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 Cooler Wars: 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.
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).
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).
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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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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?
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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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