Many people are familiar with Yeti for their durable coolers and mugs that can keep ice cubes frozen for an extended period of time. The Tundra line of coolers and Rambler line of mugs are highly regarded and considered status symbols in the Southeast. Yeti surprised us when they introduced their soft-sided cooler, the Yeti Hopper 30. In this review, we will explore whether it lives up to the storied reputation of Yeti.
When I first saw the Yeti Hopper 30, I wondered how its soft-sided insulation compares to the 10 to 14-day ice retention of the Tundra. The Tundra uses urethane insulation inside its hard shell, which wouldn’t be suitable for a soft cooler. Yeti introduced a closed-cell rubber foam insulation called ColdCell for the Hopper 30, providing solid insulation for people on the move.
To ensure the cooler is completely leak-proof, Yeti incorporated some innovative design features. The exterior of the Hopper 30 is made from Dryhide Shell, a high-density fabric that is waterproof, mildew-resistant, puncture-resistant, and UV-resistant. While Yeti hasn’t disclosed the exact material used, they have confirmed that it meets FDA-approved food-grade standards.
Creating a leak-proof opening is more complex than simply adding a rubber gasket around the lid. Soft-sided coolers traditionally use zippers, and the Yeti Hopper 30 is no exception. Yeti’s closure system, called the HydroLok zipper, was inspired by lifejackets. Periodic lubrication is necessary, which is why Yeti includes a small tube of lubricant. The oversized and rubberized zipper pulls provide an easy and secure grip.
However, the opening can be a bit stiff, and the zipper tends to rub against your arm when you’re putting things in or taking them out, which can be bothersome if you frequently access the cooler.
The Hopper 30 offers various carrying options. It features two large straps on the wide side, allowing you to carry it with one hand. On either end, smaller shoulder straps provide the option for two-handed carrying. Unless I’m loading or unloading the cooler from the car, I usually default to using the shoulder straps. The seams where the straps connect to the cooler are well reinforced for durability.
Sewn onto the sides along the handle is what Yeti calls the HitchPoint Grid. It’s a MOLLE-style system that enables you to attach additional items to the cooler. Personally, I find it helpful to clip a few small boxes with my favorite flies and fishing gear, eliminating the need for a separate backpack.
To maximize ice retention, Yeti recommends a 2:1 ratio of ice to contents. With this ratio, the Yeti Hopper 30 can hold 24 cans, six-foot subs, or four buckets of ice cream. If you only intend to carry ice and plan on bringing home fish, you can load up to 30 lbs of ice. This is quite impressive for a soft-sided cooler designed for portability. Regardless of the weight I’m carrying, I prefer to have the Hopper on my shoulders, flipping it onto my back. Carrying it in any other way becomes awkward due to its size.
When placing the Hopper on the ground, its wide base allows it to stand on its own, which is particularly useful on uneven surfaces or when using it on a boat in choppy waters.
Now, I understand that you’re not here to read about ergonomics. The most important question is how well it keeps things cold. Unfortunately, I haven’t tested it in a Central Florida summer where ice retention is crucial. Nevertheless, I can attest to how cold the interior and inner shell remain.
The leak-proof design of the cooler holds true so far. It remains to be seen how it performs in the long run. However, I haven’t experienced a single leak, even though all the ice has melted. The only downside is that you have to flip the cooler over to drain the water since there’s no plug. Additionally, the restricted opening makes it a bit awkward to dry the cooler upside down.
The Bottom Line
So, should you choose the Yeti Hopper 30 or one of the Tundra coolers?
The Tundra boasts longer ice retention, a certified bear-proof design, and is an excellent choice for using as a forward casting platform on a flat boat. However, it is cumbersome and heavy to carry alone.
When it comes to short trips and portability, the Hopper is much more user-friendly as you can easily manage it on your own. It’s perfect for weekend camping trips or fishing excursions. However, it doesn’t hold ice for as long as the Tundra nor does it offer the same level of rigidity.
Ultimately, the right choice depends on the specific circumstances of the day. Personally, I appreciate the portability of the Yeti Hopper 30 for camping, kayaking, hiking, and weekend getaways. When I’m fishing or hunting from a boat, I prefer the rigidity and capacity of the larger Tundra cooler.
At the end of the day, perhaps the best solution is to have both coolers – and maybe even grab a Rambler as well.
Key Features of the Yeti Hopper 30 Cooler
- Leakproof HydroLok zipper technology, inspired by lifejackets, ensures exceptional strength
- Tapered body makes towing from rental to lake effortless
- Holds up to 30 lbs of ice or 24 cans of beer, with a recommended ice-to-content ratio of 2:1
- Interior is mildew-resistant for easy cleaning and storage
- Dryhide Shell, a high-density fabric, provides excellent waterproof, puncture-resistant, UV-resistant, and mildew-resistant properties
- Coldcell Insulation, a closed-cell rubber foam, offers superior cold retention compared to regular soft coolers
- Model: Yeti YHOP30T
- Color: Tan
- Finishes: Dry leather fabric, cold room insulation
- Cooler Material: Fabric
- Cooler Type: Marine Cooler
- Country of Origin: USA
- Dimensions: 22.5″ x 12″ x 16.5″
- Internal Width: 9.5″
- Weight: 5.5 lbs
- Warranty: 3-year limited
- Price: $349.99