Monday, August 8, 2016

How Much Is a YETI Worth?

This blog has been pretty slow during these dog days of summer, due to the combination of moving* and vacation.

*Oh, moving... There's a great Louis CK joke about the law against murder being the number one thing preventing murder. Well, with all the obstacles and idiots I had to deal with while moving, that joke definitely applied to me. Big-time.

One of our recent trips was our second-annual jaunt to the Jersey Shore, which is in many ways a week-long commercial for YETI coolers. Last year, each day I timed the first utterance of the word "YETI" and it usually happened within five minutes of sitting down on the beach. This year, the YETI craze reached new heights.

For those who don't know, the YETI is basically the Ferrari of the cooler world. According to Wikipedia, "Brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders founded the company in 2006, convincing customers to purchase a cooler costing several hundred dollars vs. the typical $40 ... The company targets niche markets of high-end hunting and fishing enthusiasts." I'd add "beer-drinking enthusiasts," a group that has lots of enthusiasm to be targeted.

My friends' obsession with YETIs allows me to constantly mimic that scene from Mrs. Doubtfire in which Robin Williams exclaims "I must look like a Yeti in this get-up!" Other than that, though, I've generally expressed my disdain for the company's products. After all, it's just a cooler. Unless someone invents a cooler that spontaneously generates new beers, I can't get too excited about it.

I used to really hate YETI and all it stood for. However, I've recently lightened my stance about the company, for two main reasons. One, it's provided me with a lot of laughs. And two, YETI really keeps those GD beers cold, man. So while I've yet to purchase one, I'm not as anti-YETI as I was in the past. I'm still not a member of Team YETI (or, for that matter, Team ORCA or Team RTIC), but I've softened a bit.

And since my Average Joe Cooler was stolen on the last day of our Jersey trip, I need a new one. Should I buy a YETI? With that question in mind, let's examine five of YETI's most popular products and try to figure out if they're worth all the money people shell out for them.

(WARNING: Gory fake math ahead!)

YETI Tundra 75 Cooler ($449.99)
Jesus Christmas, that's a lot of money for a cooler. Let's be rational here, though. This thing holds 50 cans or 66 pounds of ice. By my calculations, then, it holds a 36-pack of beer and enough ice to sustain Mr. Narwhal. The product description says this cooler provides "superior ice retention", which is an understatement when you consider that my usual coolers lose ice like a hemophiliac loses blood.

So how much extra would you pay for guaranteed cold beer, for days? An extra 10 cents per beer seems fair. Let the variable x equal the number of beers you'd have to drink before breaking even on your YETI investment, and you get a pretty simple formula:

.10x = 399.99

You could probably create some kind of compound-interest problem that factors in the money you'd save on bags of ice, too, but I'm going to keep this at or below a ninth-grade Algebra level. So using that equation above, it would take about 4,000 beers to break even on this cooler. Four thousand beers or, as it's also known, one summer.

YETI Hopper 30 ($349.99)
Read this conceited description and tell me this product isn't the Kanye West of coolers:

The YETI® Hopper™ is the first 100% leakproof, portable cooler that’s built for the long haul and can keep ice for days. It’s reliable. It’s convenient. It’s easy to carry and designed for those on the go. It’s well-suited for days at the ranch, a BYOB dinner at The Salt Lick, or an afternoon on the water. Its DryHide™ Shell is puncture-resistant while the HydroLok™ Zipper is the best cooler zipper ever, period. The Hopper 30 can hold 24 cans (with the suggested 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio), six footlong subs, or four tubs of ice cream — a pretty impressive haul for just one cooler. But the Hopper’s not your ordinary soft-sided cooler — in fact, it’s anything but soft.

The braggadocio of that description alone is worth at least 250 bucks. The "best cooler zipper ever" is definitely worth another 50. So now you're really asking if the cooler itself is worth $49.99. Seems like a freakin' bargain to me.

One quick anecdote about the Hopper: My buddy Pat is raffling one off at a charity softball tournament in a couple weeks, and he said he's going to rig the drawing so that I win. Why? I vowed that if I win the YETI, I'll burn it on the pitcher's mound, just to see all the YETI zealots cry. (I guess I do still hate YETI.)

YETI Colster ($29.99)
This is basically just a metal coozie, about which my father always expressed his contempt. His thinking was that you shouldn't ever have a 12-ounce beer in your hand long enough for the drink to get warm. Thirty bucks seems like a steep price to pay for the option to nurse your beer like Andy Dufresne's buddies.

YETI Rambler 30 ($39.99)
Now we're talking! For just 10 dollars more, you can control the temperature of a 30-ounce drink. This thermos is perfect for your morning coffee or your evening beer. Or your morning beer. I hope Santa reads this and hooks me up with a Rambler 30 in a few months.

YETI T-shirt ($24.99)
I lied when I said I've never purchased a YETI product. I meant that I've never bought one for myself. I paid 25 smackeroos to get a T-shirt for my buddy Jim for his birthday. He looks sexy as shit in it. Dad bod on fleek and all that. Ergo, this purchase was definitely worth it.


So, back to the key questions: Are YETI products worth their exorbitant price tags? Will I ever buy a YETI for myself? I'm still not sure. I guess I just haven't thought about it enough yet.

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Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweet


  1. You forgot about the most recent product, my most recent AMAZing purchase, the $60, 64oz water-bottle!!! Like Mark Benson once said, "why buy anything but YETI, it has never steered anyone wrong."


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