Yeti coolers boast 7-10 days ice retention but sometimes you can find your ice melting in as little as 24 hours, or even performing worse than a cheap $50 cooler. Here are some reasons ice may be melting quickly in your Yeti and how you can rectify the problem.
Ice is melting so quickly in your Yeti either because you didn't pre-chill it, you are putting in warm/room temperature items which melts the ice, you're not using enough ice or you are placing it on warm surfaces or in direct sunlight. If you aren't making any of these mistakes the your ice may be melting quickly due to a manufacturer default (likely missing pockets of insulation) and Yeti should replace your cooler if it's under warranty.
The internet is littered with people talking about how their Yeti doesn't keep ice longer than 1-2 days, but there are also stories of people where their Yeti held ice for 7+ days.
I personally did an ice test on my own Yeti and it kept ice for over 10 days. This was in really good conditions – a milk climate and kept inside all day. But regardless this was twice the performance of a regular Coleman cooler which I also tested at the exact same time.
So how come sometimes Yeti coolers work as they are meant to and sometimes Yeti coolers don't hold ice for very long. That is what we are going to try and solve for you in this article.
Is This A Manufacturer Default?
It is possible that your Yeti cooler has a manufacturing default that is causing the ice to melt faster than expected.
The most likely manufacturing issue is air gaps where there should be solid insulation.
See the way Yeti coolers are made is the shell is roto-moulded and cooled as to form the hard rugged exterior/interior plastic.
So basically they start with an empty shell that has no insulation.
They then inject high-pressure insulating foam into the cooler through different holes/gaps in the exterior. This may be where they eventually place the rubber feet I am not completely sure.
The issue that can arise is when the foam is injected into the cooler air bubbles can form stopping the foam from expanding. This can leave you with large gaps in insulation where heat can get into your cooler.
How To Check For A Yeti Insulation Product Fault
This product fault is very difficult to test for. The best thing you can do is put a strong light inside your cooler whilst in a completely dark room.
Shut the cooler lid and look for patches of light coming through the cooler. If there are patchy segments where light comes through then it is possible that these segments lack sufficient insulation.
The below video shows the issues with an Igloo Sportman and how the light test is done to show it was missing insulation:
If you are concerned the do the above test but I advise checking the below common causes of the issue and try to implement some of the ways to keep ice longer in a cooler before you get on the phone to Yeti and ask for your money back.
If they can see you've tried everything to fix the problem and that it is a manufacturing default then hopefully you'll be able to get a replacement cooler under warranty.
Most Common Issue: Not Pre-Cooling The Cooler
You may not be aware of this but Yeti coolers can actually work to keep cold things cold or warm things warm. Just like a winter jacket both keeps the warm in and the cold out, the Yeti does the same thing.
However, while it is a great insulator it can still absorb heat through conduction (being in a hot area like a car) or through radiation (being in direct sunlight).
If you've left your Yeti in a warm space then the plastic shell as well as the insulating foam inside the cooler will warm up and retain some heat.
If you put ice into a Yeti that has been warmed up by the external environment then the Yeti cooler will transfer it's heat into the ice melting it at a rapid rate.
Water is a much better conductor of heat when compared to the plastic/insulation in your cooler, so while it's hard for heat to get from the water into the Yeti plastic/insulation it's MUCH MUCH easier for heat to go the other way, from the Yeti to the water/ice.
This is why Yeti (and other similar coolers) recommend you pre-chill your cooler. Using sacrificial ice/water to extract heat from the cooler so when it comes time to actually use it there isn't much residual heat stored in the plastic/insulation of the cooler itself. Which in turn means the cooler won't transfer heat to the ice and your ice will last longer.
Starting with a cooler that hasn't be pre-chilled is the #1 reason for ice melting too quickly in your Yeti cooler.
Room Temperate Food and Drinks Melt Ice Fast
If you've pre-chilled your cooler and ice is still melting super quickly it might not be that your Yeti cooler is letting heat in, it might be that you're adding in lots of heat to the cooler in the form of food or drinks at room temperature.
Ice/water is able to then conduct heat (absorb heat) from those items you place in the cooler. This will cause the temperature of the ice to rise, while your food/drinks lower in temperature and this will cause your ice to melt.
The more room temperature/warm food and drinks you put in your cooler the faster your ice will melt.
It doesn't sound like a lot, but a few bottles full of liquid that is a room temperature is a lot of heat to be adding to your cooler and is going to make the ice melt a lot faster.
For best results, where possible, you should place cold beverages and food in your cooler rather than room temperature ones. This will keep your ice much longer as you are not adding as much heat into the cooler.
Cooler Touching The Hot Ground or Surfaces
Yeti coolers are great insulators, this means they don't conduct (or absorb) heat well from the external environment.
This allows them to keep the internal contents of a cooler cold and keep out the warm air outside the cooler.
But Yeti's ain't perfect and they do still conduct some heat.
If your Yeti is placed on or close to a warm surface, like the hot tray of a truck, the warm ground or it if it is in a car full of extremely hot air, then it will conduct heat which in turn will melt your ice faster.
So keeping your Yeti away from hot surfaces or areas that might come in contact with the cooler can help you keep ice longer.
The Cooler Is In Direct Sunlight
Yeti's can also receive heat through what's called “Radiant heat” or “radiation”.
You know how it's hotter when you stand in the sun vs standing in the shade? It's likely the air temperature is the same in both places but in the sun you feel the radiant heat.
It's the same with your Yeti.
If you leave your Yeti cooler in the sun then it will receive heat from sun's rays and pass that heat onto the ice in your cooler melting it faster than if kept in the shade.
Now Yeti's are designed to be great insulators, so they don't transfer a lot of this heat (like metal would) but they aren't perfect and still do transfer some.
So keeping your Yeti out of direct sunlight means it will receive less radiant heat and thus your ice will last longer.
Not Putting In Enough Ice
This kind of goes back to the room temperature food/drinks situation. If you have a small amount of ice in your cooler compared to a larger amount of food and beverages then the ice is going to melt faster.
In fact, having less ice in a cooler in generally means the ice will melt quicker. This is why larger coolers often perform better than smaller coolers in ice test challenges.
More cold ice takes longer to heat up than just a little bit of ice.
So if you're having trouble with ice melting but you're not putting in much ice or your ratio or ice/other items is low then try adding more ice or potentially even getting a larger cooler.
Smaller Blocks Of Ice or “Warm Ice”
Not all ice is created equal.
Large blocks of ice will last longer than small blocks of ice. This is because there is less surface area for the ice to conduct heat through the air.
Also not all ice is the same temperature. You know how you can get ice that really quickly melts in your hand and other ice seems to last longer?
The colder the ice is to begin with the longer it is going to stay frozen. If your ice is only just at freezing temperature then a tiny rise in temperature in the cooler and it turns to water.
However, if your ice is multiple degrees below freezing temperature then it has to get significantly warmer before it turns from ice into water. So while it might not see like much starting with colder ice can have a significant impact on ice retention in your cooler.
Still Having Issues Even After Trouble Shooting?
If you are still having issues even after making sure you're avoid the above common mistakes then it may be time to get in contact with Yeti and enquire about a manufacturing fault.
Try to make extremely clear to them that you have followed all instructions and give them details of the conditions the cooler was kept in (in the shade, off hot surfaces, what was the temperature each day etc) so you can make it obvious that there is something wrong with the cooler.
I hope the above worked for you and if not I hope that Yeti honor their warranty to you and send you out a better cooler.
Best of luck and until next time,