To help you make that decision, this comparison of all their features, specifications, accessories, pros, and cons has been put together. Let’s see which is better: the Yeti Roadie 20, or the Yeti Tundra 35.
The Yeti Brand
The Roadie 20 and Tundra 35 are both Yeti products, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up that this is the biggest similarity between them. So, what do we know about the Yeti brand?
Yeti Coolers is a brand created by two brothers who were avid outdoor-lovers. Since its conception in 2006, the brand has quickly gained fame for being a reliable brand that makes highly durable coolers. They typically fall on the higher end of the price spectrum, but for many people, the expense is considered a worthy investment.
Yeti focuses on crafting products that are meant to withstand the rough and tumble of the outdoor world. Essentially, they are designed for serious outdoor enthusiasts and their foremost focus is durability and resilience in harsh weather, rough conditions, wild terrain, and more.
Whether the brand measures up to its promises depends on the product you purchase; some are better than others. But where do the Roadie 20 and Tundra 35 fall in that spectrum?
Before we jump right into the comparison, let’s look at the overall technical specifications of each cooler:
1. The Yeti Roadie 20
- Capacity: 20 Quarts
- Holds: 16 beer cans with a 1:2 ratio to ice
- Outer dimensions: 13 ⅝” x 14 ¼” x 19 ⅛”
- Inner dimensions: 8 ⅜” x 9 ⅞” x 13″
- Weight when empty: 15 lbs
2. The Yeti Tundra 35
- Capacity: 35 Quarts
- Holds: 21 beer cans with a 1:2 ratio to ice
- Outer dimensions: 16 ⅛” x 15 ¾” x 21 ⅜”
- Inner dimensions: 9 ⅜” x 10 ⅝” x 13 ⅞”
- Weight when empty: 20 lbs
There are countless similarities between the Roadie 20 and the Tundra 35, as both products are made similarly. Here is a list of the same aspects that both coolers share:
Both coolers boast high-quality insulation in the form of Permafrost technology, which features the use of pressure-injected polyurethane foam of a commercial-grade placed within the walls of each cooler, and in its lid.
These coolers also make use of Fatwall design, which holds two inches worth of the Permafrost insulation thanks to their thickness. Both of these factors allow for longer ice life in both products.
The Roadie 20 and Tundra 35 both have solid rotomolded construction. Rotomolded material is essentially material that is formed in one piece. This prevents any hot air from getting in through cracks, and it also keeps cold air in.
On top of that, rotomolded products are often extremely durable due to their single-piece make. They form a sort of armor that is very difficult to damage or break because there are no cracks on the surface.
The coolers boast an impressive Coldlock gasket which is of a freezer-quality. This gasket encircles the entire lid length of each cooler in order to keep the cold air within locked inside. This also prevents warm air from entering.
Gaskets are often very important in cooler structure as the lid is the one weak point of many less high-quality coolers. This is because the lid usually has a gap that allows it to be opened and closed, forming an unwelcome open area for airflow exchange.
A cooler that holds ice will eventually have the ice within melt. In times like this, heavy coolers can be difficult to tip over to drain. If you’re out and about when the cooler becomes empty and all the ice inside melts, you may have difficulty carting back an entire cooler full of heavy water.
That’s why a drain system is so crucial. Both the Roadie 20 and Tundra 35 have a Vortex drain system that claims to be durable and leakproof. In order to drain the cooler, you would simply open the drain and allow the water to pour out.
However, it is worth noting that in both coolers, their drain systems are their weakest point in terms of reliability. Prolonged usage, rough handling, or incorrect application can cause the drain in either cooler to leak.
As previously mentioned, the lid of a cooler in the easiest weak point in its form due to the gaps that are often present, which can lead to unwanted air exchange and temperature regulation that melts the ice within.
To prevent this, both the Roadie 20 and Tundra 35 use an Interlock lid system that, when closed, creates a barrier that fits against the form of the cooler, keeping the cold in and the hot out.
Both coolers use rubber latches known as T-Rex Lid Latches, which are designed with patented, heavy-duty technology that is resistant to damage. This prevents the common problem of latches breaking due to rough handling or repeated usage.
Cooler hinges can often become damaged with all the opening and closing that happens. In order to combat the problem, the Roadie 20 and Tundra 35 make use of a Neverfail hinge system, which features an interlocking design and two hinge pins. This greatly reduces damage risk.
Many times, a cooler will be placed on a slightly slippery or rough but uneven surface. In order to keep them in place, both coolers boast Bearfoot non-slip feet that allow the coolers to remain reliably right where they are placed.
9. Tie-Down Slots
These coolers both have Anchorpoint tie-down slots. These slots are designed specially to allow you to mount the coolers to a wide variety of vehicles so you can bring them along, such as a truck, a boat, or a trailer. They are made from a durable molded material and are easy to use.
Not many people care about the aesthetic appearance of their coolers. But if you do, then you should know that both the Roadie 20 and the Tundra 35 look virtually the same apart from the type of handle they use.
Both of these coolers also come in the same color selections: white, charcoal, seafoam, river green, and desert tan. Other colors may be available from resellers from older stock. Colors are even and do not fade or chip off easily. Overall, the coolers look fairly simple but can have some character, depending on the color you choose.
1. Size and Weight
The main difference between these two coolers is their sizes, as suggested by their names.
The Yeti Roadie 20 has a 20-quart capacity and can hold approximately 16 cans of beer when the cooler is packed with a 2:1 ice to can ratio. It has a 15-pound weight when empty.
On the other hand, the Yeti Tundra 35 has a 35-quart capacity and can hold approximately 21 cans of beer when the cooler is packed with a 2:1 ice to can ratio. It has a 20-pound weight when empty.
2. Ice Life
This ties into size because, as a general rule, the larger a cooler is, the longer it will hold ice for. Why? It’s a pretty simple concept: the more ice you can fit into a cooler, the colder its contents will be for longer periods of time.
As such, it is safe to say that the Tundra 35 has a longer ice life than the Roadie 20. While the Roadie 20 is best for one-day trips, the Tundra 35 could foreseeably hold ice for two or three days, if not longer, depending on how you pack it. You can, of course, make up for this by filling the Roadie 20 with more ice, but that means less drink space within.
However, do keep in mind that all coolers, no matter what brand, need to be prepared in advance for the road. If you take a cooler from a hot storage location and immediately tip ice and drinks into it without preparing it, the ice will melt faster.
The Roadie 20 uses a single sturdy integrated stainless steel handle that is somewhat similar to a basket-type handle. It is highly durable and attached at both ends, arching over the middle, with a soft grip in the center for you to hold. This means that it is mainly designed for one person to carry it, but when filled to the brim, the single handle could also make it difficult to carry.
On the other hand, the Tundra 35 uses DoubleHaul handles, with one on either side of the cooler. They are made from military-grade polyester rope, which makes them extra strong and durable, as well as capable of withstanding high amounts of weight.
The Tundra 35 also has LipGrip handles, which make carrying gentler on the hands and pack neatly out of the way when not in use. Even with these cool handle features, it is worth noting that it would be quite difficult to carry the Tundra 35 single-handedly due to the position of its handles.
Though there is no specification-based comparison of the durability of both coolers, it is likely that the Tundra 35 has a higher level of durability than the Roadie 20. This is because the Tundra 35 is designed for optimum adventure and expedition purposes, while the Roadie 20 is supposedly designed for more laid-back events.
Yeti offers a range of cooler accessories that are meant to enhance the functions of their coolers. Here is a list of the accessories that are compatible with each of the two coolers we are comparing, not including replacement accessories.
Compatible with Both
1. Yeti Ice
This is an ice substitute that helps maximize ice retention. Essentially, you would use it to replace the use of actual ice. There are 3 different sizes. Potentially, this accessory could help the Roadie 20 with its short ice life.
2. Tie-Down Kit
This accessory can be used for both coolers’ molded tie-down mounts, allowing them to be easily attached to a vehicle of choice on land or water.
3. Rod Holster
For those who like to fish, the rod holster can be attached to both coolers in order to provide quick access to a fishing rod.
4. Drain Plug Hose Connection
For easier draining, this hose connection allows mess-free, simple emptying of both coolers.
5. Bear Proof Locks
Though both coolers meet all standards set by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to be bear-proof, these locks take it to the next level.
6. Beverage Holder
This beverage holder can be mounted on the side of a cooler for easy access.
Compatible with Yeti Roadie 20 Only
There are, unfortunately, no accessories that are only compatible with the Yeti Roadie 20. This is likely due to its simplicity and compact size, meaning it is meant to lack bells and whistles for the sake of portability.
Compatible with Yeti Tundra 35 Only
1. Tundra Seat Cushion
This seat cushion works for the Tundra 35. It is made from UV marine vinyl, dense foam of 2 inches, and Gore Tenara Sewing thread. It can be screwed and snapped into place and makes your cooler double as a seat.
This is designed for those who enjoy fishing. Essentially, it is a non-slip product made from EVA foam that provides a platform for someone to cast from or stand on through Tundra coolers. It attaches permanently with an adhesive that is pressure-sensitive.
3. Tundra Dividers
These dividers, only available in a vertical configuration for the Tundra 35, is meant to create separate compartments inside coolers. This can potentially help the slightly bulky nature of the Tundra 35, making its contents easier to access and organize.
4. Tundra Cooler Baskets
These baskets can help to keep food or other items out of the ice and moisture beneath. This can help to make the most of the Tundra 35’s large and potentially bulky size.
5. Yeti Sliding Feet
These feet can be attached to the base of a cooler to allow them to be easily slid across hard surfaces. They are made from durable polyethylene and come with mounting hardware. They could potentially aid the bulkiness and heaviness of the Tundra 35, allowing you to shift it without assistance.
6. Locking Bracket
This locking bracket locks onto a tie-down slot so you can use any chains, locks, or similar products to keep your cooler extra secure.
7. Corner Chock Set
This set has 4 corner chocks made from durable heavy-duty rubber to provide added support to your Tundra 35 cooler. The set also comes with stainless steel mounting hardware and marine-grade bungees.
Pros and Cons
So, to summarize, what are the pros and cons of each cooler? Let’s weigh them against each other and see which one comes out on top.
The Yeti Roadie 20
- Compact size for easier movement
- Single handle for easy solo carrying
- Rotomolded construction
- Thick, high-quality insulation
- Sealed gasket
- Durable hardware
- Does not hold ice for longer than 24 hours
- May be too small for some people
- The drain is the weakest point and may leak
- Compatible with fewer accessories
The Yeti Tundra 35
- The larger size allows it to fit more items
- Dual handles for easy duo carrying
- Compatible with most accessories
- Rotomolded construction
- Thick, high-quality insulation
- Sealed gasket
- Durable hardware
- Handles make it difficult to carry on your own
- Maybe too bulky for some relative to its size
- The drain is the weakest point and may leak
So, which is better, the Yeti Roadie 20 or the Yeti Tundra 35? Personally, I have to give it to the Tundra 35, which has many more features, a longer ice life, more accessories, and a bigger storage space at a reasonable cost that’s not too much higher than the Roadie 20.
But the truth is that both coolers are extremely similar, and the matter of which is better is mostly one of preference.
If you need a more compact cooler that you can bring around solo on one-day trips or expeditions, the Yeti Roadie 20 may be a better option for you. This is especially true if you won’t be bringing along too many items. It has almost all the features of the Tundra 35 as well as its durable construction.
If you need a bigger cooler that will fit a good amount of items and will hold ice for a little longer – perhaps for two or three days – the Yeti Tundra 35 could be a better choice for you. It may also be suitable for those who won’t be traveling alone and will have some help bringing the cooler around.
In a nutshell, these are two very similar coolers with minor feature differences, with the main difference being their size (and, therefore, ice life). Picking the “winner” really depends entirely on your needs!
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