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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 the 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 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 their hat into the ring with their 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 abilities 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 52-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 at 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).

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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.

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 melt 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.

What do you guys think?

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Sunday 23rd of August 2020

How the hell do you stare at two beers, for six days, and not drink them?

The Yeti looks like a bank vault!

We have the Coleman, it’s a good cooler, opt for the white top, blue bottom, and why anyone would want this black top, black bottom, is beyond me.


Friday 7th of August 2020

Allow me to mention a couple things that none of the previous comments note. First, because cold air is heavier than warm air it is possible to open your cooler without losing much cold if you open it fairly slowly. If you yank it open the swirl of air does displace the cold air with warm. Same thing if you open it in a windy location. Second, if you confine your ice in a container, such as a milk jug or even better soda bottles, the inside of your cooler doesn't become awash in melt water, and the ice will keep quite a bit longer because it doesn't have physical contact with the cooler wall which slows thermal conduction. Using these techniques I kept ice into the 8th day on a long canoe trip down the Green River in Utah. One other thing I did to prolong the ice was to drape a white towel on top of the cooler and flip river water up on it occasionally to keep it damp. Evaporation no doubt kept the surface temp down considerably. The cooler was sitting in full sun all day every day in the middle of my canoe.


Friday 7th of August 2020

Forget to mention that the cooler was a Coleman 5-day Xtreme


Saturday 14th of March 2020

The only way to perform tests on coolers is to precool the chest, then freeze 1 gallon jugs of water to solid ice, then use a couple those to ice down the cooler followed by either crushed ice or cubes over the food before sealing. Using just crushed ice is a poor test since it melts much faster than block ice. One nice trick I use out in the desert to cool bottled water is to bring a small cooler, leave all my bottled water cases out at night under the truck, early morning I add some of these cooled by the night air each day to a cooler with no ice in it, but keep it shaded, I got cool water all day every day in desert without having to add warm bottles to the main ice chest.

Bo Vandenberg

Saturday 19th of October 2019

Thank you for the comparison but I think your personal preference shows though too much.

The Yeti had 10% ice on the 6th day.

The reality is that you'd add ice to these coolers at the same time. The Yeti is smaller, heavier, and way more expensive. You obscured these Yeti negatives.

With any sort of budget, this is a Coleman win.

Mark C.

Thursday 8th of August 2019

I use an "old" Coleman eXtreme (silver and white) with 20lb block ice for $7.00. I don't pre-cool, and stay in 8o-90 degree day temps, and 70-80 degree evening temps. I can get a solid 7 days, disposing a 1/2 to 1lb chunk of ice when done. The latch is broken, so I tie it from handle to handle across the top to keep the lid shut tight. I do not go in and out of the cooler, and keep open times to a minimum. I think that's the trick. I also shade the cooler and block the sun with tarps (silver side out to reflect the rays away from the cooler). This is also a good way to preserve the longevity of the ice. Good test on this subject. I hope someone can use the tips I also provided.