yeti coolers

Yeti Roadie Cooler

MSRP: $229.99 (
Looking back at the five-day product assault on the senses that was the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show, probably THE most interesting debut that I saw had to be the video at the YETI Coolers booth. (Disclaimer: We're huge proponents of the STRESS TEST here at C&K.)

Perhaps my attention had floundered in the sea of fancy new doohickey launches, waterproof-breathable gimmickry and carbon-injected excitement on display. Man vs. Cooler just made sense.

I watched the looped video of "500-lb. man vs. Yeti" and watched it again, the overalled giant elbow-dropping the overbuilt white box to no avail (check out a version below). And then I needed to know.

So I had an idea of what I was up against testing out the YETI Roadie with as much dusty heat as I could throw at it during a three-day Baja paddle/surf trip. I left a frozen hydration bladder in the bottom, which was still frozen solid when I headed back north across the border three days later after keeping many a cerveza cold. There's nothing to complain about performance-wise with this hefty steel-handled box. You'd be hard pressed to find a more rugged cooler to keep your perishables colder and fresher for a weekend trip.

And that 'weekend' tag is really the only problem here. This smallest size of YETI's line doesn't really fit more than a few days worth of food (with space nearly maxed out with 12 cans) for an extended trip long enough to take full advantage of its pressure-injected insulation, gasketed lid and burly roto-molded polyethylene build that any boat-bashing paddler will appreciate.

This is also not the lightest, most compact cooler to lug at 16 pounds empty. Think base and car camps, or a near-prefect fit in the stern storage well of most fishing kayaks. Adept canoeist and rafter cooler-haulers will be most keen to take advantage, or at least aspire to spending the big(ger) bucks for the full Tundra-size YETI for their next wilderness floats. — DS