Yeti Tundra 35 hard cooler review

A tough plastic case in which to store cold drinks and barbecue meats this summer, is the Yeti Tundra a monster of chill?

Yeti Tundra 35 cooler on the grass
(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
T3 Verdict

The Tundra Yeti 35 feels tough enough to withstand years of use, being hauled in and out of car boots. It's generous enough to suit an average family or small group of friends, even if you fill it 2/3 full of ice, as per the recommendation.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Rock solid construction

  • +

    Generous internal volume

  • +

    Should last years of usage

  • +

    Doubles as a seat

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Bulky and weighty when loaded

  • -

    There are cheaper options

  • -

    Ideally requires two people to lift and carry

The Yeti Tundra is a hard plastic cooler – alternatively known as a cool box or ‘ice chest’ – from the Chinese-made, USA-based brand, and it comes in a variety of sizes. In fact I counted 11 different temporary cold storage options in the 'Tundra' series at the time of writing, able to accommodate everything from say, a family of four heading out to a picnic, party or beach and wanting to keep their drinks and foodstuffs cool, which is the Tundra 35 size I had for review, to the wallet and back-busting 350 hard cooler, said to be suited to storing 'deep water catches or large game'. 

Even the size and bulk of the entry level 35 unit, which of course comes in an icy white as well as the more sophisticated ‘harvest red’ I was sent, means it’s better off being carried by two people when full, as filling the recommended two thirds of it with ice makes it very heavy – something to bear in mind when surveying the cooler options that may best suit your own requirements. Inevitably there is also a truck-load of accessories you can add to and enhance your Yeti cooler with: for example plastic liquid-filled ice packs, sliding feet and interior dividers.

The Yeti Tundra one of a few cooler styles from the brand – head to T3's best Yeti cooler guide for a look at your different options (including the Yeti Silo 6G, specifically for water), or the best cool box or cool bag guide for options from a range of brands. These coolers aren't exactly budget-friendly, and good cheap Yeti deals aren't super common. So is it worth shelling out the higher price? I tried one out to find out. Read on for my full Yeti Tundra 35 hard cooler review.

Yeti Tundra 35 hard cooler review: design and features

While it’s hard to make a large, square plastic box look fashionable and desirable, Yeti has given it a damn good try with its Tundra product. When you find out that the Tundra 35 in particular weighs a beefy 9Kg when empty, you can imagine the heft required to move it around when packed with an armful of full bottles and drinks cans. Which is to say that despite the ‘35’ option being the most compact and lightest cooler in its manufacturer’s range, I’d suggest the volume here will be enough for the average user. 

Yeti Tundra 35 cooler on the grass

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)

It’s worth noting the other important bits of spec which are interior dimensions measuring a roomy 9.37x10.62x13.87 inches, while the cooler stretches to 16.12x15.75x21.37 on the outside, meaning it’s bulkier than airline carry-on restrictions would allow, just to give a broad idea of size. That is still small enough however to comfortably fit in the average car boot with room for bags and cases to be stacked around it if we’re heading out on a trip.

Work the soft rubber fasteners loose and peer inside and it’s a welcome surprise to find the Yeti Tundra 35 features what is described as a ‘dry goods basket’ which rests on the upper inner ledge of the box – enabling us to prevent our burger buns and sausage rolls from getting damp when packed adjacent to the ice, whether loose cubes, ice bags or plastic ice packs. In practical terms there is enough room inside this option to stash 21 cans of beer, with the Tundra providing three inches of internal insulation, courtesy of pressure-injected polyurethane foam, within its moulded plastic interior to keep the cool in and the heat out.

Yeti Tundra 35 cooler on the grass

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)

Staying with the practical aspects, non-slip chunky rubber stoppers on its base prevent this one from moving about in the back of a suburban hatchback or even pick-up truck. Loose rope-like straps at each side also offer the welcome possibility of two people sharing the load when carrying the Tundra 35.

Yeti Tundra 35 hard cooler review: verdict

The Yeti Tundra 35 may be the entry level and so most affordable option in its manufacturer’s Tundra family, but I’d wager its roominess will already suit most of us just fine, even if it’s pricier as an option to keep drinks cool than simply dumping a load of ice into a bucket. In terms of build quality, operation and long-term performance, it’s robust and practical, if bulky in its near destruction-proof construction. 

It even claims to be bear-resistant, for the more adventurous campers out there. And inevitably, like any portable storage option, it becomes even weightier than its 9Kg-when-empty the more you pack in. But hopefully there will be more than just yourself at whichever barbecue, beach party or camping trip you’re hauling this one to, so there will be help on hand to heft it into place… and sample the contents too.

Gavin Stoker has been writing about photography and technology for the past 20 years. He currently edits the trade magazine British Photographic Industry News - BPI News for short - which is a member of TIPA, the international Technical Imaging Press Association.