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Tuesday, 08 July 2014 00:22

The Search for the Best Kayak Fishing Cooler: Brute vs Yeti

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On the water, especially in the hot summer, a good cooler is important. It has to keep ice, fit in the back tank well and be rugged. Today we look at the popular favorite and an emerging contender in the search for the best kayak cooler. 

Kayak coolers need to hold plenty of beverages but be small enough to fit in the back of an average sized kayak. For this test, no soft sided coolers were put through the paces.

The two coolers under the microscope in this installation of “The Search” are the Yeti Roadie 20 and the Brute Box 25.

Here are the specifications:

The Yeti Roadie 20

Weight: 15 pounds   Capacity: 20.8 quarts   Dimensions:  19.25” X 14.38” X 13.75”

 

 

The Brute Box 25

Weight: 16.5 pounds   Capacity: 25 quarts   Dimensions: 18.75" x 16" x 15"

 

 

 

At first glimpse, these two coolers share lots of similarities but after a few days of testing, the differences stand out.

 

Difference #1- The Handle

 

The Yeti has an aluminum handle that locks into place in an upright position. It cannot be carried comfortably by more than one person which might be needed if it’s loaded down with 20 quarts of beverages. If we use water as the test, that would put the full capacity weight at just over 55 pounds. For some of us, that’s the weight of our kayaks. We might want a hand, especially if we are schlepping beer to share with a buddy. The handle makes it difficult.

The Brute has two rope handles with rubber carrying grips. One person can carry it but if it is a two man job, the handles spread out more to allow for side by side carrying. These also give you a few more options for lashing and no worries of bending the handle.

Advantage: Brute

 

Difference #2- To Drain or Not

The Yeti has its patented Vortex Drain System on the side of the cooler. You can drain the melted ice after a few days on the lake with just a twist. No need to unload everything in it. Could it be a potential fail point? Maybe, but it’s replaceable.

The Brute doesn’t have a drain. Most times it’s not a big deal but if for some reason you had beverages or food still in the cooler and wanted to lighten the load by draining any melted ice, you’d have to unload everything.

Advantage: Yeti

 

Difference #3- The One Hand Latch Test

 

When you have a cooler behind you in a kayak more than likely you only have one hand available to reach behind you, unlatch the cooler, open the lid, get what you need, close it and latch it back.

The Yeti has the T Ball latch. It holds well, fastens well and is usable with one hand. In six tries though, I couldn’t get the Yeti open with just one hand without completely turning around to put more torque on the lid. Sure it’s a good seal but if I have to dismount to get to my cold ones, that’s a bit much.

The Brute uses a large rubber lunch box style latch. These are easy to latch and unlatch; even with the heavy gasket seal in the lid I could get to my cold beverages with one hand and little effort.

Advantage: Brute

 

Difference #4- Where Is It Made

The Yeti is made in the Philippines.

The Brute is made in the USA.

Advantage: Brute

 

Difference #5-Price

The easiest way to break it down with different sized coolers is dollars per quart.

The Yeti Roadie 20 is $250. At 20.8 quarts, the price per quart is $12.02

The Brute Box 25 is $229. At 25 quarts, the price per quart is $9.16

Advantage: Brute

 

Other important things to note:

In the testing I did, both coolers kept ice for a little over three days, side by side with the lid staying closed most of the time. The average temperature where they were kept (my garage) was a balmy 88 degrees. Both coolers performed well in the rugged wear and tear department. Hose them off when you are done and the dirt and mud comes right off. They both also doubled as a casting platform with no buckling or fear of toppling over.

 

When you total up the scores, the final verdict for this battle is pretty clear.  The Brute Box 25 in my testing was the clear winner. Unless you have to have a drain, check out the 25 and all his big brothers at www.bruteoutdoors.com

 

Read 24499 times Last modified on Monday, 22 September 2014 14:51

Chris Payne

I've been fishing over 30 years and the majority of my time on the water has been spent in Texas with the occasional trips out of state. In 2003 I bought my first kayak and a new era in my fishing life was born. I learned the ropes quickly about gear, paddling, fishing, packing, safety and got a degree from the school of hard knocks with a major in kayak fishing. I learned a lot of ways to not do something.

I love kayak fishing and I want to share it with as many people as possible. That's the bottom line. 

Website: www.kayakfishingblog.com

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Comments  

 
+1 # Minorcan 2014-07-08 11:30
Good article and a logical way of evaluating the coolers. I have looked at the Yetis but just can't bring myself to buy one. I'll look in to the Brute a little more. Thanks for the excellent article.
 
 
# Westwindmike 2014-07-08 15:18
Good test. I want to know under what conditions the Yeti will hold ice for 10 days or longer. Every owner I speak to says 3 days is it.
 
 
+1 # paynefish 2014-07-08 15:20
Quoting Westwindmike:
Good test. I want to know under what conditions the Yeti will hold ice for 10 days or longer. Every owner I speak to says 3 days is it.


Mike I think that may be a larger cooler with drain plugs out, not opening the lid and somewhere further north than I am in Texas. A 10 day ice cooler just doesn't exist down here. Not without a compressor and a 12v outlet anyway.
 
 
# Brent D 2014-07-08 18:45
Is this an evaluation of Texas companies? Seems you left out some pretty key players in the specially cooler business? As far as sales go, the Louisiana based company K2 coolers has the largest market share after Yeti. They are the Official coolers of CCA and Ducks Unlimited. They make a cooler in the same size as the ones being reviewed but lighter and cheaper with the same ice retention.. Just wondering why you didn't compare the two highest selling coolers
 
 
# paynefish 2014-07-15 09:12
Quoting Brent D:
Is this an evaluation of Texas companies? Seems you left out some pretty key players in the specially cooler business? As far as sales go, the Louisiana based company K2 coolers has the largest market share after Yeti. They are the Official coolers of CCA and Ducks Unlimited. They make a cooler in the same size as the ones being reviewed but lighter and cheaper with the same ice retention.. Just wondering why you didn't compare the two highest selling coolers


Hi Brent, Good questions. This is just the first installation of the search for the best cooler. I'm am trying to acquire an Engel, K2, Pelican and others for the tests. As they become available I'll be able to do more comparisons. Unfortunately it's pretty expensive to purchase these so I have to rely on people allowing me to borrow them for a couple of weeks.
 
 
+1 # jharris33 2014-07-09 20:47
Thanks for the relevant test and report. I have been a soft sided guy and love my AO coolers for the Yak, but I have been looking to add one like the Yeti. Not made in USA, enough for me. I will check out the Brute, so far I don't see anything that will compare. Thanks again.
 
 
+1 # tomjones 2014-07-11 16:30
It's nice to see an apparently good quality product made in the USA compete with overseas products.. Great review. In my mind there is no choice...USA
 
 
# tonyori 2015-05-28 16:39
Hey just wanted to make it very clear that YETI coolers are manufactured in the USA as well as the philipines...we rotomold them right here in SW Iowa and there is also a molder in Wisconsin that manufactured YETI coolers!!!!!
 

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