Analysis of the RTIC Lightweight Cooler

Although it is tough and well-insulated, it is also 30% lighter than similar rotomolded coolers.

RTIC sent Man Makes Fire a review unit so we could take a closer look. Following several weeks of testing the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler, which included road trips and camping excursions in the sweltering summer heat, the following is what we discovered:

Review of the RTIC Ultra-Light 52-Quart Cooler

A 52-quart midsize camping and fishing cooler, the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler is only 21 pounds.

Since they are incredibly durable and practical, rotomolded coolers make up the majority of RTIC's hard-sided cooler line. For several days, they can hold ice with ease. Rotomolded coolers do have one significant disadvantage, though: weight. They weigh a lot Additionally, once you fill them with food and ice, they become very heavy.

The RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler, an injection-molded product It is approximately 10 pounds lighter than similar rotomolded coolers. How does this impact the design of the cooler as a whole?

Each piece of plastic in an injection-molded cooler fits together. Additionally, each of these components can be made lighter while still allowing for wall insulation. The RTIC Ultralight Cooler, for instance, still has thick walls — with up to 3 inches of closed-cell foam insulation

I believe RTIC uses adhesives in a few internal locations in the walls and lid to keep things together. In other places, most notably the lid, you can see a number of screws holding two pieces of the lid together with insulation inside. It's very sturdy, though I can't say it's stronger than a one-piece rotomolded lid. I feel comfortable standing on it, and I believe it will last for a long time.

Achieving Cooling Power

Thick walls aid in keeping your food cold, but a good lid seal is also essential. The RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler, as expected, has a lid gasket similar to those found on the best hard-sided coolers. Cheap department store coolers lack gaskets, but every manufacturer of high-quality coolers now supplies them. To stop tiny leaks that gradually melt ice over time, you need a gasket for multi-day ice retention.

By carefully controlling the amount of plastic used, injection-molded coolers reduce weight by molding a number of connected parts. Note the screw holes in the lid that are situated near the gasket seal's exterior.

Meanwhile, the non-slip feet of the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler help keep it in place in the trunk of your car. Additionally, they elevate the cooler's base away from hot surfaces. You can prevent a direct heat transfer to the cooler in this way.

The combination of raised feet, a freezer-style gasket, and thick insulated walls results in a cooler that can maintain ice for up to 10 days.

Included in the total package

The RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler is surprisingly well designed for usability, going above and beyond the standard cooling features you find in most competitive rotomolded coolers.

For instance, RTIC still provides a tough cooler despite being lighter. Because of its bulk, I have no doubt that it will withstand years of abuse. In my opinion, you get 10% less ruggedness and about 30% less weight. That seems like a worthwhile trade-off to me for the weight savings, especially considering that the cooler will probably last for ten or more years.

The non-skid feet also elevate the cooler's bottom away from warm surfaces.

T-latches made of sturdy rubber secure the lid. They're not quite as tight and sturdy as the ones on my Cabela's Polar Cap Equalizer Coolers, though they're still fairly sturdy. However, children struggle with or are unable to open the Cabela's Polar Cap Coolers while they can easily open the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler.

RTIC provides you with two handles. First off, the side handles that were molded in are excellent for carrying the cooler by yourself. Second, the RTIC cooler has padded rope handles that are perfect for carrying it with a friend.

Additionally, there are molded-in tie-down slots.

Interior Design

The partition can also be used as an ice pack.

RTIC features a detachable divider inside. It's interesting to note that this ice pack is also a relatively slim divider. When you need it, it will provide a slight cooling boost if you keep it in the freezer. Fairly clever

I was happy to see that RTIC included it without charging extra because some of the cooler competition offers removable dividers as add-on accessories. For the included upper basket, the same holds true. If you haven't used one before, a basket is excellent for preserving food while your ice melts.

Drain Holes Two

Two drain holes are present in RTIC. I initially thought this was a little strange, but I later changed my mind. While camping or traveling, I don't frequently drain the cold water out of my coolers, but I occasionally do. Additionally, I occasionally place my coolers in locations where the drain hole is on the incorrect side. You can just use whichever drain hole is most practical when you need it with the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler. Nice

The Ideal Size

There is more to this story than just the weight savings, however: Interior capacity The capacity of the majority of competing rotomolded coolers is a problem. You can see a cooler that appears to be a sizable cooler from the outside. However, when you open it, the interior is only a small space.

A typical 45-quart cooler is frequently insufficient to hold everything I need it to, so I frequently end up taking multiple coolers camping. The best campers should use one cooler for food that is accessed infrequently and another cooler for drinks that is accessed more frequently. Most drinks won't spoil if they get warm, so it won't be a big deal if the drink cooler runs out of ice. Thus, you preserve the temperature of your food cooler by opening it less frequently.

Simply leave the basket and divider at home if you have large quantities of food.

The problem arises when all of your cold food cannot fit in one cooler.

The RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler has a slightly larger capacity than the majority of rotomolded coolers in this size range, at 52 quarts. It is simpler to fit and orient food containers due to the additional interior dimensions.

My preferred camping cooler for 2021 is the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler because I have a little bit more space and less weight to carry. Regardless of whether it's my favorite gear or not, I frequently test coolers and other outdoor equipment. The RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler is the first cooler I grab when I'm getting ready to leave, and I add other hard coolers and soft-sided coolers around it depending on what I'm going to do. That indicates that something is seriously wrong with this cooler.

Why not simply upgrade to a 65-quart rotomolded cooler to gain more space? That is a legitimate query. I've often thought about it. The 60-65 quart size range is ideal for camping, but if you're tent camping and have to drag a cooler down a steep river bank, the weight can be very inconvenient. Already up to 36 pounds empty is RTIC's 65 QT Hard Cooler. Most people's backs will scream at them to carry it with a friend if you fill it.

Get FREE shipping when you purchase the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler directly from RTIC.

Very Good Ice Retention

On each side of the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler is a drain plug.

How well does the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler keep things cold? It does a great job of keeping things cold.

In fact, I was pleased and satisfied with its performance while camping and traveling with the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler in the back of a pickup truck on the highway in temperatures as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even though I only used about half of the recommended ice, I was easily able to get three days of ice retention out of the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler. For best results, most cooler manufacturers advise a 2-to-1 ice-to-food/drink ratio. I typically use my high-end coolers with a 1-to-2 ice-to-food/drink ratio for most weekend camping trips. Although it's not advised, I also use high-quality coolers to enable me to use less ice when I want to.

Compared to the majority of rotomolded coolers, the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler appears to deliver a comparable level of ice retention. Compared to rotomolded coolers for camping, it's definitely good enough that I don't think about it as a crucial decision-making factor in this case.

Alternatives to RTIC Ultra-Light Coolers & the Market

If you're thinking about the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler, you're probably looking for the best combination of weight, durability, and cooling power. Here are a few different choices to take into account:

Pelican 50QT Elite Cooler – Comparable in size to the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler is the Pelican 50QT Elite Cooler. It is also tough. The multi-function lid's intriguing feature, which includes built-in cup holders and a fish ruler, Anyone who likes cup holders The Pelican 50QT Elite is fairly lightweight overall, but at 26 39 pounds is still 5 pounds more than the RTIC. Any negatives The Pelican 50QT Elite's higher price is its biggest flaw.

Because rotomolded coolers are so heavy, one way to make them more portable is to add wheels. This is what the YETI Tundra Haul Hard Cooler does. Wheels on the YETI Tundra Haul make it simpler for one person to move the cooler. RTIC doesn't produce a hard cooler with wheels, and YETI doesn't produce an injection-molded cooler that is lighter in weight. So, would a rotomolded cooler on wheels be the best option? Maybe The YETI is extremely durable and provides powerful cooling. The YETI Tundra Haul's main flaw is that it has a volume that is roughly 45 quarts less than the 52-quart RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler. Additionally, the price is significantly higher.

Igloo IMX 70-Quart Cooler — Although it weighs nearly 5 lbs more than the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler, the Igloo IMX 70-Quart Cooler has a larger capacity. The Igloo IMX 70-Quart is a reliable injection-molded cooler to take into consideration if you require the extra space.

Get FREE shipping when you purchase the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler directly from RTIC.

The Finding

The new RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler is unquestionably successful. It provides substantial weight savings while maintaining effective multi-day ice retention. Furthermore, the 52-quart size is a versatile size for most campers because it can accommodate food for weekend camping trips. Check out the RTIC Ultra-Light Cooler, which is an injection-molded alternative to heavy rotomolded coolers. Very strongly advised

Obtain the Gear:

Comparable rotomolded coolers are 30% lighter.
The 52-quart size provides an excellent volume to weight ratio.
Outstanding price to value
Not quite as durable as coolers that are rotomolded
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