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The Yeti Cooler vs. The Coleman Xtreme Cooler

In the past 10 years or so it seems as though a cooler war has been raging.

Coleman is a trusted brand that has been around forever. They make a good product for a fair price, nobody can deny that.

Yeti is the new(ish) kid on the block.

They’ve successfully disrupted the market and changed the way that consumers view coolers with aggressive marketing and extremely high-quality products.

Today, I wanted to look at how these two popular coolers stack up head-to-head.


The Coolers


The Cooler Wars: Yeti vs Coleman Xtreme

Yeti vs Coleman Xtreme

We’ve seen people start to think of their cooler as an investment that will last a lifetime rather than just a few years.

It’s also become an expectation that your cooler should keep your food cold and ice frozen not just for one or two days but for at least a solid week.

Other high-end coolers are becoming more popular as well, such as those from Engel, RTIC, and Grizzly as well as the Igloo Yukon and Coleman Xtreme.

Even Walmart has thrown its hat into the ring with its Ozark Trail High-Performance Cooler.

While each of these coolers has subtle differences, they are all high-end solid coolers that will keep your food cold much longer than a standard cooler.

Today, I want to focus on the budget-friendly Coleman Xtreme and see how it holds up to the rest of the competition.

You see, Yeti, Engel, RTIC, etc are all great coolers, but they’re very expensive – anywhere from $200 to $500+. These coolers are solid, bear-proof, and boast of the ability to keep food cold for 5-10 days.

The Coleman Xtreme is more of an everyman cooler. It still has high-end cooling capabilities but at a much cheaper price than the big boys.

In theory, the Coleman Xtreme is meant to compete on the cooling side of the equation while still maintaining an affordable price.

For example, the 50-Quart Coleman Xtreme is just a hair above $50 while the 45-Quart Yeti Tundra is nearly $300.

To get right to the point, I wanted to see whether the Yeti is truly worth almost $250 more than the Coleman Xtreme in a head-to-head comparison.


A Quick Note on Our Test

This isn’t a perfect 100% scientific test!

Yes, I do realize that the coolers I tested are slightly different sizes.

This test is just a practical, real-world test of how people actually use similar coolers.

I wanted to test how these two coolers I already owned stacked up head ot head.


Does The Coleman Xtreme Really Last 5 Days?

I decided to do my own test of the Coleman Xtreme and put it against my personal favorite cooler, my Yeti 50 Cooler.

For this test, I placed each cooler in direct sunlight for approximately half of each day and then in shade for the other half.

This combination of shade and sun is typical of what you might run into if you have a cooler with you out camping.

I then packed each cooler with 20 lbs. of ice and 1 drink (so you can better see where the ice is at).

Xtreme vs Yeti with Ice Bags
Coleman Xtreme & Yeti Before the Test

Each cooler was opened only once per day to photograph where the ice level was and how well each cooler was doing.

Note: Pre-chilling your cooler actually helps keep your cooler colder longer, but I decided not to do that with this test (because most people I know don’t pre-chill, and I wanted this test to resemble the typical family camping experience).

Check Out Our Complete Guide To Camp Cooking Here

The Coolers After 1 Day

After the first 24 hours, each cooler was doing great.

Each had a little bit of water in the bottom of the cooler and experienced a bit of melt due to cooling down the room temperature coolers.

The temperature on day one reached roughly 75 degrees.

Yeti vs Coleman Xtreme
Both Coolers Doing Well on Day 1

The Coolers After 2 Days

Day two was more of the same: a little bit more melt, but still lots of ice.

The daily high temperature was 74 degrees.

Yeti Vs Coleman
Coleman Xtreme and Yeti After 2 Days

The Coolers After 3 Days

After the third day, the water and ice were getting pretty low in the Coleman Xtreme. 

It definitely was looking like the Yeti was starting to outpace the Coleman.

On the third day, the high temperature was 72 degrees.

The Coleman Xtreme is starting to fall behind.
The Coleman Xtreme is Starting to Fall Slightly Behind the Yeti

The Coolers After 4 Days

After the 4th day, the Coleman was about 90% water and 10% ice but still very cold.

The Yeti, on the other hand, was roughly 70% water and 30% ice.

The high temperature of the day was 68 degrees.

The Coleman Xtreme After 4 Days
The Coleman Xtreme After 4 Days
Yeti Cooler After 4 Days
Yeti Cooler After 4 Days

The Coolers After 5 Days

The Coleman Xtreme was officially done on the 5th day (this included the start day).

No ice was left, but the water was still very cold. It would definitely be time to pack in some more ice or wrap up your camping trip.

The Yeti wasn’t too far behind either. It had roughly 10% of its ice left in the cooler.

The high temperature on the fifth day was 70 degrees.

Yeti vs Coleman After 5 Days.

The Coolers After 6 Days

After the 6th day, the Yeti joined the Coleman Xtreme and was all out of ice as well.

I expected the Yeti to go at least one more day, but I wasn’t really disappointed as I know that their claim of 7 days is with a pre-cooled cooler that is full to the top with ice, so 6 days was pretty good all things said.

Yeti After 6 Days
Yeti After 6 Days

Keep Your Cooler Colder for Longer

As mentioned above, my Yeti vs Coleman Xtreme test wasn’t meant to be scientifically accurate.

I just wanted to see how two coolers I already owned stacked up against each other under normal usage conditions.

That said, it is possible to keep both coolers colder for longer.

In addition to pre-chilling, you can maximize ice life by always storing your cooler in the shade, limiting the amount of time you open it, and never draining the melted water.

If you’re really serious, you can even add a reflective material on the outside of your cooler (this is an excellent tip for camping in summer heat).

I’d like to run an updated version of this comparison in the future where I keep both coolers in my car trunk for the duration of the experiment.


So, What Do I Think?

In the end, as long as price isn’t your deciding cooler, the Yeti Tundra 45 is still an amazing cooler.

Not only will it keep your food cold for a very long time, but it’s also all but indestructible. There’s no reason it shouldn’t last a lifetime.

On the other hand, the Coleman Xtreme 52 is an incredible cooler for the price.

For under $50, you get a quality cooler that will keep your food cold for a weekend camping trip.

Sure, it probably won’t last a lifetime – but the Coleman Xtreme certainly isn’t cheaply made.

And, no matter that, you can potentially buy up to 5 replacements before reaching the price of just one Yeti Tundra 45 Cooler.

So, rather than recommend one over the other, I’m going to say that the best cooler for you is a matter of preference.

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Check Out Our List of the Best Coolers for Camping

Brian Price

Monday 23rd of January 2023

Since the Coleman was bigger and you used the same 20lb. bag of ice for both coolers there was more of an air gap to cool on the Coleman. I'd say (non-scientifically) that pretty much evens thing out. I'd say the best bang for the buck goes to the Coleman. Just my 2 cents !

Mary

Friday 5th of August 2022

I wouldn't pay over 200 bucks for a cooler. I have 3 Coleman Extreme coolers that are over 20 years old.They haven't failed me yet on any camping trip over the years. I just washed them up for a family BBQ this weekend and I am surprised how well they are holding up considering how old they are. They may be modestly priced but they sre durable. They claim to keep their ice for 5 days per Coleman, but usually I have to add ice on day 4 to my main cooler (meats etc), I always use 2 coolers for trips. Second o e is drinks etc which is opened frequently.

Chris

Friday 15th of July 2022

I'm Coleman all the way. Picking up used coolers from the old metal to the older extreme series. I find they last and are the best bang for the buck. For a extra day it's not worth the price for a Yeti.

Bill

Sunday 10th of July 2022

Thanks for the comparison. Yeti is an obnoxious, non enviro friendly high priced brand that doesn't understand packing lightband their performance is poor . Their coolers are very very heavy with low capacity and if you need it to be bear proof you're camping like a slob.

amber

Thursday 7th of July 2022

I have the Coleman Xtreme 70 and I didn't need to get more ice on a 13 day trip. I had about half the cooler as frozen water 2L bottles and at least half of my food was frozen going in (like milk, yogurt, smoothies, produce). It was cool at night (30-50 F) and warm during the day (50-75). I opened the cooler 2-5 times a day. For bear safety I leave it in my car or put it in a bear box.

I have the Coleman Xtreme 28 too, great for 4 days.

Really don't understand why someone would spend so much on a status symbol cooler.