC VS Pelican

To be honest, compared to regular coolers you might find at your local hardware store, these are way better. Usually, cheap and budget coolers are just regular plastic containers that promise keeping content cool, when in actuality, they just slow down the heating process.

So, if you’re wondering on whether to get your coolers from these three, or your local store, these are probably your best bet. But they’re not for everyone.

From the three, we liked YETI the most, as it has the best overall offer in terms of what you get for your money. It may not be enthusiast-grade, but for the average consumer, this is more than enough cooling power.

However, if you’re a hardcore adventurer and need something rugged for your long and unforgiving adventures, then Pelican offers the most durable coolers, period.

As for RTIC though, it sits at a very unusual spot. Compared to the other two, it seems like the budget option, and that would have been fine, but it costs as much as YETI, and yet you’re getting less instead of more. The other two in our opinion, are far better options.

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