Review: YETI Tundra 35 Cooler

Functional, rugged and roomy enough for weekend adventures

Feature type Review

Read time 6 mins

Published Jul 19, 2022

Photographer Sam Grosvenor

Hannah Mitchell BASE Digital Writer Hannah is a Lake District-based journalist and all-round outdoor lass with a particular fondness for rock faces.

Our verdict

YETI’s Tundra 35 hard cooler is functional, rugged and roomy enough for group weekend adventures. Available in five different colours ranging from a utilitarian Tan to our tested shade of Harvest Red, you’re likely to be the coolest looking campers with the chilliest beers in hand.

RRP £250
Outside Dimensions 54.3cm x 40cm x 51cm
Empty Weight 9.1KG
Features PermaFrost Insulation, Coldlock gasket, NeverFail hinge system

Pros

  • Rough, tough and luggable
  • Car boot and boat compatible
  • Looks set to last for years

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Awkward to carry alone
  • Pricier than others

First Impressions

Upon heaving the Tundra 35 out of its box, the first thing that strikes you (apart from the weight, a hefty 9.1kg) is obviously – the colour. I was kindly loaned a Harvest Red version of YETI’s most compact version of the Tundra, and despite the fact that cool boxes aren’t exactly the flashiest camping accessory, YETI have done a pretty spectacular job of making this one so.

The all-purpose Tundra cooler is built to be indestructible according to YETI’s description, and by just unceremoniously boshing it on my kitchen floor using the LipGrip DoubleHall handles, you can tell immediately it’s tough as old boots. It doesn’t slide around either, owing to its Bearfoot non-slip feet.

The rubber T-Rex lid latches are sturdy and definitely wont be wiggling loose by themselves, they require just the right amount of tugging to undo and the lid hinges smoothly but again, feels really sturdy on account of the Tundra’s interlocking hinge pin design. The inside looks a lot smaller than you’d maybe expect given the outer dimensions, but it accommodates for the Tundra’s extra thick, roto-molded polyethylene walls and two inches of pressure-injected polyurethane foam insulation, and it can STILL hold up to 20 cans.

There is a dry goods basket included with the cooler which is a great shout for keeping your burger buns and other absorbent fodder out of the way of wetness created by ice or freezer blocks.

What I’m Looking For

I’m no hunter or fisherwoman. In fact, in my hands this box is far more likely to house veggie burgers and beer than a deepwater catch or brace of pheasants.

In the past, I spent a good while living in a very rudimental camper van, traversing some of the hotter parts of Australia – where, as I’m sure you can imagine, cool boxes (or ‘eskies’ over there) are subject to some pretty intense scrutiny. I’d say I’ve developed some fairly high standards when it comes to cool boxes.

That said, I’m very aware that these sorts of coolers are made for long weekend adventures at best, they’re not going to keep your salad crisp for weeks on end and they aren’t designed for hauling up hills. So, what I want in a cool box is something that can withstand some bashes and bumps and is as convenient as possible to pack, unload and amble down to the lakeshore or camp spot with. Of course, most of all I’m after weekend-long chilling and consistent temperature, not limp lettuce and sweaty cheese by Sunday night, please!

I’m after weekend-long chilling and consistent temperature, not limp lettuce and sweaty cheese by Sunday night, please!

The Test

The Tundra 35 accompanied me on a couple of weekend van adventures and evening forays to the local lakeshore for a post-dip picnic. Firstly to Coniston for the weekend, trafficking a number of incredibly important items including cheese and chutney, tonic water, breakfast and morning brew essentials and in perhaps its most prestigious role yet – a vessel for homemade birthday brownies on a particularly humid day.

Rather than using bagged ice, I tested the cooler out with several large freezer blocks spaced out within the inner, in avoidance of single-use plastic, but also because you don’t have to drain the box once they have thawed. One of my slightly more advanced test methods was to put in drinks that were both pre-chilled in the fridge and room temperature too, to check out how quickly they would cool inside the Tundra. Impressively, they were acceptably chilly within an hour.

On a Friday-Sunday night trip, everything stayed nicely cool, and the freezer blocks were still cold (if thawed) upon arrival back home. There isn’t a great deal of science involved in the rate that ice melts inside a cool box, but the general rule according to YETI is that the less air space inside, the slower the melt-rate, and that pre-cooling your cooler will help it to stay… cooler. So stacking the box to the rafters helps, and the dry goods tray is really helpful for keeping squashable stuff safe near the top. YETI recommend filling your cooler at a 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio by volume for optimum chill-time.

 

Who is this cooler for?

The Tundra range is for weekend warriors of all disciplines. Described by YETI as being great for hunting, fishing, camping, boating, SUP, barbecuing and beer drinking too, and whilst I can’t comment on all of these uses, I absolutely can attest to its efficiency, vibrant look and durable construction.

The weight and dimensions of the Tundra 35 mean that it’s more suited to pair or group excursions as it is quite awkward to carry alone. The size of the 35L specifically means that it is an excellent option for chucking in the boot for a mini-break or strapping to the deck of your boat, it’s a great size for families and can easily withstand the bumps and bashes of even the most boisterous of mini-adventurers.

It’s worth noting too that YETI make these coolers up to a truly monstrous size, so bigger parties are well catered for if the 35L version doesn’t quite cut it.

it’s a great size for families and can easily withstand the bumps and bashes of even the most boisterous of mini-adventurers

What Stands Out?

Durability

The Tundra 35 feels utterly bomb-proof. I really think this is a cooler that will stand the test of time, which is what you’d want for the price tag. There’s a lot goes into making one of these it seems, the rotational, high-temperature, low-pressure plastic molding process has inherent design strengths, such as consistent wall thickness and strong outside corners.

Aesthetics

Let’s be honest, the Tundra 35 is well worthy of the ‘Gram. If you like your camping kit to look the business, this one’s definitely for you. And if looks aren’t your thing, the great news is that it doesn’t compromise on quality either.

Range

Whilst the Tundra 35 is the entry-level unit in the range, YETI makes these boxes up to a staggering 250 and 350L capacity for commercial uses such as oil and gas, construction, and medical industries. So if you’re after something with a bit more space, you’re almost certainly covered.

Function and Features

The dry goods tray is a really great addition, it seems like a minor detail but it makes a big difference when you’re packing a variety of products. YETI also make interior dividers for their coolers, so you can be even more organised with your outdoor dining.

Space

The inside of the cooler looks a little less roomy than you might expect given its external appearance. The Tundra 35’s internal dimensions measure in at 38.1cm x 27cm x 35.2cm, so you do lose a bit of room in the name of better insulation compared to some cheaper coolers. Again, this really boils down to budget and what you want from your cooler.

Weight

The Tundra 35 is pretty hefty, even more so when full. I personally think it’s a small price to pay for the toughness and depth of insulation, but you certainly wouldn’t want to be walking too far with it in tow.

 

Value For Money

Whether or not the Tundra 35 is good value for money really is subjective and bank balance dependent. It certainly isn’t wallet-friendly compared to other models, but I’d say the old adage is applicable here – Buy cheap, buy twice. The Tundra 35 looks set to last a really, really long time and withstand whatever your adventures throw at it. Whilst there might be a tiny element of paying for a name and a look here, the quality and longevity of the Tundra 35 certainly aren’t compromised just because it looks cool.

BASE Bottom Line

Comfortably carrying the Tundra 35 is a two-person job, but then, so is enjoying the contents, right?

Whilst it’s certainly not made for moving fast and light, the Tundra 35’s destruction-proof construction makes it an excellent addition to your camping, road trip or festival arsenal, particularly if, like me, you’re not so gentle on your gear.

Its ability to maintain its temperature and cool room-temperature tins to satisfaction is a big tick for me, and whilst there might be other models on the market that are lighter on price and weight, I can’t imagine many of them measure up in terms of quality or potential longevity.

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