RTIC vs YETI Cooler: The Winner of the Comparison [2023 Guide]

Today, we’re doing a side-by-side comparison of RTIC vs YETI Cooler that we probably should have done years ago. So, if you look at the landscape of cooler brands out there and you ignore guys like Coleman and Igloo and all those kinds of lower price point coolers. The YETI and RTIC are the big names out there by far.

RTIC 45 QT Hard Cooler vs YETI Tundra 45 Hard Cooler: Main Differences

YETI obviously is pretty much the original roto-molded cooler, and RTIC you might know this they’re like the arch nemesis of YETI. They’re just down the street from YETI in terms of their headquarters and their products look very similar to YETI. Basically, a lot of people will consider them like a carbon copy of YETI that’s not me saying that those are comments I’ve read on the internet. When you compare their photos side-by-side, at first glance, they look the same thing. However, when we did hands-on testing (indoor and outdoor ice retention test, leak proof tests etc.) for the RTIC vs YETI Cooler comparison, we found the main differences between them that might help you decide:

  • RTIC Hard Cooler is cheaper than YETI Tundra Cooler
  • RTIC 45 QT Hard Cooler is leak-proof, but YETI Tundra 45 Cooler is not
  • YETI Tundra 45 Cooler keeps things colder than RTIC 45 QT Cooler
  • YETI Tundra 45 has 5-years warranty, whereas RTIC 45 QT has 1-year

In this post, we compared the RTIC 45 vs YETI 45, but our verdict is the same for the followings such sizes RTIC 65 vs YETI 65, RTIC 20 vs YETI 20 and so on. Here is the table we have put together to help you better understand the main differences between RTIC 45-quart cooler and YETI Tundra 45-quart cooler:

Comparison of #RTIC 45 QT Hard CoolerYETI Tundra 45 Hard Cooler
Our Selection forBest Bang for the BuckBetter at Keeping Things Cold
Actual Net Capacity45 quartsNet around 35 quarts
Indoor Ice Retention Test
 @ 45 Degrees
(22.5 quarts of ice-filled, 50% of capacity)
(17,5 quarts of ice-filled, 50% of capacity)
Outdoor Ice Retention Test
 @ 96 Degrees High & 58 Degrees low
Ice Melted around 85-hours
(29 quarts of ice-filled, 65% of capacity)
Ice Melted around 85-hours
(23 quarts of ice-filled, 65% of capacity)
Outdoor Ice Retention Test
 @ 96 Degrees High & 58 Degrees low
Reached 56 Degrees in 96-hoursReached 56 Degrees in 96-hours
Leak ProofYesNo
Bear ResistantYesYes
FeaturesT-Rex Latches, Lock Holes & Drain,
Non-Skid Pads, Tie-down Slots,
Molded Handles & Rope Handles
T-Rex Latches, Lock Holes & Drain,
Non-Skid Pads, Tie-down Slots,
Molded Handles & Rope Handles
Lock Holes & DrainYesYes
PriceMore BudgedMore Expensive
Latest PriceCheck Latest Deals on AmazonCheck Latest Deals on Amazon

The long story short, the RTIC 45 QT Cooler is more budged, leak-proof and also have higher net capacity compared to the YETI Tundra 45. On the other hand, for the same amount of ice inside, the YETI Tundra 45 keeps things cold longer and YETI offers 5-year warranty.

RTIC 45 QT vs YETI Tundra 45 Cooler the Similarities

Let’s start off with the similarities for RTIC vs YETI Cooler:

T-Latches for RTIC Hard Cooler vs YETI Tundra Cooler

T-Latches for RTIC Hard Cooler vs YETI Tundra Cooler are the same

So, both of them are roto-molded coolers. They look pretty much identical. Almost everything is the same. They both have T-Rex latches or the T-Latches. There’s a little bit of a difference between YETI and RTIC here! They might look the same but you’ll notice that YETI’s are a little stiffer than RTIC’s. So, RTIC‘s are a little bit easier, if you’re not as strong to secure the T-Latches. That’s one minor difference.

Lock Holes & Drain

Both YETI and RTIC Hard Coolers have drain hole, T-rex latches, handle ropes, gasket. They are also bear resistant.

They both have a drain. They both have lock holes. So, if you want to lock them you can do that on both sides of the cooler.

Molded Handles & Rope handles RTIC 45 vs YETI 45 Cooler

They both have a molded handles on both sides which are great for grabbing or for lifting the cooler or grabbing and lifting it. Also, you can also use the rope handles. Again, a little bit of a difference here. We prefer the RTIC ones. Because, they’re a little longer so when you go to carry it, you’re not going to knock your hand into the cooler. With YETI, sometimes it kind of gets in the way. Although, we do prefer the grip of YETI, it’s like hard rubber (rope handles) and it kind of bites into your hand a little bit more than the foam that you get with the RTIC.

Gasket & Bear Resistant

Other things you may want to know; they both have a wiper blade style gasket. It’s like a rubber but not a foam.

Also, both of them are completely bare resistant (certified). So, a bear is not going to be able to open these. Both coolers have an extremely sturdy lid. If you do want to stand on them that’s not going to be an issue. I know a lot of fishermen, my brother, they like to stand on top of their coolers to get like a higher position to cast. You can do that, and there will be no flex in the lids.

Non-Skid Pads

Both of them do have the non-skid pads on the bottom. So, they’re not going to slip around.

Tie-down Slots

They both have the built-in tie-down slots.

Key Differences Between RTIC and YETI Cooler

So, why you should get RTIC over YETI, if they’re pretty much the exact same thing. We would recommend reading the followings to make a clear decision on which one is worth buying.

RTIC Hard Cooler is cheaper than YETI Tundra

First of all, everybody knows the price point is much lower for RTIC. So, the RTIC 45 QT is around $200, but, YETI Tundra 45 is $300. There is $100 price point difference. You can check the links below to see the latest deals on Amazon (not cost you any extra!)

Rates for RTIC 45 QT Hard Cooler

Comparison from Price Point

Check Latest Deals on Amazon

Rates for YETI Tundra 45 Hard Cooler

Comparison from Price Point

Check Latest Deals on Amazon

The RTIC is going to be quite a bit more affordable than YETI. There is one caveat though. They don’t come in the exact same sizes. You might see that YETI has the 45, the 35 and the 65 and RTIC also has the 45, the 65 etc. But, RTIC quotes actual quarts! So, this is a 45-quart cooler. They might have a very similar footprint but the YETI Tundra 45 is actually more like a 35-quart cooler! So, it’s more expensive and it has less internal capacity.

If you decide to go with the RTIC 45 QT cooler, you are getting more actually for your money, or let’s say a larger cooler for your money!

RTIC 45 Cooler is Leak-Proof, YETI Tundra 45 is NOT

Other things that a lot of people don’t know about with RTIC is that it is a leak-proof cooler, like 99% leak proof. We turned on its side, we flipped it over, we did all these things to try to get it to drip some water. What we’ve seen in all of our trials, it’s a leak-proof cooler. However, YETI can’t say that YETI Tundra 45 is leak-proof. For all the sizes of YETI’s Tundra cooler, we’ve tried. You know most people are going to be turning their coolers over and things like that or in the back of a truck, it’s moving around. Probably, water is not going to be coming out. But, if you do have YETI Tundra Cooler, one day something may fall out of truck bed. The RTIC Hard Cooler doesn’t leak, whereas YETI Tundra Cooler does leak that’s one little difference.

Now, let’s talk about what YETI’s Tundra Cooler does better than the RTIC Hard Cooler. Frankly, YETI wouldn’t be such a big brand, if they didn’t make great products. In this regard, YETI Tundra Cooler is not an exception. Indeed, all the YETI coolers are really good. We would say, if you’re just looking for the better cooler, but not the better value, then YETI is actually a better cooler in terms of keeping things cold!

YETI Tundra 45 Cooler Keeps Things Colder Than RTIC 45 QT Hard Cooler

Let’s go over our ice retention test! How did we test these two coolers? So, indoors at about 73 degrees temperature, both were about ice filled to 50% of capacity. The RTIC 45-quart Hard Cooler went about 118 hours before it melted right around there. On the other hand, YETI Tundra 45 Cooler (actually 35-quart) went about 114 hours before it melted. Even at the end of that fifth day (120-hour), they both were plenty cold enough for your beverages. Yes, ice might have completely melted but they were cold enough. The RTIC 45 QT Hard Cooler was below 40 degrees. The YETI Tundra 45 was like 45 degrees somewhere around there.

Both of the coolers are totally useful and results were really close to each other considering indoor ice retention test. One thing to consider is that the YETI Tundra 45 is actually 35-quart in capacity, and therefore when we filled it with 50% ice, it includes less ice than the RTIC 45. So, although YETI Tundra 45 is a smaller cooler (fits less ice) compared to RTIC QT 45, it can still compete with the RTIC 45 QT Hard Cooler.

In our outdoor test, it was 96 degrees out the high and about 58 degrees in the low. They both did really well and they both were very similar in terms of the duration that they went before the ice melted. So, for both of them, we saw that the ice melted after 85 hours. They were filled 65% capacity which is pretty much what their brands recommend. So, it is not quite a full four days for both of them. Because, they’re not filled entirely with ice.

When you see the brands called ice retention, it’s usually filled entirely and it’s put in room temperature or maybe even lower. But outdoors 96 degrees, they both went around 85 hours. At like 96-hour mark, they both were 56 degrees. So, pretty much the exact same performance outdoors which is the reason why we say YETI is actually the better cooler, because it had a lot less ice than RTIC. Here is the takeaway for the ice retention test; if you fill them with the same amount of ice, then the YETI Tundra 45-quart will trap cold longer.

RTIC vs YETI Cooler: The Warranty

YETI Tundra Hard Cooler has a five-year warranty, whereas RTIC Hard Cooler has one year warranty. So, if price is really important to you, you’re going to get RTIC. If price isn’t so important, YETI is a bang-up cooler. It’s a great cooler, it will cost you a lot more, but it comes with a five-year warranty.

Bottom-line RTIC vs YETI Cooler

Our verdict for RTIC vs YETI Cooler comparison: If you’re searching for value, RTIC Hard Cooler is the best option. However, if you’re searching for slightly better cooler, then we recommend the YETI Tundra Cooler.

If you are looking for even more budged hard cooler option, you may want to take a look at the Lifetime Cooler. Here is the article that we compared the Lifetime vs YETI Cooler.

If you are planning an outdoor activity such as backpacking or hiking, you may want to take a look at the following articles to pick correct hiking and backpacking gears: