Until YETI introduced its original cooler almost a decade ago, there weren't very many people out there that could get excited about a cooler. After all, we had all been toting around different versions of what amounted to the same clumsy cooler for years. These cheap plastic doppelgängers required lots of ice refills to keep things cold and ended up being fairly disposable, since their flimsy construction didn't offer up much durability. But they got the job done, we were satisfied. That is, until YETI came along and showed us we were setting our expecations way too low.
YETI's flagship Tundra series holds ice for over a week in some cases, offers up bomb-proof (read: bear proof) construction, is dry ice safe and is packed with other should-have-thought-of-it features that for many years now have made an ice box into a conversation piece, something to covet, and a very serious piece of gear. YETI unquestionably revolutionized how we think about coolers, and now they're back to try to do it again.
On Wednesday, YETI introduced what it is confidently referring to as product that is just as game-changing as its hard sided cooler. The new YETI Hopper is a soft-sided cooler, designed from the ground up to provide much of what its hard-sided coolers provide -- long-term ice retention, robust durability and thoughtful features and construction that address the shortcomings in the industry standard of design -- only in a vastly more portable package.
The result is the most formidable soft-sided cooler you've ever seen. Built mostly out of heavy gauge nylon (the same stuff whitewater rafts are built from), the Hopper is stuffed with an inch to an inch and a half of closed-cell foam insulation and topped with a heavy-duty, waterproof, airtight HydroLok™ Zipper that won't leak. The bottom is sturdy EVA-molded foam, the seams are RF welded and there are 6 D-ring tie down points for securing the Hopper to boats, RVs and so on. YETI says the Hopper holds "ice for days" and is built to take a great deal of abuse.
YETI also tells us that the Hopper will eat a 20 pound bag of ice and 18 cans or you allow stuff in 6 foot long subs or 8 quarts of potato salad (because you don't want to be caught in the woods without potato salad).
Also joining the product lineup along with the Hopper will be the YETI Sidekick, which is a small water-resistant pouch designed for holding wallets, phones, keys and more. The SideKick mounts onto the side of the Hopper via its HitchPoint™ Grid with hook and loop strapping.
Like YETI's other products, the Hopper ain't cheap. But, even at a burly MSRP of $299, our guess is that YETI's new Hopper is going to find a way to fly off the shelves. Available through YETI retailers come October.