A few weeks ago the good people at Igloo Coolers donated a Yukon 70 to the Next Ascent team to demo and review, and we were tickled to do so. We love reasons to get outdoors, and testing and reviewing gear is one of our favorites.
At first glance, this cooler is a beast in terms of size, capacity and weight. Our initial test took us to the Arkansas River outside of Salida, CO in late April for our annual fly fishing trip over 5 days. This beast of a cooler swallowed up all the food for myself and my brother for 5 days, and also 5 days worth of beer. We actually had tons of food left over, but the beer was gone at the end. When I packed up the cooler Wednesday morning before leaving for south-central Colorado, all I added was the ice from the ice-maker in our fridge at home, which is to say not much ice at all.
On pretty much every year we make this pilgrimage, I always end up heading into Salida to restock ice that has melted. This year was an anomaly in that no extra trips to town were needed, and that allowed for extra time on the river and the guarantee that my food would be fresh and my beer cold. I also made sure I left the cooler outside the truck and in full sun to test its effectiveness to the max. Granted, temperatures rarely got to the 70′s during the day and the evenings and mornings were somewhat chilly, but the Yukon 70 did not disappoint at all. We did not pre-chill the cooler prior to loading up which can increase ice life. Normally, when I pull the drain plug when arriving back home, there is enough water to hydrate my entire front yard. This year, there was barely enough for a mouthful, and most of the ice I packed 5 days previous was still almost completely intact.
Many of us have heard of Igloo’s prime competition in the premium cooler market, YETI Coolers, and I myself own a YETI Tundra cooler which I like. I love my new Igloo Yukon! If it’s the small things that make all the difference, then the Yukon blows the YETI out of the water, so to speak. We have all seen the sponsored endorsements from so-called celebrity fishermen, ads in magazines and adventure films, and product placement on several TV shows. Of course these people will extol the virtues of a YETI cooler when they’re all being paid and given free gear for life. Who wouldn’t. But do paid endorsements make a cooler that is better than all the rest? Absolutely not. Here are some features of the Yukon versus the YETI that might change your decision:
I love the option of having reversible feet so you can quickly change from non-slip to easy-glide in a couple turns of a screwdriver. YETI does not offer reversible feet. This allows the cooler to easily slide out and move easier in your boat or back of your truck or camper. The extra lift on the feet when compared to YETI allow to spray out your boat without removing the cooler first. It also keeps your cooler lifted higher off the bottom of a hot boat keeping ice longer and cooler.
I love the built in ruler on the top to measure your fish and compare against your buddies. Not available on YETI
When compared to YETI’s Double Haul rope handles, there is no comparison. The Rock Solid handles on the Yukon will never break and you won’t be fumbling around trying to grasp swinging rope handles. Also in the photo above, don’t discount the benefit of having an attached/tethered drain plug. I misplaced my YETI drain plug on day 1 and wasted time looking for it that should have been time spent fishing.
Other great features that are better than YETI, steel instead of aluminum hinges, and steel corner closure that allows for better security and bear-proofness. The other amazing feature is that the Yukon 70 is truely 70 quarts on the inside. Did you know that the same priced YETI Tundra 65 is really only 57.2 quarts. That’s over 12 extra quarts of interior space for the same price. With nearly an extra 1/2 inch of insulation when compared to YETI, the Yukon does weigh a few pounds more, but 12 quarts of space and an extra half inch of insulation is well worth the weight.
In conclusion, I absolutely love this cooler and my Yukon 70 will be attending every outdoor adventure I take from here on out. My YETI might just be what they want it to be, an extra chair to sit on when nothing else is available or a step stool to get my mountain bike down from the rafters of my garage. The Yukon does exactly what Igloo says it will do, and that’s keep your ice longer, 7 days and even longer if you pre-chill it ahead of time. I lost maybe 20% of my ice over the course of 5 days of driving and fly fishing. I am totally confident when I take my Yukon 70 to Moab, Utah this summer in the heat on a mountain biking trip, I will be the only one who doesn’t have to drive into town to refresh my ice supply. All the features I mentioned above along with a few others make the Yukon line of Igloo coolers superior to YETI. If you still need the blessing of a huge stable of paid endorsers from a company that is more a marketing company than it is a product company and now owned by a private equity firm in New York City, than maybe the YETI is for you. If you just want a product that works and went the extra mile to add features we can all use in any environment, then the Yukon is for you. I rate the Yukon 70 Cooler 4.8/5 points. We gave bonus points for all the extra features, but we will always subtract some points for weight even though it is unavoidable at this point for all the Roto-Molded Coolers on the market. One cool feature that the Yukon Series offers that YETI might not ever offer because they are afraid of the warranty issues that will arise and affect their bottom line, is the line of wheeled Yukon Coolers. An extra benefit of the Yukon 70, which cannot be overlooked is that the shipping box can also be used as a clubhouse for your kids which my daughter did without hesitation and guidance. Too bad Justin Bieber wasn’t able to come and join in on her party. Not even Igloo could pull that off
Review prepared by product tester and Next Ascent Outdoor owner Eric Graham