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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


Monday 6th of September 2021

The Coleman, as you noted, is larger than the Yeti. There's more air space and that matters. If you repeat the experiment, try filling them each 2/3-3/4 full and see what happens. I had a Coleman Extreme- a smaller one. The handle broke, but it kept things icy for days on end. I would not take it on say a two week hunting trip or a lengthy fishing trip- situations where the cooler is a survival gear item, but short term or car camping trips with my kid, no problem. Easily fine for a long weekend.


Sunday 1st of August 2021

Give me the Yeti anyway. I’ve owned both and under different circumstances at different times my Yeti kills the Coleman especially on the lake on a hot day. I love Coleman products but when it comes to coolers if the end goal is a cold drink or cold food Yeti is my preference.

Carol Dykstra

Sunday 1st of August 2021

I thought it was a great comparison. I'll keep my coleman though. Affordable and what's an extra bag of ice every couple of days!

Cynthia Miller

Sunday 4th of July 2021

I want to see what happens in the trunk comparison. Good info for car camping/road tripping.


Wednesday 30th of June 2021

How come the reviews don't talk about the weight? Isnt the coleman 1/3rd the weight? Does it matter? Generally 20 lbs matters.