With regard to cooling solutions, overlanders have traditionally been drawn to onboard refrigerators or hard sided ice chests. As more vehicle-based travelers become increasingly aware of space and weight considerations, soft-sided coolers are finding more advocates. Unfortunately, most soft coolers live up to their description, as to say they’re flimsy and delicate. Such is not the case with Yeti’s Hopper, a product that more than lives up to the company’s reputation for durable coolers known to hold ice for days on end.
The key to the Hopper’s performance and durability can be accredited to two things: materials and construction. The heavy 840-denier DryHide fabric on the outside of the cooler is the same material used in the fabrication of many white-water rafts and other durable inflatable boats. The heavy-duty nylon webbing straps are virtually indestructible, and like the beefy buckles and hardware, are joined to the bag via strong bar-tack stitches mated to radio frequency welded patches. The top of the cooler is secured with a large gauge waterproof zipper, the kind of closure most often found on wetsuits and rescue garments. The bottom of the cooler is made of the same durable EVA foam used in hiking boots and even the padded shoulder strap is made to endure adventure’s worst. There has never been a soft-sided cooler made with this level of durability, but how does it perform?
Although we missed the opportunity to test the Hopper 30 during the highest of summer temps, we did get to expose it to the mild temperatures of fall in the Southwest, which can still be considerably warm. On one testing session, I filled the Hopper 30 with 18 cans of beer and topped it off with ice. Over the course of the first two days, the ice melted, but only by about 50%. During the next two days, the ice did melt away quickly, although the water and remaining few beers were quite cold at a measured 44ºF. To test the waterproof claims of the Hopper 30, primarily the zipper, I tipped the cooler on its side and let the full weight of the water rest against the zipper. After 24 hours, not so much as a single drop of water escaped.
large grab handles, and lash points make portaging and stowing the Hopper 30 quick and easy.
Ice, and beer, can get heavy so the padded shoulder strap is a nice touch as is the RF welded Yeti logo patch.
The EVA foam bottom is protected by a tick layer of the DryHide fabric for maximum durability where needed most.
With a retail price of $299, a few have been quick to chide the Hopper 30 as prohibitively expensive. I would tend to agree if not for its unrivaled performance and unimpeachable build quality. This is a cooler that will undoubtedly last a lifetime of hard use. For those needing a light (8.1 pound) cooler with excellent insulation properties, this might be just the ticket.