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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.