First Take: YETI’s V-Series, the Airstream Trailer of High-End Coolers

There’s no shortage in the market for high-end coolers. And with greater price tags come greater consumer expectations that manufacturers handle with larger claims. Some tout ice retention for days, or boast carrying load, while others flex marketing muscles in projecting how the cooler fits an active lifestyle. In the higher stakes game of premium coolers, YETI’s products sit right in the middle of these main performance characteristics, as the original creators of, call it, cooler covet.

And the now publicly traded, Austin, Texas-based giant in the super-cooler space has upped the price ante once again with its new YETI V-Series. This stainless steel, hard-sided cooler doubles down on aesthetics. The timeless, retro look channels the form-meets-function balance of other outdoor icons, somewhere in between a metal workhorse thermos and a shimmering, state-of-the-art Airstream trailer. The brand translates that marriage as one between its Rambler drinkware line and wildly popular Tundra cooler. Upon our first look, we’d vouch for the accuracy of that fusion.

yeti v series
Photo: Courtesy of YETI

What It Is

This is a cooler designed to be attractive, first and foremost. It weighs 35 pounds (empty), so it’s not even trying to compete in the highly portable/lightweight categories. Think: robust cornerstone addition to your backyard barbecue or tailgate party, sitting pretty next to the grill or pool. With sizable internal dimensions (18.5 inches × 13.25″ × 10.875″), the V-series is as capable as most YETIs, holding 65 pounds of ice or 46 cans on ice (that is, 12-ounce cans and at a 2:1 ice-to-can ratio). It boasts vacuum-insulated panels of kitchen-grade stainless steel on all sides (including the lid) plus a stainless-steel, leak-proof recessed drain plug. The cast aluminum hinges and the single-center front latch add another degree of heavy-duty, well-machined and smooth-operating finish to a cooler that needs lifespan longevity to back up its price tag.

yeti v series
Photo: Courtesy of YETI

Why We Like It

All the performance features that you’d expect from the taste-makers at the forefront of cooler cool, engineered with vintage allure—without compromising, and even improving, function. But the big difference with the V-Series is that this cooler features vacuum insulation (the same technology used in YETI drinkware) along with a roto-molded plastic bottom (the same as YETI’s Tundra). That key design upgrade benefits the walls and lid. The Tundra was entirely made through traditional rotational molding with thick walls that added insulation—and bulk. By combining a plastic bottom with vacuum-insulated walls (and lid), YETI manages the impossible of reducing wall thickness (by a couple inches) and upping ice retention. We found that out by stowing six frozen 12-ounce water bottles in the V-Series over a sunny 80-degree weekend. They retained ice for nearly 60 hours, pushing about a half-day longer than the two-day benchmark standard for the all-plastic YETIs. On the exterior, the V-Series features a kitchen-grade stainless steel patina that’s set to age beautifully, making the V-Series an instant classic addition to your home entertaining arsenal, or at least instant conversation starter at your next beach cookout or full camp kitchen.

yeti v series
Photo: Courtesy of YETI

Nitpick

Again, it weighs 35 pounds, empty. Few folks will dare haul this kind of heavy metal into the backcountry, and (lacking wheels) it will not cross more than a hundred yards of lugging from vehicle to beach, shoreline, or camp. But the idea is physical—and visual—heft to hold down an outdoor gathering. And that’s a goal achieved.

yeti v series
Photo: Courtesy of YETI

[$800 for single 55-quart model available; yeti.com]

GET IT

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!