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The YETI Roadie 24 hard cooler is an updated and improved version of the popular YETI Roadie 20 cooler. It’s super rugged, bigger but lighter, and it’s ready for most any adventure.
To get us a closer look at the YETI Roadie 24, YETI sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. This is what we learned during our testing and review process over the last year:
YETI Roadie 24 Review
I wasn’t always a YETI Roadie fan.
My first experience with a YETI Roadie 20 — not the newer 24 — was archery elk hunting with a buddy during a particularly hot September. At first, I thought the YETI Roadie 20 was heavy, overbuilt, and couldn’t do what my coveted soft coolers could do. I was wrong. It turned out the Roadie 20 did a fantastic job of keeping our lunch and drinks cold all day long — even when it got left in the hot cab of a pickup in direct sun.
Better yet, we could throw the rugged YETI Roadie 20 into the bed of a pickup — with an ATV and tools — and we didn’t have to worry about it getting crushed or punctured along the way. The hard-sided Roadie is a worry-free cooler. During several outings in September, I became a Roadie fan.
The new YETI Roadie 24 retains the same rugged awesomeness of the original, but it’s now 10 percent lighter and holds 20 percent more food and ice. In addition, YETI says it performs 30 percent better thermally than the Roadie 20.
Those are impressive gains, but you’re probably still wondering, is the Roadie 24 right for me?
The new YETI Roadie 24 is taller, a bit narrower side-to-side, and only 3/8″ deeper front-to-back. The overall footprint is similar but the interior gives you more packing options.
The interior height can now handle an upright bottle of wine or even a couple of upright 2L bottles of soda. We believe that the key to a great cooler is usability and packability, and the new YETI Roadie 24 is more usable and packable than ever before.
The new latches are also easier-to-use, and I like them. They feel nearly as secure as YETI’s stout rubber latches, but they’re far easier to open and close with one hand. Note: They’re not bear-proof, and you can’t padlock the cooler shut like you could with the previous version Roadie 20.
The New Handle
Most people seemed to have a love or hate relationship with the old metal bar handle on the YETI Roadie 20. I, for one, liked it quite a bit, and here’s why: You can place the YETI Roadie 20 in a hard-to-reach spot in your pickup or boat and then reach over the side and grab the upright handle to yank it out — even if you’re reaching over the side from an odd angle.
But hey, that’s not exactly good for your back, so maybe not having the previous style handle will be a good thing on the Roadie 24.
The new Roadie 24 handle is a nylon strap with a plastic-like sliding grip. It feels good in the hand. It’s lightweight and functional. Any drawbacks?
Sort of. The strap falls to the front or the back when you’re not using the cooler, and if you’re standing near it and looking down, it’s hard to see which side the strap is on. It can be hidden by the shape of the Roadie 24 itself. You have to change your angle or bend over to find the strap — and you’ll get it wrong 50 percent of the time. It’s a minor quibble.
The YETI Roadie 24 is a rotomolded cooler with pressure injected polyurethane foam insulation and a freezer-grade seal on the lid. It’s a cold-keeping marvel.
The biggest benefit of the extra space in the Roadie 24 is that it lets you carry more food and drink with more ice. Or the same amount of food as before . . . but with more ice. YETI recommends an 2:1 ice-to-can ratio for optimal cooling power, but let’s get serious here: We rarely bother with that much ice when we’re day tripping to the beach or river unless it’s wicked hot and we plan to be in the sun on a beach.
If you do pre-chill the cooler like YETI recommends and use the right amount of ice, you should be able to get a couple of days of ice retention, easily. It all depends on how you want to load it up. You can freeze a gallon jug of water instead of cubed ice for a drier experience — or use YETI ice packs.
We frequently use ice packs for day trips because it lets us keep food cool without needing to bag it to prevent it from getting wet from melting ice. For optimal ice retention results, you should take a look at YETI’s tips and tricks guide.
In case you’re wondering, the YETI Roadie 24 can hold 18 cans of beer when using a 2-to-1 ice ratio.
Roadie 24 Review: Buying Advice
The most important decision factor when it comes to buying a cooler isn’t ice retention — it’s the form factor of the cooler and how it fits the things you like to do most. The YETI Roadie 24 fits behind car and pickup seats, which is handy — but so do soft YETI coolers.
Soft YETI coolers are better for packing on seats and tend to fit better when packing in difficult situations. They’re also much lighter for carrying. The Hopper Flip 18 weighs just 5.1 lbs. The larger YETI Hopper Backflip 24 is a soft-side cooler backpack that’s great for carrying heavy loads — read our Backflip Review here — and it only weighs 5.3 lbs. The YETI Roadie 24 starts out at 12.8 lbs.
Is that weight and ruggedness worth it to you?
The YETI Roadie 24 has two benefits you don’t get with soft coolers: You can sit on the rugged Roadie 24. The 17.5 inch height makes a great impromptu roadside seat.
The second benefit is that you can open and close the YETI Roadie 24 with one hand. Typical waterproof zippered coolers require two hands.
Swivels and is a load strap attachment point.
Roadie 20 left, 24 at right.
YETI Roadie Alternatives & Competition
If you’re considering a YETI Roadie 24, you’re probably looking for a relatively small but high-quality hard-sided cooler. While YETI is the market leader, some manufacturers have noticed how popular the Roadie series has been and are now making competitive small coolers, too. If you’re not quite sure about the YETI Roadie 24 form factor, consider these alternative day-trip cooler options:
Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer 22-Qt Cooler — The Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer Coolers are very competitive hard-sided coolers (read our Polar Cap Equalizer review here). One benefit to the larger Polar Cap Equalizer coolers are the built-in molded handles — but those handles are also a drawback because they take up extra space. The Polar Cap Equalizer 22-Qt version, on the other hand, doesn’t have the extra side handles. Consequently, it has a trimmer design that fits into more places.
Engel 25 High-Performance Cooler — This roto-molded hard-sided cooler has a 21-quart capacity and can hold ice up to 8 days. It’s also IGBC-certified bear resistant (the Roadie 24 is no longer bear-proof).
RTIC 20 QT Hard Cooler — The RTIC 20 QT Hard Cooler has a form factor that most closely resembles the original YETI Roadie 20. It has a metal handle, up to 3″ thick insulated walls, is bear-resistant, and you can also buy an accessory basket. Plus, it includes a drain plug. The new YETI Roadie 24, on the other hand, no longer has a drain plug.
Pelican 14QT Personal Cooler — At 14 quarts of capacity, this Pelican option is quite a bit smaller than most 20-quart options in this segment. However, if you’re looking for a rugged cooler that’s a bit smaller, Pelican packed in the features, including a dry box in the lid for electronics or car keys, a removable tray to keep food dry inside the cooler, and a built-in bottle opener that has a magnetic bottle cap catcher. You might not think that’s cool, but go to Pelican’s 14QT page and watch the video for yourself!
Igloo BMX 25-Quart Cooler — The Igloo BMX is not as rugged as the competition above, but it is highly insulated and comes in at an inexpensive price point.
The Verdict: Outstanding
If there is one thing I hope you get out of this review, it’s that you don’t write off the little hard-sided YETI Roadie 24 — you’ll likely appreciate it far more than you realize. You can take the Roadie 24 anywhere and it will work fantastically well. In fact, at $199~ the Roadie 24 offers outstanding value compared to YETI’s soft-sided HOPPER lineup, which typically costs as much or more. The YETI Roadie 24 is surprisingly usable, super efficient, and rugged. Very highly recommended.