Now that I've said all of that, please allow me to gush about how well this cooler keeps things cold. In our tests, I packed each cooler into a 70-degree climate-controlled room, added a measly 3 pounds of ice (not even half of a small-size bag from the gas station) to each one, then tracked the ambient temperature inside on a minute-by-minute basis for 48 hours. And, to put it simply, the Yeti flat-out smoked the competition.
To be specific, the Yeti brought the temperature inside down lower and then held it for longer than any other cooler I tested. At the end of the first day, it was the only cooler that still had ice in it at all. At the end of the second day, it was the only cooler that still hadn't returned to room temperature. At 38 quarts, it was the smallest of the 11 coolers I tested, so it had the least work to do, but even if you handicap it for its size, those are still outstanding results.
In the end, that combination of performance and durability make the Yeti a worthwhile investment for anyone who uses their cooler a lot and who can afford a bit of a splurge. But consider the Orca Classic Cooler, which also costs $300, as well. Though it didn't retain ice as long as the Yeti did, it still managed to bring the temperature down to the same threshold, making it the runner-up in our performance tests. And despite being the same price as the Tundra 45, it's notably more spacious at 58 quarts (and unlike Yeti, that capacity claim held up when I double-checked it).
If both are too expensive for you, don't worry -- there are lots of other good options that don't cost nearly as much. But if you're simply looking for the cooler that'll hold your ice the longest, this is it.
- Looking for more cooler buying advice? You, my friend, are in luck.