I've been using Yeti 65 qt tundras. If you manage them well, they are a great tool.
As far as the cost, I guess it depends on what you plan to do with it. I regularly have to store food in the backcountry (bear country) for 7-9 days for 12 - 18 people. Spoiled food isn't an option. I chose the Yeti's for a variety of reasons like durability and how they pack on a mule. Most people don't have to consider that.
I have done a number of things to keep food from spoiling like burying the cooler in a creek, or the ground, or soaking canvas manties (used for packing gear on pack animals) and covering the coolers especially on a windy day. But, just putting them on the ground in the shade does the job most of the time.
I put all the hard frozen meat etc in one Yeti. I open that cooler once each day. I take out the meat I'll need for the next day and put it in the "cool" cooler to act as ice for the cheese, lunch meats, veggies, etc.
So, do I think they are worth the money? Yes, because I can't afford to have people sick. Are they worth the money if you're just going to throw them in your raft or drift boat for a day float? Probably not except they'll outlast the run of the mill coolers by many years.
Agreed, the return on investment very much depends on the intended and actual use. I bought a 110 for 7-10 day float trips in bear-land, and it is the ideal tool for that. With good ice--including dry ice--I've had no trouble keeping things cold for 1-2 weeks. I often return with nothing but ice remaining in the cooler.
That said, if you are just doing a day or two out and about there are much cheaper options that will keep your stuff cold.
for just day trips, they're too pricey. However, if you're going for multi-day serious use, Yetis are the way to go! Keep `em out of the hot sun and they'll keep ice for almost a week! We begin to chill ours down a couple of days before we put food in them, and for the week long "gotta work" stuff, I'll freeze everything that's going into the cooler, and get a chunk of dry ice to throw on top of it. There's times when i've had to take chops out of them to thaw! I've also found that the smaller models don't work as well as the big ones. Ideally, we use one Tundra for the chest freezer, and the other for cold drinks and ice for the bourbon!
True, Mark, that's why I don't have one. And that's also why it was Freestoneangler who asked the question, not me, lol.
Like Trapper said, they have a place on multi-day trips. However, for years people got by without them by using good cooler prep and management but they do make the job easier and decrease the risk of failure. Right now I get by right now with my cheap 5-day Coleman and only dream of the trip where I would need a Yeti or an Engle!
I just got the Tundra 45 to replace the Igloo that came in my boat as a combo cooler/seat. The old chest self destructed, so I mounted the Yeti in front of the console. Not only does it work much better as a cooler, but the mounting system is so slick and low profile, that when I take it out, the old trip hazard that Whaler provided is gone. When I took the old one down to the basement, it joined the stack of hinge-less, handle free Igloos that I now use to store ropes, birdseed, garden chemicals, etc. I'm tired of buying stuff that I throw away after a couple of seasons, and I am not hard on my gear.
I consider the Yeti a great value from that stand point. Plus I used it to transport fish out to Anderson Island for my son's wedding, and had to open it up so the Dorado wouldn't freeze.
I'll post a picture of the cooler mounted in my boat if any one is interested.
I'd strongly consider the Coleman Xtreme series coolers. Search engine on youtube for a nicely designed cooler trial, with a handful of the big names. The Colemans did really well, at a fraction of the price.
Downside is the hardware is a little cheap, and it won't be as durable, but if you're looking at 3-4 day trips or less, I'd go the Coleman route. I've been happy with mine,
I need a solid reason to buy one.
A three day float has been my longest. My multi-day destination hikes dont allot for coolers. Car camping for me is about 4-6 days, and thats usually near a place i can drive and find ammenities, if needed. The Igloo, Coleman and other mid level coolers have always served my needs quite well.
Soooo..... somebody invite me on a full blown gone for weeks float trip and i will have my solid reason to buy the Yeti.
For what its worth, last fall I watched a Yeti Tundra 45 roll down a STEEP 1/2 mile -- 800 vertical feet -- slope. Bounced off dozens of rocks, sometimes getting 15-20 feet into the air before crashing back down to continue its roll toward the river. At the riverside, the Tundra had a few new scratches, but was otherwise undamaged. Fully function and didn't even bust open. In short, it's a DAMN tough product. It also is the only cooler I've found (though I haven't used the Grizzly brand yet) that truly will keep Ice for a week through regular use. I.e. others may hold ice for week but only if they are stashed in a dark place and never -- or rarely -- opened. If you want a cooler you can use but that also stays cold during use, Yeti can't be beat. (and I've used and abused all the other name brands over the years of gear testing).