- FYI, REI is currently on sale.
Cooler is the men’s best friend outdoors, and it’s common to get confused on what to get with so many brands out there.
In this comprehensive comparison of Cabela’s Cooler vs YETI, I will get into the details to help you to choose the suitable one for your needs.
In summary, both YETI and Cabela’s Hard Coolers provide great ice retention and they both are bear-proof, high-end coolers, differences are the small features such as YETI’s Tie-down slots or Cabela’s integrated bottle opener T-Latches.
- #A sidenote here: I'd highly recommend you to check out REI's informative meal planning chart before you read further.
That is NOT the case with soft coolers though. YETI makes high-end, durable soft coolers that offer a minimum of a day of ice retention whereas Cabela’s soft coolers are less durable and offer lower ice retention capacity but they’re more budget-friendly.
Highly recommended before you spend your hard earned money.
Quick Histories of Both Brands
History of YETI
Although YETI is the market leader now, the brand wasn’t even in the market up until roughly 15 years ago. The brand was founded by two outdoor enthusiast brothers in 2006 and because YETI coolers offer the ‘whole package’, the brand, now is the decision-maker in the cooler market.
History of Cabela’s
Cabela’s history goes back to the ’60s and unlike YETI, Cabela’s is not only popular for its coolers, but the brand also offers a wide range of outdoor products.
Cabela’s history starts in 1961 with 45$ purchase of 3000 hand-tied fishing lures and in 60 years, it grew into a 3 billion-dollar company. It is now one of the biggest players in the outdoor, fishing, and sports market.
YETI Coolers Review
The brand is famous for its coolers and therefore offers a size and type for every condition. So here are the most popular series of YETI.
YETI Tundra Review
The YETI Tundra series is the most popular and convenient hard cooler series of the brand. If you hear someone talking about his or her YETI Cooler there’s a big chance he or she is talking about a YETI Tundra.
Although it depends on a variety of factors the Tundra series offers ice retention for up to 5 days.
Due to its construction and the material it’s made of, the YETI Tundra Series are bear-proof, you can use it as a stand or as a chair without worrying about bowing the lid. And of course, the coolers, therefore, are perfect for extreme outdoor adventures.
From 20.8 quarts to 402.4 quarts of YETI offers a big variety of hard cooler sizes. Due to their convenient sizes and capacities, the most popular ones in the line are YETI Tundra 45 and 65 (my review or price on Amazon).
Fun fact: Unlike most brands, with YETI coolers, the number at the back doesn’t refer to the capacity of the coolers, YETI Tundra 45 actually offers 37.6 quarts of volume.
Key Features of YETI Tundra Series
- FatWall Design: The series has thick walls filled with insulation material to increase ice retention.
- Permaforst Insulation: To minimize heat loss, polyurethane (a very quality material that is also used in refrigerators as well) is used as a filling material.
- ColdLock Gasket and InterLock Lid System: Tundra Series has a gasket and a fine design to decrease the heat loss via air.
- Rotomolded Construction: Due to the fine material the series is made of, the coolers offer great longevity and durability, hence the bear-proof.
- NeverFail Hinge System: With cheap coolers, hinges tend to break very often, you generally need to buy the hinges separately and change them very often, but the YETI Tundra series features NeverFail Hinge System to prevent hinges from breaking down.
- T-Rex Lid Latches: YETI Lid Latches have a unique design to keep the lid as tight as possible but I must say that it kind of makes the lid a little bit hard to open.
- Vortex Drain System: The Tundra Series has a leakproof drain system.
- Non-Slip Feet: The Series has a Non-sliding bottom to prevent the cooler from sliding around in your trunk.
- Locking Holes: Tundra series features locking holes to keep your beverages safe.
- Tie-down Slots: The series features tie-down slots on the top right and top left sides to place the cooler tightly.
Specs of YETI Tundra Series
YETI Tundra 35
width: 9 1⁄2"
YETI Tundra 45
length: 25 1⁄2"
height: 15 1⁄2"
length: 18 3⁄8"
width: 9 1⁄2"
height: 9 7⁄8"
YETI Tundra 65
length: 30 1⁄2"
width: 17 1⁄2"
length: 23 3⁄8"
YETI Hopper Flip Review
For those who’re in the market for soft coolers, the YETI Hopper Flip series is the most popular and convenient soft cooler series in YETI’s line.
Among the other soft coolers in the industry YETI Hopper Flip series stands out by providing great ice retention, durability, and cool features with a low weight.
Even though ice retention depends on a lot of factors, YETI Hopper Flip 18, Hopper Flip 12, and Hopper Flip 8 provide approximately 40 hours, 30 hours, and 24 hours of ice retention, respectively.
Although the Hopper Flip series are not bear-proof like the Tundra series, they still are considered very durable, and mostly used in extreme outdoor sports where you need a light cooler to keep your perishables fresh and cold, like kayaking or doing ATV safari.
Key Features of YETI Hopper Flip Series
Hydro-Lock Zipper: Hopper Flip series neither leaks nor gets water inside due to the Hydro-Lock Zipper design. The Zipper also features a U-Dock, it’s the terminal at the end of the Hydro-Lock Zipper that ensures a leakproof seal to maximize the ice retention.
DryHide Shell: Both the interior and exterior fabric of the coolers are made of DryHide Fabric, not only it’s highly durable but also the liner is anti-microbial, mildew resistant, FDA food-grade.
ColdCell Insulation: Hopper Flip Series features ColdCell foam insulation, and offers up to 40 hours of ice retention (which is considered very high for a soft cooler).
HitchPoint Grid: Hopper Flip Series features tie-down loops for both easily attaching anything you want to the cooler (such as Molle Bottle Opener) and tying down the cooler to your vehicle. Also, it’s important to mention that Hopper Flip 12 features 3 grids, Hopper Flip 18 on the other hand features 4 grids (check out my extensive review of YETI Hopper Flip 12 vs 18).
Handles: Another cool thing that makes YETI Hopper Flip stand out is its convenience and portability. YETI Hopper Flip Series features a top handle, a back handle, side handles, and a shoulder strap for easy portability.
Specs of YETI Hopper Flip Series
HOLDS WITH 2:1 ICE TO CANS RATIO
YETI Hopper Flip 8
length: 11 1⁄2"
YETI Hopper Flip 12
length: 12 5⁄8"
YETI Hopper Flip 18
length: 15 2⁄3"
Cabela’s Coolers Review
Unlike YETI, Cabela’s don’t have plenty of options, for those who are in the market for a hard cooler the brand features Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Series, and if you’re looking for a soft cooler, the brand features Cabela’s Soft-Sided Cooler series.
Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Review
From 25 qt to 100 qt, the series offers several different sizes, but the biggest you can go with Cabela's is 100 qt. If you need a bigger one I suggest you take a look at YETI Tundra 125 (actually offer 121.4 quarts).
Even though it depends on lots of factors, it’s fair to say that Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer series provide ice retention for up to 5 days. But that does come with a price, Cabela’s coolers have very thick walls (that has foam inside for insulation), and therefore they take up a big space in your trunk, and built-in handles don’t help at all, they even widen the space the coolers take up.
But if you’re looking for a “let’s say a 60 qt cooler”, I’m guessing how big of a space the cooler is gonna take up wouldn’t be the first thing that you consider. So let’s dive into what you should be looking for, the features of the cooler.
Key Features of Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Series
- Construction: Polar Cap Equalizer Series are made of very durable material and constructed well enough to make them bear-proof. You can stand on the cooler without worrying about bowing the lid.
- Not-Skid Rubber Feet: The Series features rubber feet to prevent sliding around in your trunk, and this is an essential feature especially for the fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts out there who would like to use the cooler as a stand as well.
- T-Latches: For the locking system, T-Latches are used in the design to ensure a tight seal, but that is used in most of the high-end coolers, what makes Cabela’s cooler stand out here is the T-Latches themselves feature an integrated bottle opener.
- Pressure-Release Valve: Even though you can see most of the features on other brands, Pressure -Release Valve is unique to the Polar Cap Equalizer, this valve allows you to equalize (hence the name) the air pressure to open the lid easier.
- Locking Holes: The Polar Cap Equalizer Series features two locking holes at the top right and top left corners to allow you to secure your perishables.
- Rope Handles: Rope handles feature “glow in the dark tracers” which helps you to find your cooler at night.
- Built-in Handles: This might be the only con of the series, although they’re tough and make the carrying process much easier, they take up more spaces than they should be.
- Dolly-Pin: The Polar Cap Equalizer design features a dolly-pin latch retainer in case you want to dolly your cooler to your boat or Cabela’s Dolly.
- Drain Plug: The coolers feature a leak-proof drain plug that is actually attached to the cooler with a wire, so you don’t have to worry about losing it. The wire and screw of the drain plug are made of stainless steel so it wouldn’t rust even in seawater.
- Rubber-Gasket: To increase the ice retention by preventing hot air from coming in, Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Series features a Rubber-Gasket, and it’s important to mention that the brand claims 7 days of ice retention.
Specs of Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Series
Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer 25 qt
Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer 40 qt
Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer 60 qt
Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer 80 qt
Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer 100 qt
Cabela’s Soft Sided Cooler
The thing is, Cabela’s Hard Coolers are considered high-end coolers but Cabela’s Soft Sided Coolers are not high-end, they’re actually cheap, budget-friendly coolers, they definitely don’t offer lifetime longevity.
So comparing Cabela’s Soft Sided Coolers to YETI Hopper Flip Series wouldn’t make sense, since the price difference is hundreds of dollars, YETI Hopper Flip Series are a much better option in every term (ice retention, durability, weight, etc.).
But for those who’re on a budget and looking for a budget-friendly cooler here’s the key features and specs of Cabela’s Soft-Sided Coolers.
Key Features of Cabela’s Soft Sided Series
Durability: Cabela’s Soft Sided Coolers feature a 600-denier polyester body and 1,200-denier polyester bottom for better longevity.
Coating: The Soft Coolers of Cabela’s features thick PVC outer coating to increase the ice retention (not very good at ice retention though).
Pockets: The cooler has an external mesh and zipper pockets to keep your belongings.
Carrying: For easy portability, the Cabela’s Soft Sided Coolers have a padded shoulder strap and a webbed carry handle.
Specs of Cabela’s Soft Sided Cooler Series
Cabela's 12-Can Soft-Sided Cooler
Cabela's 18-Can Soft-Sided Cooler
Cabela's 30-Can Soft-Sided Cooler
Features: Cabela’s Cooler vs YETI
The color might not be your first priority when looking for a cooler, but there is a big difference between YETI and Cabela’s Coolers in the color department.
YETI Tundra series offers ten different colors (depends on the size), Cabela’s Cooler on the other hand only offers three colors.
Before jumping into the color options of the brands, one thing I should mention is, since dark surfaces get much hotter when they’re directly exposed to the sun, lighter color coolers are better in terms of ice retention.
YETI Tundra Color Options
Here are the color options for YETI Tundra 45 (the most popular size of the series). You can check the latest price and availability on Amazon below.
|COLOR||YETI TUNDRA 45|
|Sagebrush Green||Yes (Latest Price)|
|Desert Tan||Yes (Latest Price)|
|White||Yes (Latest Price)|
|Navy||Yes (Latest Price)|
|Coral||Yes (Latest Price)|
|High Country||Yes (Latest Price)|
|Sea Foam||Yes (Latest Price)|
|Chartreuse||Yes (Latest Price)|
|Charcoal||Yes (Latest Price)|
|River Green||Yes (Latest Price)|
Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Cooler Color Options
Here’re the color options for Cabela’s Coolers, Orange is an option for only 80 quarts size of the series. Other sizes are only available in White and Tan colors.
|Orange||Only 80 qt Size|
Both brands feature T-Latches which are great for keeping the lid tightly closed, but Cabela’s coolers’ latches have a bottle opener in the middle of the T-Latches, and not only it’s very easy to use and unique it also saves you from paying extra bucks for a bottle opener.
That is not an option for YETI Coolers, you need to buy one separately, check out the YETI Molle Bottle Opener on Amazon.
For those who’re going for boating or extreme outdoor activities, tying down the cooler securely is important, and YETI Tundra Series offers two Tie-Down Slots on each side, with Cabelas Polar Cap Equalizer this is not an option.
But the good thing about Cabelas Cooler’s is you don’t actually need special slots like Yeti Tundra. A huge plus of the handles is you can run a strap around the handles and pull them down with the straps, they hold up just fine when securing that way too.
Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Series features two dolly pin latches at the back and front, so if you want to upgrade your cooler with wheels, it’s very easy.
YETI Tundra series doesn’t feature a dolly pin latch, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use them with a dolly though, Cabela’s dolly pins just make the securing cooler to the dolly process much easier.
As you can see from the name, Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer has a Pressure Equalizer valve. By using this valve, the external pressure and the internal pressure of the refrigerant are equalized and then it is much easier to open the lid.
It’s not a must-have feature if you ask me, but it makes the lid really easy to open.
Last but not least, the sizes, YETI is the clear winner in the size department, it has a much convenient design, and the main reason is Cabela’s coolers’ built-in handles.
They take up plenty of space that is a big con but it’s also important to mention that these handles do make the carrying process easier.
So it’s all up to your priorities if carrying easily is a more important factor for you then Cabela’s is the better option, if not taking up unnecessary space is a more critical factor for you then the YETI is the superior one in this department.