RTIC uses a different kind of business model to provide you with the best types of coolers at a fraction of the cost. How do they do it? They’re a direct-to-consumer brand, meaning you won’t find them in any retail stores, saving you the mark-ups of the middleman.
RTIC uses a roto-molded plastic process to create durable, well-insulated coolers that can stand up to some abuse. They use solid hinges and reinforced handles to alleviate some common cooler problems and give you a solid cooler option.
Does the RTIC stand up to the hype or would you be better off with a more well-known (and more expensive) brand? Let’s break it all down in our RTIC cooler review.
Best RTIC Coolers for Most People
RTIC has a full line of coolers, including soft and hard-sided coolers but here are two of our favorites.
The 45 holds 45 quarts or about 40 pounds of ice or 36 cans. It uses roto-molded plastic, a method that rotates the mold as the plastic is poured in, creating a cooler with fewer weak spots. It’s also better insulated with commercial grade insulation inside. It weighs about 25 pounds empty and features and bear-resistant, locking system that keeps your contents safe.
The drain spout makes it easy to clean out, and a freezer gasket lid prevents leaking that can compromise temperature consistency. The hinges are reinforced, and rubber latches last a lot longer than their plastic counterparts, which tend to crack.
What Customers Like:
- three inches of insulation
- molded handles
- sweat proof exterior
- some lids don’t sit flush causing leaks
The SoftPak 30 is a soft-sided, midsized cooler that makes it a little bit easier to carry your supplies for the day. It has a padded shoulder strap and a zipper pocket on the front to store smaller items. The outside material is a UV protected, tear-resistant vinyl with two inches of closed cell foam for insulation.
An antimicrobial liner resists mildew. It’s also leak and puncture proof, so you don’t worry about melting ice or accidental spills. It holds about 30 cans or 30 pounds of ice with a volume of 22 quarts.
What Customers Like:
- puncture and leak proof
- UV protected material
- the zipper is on the weaker side
- ice doesn’t stay as cold as some other soft-sided coolers
Everything Else: The Entire RTIC Product Line
RTIC has quite a few models of cooler to satisfy a lot of different kinds of activities. Let’s take a look at the full line.
Soft Sided Coolers
Their soft-sided coolers are meant to be carried. They feature UV resistant vinyl exteriors that resist both cracking because of environmental exposure and accidental puncturing. Inside, nearly two inches of insulation keep your contents cold far longer than a standard lunch box.
Padded handles and exterior pockets make it simple to transport everything you need. There are a variety of sizes including a small lunch box, 20 can size, 30 can size, and 40 can size. They all have an easy access lid so you can reach the contents regardless of the cooler size, and antibacterial liners resist mold and mildew. No more stinky smells. Even though they’re soft-sided, they’re sweat proof.
Soft-sided coolers are great for commuters, day hiking trips (especially if you’re taking children), and things like fishing trips where you need a cooler that can fit just about anywhere.
Hard Sided Coolers
Their hard-sided coolers have a lot of features that help solve some of the most common complaints people have about hard-sided coolers. Let’s break those features down.
Old styles of coolers had weak spots in the plastic. After a few years, or sometimes a few months, the plastic would begin to crack, exposing the insulation and rendering the cooler useless. They also had structural weak points at the handles and the latches.
RTIC uses a method called “roto-molding.” As plastic is poured into the mold, the mold is rotated, helping plastic to distribute evenly and avoid weak spots. The result is a stronger cooler with better insulation. It’s less likely to crack or expose insulation.
Hinges are reinforced, so they last even with repeated use. Banging the lid open won’t knock them out of joint or weaken the connection points. The front latches use rubber instead of plastic, which stretches better and is less prone to cracking. It’s excellent and improves on the most common weak point in hard-sided coolers.
The cooler uses three inches of commercial grade insulation poured into the walls to prevent leaks. The lid is a freeze style gasket design, so once you close it, it latches and prevents leaks from all sides.
Handles are molded into the sides of the hard coolers, reducing wear and tear at standard handle joints, giving you the option of both single and tandem carrying. Smaller coolers have a reinforced arm-style carry handle.
The coolers have a vintage look with rounded corners and edges, so there’s nothing to snag your clothes as you walk by. The coolers come in a few different colors, with the most common being white. There isn’t much variation in the styles, so if you need a lot of customization, this probably isn’t the place to look.
Hard-sided coolers come in 25 quarts, 40 quarts, 65 quarts, 110 quarts, and a massive 145 quarts. Be sure you check the measurements and estimated content storage because the quart measurement can be misleading.
Day Coolers are lunchbox style coolers good for day to day use. They have heavy duty polyester with insulation, plus an antimicrobial lining that resists tearing and odors. The shoulder strap is comfortable, and a heavy-duty polyester carry handle gives you a second option for either connecting to other bags or carrying.
This option comes in 6, 8, 15, and 28-can sizes. Plus, it also comes in a smaller lunch box with a built-in freezer lining and a backpack style that can hold 15 cans.
Day Coolers are great for kids, commuters, and office workers who need variety for how many meals can fit into the pack. They’re a smaller, lightweight version of the soft-sided coolers with more flexibility in color choice.
They also offer a heavy-duty backpack cooler that can carry up to 30 cans. It has a durable, tear-resistant exterior and heat welded seams, so it’s waterproof. The front features space to add carabiner accessories and the shoulder straps are extremely comfortable.
It’s great for boat and swim trips to the lake or river because it will actually float along with you. It may be a bit much for day to day cooler needs, but it’s certainly a versatile option for you water babies out there.
Part of RTIC’s appeal is the business model. They’re a direct to consumer brand so they can pass savings along to you by cutting out the middleman. Instead of selling wholesale to a retail market who marks the price up for a profit, they sell directly to you at a wholesale price.
This gives you products at as much as a 50% discount without sacrificing some of the higher end features you know and love from more well-known brands.
RTIC Coupons & Promo Codes for 2020
RTIC is already selling at the lowest price the company can offer, so currently, they only offer discounts for bulk purchases.
RTIC 45 Review:
RTIC’s 45-quart hard-sided cooler is one of the most popular and features plenty of benefits for the average user.
Design And Materials
The roto-molded plastic exterior is built to take a beating without cracking or exposing the insulation. Commercial grade insulation helps keep contents chilly while a gasket style lid prevents leaks that can sabotage your trip.
It weighs about 25 pounds just by itself, so this isn’t designed for light, everyday use. Instead, it’s best suited for tailgating, or for camping trips where you’ll be staying somewhat close to the car. If you’re having an outdoor get together, it makes a great ice bucket and drink cooler.
We love the latches and the hinges. These are regular weak spots for hard-sided coolers, but the use of rubber with the front fasteners gives the material a little stretch, causing less stress each time you latch. They won’t crack or snap the way cheap plastic latches will eventually do.
Handles are molded to the underside of the lid and offer comfortable grips for a solo carry or for tandem. Solo carry might be a little difficult considering the weight of the materials.
Using The Cooler
It’s durable enough to function as an extra bench if you need more seating or as a table top once you’ve gotten your food situated. Rubber grips on the bottom keep it from sliding around in your truck bed, so a minimum of tie downs are necessary.
We think this is best suited for fishing trips where you’re staying on shore, tailgating (it’s perfect), or day trips with boating. It’s not too big that you’re tripping over it, but it isn’t so small that you can’t store enough for you and your guests.
Like many of these hard-sided coolers, the steps you take before packing the cooler can determine how effective it really is. If you tend to store your cooler in the garage or another warm place, insulation can slowly absorb the ambient temperature of the room over time. When you put ice inside, the insulation melts it until it’s had a chance to absorb the cold, reducing the amount of time you have to keep your ice fresh.
The night before you need the cooler, fill it with cold water and ice and allow it to sit with the lid closed overnight. The insulation will cool down, and you’ll get a few more hours (or days) out of your ice.
What Customers Are Saying:
For many people, this is an excellent alternative to the prices of Yeti. Even longtime Yeti fans could have trouble upgrading or buying a second one, and this one is a good alternative.
“I feel like such a traitor. I am a huge Yeti fan and have loved my tumbler for the past three years. I was in the market for a large(er) cooler, but really could not stomach the prices of Yeti. After watching multiple videos on youtube, I decided to become a turncoat and go from this lookalike. Let me tell you, it is just as good if not better than the Yeti!”
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the lid seal, the cooler performs well in a variety of temperatures and conditions.
“I highly recommend this if you are looking for a quality cooler that can keep your drinks cold for 3 days during extreme temperatures. This cooler can probably stay cold for 5 days with mild temperatures based upon the performance it had during a Texas heat wave for a 3 day camping weekend.”
Overall, customers love that it offers a viable, cost-effective alternative to more expensive brands but doesn’t sacrifice features.
What Customers Like:
- doesn’t sacrifice high-end features
- reinforced hinges and latches
- the lid is challenging at times
Coolers Like RTIC
We know. You want some other options. Here are a few viable alternatives to whet your pallet.
Yes, the grandfather of this style. Yeti features roto-molded plastic exterior with pressure injected commercial grade insulation. There are no weak spots in the plastic, and the insulation is evenly placed throughout the walls.
Yeti can keep your contents cold for up to seven or so days in good conditions, especially if you prep it first. It offers discounts to military, and frequently has promotions to offset the high cost.
The two designs are incredibly similar, but Yeti has the edge with variety. They have far more capacity options and can keep contents colder a bit longer than RTIC. Get Yeti if you need flexibility with content and if you need to be 100% sure your contents will stay cool for at least five to seven days.
Get RTIC for the discounted price as a secondary cooler, or if you don’t need such extreme cooling.
Ozark Trail is distributed by Walmart and is the budget of the budget line. It features the same roto-molded design with commercial grade insulation, but the one downside that keeps many people from pulling the trigger is the lack of drain spout on most of their models.
They both offer budget options, but Ozark is the one to choose if you’re budget has absolutely no wiggle room. Ozark Trail isn’t going to keep your items cold for such extremes as the Yeti above, but it’s a third of the price and still less than RTIC.
If you want a happy medium between the two, RTIC can give you higher-end features and more extended cooling but not quite hit your wallet the way a Yeti will.
We give RTIC a 4 out of 5 stars because of reliable performance and less pain to our wallet. It’s an excellent option for the budget conscious and will still give you several days of cooling whether you’re tailgating or on your first-weekend fishing trip. With a good mix of colors and sizes to choose from, plus cooler styles, we think you’ll be able to find something you love.