The Yeti brand seems to have blown up over the course of the last year or so in the world of beer and outdoors. With coolers, koozies, tumblers and more, these guys aren’t messing around. The premium quality keeps your beverages cold (or hot) for hours, even in the sweltering heat.
I got my Yeti Colster Can/Bottle koozie for Christmas last year and I can vouch for the fact that it keeps a beer colder, longer, than any other koozie I’ve ever used. But the quality comes with a price.
The Yeti Colster can cost anywhere from $28-35 depending on where you look. For some reason it varies, I’m not sure why (maybe supply and demand). At the time of this writing it I found it on sale for $28, which, while cheaper than what I paid when I bought one for a friend a few months back, is still not that cheap when it comes to a single koozie. And it’s because of the price tag that I decided to try and search out a viable alternative for a bit cheaper.
This search lead me to the RTIC Can Cooler, which I purchased it earlier this week (the price also seems to fluctuate on this product as well). And considering I paid $36 for the Yeti when I bought it for a friend as a house warming gift, this seemed like a great deal… if it could live up to the quality of the Yeti Colster.
And that’s what I planned to find out.[table id=1 responsive=scroll /]
Yeti Colster vs. RTIC Can Cooler
Both products are made of double-walled, vacuum insulated stainless steel, which helps to keep your beer cold and prevents the outside of the koozie from sweating all over your hands. They both also come with a removable top that thoroughly seals the top of the koozie around a can or standard 12 oz. bottle.
The quality of the actual stainless steel body of the products is essentially the exact same. If you held both of them in your hands without looking at the logos, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. There might be a slight difference in the engraved circle that goes around the bottom of the body, but outside of that they are pretty much identical in size, feel, and weight. Obviously each of them has their own respective logos stamped into the sides and bottom, but the logos are pretty much identical in style and placement. Hell, both of them are even designed in Texas and manufactured in China.
Now, while the bodies of the two different brands are the same, the removable tops are not. There is a definite difference in the two that is noticeable when you remove them and hold them both in your hands. The RTIC top feels a little cheaper than the Yeti does to me. It seems like the plastic used on the Yeti is a little higher quality, almost slightly more rubbery than plastic (just slightly), but overall the Yeti top feels more solid, especially when you screw it on to the body.
The Yeti screws back into the body fairly easily with a can or a bottle, where as with the RTIC I had a little bit of trouble getting it to sit correctly on a can when doing my testing. Obviously it still fits well once you get the threads lined up, but for some reason I had a bit of a hard time getting it to screw in fully. And I’m not sure if it has to do with the top or the body itself being just a few millimeters wider, but when using the RTIC with a standard 12 oz. bottle, there was definitely more wiggle room than the Yeti. I could basically pull the bottle out of the top of the RTIC fairly easily, while the Yeti had a bit more resistance. It didn’t seem to affect the seal that was created on the RTIC, but the wiggle room is noticeable.
So as far as build quality goes, the Yeti Colster gets the slight edge here in terms of the way bottles sit within the body and how the top feels and secures to the body, but like you’ll see in the next section, the RTIC still created a good enough seal to keep your drinks cold for a very long time.
How Long Will it Keep My Beer Cold?
With the build quality a moot point in my eyes, since both of them fit a can and a bottle well enough, the real test was whether or not they could both keep my beverage cold in the summer heat.
In order to accomplish this test I threw a couple beers (cans) in the fridge for a full 24 hours to get them down to whatever temperature my refrigerator keeps beer at, in this case that is 37 degrees. Then I took the beers out, opened them, and placed one in each of the respective koozies. They were both then set outside for 5 hours with temperature readings taken every 30 minutes. I also decided to have some fun with it and set out a normal neoprene koozie, just to see how terrible it was in comparison to these two beasts.
I started this experiment around 9am when it was around 77 degrees outside, in the sun my thermometer was reaching 90, but we’re just going to go with what the ambient temperature was overall. Over the course of the next 5 hours, the ambient temperature got up to 89 degrees, but the real question is, how warm did the beers get.
It was no surprise that the neoprene koozie kept the beer cool for a little while, but then quickly shot up and hovered at the outside air temperature. It probably didn’t help that the koozie itself was black in color… seems counterproductive to make a koozie black doesn’t it?
The beer started out at the same temperature as both of the other beers, a frigid 37 degrees. Within 30 minutes it had already shot up 18 degrees to 55, and by an hour it was 30 degrees warmer than when it started at 67 degrees. Just to put it into perspective, it took the other two koozies almost 3-hours to reach that same temperature. Now I can see nursing a beer for an hour, maybe, but if you’re nursing a beer for 3-hours, you probably should just give up and switch to lemonade or something.
After 2-hours the neoprene koozie had settled around the ambient temperature and the beer was pretty much worthless. It maintained this temperature through the remaining 3 hours, always hovering just below the outside temperature proving that a neoprene koozie is only good for maybe an hour.
I should have done a control and put one beer outside with nothing around it and seen how fast it warmed up, maybe it would have been slower than a black neoprene koozie, but who knows… maybe next time.
Obviously the neoprene koozie wasn’t going to compare to either the Yeti or the RTIC, but I thought it be fun to see how it compared. So now that, that garbage is out of the way lets get into the real meat and potatoes of this review.
As with all of the beers, the beer within the Yeti Colster started at 37 degrees and was placed outside next to the other 2 beer/koozie combinations, and left for 5-hours, with temperature readings taken every 30-minutes. After a half hour the beer in the Yeti had risen 3 degrees, which is a far cry from the 18 degrees the neoprene koozie went up. After an hour it had raised 9 degrees to 46 degrees, and it wasn’t until the 3-hour mark that the beer in the Yeti hit 65 degrees. It took the neoprene koozie an hour to reach this same temperature.
The beer in the Yeti Colster raised an average of 3.5 degrees every 30 minutes topping out a modest 72 degrees after 5-hours outside. The temperature outside was 89 degrees at the conclusion of the experiment so the Yeti still managed to keep the beer colder than the ambient temperature for a full 5-hours.
Even if you decide to nurse your single beer all day out in the sun, it will still taste slightly cold compared to the air outside, but I don’t recommend nursing your beer for 5-hours, that’s just dumb.
RTIC Can Cooler
We know that the RTIC is going to outperform the neoprene koozie, that’s a given, but how did it stack up to the Yeti, that’s really the question we wanted to find out. Well, it stacks up pretty damn well.
The RTIC Can Cooler raised an average of 3.7 degrees every 30 minutes for the 5-hours it sat outside in the summer heat. This is slightly more than the Yeti Colster, but for the length of the entire experiment the RTIC was only 1-3 degrees warmer than the Yeti at any given time. They were dead even at 53 degrees at the hour and a half mark.
The RTIC Can Cooler topped out at 74 degrees whereas the Yeti topped out at 72 degrees, but if you look at the chart above, you’ll see that for the timeframes that really matter, these two were pretty much dead even.
My conclusion on the Yeti vs. RTIC debate is that the RTIC performs just as well as the Yeti where it counts… keeping your beer cold. the RTIC falls just slightly behind when it comes to build quality, but for half the price I can live with the minor quality issues.
So while Yeti might be the household name right now, I would recommend saving yourself a few bucks and buying a two of the RTIC Can Coolers for the same price as one of the Yeti Colsters. The RTIC will get the job done just as well and you now have another koozie you can share with a friend. Or you can read our rundown of other Yeti Competitors here.
And if you’re looking for something that will keep your liquid beverages cold, as-in not canned beverages, check out our review of the Bodum Pavina Double Wall Thermo-Glass. We did the same comparison test on these products that we did with the Yeti and the RTIC!
UPDATE: It’s the summer of hard seltzer and the slim cans of White Claw and Truly don’t fit super well in the koozie options listed here. So if you’re looking for a few koozie options for slim cans, check out our new post!
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