Roto-molded coolers like Yeti are much better than regular coolers. They can keep ice for days, sometimes even weeks, and they are so durable that they can last a lifetime.
But as with every product they aren’t completely perfect and there are some problems with roto-molded coolers that you should be aware of before you purchase them.
I believe in being informed before you invest your money in a good high-end cooler, it’s why this site exists. By understanding the problems with roto-molded coolers and knowing the trade offs you can make a better decision and be happier with what you end up buying, even if it happens to be a Yeti.
1. The Price – They Are Expensive
This is the main problem people have with roto-molded coolers, they are much more expensive than regular coolers.
A regular cooler might cost you $20-$50 depending on the brand and the size. A roto-molded cooler will likely cost you $200+ and the larger the size the more expensive it is.
The main brand of roto-molded cooler – Yeti – is one of the most expensive brands on the market. They are 8-10x more expensive than regular coolers.
There are some more affordable options on the market like Lifetime and Ozark Trail that sell for more around that $100 mark.
Check out my Lifetime Coolers vs Ozark Trail article to see which of these affordable roto-molded coolers is the best as well as some of the problems they have.
Below is a comparison table where you can see the price of Yeti coolers compared to cheap regular coolers.
Yeti Roadie: $199.99 (see details at Amazon)
Yeti Tundra 45: $299.99 (see details at Amazon)
Yeti Tundra 65: $349.99 (see details at Amazon)
Yeti Tundra Haul Wheeled: $399.99 (see details at Amazon)
As you can see Yeti coolers are MUCH MORE expensive than regular coolers. I personally think they are worth it.
I own a Yeti and love it and they are one of my favorite coolers. But for the more budget conscious shopper there are a lot of cheaper options out there that are still really good.
2. The Weight – They Are Heavy
The reason these coolers keep ice so well is that they are filled with A LOT of insulation. They generally have about 2 inches of insulation in the walls and 2-3 inches of insulation in the lids.
The type of insulation they use and the amount of it, along with the thick plastic exterior add a lot of weight to the coolers which can make them hard to carry and move around.
I own a Yeti 45 and need to use 2 hands to carry it even when it’s empty just because it’s so heavy. When it completely full then it’s even heavier and I struggle to move it very far by myself.
3. They Take Up A Lot of Room For Their Capacity
Because they have such thick insulation roto-molded coolers take up much more room than regular coolers for the capacity that they hold.
My Yeti 45, which is actually only 37-Quart, has a similar external size to my Coleman Xtreme which 55-Quart.
The extra room goes to all the insulation which obviously helps them keep ice longer.
4. The Latches Are Difficult For Children To Use
This is one of the problems I ran into with my kids when we lived in a van and used the Yeti 45 as our primary fridge/cooler.
Roto-molded coolers have pull down rubber latches to keep the lid held tightly to the body of the cooler, making it leak proof and keeping the warm air out.
These rubber latches are easy enough to use as adults with a bit of force, but my young kids really struggled with it.
At the time my daughter was 7 and my son was 5 and my daughter could only just do it and my son couldn’t. He wasn’t strong or coordinated enough yet.
There are some coolers that use cam-latches which are easier for kids to use, so if this is a concern then something like the Lifetime cooler which has these latches would be better suited to you.
5. The Lids Are Heavy and Dangerous
Another problem that has to do primarily with children.
Regular coolers have no insulation in the lids, the lids are just filled with air so they are fairly light.
Yeti and other roto-molded coolers have 2-3 inches of insulation in the lids, making the lids quite heavy.
This means if you push the lid closed and let it fall from the open position it falls with a lot of force. If little fingers are in the way this can REALLY hurt and cause some damage.
I never had this happen with my kids, but it’s something to be careful of.
The only cooler with a solution to this problem is the Kong cooler which has a Krush guard which stops the cooler from slamming on fingers. It’s a pretty nifty invention.
6. You Need To Prepare The Cooler Before Use
The insulation in roto-molded coolers keeps out a lot of heat and allows you to keep ice for days. However, when not in use they can actually absorb a lot of heat which will melt your ice quickly if you haven’t prepared your cooler ahead of time.
To prepare your cooler you need to put a sacrificial bag of ice in it the day/night before to cool down the insulation. Frozen water bottles or milk jugs also work great for this.
If you do this then it will maximize your ice retention but if you fail to do this then your expensive roto-molded cooler may struggle to keep ice any longer than a regular cheap cooler.
7. Most Of Them Have Very Few Features
Most roto-molded coolers are pretty basic coolers. They are basically a well insulated box with the main features being their durability, rubber latches, rope handles and non-slip feet.
Many roto-molded coolers lack features like cup holders, fishing rulers, wheels or any other accessories.
There are a few options out there, like the RovR cooler, that are roto-molded and packed with features, but these are the rare exception and most roto-molded coolers are fairly basic in their design.
8. No Cup Holders On The Lids
We kind of touched on this above but this is the one feature I wish more roto-molded coolers had.
Most of them have no cup holders at all.
I understand the logic behind it. The lids of regular coolers have no insulation at all so adding cup holders doesn’t take away from ice retention.
But roto-molded coolers have insulated lids so adding cup holders means you need to remove insulation.
However, even low-set cup holders like that on the Ozark Trail work really well to keep your beverages in place without removing much insulation.
9. The Non-Slip Feet Can Be Annoying
While the non-slip feet on coolers like Yeti can be amazing because they stop the cooler sliding around in your truck/van or on your boat they can also be annoying sometimes.
Sometimes you just want to pull your cooler along the ground so you don’t have to lift it and with the non-slip feet this is made extremely difficult.
10. There Aren’t Many Wheeled Roto-Molded Coolers
Roto-molded coolers are heavy which makes them hard to carry. But despite this very few roto-molded coolers have wheels to help you move them around.
Yeti have so many different sizes of coolers but they only have a single wheeled cooler.
Most brands like Yeti also don’t have wheels. So if you want wheels on your cooler you have a very limited choice in which cooler you buy.
I’ve created a full list of roto-molded coolers which have wheels. Some are good and some aren’t that great. Click here to see the best wheeled coolers.
11. Some Leading Brands Aren’t Made In The USA
Most regular coolers are made in the USA, but a lot of the leading brands of roto-molded coolers are made overseas.
Yeti for example, which is the most well known roto-molded cooler and their coolers are made overseas in the Philippines and in China.
RTIC, Engel, Canyon and Siberian Coolers are a few other brands that are made overseas.
If you’re looking for a cooler that is made locally then see my list of the best USA made coolers.
12. They Can Experience Warping
This doesn’t happen with every brand of roto-molded coolers but some of them do experience warping, either through manufacturing issues or simply through being exposed to the heat of the sun.
Ozark Trail are known for commonly warping in the sun, but then going back to their normal shape when put back inside.
13. Most Aren’t Watertight
You would think with a rubber gasket and pull down rubber latches that these coolers would be airtight and water tight but unfortunately this isn’t the case.
Either the grip between the gasket and the lid isn’t tight enough or the gasket actually has a little gap when it wraps around and meets itself, which lets water out.
They are mostly leak-proof though so won’t splash water everywhere and they keep water contained MUCH better than regular coolers.
14. Accessories Are Expensive
There are some pretty cool accessories you can buy for roto-molded coolers.
Everything from cup holders to bottle openers to seat cushions to wheels kits.
However, almost always the accessories are really expensive. $20-$30 for a bottle opener accessory or a cup holder just seems a bit excessive to me.
If you want to buy a few accessories to really deck out your cooler you can be looking at spending upwards of $100.
Below are some prices of Yeti cooler accessories so you can get an idea.
Yeti Tie Down Kit: $76.36 (see details at Amazon)
Yeti Cooler Bottle Opener: $19.99 (see details at Amazon)
Yeti SideKick Dry: $49.99 (see details at Amazon)
Yeti Security Lock and Bracket: $34.99 (see details at Amazon)
15. Some Are Limited To The USA
Back when I started this website a few years ago so many brands were USA-exclusive brands and not sold worldwide.
Living in Australia myself this makes it difficult and expensive to get coolers to review.
Yeti are now sold worldwide and I can buy them down the street from my house at a local fishing store. But for other brands I’m not so lucky.
Lifetime coolers for example are only sold in the USA. And they are one of the best cheap roto-molded coolers. Most new brands, many of which look awesome, are only sold in the US. So if you’re outside of there it makes your options much more limited.
16. Not Many Offer Lifetime Warranties
Roto-molded coolers are so tough and so durable that a good one should technically last you decades of use without having to buy a new one.
Most roto-molded cooler brands offer a 5-year warranty, which is way better than the 1-year warranty most cheap regular coolers offer.
But there are some brands out there that offer lifetime warranties on their coolers. So for the lifetime of owning the cooler if anything happens to it and it is faulty you can return it for a replacement or to get it fixed free of charge.
There are a few brands out there like Canyon and ORCA that offer lifetime warranties but not all roto-molded coolers do.
Are These Problems Deal Breakers?
As you can see there are quite a few problems with roto-molded coolers but personally I think a lot of these problems are quite minor issues and aren’t deal breakers.
I wouldn’t avoid buying a roto-molded cooler because they are expensive or because they are heavy and take up a lot of room.
But I think it’s good to be aware of these things and know what you are getting into.
I hope this article helped you the decide whether or not you want to buy a roto-molded cooler.
If you need help choosing which cooler to buy check out this article on the best roto-molded coolers.