Long before YETI redefined the entire soft cooler genre with its well-loved Hopper series, it had another cooler built for portability and smaller loads—its vaunted Roadie hard cooler. The original Roadie 20 has been a staple in YETI's lineup for well over a decade and year after year has been one of the brand's best sellers.
And, if we're being honest, as rock-solid as the Hopper series is and despite the fact that YETI keeps finding significant ways to improve the Hopper with each redesign (the third iteration of the Hopper series was released earlier this year), we've usually preferred the Roadie. Yes, the Hopper is unquestionably lighter and more portable, but once loaded up—not dramatically so. Plus, you can sit on the Roadie. I mean, you can sit on the Hopper—but we're not sure why you'd want to and good luck to its contents when you do. Most importantly, as well as even the best soft coolers perform, hard coolers are simply better at doing what they're made to do: keep things cold.
After more than 10 years, YETI has introduced a new Roadie: the Roadie 24. According to the Austin, Texas-based brand, the new Roadie is "New and Improved. And Improved. And Improved." Accuse YETI of what you might, but one thing the brand isn't known for is hyperbolic marketing. When most brands say things like "overbuilt," "over-engineered," or "built to last," it's mostly just marketing hype. When YETI says such things, they tend to back it up and their track record invariably supports their claims.
Still, we're inclined to see for ourselves.
The new Roadie is the Roadie 24 thanks to 4 extra quarts of storage when compared to its predecessor. 4 quarts translates into 20% more room which translates into 4 extra pounds of ice or a couple extra cans of beer—speaking of which, YETI says the new Roadie 24 can swallow 18 cans of beer (properly iced), but we've been able to stuff a full case of 12 oz cans or 20 pounder cans and still have enough room for ice to feel good about it.
More Versatile Storage Space
From where we sit, more important than the Roadie 24 holding more is the fact that its interior space is considerably more versatile. Whether this is particularly exciting is up to you. Yes, we're talking about cooler storage/organization—so not exactly universe-shaking, next-level stuff, here. But, you're here reading a review about a box that keeps drinks cold, so clearly you're looking to get fairly nerdy about the details.
One of the most noteworthy new possibilities which YETI has taken the time to highlight is the ability to store wine bottles upright, rather than laying them down. This not only often leads to wine spilled into the bottom of your cooler instead of your glass, but is also a really inefficient use of space. Of potentially bigger import, especially if you're a craft beer drinker, is the fact that you can stack the now-ubiquitous 16oz pounder cans in two levels—which you absolutely couldn't do with the old, shorter Roadie 20. It's also worth noting that when using YETI's new "Dry Goods Basket", there's still plenty of room for effective storage underneath, rather than relegating that space only for irregular items.
The old, smaller Roadie 20 weighed 15 pounds empty. The new Roadie 24 clocks in at 12.8 pounds. Lighter is better.
New QuickLatch System
If you're like us, over the years you've developed the skill to be able to unlatch YETI's traditional T-Rex rubber lid latches with one hand. But there are plenty of people that simply lack the hand strength to do it, and even if you've figured it out, it ain't easy. YETI designed its new QuickLatch system to be stupid-easy to open, and they're just that. You're not going to miss the more cumbersome T-Rex latches.
In addition to being easier to open, the new QuickLatch system boasts a much leaner, cleaner profile. If there's one thing the T-Rex latches are good at, other than securing cooler lids, it's finding a way to snag just about everything that passes them by—boxes, bags, pant legs and most certainly fly lines blowing in the wind from the bow of a skiff. This is generally just a minor annoyance, but every once in a while those snags end up popping open a latch that then goes unnoticed, leaving a bit of precious cold air leaking out of your cooler.
And so you'll appreciate the the slimmer, integrated form factor of the new latches and their dead-easy opening. In fact, the new latches are such a godsend that—provided they are suitable for YETI's larger model hard coolers—we'd love and expect to see them integrated into the Tundra line.
It might be fair to say that the old, rigid metal handle on the original Roadie 20 was its black eye. Overall, it was a yes-we'd-rather-have-it-than-not addition, but it never seemed to work the way it should. Even after years of use, it was always a bit of a pain to move forward and backward and, despite offering a seriously sturdy hand hold, always seemed to manage to make your shoulder ache after about 20 paces regardless of whether the cooler was heavily loaded down or not.
The new, heavy duty but flexible nylon HeftyHauler strap seems to solve all of these concerns leaving one to wonder why YETI didn't deploy a similar solution on the original Roadie. It's a simpler design, presumably a less expensive design, and one that seems like it will last longer and weather more gracefully than the old metal handle.
Yes—it has lash points
There are more than a few owners of the new Roadie out there complaining that they can't lash down their new Roadie the way they could secure their old Roadie. Why? No lash points! If this were indeed the case, this would have been an unwelcome oversight on YETI's part. For our uses, these lash points — which we almost always run an NRS strap though — allow us to fasten the Roadie down on SUPs, in the bed of a pickup truck, on boats and so on.
But, truth be told, there are lash points, most people are just missing them. I suppose one could suggest that YETI deserves a bit of a ding for not making this more clear but, to be fair, it doesn't take terribly long to find them (less time than it takes to hop online to pen a negative review complaining about their absence, for instance).
Unlike the old Roadie and YETI's larger coolers in the Tundra lineup, which have their lash points integrated into the cooler's roto-molded frame and concealed under the lid, the lash points on the new Roadie 24 have been migrated to the black attachments for the new HeftyHauler handle. The pros of this migration are manifold: there's no need to open the lid to access them and shorter straps can be used than with the lid-recessed points. If there's a con, it's that the old roto-molded points are likely more bombproof, but true to YETI engineering, we've torqued on the new lash points pretty damned hard without any signs of flex or concerns about breakage.
No Drainage Valve
If there's one area where the Roadie 24 didn't improve or backtracked on its predecessor, it's here. To be honest, we flip-flopped on this being a pro or a con. We've looked into enough YETI coolers owned by people that don't properly clean their drain valves—leaving them to get seriously nasty—to know that some people just shouldn't have them. And it's true that the new Roadie is lighter, making flipping it and or/cleaning it less of a chore. Still, at the end of the day, having to flip or unload a cooler to ditch excess water and reload ice is a downgrade—leaving us scratching our heads about why YETI made the decision skip the drainage valve this time around.
As nice as the new handle is, YETI made the peculiar decision to leave a small gap in the rubber handle. Occasionally the strap pokes out and you need to reseat it in the handle. Clearly a minor gripe, but worth noting.
We might have titled this review "5 ways the new YETI Roadie 24 is better than the original," given that, in all arenas except one, the new Roadie offers significant improvements over its predecessor. In typical YETI style, the new features and design changes are smart, thoughtful, well executed and overbuilt. The new latch and handle systems are major upgrades, as is the increased and more useful capacity.
As one of YETI's most affordable coolers, the Roadie 24 is going to welcome a lot of new YETI owners into the brand's fold—all of which who are unlikely to be disappointed.