Gear Review: YETI Ramblers and YETI Ice

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At SHOW Show this year I happened by the YETI Coolers booth. After some conversation about how I’m planning a move to Austin, where YETI (and TTAG) is HQ’d, and how I haven’t yet figured out if I’m too poor or just too cheap to buy YETI’s undeniably awesome-albeit-expensive wares, I was awarded a free YETI Rambler Lowball. Turns out it wasn’t really free, though, because I liked that insulated rocks glass — despite accidently leaving it in Vegas! — so much that it cured me of my thrifty ways and I got some more YETI stuff to try out . . .

First up is the 20 oz Rambler Tumbler seen in the cup holder above. Judging from how many of these I encounter out in the wild, this is one of YETI’s most popular “to go” containers. It’s made from double-wall vacuum insulated 18/8 stainless steel, as I believe the entire Rambler series is, and it’ll keep your beverage hot or cold all day.

Normally this is a blessing and is why you purchase a YETI in the first place, but I admit there was actually a learning curve to using the Tumbler for my morning coffee. You see, 18 oz of piping hot coffee poured into the Tumbler in the morning stayed too hot to drink until almost lunch time. Yes, keeping the lid off helps it cool down “faster,” but staring at a fresh cup of coffee for 90 minutes before it’s approachable is torture.

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I quickly took to putting three or four ice cubes into the Tumbler first, then filling it with coffee. This brings it to the perfect temperature and the Tumbler will keep it there for a few hours. In the photo above, I tossed my ice in but got distracted by a conference call and wasn’t back to the Tumbler for over 90 minutes. Despite going lid-free and sitting out on the counter that whole time, the ice had barely changed.

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While YETI does offer a straw lid, which better seals against spills and such, I’m not much of a drink-through-a-straw kind of a guy. The standard lid has proven to be more spill-resistant than I expected — tagging along on many car trips and a couple fishing trips without spilling beyond the confines of the concave lid, except for the couple times I knocked it completely over — but I’d still choose one with a little flipper plunger seal cap thing if they offered it.

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Of course, YETI does make a series of Rambler Bottles in 18, 36, and 64 oz sizes. These bottles have wide openings with gasket-sealed, insulated, screw-on caps. I picked up a 64 oz Bottle to replace my “off-brand” insulated growler.

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Living so close to a Growler Guys is a dangerous thing, what with their rapidly-rotating selection of 48 craft beers on tap. At any rate, the YETI was a sweet upgrade and the Growler Guys guys commented on it immediately. Since these 64 oz Rambler Bottles were first released this April, nobody had actually seen one before and we were fairly impressed all-around. It looks nice, feels nice, is rock solid, and it keeps my beer from-the-tap cold for many hours, even if it’s sitting in a hot car.

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Pouring that first beer from a fat-mouth growler can be a bit of a trick, with speed and violence of action being key. However, I found with the YETI that I could slow down a bit as compared to my previous couple of growlers. Although the lip doesn’t appear as sharp or as precise as most of those — the last ones were insulated on the body but the threaded section, including the lip, was a single sheet of stainless — it pours cleanly.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, but after years of having to wipe the spillage from the side and bottom of my fat-mouth growlers with a cloth after pouring the first beer, the transition to the single drop generally left behind on the YETI was pretty darn nice.

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In the pursuit of science, one fine Friday at high noon I filled the growler with ice, capped it, and left it on the kitchen counter.

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24 hours later a bit of condensation showed around the lip of the mouth. The sides of the growler, however, still registered right at room temperature. I genuinely expected the stainless steel to be colder, but obviously this thing insulates on-par with YETI’s reputation.

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Fast forward to Monday afternoon at 3:00 PM, and I want my growler back. It’s Growler Hour ($2 off) at the ol’ Growler Guys on Monday and Tuesday from 3:00 to 5:00, so I’m calling the science experiment done after 75 hours. The ice went down maybe an inch or inch-and-a-half.

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And tipping the growler upside-down into a measuring cup for a few minutes produced 2/3 cup of melt water. ~5 oz of melt from a 64 oz container full of ice sitting at room temp for 75 hours? I admittedly failed to do a “control” in this experiment — like putting one of my old insulated or non-insulated growlers through the same test — but color me impressed regardless.

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It may be the burliest, most solidly built growler I’ve owned, but the kids can walk home and it can’t. Buckle up, YETI.

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Finally, YETI Ice is a new or new-ish product so I figured I’d try it out. I had grand scientific plans for this as well but was distracted by all of the beer so really just used this stuff in our normal fashion — plunking it into a small cooler for the hour-long trip to the lake cabin, or into a slightly larger cooler for road trips.

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Just to keep snacks for the kids cool, really. Although on those lake trips we often bring many of the perishables plus frozen stuff from the home fridge to the cabin one. On those hour trips the YETI Ice arrives still frozen solid. Not a real shocker there, but the cheap-o plastic packs of blue gel that we’ve typically used are always squidgy by that point.

I’m totally missing the real “feature” of the YETI Ice here, though, which is that it doesn’t freeze until -2°C, which is 2 degrees C colder than the temperature at which actual ice freezes. To see the largest benefit from the YETI stuff, it should be used in conjunction with regular ice. The YETI block(s) will “sacrifice” itself first — drawing in heat as it shifts in phase from solid to liquid before the ice begins to do so — attracting the regular ice to it. The ice then forms an iceberg around it and stays frozen for a much longer time. Bottom line, regular ice lasts significantly longer with a YETI Ice block in the cooler than without.

As you’d hope and likely expect, the blocks are filled with non-toxic, biodegradable, food-safe material. Although YETI says that doesn’t really matter since they won’t break anyway. The unique shapes are designed to freeze faster.

Conclusions

YETI set the gold standard for tough coolers that keep ice longer. They’re still the choice of professional river guides, fishermen, and yuppie weekend glampers alike. As YETI continues to branch out, they continue to keep the quality and performance just as high. Yeah, the price is high, too. But if you manage not to lose them, they just might outlast you.

I’m still bitter about leaving that Lowball in Vegas, but am also still undecided on buying a set of 6 — that would be $149.94 MSRP — to replace our rocks glasses. I suspect it’ll happen eventually.

Specifications (YETI Rambler Series):

Build:  Double wall insulated 18/8 stainless steel
Dishwasher Safe?:  Yes
Warranty:  5 Years
MSRP Range:  $24.99 (Lowball) to $89.99 (64 oz Bottle — “Growler”)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Quality  * * * * *
No flaws; quality materials and build. YETI set expectations very high when it introduced its coolers in 2006, and the Rambler line and Ice products have met those expectations fully.

Performance  * * * * *
Better in every way than the other insulated travel mugs and growlers I’ve owned in the past. Well, they tend to weigh a bit more, but they’re also more durable. The YETI is my only growler that doesn’t sport a few dents and, yes, it has been dropped.

Overall  * * * * *
I waffled on going four stars due to YETI’s high price. After all, there is a competitor that offers extremely similar products for less — so similar they’re currently being sued by YETI, in fact — but for the most part the YETI price is fairly commensurate with the quality and performance. The more you use products of this sort, the more value you get from paying the YETI premium. In the end, I think it’s fair to say that they’re 5-star products legitimately commanding their 5-star price points.

comments

  1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I got the 20 ouncer for Christmas. Liked the dang this go much, I bought the 36 ouncer to use as a thermos.
    Best darn thermos. Ever. Used it during my recent hog hunt down in Texas. Kept my coffee hot in the blind all night.
    I am checking out rtic brand, as they are half the price. I bought the 65 quart cooler.

    1. avatar Texheim says:

      The RTC brand is just as good

      1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        RTIC is the company I was alluding to that’s being sued by YETI…

        1. avatar Andy says:

          Yeah, being sued because RTIC is actually the size they say it is and performs better than Yeti. Guess Yeti could not refute the video evidence so they decide to sue? That is a BS business model and will come back to bite them

  2. avatar txrancher says:

    I went with the RTIC 30oz. Half the price of the YETI and keeps my water ice cold all day.

  3. avatar John L. says:

    Not really seeing what this has to do with guns…?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      I thought of shooting my Tumbler with a 12 gauge to see how it would hold up (well, I’d expect, with normal lead birdshot) as part of this review, but I like it too much haha

      Anyway, you’re 100% right that this is a stretch from guns. However, as nearly everyone who reads this site is outside regularly shooting, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, etc, I figured it was worth the post. The 20 oz Tumbler has tagged along with me every single time I’ve headed to the woods to go shooting since early this year — I usually head out at like 7:30 AM so bringing coffee is key. It’s part of my shooting gear “don’t forget” checklist. YETI does sponsor a dozen or more professional hunters, if that matters, and has had a presence at SHOT Show and NRA Annual meetings, etc, for a couple years…

    2. avatar Hipster - Past Tense says:

      Stop whining….

      No need to re-review Yeti products. They are good to go. I’ll never regret a penny spent on Yeti products.

    3. avatar neiowa says:

      I was prepared with as similar smartass comment but will written and interesting review.

      WHAT IS COUNTRY OF ORIGIN?. Same for this RTIC brand? Either Chicom or made in the civilized world.

      1. avatar jclinAtx says:

        Yeti rambler in small letters says designed in Austin, Texas. Made in China.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          Yeah, I believe it’s all overseas, primarily China.

      2. avatar Andy says:

        China

  4. avatar Rick the Bear (now in NH!!) says:

    I love my Rambler. I’ve used it at work: ice water cold all day. I use it in the car with the same result. The only “trick” is using just the right amount of ice.

    I have done control experiments, the Klean Canteen tumbler coming the closest to the Yeti (but not very close). I also tried an insulated Camelbak because it’s closeable. Even filled with ice before adding water, it only lasts a couple of hours.

  5. avatar Ddub says:

    Bag of ice $2.50. Just for perspective. Good on Yeti for building a better mouse trap.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Bags of ice have always seemed kinda expensive to me, too haha. Of course, at $2.50 a pop that means in 8 trips I’m financially ahead on the YETI Ice 2 lb block since it’s infinitely reusable. And the food stays totally dry. Dumping ice in a cooler full of cans and bottles and such is great, but when we’re bringing stuff from the fridge and freezer back and forth between two places, I really don’t want it getting wet from melting ice.

    2. avatar Chris Erickson says:

      Not a mousetrap if I’m a couple hours drive from the nearest supply of ice for a few days…just better.

  6. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I use a Contigo for 12.99. Much easier to handle than the Yeti.

    Keeps my drink cool for hours. Don’t need it to be cold all day. It’s gone in 2 or three hours.

    Yeti is good stuff…just too pricey for me.

  7. avatar A A Ron says:

    Yes I could spend $5.00 on the Made in China Yeti knock-off at Wally World but I want the Yeti.
    Yes I could spend $450 of that Filipino or Norinco 1911 but I want the Kimber (or whoever).
    IT’S MY MONEY!

    1. avatar Andy says:

      Chances are your yeti is gonna be made in China or the Philippines. Not too long ago they set the standard but Grizzly and Pelican stuff is way better and made in the USA. I guide and work in an outdoor store part of the year. I’ll take the Grizzly or Pelican any day over the yeti. It’s too bad, yeti use to be all American made.

    2. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

      See, the thing is, I have both the 30 and 20 oz Yeti rambler tumblers, and the 30 oz Ozark Trail one from Wally World. Barring the differences in logos, they’re the same thing. Did a quick icewater test, counting out the same number of cubes into each, and filling the rest with water, then leaving them overnight. Both had roughly the same amount of solid ice still leftover.

      What happened is Yeti got boned by the Chinese factory making their cups, or the Chinese manufacturer would only sign a relatively short term exclusivity clause, since now they’re rebranding the Rambler tumblers for Walmart, who’s selling them for roughly 1/3 the cost of the equivalent Yeti product.

  8. avatar DickDanger says:

    Jesus Christ, guys. If want to suck your sponsors’ collective dicks for all to see, can you at least get some gun related ones so I can actually read some stuff about guns?

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Jesus Christ, Dick – If I’m stuck up in a blind (for me, not yet, but anyways) in the cold for hours on end I’d like to have something to keep my damn drink hot for hours.

      It’s gear. Gear and guns go together like Progressives and ‘Gun Safety’ legislation. Good gear makes outdoors with your guns all the nicer.

      It’s no real stretch at all.

      EDIT –

      Hey, Jeremy – I just checked the Yeti webpage.

      The Ramblers are stainless double-wall *vacuum* insulated.

      If you drill a tiny hole in the cap to relieve pressure, these things will make a dandy improvised Dewar’s flask for liquid gasses like LN2.

    2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      If I were sponsored, I’d have that set of 6 Lowballs and a cooler to boot haha. There was an ammo review a couple hours ago and a gun review yesterday. I think I personally have one gun review and one or two scope reviews going up next week, too. Maybe a knife review if that won’t get your panties crammed even farther up in there LOL

      1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

        Speaking of the Lowball, the lid from the 20oz Rambler fits perfectly and makes a great small coffee mug for work, or for occasions that call for lower profile.

    3. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      Keeping my coffee hot when I’m out freezing my ass off at sunrise in the deer blind makes it whole lot more likely that I will stick around long enough to see something worth shooting at.

      So to use your eloquent analogy, you can suck on a fat one.

    4. avatar DickDanger says:

      Wow! judging by y’all’s’ rebuttals, I hope Yeti’s next invention keeps your tampons nice and fresh.

      1. avatar Mr. Woodcock says:

        Hahahahahaha! Snap!

  9. avatar BDub says:

    I seem to have stumbled onto The Truth About Insulated Containers.

    My bad.

    1. avatar The Other One says:

      Plenty of other gun BLOGS. Move along little feller and let the adults talk.

  10. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    I’m convinced the Rambler is bewitched. I accidentally left mine, full of piping hot coffee, on the tailgate of my truck when heading out for a morning hunt in November last deer season. Ambient temperature was probably mod 40s and then went up to mid to high 50s by the time I got back 3.5hrs later. Coffee was still hot.

    What is completely mind blowing is that the outer shell stays cold even when the coffee inside is almost too hot to drink. I have never had a travel mug (even one that was more expensive than my Yeti) that even came close to this kind of performance.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “What is completely mind blowing is that the outer shell stays cold even when the coffee inside is almost too hot to drink.”

      It’s double-wall stainless with a vacuum between the inner and outer walls.

      That’s one of the best insulators available…

      1. avatar CTstooge says:

        It keeps hot drinks hot…and cold drinks cold. How do it know?

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Science!

          (Where has Science! been lately, anyways?)

  11. avatar Pascal says:

    I have several RTIC tumblers of different size and love them. They are the first things to get packed for hunting, camping and hiking trips. As a bonus I keep one on my desk at work. Because condensation does not form on the outside, I can safely place it near paper and not worry about some paper work getting wet.

  12. avatar Jasonius says:

    Anyone compare this to the Stanley thermos everyone already has, isn’t ungodly expensive, and works great?

    1. avatar Bunsen says:

      I have the Stanley 64oz growler ($42 on Amazon) and it will hold ice for 36-48 hours dependent on ambient conditions. Even left in a HOT car (130F) all day the ice will stick around for ~24 hours.

  13. avatar No longer in NJ says:

    Gotta say bought one for a buddies son who lives for offshore fishing. Figured he’d have an affinity/awareness about the brand and appreciate the gesture. Got such cases rave review and thanks from him that I splurged on one for myself two months ago. Life. Changing. Good. Purchase. I fill mine w ice every morning, leave in car all day along w soda and enjoy ice cold beverage on drive home. Typically refill twice before end of day before dumping out remnants of ice. Crazy impressive. Given two more as gifts since and they get daily use too. If I drank enough cocktails I’d convince myself to buy those lowball as set!

    1. avatar CV76 says:

      Life changing until you hit a bump or wave and it spills all over your cockpit. Stupid blow hole in the lid.

  14. avatar Ted Unlis says:

    Received a 30oz Yeti tumbler as a gift, amazing how long it keeps ice, BUT, if for some reason it’s ever lost or stolen the only way I’ll replace it will be after I win the lottery. No beverage container is worth 40 bucks, even the half price RTIC 30 oz at $20 is ridicuously priced. 20 to 40 buck beverage containers target the type of customer that made PT Barnum rich.

    1. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

      Walmart Ozark Trail 30 oz is the same thing for ~$10.

  15. avatar Lew says:

    Stanley stainless pint with built in bottle opener on the lid predates the yeti, is the same construction, less expensive, works just as well and looks way cooler (pun intended).

  16. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

    All they need to do is partner with LifeStraw to make and insulated water purifier.

  17. avatar Bunsen says:

    One “trick” I have found with the Rambler is to use a bigger ice cube. The Glad or Ziplock 4oz snack size containers make the perfect size cube to last ~12hours. The containers are BPA free and lidded so they won’t pick up freezer odors or tastes. The plastic is flexible enough and the containers tapered enough that cube extraction is simple with a little hot water run along the outside.

  18. avatar CV76 says:

    This thing is garbage for one reason and one alone…I have been telling them for two years to make a plug for that stupid blow hole they have in the lid! They can engineer a cooler or thermos but cannot make it watertight?!? WHAT?!

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Yeah, as mentioned in the review I’d appreciate the option of a flip top or slider or some other means of closing it up. If that’s a high priority then instead of getting a “Tumbler,” the “Bottle” ones have screw-on lids that seal up completely.

  19. avatar JLM says:

    I am recent convert to the Yeti 30 oz. Rambler. It really does hold ice a long time. 16-18 hours in my experience. I’m drinking more water now too which can’t hurt.

  20. avatar MiamiC70 says:

    Great commercial for overpriced Yeti products. If you are going to write a piece with the intent of making it appear like a litigate review of the product can you at least actually review the product with verifiable controls and against similar products. Otherwise, just tell us Yeti paid for a commercial and you can just insert a link to thier webpage.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      It’s impossible to do a positive review without people suggesting it’s a paid ad. Heck, it’s even hard to do a negative review without people suggesting it’s a hit piece due to something personal that probably happened between reviewer and company in question. You find anything I said in my review that’s inaccurate or outside of what the “true” experience is with these products, you let me know. The fact is that other than high price, which I whined about quite a bit, they’re just really freaking good and they do what they claim to do. They look good, feel good, and they perform. After years of taking various brands of thermoses into the woods and using five other brands of growlers prior to the YETI one, I can definitely say the YETI stuff is the nicest I’ve ever had.

      Based on comments above, though, I’m going to try the Wal-Mart knock-off tumblers. I read a ton of reviews on them last night and most people say they’re literally identical to the YETI versions, although among those that did ice retention testing they were generally slightly lagging vs. the YETI and a few people mentioned that the outside of the container gets cold or warm when there’s a cold/hot beverage in it, which does not happen w/ the YETI. In general, though, they look so freaking close that I’m interested in testing them side-by-side to find out how much of a difference, if any, there actually is. Obviously the wally world brand is 1/3 the price, so it’s got that going for it.

      1. avatar borg says:

        The lid of the 20oz Ozark Trail stainless steel double wall that I own like to pop out without any retention when wet such as when the tumbler is full of liquid it is difficult to extract when dry. The defect of the lid is what drove me at least partly to buy my first YETI.

  21. avatar Dazen says:

    When anyone buys anything that is made to emulate a YETI product you look like a cheap ass. You are paying for the YETI name, after all they are the first one to advertise the roto-molded cooler a luxury item.

  22. avatar Yeti says:

    The whole family are converts. Yeti Ramblers are a slippery slope. Everyone will need their own. Pricy…yes. But worth the experience.

  23. avatar Taylor says:

    Wow, lots of fanboi rhetoric going on here. Seems as though people don’t know Yeti isn’t the only show in town and that they are ridiculously overpriced.

  24. avatar Louis Rucci says:

    I have the Yeti Rambler and the RTIC version. Both work equally well.

  25. avatar borg says:

    I bought the YETI 64oz bottle today for $69.99 at farm and fleet which is the first YETI product that I ever bought.

  26. avatar borg says:

    Walmart had Ozark Trail clones of the 64 oz bottles for $14.74 today. My fingers felt like they could get stuck in the handle which and it only allowed 2 fingers instead of 3 both featured I disliked and I proceeded to buy the YETI from farm and fleet due to the better handle design and massive capacity. I will consider buying the Ozark Trail for gifts for family members but I will buy the good stuff for myself.

  27. avatar Sylvia Norman says:

    I was so proud of my Yeti Rambler 30 oz that I babied for almost two years. My Yeti 30 oz tumbler is no longer keeping the cold and Yeti was going to replace it. But since I had it etched with my initial at a local store, this voided my warranty. Just so you know that if you have your Yeti Rambler etched with an initial by someone other than Yeti, this voids your warranty. I wished I had known this before I had mine personalized. I don’t remember reading this anywhere.

    1. avatar borg says:

      Failing to specify what actions void the warranty upfront may lead to a class action lawsuit if the wrong person is told that their warranty is voided.

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