• On September 1st, Maine Sail suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke. One of the most generous members of our sailing community, he has helped thousands. Now it's our turn. Click here to learn more

Coolers - Objective Measure of Efficiency?

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Greetings,

I just bought a new cooler for the RIB. We use the RIB to go the the "boat beach" from our mooring, which is a "thing" in Westport.

I got an "Ozark Trail 26-Quart High-Performance Cooler," which is one among a lineup of Yeti clones Wal Mart sells.



It was on clearance in the white color only, for $48, down from $86.

It's exceptionally well made, I must say! My son has a $375 Yeti, and this clone seems just as good. But, is it? Does anyone know of an objective measure of cooler efficiency, and perhaps of a website where they are keeping score?

Thanks,

jv
 
Apr 26, 2015
642
S2 26 Mid On Trailer
We've had the exact cooler for about 14 months. One thing we have learned is to pre-cool the inside before use. Ice will last about twice as long. We have a couple of jugs that we keep frozen in the garage refrigerator and put them in the night before we load the cooler. We have a friend with a Yeti and it does keep ice longer, in the same conditions, than the Ozark. But the Ozark keeps things cold for the periods of time we need it too. Lee has been experimenting with dry ice but that's a story in its self.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Thanks, John. You are right, not objective, but interesting, nonetheless.
 

capta

.
Jun 4, 2009
4,306
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
According to the link above, it seems the Yeti can get 9 days on ice while the other may get 5. That alone says it all, if it's for more than a day or two, in my mind.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Thanks Rick. Yea, it would be interesting to have an objective measure, as I stated, and it wouldn't be that hard to do. We used to measure thermal resistances all the time in my semiconductor and electronics days. Or even simpler, take two competing coolers on the floor of the garage with the lids open until they are stable, then throw an equal amount of ice in each (weighed), close the lids, and check in 24 hours. Only valid if there's ice remaining in both; weigh it. Now you have an arbitrary pair of points with which to compare. Not really apples to apples, since they are dimensionally different, but at least a comparison.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
According to the link above, it seems the Yeti can get 9 days on ice while the other may get 5. That alone says it all, if it's for more than a day or two, in my mind.
I don't believe the 9 days, and they don't say what the ambient temperature was for that. That would matter a lot.
 
  • Like
Likes: BigEasy

capta

.
Jun 4, 2009
4,306
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
I don't believe the 9 days, and they don't say what the ambient temperature was for that. That would matter a lot.
It was really just an anecdotal comparison, but since I hated fetching ice, even a day longer would tip the scales for me.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Jun 2, 2004
3,160
Hunter 23.5 Fort Walton Yacht Club, Florida
We've done comparisons in our neighborhood between similar sized coolers loaded with ice in the back of a pickup with a black plastic bedliner parked in an area with no shade. The Yeti and the Rtic performed similarly. Both did a significantly better job than my Coleman Extreme which did just about as well as the Ozark Yeti knock off. Proves the adage "You get what you pay for". An addendum needs to be added though don't pay for more than you need. I get three or four days of use from mine which is all I need from it. If I needed a week I'd pay the premium for the Rtic unless the Yeti were on sale for the same price. I can buy a lot of ice for the difference in price of the coolers.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
We've done comparisons in our neighborhood between similar sized coolers loaded with ice in the back of a pickup with a black plastic bedliner parked in an area with no shade. The Yeti and the Rtic performed similarly. Both did a significantly better job than my Coleman Extreme which did just about as well as the Ozark Yeti knock off. Proves the adage "You get what you pay for". An addendum needs to be added though don't pay for more than you need. I get three or four days of use from mine which is all I need from it. If I needed a week I'd pay the premium for the Rtic unless the Yeti were on sale for the same price. I can buy a lot of ice for the difference in price of the coolers.
I had never heard of Ritic, thanks.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,436
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
We own both an Ozark and a Yeti. We got the Yeti as a gift from one of my wealthy customers who had tried to talk me into one. Until I had one I assumed I would never pay that price for a cooler. Bottom line, the Yeti is really quite amazing and I would spend my money on one again. The Yeti logo has been removed, but the quality is still there. Hands down the finest cooler we've ever owned. The Ozark is much better than a typical Igloo, and very cost effective, but it does not hold ice nearly as long as the Yeti does. My brother has an RTIC, that holds ice nearly as well as the Yeti, but his lid is warped and now it won't seal correctly. Unfortunately for him he can't get RTIC to stand behind it.

I would have a tough time paying for a Yeti, if I had never owned one..
 
  • Like
Likes: capta

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Found this statement for the one I bought:

  • Keeps ice up to 4.5 days!*
    Roto-molded, seamless , one-piece construction combined with premium insulation and lid gasket keep the cold in and the heat out. The exterior is UV-resistant.

    *This product was 100% filled with ice and the ambient temperatures were alternated between approximately 90°F/32°C and 67°F/19°C every 12 hours to simulate day/night temperatures during the summer. Note: Results will vary according to the ambient temperature, the volume and the starting temperature of the contents
So, it's hard to believe there would be a significant difference in performance among coolers that are designed and built essentially the same: thick walls, rubber lid gasket, rotomolded construction, and 'premium' insulation. I guess the quality of the insulation could vary, but how much?
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
The Ozark is much better than a typical Igloo, and very cost effective, but it does not hold ice nearly as long as the Yeti does. My brother has an RTIC, that holds ice nearly as well as the Yeti, but his lid is warped and now it won't seal correctly. Unfortunately for him he can't get RTIC to stand behind it.
Good to know, thanks. The RTIC looked like a good alternative until you shared your brother's experience.

I wonder what the difference from the Yeti to the Ozark is? Could it be just the quality of the insulation material?
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,937
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
There are other factors:
* Size and weight. A lesser cooler of the same physical dimensions may hold 30-50% more ice with the same amount of food, greatly altering the results. The results depend a great deal on exactly what you are comparing, because insulation comes at a considerable cost in bulk.
* Weight matters for a day trip. The frozen bottles will last in any cooler that is kept out of the sun.
* Any cooler can be made far more efficient by wrapping it in a blanket, quilt, or sleeping bag. I've gotten some very long stretches with lesser coolers in sleeping bags.

And remember that the 4-9 day numbers are really a large exaggeration. That is with 100% ice and no food. divide by 3-4 if there is much non-frozen food in there.

Not sayin' they don't make some great coolers. But I have tested objectively, and doubling the insulation means less ice. That's just the math.
 
  • Like
Likes: jviss

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,827
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
Coolers and insulation, what works and what doesn't, is an ongoing interest of mine. I find getting information a bit difficult, at least information that is tangible, measureable and unbiased. The most amazing insulation systems I've seen are used in cryogenic applications. These are also used in spacecraft. Here's a link that provides some interesting information on materials etc. Of course, retailers are not usually giving the information I personally would like to have at my fingertips...


FWIW

dj
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,100
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Dave. I can decipher the cryogenic technology, but for us looking to find a quick technique to better insulate our boat in the winter and reduce the occurrence of condensation one the hull, have you discovered a "Holy Grail" product or design?

After all I have not been to focused on installing a "cold vacuum pressure" environment on my boat... yet.
 
Jan 22, 2008
8,050
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
I doubt if anyone else remembers this other then me, but in the 70s when I was in my conversion van days (before sailing bit me) there was a magazine article about coolers. A couple guys went into the desert and put up a canopy and chairs. They had coolers full of ice, with thermometers... and some beers in each cooler. Not only did they measure the cooler temperature, but they measured the temperature of the beer they poured into their glasses. What is a more accurate way to test functionality??? I'm not sure how they vouchered off this test or convinced the editor of the need of this research for a magazine article, but I'm thinking one of the researchers WAS the editor.
 
Last edited:
  • Ha
Likes: jssailem